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Grill Vs Barbeque: The Essential Guide

People often get confused about this one. It is not uncommon to use the terms grilling and barbecuing interchangeably. After all, they are both outdoor activities, often using the same type of equipment. Or that is what it seems. The truth is, the two are very different techniques that will give you different results. To master both (or one) arts, you should know very well about the difference between grill vs bbq. That will ensure you’ll use the appropriate tools, heat, and time of cooking requirements.
If you don’t know anything about the debate grill vs bbq, don’t worry: you’ve landed in the right place. In this essential guide, you’ll learn everything you need to know about the difference between grilling and barbecue.


One of the primary differences between grilling and barbecuing is the heat involved. Of course, the way the flames hit the food you are cooking also impacts the final result. For instance, grilling uses direct heat radiating below the cooking surface in only one direction. So, the heat your food gets is usually very high, making grilling a quick way to prepare a summer meal. On the other hand, a BBQ uses low heat, and it is more of a “slow cooking” method. In this technique, the flame is usually far below the food. Plus, to be precise, BBQ requires you to close the lid during cooking to allow your food to get done evenly. So, contrary to grilling, you won’t have to flip your food. Keeping the flame and its smoke compact will give you the iconic smoky flavor and aroma typical of BBQ food. And who doesn’t love that?

The Type of Food You Cook

Grilling and barbecuing are two different techniques, meaning each method is best suited to different types of food. As a rule of thumb, grilling involves cooking small and tender cuts of meat. We are talking about steaks, chops, and seafood here. But also hamburgers, hot dogs, and vegetables. On the other hand, BBQ is the best way to cook tough cuts of meat to turn them into tender masterpieces. Think pork shoulder, ribs, and brisket.
The characteristic flavor of grilled food comes from fat or oil dripping off your food and hitting the flame, which generates a small amount of smoke that gives that particular and delicious taste to whatever food you are cooking. That is especially true for meat.

The Use of Marinades and Spices

This one might sound trivial, but every passionate cook will know that different techniques and foods require you to use a diverse array of spices. The same applies to the grill and BBQ. Because of the longer cooking time, when barbecuing, you’ll have to use intense seasonings, either dry or wet. Slow cooking allows those flavors to penetrate your meat without burning or carbonizing the surface.
Instead, the direct heat in grilling doesn’t do well with dry spices, which more often than not burn, making the food bitter. Also, marinades do not work well with this technique because moisture prevents browning and will not allow the formation of the typical grill marks. Of course, it doesn’t have to do with aesthetics only. Browning is a sign of the caramelization of proteins and sugars, which adds more flavor to your food.


We mentioned it earlier, but it is crucial to point out that another difference between these methods involves the cooking times. As you may expect, the highest temperatures in grilling mean that you can prepare food relatively quickly: usually, in less than twenty minutes. Instead, in barbecue, cooking times can be very long. In general, two hours or more. Indeed, the tougher cuts of meat, suitable to the bbq, need to cook for a while. The lengthy cooking time allows for the unwinding of the connective tissues, which dissolve and result in tender meat. Only the slow and low cooking that the barbecue gives you will do the job effectively.

Should You Use A Thermometer?

In the grill vs bbq debate, the issue of using a thermometer often comes up. But do you need one? And if yes, why?
For starters, you may need a thermometer to improve the safety and quality of your food when you are either grilling or barbecuing. On the grill, food can cook very quickly, but you must make sure the internal temperature of the meat is optimal. An instant-read thermometer can make everything simpler. The same applies to barbecuing, where you’ll have to track both the food’s temperature and the environment’s. In this case, leave-in thermometers are ideal. So, while you could do all the job without any instrument, you should consider getting a thermometer. Of course, you must remember that grilling and barbecue involve different temperatures. So, you won’t find a one-size-fits-all in this case. Still, the investment won’t be as high, and it will be worth it for reaching perfection when cooking.

The Bottom Line: Grill vs Bbq

Most people enjoy grilling. After all, it is a quick and fun way to prepare delicious food for you, your family, and your friends. Think of grilling, and you probably picture a summer meal with your favorite crowd in your backyard.
By now, you should be aware of the difference between grilling and barbecue. The latter is a fantastic way to prepare food with an authentic smoky flavor that everyone will love. But now you know that this technique takes up at least a few hours. Of course, your patience will be worth it in the end with tasty and juicy food that will almost melt in your mouth.
With the knowledge you got from this essential guide, make sure you use the terms appropriately. Depending on what meat you want to cook, one technique works best than the other. While both are fantastic, you should use them in the right way to get the most out of them! So, what are you waiting for? Go out and practice your skills at either the grill or the bbq (or both)!