Difference Between Grilling and Barbecuing

If you’re a fan of outdoor entertaining, have you ever wondered about the difference between grilling and barbecuing? Grilling versus barbecuing – it’s an age-old debate that has been around for years.
While there are some similarities, these two cooking techniques have key differences that can help make your next outdoor meal even better. In this post we’ll explore the difference between grilling and barbecuing as well as provide tips on how to be successful with both syles of cooking.
We will also talk about the most popular foods to grill or BBQ so get ready to fire up those coals!


grilling meat on the grill

Grilling is a cooking method that involves direct heat from below and is typically done over charcoal or gas grills.

Definition of Grilling: Grilling is the process of cooking food directly over high heat, usually on an open flame or hot coals at around 500 – 550°F. This type of cooking creates a smoky flavor and can be used to cook anything from steaks to vegetables.

Equipment Needed for Grilling: To grill, you will need either a charcoal or gas grill, as well as long-handled tongs, spatulas, and other utensils for flipping and turning your food. It’s probably a good idea to get yourself a reliable thermometer so you can monitor the temperature of your food.

Techniques for Grilling: When grilling meats like steak or chicken breasts, it’s important to preheat your grill before adding any food.

Once the coals are glowing red with white ash around them (or if using gas wait until all burners have reached their desired temperature), place your meat onto the grate away from any flames or hotspots in order to avoid flare-ups while still achieving even browning on both sides of the meat.

If you’re looking for those classic char marks on burgers or steaks use direct heat by placing them right above one of the hottest spots on your grill – just make sure not to overcook!

For more delicate items such as fish fillets and vegetables try indirect heating which requires setting up two zones; one side should be hotter than the other allowing you move items away from direct flames when they start getting too hot.

The main advantage of grilling is that it produces delicious results quickly without needing to spend much time preparing meals in advance, and there is no need for cleanup since everything cooks directly over an open flame.

However, this type of cooking does require a bit more time monitoring due to its reliance on high temperatures which can lead to unevenly cooked foods if not watched closely enough. Additionally, some people may find the smoke produced by burning charcoal unappealing, so it should be taken into consideration when deciding whether grilling is suitable for you.

Grilling is a great way to enjoy outdoor cooking and it can be done with minimal equipment. Now let’s take a look at the differences between grilling and barbecuing.

Summing Up:

  • Grilling is a quick and easy cooking method
  • Generally uses direct heat over charcoal or gas
  • Usually requires high heat for quick cooking
  • Perfect for outdoor parties and get togethers
  • Ideal for cooking thin cuts of meat ie; steaks, burgers, chicken breasts


barbecuing meat in a smoker

Barbecuing on the other hand is a cooking method that involves indirect heat from below and is typically done over wood or charcoal with a lid on. Below, we will talk about what is barbecuing, the equipment needed for barbecuing, techniques for barbecuing, and the pros and cons of barbecuing.

Definition of Barbecuing: Barbecue (BBQ) is an outdoor cooking technique where food is cooked slowly at low temperatures,around 225°F sometimes using smoke from burning wood or charcoal as its source of heat. The process can take several hours depending on what type of meat you are cooking.

Barbecuing is a technique often used to cook large cuts of meat such as ribs, brisket, pork shoulder,whole turkey and chickens etc, but they can also be used to cook vegetables like corn on the cob and potatoes.

Equipment Needed for Barbecuing: To barbecue successfully you need a few pieces of essential equipment; a grill/smoker combination unit with adjustable vents to control temperature; hardwood chips or chunks in various flavors such as hickory, mesquite or applewood; long-handled tongs; heavy duty gloves; aluminum foil; thermometer probe; basting brush and mop sauce pan if desired .

Techniques for Barbecuing: Barbecuing allows for large, lower quality cuts of meat to be cooked over indirect heat for many hours to break down the sinews making the meat moist and tender. It generally involves using a separate chamber for the heat / smoke source attached to the main chamber for placing the food.
Together with your favourite spice rub or marinade, cooking in this way for many hours results in deliciously tender and tasty meat, with a smokey flavour.

One major benefit associated with barbecuing is that it allows you to infuse smoky flavor into whatever type of meat you’re cooking without having to worry about flare ups due to fat dripping onto hot coals or flames like traditional grilling.

However, because BBQs require low temperatures over longer periods of time, this means that they tend not be ideal if you’re looking for quick meals since most meats will take several hours before being ready.

Barbecuing is an enjoyable and delicious way to cook food outdoors, with a variety of techniques and equipment available, although you will need to be around for up to 8 hours monitoring the temperature and marinating.

Summing Up

  • Barbecuing uses indirect heat usually charcoal over many hours
  • It’s a great way to infuse extra smoky flavour in your cooking
  • Ideal for larger cuts of meat that require slow cooking

Difference Between Grilling and Barbecuing

While grilling and barbecuing are two popular methods of cooking outdoors, they are quite often confused with the other one. While they may seem similar, there are some key differences between the two.

Temperature Differences

The main difference between grilling and barbecuing is temperature. Grilling typically involves higher temperatures over short time frames than barbecuing does.

The heat source for grilling is usually placed directly beneath the food, allowing it to cook quickly at high temperatures (usually over 450°F). Barbecue uses indirect heat from a fire that’s located away from the food being cooked, which allows for lower temperatures (typically around 225-250°F) and much slower cooking times.

Cooking Time Differences

Another difference between grilling and barbecuing is cooking time. Since grills cook at higher temperatures, foods can be cooked much faster than when using a barbecue pit or smoker.

This makes grilling ideal for quick meals like burgers or steaks that need to be cooked fast without sacrificing flavor or texture, ideal for picnics and parties.

On the other hand, slow-cooking with low heat on a barbecue smoker takes longer but produces tender meats with more intense flavors due to their exposure to smoke and marinades during cooking process.

Flavor Differences

The last major difference between these two methods of outdoor cooking lies in the flavor profiles achieved.

Grilled foods have an unmistakable smoky char flavor due to direct contact with flames, while BBQ’d items have more complex layers of flavors thanks to prolonged smoking periods as well as marinades used before placing them in the cooker.

Grilling and barbecuing have many differences that can affect the outcome of your food, such as temperature, cooking time and flavor, and while being quite different methods, they do tend to get labelled the same.

Popular Foods to Grill or BBQ

Meats to Grill or BBQ

barbecued meat sliced

Grilling and barbecuing are great ways to cook up some delicious meats. Popular choices for grilling include steaks, burgers, chicken breasts, pork chops, and hot dogs.

Barbecuing on the other hand is ideal for larger cuts of meat like ribs, briskets, shoulders or whole chickens and turkeys that require a longer cooking time over low heat.

When it comes to marinades and sauces, you can go as simple as just salt and pepper or get creative with different flavors such as teriyaki sauce or dry rubs.

Vegetables to Grill or BBQ

grilled vegetables on a plate

Vegetables also make an excellent side dish when grilled or barbecued. Some popular vegetables that work well on the grill include bell peppers, zucchini slices, mushrooms, corn on the cob (wrapped in foil), eggplant slices, onions cut into rings/wedges and even potatoes sliced thin enough so they don’t fall through the grate! Marinating your vegetables before grilling will add extra flavor too!

Seafood also works great on the grill! Shrimp skewers are always a crowd pleaser, but you can also try other types of fish such as salmon fillets which hold together nicely while cooking over direct heat.

If using smaller pieces of seafood such as scallops, indirect heat is best so they don’t overcook quickly. For added flavor, brush your seafood with butter before placing them onto the grill; this will help keep them moist during cooking.

Grilling and barbecuing are two of the most popular ways to cook food outdoors, so get creative and try something new with your favorite meats, vegetables, or seafood.

Tips for Successful Grilling and Barbecuing

Both involve cooking food over an open flame, but there are some key differences between them. Grilling is a quick method of cooking smaller pieces of food such as steaks, burgers, or vegetables at high temperatures for a short period of time.

Barbecuing involves slow-cooking larger cuts of meat at lower temperatures for longer periods to achieve tenderness and flavor.

Preparing the Food Properly

No matter which method you choose to cook with, it’s important to prepare your food properly before grilling or barbecuing. For grilling, make sure that all meats have been trimmed and cut into uniform sizes so they will cook evenly on the grill.

When barbecuing large cuts of meat like brisket or ribs, trim off any excess fat and season generously with salt and pepper before placing on the grill. It’s also important to marinate both meats and vegetables prior to grilling in order to add flavor and keep them moist while cooking.

Choosing the Right Fuel Source

The type of fuel source you use can make a big difference when it comes to successful grilling or barbecuing.

Charcoal is one popular option because it provides consistent heat levels throughout the entire process without having to adjust too much during cooking time.

Propane gas is another common choice due its convenience – simply turn on the knob for instant heat! If you prefer wood-fired flavors then consider using hardwood chunks in combination with charcoal briquettes for optimal results from your grill or smoker setup .

Maintaining Proper Heat Levels

Maintaining proper heat levels is essential when grilling or barbecuing in order to get perfectly cooked foods every time.

The temperature should be monitored closely depending on what type of food you are preparing; higher temperatures work best for searing steaks quickly, whereas low temperatures are better suited for slow roasting pork shoulder over several hours.

Make sure that your fire has enough oxygen circulating through it by keeping vents open so that flames do not die out prematurely. Lastly, never leave your grill unattended while cooking as this could result in fires if not managed properly.

By following these tips for successful grilling and barbecuing, you can ensure that your outdoor entertaining experience is enjoyable and delicious.

FAQs in Relation to Grilling Versus Barbecuing

Why do people call grilling barbecuing?

Grilling and barbecuing are often used interchangeably, but they actually refer to two different cooking methods. Grilling is a direct-heat method of cooking food over an open flame or hot coals.

Barbecuing is a slow-cooking method that uses indirect heat and smoke to cook the food. This method takes longer than grilling, but it results in more tender, flavorful meats due to the smoky flavor imparted by the wood chips or charcoal used for fuel.

The term “barbecue” has been around since colonial times when it was used as a verb meaning “to roast meat on spits over an open fire” – hence why people still call grilling barbecuing today!

Is it called a barbecue or grill?

Barbecue typically involves slow-cooking food over indirect heat from charcoal or wood, while grilling is a faster method of cooking food directly over high heat from gas or charcoal.

Both techniques can be used to cook a variety of foods, so it’s up to the chef’s preference which one they choose. Ultimately, the terms are interchangeable and can be used to refer to either cooking method.

What is grilling called?

Grilling is a cooking method that involves direct heat, usually from charcoal or gas. It can be done over an open flame, on a grate, or in a closed container such as a smoker.

Grilling typically results in food with char marks and intense flavor due to the high-heat environment it creates. The process of grilling is often referred to as barbecuing, though technically this term applies more specifically to slow-cooking meats with indirect heat and smoke.

What is the difference between grilling and cooking?

Grilling and cooking are two different methods of preparing food. Grilling is a method of direct heat cooking, usually over an open flame or hot coals. It typically involves short cook times and higher temperatures than other methods such as baking or roasting.

Cooking on the other hand is a more general term that encompasses many different techniques including boiling, steaming, frying, sautéing and braising. Generally speaking, grilling results in a smoky flavor with charred edges while cooked foods can have more subtle flavors depending on the ingredients used and how they are prepared.


Grilling is typically done over direct heat while barbecuing is done over indirect heat. Both grilling and barbecuing can be used to cook a variety of foods, from burgers to steaks to vegetables. With the right tips and techniques, you can become an expert at both grilling versus barbecuing!

Are you looking for the perfect way to cook your favorite dishes outdoors? Whether it’s grilling, barbecuing or using a pizza oven, we have all the tips and tricks that you need! Our buying guides provide detailed information on grills and smokers so that you can make an informed decision when purchasing. With our help, get ready to take your outdoor cooking game up a notch – start browsing now for the best BBQ grill!

Written By


Hi there, I'm Greg (also known as Herbie) and like most Aussies enjoy a good BBQ. I want to share with you some tips and recipes, along with gear that I like, to help you with your backyard barbecue and grilling hobbie.Anyway, have a look around and let me know what you think and happy BBQing. Cheers Herbie.

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