Grilling vs. BBQ Comparison – Which is Suitable for You?

Grilling vs. BBq

You might think that grilling and barbecuing are the same but they vary in many ways.

Grilling is done over direct heat, at higher temperatures with the lid up while BBQ requires low temperature in indirect heat and thus takes longer to prepare food.

There are several factors to consider when choosing whether to grill or barbecue your food and this article outlines the comparison between the two methods to help with your choice.

Grilling vs. BBQ Comparison

1) Heat

  • High-Temperature Grilling vs. Low-Temperature BBQ

There is a big variation in the amount of heat used in either of the cooking methods.

Grilling is done in the ideal heat of between 500 °F and 550 °F which is pretty high. This is enabled by the fact that it is done under more direct heat as compared to barbecuing.

Barbecuing, on the other hand, is carried out under indirect heat which makes the temperature low; specifically, between 225 °F and 275 °F and sometimes below 225 °F depending on the food being cooked and the duration to be taken.

2) Cooking Time

  • Grilling Takes Less Time

As a consequence of the temperature used when grilling, it tends to take a shorter time, between a few minutes to a maximum of 45 minutes at most. Grilling is basically the high heat, faster cooking method. This also characteristically gives the meat evident quick sear marks.

However, barbecuing is all about low temperature and slow cooking and thus a long time is taken before the food is ready. A typical BBQ might take between a few hours up to 18 hours depending on the pre-set temperature, the size of the meat, and its toughness.

3) Cuts of Meat

  • Tougher and Bigger Cuts are Better Barbecued.

A full chicken, whole turkey, ribs, brisket, and pork shoulder may be on your menu but due to the size and toughness of these meat cuts, you will need to barbecue them.

The low temperature allows these meats to cook slowly and uniformly, tenderizing them by breaking their collagen fibers in the process. And what’s better than meat so tender that it falls off the bone?

When you have the tender, smaller cuts such as steak, hamburger patties, hotdogs, boneless chicken breasts, and the likes, grilling will be the most appropriate way to cook them. You can also cook some vegetables fast on the grill.

The high heat penetrates the pieces quickly, cooking them fast in a few flips and allowing you to enjoy them sooner.

4) Smoke

  • More Smoke on BBQ.

While some grills may have smoke from the charcoal used, it is not much and may not significantly affect the food’s flavor.

This is especially because the food is not covered so the smoke is not concentrated, in addition to it getting ready in a short time too.

Barbecuing involves covering the food with the equipment’s lid/hood which allows smoke from the wood to concentrate over the said food.

The type of wood used will determine the flavor of the meat and this is largely a matter of personal preference.

Comparison Table



  • High temperature between 500 °F and 550 °F
  • Direct heat on the food
  • Short cooking time (Up to 45 minutes)
  • Cooks with the lid open
  • Does not smoke the food
  • Suitable for small, soft cuts
  • Low temperature between 225 °F and 275 °F
  • Indirect heat on food; has a cooking chamber
  • Long cooking time (Up to 18 hours)
  • Cooks with the lid/hood closed
  • Smokes the food and adds flavor to it
  • Suitable for big, tougher meat cuts


In conclusion, if you are cooking large meat cuts and are willing to wait for longer to get it ready, consider barbecuing because it cooks slowly at low temperatures, allowing the meat to become tender.

It also makes the food more flavourful because of the wood smoke.

On the other hand, smaller meat cuts, vegetables, and seafood preparation are more suited to grilling.

This involves using high temperature thus shorter cooking time with less to no smoke involved in the flavor. It also gives food good sear marks.