Grilling vs. Broiling: Are They Different?

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Last Updated on July 21, 2021
Doug Stephen

A long-time contributor to SeriouslySmoked. Jim has had a lifelong relationship with the art of grilling, passed on from his father and grandfather to him.  

Doug is a hardcore barbeque enthusiast and connoisseur. While he spends most of his time on editing and research, he sometimes moonlights as a product tester for particularly interesting things he comes across.


grilling vs broiling

Grilling and broiling share a similar cooking process, using intense direct heat for cooking meat. Both methods produce charring and caramelization, and you need to be careful not to burn your meats during cooking. However, there are some significant differences. 

Grilling heats meat from below, whereas broiling applies heat to the top of the food. It’s not difficult to learn how to cook using either grilling and broiling techniques to add variety to your meals. 

Both methods provide delicious results, so which one will you use tonight? Before making a decision, it’s essential to understand the similarities and differences between grilling and broiling.

1. Differences Between Grilling and Broiling

When considering grilling vs. broiling, several crucial differences make it easier to decide which option is right for you. 

Temperature Control

One of the important tips for safe grilling or broiling is good temperature control. The main differences between these two cooking techniques is that it’s easier to control an oven’s temperature. Ovens use straightforward dials that you can set to your preferred temperature without the risk of the heat level fluctuating. Most conventional ovens have a cut-off point of 550°F. When the heat level reaches this mark, the appliance automatically turns off. 

Your meat continues to cook in the residual heat, but it is no longer broiling. Cooking in this way is baking. Broiling requires a direct heat source, so you need to ensure your oven doesn’t turn off during cooking. 

Cooking Surface

When grilling, you place your meats directly onto the wire grates. However, you need a pan to hold your food when broiling. Without using a broiling pan, juices will drip onto your oven’s surface, creating a mess and potentially starting a fire. 

Although a broiling pan is useful for draining away most juices, you can expect occasional flare ups when cooking with both methods. When grilling over an open flame, fat can drip from meats directly into the fire. These flare ups can quickly char meat and make the texture tough. To avoid charring your food, it’s vital to keep an eye on it at all times.

Searing and Taste

Grilling is a better option for searing because you can use a higher heat than when broiling. If you use a charcoal grill, you can also get that distinct smoky flavor associated with outdoor cooking. Because you can seal the juices in food when grilling, the meats are more moist and succulent than when broiling.

Adding sear marks to your meats is also a great way to impress your friends and family. Your meats will look and taste just like they do in a professional restaurant.

Indirect Heat Option

Although you can grill over an intense direct heat, there is the option to use an indirect heat source. This grilling technique is ideal when cooking larger meat slices or when you want to spend the day grilling outdoors. If you broil your meal, there is a constant direct heat source, so there is no option to apply an alternative indirect heat source.

2. Similarities Between Grilling and Broiling

broil steak

Although there are several crucial differences between grilling and boiling, there are a couple of similarities. These characteristics can make it challenging to choose which cooking technique to use because they both produce outstanding results.

Both Techniques Produce Smoke

One thing to bear in mind when grilling or broiling is there is likely to be some smoke. If you’re grilling outside, this might not be a problem as the fresh air carries the smoke away. However, if you’re broiling indoors using your oven, it’s a good idea to open some windows and have your exhaust fan running.  

To reduce the amount of smoke, you can trim the fat from meats before grilling or broiling. You can also choose cuts of meat that naturally contain less fat, such as lean chicken breasts. If you can avoid oil-based marinades, this further reduces smoke during cooking. 

When using a broiler, lower the rack to place it further away from the heat source. 

Both Techniques are Interchangeable

If you can grill food, you can probably broil it. If the weather is sunny, it can be great to stand out by the grill. However, if you’ve bought steaks and it begins to rain, you can broil your meat indoors instead.

3. Grilling vs. Broiling Benefits

Both cooking methods have unique benefits, and these can help you decide whether grilling vs. broiling is most suitable for your needs.

Grilling Benefits

Most grills tend to have a larger surface area than broilers. If you’re cooking for a large group, grilling is a better option.  

You may also find your meat has less fat when grilling. When the fat melts off during heating on a grill, it tends to fall into the flames and disappear. However, when broiling, the fat forms a pool in the pan and becomes reabsorbed during cooking. 

Many people choose to grill because of the texture and taste of grilled foods. Cooking at higher heats allows grills to break down compounds in meats and infuse them with smoky flavors. 

Broiling Benefits

When broiling, there is less smoke production. Because there is less smoke, you can also broil your meals indoors all year round. You still need to be wary of ventilation, especially when broiling fatty meats, but it is a reliable indoor cooking method.

You can use a broiler for more than just meat. If you want to develop a crunchy panko bread crumb crust on top of a casserole or brown the cheese on top of some grilled stuffed peppers, you can place these under the broiler for 3-5 minutes. Monitor these dishes closely to avoid burning.

When broiling in an oven, you can save more money than when grilling. You only need relatively cheap electricity or gas supply for operation, whereas a grill requires charcoal or less economical gas tanks. You also don’t need to clean your oven each time you use it for broiling, whereas you generally need to wipe down a grill after each use. 

Doug Stephen

Doug Stephen

Final Thoughts: Grilling vs. Broiling

There’s no right or wrong answer when deciding whether to grill or broil. You can prepare delicious meals using either technique. The best option may be to learn how to do both, allowing you to switch between cooking methods throughout the year.