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Grilling vs. Broiling Steaks


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Most steakhouses don't charge $30 + for a steak use a grill because they are using USDA Choice or worse quality steaks. It is also cheaper and more efficient to use a grill because a broiler has less room. If using a steak of higher quality the prime meat or dry aged meat it would be better to use a broiler because of the previously stated reasons. Many people love the carbonized flavor a grill gives a peat of meat. (Including myself) But when using a high quality of meat I believe it is better to just taste the meat using a little salt and pepper and broiling it.

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I have actually pondered using my electric heatgun that reaches 1000 degrees as a searing tool.

1,000 degrees onto an area the size of a silver dollar if you hold the heat gun an inch away.

By way of comparison, an okay overhead commercial broiler puts out something like 42,000 BTUs per burner, and it wouldn't be unusual for there to be three burners. That's 126,000 BTUs screaming down out of that thing.


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What about blowtorches? It seems that would deliver even more concentrated heat than the mightiest broiler.

Did it - the acetylene imparts a gassy, ketone-ish flavor. At least it would be my guess considering that oxygen is the other gas.

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Thank you all for answering my original question. Your thoughts and comments cleared up my ignorance in this area. In summarizing the benefits of Grilling vs. Broiling, the following points can then be made (both pros and cons):

Grilling Pros/Cons:

1. More smokey (or as the posters stated, "carbonized" "charred") flavor.

2. Grill marks and/or slightly burnt/charred crust

3. Cheaper equipment cost

4. Harder to maintain

5. More appropriate for lower grades of beef or marinated beef

6. Loss of juices

7. Flare ups resulting in charring/burning

Broiling Pros/Cons:

1. Best method for cooking Prime beef

2. Better control of temperature

3. Fewer flare ups

4. No loss of juices

5. Better ability to form crust without charring

6. Expensive equipment cost

7. Harder to maintain

However, some of you advocated the use of the Pan-Searing followed by Oven Roasting method. Are there steakhouses in New York that use this method for cooking their steaks?

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When you broil, the melted fat just runs off the meat into the platter on which the steak is resting.  When you grill, the melted fat runs off the meat into the flames and burns.

A vaguely related question. I have a few older cookbooks that talk about broiling steaks. They use a gridiron, so I assume that this is what would now be called 'grilling'? Do you have any idea when the modern distinction between broiling and grilling became common place?

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Technically, I believe that "broiling" simply means to cook by direct exposure to radiant heat. If I had to guess, I'd say that most likely the distinction between "broiling" meaning "heat from above" versus "grilling" meaning "heat from below" dates from the ubiquity of modern gas-fired stoves in the American home, which included the ability to broil by placing foods under the gas jets which heat the oven. Once this part of the stove became known as "the broiler," "broiling" came to be known as "cooking under the broiler." I suppose this is similar to the way "grilling" came to be known as "cooking on top of the grill."

Isn't it the case that "broiling" and "grilling" have different meanings in the UK?


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Broiling is no longer used in the UK and "grilling" would cover both what you describe as "broiling" (especially in domestic settings) and "grilling", except if the latter was done outdoors then it would be BBQ.

I'm just interested in the terms as technically they should be interchangeable, but a distinction seems to have developed within the last 50 (?) years?

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...a distinction seems to have developed within the last 50 (?) years?

Right. As I said above, I bet that has to do with the ubiquity of home ranges with a slide-out drawer under the oven where foods can be "broiled" from above by the gas jets that heat the oven, this part of the stove typically being called the "broiler." I don't know when this implementation of the home stove came to be standard in US households, but 50-60 years ago seems about right.


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  • 1 month later...

I'm a convert.

The steaks were rubbed with olive oil and had been sitting at room temperature for an hour.

The oven had been on, baking a couple of potatoes. I remembered that our new stove has a "10 pass" broiling element and decided to try broiling the steaks.

When the potatoes were done, I seasoned the steaks, placed them on a foil lined 1/4 sheet pan and turned the broiler to HI. I let it get red hot and slid the tray onto the upper most rack.


After 3 minutes the steaks were turned and went back in for another 3 minutes.


As someone mentioned above, you get to keep the juices.


I usually pan fry in a 12" pan on medium high heat 3 minutes on each side. When done, the bottom of the pan is black and any juices would have evaporated. All that was left was acrid fat.

With this method we noticed a marked difference in taste. The seasonings were not burnt and flavored the olive oil which, along with drippings, made for a great sauce. Absent was the bitter carbon taste.

This one was done the same way but the oven was not preheated.


It was a little less done which suited me just fine.


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Wow I've always wondered about this. I've always done the pan/oven method but one day my brother cooks from a cookbook that calls for broiling. It had a markedly different taste. Whenever I pan fried I always had the trouble of burning the seasonings and imparting that nasty burnt taste. Our broiler was obviously not powerful enough, but for the parts of the steak that were browned, it tasted delicious. I always had the thought that broiling was inefficient because you would never get any sear or crustiness.

I'm probably assuming now that broiling, if one has afforded to buy a hot enough broiler, is superior in results.

Edited by takadi (log)
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  • 3 weeks later...

In the spirit of outdoor cooking, I had considered a technique for the grill where I'd sear a porterhouse over direct high heat for about 2 minutes per side.

I would then place my steak into an aluminum pan and let it roast over indirect heat until it came to temperature (130 F), thus allowing the steak to roast in its own juices.

Not sure what anyone thinks of that technique--without getting into the merrits or debate over grilling vs. broiling.

Blessed are those who engage in lively conversation with the helplessly mute, for they shall be called, "Dentists." (anonymous)

Life is too short for bad Caesar Salad. (Me)

Why would you poison yourself by eating a non-organic apple? (HL)

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I remain utterly unconvinced that either of these tools is best for cooking a steak, however. Pan-searing followed by oven-roasting is the way to go. This is how a lot of the most accomplished chefs, from Alain Ducasse to Tom Colicchio, prefer to cook steaks.

Until I recently purchased my infrared gas grill, this was the method I used, and I still use it when cooking steaks indoors. I preheat a small stainless steel skillet (with a clad bottom) on medium high heat for five minutes, sear the steak in the dry skillet for two minutes on each side, and then put in a 450 degree oven until the interior temperature reaches 125 degrees. This generally takes about 5-7 minutes in the oven. I remove the steak from the skillet and let sit for five minutes. The final interior temperature reaches approximately 130 degrees, my preferred degree of doneness. I have found that this method gives me a good crust and a juicy rare interior.

Is this a better method than just searing it in a cast iron skillet until done? I usually lightly oil the steaks, add a touch of salt and a thick coating of freshly ground pepper, then sear in a dry pan until rare or medium rare on the rare side. This yields a nice crust and a juicy, tender interior.

Edited by merstar (log)
There's nothing better than a good friend, except a good friend with CHOCOLATE.
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Is this a better method than just searing it in a cast iron skillet until done? I usually lightly oil the steaks, add a touch of salt and a thick coating of freshly ground pepper, then sear in a dry pan until rare or medium rare on the rare side. This yields a nice crust and a juicy, tender interior.

I've always done it from start to finish in a pan, also.

However, I suspect the pan-oven approach gives you the flexibility to handle different thicknesses of steak and different degrees of doneness easily. I always get steaks cut around 1-1/4 to 1-1/2 inches, and I always cook them rare.

Tossing them onto a blazing hot pan until they're nicely browned on both sides cooks the inside to perfection, and gives me nice mahogony brown pan drippings for a sauce.

But if the steak was any thicker, or I was cooking for someone who wanted medium or medium rare, finishing in the oven might be the best bet.

Do the people who go from pan to oven find there are other considerations?

Notes from the underbelly

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I understand the reasons for broiling and pan cooking steaks.

However, count me in the camp which favors grilling.

Last night I grilled a Niman Ranch Cowboy Steak ( ~20 oz, well marbled, thick cut, bone in ribeye) over lump mesquite.

Blazing hot coals, lightly oil steak, salt and pepper, throw the steak down, cover, flip once, cover again.

Perfect Rare/mid-Rare.

I know I lost the chance to make a sauce with pan drippings; but, the steak was so tender and delicious, I really didn't need to include the roasted red and poblano rajas I made to accompany it.



Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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