What's the Difference Between Grilling and Barbecuing?

Summer is a great time to cook outside while spending time with family and friends. Whether you are a seasoned meat eater, a vegetarian, or just love the taste of the smoky flavors, cooking food over a flame is irresistible. 

There is a common misconception that grilling, smoking, and barbecuing are the same thing. However, each technique requires something different and each has it's benefits!

What is Grilling? 

Grilling is America's oldest, simplest, and most widespread cooking method. In general, grilling involves small or thin pieces of meat (like burgers, steaks, and fish) cooked quickly and directly over a hot fire. Vegetables and fruits are also popular foods to grill.

Grills can use gas, charcoal or wood to create this flame. Each of these fuels has its own cooking properties and creating its own unique flavor; cooking over wood and charcoal creates stronger smoke flavor than cooking over gas. Most grilling is done at 450° to 650°F. If you’re not careful, it can quickly dry out or overdo meats if the right technique isn’t used.  Trust me, I know!

What is Smoking?

There are two types of smoking: hot smoking and cold smoking. Smoking can be done in a horizontal barrel smoker or vertical water smoker. Cold smoking takes place between 68°F and 86°F. Cold smoking is primarily used for flavor and is usually done on meat that has been cured or previously cooked. The food is so far away from the fire that it smokes without cooking.

Hot smoking, also known as barbecuing, is generally done at 225° to 250°F over extended periods of time (often 12 to 16 hours, sometimes even more). Popular Meats For Smoking are Brisket, Pork Butt, and Ribs. 

Which method do you prefer? Leave a comment below to tell us what you'll be cooking up next....

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1 comment

  • Mike

    I primarily use a gas grill purely out of convenience and the type of food that we like. Steak, bratwurst, boneless skinless chicken breast, pork “ribeye” chops , pork steak. I did this past winter aquire a cast iron charcoal grill that I’m trying to get the hang of.

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