Most people don’t really know the difference between BBQ and grilling. When they throw a BBQ party or get invited to a BBQ cookout, they picture a jolly good time cooking steaks, sausages, chicken wings, sweet corns, marshmallows, potatoes or other items over a grill. Well, they have been using the wrong term all along. Strictly speaking, it will be more accurate to say that they are actually throwing a grilling party rather than a BBQ party. Let’s take a look at some of the differences between BBQ and grilling.

Source of Heat

Generally, you can think of grilling as fast cooking done at a high temperature. When people talk about a BBQ party, this is the style of cooking which is usually used. The food is cooked over a grill with direct heat from the fire. Whether you are using a gas grill or a conventional grill with charcoal, the food is cooked very near to the source of heat so it’s quite likely that charring occurs. On the other hand, BBQ is usually typified by slow cooking which is done at a lower temperature. In a real barbeque, the food is cooked with an indirect source of heat.

Time of Cooking

In relation to the source of heat is the time of cooking. As explained earlier, the time taken to grill your food is real fast because the food is cooked directly by the heat source. For this reason, seasoned grillers will know that the best meats to use for grilling are the expensive and high grade cuts of meat. When these types of meat are cooked over an open flame, they can be cooked in a very short time. Typically, the outside of the meats will be seared but you can be sure that the juices are locked within, promising a most sumptuous meal. When you are talking about real BBQ, the time taken is a minimum of a few hours, and there are instances when the meats are cooked several days. You may hear BBQ lovers talking about “low and slow” and you know why when you learn about the time of cooking. In a typical barbeque, the tougher cuts of meat which are less expensive are used. When these meats are cooked with low heat over a longer period of time, they turn tender while the juices are retained.


In grilling, it’s quite impossible that you will enjoy any flavor which is derived from the source of heat. Generally, grilled meats taste flavorful simply because people use the choicest cuts for this style of cooking. In comparison, barbecued meats taste entirely different from grilled meats because they fully absorb the smoky flavor of the source of heat. There are various types of wood which can be used for barbecues, giving the meats a distinctive flavor which cannot be duplicated.

Now that you know the difference between BBQ and grilling, make sure you use the right terms when you are organizing a grilling or BBQ party in the future!