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Updated on February 9, 2024

Buying guide

How to Choose the Perfect Barbecue

Gas, electric or pellet BBQs, charcoal grills, smokers, griddles, pizza ovens... the choice is yours! Here are the criteria and features to consider when purchasing an outdoor cooking appliance this summer.

The BBQ: A Summer Essential

Not only does a barbecue provide the perfect cooking surface for your favourite meats and vegetables, it also gives a unique smoky flavour to food. Whether you prefer charcoal or gas grill, a barbecue lets you control the heat and get a perfectly seared, juicy result every time. Not to mention more specialized outdoor cooking appliances, such as smokers, griddles, and outdoor pizza ovens, which will turn you into a real chef. Enhance your outdoor cooking experience by choosing the type and model that best suit your needs.
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Different Types of Barbecues Available

There are many types of barbecues available: gas, charcoal, wood pellet, and electric. Barbecues can be mobile, portable, built-in to a counter, or integrated into an outdoor kitchen. The most popular barbecue in use today is the mobile propane gas barbecue. With independent central and side burners, it is ideal for cooking several dishes at the same time at different temperatures. The gas barbecue reaches the desired temperature much more quickly than charcoal and electric barbecues.

Read on to compare the different types.

A gas BBQ on a patio

Gas Barbecues

This category is divided into 2 types: propane gas (runs on a tank that can be refilled as needed); and natural gas (connects directly to the house’s supply line). Many accessories are available to complete your barbecue: baking trays, pizza stones, meat rotisseries, and vegetable baskets. A cast-iron charcoal and smoker tray can also be added, allowing charcoal cooking on a gas barbecue, or even a pellet tube.
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Caution

Since some municipalities have banned the use of gas grills on apartment and condo balconies, charcoal barbecues may present an interesting alternative. They can only be used outdoors; however, they are not recommended during periods of strong winds.
A charcoal BBQ on a patio

Charcoal Barbecues

The charcoal barbecue, a real classic, has come back into style due to the particular flavour it imparts to food. Some models have an adjustable vent, which accelerates combustion the more the vent is open, somewhat like a heat control. Charcoal comes in lump form (lights up and heats up quickly) or briquettes (have a longer life and are perfect for roasting food). The height of the grate can usually be adjusted, as well as the tray under the charcoal briquettes.
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Pro Tip

Models with round lids ensure better heat distribution.

A pellet grill on a patio

Wood Pellet Grills

A wood pellet grill uses safe, easy-to-use hardwood pellets to generate heat. You can choose pellets in a variety of flavours—like hickory, mesquite, apple, or oak—to enhance your dishes. Pellet grills are versatile and can be used to smoke, braise, barbecue, or sear foods.
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A portable electric BBQ on a small patio

Electric Barbecues

Practical in urban areas, electric grills can be used throughout the year—indoors and outdoors. They are an excellent choice for apartment and condo dwellers. This category has come a long way in recent years. You can even buy vertical smokers and electric pizza ovens!
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BBQ Comparison Table

Can’t choose? Here’s a table to help you compare the different types of barbecue available and choose the right one for your outdoor kitchen:

 

Pros

Cons

Propane BBQ

  • Heats up quickly
  • Can reach very high temperatures
  • Easy temperature control
  • Light and easy to move around
  • Easy to use
  • Helps food and marinades hold their flavour
  • A back-up propane tank is recommended
  • Requires more maintenance
  • Not for indoor use

Natural Gas BBQ

  • Heats up quickly
  • Uninterrupted gas supply
  • Can reach very high temperatures
  • Easy temperature control
  • Easy to use
  • Helps food and marinades hold their flavour
  • Needs a natural gas line to be installed
  • Requires more maintenance
  • Not for indoor use

Charcoal Grill

  • Often less expensive
  • Enhances food flavour
  • Lightweight (ideal for camping)
  • Temperature harder to control
  • Needs a coal reserve
  • Requires more cleaning after cooking (ash removal)

Pellet BBQ

  • Can be used as a convection oven
  • Enhances food flavour
  • Easy temperature control
  • Heavy and difficult to move around
  • Not suitable for use in the rain or winter
  • Requires more maintenance

Electric BBQ

  • Often less expensive
  • Requires no fuel
  • Ensures even cooking
  • Often less powerful
  • Not suitable for use in the rain or winter
  • Loses heat easily

Smart Saving Tips

Combination models are available, with charcoal on one side and propane burners on the other. That means you can use the cooking mode that suits you best, or even use both at the same time! Combo grills are a great way to save money and free up patio space, as they save you from having to buy several cooking appliances.

Smoker barbecue in a backyard

Smoker

Smoker barbecues use the heat from smoke to cook your meat, instead of the heat generated directly from your fuel source. This creates a “low and slow” cooking effect, making your food extra tender and flavourful in 3-12 hours. You can achieve a variety of flavours by using different fuel sources, like charcoal or wood chips.
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A portable BBQ in a backyard

Portable BBQ

Portable barbecues are very practical. Smaller than traditional barbecues, they offer only the basic components. There are easy-to-use and affordable gas models, charcoal options ideal for camping fans, and electric designs that are easy to carry around and very safe. A number of recent innovations are making these barbecues more and more interesting!
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An outdoor pizza oven in a backyard

Outdoor Pizza Oven

Pizza ovens are an increasingly popular choice because of the wood-fired flavour they give to the food. Compact and easy to move around, they’re the perfect choice for summer evenings with friends and family. Ovens range from 12" to 16", with propane, wood-chip, pellet, or electric power.
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A flat-top grill

Flat-Top Grills and Griddles

Flat-top grills and griddles are a recent trend. Extremely versatile, they can be used to make breakfasts, grills, smash burgers, fried rice, and more. You can even buy accessories for making pancakes and other popular meals! There are several sizes to choose from, from countertop to portable/folding to family size.
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A person cooking on a barbecue

Understanding Barbecue Operation and Components

Cooking Power 

Gas grills currently available are very powerful, producing between 25,000 and 60,000 BTUs. This number (British Thermal Units) reflects the quantity of heat the unit consumes per hour when all the burners are lit. To determine how much power you need, divide the number of BTUs by the total cooking surface in square inches. Allow about 110 BTU per sq. in. per person. Ideally, you will have around 110 BTUs per sq. in. 

Main Burners 

Burner performance depends on the efficiency of the barbecue. Barbecues generally have 1-6 burners: they constitute the main source of heat. The heat distribution plate, situated directly under the burner(s), distributes heat in the body of the barbecue and under the cooking surface. Burners can be independent from each other, which makes it possible to cook food at the same time but at different temperatures. 

The shape of the burner is an important factor since it is the burner that spreads the heat. Burners are H, 8, butterfly, or coil-shaped. For example, an 8-shaped burner ensures an even distribution of heat over the cooking surface. A Super 8™ type burner makes it possible to reach 315°C in just a few minutes, which is ideal for searing meat. Dual-TubeTM tubular burners made of high-quality steel are also available. These burners provide an even flame which spreads very effectively under the cooking surface. 

Finally, there are barbecues equipped with infrared radiant burners, the main advantage being that a temperature of 1,800°C can be attained in a matter of seconds. Cooking is, of course, much faster. On the other hand, the high intense heat implies extra caution when cooking vegetables and fish, which burn very easily. 

Side Burners

Some models are equipped with a side burner for preparing sauces and side dishes in a saucepan. 

Cooking Surface and Grates 

Cooking surfaces vary between 273 sq. in. and 1,000 sq. in. The number of people you regularly cook for will help you determine the ideal size for your family. Use this calculation: approximately 60 sq. in. per portion, multiplied by the number of people. 

Grates are also available in a variety of materials: 

 

Pros

Cons

Porcelain-Coated Steel Grates

  • Easy to maintain (can be cleaned cold)
  • Tend to rust
  • Poor heat retention

Porcelain-Coated Cast-Iron Grates

  • Easy to maintain (can be cleaned cold)

 

Cast-Iron Grates

  • Very durable
  • Reversible options available: on one side, they have grill markings and on the other side, grooves to collect the cooking juices that are so good for basting
  • Excellent heat retention
  • Tend to rust

Stainless Steel Grates

  • Do not rust
  • Highly resistant
  • Retain heat for a long time
  • More difficult to clean (must be scraped with a brush while still warm)
  • Can change colour over time

Note: Cast iron is a very durable material, but grates have a tendency to rust if not porcelain coated. Coat the grates with vegetable oil to protect them, and clean them while they are still warm.

Materials

Store-bought barbecues are made of stainless steel, enamelled steel, cast iron, or aluminum. Enamelled steel is more affordable, but it is also more vulnerable to fluctuations in temperature and less impact resistant. The main body of the barbecue must be solid so that the lid closes properly. Choose a deep enough body for the heat to spread evenly, which will also prevent sudden blazes from occurring. Opt for a model with a solid structure and sturdy castors. 

Ignition System

Barbecue igniters are divided into 2 categories: push buttons; and rotary or electronic controls. The difference between these systems is that the push button produces one single spark, whereas the rotary and electronic controls produce several sparks, making lighting the barbecue much easier. 

Storage Compartments

Integrated storage shelves and drawers are a definite plus; an extra work surface is always useful for setting dishes and utensils, and space to store spices and accessories is very handy. Before you buy your barbecue, make sure the shelves are sturdy. However, keep in mind that shelves will always be sturdier on stationary, built-in barbecues than on their mobile and portable counterparts. 

Lights

Adequate lighting means that you can use the barbecue later in the evening, or even after nightfall. You can also buy a barbecue light that fits over the handle and directs light into the barbecue when it’s open. Sold separately, they are compatible with most grill handles.

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Pro Tip

Opt for a barbecue with an additional grate above the main grill which will provide you with extra cooking space, the possibility of keeping dishes warm, and the option of simultaneously cooking different things at different temperatures.

Accessories that Enhance the Outdoor Cooking Experience

The right barbecue accessories can make outdoor cooking easier and extend the life of your BBQ.

Barbecue Cover

An adjustable cover that fits the barbecue properly will protect it from the elements. The choice of material depends on your needs and, of course, on your budget.

Cleaning Products

Indispensable for keeping your barbecue looking like new! Several products are available for indoor or outdoor use.

Utensils

Made of wood, stainless steel or silicone, barbecuing utensils come in a variety of shapes and sizes. To avoid burns, use utensils with long, heat-resistant handles.

Thermometers

An increasingly popular product, they are essential for controlling your cooking. Several options are available, from instant reading to a wireless Bluetooth thermometer that accompanies you throughout the cooking process.

Cooking Accessories

Facilitate food preparation with a number of kitchen accessories designed for the barbecue: a roaster, grill cover and electric kebab turner will nuance the flavours of your meat.

Fire Starter

To light a charcoal barbecue, opt for a lighter that gives you more flexibility than matches. Some lighters have a device that allows you to adjust the flame and include a child safety mechanism as well.

Let Us Assemble Your New Barbecue

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