A primer on key methods, devices, and variations from around the globe


Grilling is a form of cooking that involves applying heat via charcoal, gas or wood to the surface of food—commonly from above or below. Around the world, grilling traditions can refer to a social event, cooking device, and/or style of cooking.

Methods and techniques

  • Barbecuing comes from the Spanish word for a roasting structure, “barbacoa” and cooks food slowly over a low, indirect and smoky heat source
  • Broiling refers to grilling from a heat source above what you’re cooking
  • Gridironing is when you cook foods using a grill or grate suspended above  heat source
  • Rotisserie involves food skewered on a spit, and then rotated over a heat source for indirect cooking
  • Searing is a process that involves cooking the surface of meat at a high temperature to seal in the juices

Devices used for grilling

  • Brazier is a portable container for hot coals, usually a metal bowl or box
  • Barrel, cart or kettle grill are varying shapes of a metal device for cooking food by applying heat below
  • Cooker or oven is an open or enclosed device made of ceramic or clay used with charcoal or wood as fuel. Examples of this type of device are common in Japan—called shichirin or hibachi—and throughout Asia—called a tandoor.
  • Flattop grills are similar to a griddle—a solid metal plate cooking surface that typically uses gas for heat. A teppan is a Japanese flattop grill used in tappanyaki cuisine and bulgogi is a type of Korean barbecue that uses a flattop grill.
  • Skewers have been used for thousands of years to cook food on a stick over open flame. In Southeast Asia this is referred to as satay, in China you will find chuanr and char siu, the Greek version is called souvlaki and throughout the Middle East this is called a kebab (or as we call it, kabob).

Social event

A common thread among grilling around the world is that it’s a reason to get together with friends and family and have a good time. In Minnesota we might say, “Come on over for a barbeque.” Here are some other terms used globally:

  • Asado or churrasco in South America
  • Braai in South Africa
  • Mangal in the Middle East

Ready to get cooking?

Test your newfound grilling knowledge with these recipes and ideas from the Chef Marshall O’Brien Group: