Summer is upon us. Right now we are all thinking about vacation plans, outdoor activities, and backyard barbeques. Those are all good summer activities to enjoy with friends and family. When thinking about food and cooking our meat out on the backyard patio, there are a couple of ways. Smoker or grill? What is the difference between smoker and grill? There are actually quite a few differences between these two cooking methods.
COOKING METHODS FOR SMOKER VERSUS GRILL
A smoker is just how it sounds, it uses smoke to cook our choice of meat. A grill, on the other hand, uses heat from gas, charcoal, or electricity to cook our meat. A smoker can also be run on gas, charcoal, or electricity, but wood is primarily used in a smoker for cooking meat.
One of the biggest difference between smoker and grill is the temperature. A smoker uses a lower temperature to slow cooks different meats. A grill uses a much higher temperature to cook meat at a much faster rate.
TYPES OF MEAT
We could cook any type of meat we want in either a smoker or grill. The smoker is ideal for bigger cuts of meat such as briskets, roasts, ribs, and hams. These types of meats are perfect for smokers because they taste better when cook at a lower temperature for longer periods of time.
The grill because of its higher temperature and faster cooking time is ideal for smaller cuts of meat such as burgers, hotdogs, steaks, chicken, and pork chops. Food items that do not take much time to cook thoroughly are ideal for a grill.
Now that we have listed the basic difference between smoker and grill, we will now discuss the pros and cons of using a smoker and grill individually. They are both great cooking options to have for any back yard barbeque this summer, but it is important to know how to use a smoker versus a grill.
A smoker gives our meat a nice smoky flavor and a grill has a unique grilled flavor that most of us enjoy when eating a hotdog or hamburger. A smoker and a grill are definitely not the same in any category. Here is why.
SMOKING IS AN ART
A smoker just like the name suggests uses smoke to cook meat. A smoker can run on gas, electric, charcoal, or wood. To get a more authentic barbeque flavor in the meat, it is suggested to use wood or charcoal for that smoky, barbeque flavor.
Most smokers have the same general design to complete their process. There is a water basin and a wood basin located at the bottom of the smoker chamber. The water is meant to keep the temperature the same throughout the process and the wood basin helps produce the smoke and provide a good flavor to the meat.
The type of wood we chose to use in our smoker is important too. The wood directly impacts the flavor of our meat. Some types of wood pair best with certain types of meat. If new to smoking meat, do some research to figure out what type of wood to use depending on the meat that will be smoked for the best flavor at the end.
Smoking meat can also make meat last longer as it was originally used as a way to preserve meat in smoke houses for centuries.
PROS OF SMOKING MEAT
- Meat tastes very flavorful
- Meat will be tender and almost falling apart
- Meat does not have to be tended to as often as when grilling
- Meat has a great, smoky flavor when cooked
CONS OF SMOKING MEAT
- Temperature of smoker can be more difficult to control than a grill
- It takes longer for meat to cook than grilling
- It is more difficult to tell if meat is cooked thoroughly, one solution is a meat thermometer
BACKYARD SUMMER GRILLING
Grills are definitely more common for back yard barbeques. Most of us have more experience with a grill than we do with a smoker. Grills can run on charcoal, electricity, or gas.
Each of the methods will produce a different flavor in the meat. Grills can use either a high heat or low heat for cooking meat. It is a great option for cooking burgers, hotdogs, sausage, chicken, fish, vegetables, and other small cuts of meat.
Grilling does require more tending and turning of the meat while cooking. Otherwise, it will burn. Here is a list of the pros and cons of grilling.
PROS OF GRILLING MEAT
- Meat cooks a lot faster than when smoking meat
- Excess fat melts and drips off the meat while grilling making it somewhat healthier
- Grilling can be really easy after some time and experience
CONS OF GRILLING
- It can be difficult to start and keep up the heat when using charcoal in the grill as the heat source
- Meat can burn easily if not tended to often and will be dry
Whether smoking meat or grilling meat this summer, there are pros and cons for either method. It really just comes down to preference. There are many things to consider. One big point to consider is time.
How much time do you have to cook for the guests and family? Remember smoking can take some time so planning ahead is a good idea. If time is an issue, then consider grilling the meat, but also consider how much tending the meat will need while cooking.
In the end, both methods provide flavorful, great tasting meat that everyone will enjoy. They are both great options for back yard entertainment this summer. So grab some drinks and some meat when hosting the next get together. Whether smoking or grilling, back yards and summer equal a good time.