What is the Difference Between Grilling and Broiling?


Grilling and broiling are cooking methods that both take advantage of direct heat to cook food.

Although each of these techniques requires you to keep a close eye on your food, and they both impart a charred and caramelized effect and distinctive flavor, they achieve these aims in different ways.

So, if you can’t get outside to your charcoal grill and you don’t have a smokeless electric grill on hand, broiling might be the alternative you’ve been looking for.

Now, before we highlight the core differences between grilling and broiling, a few basics on each technique.

I. Grilling 101


Grilling is the process of roasting food using a direct and dry heat source, typically from the bottom.

You have a choice of charcoal grills or gas grills – both propane and natural gas – as well as infrared grills, wood pellet grills, kamado grills, and electric grills.

When you’re grilling food, you place the ingredients on the grill grates, or in a grill pan, griddle, or skillet.

When you grill, you’ll yield a smoky and charred caramelization you simply can’t achieve using an oven.

Grilling works well outdoors due to the ventilation required and the amount of smoke generated. So, whether you’re looking for a grill for tailgating, or a grill for permanent installation in the back yard, get that authentic BBQ taste in the great outdoors on-demand with the best grill.

II. Broiling 101


Broiling involves roasting food, also using a dry heat source, but this time coming from above rather than below as with grilling.

You can use multiple heat sources for broiling, including:

  • Gas
  • Charcoal
  • Wood
  • Induction

Broiling is typically performed either in an oven or in a specialized grill. Not all ovens are suitable for broiling, and many do not come equipped with this option at all.

Although broiling your food will impart a caramelized flavor, you won’t get that trademark grilled flavor associated with a charcoal grill.

You will also generate much less smoke in a broiler, meaning your foods won’t be imbued with that smokiness you get from traditional grills.

III. Grilling vs Broiling: The Lowdown

Here’s a glimpse at using grills and broilers in the following core areas:

  • Temperature control
  • Preheating the surface
  • Preventing and minimizing flareups

Temperature control

Perhaps the biggest difference between an oven broiler and a grill is the fact your oven comes equipped with a thermostat for temperature control.

A first glance, you might imagine this makes your life easier, but this is not always the case.

With some ovens, the heating element will switch off when your oven hits a set temperature (usually from 500F to 550F). With the heating element off, the food will be baking – cooking in its own steam – rather than broiling. Broiling, much like infrared cooking, used direct heat.

To sidestep this issue when you’re broiling, simply wedge the oven door slightly open. This lets the heat escape and prevents the oven from maxing out and powering down.

Preheating the surface

With each of these cooking methods, you need the fat and grease to drip away. Preheating the cooking surface is the most effective way to streamline this process.

With a broiler, you just need to preheat the broiler pan. The direct heat method employed means there’s no need to preheat the whole oven. When you heat the pan, this helps you to sear your meat like a pitmaster.

Preventing and minimizing flareups

When you’re broiling or grilling, keeping a close eye on proceedings is imperative. You’ll find that foods can easily burn, and possibly even catch alight, when you’re grilling and broiling.

Always keep an oven mitt close at hand. Also, stay close to the food while it’s cooking.

Investing in an instant-read thermometer is also a smart move.

Although you may need slightly longer for broiling than grilling because of the reduced temperature, the difference in timings might be less than you imagined.

IV. How to Get The Most Out of Your Broiler

One key difference between these cooking methods is that fact that a broiler will create smoke inside your home rather than out in the yard, so you’ll need to be careful not to trigger your smoke alarm.

By closely monitoring your food when it’s broiling, you can prevent any burning as well as much of the smoke associated with this, but you should also properly prepare your meats before broiling them. Trim away any excess fat. Also, go easy on oil-based marinades and never overcook.

V. 5 Great Ideas for Broiling Food

  1. Lean cuts of meat: If you have any lean meats that are quick to cook – pork tenderloin or flank steak, for instance – these can be broiled in minutes flat. You’ll need less than 20 minutes under a broiler to cook and caramelize a whole chicken breast
  2. Delicate fish dishes: If you dislike grilling delicate fish because of how it falls between the grates, you’ll have no such worries when you’re broiling, and you won’t need to worry about the fish sticking on either. Expect to cook a fish fillet in the broiler in just 5 to 6 minutes
  3. Char vegetables: Veggies like eggplant, zucchini, and red peppers will all char to perfection under a broiler
  4. Caramelize fruit: Peaches and grapefruit can be wonderfully caramelized and then served with ice cream
  5. Kebabs and pizzas: Broil some skewers or kebabs, and try your hand with a broiler and a pizza stone to rapidly cook up your flatbreads

VI. Conclusion

Well, if you came here to Hempen Hill BBQ today unclear on the similarities and differences between grilling and broiling, you should now have a thorough understanding of these rewarding cooking methods.

Before you go today, bookmark our blog. Pop back soon for more great content on all aspects of grilling. We update our content daily, so don’t miss out!

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