Smokers Vs. Grills


Grilling and smoking are two very different cooking techniques. Although there are a number of products that can both grill and smoke, traditional smokers differ in a number of ways from traditional grills. Which one you prefer will depend on a number of factors, including taste preferences and whether the food is being preserved.


  • Whether they use charcoal or wood, grills and smokers use a fundamentally different design. Grills cook using the direct heat from coals placed comparatively close to the food being cooked. Smokers cook using indirect heat, often vented into the cooking chamber from a wood or charcoal fire.

Cooking Temperature

  • Grills cook over a bed of coals. The heat produced by those coals can be as high as 400 degrees, and sometimes more. The indirect heat from a smoker provides a cooking environment that ranges fro 250 to 300 degrees. Smokers cook more slowly, thus allowing more of the smoke flavor to penetrate the food being cooked.

Cooking Technique

  • Because of the high heat of grilling, cooking on a grill requires frequent turning of the food to prevent burning. Smokers, because of their lower heat and the fact that the food compartment of a smoker has a more even temperature, like an oven, usually do not require turning of the food. Grilling cooks more quickly, whereas smoking is a slower cooking method.


  • Smoking meat, if properly brined before smoking, can be an excellent way to preserve it. Meat preserved with a smoker/brine method can keep, in some cases, for up to 10 months. Grilling meat doesn't preserve the meat. It will go bad in the same amount of time as meat cooked using any other conventional cooking method.


  • Because a smoker uses both more smoke and a slower cooking time, its flavor is more smoky than grilled food. Grilled food often responds better to spicing that may be overpowered by the smoke flavor of foods cooked in a smoker. Lower heats of smokers may respond better to sweet sauces that may tend to burn on the higher heat of a grill.

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  • Photo Credit Photo: Chris Chidsey, stock.xchng
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