Grilling vs BBQ vs Smoking – Detailed Comparison

by Evelyn Brown | Published On

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Barbeque, grilling, and smoking are the most commonly opted methods for cooking meat. Although the primary purpose served by each one of them is to cook meat, they differ from each other in several aspects. Each one of these cooking methods has its respective qualities to offer. In the article that follows, we shall delve into the details of each one of these.

What Is Grilling?


Grilling is a cooking method that involves the practical application of a grill. In grilling, the meat is cooked on direct heat at high temperatures using a grill. The meat is positioned on the main cooking grate of the grill. Here, the meat is in direct contact with the heat released by the burning charcoal beneath. Since the meat is placed directly above the burning charcoal, it is grilled as a result of exposure to direct heat.

Usually, grilling meat takes a shorter period of time because the meat is subjected to temperatures as high as 500 degrees Fahrenheit. For example, if you plan on grilling steaks, you can expect a cooking time of 10 minutes or even less. All you need to do is just flip the steaks once you’ve cooked them for about half of the total cooking time.

To grill a delicious meal of meat, you can follow some of the following suggestions:
When you’re grilling, open the vents of your grill to increase the airflow.

  • Keep a regular check on the meat, but make sure you don’t touch it. Simply ensure that the meat is being cooked properly.
  • To prevent the meat from sticking onto the grill’s grate, clean it properly before use.
  • If you want to achieve a relatively higher grilling temperature, opt for lump charcoal instead of charcoal briquettes.
  • Once you remove the meat from the grill, allow it to remain at room temperature for about five minutes to enjoy a delicious meal.

Types Of Grilling

There are various grilling options to choose from. The most common grills that are opted for include charcoal grills, gas grills, and wood pellet grills.

  1. Charcoal grills make use of charcoal as a fuel. They are the most cost-effective option when it comes to outdoor grilling. However, it does not offer the ease of cleaning because the charcoal ash needs to be removed after every use.
  2. The gas grills employ natural gas to cook dishes. Not only does it heat up real quick but also offers ease of cleanup. Additionally, users can conveniently regular the cooking temperature by using the temperature control knobs.
  3. The wood pellet grills, as evident by name, make use of wood pellets to grill meat. They offer a wide range of temperature options from 160 to 600 degrees Fahrenheit. Using an advanced model of pellet grills even allows you to monitor the food temperature using your smartphone.

Therefore, these types of grills offer several added advantages.

Other options for grilling are Kamado grills, electric grills, and portable grills. Kamado grills are a variant of charcoal grills that have become well-known due to their versatile nature. With their elongated body, these grills provide highly specialized heat circulation that cooks the food properly. Electric grills come in handy if you reside in a place that disallows charcoal grilling.

These grills require no fuel and heat up your food evenly and quickly. Additionally, they’re very easy to clean. If you’re someone who takes interest in camping, tailgating, or other similar outings, a portable grill is an ideal option for you. However, these grills offer a limited cooking space due to their portable nature.

What Is Barbequing?

Barbequing involves cooking large cuts of meat at medium to low temperatures. The temperature for barbecuing ranges from as low as 190 degrees Fahrenheit to as high as 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Indirect heat is used to grill the meat at a low temperature. In this method, slices of meat are positioned either inside a smoker or a grill wherein they’re cooked by employing the heat from burning charcoal or wood.

Barbequing is undoubtedly a time-consuming process. The meat is cooked slowly for the duration of several hours before it’s finally fit for consumption. A well-cooked barbecue meal offers a better flavor and increased tenderness.

Following are some suggestions for barbeque meat properly.

  • To maintain a low to medium temperature, use only a small quantity of charcoal.
  • Position the meat on the grate in such a way that it is not directly placed over the burning wood or charcoal.
  • To enjoy an improved flavor and increased tenderness, marinate the meat before grilling it.
  • To avoid foodborne illness, make sure you use a thermometer to keep checking the meat’s temperature.
  • When you are barbecuing pork, simply place your meat in a covered foil pan.

Types of Barbequing

The most popular types of barbeque include gas grill, 57 cm kettle barbeque, offset smoker, pellet grill, and bullet smokers. A gas grill is definitely a time-effective way to easily barbecue your meat. However, since it never matches the heat level of charcoal or wood, this type of meat lacks flavor.

The 57 cm kettle barbeque is a spot-on barbecuing option that provides plenty of space for indirect cooking, but because it uses coal as the fuel source, you will need to top up after every few hours. An offset smoker lets you enjoy an authentic barbeque flavor and is suitably spacious. However, these smokers call for constant tending, and temperature stability is not ensured.

A pellet grill is, perhaps, the easiest way to barbeque. All you need to do is turn on the appliance. Due to its ease of use, there are many out there who feel that a pellet grill takes the fun out of barbecuing. Lastly, bullet smokers are an excellent option for beginners primarily because they provide consistent results. A slight drawback, however, is the limited food space.

What Is Smoking?

Smoking is a cooking method that employs indirect heat to cook meat in a way similar to that of barbecuing. However, it stands distinct from barbecuing due to its property of using smoke not only to cook meat but also to cure it. The wood chunks used for smoking offer a unique flavor that is neither found in grilling nor barbequing.

Smoking is categorized into hot smoking and cold smoking. While hot smoking is generally performed using a smoker or a grill, cold smoking is carried out in a smokehouse. Cold smoking, as the name suggests, smokes meat at lower temperatures than hot smoking. From a health perspective, it is suggested to avoid cold smoking due to its low temperature.


  1. Are Grilling And Smoking The Same Thing?

    No, grilling and smoking differ on two main points i.e. cooking time and heat levels. In grilling, the meat is cooked at a high temperature for a comparatively shorter period of time. On the other hand, in smoking, low heat is employed to cook the meat for a longer duration of time ranging from one week to a couple of months.

  2. Which Is Better: Smoking Or Grilling?

    The type of cooking method you choose depends on the meat you’re planning to cook. If you have to cook large pieces of meat, such as hams, roasts, briskets, and ribs, or dried food items such as jerky, smoking is the ideal option. In contrast, if you plan on cooking small pieces of meat like steaks, fish, and chicken, grilling is your go-to option.

  3. Can A Grill Also Be A Smoker?

    Yes, you can use your grill as a smoker. Simply soak the wood chips for a minimum duration of 30 minutes. Then take some time to preheat your grill. Once the temperature you wanted to achieve has been reached, simply dump the wood chips after straining them. Start smoking your meat. Be patient because the process can take anywhere between one to six hours.

  4. Is Chicken Better Smoked Or Grilled?

    The answer varies depending upon your personal taste. Both smoking and grilling chicken are cooking methods that give off delicious results. When you smoke your chicken, it will have a more rubbery and therefore, less crisp skin. On the other hand, when you grill chicken, it will have a crispier skin.

  5. Is It Better To Smoke Or Grill Steaks?

    When you smoke or grill, the primary difference is the time required to carry out these processes. For smoking, the cooking period is longer although it offers a more flavourful and tender product. Grilling, on the other hand, comes in as a more accessible and time-effective method of preparing steaks. Therefore, choose one that suits your requirements.


From an in-depth view of barbecue, grilling, and smoking, it is evident that the three of them are not, by any means, identical cooking methods. While barbecuing involves cooking meat at low to mid-range temperatures, grilling involves high-temperature cooking. Smoking cooks meat at temperatures that offer an enhanced flavor.

Each one of these methods can be used depending on the type of cooked meat that you wish to enjoy. The choice rests upon you and your taste buds.

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Evelyn Brown

Evelyn Brown is a housewife and spends most of the time at home taking care of her infant son. The time that she has left after cleaning the house and taking care of the son and the daddy is dedicated to making her mark on the internet. She loves to write about the kitchen appliances that she uses in her daily life. She also likes to spend quality time with her husband and drink aged wine and scotch.

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