July 3, 2017 Kim Cox

Before You Burn: Grill vs. Barbecue

Photo source:  Bon Appetit
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Grill vs. Barbecue

Are you ready for the high holy holiday of outdoor eating, the 4th of July? Backyards everywhere will be filled with smoke as grills are dusted off and put to use. But does everyone who dons an apron really know what to do with his/her spatula? Does he/she even know what the difference between grilling and barbecuing really is?

I am one of the few people who have no skill with a grill. I used to, but I lost it early on in my marriage when I barbecued for my new husband and he got sick. He is apparently allergic to the lighter fluid or the charcoal, we’re not sure, but he hasn’t eaten food off a regular grill since then! (And yes, the food was done!) We now do our outdoor cooking on a gas grill only!


Photo source: The San Diegan

Recently, I decided to once again regain my skills. I bought a grill and thought that it would just come back to me but it hasn’t. So, I’ve gone back to the books, to re-learn the art of outdoor cooking. I invite you to share this journey with me – before you go messing up some meat!

The first thing I learned is that there is a difference between grilling and barbecuing. Who knew! The difference has to do with the cooking method.




Photo Source: Barbecues Galore

Grilling is cooking food directly over a heat source at a high temperature. The top of the grill is usually open for this method, though it can be closed. Food is quickly seared at temperatures from 500 to 700 degrees and the food cooks quite fast, in 15 to 20 minutes. Grilling doesn’t take much skill – just about anyone can do it. About the only way you can mess up grilled food is to under or over cook it.

Foods that you grill include steaks, seafood, chicken breasts and pork chops. These foods cook quickly at the high temperatures and require little “know how.”


Barbecuing takes more skill. When you barbecue, you are cooking food low and slow. Barbecuing requires that the top of the grill is closed so that smoke can accumulate. The accumulated smokes gives the food its unique flavor.


Photo source: Lobel’s Culinary

Barbecuing uses indirect heat – the heat source is usually pushed to one side, while the food occupies the other side. Placing the food directly over the heat will burn it, due to the long cooking times. Temperatures of 200-300 degrees are optimum for grilling. You must have patience to barbecue; it can take anywhere from 2 hours to 18 hours to barbecue meat.


Photo source: Diffen

Meats that are barbecued are either small, naturally tender cuts of meat or muscular parts of the animal. These cuts have lots of connecting tissue which breaks down with the slow cooking, leaving the meat tender and juicy.

Meats that are perfect for grilling include pork shoulder, brisket and ribs.



Photo source: The Daily Meal

Now that we know better, we do better.  Don’t invite your friends to your backyard barbecue and serve hot dogs and hamburgers – you didn’t barbecue anything; you grilled. Call that gathering a cookout. If you’re serving ribs and shoulder, it deserves to be called a barbecue! No matter what it’s called, I’m sure your friends will be glad to join you for some good food!

So now, Gracious Girls, you are armed with knowledge. Feel confident inviting your friends to your 4th of July barbecue bash, whether you are serving grilled burgers or barbecued ribs – and know you know the difference!


Gracious Girls, I have a question….Which way do you spell it. Barbeque or barbecue?

Answer in the comments.

In case you missed it…

Creating Your Dream Back Yard

Summer Cocktails:  The Secret To An Endless Summer

Do You Suck the Head and Eat the Tail?

Do You Smell That: Aromatherapy For Your Home


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