The Difference Between a Barbecue and a Grill

Updated: May, 2022 with additional information and tips.

Summer is upon us and especially for those of us Midwest and southern folks – that means BBQ and grilling season. It’s that time of year for dads across the country to put on their favorite jeans shorts and get to cooking up some wings, burgers, ribs, and hot dogs. 

But, in the battle of BBQ vs. Grill, I think many would agree that BBQ food is delicious! When we cook food of direct or indirect heat on a barbecue, the resulting foods are amazingly tender and the smoke imparts that classic BBQ taste sensation. Grilling, on the other hand, is pretty much the same as cooking on your stove-top except you get those nice sear marks. 

The main draw of grilling over BBQ is that it can be a lot cheaper than getting a smoker. It also allows you to cook much faster, instead of having to smoke some brisket all day. And, sometimes, we just don’t want or need that additional layer of smokiness in every dish we prepare outside on our patios. 

How to BBQ on a Grill

Barbecue is often prepared in a charcoal grill or a dedicated smoker, which can range in price from $100 to $10,000. While that’s certainly a steep price to pay toward the high end of the range, don’t forget about the good old-fashioned charcoal grill and a handful of your favorite wood chips to compliment your food with the right kind of smoke.

Either way, the trick to barbecuing is to cook over indirect heat. If you cook on direct heat, that’s called grilling—and it’s more suited for burgers, steaks, or kabobs. 

To barbecue on a charcoal grill, rake all the coals into two piles on opposite sides. The empty space in the middle is where you’ll cook your meat low and slow. Barbecuing on a gas grill is easier. You turn half of your grill on and cook over the other half. 

Toward the end of the outdoor cooking season, make sure to brush up on our tips for how to prep and store your grill and other outdoor living gear safely over the winter months. 

Secret to Smoking and Grilling

You can cook over indirect heat and end up with fall-off-the-bone ribs or chicken, but the second element to good barbecue is the flavor. 

The secret to great barbecue is in the wood chips, which can be bought at hardware stores or big superstores such as Walmart. These wood chips come in flavors such as apple, hickory, mesquite, and oak. 

About 15 minutes before grilling, soak your wood chips in water, apple juice, or even beer. To use them on a charcoal grill, add them to the burning coals. To use them on a gas grill, pick up a wood chip smoking box from Amazon and place it between your cooking grate and the burners. 

If you are serious about barbecue and want to invest in a smoker, there are some relatively cheap options. We’ve tested some of these inexpensive vertical smokers and found them to provide some seriously delectable smoked wings and ribs.

It can be overwhelming trying to find a good recipe for barbecue unless you have grandma’s secret recipe for a dry rub. For the best barbecue at home, follow these step-by-step tips. 

Grilling and BBQ Storage

Grills, smokers, propane tanks, and charcoal or wood chips can take up a lot of space. If you’re downsizing or just need to free up the backyard while the grill is out of commission for the winter, you may need storage space. We’re here for you with clean, well-lit storage units available in a range of sizes to fit all needs and budgets. Check out our Self Storage Calculator, then rent the perfect storage unit online to get our best deals.