Grilling Glossary

This list has been compiled to help you understand grill-speak that you may hear when shopping for accessories — or from your neighbor down the street. Use these terms, and you will be a grilling guru in no time.



Also known as barbeque, BBQ, bar-b-cue, bar-b-que and bar-B-Q, a get together with an outdoor meal or the act of cooking with a grill.

Barbecue Sauce

A red, yellow, or brown sauce which can be sweet, tart, spicy, or aromatic. Most are tomato based and they can be served with the food or used as a marinade or for basting.


To brush a seasoned liquid over the surface of food to add moisture and flavor.


An inexpensive, open charcoal grill with a grid that's usually just a few inches from the coals. A brazier is best for quick grilling. Some braziers may have a partial hood or cover to better retain heat. Braziers sometimes also come with rotisserie attachments.


The French term for kabob, or food cooked on a skewer.


A drum-shaped cooker with a dome lid. Bullets are usually cheap and made from lightweight metal.

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Ceramic Briquettes

These briquettes are made of radiant materials and are used in gas grills to transfer heat from the burners and spread it evenly under the grill grid. Briquettes made of ceramic don't burn up like charcoal briquettes do. Lava rock and metal plates are an alternative to ceramic briquettes. They don't, however, give the smoky, charcoal flavor that many people crave.

Charcoal Briquettes

The most common fuel for a live fire, manufactured from ground charcoal, coal dust, and starch. These materials are compressed into a uniform, pillow shape and packaged for sale from 5 to 50 pound bags.

Charcoal Chimney Starter

A metal, cylinder-shaped, container that's filled with newspaper and charcoal and used to quickly ignite a charcoal fire.

Charcoal Grate

A rack that holds charcoal in the firebox.

Charcoal Grill

A grill that uses charcoal as its principal fuel. A charcoal grill can be round, square, covered, uncovered, portable, or stationary. The most common type is a covered kettle grill.

Chimney Starter

A metal cylinder which holds hot coals for starting a fire. See Charcoal Chimney Starter.

Coal Grate

The rack that hold the charcoal in the firebox.

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Direct Grilling

A method of quickly cooking food by placing it on a grid directly over the heat source. Food is often cooked uncovered on a charcoal grill but covered on a gas grill.


A description of how thoroughly cooked a cut of meat is based on the color, juiciness and internal temperature when served. The gradations of cooking are most often used in reference to beef (especially steak and roasts) but are also applicable to lamb, pork, poultry, veal, and sometimes fish.

Drip Pan

A metal pan placed under the food to catch dripping when grilling indirectly.

Drop-In Grill

An outdoor built-in grill that can be "dropped," or installed, in an accompanying metal cart.

Dry Smoking

A method of cooking food by placing it on a grid indirectly over the heat source with the lid down and vents adjusted, allowing the fire to burn, which creates smoke.

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Electric Grill

An indoor or outdoor grill whose heat comes from electric coils.

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The underbelly or bottom of the grill that holds the fire or heat.

Fire Starters

Any number of gadgets or materials, such as the chimney starter, electric coil, wax or gel cubes, or compressed wood, used to ignite charcoal.


Flames caused by fat dripping onto hot coals or lava rock.

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Gas Grill

A grill whose heating source is gas from a propane tank or a main gas line.


To form a glossy, flavorful coating on food as it cooks, usually by basting it with a liquid savory sauce, a glaze or melted butter.


The latticework of metal rods where food is placed on a grill is called a grid, or a grill grid — Weber calls this area the grate, but other manufacturers call the metal piece on which the charcoal sits a grate. One grid is included with every grill.


A flat piece of steel heated from beneath. Food cooked on a griddle is often called "grilled" although strictly it is griddled not grilled. These are popular in cafes and restaurants since you can use them indoors.

Grill Basket

Hinged, wire basket that ease the grilling and turning of sliced vegetables, a delicate piece of fish, burgers, and other foods.

Grill Rack

The latticework of metal rods that holds food on a grill; sometimes referred to as a grid or grill grate.

Grill Topper

A porcelain-coated grate with small holes on it which goes over the grill rack when you cook small foods such as sliced vegetables.

Grill Wok

A wok made specifically for grilling. With its sloped sides and numerous small holes, it makes small pieces of vegetables, meat, or seafood easy to stir-fry on the grill.

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A small, portable, uncovered grill that is often made of cast iron. A hibachi is wonderful for tailgate or beach grilling.

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Indirect Grilling

A method of grilling slowly, to one side of the heat source, over a drip pan in a covered grill.

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Pieces of meat, poultry, seafood, and/or vegetables, threaded on a skewer and grilled. Sometimes also referred to a kebap, kabab, kebob, kebab, kibob, kebhav, or kephav.

Kettle Grill

A relatively inexpensive, round charcoal grill with a heavy cover. It stands on three legs and is excellent for either direct or indirect grilling.

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Lava Rock

This long-lasting natural rock results from volcanic lava and is used as an alternative to ceramic briquettes. The irregularly-shaped lava rock heats evenly in gas or electric grills. Unlike charcoal briquettes, it can be used over and over again.

Lump Charcoal

Carbon residue of wood that has been charred, usually in the form of lumps. Used as a heat source in charcoal grills.

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A steeping liquid, often made with herbs, spices, oil, and an acidic ingredient like lemon juice or vinegar.


To soak food in a seasoned liquid mixture in order to impart flavor to the food before it is cooked.

Medium Doneness

Describes the doneness of cooked food. The center of the meat should have a slightly pink to red color. The meat will be slightly firm and springy when pressed. Meat should have an internal temperature of 160°F (71°C).

Medium Rare

Describes the doneness of cooked food. The center of the meat should have a bright red color and be slightly springy when pressed. This doneness is not recommended for veal, pork, or ground meats. Meat for this doneness should have an internal temperature of 145°F (63°C).

Medium Well

Describes the doneness of cooked food. The center of the meat should have very little pink color and be firm and springy when pressed. Meat for this doneness should have an internal temperature of 170°F (77°C).


A thin liquid mixture made with spices or herbs to add moisture and flavor to foods while they cook.

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Natural Lump Charcoal

The carbon residue of wood that's been charred in a kiln — usually found in the form of chunks. This is one heating source for charcoal grills. Natural lump charcoal gives the smokiest flavor.

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Portable Grill

A small, camping or tailgating grill. Some contain a push-button ignition. They can be charcoal, gas or electric.

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The process of cooking food in a pan in a closed grill setup. By using indirect heat, you can roast an entire prime rib or turkey to perfection on a grill.

Rotisserie Rod

The spit or long metal skewer that suspends and rotates food over a grill's heat source.


A concentrated, flavorful blend of dry or wet herbs, seasonings, and spices that is rubbed onto the surface of food before grilling

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To cook food directly above relatively high heat in order to seal in juices and impart flavor, a brown color, and a slightly crusted surface.

Side Burner

A burner attached to the side of a grill for additional, non-grill cooking.


A long, narrow metal or wooden stick inserted through pieces of meat or vegetables for grilling.

Smoker Box

A small, perforated steel or cast-iron container that is placed directly on the lava rocks or ceramic briquettes of a gas grill. This box hold flavored wood chips and provides smoke.

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A device for measuring temperature and regulating heat.

Tuning A Pit

Modifying a cooker for good, even smoke and heat distribution.

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The holes in a grill cover or firebox that open and close like shutters. An open vent increases the oxygen and heat of a fire, while a closed vent does the opposite. Some grills do not have vents.

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Water smokers

A water pan close to the heat source. The moisture evaporates, keeping the humidity high. You can use beer, wine, juice, celery, herbs and more in the water pan and the resulting steam flavors the food.


This is what happens if ribs are cooked too long. If you pull on two adjacent ribs and the meat falls off one rib, exposing the bone, it is overcooked.

Wood Chip or Wood Chunks

Natural hardwood materials added to the fire to impart smoky flavor to food as it grills. Some of the best materials are hickory, mesquite, and grapevine trimmings.

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