BBQ Grill: Why it’s So Loved & The Types of Fuel to Choose

by Joost Nusselder | Last Updated:  May 31, 2022

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A barbecue grill is a device for cooking food by applying heat directly from below. There are several varieties of such grills, with most falling into one of two categories: gas-fueled and charcoal. There is great debate over the merits of charcoal or gas for use as the cooking method between barbecue grillers.

Barbecue (also barbeque, BBQ and barby/barbies) is a cooking method and apparatus. While there is a vast degree of variation and overlap in terminology and method surrounding this form of cooking, the generally accepted difference between barbecue and grilling is in the cooking time and type of heat used: grilling is generally done “hot and fast” over direct heat from low-smoke fuels (with the flame contacting the meat itself), while barbecuing is usually done “low and slow” over indirect heat from high-smoke fuels (with the flame not contacting the meat directly).

What is a BBQ grill

The term as a noun can refer to the meat or to the cooking apparatus itself (the “barbecue grill” or simply “barbecue”). The term ‘barbecued’ is used as an adjective and refers to foods cooked by this method. The term is also used as a verb for the act of cooking food in this manner.

Barbecuing is usually done in an outdoor environment by smoking the meat over wood or charcoal. Restaurant barbecue may be cooked in large brick or metal ovens specifically designed for that purpose. Barbecuing has numerous regional variations in many parts of the world.

The Art of Barbecue: Everything You Need to Know

Barbecue, or BBQ, is a cooking method that involves cooking food over live fire or heat, often using wood smoke to add flavor. The word “barbecue” probably comes from the Spanish word “barbacoa,” which referred to a method of cooking meat over an open fire. Today, barbecue is a popular way to cook a variety of foods, but it is most commonly associated with slow-cooked, low-heat methods of cooking tough cuts of meat like pork shoulder.

The Different Types of Barbecue

There are a number of different types of barbecue, each with their own unique style and flavor. Some of the most popular types of barbecue include:

  • Texas-style barbecue, which is known for its emphasis on beef and the use of dry rubs
  • North Carolina-style barbecue, which is characterized by the use of vinegar-based sauces and pulled pork
  • Kansas City-style barbecue, which is known for its sweet, tomato-based sauces and variety of meats
  • Memphis-style barbecue, which is known for its dry rubs and pulled pork

What Differentiates Barbecue from Other Cooking Methods?

There are a number of things that differentiate barbecue from other cooking methods, including:

  • The use of wood smoke to add flavor to the food
  • The low, slow cooking method, which allows tough cuts of meat to become tender and flavorful
  • The emphasis on proper heat and fire management, which is essential for achieving the right texture and flavor in the food
  • The variety of dishes that can be cooked using barbecue techniques, from pulled pork to brisket to ribs and more

The Oldest Barbecue Techniques

The oldest barbecue techniques involve indirect heat and slow cooking methods, which were used to cook tough cuts of meat like pork shoulder. These methods were developed out of necessity, as early settlers in the southern parts of the United States needed a way to cook large, tough cuts of meat that were readily available. Today, these techniques are still used in many parts of the world, and are considered by many to be the hallmark of true barbecue.

The Role of Wood Smoke in Barbecue

Wood smoke is an essential component of barbecue, as it adds flavor and depth to the food being cooked. Different types of wood can be used to achieve different flavors, with some of the most popular types including hickory, mesquite, and oak. To get the most out of wood smoke in barbecue, it is important to use the right type of wood and to manage the heat and smoke properly.

The Role of Barbecue in American Cuisine

Barbecue is an integral part of American cuisine, with a long and storied history that dates back hundreds of years. Today, barbecue is enjoyed all over the country, with different regions and states putting their own unique spin on this beloved cooking method. Whether you’re going to a barbecue restaurant or firing up the grill in your own backyard, there’s no denying the appeal of this classic American food.

The Influence of Barbecue on Pop Culture

Barbecue has had a significant influence on pop culture, with movies like “The Great BBQ Challenge” on Netflix and TV shows like “Pitmasters” showcasing the art of barbecue to audiences all over the world. Barbecue has also inspired a number of famous dishes, from pulled pork sandwiches to BBQ chicken pizza, and has become a staple in many households and restaurants around the world.

The Origins of the Word “Barbecue”

The word “barbecue” has an interesting history, originating from the Arawakan language spoken in Haiti. Here are some fascinating facts about the etymology of the word:

  • The original Arawakan word was “barbakoa,” which referred to a wooden framework used for sleeping or curing meat.
  • The Spanish explorers who encountered the indigenous people in the Caribbean adopted the word and spelled it “barbacoa.”
  • The word eventually made its way to the United States, where it became “barbecue” and referred specifically to the cooking method of slow-cooking meat over a fire or coals.
  • The word has since spread to other languages, such as French (“barbecue”), Portuguese (“churrasco”), and Korean (“gogi-gui”).

Usage: How the Word Has Evolved Over Time

The word “barbecue” has undergone some changes in usage over the years. Here are some interesting tidbits:

  • In the early days of America, “barbecue” referred to a social gathering where people would come together to eat and drink while meat was being cooked over a fire.
  • As the cooking method became more popular, “barbecue” began to refer specifically to the food itself.
  • Today, “barbecue” can refer to the cooking method, the food, or even the event itself.

History: Barbecue Through the Ages

Barbecue has a rich history that spans centuries and continents. Here are some highlights:

  • The indigenous people of the Caribbean and South America were using the barbakoa method of cooking meat long before the arrival of European explorers.
  • In the United States, barbecue has been a staple of Southern cuisine for centuries, with different regions developing their own unique styles and flavors.
  • Barbecue has also become popular in other parts of the world, such as Korea, where it is known as “gogi-gui.”
  • Today, barbecue is enjoyed by people all over the world and continues to evolve and adapt to new tastes and cooking methods.
  • Today, barbecue is a common practice all over the world, with people following traditional and new styles of cooking.
  • The process of making barbecue requires a specific set of cuts of meat and a long cooking time, often taking hours or even days.
  • The ability to create a smoky flavor is an important part of making high-quality barbecue.
  • Barbecue can be cooked using a variety of methods, including a standard grill, smoker, or pit.

Choosing the Right Grill for Your Barbecue Needs

When it comes to barbecuing, the type of grill you use can make a big difference in the taste and quality of the meat you prepare. Here are some of the most popular types of barbecue grills available:

  • Charcoal Grills: This classic type of grill uses charcoal to produce a smoky flavor that many barbecue enthusiasts swear by. They are typically affordable and easy to maintain, but they do require some extra time and effort to set up and get started. Charcoal grills are suitable for small areas and budgets, and they offer a level of control that is difficult to achieve with other types of grills. They also allow you to add wood chips (here’s how to use them for smoking) for extra smoky flavor.
  • Gas Grills: Gas grills are a popular choice for those who want the convenience of being able to start cooking with the push of a button. They are typically more expensive than charcoal grills, but they offer a greater level of control over the cooking temperature and are easier to maintain. Gas grills are suitable for larger areas and budgets, and they offer a number of features that allow you to cook different types of meat to perfection.
  • Electric Grills: Electric grills are a good option for those who want a grill that is easy to use and maintain. They are typically more expensive than charcoal grills, but they offer the convenience of being able to cook indoors or outdoors. Electric grills are suitable for smaller areas and budgets, and they offer a level of control that is similar to gas grills.
  • Pellet Grills: Pellet grills are a newer type of grill that uses wood pellets to produce a smoky flavor. They are typically more expensive than other types of grills, but they offer superior convenience and control. Pellet grills are suitable for larger areas and budgets, and they allow you to cook different types of meat to perfection.

Pros and Cons of Different Grill Types

Each type of grill has its own set of pros and cons, and it’s important to keep these in mind when choosing the right grill for your needs. Here are some of the primary advantages and disadvantages of each type of grill:

  • Charcoal Grills:

– Pros: Produce a smoky flavor, affordable, easy to maintain, allow you to add wood chips for extra flavor.
– Cons: Require more time and effort to set up and get started, limited control over cooking temperature.

  • Gas Grills:

– Pros: Convenient, easy to start and maintain, offer a greater level of control over cooking temperature.
– Cons: More expensive than charcoal grills, may not produce as much smoky flavor.

  • Electric Grills:

– Pros: Easy to use and maintain, can be used indoors or outdoors.
– Cons: More expensive than charcoal grills, may not produce as much smoky flavor.

  • Pellet Grills:

– Pros: Superior convenience and control, allow you to cook different types of meat to perfection.
– Cons: More expensive than other types of grills, may require more maintenance.

BBQ Brands: A Guide to Choosing the Perfect Grill

When it comes to BBQ grills, there are several types to choose from. Here are some of the most popular:

  • Gas Grills: These grills are easy to use and maintain, making them a popular choice for many home cooks. They come in a range of sizes and styles, from portable models to large outdoor grills.
  • Charcoal Grills: Charcoal grills offer a classic BBQ flavor and are perfect for slow-cooking meats. They require a bit more maintenance than gas grills, but many BBQ enthusiasts swear by them.
  • Pellet Grills: These grills use wood pellets to cook food, giving it a smoky flavor. They’re highly versatile and can be used for grilling, smoking, and even baking.

Top BBQ Brands

There are many BBQ brands on the market, each with their own unique features and products. Here are some of the most popular:

  • Big Green Egg: The Big Green Egg is a highly versatile grill that can be used for grilling, smoking, and even baking. It’s known for its unique egg-shaped design and high-quality construction.
  • Broil King: Broil King is a Canadian brand that offers a range of gas and charcoal grills, as well as a range of accessories and replacement parts.
  • Napoleon: Napoleon is a Canadian brand that offers a range of gas and charcoal grills, as well as a range of accessories and replacement parts.

Choosing the Right BBQ Grill

When choosing a BBQ grill, there are several factors to consider, including:

  • Size: Consider how much cooking space you need and how many people you’ll be cooking for.
  • Type: Decide whether you want a gas, charcoal, or pellet grill.
  • Budget: Set a budget and stick to it.
  • Maintenance: Consider how much maintenance the grill will require and whether you’re willing to put in the effort.
  • Brand: Research different brands and read reviews to find the right one for you.

Where to Buy BBQ Grills

BBQ grills can be purchased from a range of retailers, including:

  • Home Depot: Home Depot carries a range of BBQ grills, from classic American brands to newer, more innovative models.
  • Academy Sports: Academy Sports carries a range of outdoor cooking gear, including BBQ grills and accessories.
  • Lowe’s: Lowe’s carries a range of BBQ grills, from classic American brands to newer, more innovative models.
  • Amazon: Amazon carries a wide range of BBQ grills and accessories, making it easy to find the perfect product for your needs.

Maintaining Your BBQ Grill

To keep your BBQ grill in top condition, it’s important to perform regular maintenance, including:

  • Cleaning the grates: Use a wire brush to remove any debris from the grates.
  • Checking the burners: Make sure the burners are clean and free of any blockages.
  • Inspecting the parts: Check the hoses, regulators, and other parts for any signs of wear or damage.
  • Storing the grill: If you’re not using the grill for an extended period of time, make sure to store it in a dry, covered area.

How do I choose the best fuel type for my needs?

There are two reasons why you should choose the right type of fuel.

  • First, it is necessary to make sure what type of grill is allowed where you live. There may be limitations on what kind of fire you can make.
  • Second, you need to analyze such issues as convenience, and how a particular type of fuel impacts the food’s flavor.


Are charcoal grills allowed where you live? If so, there are some upsides and downsides to this type of fuel:

Charcoal grills offer great flavor, especially in smoked food. These grills are also unlikely to malfunction and are exceptionally durable for the relatively low prices you pay for them.

However, they require a lot of interaction in the form of temperature control and air vent adjusting.


Speed and convenience are the two greatest advantages of grills that run on gas (propane or natural gas). Just turn a burner knob and 10-15 minutes later you can start cooking. The food is characterized by very good flavor, but it can’t compare to charcoal.

There are two versions of gas grills and it’s good to be able to tell their upsides and downsides.

Propane grills are great in terms of mobility, especially if you want to cook away from home.

Natural gas grills, on the other hand, are characterized by lack of mobility but constant access to fuel, so you don’t have to worry about running out of gas halfway through cooking.

In certain places regulations prohibit keeping gas tanks, which is something to check out before you buy.


If this is the first time you have ever come across this type of grill, its biggest advantage is the digital controller that monitors the entire cooking process.

All you have to do is refill the pellet tank, set your desired temperature using the controller, and start the grill. After about 12 minutes you can start cooking without worrying about anything.

The system will make sure to add pellets to the furnace at the right moment, thus maintaining a fixed temperature.

Read more about the differences between wood pellets vs. charcoal vs. wood chips vs. wood chunks here


So there you have it- all the ins and outs of BBQ. It’s a cooking method that involves using heat and smoke from a fire to cook food, usually meat, either in a pan or a grill. It’s a popular way to cook a variety of foods, especially tough cuts of meat, and has a long storied history as part of American cuisine. So, go ahead and enjoy some BBQ!

Joost Nusselder, the founder of Lakeside Smokers is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with BBQ Smoking (& Japanese food!) at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.