GrillJunkie – Addiction to Grilling-What Fires YOU Up?

What Fires You Up? Grilling vs BBQ

Smoke that steak! Grilling vs BBQ?

Smoke that steak! Grilling vs BBQ

What Fires You Up? Grilling vs BBQ

We would be remiss if we did not address the age old debate regarding the differences between Grilling and Barbecue. We are not making a stand in support of one over the other, as members of the GrillJunkie™ team practice and enjoy both techniques.

Besides, taking sides would only infuriate the purists on both sides of the camp, leading to utter chaos and the first signs of the Apocalypse! In fact, rumor has it that this debate may have played some role in the destructive tension between the Hatfield and the McCoy clans….but until proven it will remain just that….a rumor.

At GrillJunkie™ we yield to our motto, “What Fires You Up!” and let the discussion ensue. So let’s fire up both the Grill and BBQ smoker simultaneously, put the ammunition down, grab a beer and dig into the debate.

Most people often use the terms barbecue, barbeque or BBQ when referring to foods that are grilled, but barbecuing and grilling are two very different processes. For purposes of clarity we will use the term Barbecue to refer to all three of the “B” words, while Grilling will be referred to as, well, Grilling.


Barbecuing is what many call the “low and slow” method referring to foods cooked with a long, slow process, using indirect and low-heat generated by smoldering hardwood, logs, wood chips, or a combination of all three that smoke-cook the food. The fuel and heat source are separated from the cooking chamber, but the cooking chamber contains enough heat to slowly but safely cook the food over a long period of time resulting in unmistakable and incomparable aroma, texture and taste.

BBQ smokers are ideal for the low and slow cooking method

BBQ smokers are designed for the low and slow cooking method

Along with low heat, the cooking chamber fills with smoke, providing the food with its characteristically deep, earthy and smoky flavor, which varies depending on the species or type of wood that is used for the fuel.  Most barbecue “pitmasters” use a choice and mixture of logs, chunks and chips of hardwood, fruit wood and nut wood. Examples include oak, hickory, mesquite, cedar, cherry, apple, and pecan among other woods.

If that wasn’t enough some folks take it further by adding extra flavor depth by soaking the wood in whiskey, wine or other brews.

There are many wood smoke chip choices out there.

There are many wood smoke chip choices out there. From the traditional mesquite or hickory to those infused with “extra” flavor.

The choice of wood or fuel differs due to a combination of personal choice and the cut of meat to be barbecued. A rack of ribs, for example, will be barbecued differently than roast pork, whole pig, chicken, brisket or sausage links. The best temperature for barbecuing is between 200°F and 300°F. If the temperature rises above 300°F, you are getting into warmer grilling territory.

Interestingly, in British usage, barbecuing refers to a fast cooking process directly over high heat, while grilling refers to cooking under a source of direct, high heat—known in the United States and Canada as broiling.


Grilling refers to foods that are cooked faster and more directly over high heat, usually typified by a “high and dry” method or, in some circles, “hot and fast.” The fuel Grilling a steak directly over high high. Quick sear, caramelized color and great flavor!and heat sources are not separated from the cooking chamber thus providing for an environment that provides for high heat. Grilling temperatures typically reach 500°F or more, but any temperature above 300°F is considered a grilling temperature. The high heat of grilling quickly sears the surface of meat, creating a flavorful, caramelized browned crust.

Grilling fuels typically are separated into three categories; gas, charcoal or wood. (See our Charcoal versus Gas blog for that topic.) Gas fuels include propane or natural gas whereas charcoal can include the common bag of charcoal briquettes which are nothing more than petroleum-based nastiness kept together with sawdust that requires a highly flammable and offensive smelling gas product. Henry Ford invented charcoal, yes, but I don’t think it was his original intention for it to be used mostly as a food cooking source!

Hardwood Lump Charcoal is a great alternative to petroleum based briquettes.

Hardwood Lump Charcoal is a great alternative to petroleum based briquettes. Natural, and easy to light.

Real charcoal includes actual charred lump hardwood not dissimilar to that used in barbecuing. Again, the difference is not so much the source of heat as it is the temperature of the heat, the proximity to the food being cooked, and the purpose of the smoke. When it comes to adding smoke flavor to grilled foods, hardwood lump charcoal is a good source, as well as wood chips. Wood chips can be soaked in water, placed in an aerated foil pack, or wood-smoke box and placed on or under the grill grates that when heated release a good deal of meat-flavoring smoke. Some gas grills even come with a convenient wood smoking drawer.

A quick way to remember the difference is as follows:

  • Barbecue  = Low and Slow
  • Grilling = High and Dry

So, What Fires You Up? Grilling or Barbecue?

What Fires You Up?

What Fires You Up?

Whichever you choose, grilling vs BBQ, let us know and ……..enjoy and cherish your time with family and friends.

What are your thoughts? What Fires You Up? We welcome your comments, healthy debate, and the inevitable disagreement. Leave a reply or comment. It’s OK. Bring it on!

Comments ( 2 )

  1. ReplyTrevor aka The Burger Nerd

    Great article. I say "Blame Canada" :) Here in Canada, it's more common than not for people to refer to barbecuing, smoking, and grilling just as "barbecue"...which we also often spell with a "q" instead of a "c" for whatever reason. I think our misuse of the word has a lot to do with not having a big barbecue culture and history like you find all over the states. We don't even have a lot of barbecue restaurants. I even have to slap my own wrists a bit because even though I know the difference, I sometimes catch myself being verbally lazy and just using barbecue as a general term for any outdoor grill work.

    • ReplyGrill Junkie boy

      Thanks Trevor! As the Burger Nerd, we will rely on you to educate our Northern neighbors up there in Canada, eh. We are just as guilty down here in the US, hence the article. To make matters worse, the Brits refer to barbecuing to a fast cooking process directly over high heat, while grilling refers to cooking under a source of direct, high heat—known in the United States and Canada as broiling. Makes our heads spin here at the office.

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