Is Pan-frying the Same as Grilling?

ਦਸੰਬਰ 28, 2022 3 min read

Grilled sausage with steak

Grilling and pan-frying are among the most common methods of cooking in households. However, the two are distinct cooking methods in many aspects.

Both are versatile cooking methods that cook a wide variety of foods and results in different tastes.

Is pan-frying the same as grilling? Grilling is not the same as pan-frying. Grilling entails placing foods on a griddle/ grill pan to cook over direct or indirect heat. On the other hand, pan-frying entails cooking foods with scalding oil or fat.

This article focuses on differentiating these two cooking methods. It also answers relatable questions.

What is Grilling?

Grilling is a form of cooking that uses dry heat to cook food surfaces from below. Usually, the heating is through thermal radiation. 

The grilling temperatures have to be around 250 to 500 degrees F to enhance fast cooking. However, the optimum temperature for grilling is 310 degrees F. 

So, is grilling the same as barbecue?

No, these are two different cooking methods. Barbecuing entails cooking foods slowly and for extended periods on low heat, while grilling is fast cooking food over high heat. 

Food is cooked for specific minutes on one side and flipped to cook the other side for a similar period. 

Bacons on Atgrills electric grill

What is Pan-frying?

Pan-frying entails cooking using minimal edible cooking oils on a heated pan. Fats and other soluble fats can be used.

Examples of commonly used oils are coconut oils, olive oils, vegetable oils, mustard oils, etc. Usually, the oils are first preheated, and then food is added to cook for a short period. 

Cooking is a result of high heat conducted by the frying pans. Consequently, pan-fried food is crispy with an excellent aroma. 

Frying pan with piece of meat

 Grilling vs. Pan-frying: Differences 

  1. Grilled food has a smoky flavor and a crispy texture with char marks. On the other hand, pan-fried food tend to retain their original taste and crisp texture. However, pan-fried foods might also end up with a greasy texture. 
  2. Grilling utilizes direct heat (for the conventional grills) or indirect heat (electric grills and grill pans). In contrast, pan-frying uses a cooking medium such as hot cooking oil.
  3. Grilling drains excess fats from cooked foods while pan-frying increases grease and fats since you’ve used oils for cooking.
  4. Pan-frying is a more convenient method of cooking than grilling. You can pan-fry anytime in the comfort of your kitchen, while grilling might require you to do it outdoors unless you’re using indoor electric grills. Grilling is more of outdoor activity while pan-frying is mostly done indoors. 
  5. Grilling is an older method of cooking that was highly used even before civilization. It came after the domestication of fire, i.e., about 500,000 years ago. Pan-frying came later, about 4000 years ago. 

FAQs: Grilling vs. Pan-frying

Can I pan fry instead of a grill? 

Choosing the exact method of cooking between grilling and pan-frying depends on the type of food you want to cook.

A grill pan, an electric grill, or a stovetop grill have raised ridges on their cooking surfaces, while a frying pan has a flat cooking surface. Therefore, some foods cooked in a frying pan cannot be cooked on a grill or a grill pan.  

For instance, you can cook eggs and pancakes on a frying pan but not on a grill. Conversely, grilled steak or vegetables have a better flavor than pan-fried ones due to caramelized exterior of foods.

Is grilling healthier than pan-frying? 

Grilling is among the alternatives to healthy cooking. But why? It does not involve the use of fats and oils like frying does. 

In contrast, pan-frying entails using additional oils for cooking, thus increasing the fat content in foods. But then pan-frying is healthier than deep-frying that involves completely dipping foods in oils.

However, when such excess fat is consumed, it increases blood cholesterol levels, thus increasing health risks to your body.

Additionally, the raised ridges on grills and grill pans allow excess fats and juices from the food to drip down, thus leaving your proteins with fewer fats.

Is steak on a grill healthy?

Grilled steak is healthy and tasty: it has lower fats and calories since excess fats drip down when cooking. However, it may contribute to cancer risks due to the polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH).

These chemical components are formed when muscle meat is cooked at high temperatures and on open flames, producing smoke as a result of fats dripping on the fire.

Check out Atgrills indoor electric grills and griddles to cook food on a non stick cookware with natural stone coating.


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