Roasting vs Grilling


Is there a difference between roasting vs grilling? Well, yes and no.

The definition and cooking method of "roasting" has changed over the years. Today, roasting is very similar to grilling over indirect heat (more on this below).

Origins of Roasting

Roasting used to refer to meats cooked over an open flame rotated on a skewer. With the invention of modern day ovens, more and more people were able to cook meats easily at home and the definition shifted.

An oven is usually heated to 475 Fahrenheit to completely roast food. This browns the food just like in broiling or grilling (over direct heat).

Roasting now refers to meats or vegetables cooked at high indirect heat - such as in an oven.

Many meats cooked by the roasting method are cooked in a roasting pan where the meat is suspended above a pan and fat drips into the pan, later to be used for gravy.

For a long time, I personally did not know that roasting was a different cooking method and just thought "roast" was the name of the meat hat we had for Sunday lunch.

Then I learned you could roast vegetables. And then discovered "roast" just referred to the cooking method. *Mind blown*

How Grilling and Roasting Are Categorized

Each cooking method can be categorized as either dry-heat or wet-heat cooking.

Wet-heat cooking is using a liquid (i.e. water, apple juice, etc.) for steam or basting to keep the food moist and reduces the amount of natural juices that escape.

Dry-heat method does not use liquid to cook the food. With this method, you season the meat and put it on the grill or in the oven and let the heat do its thing.

Dry-heat cooking techniques can be classified in a lot of ways though - there's indirect and direct heating; sautéing and pan-searing; and roasting and grilling, among others.

Direct and Indirect Heat

What is direct and indirect heat? Indirect heat is when the food is not directly over the heat source.

On the flip-side, direct heat is when the food is placed directly over the heat source.

The video below demonstrates both indirect (done first) and direct heat (searing at the end) cooking on a grill. For the initial cook, does he use a wet- or dry-heat cooking method?

Sautéing and Pan-Searing

Sautéing and pan-searing involves direct heat since the food touches the cooking surface.

Roasting and Grilling

Roasting (and sometimes grilling) uses indirect heat as the heat transferred to the food is by air.

Depending on the temperature of the heat source, direct heat will cook your food fast while indirect heat takes longer to cook.

What Is The Difference Between Roasting vs Grilling?

Both roasting and grilling have pros and cons when it comes to cooking outdoors.

One advantage of (direct heat) grilling is that it can give a richly browned surface to the meat, and it can take a lot less time to cook.

Depending on the heat intensity, grilling steaks, chicken quarters, and chops can produce a beautiful, rich brown color. Roasting gives a certain level of browning though it takes more time to cook evenly.

Many times, when meats are prepared for roasting, they're pan seared to brown the outside nicely, then put in the oven to cook thoroughly.

Same with grilling - the meat, many times, is browned over direct heat and then moved to indirect heat to cook thoroughly.

What Are The Benefits of Roasting vs Grilling?

One benefit of roasting (with a roasting pan) is that it reduces the fat content (if that's your thing). You can use those drippings to make a nice gravy!

It may take longer to roast, but it can produce an amazing, tender meat.

Grilling is an easy cooking method because all you have to do is put the food on a grate over an open flame. It's also an ideal way to gather the whole family outside and eat together.

Roasting may take longer, but it can retain more of the food's natural flavor. You just need to make sure to set the oven at the right temperature to cook your food thoroughly. Compared to grilling, roasting requires more heat.

In both grilling and roasting, it doesn't take a lot of effort to prepare the food(s). It may just take patience and a little practice, but don't give up!

Bottom Line

Roasting and grilling are essentially very similar methods of preparing meals, depending on your set-up. So if you are asking which is best, roasting vs grilling, it really depends on what's convenient for you.

If you have a grill (and gas/charcoal) at home, grilling is a great option.

If you only have an oven or not interested in cooking outside due to weather, roasting foods in the oven is a great option to produce an amazing meal.

So, if you are asking which is best, roasting vs grilling, it really depends on what's convenient for you.


Do you roast? Have any great tips? Comment below and let us know.