What’s The Difference Between Roasted And Grilled?

What’s The Difference Between Roasted And Grilled

Food is one of the most vital elements in our society, and people are constantly creating new and exciting ways to cook and serve it. The most common cooking methods are broiling, baking, grilling, and roasting.

Of those, grilling and roasting are often confused because of their similarities. Roasting and grilling both utilize dry heat and help reduce fat when cooking meat.

The main distinction between grilling and roasting lies in using a direct flame for grilling, while an indirect heat source is used for roasting. Grilling demands continuous attention to avoid burning, whereas roasting allows for a “set-it-and-forget-it” approach to cooking.

In this article, we will explain grilling and roasting in detail. Also, we will share some tips for you to up your cooking, whether grilling or roasting.

Note: most links in this article are Amazon.com Affiliate links, see Affiliate Disclosure, thank you.

roasting chicken


Roasting is a very popular and accessible way of cooking. Most people associate it with meat, but you can also roast vegetables. It involves using dry heat as hot air from an open flame, an oven, or some other heat source that entirely envelopes the food in an enclosed space to cook it equally on every side.

Roasting is most easily performed in an oven. The main perk here is that the food doesn’t need to be constantly watched. You can go off and do other things while it’s cooking.


Similar to roasting, grilling is also a dry-heat method of cooking. It’s achieved when a substantial amount of direct, radiant heat is used for cooking the food. Actual grilling occurs on a grill where the food is placed on a metal grid above an open fire. When cooking on a grill, thermal radiation is used for cooking the food.

While grilling, you need to keep a close eye on the food and the open flame, so there isn’t much room for multitasking.

The Difference

Both involve dry heat and offer similarly delicious results, and these two cooking methods can be hard to tell apart without knowing any of the details.

Roasting uses indirect heat. The food will never directly touch the heat source, like a flame. The air around the food will get hot, which will cook it.

Grilling uses direct heat. The food is placed directly above an open flame and must be flipped for all sides to be cooked.

When breaking the two methods down to the simplest definition, another way I like to state is grilling over the coals and roasting beside the coals.

Another big difference is the technique. When roasting something, you can usually leave it in the same spot for the entire duration. You put it in the oven, for example, and then leave it until it’s done. No flipping or rotating of any kind is necessary. When grilling, the food needs to be babysat. It would be best to be on standby when it’s ready to be flipped or turned.

Both are easy and simple ways to cook that deliver great-tasting food.

Some Tips For Roasting

Although roasting is quite simple, here are some ways to ensure you get the best results.

  • Temper your meat. Tempering happens when you bring your food to room temperature before cooking it. This ensures that the meat is evenly cooked from the middle to the edges. It’s especially important when working with proteins or large cuts of meat.
  • Do not puncture or create holes in the meat while cooking. The outer skin and crust work to seal in moisture and those tasty juices.
  • Let your food rest. After cooking, it’s best to let it rest for 15 to 20 minutes to maximize moisture and make it easier to cut. The inner juices need time to disperse evenly throughout the meat. The longer it rests, the better.
  • Cut your vegetables to equal sizes when roasting to ensure even cooking.
  • Be aware of different meats and vegetables and how their cooking times and temperature requirements will vary. Some vegetables require higher temperatures and shorter cook times, while others need lower temperatures with higher cook times or vice versa. The same is true for meat. Thick meat usually needs to be cooked at higher temperatures unless you’re doing a slow roast. In this case, you use a low temperature but let it roast for a long time.
  • Always ensure the oven is completely preheated before putting the food in for the best results.
  • Wait until serving to salt your meat. Salt lures the inner juices toward the surface of the meat, making it drier.
  • Meat with bones will take a little less time to cook as bones conduct heat and speed up the cooking process.

Foods That Are Good To Roast

Here is some food that takes well to roasting and tips that will help you dial in your methods.

1. Roasted chicken is always a classic, and it’s incredibly simple to make. Just season your bird with salt, pepper, and your favorite herbs, then roast it in the oven until it’s cooked through. This is our favorite way to cook poultry, whether in the oven, grill, or smoker. It is easy, gets great skin, and low maintenance. Our ideal temperature for roasting poultry is 325 degrees F.

2. Roasted pork is another delicious option, and it’s perfect for feeding a large crowd. Just rub your pork roast with a mix of spices, then bake it in the oven until it’s nice and crispy.

3. Roasted vegetables are a great way to get your daily dose of veggies, and they’re also super easy to make. Just chop up your favorite veggies, toss them in olive oil and salt, then roast them in the oven until they’re nice and tender.

4. Roasted potatoes are a must-have side dish for any Roast dinner. Simply chop up some potatoes into small pieces, toss them in olive oil and salt, then bake them in the oven or smoker until they’re crispy on the outside and soft on the inside.

5. Roasted fruit is a delicious way to end any meal. Just cut up your favorite fruits into small pieces, toss them in sugar and cinnamon, then bake them in the oven until they’re nice and juicy. Sugar can still burn at roasting temperature, but a touch of crispness will add to the overall flavor. So, you need to watch your fruit a bit closer when you perform this process in your grill or smoker.

setup your vertical smoker for grilling
Lighting charcoal in the Cuisinart 18″ vertical charcoal Smoker

Some Tips For Grilling

Grilling can often seem complicated to newcomers. And cooking over an open flame can look scary. That’s why I’ve compiled a list of tips to make your grilling experience simple and stress-free.

  • Preheat your grill. When charcoal is heated to the proper temperature before cooking, it produces better-tasting food.
  • Gas grills are better at producing a charred flavor and a seared texture because they can cook at higher temperatures.
  • Different kinds of charcoal can produce different flavors in food. When using a charcoal grill, pick charcoal that will give you your desired flavor. Keeping the lid closed during cooking will enhance the smoky flavor.
  • Clean your grill properly. Not only is this a sanitary measure, but it can also affect the quality of your food, including its appearance.
  • Wire brushes are simple and easy to use, but for safety, look at coil brushes. The back of most brushes can scrape off any char or residue from the grates. Then wipe the grates down with vegetable oil.
  • Temper your meat. Let your meat reach room temperature before putting it on the grill. It will cook less evenly if put on straight from the fridge and will dry out more easily. This is important, especially with thicker meats.
  • Let the meat rest before serving. You should let it rest for the best flavor for at least 5 minutes.
  • Get acquainted with your grill. Use the instruction manual and ensure you know your grill’s functions and dos and don’ts. Grills can be dangerous if used improperly.
  • Invest in good metal utensils. Plastic utensils will melt, so don’t use them for a grill. Since you’ll be flipping and rotating food often, investing in some quality tongs is a good idea.
  • Oil your grill. This will help prevent sticking and make flipping and removing food much easier. Also, cleaning your grill will be easier.

Foods That Are Good To Grill

Some food is simply better to grill than others. Each food has its own set of tips and tricks to get the most flavor on your plate.

1. Grilling steak is an absolute must. There’s nothing like the taste of a juicy, grilled steak. Season it with some salt and pepper or your favorite steak seasoning. Don’t forget, you can smoke a steak to the internal temperature of 125 degrees Fahrenheit, then with a quick sear on each side, you will get the best of smoked flavors and grilled char flavor. This method is called reverse sear and should be your go-to method for cooking steak.

2. Chicken breasts are also a great option for the grill. If you are worried about them drying out, brine them for half an hour before cooking. This will help keep them moist and juicy. Another tip is to cook them on indirect heat until they are almost finished cooking through, then move them over to direct heat to get that great grilled flavor. Of course, don’t forget other pieces of chicken, like thighs but watch out for flare-ups because of the higher fat content.

3. Vegetables are also a great option for the grill. Roasting vegetables in the oven can sometimes make them mushy, but grilling them will give them a great char flavor that enhances their natural sweetness. Just be sure to cut them into uniform pieces, so they cook evenly.

4. Hamburgers are a classic food for grilling because of the added flavor a good char can add to ground beef. Also, grilling can add to the safety of ground meats, the high temperatures kill most bacteria. The key to a great burger is to not overhandle the meat when you are forming the patties. The more you handle the meat, the tougher it will become. Season the burgers with salt and pepper or your favorite burger seasoning. If you are using lean beef, you may want to add some fat, such as bacon, to help keep the burgers moist.

5. Hot dogs are another classic food for grilling. The key to great hot dogs is not to overcook them. You want the exterior to be lightly charred and the interior to be hot but still juicy. One way to achieve this is to pre-cook the hot dogs in boiling water or other liquid like beer. Once your hotdogs reach the minimum food-safe internal temperature, dry them on a towel and grill them for that extra flavor. Also, sausages can be prepared with the same method. You should watch the temperature more closely with sausage because many are not precooked like hotdogs. Sous vide is a great way to precook your hotdogs or any other food to the perfect temperature before cooking, we got ours on Amazon.com.

What To Use For Grilling And Roasting

There are so many options to cook your favorite foods it can be difficult to sort out. We have two picks for you that we think will suit most people’s needs and result in great food.

Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker

The Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker 18-inch is a great option for grilling and smoking. It’s easy to use, has a large grilling area, and is very versatile. You can use it as a regular grill, a smoker, or even a slow cooker. It’s a great option for those who want to try grilling or smoking without spending a lot of money.

Also, because of the basic design with the vertical airflow, it is easy to use and maintain a constant temperature. Also, don’t overlook other sizes of this smoker. The 22-inch WSM is much more versatile. We have a full review and a Youtube playlist for more detailed information.

Check it out on Amazon.com

Char-Griller E1224 Smokin’ Pro

The Char-Griller E1224 Smokin’ Pro is another great option for grilling and smoking. It’s a little less expensive than the Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker, and it’s also a lot more versatile. You can use it as a direct or indirect charcoal grill or smoker.

It has a large grilling area but is still easy to move with its large wheels, and with a few modifications, can make high-quality smoked foods. We have a full review and a Youtube playlist for more detailed information.

Check it out on Amazon.com

Final Words

In conclusion, there are several key differences between grilling and roasting food. Grilling typically uses a direct flame and requires more attention, while roasting uses indirect heat and can be more of a set-it-and-forget-it method. When grilling or roasting, it’s important to take into account the different cooking times and temperature requirements of different meats and vegetables. And finally, always make sure to preheat your oven, grill, or smoker before adding food, and let meat rest for at least 5 minutes after cooking before serving. Following these tips will help you create great-tasting, evenly-cooked food every time.