The Difference Between Smoking & Grilling

The season for outdoor cooking is upon us. Warmer weather means that many people are firing up the grill or smoker to cook their food outdoors. we all know the Pandemic last year was a real bummer for most of us but this year; 2023 will be different. We will be grilling outdoors more this season than last. These methods make for tasty food with a flavor that you just can’t get from cooking indoors on the stove. For those who are unfamiliar with smoking and grilling, the terms may be difficult to differentiate. Both methods involve using outdoor equipment to cook food, but there are some key differences between smoking and grilling. Lastly, we have the term barbecuing, which is often used interchangeably with grilling depending on the region in which you live. The following information can help understand the difference between the three terms.

Basic Differences in the Terms

One of the main differences in barbecuing, smoking, and grilling are the temperatures that are used and the equipment needed to perform the type of cooking. When it comes to cooking temperature, the following is a quick guide to get your started with the basics.

Smoking is done at low temperatures from around 68 – 176 degrees Fahrenheit. The cook time for these low temperatures is significantly longer than from grilling.

Grilling is done at high temperatures, from around 400-550 degrees Fahrenheit, and food is usually done in a matter of minutes at these high temperatures.

Barbecuing is done at various temperatures depending on the region you’re in. The term has different regional meanings. In some areas it means cooking at high temperatures like grilling, in other areas it means cooking low and slow like smoking.

Direct vs. Indirect Grilling

In simple terms, direct grilling is when the meat (food) is placed and cooked directly over the heat source (fire/flame). This is a “high heat” method used to cook rather small pieces or chunks of food relatively quickly. These foods are typically chops, fish fillets, vegetables, chicken breasts, steaks and sometimes bread. Indirect grilling is really for cooking larger and/or tougher foods that might burn if too close to the flame (direct grilled). Basically the food (meat) is placed next to, close by or above the flame but not directly over the flame. The heat in the box or smoker will heat up and naturally cook the food over few to several hours without burning. Usually the indirect heat temperature is between 250 – 350 degrees depending on the food being indirectly cooked. Also by doing this, you are able to utilize the full flavor of wood smoke. This technique can be used to cook ribs, whole chickens and turkeys, pork shoulders and other large pieces of food. You might find a different definition of Direct and Indirect Grilling at in their recipe blogs.

What Equipment is Needed for Grilling

Grilling can be done with just the basics. There are different types of grills available at many different price points. Charcoal grills and gas grills can both be purchased at you local hardware store, big box store, or online. They come in many sizes and configurations. Whether you choose charcoal or gas is purely personal preference. With a gas grill you’ll need the grill and propane tank. For charcoal grilling, you need your grill, lighting materials, and charcoal briquettes. You’ll also need a few basic grilling utensils like tongs and spatulas. Metal utensils are ideal because they don’t melt and can handle the high temperatures. You can also cook with cast iron griddles and pans on your grill as they can easily handle the high temperatures and will diversify your grilling options.

Charcoal Grilling

Charcoal Briquettes
Charcoal Briquettes

The cheapest grills are usually the charcoal grills and many people prefer these over gas grills as they give food a more authentic grilled flavor. They are also very popular with tailgating and camping as they’re usually smaller, more lightweight, and easy to move around. The problem with using charcoal is the learning curve that comes with it. Lighting a charcoal grill can be challenging as there are several steps involved. Then you have to know when the coals are the right temperature for cooking your food. Many grilling enthusiasts swear by charcoal grills because of the taste of the food, but those who prefer a simpler method may be better off with a gas grill.

Gas Grilling

A gas grill uses a small propane tank to keep the fire going. Most gas grills come with an igniter button that makes lighting the grill easy for even a grilling novice.

Propane Tank (LP)

Large gas grills also have a thermostat to let you know the temperature inside the grill, helping to know when to put the food on for the best sear. Some gas grills also have one or more burners on the side similar to that on a stove where you can heat up other foods in a pot. Some grills also have a smaller rack inside the lid above the grill grates that allows you to heat foods without actually putting them directly on the heat. This rack can be used for vegetables or even warmed buns for burgers. Gas grills can be purchased for under $100, but they can also run much higher than that depending on the size of grill and its features. Large capacity grills can easily allow you to cook your entire meal at once.

Benefits of Grilling

Grilling is the most versatile way to cook outdoors. Nearly anything can be grilled if you have a bit of cooking knowledge and know how to use your grill. Grilling enthusiasts grill everything from burgers and steaks, to fruit and other sweets. You can literally cook your entire meal on the grill, which means less cleanup in the kitchen when dinner is over. Once you learn the basics of grilling and have knowledge of the best temperatures to cook different foods, you can grill favorites like pizza, quesadillas, and sandwiches. You can even make s’mores on the grill and grill up the summertime fruit like fresh peaches and watermelon. Foil packets can be used for grilled items like vegetables, potatoes and other side dishes. With grilling, you’re only limited to your imagination when it comes to preparing summer meals. Another huge benefit of gas grilling is that it’s much easier to control the temperature of your gas grill using the knobs, leading to food that is cooked as intended.

Downside of Grilling

Grilling is the preferred method of cooking outdoors for many people because it allows you to cook with less fat while still giving the food plenty of flavor. But there are some negatives to using a grill. When you’re grilling at such high temperatures, the food must be tended to and turned to prevent burning. Another negative part of using a charcoal grill is that it can be very difficult to start for people who have no experience with them.

What is Smoking?

Smoking is an old technique that was originally used for food preservation before refrigeration. Meats could be smoked and kept for future use. Today, we used smoking as a way to impart flavor in different kinds of meats. When you’re eating smoked meat like brisket and pork, which is usually called BBQ in the South, the key way to tell if many types of meat have been properly smoked is the pink ring inside the meat. You can also smoke sausage, chicken, and even fish. Smoking meat leads to a unique flavor that can’t be recreated with other types of cooking. Food is slowly smoked with low-burning wood or coals for hours or even overnight.

Illustrated Smoker Grill
Illustrated Smoker Grill

Equipment Needed For Smoking

Smokers can vary greatly in size and price. But they’re often less costly than a large gas grill. For those who wish to smoke and grill different foods, there are smoker/grill combinations that can save space and allow you to have options when it comes to preparing your food outdoors. When smoking, you have the choice of many different smoking materials depending on the flavor you want in your food. Different woods give off different flavors with some of the favorites being apple wood and hickory.

Cold Smoking vs Hot Smoking

There are two basic methods of smoking. Cold smoking, which uses temperatures of between 68-86 degrees Fahrenheit, and hot smoking which cooks food at temperatures between 126-176. These two methods of smoking are used for very different purposes and they product different end results. Cold smoking is most often used to give flavor to different meats and cheeses. This method doesn’t actually fully cook the food but prepares it for future use. Cold smoked foods like sausage, chicken, and other meats must be cured and preserved or cooked in some other way before being consumed. Hot smoking cooks foods completely so they can be eaten once the smoking process is completed. Hot smoking is often used for hams and other large cuts of meat like ribs and brisket.

Benefits of Smoking

Those who love smoked food will tell you that smoking is the way to go. Smoking is like an art form to enthusiasts and they like trying out different types of wood, different techniques, and different smoking times to get that perfect cut of meat at the end. The flavor of smoked meat really can’t be duplicated with any other cooking method. Smoking can also be used to preserve foods once you learn the process. Smoking meat requires less attention and the food usually doesn’t need to be turned or tended to very often while it’s cooking. Plus, if you have a large capacity smoker, you can even smoke your Thanksgiving turkey for an amazing holiday meal.

Downside of Smoking

Smoking food takes a lot of time, hours or even overnight, depending on what you’re cooking. Charcoal and wood smokers need infrequent attention during the process to keep the temperature at the ideal level. Plus, without temperature knobs, it can be difficult to control the temperature of your smoker which can result in unevenly cooked food. One of the main concerns of smoking is food safety. This is especially true of those who aren’t experienced with the process. A meat thermometer can be used to ensure that your smoked foods are fully cooked.

What About Barbecuing?

Pork Ribs with Barbecue Sauce
Pork Ribs with Barbecue Sauce

If you’re anywhere in the South, barbecue is a type of smoked meat often covered with a tangy sauce. Different regions have different types of sauces. Memphis-style BBQ has a thick tomato-based sauce with some sweetness whereas North Carolina BBQ sauce is vinegar-based, spicier, and thinner. Texas has it’s own version of BBQ sauce, as does Kansas City and other regions. Where this often gets confusing is that many people in other parts of the nation, anywhere that’s not part of the South, use the terms barbecuing and grilling interchangeably. You’re not likely to find someone in Tennessee who uses the grill to cook their steak and calls is barbecuing, but if you’re in a state like New York, that’s likely the term that’s used when any food is cooked outdoors on a grill. So the meaning of barbecuing, when used as a verb, is actually the same as grilling in many places, but in the South people say ‘having a cookout’ or simply ‘grilling’. To Southerners, BBQ is smoked meat that has been cooked low and slow to achieve that perfect smoke ring. Many BBQ enthusiasts even scoff at putting sauce on their smoked BBQ because meat that has been properly smoked should be flavorful enough that it doesn’t need sauce.

Which Should You Choose?

Trying to Decide
Which to Choose…

Choosing between smoking and grilling is purely personal. Many people like to have a grill and a smoker so they have options when it comes to cooking outdoors. If you have limited space, the grill is more versatile and can be used to cook much more than a smoker. If you’re creative with cooking and like to try new things, a smoker might be the perfect option. You can make your own jerky at home, and you even have the option to smoke cheeses and other foods that can’t be done on the grill. The outdoor enthusiast will also appreciate the smoker as you can bring home your freshly harvested meat or fish and smoke it at home. You also have the option of purchasing a HYBRID Gas/Charcoal grill which offers you the choice to grill with liquid propane or smoke or grill with charcoal. We have a page dedicated for these types of grills and show you the best hybrid gas/charcoal grills on the market. There are a few grills listed that are suitable for smoking meats (with charcoal) and/or grilling a quick steak. There is one unit we like, that is reviewed here on this site, which allows you to smoke and/or grill your meat… it’s up to you. It is the Smoke Hollow 8500 LP Combo Grill. Check it out, you might find it is what you need.

Wrap Up

Whether you’re grilling, smoking, or barbecuing your food this summer, it’s sure to come out tasty once you know a few basic techniques and recipes. Cooking outdoors during warm weather provides an excellent opportunity to enjoy spending time with friends and family in a casual atmosphere with great food. Plus, with this type of cooking there’s often less clean-up, a major plus when you just want time to relax without worrying about washing a bunch of dishes and cleaning up a mess in the kitchen. If you’re new to the outdoor cooking scene, there are many different books, blogs, or websites that can help you learn the basics and offer up some tasty recipes.

Hi-Tech Grills & Smokers

Hi-Tech Grills & Smokers
Technology benefiting our outdoor appliances

Grill and Smoker manufacturers are taking advantage of many of the latest advances in technology today. Similar to the evolution in mobile devices, WiFi and other hi-tech features are now being incorporated into Grills and Smokers. This new technology is great for addressing several of the most significant problems that people usually face with outdoor grilling.

With that being said, manufactures are now providing the technology that is needed to address certain matters of convenience. For instance, instead of the cook having to stand out doors in the rain to make sure the barbecue does not burn, the new technology is allowing people to check on their meat remotely, including from the inside of their homes.

Fortunately, the newest innovations for 2023 are addressing a wide variety of different concerns. So, for those of you who are interested in the latest inventions and its benefits, you should take a look at each of the smokers and grills provided for you below.

Hi-Tech Smokers

Bradley Smoker – BS916 Digital Blue-tooth Smoker

Bradley Smoker BS916 Digital Smart Bluetooth Electric SmokerThe Bradley BS916 Digital Blue-tooth Smoker has been designed with several different purposes in mind. The manufacturers of this product have obviously considered the feedback from regular users of today’s smokers, and they have filled in the gap by providing a total new extended experience. One in which combines the old smoker concept of cooking meet with the latest smart technology.

Great Features of the Bradley BS916 BT Smoker…

  • Touch screen controls let the cook make several different selections including choose the time, temperature, as well as the amount of smoke required
  • Designed with 2 different heat elements, one of which has been designed for the oven heat, while the other one Is made solely to create smoke
  • Manufacturers have included 2 color coded integrated probes, both of which allows each user to track the temperature of the food throughout the entire process
  • Gives user the capability to use Bluetooth technology operate it with remotely. Therefore, even if it is a sunny day and not rainy, cooks can check the status of its temperature ranges without having to go outside to do it
  • Comes with temperature probes that allows the user to check the temperature of the meet without having to constantly open up the smoker to check it
  • Manufactures have designed with an app that helps the user with changing the temperature whenever it is needed
  • Grill does not heat up past 200 degree temperatures
  • Defects in the door because it has been reported as falling off

Smoke Hollow – 36” Digital Smoker

Smoke Hollow 3616DEW Digital Electric SmokerThe Smoke Hollow 36” Digital Smoker is ideal for people who want to cook all night for all of the fun outdoor holiday, but do not want the unnecessary hassles of overcooked and under cooked meat problems that can easily wreck a perfect day. With this new electronic digital controlled smoker, everyone who is assigned with these duties can cook their favorite barbecue dishes with perfection every time.

Features of this Smoke Hollow 36 inch Digital Smoker…

  • Comes with digital Electronic Controls that can be operated easily with both Push Button On/Off and Temp/Time features
  • Manufacturers have designed this smoker with a tempered glass viewing window that makes it very simple to view the what’s happening on the inside without having to open the door
  • 3.0 cubic ft. Cooking capacity that has been designed for large jobs
  • Gives the user the capability to add wood chips with ease
  • 4 chrome-plated cooking grids with multiple adjustment levels
  • Digital control is great for adjust temperature settings as needed in order to make sure the heat distribution is even throughout
  • Made with ease in assembly so virtually any user can put it together without a lot of unnecessary hassle
  • Stylish designed that is well thought out for people who like to smoke their meat and vegetables
  • No more problems with running out of propane fuel since it works by putting in wood chips
  • Some users say that its overall capacity is a little too small
  • Unit can only manage 275 degrees

Masterbuilt – 40” Front Controller RF Remote

Masterbuilt 40 inch 20075315 Front Controller Electric SmokerThe Masterbuilt 40” Front Controller RF Remote Smoker has been designed with both the pros and the beginners in mind. It does not matter if it is a small dinner with friends and family or a competition being held among friends, this technologically advanced smoker has everything that cooks need to do their very best. No more problems with propane or charcoal and the hassles that comes along with using them, especially since it is designed with electronic systems that makes it easy.

Features of the Masterbuilt 40 inch RF Remote Electric Smoker…

  • Comes with 975 sq. Inch of cooking space
  • Users can enjoy the incorporation of a smooth operating wood chip loading system that makes the entire start-up cooking process simple for anyone to assist them with getting ready
  • For easy access, users can benefit from a front access drip pan
  • Manufacturers have included a drip catching system that make clean much easier to complete quickly
  • Makers of this master built cooking equipment have included 4 cooking racks along with an internal light. • Heating Element:1,200 watt and RF Remote
  • Smoker comes with a built in meat thermometer that works very well, and is dependable for ensuring all meat and vegetables are cooked just right
  • New smart technology remote technology gives the cook the capability to check on their meat temps without stepping out of their home
  • Makes life easy so people can do more than one thing at time. Particularly, when preparing the home or the outside for guest to be received
  • Assembly is easy for new users to complete without unnecessary difficulties
  • Some customers have complained about the heating element quitting on them after a couple months
  • Control panel may need to be replaced if it dies out

Hi-Tech Grills

Memphis Grills – Elite WiFi 39” Built-In Grill

Memphis Grills MEMB1B Pellet Built-In VGB0002S GrillThe Memphis Grills Elite WiFi 39” Built-In Grill has many different innovative features that can be used by anyone who like good barbecue every once in a while, or on a regular basis. It has been designed with smart technology that gives users the capability to grill, while also taking care of other important issues around the home. Since it has been built with high tech Wi-Fi functionality, cooks have the freedom to control this grill remotely. So, they are not tied to the grill for several hours until the meat is completely done.

Features of this 39 inch Built-In Grill by Memphis Grills…

  • Comes with even heat distribution along with efficient pellet burn capabilities because it has been made with double wall construction and a dual convection fan.
  • With WiFi capabilities, its unmatched by other grills in the industry.
  • Users can also take advantage of a mobile app that allows them to both monitor and adjust food temperatures as needed.
  • Users can take advantage of email and text alerts by taking advantage of mobile smart technology features.
  • Constructed with an advanced circulation system that has been designed to eliminate hot spots, while also speeding up the grilling process.
  • Great BBQ grill that has been designed to cook all kinds of different meats in different ways. Since it can easily acts as a BBQ/smoker/convection oven all in one, people can buy it for multiple purposes
  • Since it uses wood pellets, no one one has to deal with propane gases anymore
  • Lives up to its names Memphis is known for making the best barbecue for the elite
  • Great for situating as the grill in near an outdoor kitchen
  • May be a lot more than some people may want since it can double as a convention oven

Green Mountain Grills – Davy Crockett WiFi Pellet Grill

Green Mountain Grills Davy Crockett WiFi Pellet GrillThe Green Mountain Grills Davy Crockett Pellet Grill can be described as the ultimate in portable grills. This is because it is packed with the latest smart technologies that will not only make it a good buy, but also one of the best experiences in grilling for family and friends. Just like mobile is now the in thing, it also has mobile features that takes advantage of Android application, WiFi. With all of these features, this technology has been developed for 2023 to make it Convenient for tailgating parties, camping ventures, hunting, music festivals, house boating and any other activities that people can celebrate with an outdoor barbecue.

Features of the Green Mountain WiFi Enabled Pellet Grill…

  • Comes available with open flame technology
  • Runs on 3 power options, including 110V or 12V
  • Designed with Folded Legs for better portability
  • Designed with features that makes it Ultimate Tailgating Grill
  • Manufactures have included Sense-Mate, which makes is the technology provides it with a thermal sensor. This thermal sensor helps to monitor grill temperature on a continuous basis.
  • Wi-Fi remote feature is very useful for those who do not want to stay in the same place while the meat is cooking
  • Solid construction, most people say that it is built well enough for it to make grilling easy for the novice
  • Designed for people to place on the grill, leave and control it remotely from somewhere else
  • Made with plug and play features so it easy to move from one place to another
  • Portable for camping, fishing and for home use
  • Grill is easy to setup and use
  • Temperatures can be stuck between setting so it can go full blast or too low to cook foods completely


Hi-Tech Grills and Smokers are great for a number different reasons. Because manufacturers are using the latest innovations to meet various needs, grilling and smoking is being taken to a completely new level as now is necessary for 2023. Just like other trends that says go mobile, this industry is also using the type of technology that allows cooks to move around much more freely. Particularly, because WiFi, and other innovations are making it much convenient to control grilling and smoking activities remotely from other places with the use of mobile apps.