Grilling and Smoking defined will help you determine the right grill for your lifestyle.

The world of backyard barbecue is a diverse and flavorful realm, where novices and expert pitmasters alike explore the best ways to achieve that perfect, mouthwatering dish.

In this article, we explain the key differences between grilling and smoking to help you elevate your backyard barbecue game.

Grilling and Smoking Defined: Grilling

Grilling is perhaps the most common and straightforward method of outdoor cooking. It involves placing food directly over an open flame or heat source, usually a gas or charcoal grill. The high heat and short cooking times associated with grilling result in beautifully seared and caramelized exteriors while preserving the juiciness of the meat.

When grilling, the goal is a high temperature of around 450 degrees; higher when searing steaks, veggies, and other thin meats.

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Examples include favorites like hamburgers, hot dogs, and steaks. Grilled kabobs with marinated meats and veggies are another popular choice.

You can also use flavored wood pellets to enhance the flavor.

Whether using gas or charcoal, the addition of flavored wood pellets will infuse smoky undertones to your favorite dishes. Simply toss a handful of mesquite or hickory wood pellets onto the charcoal or use a smoker box on a gas grill.

Imagine grilling succulent chicken breasts over applewood pellets, creating a subtle sweetness to the meat. Adding cherrywood pellets can enhance the flavor profile of grilled salmon, for a delicate fruitiness to the dish.

Grilling and Smoking Defined: Smoking

Smoking is a slow and low-temperature cooking method that results in a distinct smoky flavor to the food. This technique involves cooking meat indirectly, away from the direct heat source, usually with the help of wood chips or chunks that release aromatic smoke during the process.

When smoking, the temperature should be between 175–250 degrees, and cooks last hours at a time so huge cuts of meat like brisket and pork butt can be cooked all the way through while achieving the perfect flavor.

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Using flavored wood pellets like traditional hardwoods (oak, hickory, and mesquite) contribute distinct smoky flavors to the food.

For a twist on classic smoked brisket, try using pecan or maple wood pellets for a milder, sweeter flavor.  Alderwood pellets are excellent for creating a delicate smokiness to fish, enhancing the natural flavors without overpowering them.

Smoker recipes

Smoking requires patience and a keen understanding of temperature control.

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Smokers come in various designs, including offset smokers, vertical smokers, and pellet smokers. The Green Mountain grill is extremely versatile, allowing you to grill steaks, hamburgers and all the other traditional “barbecue” fare, AND prepare a pot roast, smoke fish, bake cookies or bread, slow-cook a brisket or pork butt, roast vegetables, and much more.

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A Note About Barbecuing

The term “barbecue” can be a source of confusion, as it is often used interchangeably with grilling. However, true barbecue involves cooking meat at low temperatures for an extended period, typically using indirect heat and wood smoke. Barbecuing is a method that combines elements of both grilling and smoking but with a distinct focus on slow cooking.

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Barbecuing is typically done on moderate heat around 350–425 degrees, relying on indirect heat from a two-zone setup along with a closed lid to promote convection heat. By bathing in indirect heat for anywhere from 30 minutes to a few hours, food like bone-in chicken breasts or ribs receive a beautifully cooked exterior while remaining tender and juicy throughout.

Favorites include pulled pork, smoked chicken, and beef brisket. The slow and gentle cooking process allows the meat to absorb the smoky flavors, resulting in a rich, delicious taste.

Grilling and Smoking Defined: Contact Us

Whichever method you choose, savor the journey as much as the delicious destination. Contact us for advice on smokers, grills, and all things fire. Our experts will help guide you to ensure you choose the right grill or smoker for your backyard barbecues!


Additional Reading

Grills and Smokers