Smoker Cooking, Grill Cooking, Barbecue Cooking: What’s Your Choice

Smoker Cooking, Grill Cooking, Barbecue Cooking: Is there really a difference? This is a question that is frequently asked and will be answered differently each time, depending on who answers. Smoker cooking, grill cooking and barbecue cooking are 3 different methods of cooking and to ask a room full of individuals the difference between them could very well start a debate that would last indefinitely.

Smoker grills can often accommodate all cooking methods and are sometimes referred to as all-in-one grills or cookers. These multi-functioning units are convenient but sometimes lacks functionality in one or more areas when compared to cooking units designed for single functionality.

Although each of the cooking terms are defined differently, individual interpretations of each cooking methods are usually based on location and family beliefs. Interpretations of the meaning of each of these cooking methods seems to be defined by where you live, how you were raised and what you’re accustomed to. The terms barbecuing, grilling and smoking are often used interchangeably which can cause the meanings to be misinterpreted. A person from the South may not use the three cooking terms the same as someone from the North and therefore may interpret a different meaning when engaging in conversations.

I’ll attempt to explain the difference as best as I can, based on my understanding of the three cooking methods: Smoker Cooking, Grill Cooking, Barbecue Cooking. Let’s take a look at how each cooking method differs in technique and cooking outcome.

Smoker Cooking, Grill Cooking, Barbecue Cooking: What’s Your Choice?

Grill Cooking

Smoker Cooking, Grill Cooking, Barbecue Cooking: What's Your Choice? Grill cooking involves cooking with direct heat and by use of a gas or charcoal grill. When cooking with a grill, foods must be constantly monitored to avoid burning, over-cooking, and/or under-cooking. This means constantly rotating, flipping, and turning. Grill cooking is ideal for quick cooking and outdoor events that last for only a short period of time. For example, picnicking, tailgating and backyard get-together’s are ideal settings for barbecues since they are often spontaneous events, lasting only for brief periods.

When grill cooking, foods are cooked by use of direct heat. Direct heat involves cooking over open flame and at a fast pace. Grilled foods cooks in minutes and produces a great char-grill flavor.

Smoker Cooking

When smoker cooking, foods are cooked with the most flavor but for a much longer time and uses indirect heat. Because smokers use more smoke and requires longer cooking time, the flavor produce is very smokey and very flavorful. The flavor of smoked foods will vary depending on the type of wood used. Foods that are smoked last much longer than foods that are grilled. Smoker cooking is used to preserve foods such as the prepacked, smoked meats, sold in supermarkets. Since the cooking time for smoking foods are much longer when compared to grilling and barbecuing, this method is best used for planned events such as holidays or for preserving foods.

Barbecue Cooking

Barbecue cooking falls somewhere between grilling and smoking. The main difference between barbecue cooking and smoker cooking is the temperature and cooking time. Barbecue cooking involves cooking foods on a lower heat, at a much slower pace, using indirect heat. Barbecue cooking requires cooking with smoke and the use of charcoal or wood chips. The word barbecue is also used to reference an event such as a social gathering where individuals come together to talk, eat, drink, and have fun. In this instance, the word barbecue is referring to an outdoor cookout, where foods are being grilled. According to Bing Online dictionary the word barbecue is defined as listed below.

barbecue (n) – Bing Dictionary

  1. outdoor party with food cooked outdoors: an outdoor party where people eat food cooked on a grill
  2. food cooked on grill: food, especially meat, poultry, and fish, cooked on a grill
  3. equipment for cooking outdoors: an apparatus, including a grill and fuel, used for cooking food outdoors


Smoker Grills Combos

Brinkmann 810-5000-0 All-In-One Outdoor Cooker

Masterbuilt M7P 7-in-1 Smoker and Grill with Pan and Basket Set

Char-Griller Kamado Kooker Charcoal Barbecue Grill and Smoker

Smoker Cooking, Grill Cooking, Barbecue Cooking: Comparison of The 3 Cooking Methods

Grill cooking:  direct heat, high temperatures, shortest cooking time, cooks in minutes, 400-550° F (232-288° C)

Barbecue cooking: indirect heat, low-heating temperatures, longer cooking time, cooks in hours,, 190-300° F (93-150° C)

Smoker cooking: indirect heat, very low cooking temperature, takes the longest time to cook, cooking time varies depending on temperatures, 52-140° (12-60° C)

For more information visit smoker cooking, grill cooking, barbecue cooking, for grilling and smoking food safely.

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