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What is the difference between grilling and barbecuing?

What is the difference between grilling and barbecuing?

What is the difference between grilling and barbecuing?

Summer is upon us, and everyone will head out to the backyard or the park for a BBQ. Or do you call it grilling? Aren’t they the same? Well, the answer is “no!”

While it’s true that we tend to use the terms “bbq” and “grill” interchangeably, it turns out they are not the same. Though they are both performed outdoors, use the same equipment (more or less), and make excellent delicious food, there are some technical differences.

Is it necessary to know? Of course, you can still enjoy great food, but it does matter to be properly educated if you are a true chef and cooking enthusiast. Because without proper knowledge, you might end up using the wrong tools for each and get bad results.

So, without taking additional time, let's learn the difference between barbecue and grilling.

Major Differences

There are four major differences between BBQ and grill, and these are:

  • The method and temperature of heating.
  • The overall time of cooking.
  • The cut of meat used.
  • The smokey flavor.

Let’s talk about all of them in detail.

Heating

The most significant difference between grilling and bbq is the method and amount of heat involved. Let’s talk about it for both processes.

Grilling    

Grilling is a direct heating method, where fire from gas or glowing charcoal heats the food from below the cooking surface of grill grates. Since the heat comes from one direction only, the meat needs to be flipped for even cooking.

However, the meat is cooked from two kinds of heat. One from the flame below, and the second from conduction since the meat is on the grate’s surface.

If you consider the amount of heat, hot coals or gas flames are in the temperature range of 2,000 to 3,800°F, while the heated grill grates range from 500 to 700°F. However, it all depends on how many coals are being used and how high the gas is turned up.

To be clear, these are some seriously high temperatures. The reason is the lid is generally left open for grilling, while it is closed for barbecue.

BBQ

BBQ is a low and slow process that makes use of indirect heat. The meat cooks indirectly because the heat source is positioned far below or to the side of the meat. Charcoal or wood is commonly used as the heat source for most barbecues.

Also, during BBQ, the lid of the grill or smoker is kept closed, and the meat is cooked through convection heat transfer as the ambient heat circulates around the meat.

These moderate cooking temperatures are in the range of 200-300°F, very far from the high temperatures of grilling!

Time

Besides cooking temperatures, both techniques need different times to cook the food thoroughly.

Grilling

The high temperatures during grilling bring the meat up to the required cooking temperature very quickly. As a result, the average cook time for grilling is only 7 to 20 minutes. That is why you’ll see quick dishes being made on a grill like steaks, chops, hamburgers, and vegetables.

BBQ

In barbecue, lower temperatures and indirect heat sources take more time to circulate and transfer the heat to the meat. Therefore, a proper BBQ food would typically take 2 hours or longer (as much as 15 hours) depending on the size of the meat being cooked.

This time is required to bring the meat up to its target temperature and break the connective tissues (like collagen) in tougher cuts to unwind and dissolve.

Type of meat

Different cuts and types of meat require different levels of heat and time to cook. So, selecting the cut of meat impacts your choice of either grilling or barbecuing the food.

Grilling

The meats used for grilling are naturally tender and relatively small enough to be cooked thoroughly in a short period. Steaks, chops, chicken breasts, and seafood are perfect candidates for this quick-cooking method. Many vegetables and some fruits are also excellent cooked on the grill.

BBQ

Low and slow cooking is necessary for meats with tough protein and high amounts of connective tissue. Barbecuing is usually used for cuts of meat like ribs, pork shoulder, beef brisket, or whole chickens or turkeys.

After all, taking a tough piece of meat and turning it into a tender, succulent masterpiece is at the heart and soul of traditional BBQ.

Smokey flavor and taste.

Another difference between grilling and BBQ lies in the final taste and smokiness of the food. Both techniques have their unique flavor, but there is a slight difference.

Grilling

As most grilling is done on a gas grill, grilled foods lack the perfect smokey flavor. The high temperatures on a grill do produce flare-ups but not smoke. Typical grilled flavors come from the fat that drips off the meat, hitting the heat source and generating smoke that seasons the food slightly.

However, there is an option to add smoke to the taste of grilled food in the hybrid cooking method called grill-roasting.

In addition, grilled food can also be smoked separately in a closed container with just a tiny piece of glazing coal and a few drops of cooking oil.

BBQ

No matter the type of your equipment, smoke is always used in BBQ. The smokey flavor itself is the most prominent feature of BBQ.

How does it develop? Well, wood chips or charcoal, the primary heat sources of a BBQ, continue burning at a low temperature and keep adding flavorful smokiness to the food. Besides the taste, BBQ food has a typical smokey aroma, which alone is enough to water your guests’ mouths.

Further, you can also change the type of wood to achieve a different smell and flavor as per personal preference.

Besides the differences discussed above, BBQ and grilled food also differ in their marinades and sides, but let’s keep that topic for another day. For now, let’s give you a quick overview.

Grilling is hot and fast and gives your food a quick sear. The temperatures are higher because of direct heating, and hence less time is consumed, and you still get great tasting food.

On the other hand, it takes pretty long to thoroughly BBQ meat, but the final product is worth the wait because of its smokey flavor and aroma. The best barbecue chefs pride themselves on a very long cooking time to get the most tender and flavorful meat.

That’s all for today. We hope you learned a great deal about the differences between grilling and barbecuing.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us! 

1-800-208-9300

Flames Depot LLC 

1621 Central Avenue

Cheyenne, WY 82001

What is the difference between grilling and barbecuing?

Summer is upon us, and everyone will head out to the backyard or the park for a BBQ. Or do you call it grilling? Aren’t they the same? Well, the answer is “no!”

While it’s true that we tend to use the terms “bbq” and “grill” interchangeably, it turns out they are not the same. Though they are both performed outdoors, use the same equipment (more or less), and make excellent delicious food, there are some technical differences.

Is it necessary to know? Of course, you can still enjoy great food, but it does matter to be properly educated if you are a true chef and cooking enthusiast. Because without proper knowledge, you might end up using the wrong tools for each and get bad results.

So, without taking additional time, let's learn the difference between barbecue and grilling.

Major Differences

There are four major differences between BBQ and grill, and these are:

  • The method and temperature of heating.
  • The overall time of cooking.
  • The cut of meat used.
  • The smokey flavor.

Let’s talk about all of them in detail.

Heating

The most significant difference between grilling and bbq is the method and amount of heat involved. Let’s talk about it for both processes.

Grilling    

Grilling is a direct heating method, where fire from gas or glowing charcoal heats the food from below the cooking surface of grill grates. Since the heat comes from one direction only, the meat needs to be flipped for even cooking.

However, the meat is cooked from two kinds of heat. One from the flame below, and the second from conduction since the meat is on the grate’s surface.

If you consider the amount of heat, hot coals or gas flames are in the temperature range of 2,000 to 3,800°F, while the heated grill grates range from 500 to 700°F. However, it all depends on how many coals are being used and how high the gas is turned up.

To be clear, these are some seriously high temperatures. The reason is the lid is generally left open for grilling, while it is closed for barbecue.

BBQ

BBQ is a low and slow process that makes use of indirect heat. The meat cooks indirectly because the heat source is positioned far below or to the side of the meat. Charcoal or wood is commonly used as the heat source for most barbecues.

Also, during BBQ, the lid of the grill or smoker is kept closed, and the meat is cooked through convection heat transfer as the ambient heat circulates around the meat.

These moderate cooking temperatures are in the range of 200-300°F, very far from the high temperatures of grilling!

Time

Besides cooking temperatures, both techniques need different times to cook the food thoroughly.

Grilling

The high temperatures during grilling bring the meat up to the required cooking temperature very quickly. As a result, the average cook time for grilling is only 7 to 20 minutes. That is why you’ll see quick dishes being made on a grill like steaks, chops, hamburgers, and vegetables.

BBQ

In barbecue, lower temperatures and indirect heat sources take more time to circulate and transfer the heat to the meat. Therefore, a proper BBQ food would typically take 2 hours or longer (as much as 15 hours) depending on the size of the meat being cooked.

This time is required to bring the meat up to its target temperature and break the connective tissues (like collagen) in tougher cuts to unwind and dissolve.

Type of meat

Different cuts and types of meat require different levels of heat and time to cook. So, selecting the cut of meat impacts your choice of either grilling or barbecuing the food.

Grilling

The meats used for grilling are naturally tender and relatively small enough to be cooked thoroughly in a short period. Steaks, chops, chicken breasts, and seafood are perfect candidates for this quick-cooking method. Many vegetables and some fruits are also excellent cooked on the grill.

BBQ

Low and slow cooking is necessary for meats with tough protein and high amounts of connective tissue. Barbecuing is usually used for cuts of meat like ribs, pork shoulder, beef brisket, or whole chickens or turkeys.

After all, taking a tough piece of meat and turning it into a tender, succulent masterpiece is at the heart and soul of traditional BBQ.

Smokey flavor and taste.

Another difference between grilling and BBQ lies in the final taste and smokiness of the food. Both techniques have their unique flavor, but there is a slight difference.

Grilling

As most grilling is done on a gas grill, grilled foods lack the perfect smokey flavor. The high temperatures on a grill do produce flare-ups but not smoke. Typical grilled flavors come from the fat that drips off the meat, hitting the heat source and generating smoke that seasons the food slightly.

However, there is an option to add smoke to the taste of grilled food in the hybrid cooking method called grill-roasting.

In addition, grilled food can also be smoked separately in a closed container with just a tiny piece of glazing coal and a few drops of cooking oil.

BBQ

No matter the type of your equipment, smoke is always used in BBQ. The smokey flavor itself is the most prominent feature of BBQ.

How does it develop? Well, wood chips or charcoal, the primary heat sources of a BBQ, continue burning at a low temperature and keep adding flavorful smokiness to the food. Besides the taste, BBQ food has a typical smokey aroma, which alone is enough to water your guests’ mouths.

Further, you can also change the type of wood to achieve a different smell and flavor as per personal preference.

Besides the differences discussed above, BBQ and grilled food also differ in their marinades and sides, but let’s keep that topic for another day. For now, let’s give you a quick overview.

Grilling is hot and fast and gives your food a quick sear. The temperatures are higher because of direct heating, and hence less time is consumed, and you still get great tasting food.

On the other hand, it takes pretty long to thoroughly BBQ meat, but the final product is worth the wait because of its smokey flavor and aroma. The best barbecue chefs pride themselves on a very long cooking time to get the most tender and flavorful meat.

That’s all for today. We hope you learned a great deal about the differences between grilling and barbecuing.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us! 

1-800-208-9300

Flames Depot LLC 

1621 Central Avenue

Cheyenne, WY 82001

Colt H

Colt H

About the Author - Colt is a USAF Veteran, Husband, Animal Lover, and an enthusiast for Grills, Firepits, & Fireplaces. He truly believes home is what you make it. He has dedicated himself to helping others experience lasting memories throughout their lives.

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