Barbecue Vs. Grilling: What’s the Difference?

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People new to the world of grilling and barbecuing often have no idea how complex a world it is. In fact, they may not even know the difference between barbecuing and grilling. This guide will turn anyone into an expert on the world of outdoor cooking.

Three Major Differences Between Barbecuing and Grilling

First, it is necessary to differentiate between what barbecuing is and what grilling is. There are three main differences between these styles of cooking. The first difference is the heat source. Grilling is a form of fast cooking in which food is placed over an open flame or other high heat source. Barbecuing, on the other hand, involves cooking food over an indirect and low heat source.

The second difference between barbecuing and grilling is the amount of time that goes into the cooking process. Grilling is a very fast cooking process. It is typically used for high grade and expensive cuts of meat. These tender cuts need the briefest of cooking times, allowing the high heat to sear the outside and lock the juices inside.

Barbecuing is a whole different animal. True barbecuing takes, at the very least, several hours. In extreme cases, it can even take several days. This is due to the fact that barbecuing uses less expensive and tougher cuts of meat than grilling. By using low heat and long cooking times, the meat becomes tender and juicy. Thus, barbecue aficionados use the expression, “low and slow.”

The final major difference between barbecuing and grilling is flavor. Barbecuing, because it takes place over a minimum of several hours, allows the meat to completely soak in the smoky flavor of the heat source that is used. Grilling takes place so quickly that little to no flavor from the heat source is absorbed into the meat. This tends not to matter since grilling utilizes such flavorful cuts of meat.

Comparing Heat Sources: Gas and Charcoal

Now that the difference between grilling and barbecuing is clear, it is time to differentiate between gas and charcoal. This is a debate that involves passionate fans on both sides of the issue, many of whom will defend their opinions very heatedly. There is a strong point in favor of both of these heat sources.

If the main necessity is convenience, then a gas grill is the way to go. Gas can be turned on instantly, while it is necessary to wait fifteen minutes or so to get charcoal coals ready.

However, if the main concern is taste, then charcoal is the clear winner in this debate. Charcoal imparts its smoky flavor into the meat, and many kinds of wood can be added to the coals for a wonderfully smoky flavor. If just cooking hot dogs or hamburgers, it may not be possible to taste the difference. However, if cooking anything else, especially steaks, then there is a noticeable difference in the taste of food cooked over gas or charcoal. Charcoal gives a much more satisfactory flavor.

In the final analysis, the best idea is to have the ability to use both charcoal and gas. If coming home from a long day, it is nice to quickly grill something. Then it is great to have gas. However, when time is available and the goal is to impress guests, then charcoal will allow for gastronomical delight.

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