Grilling and Broiling

Appears in
On Food and Cooking

By Harold McGee

Published 2004

  • About

The term “grilling” is generally used to mean cooking meat on a metal grate directly over the heat source, while “broiling” means cooking meat in a pan below the heat source. The heat source may be glowing coals, an open gas flame, or ceramic blocks heated by a gas flame, or a glowing electrical element. The primary means of heat transfer is infrared radiation, the direct emission of energy in the form of light: hence the glow of coals, flames, and heating elements. The meat surface is only a few inches away from the heat, which is very hot indeed: gas burns at around 3,000°F/1,650°C, coals and electrical elements glow at 2,000°F/1,100°C. Because these temperatures can blacken food surfaces before the inside is cooked through, grilling is limited to such relatively thin and tender cuts as chops, steaks, poultry parts, and fish.