Difference between Broil and Grill



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The debate about broiling and grilling has been around for some time. Some chefs argue that broiling is merely an option when you cannot grill outside. Even though this is true, it highly suggests that broiling is just a substitute for grilling which is not entirely correct.

So what is the difference between broiling and grilling? One of the major differences between these two cooking techniques is, for grilling the heat source is usually below the grilled food while broiling the heat source is above the food. Other than the positioning of the heat source, there are other differences between these cooking methods as highlighted in the table below. Keep reading to learn more about each cooking method and their differences in length.

Notable Differences

Source of heat is placed above the foodSource of heat is placed below the food
Broil process does not allow you to control the temperaturesIn the grilling process, you have control of the temperatures of the grill
Broil produces no smokeGrill produces a lot of smoke.
 Broiled food is caramelized but lacking the smoky flavorGrilled food is caramelized with the charred smoky flavor due to the smoke produced.
Broil is recommended for indoor cookingGrill is recommended for outdoor cooking

This article will look into broiling and grilling separately, their differences, similarities, how each cooking method is done and other broiling and grilling issues.


As mentioned above, broiling is a cooking technique that involves subjecting the food under dry heat from above. Just like grilling, the heat source for broiling could be gas, wood, charcoal or even an oven. However, note that not all ovens are built to allow the broiling process. Broiling requires a pan or a skillet to hold the meat or the juice produced



Grilling, on the other hand, is the process of roasting our food where the heat source is below the food. The fuel for the grilling resembles that of broiling like gas and charcoal to mention but a few. Grilling requires tools like grates, grill pans, and skillets

What is the Difference between Broiling and Grilling?

Now that we have the background information for each of the cooking techniques, let us dive into their differences.

  • Controlling Temperatures

Grilling allows you to control the temperatures of your grill whereby you can turn off the grill whenever the desired temperatures are achieved. However, for broiling, the thermostat controls the temperatures. As mentioned before, broiling can be done in an oven. Usually, the oven is fitted with a thermostat that helps regulate the temperatures during cooking.

Depending on your specific oven, most types turn off when temperatures of about 500 to 550 F are reached. So is this a good or bad thing? Well, when broiling it is a bad thing. This is because broiling requires direct heat from the source. So when the oven is turned off, the broiling tends to continue using the indirect accumulated heat, which means the food is baking and not broiling.

To keep your oven from turning off during broiling, keep the oven door open for an inch. This allows heat to escape making sure that the oven does not reach its maximum temperatures which will cause it to switch off.

  • Reduced Smoking

Broiling your food produces little to no smoke since it meant to be done indoors. Grilling on the other side is known for is smoky nature which in turn gives grilled food that distinct exotic charred taste.

  • Taste

Broiled food has a caramelized flavor but lacks that smoky grilled flavor. This can be attributed to the reduced smoke produced when broiling. Grilled food is known for that traditional grilled smoky chary taste. The distinct taste of grilled food can also be attributed to the amount of smoke produced when grilling.

  • Environment

When it comes to the environment of cooking, broiling is recommended to be used for all your indoor cooking needs. It can be a tad difficult to grill from outside unless you move your oven from the kitchen to the patio, which we will agree is some unnecessary work. This also explains why broiling does not produce a lot of smoke.

Grilling is meant to be done outside, this is because the process requires a lot of ventilation which may not be possible inside. Moreover, if you are looking to host a party with friends and family, or to move with your cooking equipment, then grilling is the best cooking method to adopt.

Similarities between Broil and Grill

Although broiling and grilling are two different cooking methods, they share several similarities, which have in turn led them to be termed as substitutes. For instance, if you cannot afford a grill, broiling your food would come in handy. Also, if you are looking to move with your broil from one place to another, purchasing a portable grill would help in that. The following are the similarities between broil and grill

  • Both methods require direct intense heat for them to cook food.
  • Food resulting from both methods has a caramelized taste
  • Broil and grill both require you to keep an eye on them. Although ideally, broiling takes longer than grilling, both methods should be monitored to avoid burning your food, which can also lead to a fire. Moreover, for both cooking techniques always keep a fire-resistant mint close by for safety purposes.

Benefits of Broil

Affordability: A broiler like this goes for about half the price of a typical grill. It is also considered cheap since it can as well be used for baking as compared to a grill, which is restricted to grilling only.

Less Smoke: Broiling releases less smoke making it an environment- friendly method of cooking. It is also safe as compared to grilling in terms of fire emergencies.

Can be used indoor: Broiling can come in handy during winter, unlike grilling. This is because this cooking method is designed for indoor use. Less smoke also makes it suitable for cooking inside.

Drawbacks of Broil

  • Broilers are not built to be portable
  • You cannot control the temperatures of a broiler
  • No smoke from a broiler makes the food  lack that charred smoky flavor
  • Broiling takes longer to cook than grilling
  • Broiling does not allow the fat to drip after melting. Broiled food, therefore, contains more fats

Benefits of Grilling

  • Smoke produced when grilling gives the food the edgy charred traditional grill flavor.
  • Grills (see Amazon) have a larger surface area as compared to broilers. A grill can hold up to 10 steaks while a broil only holds 5-6 steaks. As such, you can grill more food as compared to the amount that you can broil within the same period. This also makes grilling suitable for use during events.
  • Grilled food has lesser fats since during pre-heating the excess fats are allowed to melt away
  • Most grills are portable and there are grills specifically designed to be compatible for easy movement

Drawbacks of Grilling

  • Grills are expensive
  • Grilling cannot be done inside due to risks of fire and excess smoke
  • Grilled food poses a threat to one’s health due to its charred nature.

In summary, both broiling and grilling have their drawbacks and benefits. However, each of them is suitable for different use. Therefore, depending on your needs, you can choose to use either method.

If by now you still do not know which method is best, you can skip broil and grill all together and just pan sear your meal.

Difference In US And UK Culture

There is a slight difference in what broiling indicates in the US and UK culture. In the USA, broiling is the classic top-down heat, while grilling refers to the bottom-up heat. This is a widely used nomenclature in the cook books.

In the UK, broiling is done by sticking a stick through whole chicken and moving it 360 degrees in front of a vertical or horizontal heat source. Grilling takes place when the heat is aimed from the top, side, or down.

Outside United States, top-down heating is known as salamandering, named after the oven in question which is known as a salamander. Although it was initially manufactured by an American company, the name never became popular.

How to Broil

The following is a step-to-step procedure of how to set up your broiler and broil your food.

Step1: Locate where your broiler is placed in an oven. Since ovens come in different designs, the placements of broilers also tend to differ. As such, some broilers are placed above the oven rack and below the stovetop while others are found in a drawer below the oven. Whichever position your broiler is, make sure you slide it at least 4 inches away from the source of heat.

Step 2: Turn on the broiler and allow it to heat. Most ovens have an immediate turn on and offsetting. However, for those that do not, it can take about 5- 10 minutes for them to heat up.

Step 3: Place your meat or food in a broiler pan. A broiler pan is most preferred since it has slats that help to air circulate the food during cooking. Alternatively, you can use a skillet in which case you will have to rotate your food during cooking. The skillet should be a cast-iron skillet due to the extremely high temperature of broiling.

Moreover, during broiling, avoid using any glass cookware since they cannot withstand the high temperatures. Avoid nonstick or Teflon cookware since they produce toxic chemicals when subjected to high temperatures. A broiler pan or a skillet is best because they are built to withstand the high temperatures of about 500F.

Step 4: With the food on the broiler pan, place the broiler pan under direct heat for cooking. Remember to open the oven doors slightly to prevent it from overheating

How to Broil Steak

How to Grill a Steak

Step 1: Pick a steak, which is at least one and a half inches in thickness. The meat should have just enough fats scattered throughput. Let it sit out of the fridge for about 20 minutes.

Step 2: In case of any excess fat, cut it off to avoid excess smoke

Step 3: Preheat the grill for at least 30 minutes before you cook. You can use this time to marinade your steak to your preferred flavors

Step 4: Once you are done preheating the grill, dip a paper towel in oil, and using tongs, allow the oil to drip to the grates of the grill. Let the oil hit up until it starts smoking

Step 5:  With the oil heated it’s time to cook. Part the meat to get rid of the excess marinades, salt and other tenderizers. Place the steak on the hot grill

Step 6: Allow the steak to sit until it no longer sticks to the grates. Each side of the steak takes about 4 minutes to cook. However, since you do not want to eat raw meat, you can use a thermometer to measure the temperatures of the grill.

Once the thermometer clocks 165F, the meat is ready for consumption. In case you do not have a thermometer, cutting through the meat can help you determine if it is cooked. Uncooked meat appears pink on the inside.

Step 7: When you are certain your steak is cooked, allow it to sit on a plate for about 5 minutes. This helps the steak to retain its juice making it even more delicious. 

Step 8: After the 5 minutes slice the steak and serve. Enjoy your meal!

Related Article: How To Make Grilled Cheese Without Butter?

Which is better between Broiling and Grilling?

Having discussed both cooking methods at length and digging into their difference, declaring one a better choice as compared to another is a matter of preference. However, breaking down their benefits and drawbacks could help you reach a decision.

How can I reduce the amount of smoke released when grilling?

The first step is to choose lean pieces of meat that have low fats. For instance, pork tenderloin, chicken breast, or steal could work instead of sausage or ribs, which have high levels of fat.

You can also reduce the smoke produced by grilling small portions of meat. Removing excess fat from your meat could also work. When it comes to poultry make sure you remove the skin to avoid excess fat.

Using less thick marinades could also help to reduce the smoke produced. Alternatively, you can use marinades that contain vinegar or lemon since they provide a protective layer over the meat that produces less smoke when grilled.

Keeping a close eye on your food and turning it frequently will also help to avoid burning which produces smoke. It is also recommended that you grill your food at least six inches away from the heat source to avoid excess smoke. Another way is by making sure the juices from the steak do not get to the fire.

Are there restrictions on the type of food I can broil?

While else there are no rules on the foods to broil and grill, there are recommendations for the best results. Grills are best for smoking your beef, kebabs, shrimps, seafood, chicken patties and steaks. Broiling the other hand is best for chicken or turkey, fish, kabobs, fruits and vegetables. Notice that fruits and vegetables are not recommended for grilling.

Is the oven door left open when broiling

If you are using an electric grill then the door may be left open while broiling. However, if you are using a gas grill then keep the door closed.

Can I broil with an aluminum foil

Yes, if you don’t have a nonstick pan and there are messy foods to deal with, lining the top and bottom section of the broiler pan with an aluminum foil van help. However, make sure you cut slits through the foil to let the fat drain.

Related Articles:
Charcoal Grill Vs Gas Grill : Pros And Cons
10 Tips for Grilling at Night ( in the Dark)
7 Best Oil For Grill Grates

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