Grill vs Barbecue: Difference and Comparison

In everyday usage, people use Grill and Barbeque interchangeably. This is mostly because both of them involve cooking the meat outside the kitchen, in a garden or on a patio. However, the two terms are different from each other.

And without proper knowledge of tools, preparation, and method, one can easily cause a blunder. 

Key Takeaways

  1. Grilling involves cooking food quickly over high heat, while barbecue involves simmering food over low heat, with smoke.
  2. Grilling is done with direct heat, while barbecue is done with indirect heat.
  3. Grilling is best for cooking small and thin cuts of meat, while barbecue is best for larger and tougher cuts of meat.

Grill vs Barbecue

Grilling is a cooking method that uses high heat directly beneath the food, on an open grate, for a shorter period, resulting in seared, flavorful food. Barbecuing involves slow-cooking food over low indirect heat, with smoke for hours, imparting deep flavours.

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The grill is a method of cooking meat outside the kitchen, like in a garden or a patio. Grilling involves cooking food directly with high heat temperatures, excluding smoke. This procedure is suited for smaller and softer pieces. This process is easy and takes a lesser amount of time.

Here, instant-read probe thermometers are used.

Barbecue is also a method of cooking meat outside the kitchen. Barbecuing involves cooking food indirectly with low heat temperatures, including smoke. This procedure is suited for larger and harder pieces. This process is difficult and takes a large amount of time.

Here, leave-in probe thermometers are used.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonGrill Barbecue
HeatIt involves a direct heating method with high heat temperature.It involves indirect heating methods with low and slow heat temperatures.
MeatIt is best suited for small and tender pieces of meat.It is best suited for large and tough pieces of meat.
TimeIt requires less time in comparison.It requires more time in comparison.
SmokeSmoke is not used for grilling purposes.Smoke is used for barbecuing.
ThermometersInstant read probe thermometers are used.Leave in probe thermometers are used.

What is Grill?

Grilling procedures require high temperatures. The heat is radiated directly from either a gas grill or glowing charcoal below the cooking surface of the grill grate. As the heat is being radiated from one direction, for the food to be evenly cooked, it needs to be flipped from time to time.

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The temperature range of the heat is based on the number of coals being used. As the heat radiated is high, the meat is cooked really fast. This is what makes it suitable for small and soft pieces of meat. Some of these include Steaks, chops, chicken breasts, and seafood. 

Due to the high heat temperature of the grilling procedure, the heat reaches the internal layers of the meat really quickly. This process takes 5 minutes to even half an hour. This depends upon the density of the meat, the temperature, and the cooking technique.

The smaller and softer the meat, the more quickly it is cooked. In general, smoke is not used in grilling.

However, the high temperatures of the grill produce flare-ups. But these are not smokes. Smoke is used in grill-roasting, a hybrid cooking method. For grilling procedures, Instant-read probe thermometers are used. These show fast and real-time temperatures, which are accurate. 


What is Barbecue? 

The barbecuing procedure involves cooking the meat indirectly with low heat. Here, the source of the heat, i.e., coals or flame, is at a distance from the meat/ food. During the cooking process, many times, the lid of the barbecue is kept closed. This increases the transfer of heat all around the meat.

The average temperature range is 200-300°F (93-149°C).

The low and slow procedure of barbecuing is suitable for large and tough meat. The heart and soul of traditional barbecue involve turning slices of tough meat into a soft one. These large and tough meats include pork shoulder, brisket, and ribs.

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All of which are heavily worked muscles of these animals having tough protein and connective tissue.

Barbecuing involves indirect sources of heat along with low temperatures. This is why the heat takes more time to transfer through the meat. The average cooking time takes 2. However, in exceptional cases, the amount of time taken can be even 18 hours.

 The cooking time required is also based on other factors like the toughness of the meat and the cooking technique used. In barbecue, smoke is always used. It is a matter of personal choice to add flavour to the dish. For barbecuing procedures, Leave-in probe thermometers are used.


Main Differences Between Grill and Barbecue

  1. Grilling involves a direct heating method with high heat. Barbecue involves indirect heating methods with low and slow heat.
  2. Grilling is best suited for small and tender pieces of meat. Barbecue is best suited for large and tough pieces of meat.
  3. Grilling requires less time in comparison, as small pieces are directly heated. Barbecuing requires more time in comparison as large pieces are indirectly heated.
  4. Generally, smoke is not used for grilling purposes. Smoke is used for barbecuing.
  5. Ideally, for grilling purposes, instant-read probe thermometers are used. Ideally, for barbecuing purposes, leave-in probe thermometers are used.
Difference Between Grill and Barbecue

Last Updated : 14 October, 2023

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