Around this time of year, I get asked the question a lot about what grill should someone buy. It’s such a massive question as what’s right for one isn’t right for another, then there is space, budget, family size and so many other factors to be considered. But the first starting point for most seems to be gas or charcoal.
Now as a big BBQ fan, my heart always leads with charcoal, but you forget that for the majority of folks out there the convenience of a gas grill is right for them and their situation, hence why they always were, and still are, so popular with many backyard grillers.
But what if there was the option to have a grill that could do both? The convenience of a quality gas grill, but also the opportunity to really drive some charcoal flavour into the food you cook too? Well that option now exists through the Outback BBQ’s range of Hybrid grills. New for 2020 is the Jupiter 4 grill from Outback and that’s the one we will focus on for this review, however you can see the full range on their website, and you’ll find the link at the bottom of this article.
For total clarity, I was sent the grill to review and I have also worked with Outback for content creation for social media. This does not mean, however, that I must give this grill a good review, my account and uses below will be honest and detailed. The grill was delivered to me disassembled as it would be delivered to a customer, this gave me the opportunity to get hands on with the nuts and bolts of the grill and understand the build quality. In a real world situation it took 2 of us around 1 hour and 20 minutes to build the Jupiter 4. This was with a few refreshment stops along the way.
Thankfully for me and anyone buying this grill, large sections are assembled in the box ready for you to just build the main base stand and then bolt together. The instructions are pretty clear and easy to follow and we had no missing parts. There may be some re-sellers of the Outback range who will assemble them for you for a small additional fee.
Let’s start by discussing the basics of what a hybrid grill is. The name Jupiter 4 is linked to the fact this is a 4-burner gas grill, meaning essentially, they are 4 stainless steel tubes underneath the grates creating heat from gas. They get super-hot very quickly which is why people love the convenience of this type of grill. Switch the burners on, shut the lid and within a few minutes the grill is up to temperature and you are ready to grill. Wait a few minutes more and you’ll be up to super-hot temps ready for searing steaks etc. Remember the bars of the grill always take a touch longer to catch up heat wise and really absorb all the heat for searing etc.
Each of the dials on the front of the grill is linked to a burner and as the dial is turned, you’ll hear an ignition click and the burner will be alight, it’s then fully adjustable through the heat range from low, medium then to high. So, if you were only cooking something small and quick, then you may only need to light one burner and so you use less gas and keeping the lid down through any cook makes the grill even more efficient and helps to stop flare ups too. Above the main grill there is also a removable warming rack which is there to help you find a cooler area for food that is cooked whilst you wait for others to finish. In addition to the four main burners this grill also includes a side burner gas ring that you can use independently of the grill itself. This is perfect for warming sauces, melting a garlic butter for basting or boiling some new potatoes, or anything else you need.
So, we’ve covered the gas side of the Outback grill, here is the hybrid part. You can lift out the grills and then take off the v shape covers that sit over the gas burner bars and insert what Outback call their ‘Charcoal basket’. This can then be loaded with specially produced Outback briquettes laid out in a grid pattern (shown in the pictures of the review). You simply then light the burners underneath the charcoal basket, set to full and shut the lid. When you return 15 minutes later the briquettes should be alight, ashed over and ready to cook on. So simply turn off the gas burners and then all your heat comes from the coals. Now you are ready to get that lovely charcoal flavour onto your chosen food and it’s great for things like steak and chicken. I used the charcoal basket for my rib cook in the pictures using the indirect method.
So, I had the charcoal basket off to one side and the ribs away from the heat over an unlit burner, I then placed some small wood chips on the bars above the coals and shut the lid to let the ribs smoke away. I added more wood chips every 15 mins or so, and after 45 minutes turned the ribs 180 degrees so the other side of the rack was now facing the heat. After 90 minutes I wrapped the ribs in some foil with a dash of BBQ sauce and some apple juice and let them run. The briquettes stayed producing the heat needed for about 2hr30 minutes and then I just kicked the gas back on at the end to maintain heat. Once foiled, the ribs weren’t going to take on anymore charcoal flavour so using the gas again was fine.
Once the ribs were tender, I then unwrapped them, brushed on both sides with a little more sauce and left them unwrapped for the sauce to set for another 10 minutes. The pictures speak for themselves and I was left with a nice lightly smoked rack of tender ribs in just a few hours. Clean up is then made easy by sweeping the briquettes down between the bars into the pull-out drip tray accessed from the back of the grill. There is a handle on the tray, and I have lined mine with foil for easy clean up.
Having the 4 burners and bigger grill space gives you more options around your chosen cooking methods and range of temperatures too. As mentioned above you can set up zones in your grill for either direct cooking where the food is directly above the heat, or indirect where you set the food off to one side away from the heat for slower cooks making more of an oven effect with heat convection. All of this is a good thing.
So, what are the interchangeable multi cook grills inserts? Obviously, the grill style centrepiece comes included in the grill, but for a small additional cost you can buy additional inserts for the centrepiece to help you cook in different styles. Outback kindly sent with my kit the pizza stone and the double-sided porcelain griddle featuring a flat top surface perfect for fried eggs or pancakes, and grilled side with ridges for those perfect grill marks, and there is even a wok too. I used the pizza stone for well… Pizzas and I have to say as an owner of a pizza oven I was genuinely surprised by the results, just some super high heat from all four burners and within 5 minutes I had perfectly cooked home pizza. I did use some homemade dough to really make sure you got the best crust possible, but I would definitely get this insert and have a go. I also used the flattop as part of a full English breakfast cook up I did and It couldn’t have gone better. Perfectly cooked eggs with runny yolks and the whites just crisped at the edges, sausages, bacon, beans, mushrooms and some hash browns for good measure.
Let’s talk about the cool bits this grill has built in that Outback feel make life at the grill a little easier. The built-in bottle opener kicks things off, neatly built into the side of the grill it’s tucked away but there when you need it. The opener also has a magnetic base meaning no more bottle caps on the floor hiding in the grass ready to pounce when the flip flops are off. My favourite of all the features has to be the built-in chopping board on the shelf on the right side of the grill. I love this little touch. So handy as it pops out of its location easily with a finger hole for grip, meaning it’s also easy to remove for cleaning after you have been chopping or even better to serve your finished dishes on. Open the doors to the storage area underneath the grill you’ll see a very handy stacking rack for all the inserts for the interchangeable multi cook grill. Perfect for keeping them all in one place by the grill and out of sight too. The amount of times I have searched around looking for grill bits before in the shed or garage, this just seems so obvious and it’s so useful.
Along the front of the right hand shelf there is also a hanging bar for you to keep your BBQ tools, hot gloves and even a tea towel on etc. They have provided 3 movable hanging hooks for you to hang any items from too, again just a neat and handy feature. The grill sits on casters so you can it can easily be moved around the garden or out door cooking area. And when you want it to stay in place, 2 of the casters lock to ensure the grill doesn’t move around. As with most grill now, on the lid of the Outback there is a temperature dial to really help you dial in the perfect temperature for your cooks. The dial on the grill feels premium over some and I would describe it as oversized (in a good way) to make it easy to read with a quick glance. Another additional item that Outback sent with the grill was the premium outdoor cover.
We’ve had all the weather in the last few weeks and the grill has been kept safe and dry from the rain and the cover has stayed in place thanks to the Velcro straps at either end. A must have item for anyone leaving a grill outside and uncovered. The grill also comes with a pre-installed regulator to fit your gas canister.
Wrap up. So far, I have cooked on this grill over 12 times and have been happy with each and every cook. It’s easy enough to build with 2 people, looks great when you have it built too (this model comes in a few different colours so as well as the red I have you can also get blue, green and then stainless steel), it has a lot of well thought out extras that other manufacturers in this price bracket do not include, and most importantly it’s able to cook a whole range of different food using both gas and charcoal and most importantly of all it does it well. To make sure I was giving the grill a fair review I have tried cooks of all different types using both gas and charcoal and I did not encounter any issues. I obviously cannot vouch for the longevity of the grill, but a good cleaning routine and the outdoor cover will help massively. In this hybrid range there is also a smaller 3 burner and a larger 6 burner model should you require more or less space.
The retail price of this Outback Jupiter 4 grill is £599 and comes with a warranty of 2 years for the hood and body, and 12 months for all other parts.
About Outback taken from their website. “Since its formation as a family business in 1979, the Outback brand has stood for quality, innovation and total customer commitment, providing a comprehensive range of cutting edge British-designed barbecues, spare parts and accessories that leads the way in quality and value.
Linked with the world class Chinese manufacturer TPA for the past 35 years, Outback is able to respond to the latest market trends and developments quickly and efficiently – simply click on to any of our comprehensive range of charcoal and gas barbecues to see how we stand out from the competition.
The Outback factory has been ISO9001 approved since 1995 and has been awarded safety certificates from testing authorities worldwide. We have built our reputation on taking your alfresco dining experience very seriously. From the initial concept and design stages, to choosing the most up-to-date and sustainable materials, right through to our shipping and handling systems, we pay particular attention to every last detail to make sure the product delivers you 100% satisfaction each and every time.”
Outback and all their range of BBQ’s covers and accessories can be found on their website https://www.outbackbarbecues.com/