Grilling and BBQ; people use the words interchangeably to describe a type of food, a way of cooking food, or the social gathering that often occurs when this food is being cooked. But ask any Texan who loves his BBQ brisket, and you will find that there are several differences between grilling and BBQ.
Used literally, the term "grilling" refers to cooking food over a direct flame or other high-heat source. BBQ, on the other hand, has three distinct differences. One main difference between grilling and BBQ is the heat source. BBQ uses indirect heat or low-level heat to cook foods - usually meats.
With high-quality cuts of meat, low-level heat can suck out the moisture, leaving the meat tough and dry. This is why grilling experts recommend using high heat that cooks quickly and sears the outside layers, locking in the juices. But BBQ typically uses less expensive cuts of meat that must be cooked slowly for long periods of time to become tender. Which brings us to the second difference between grilling and BBQ.
With grilling, it takes somewhere around 15 minutes to cook a steak and a bit longer for chops. Authentic BBQ takes all day, or even several days, to fully cook. This is due, in part, because of the low-level, indirect heat needed to cook the meat so that it becomes tender. But longer cooking times also allow the flavor to fully develop, helped along by the third important difference between grilling and BBQ.
True BBQ will have a thick, tangy, mouthwatering taste that comes from adding wood smoke during cooking. No matter how many fancy gadgets and flavorings you add, you can't get the same taste from grilling. You might get a hint of smoky BBQ flavor, but it's just not the same. Food has to cook several hours to fully absorb the wood smoke, and you only get that from BBQ.