Grilling and smoking foods are among the best cooking methods for people in outdoor activities. They cook great foods with unique tastes and flavors. However, choosing between a smoker and a grill can be daunting. Some people confuse between the two.
So, what is the difference between a smoker and a grill? The main difference between smokers and grills is how they cook, i.e., smokers use indirect heat, cooking is relatively long, and has a smoker chamber where smoke is produced to enhance a smoky flavor. Conversely, grills use direct or indirect heat (depending on the type of grill), cook, for a short time, and creates grill marks on the exterior. Let’s explore more differences to help you choose the best between a smoker and a grill.
What is a Grill?
It’s a piece of cooking equipment designed with a grill plate/grate, producing heat from underneath. Grills are of different types, i.e., electric, gas, and charcoal grills. One of the distinguishable characteristics of grills is that they cook on high heat for a short period. Also, the bars or ridges/groves on the cooking surface leave foods with char marks. Depending on the specific grill you use, food will have a smoky flavor, i.e., charcoal grills have a smokier flavor, but for electric grills, it’s minimal.
What is a Smoker?
A smoker is a cooking equipment that features a similar design to a charcoal grill but has a lid. Unlike a grill, the cooking temperatures are low and controlled. Additionally, smokers use wood that generates an authentic smoky flavor on foods. Lastly, the lid of the smoker has to be closed while cooking to enhance hot air circulation for cooking and prevent smoke from escaping.
There are other types of smokers fueled by electricity and natural gas. However, this kind of smoker has an additional chamber where wood chips are placed to produce smoke or a better flavor of foods.
Typically, smokers are the cooking equipment for BBQ.
What is the Difference between Smokers and Grills?
A significant number still assume that these equipment are the same and perform similar functions. However, they are different and have benefits. Here are the differences:
1. Cooking technique
Smokers are used for smoking or barbecuing, while grills are used for grilling. So, what is the difference between smoking and grilling?
Grilling involves high temperatures and cooking for a short period. Usually, the ideal temperature for grilling is between 350 degrees F and 450 degrees, depending on the food. In addition, grills can use both direct and indirect heat for cooking. The goal of grilling is to attain nice grill marks on foods and unique taste due to Maillard reaction.
Smoking involves cooking at low controlled temperatures for cooking for a prolonged period. Ideal cooking temperatures for cold smoking are between 68 degrees and 86 degrees F. In comparison; hot smoking ranges between 126 degrees F and 250 degrees F. Smoking entails the use of indirect heat, wood chips, and water. Regardless of the type of smoker, you’ll be using, the ultimate goal is to get a smoky flavor on the foods.
2. Cooking time
It’s easier and faster to cook on a grill because you’ll be using direct heat. Also, the indirect heat from grills cooks quickly because it’s high heat. You can cook a lot of food for a short time on a grill.
On the other hand, smokers cook for an extended period because the temperatures are low. Also, cooking has to take a longer time to allow the food to absorb a smoky flavor.
Generally, cooking on a grill is a matter of minutes, while cooking on a smoker is a matter of hours.
Smokers, especially charcoal and wood smokers, results in authentic “barbecue” smoky flavor on foods. Conversely, grills, especially charcoal grills, have a somewhat smoky flavor. However, electric and gas grills only result in a slightly smoky flavor, but they can always be enhanced using wood chips.
Check out our guide on how to get a smoky flavor on an electric grill.
Which is better? Smokers vs. Grills
Both smokers and grills are excellent choices for cooking. Choosing between the two should be based on the type of food you’ll be cooking and the results you want to attain.
However, if you want something close to barbecuing, a smoker is the ultimate choice. Also, it’s a good option for outdoor cooking where you spend time with friends as you wait for the foods to get “smoked” for those long hours. Additionally, smokers are best for large pieces of food.
On the other hand, if you want a fast and easy cooking technique, a grill is a viable choice. In addition, it’s suitable for both outdoor and indoor cooking especially, electric grills.