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Frying vs. Grilling: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Published on December 19, 2023
Frying involves cooking food in oil or fat, while grilling uses direct heat, usually from below, often resulting in a charred texture.

Key Differences

Frying is a cooking process where food is submerged in hot oil or fat. This method typically creates a crispy outer layer. Grilling, in contrast, involves cooking food on a grill, using direct heat from below. This method often imparts a smoky flavor and charred texture to the food.
In frying, the food is usually coated in batter or breadcrumbs, which become crispy in the hot fat. Grilling does not typically involve such coatings; instead, the food is often seasoned or marinated and then placed directly on the grill grates.
Frying can be done in a variety of ways, including deep frying, where food is fully submerged in oil, or pan frying, where it's cooked in a shallow layer of oil. Grilling is typically done on an open-wire grid, with the food exposed to open flames or heated elements, allowing for a distinct charred and grilled appearance.
The flavors produced by frying and grilling are notably different. Frying, especially deep frying, seals in moisture and creates a uniform texture, while grilling highlights the natural flavors of the food with added smokiness and allows for more pronounced caramelization.
Health-wise, grilling is often considered a healthier option as it requires less oil and fat. Frying, particularly deep frying, results in higher calorie and fat content due to the oil absorption in the food.

Comparison Chart

Cooking Medium

Uses oil or fat for cooking.
Uses direct heat, often from below.

Texture Outcome

Creates a crispy outer layer.
Often results in a charred, smoky texture.

Typical Preparation

Food may be coated in batter or breadcrumbs.
Food is seasoned or marinated, not coated.

Flavor Characteristics

Uniform texture, seals in moisture.
Highlights natural flavors, adds smokiness.

Health Consideration

Higher in calories and fat due to oil.
Generally healthier, less fat used.

Frying and Grilling Definitions


Pan frying uses less oil and cooks food on a flat surface.
Pan frying fish preserves its moisture while creating a crispy exterior.


Barbecue grilling is a slower process using lower heat and smoke.
Barbecue grilling pork ribs infuses them with a smoky flavor.


Stir-frying is a quick method using high heat and constant movement.
Stir-frying vegetables retains their crunch and flavor.


Grilling often imparts char lines and a smoky taste.
Grilling vegetables brings out their natural sweetness and adds a smoky aroma.


Deep frying involves completely submerging food in oil.
French fries are typically prepared by deep frying.


Grilling involves cooking food over direct heat.
Grilling steaks over high heat gives them a charred exterior.


Frying is cooking food in hot oil or fat.
Frying chicken in oil gives it a crispy skin.


Indoor grilling uses a ridged pan to simulate outdoor grilling.
Indoor grilling chicken breasts creates charred lines similar to outdoor grilling.


Frying often results in a golden-brown exterior of the food.
Frying doughnuts creates a soft interior and golden exterior.


Grilling is popular for outdoor cooking and social events.
Grilling burgers and hot dogs is a staple at many summer barbecues.


To cook over direct heat in hot oil or fat.


To broil on a gridiron.


To torture or afflict as if by broiling.


What is frying?

Frying is cooking food in oil or fat, usually in a shallow pan.

What oils are best for frying?

Canola, vegetable, peanut, and sunflower oils are ideal due to their high smoke points.

What's the difference between deep frying and shallow frying?

Deep frying submerges food in oil, while shallow frying cooks it in a small amount of oil.

How do you know when oil is hot enough for frying?

The oil should bubble around a wooden spoon handle or a drop of water.

How do you avoid oil splatter while frying?

Use a splatter screen and avoid overcrowding the pan.

Can you reuse frying oil?

Yes, but it should be strained and stored properly; its reuse should be limited.

Is grilling healthier than frying?

Generally, yes, as it uses less oil and fat drips away from the food.

What's the best temperature for frying?

Typically 350°F to 375°F (175°C to 190°C), depending on the food.

What is grilling?

Grilling is cooking food using direct heat from below, usually on a grill.

What's the difference between grilling and barbecuing?

Grilling is quick cooking over high heat, while barbecuing involves slow cooking over low heat.

Is frying healthy?

Frying can be less healthy due to high fat content; moderation is key.

What foods are best for grilling?

Meats, vegetables, and even some fruits are great for grilling.

What are grill marks and how do you achieve them?

Grill marks are seared lines; achieve them by not moving the food too soon.

How do you clean a grill?

Use a grill brush when the grill is warm and occasionally deep clean with soap and water.

What is the smoke point in frying?

The smoke point is the temperature at which oil starts to break down and smoke.

Can you fry with olive oil?

Yes, but use light olive oil, not extra virgin, due to its higher smoke point.

Can you grill indoors?

Yes, with a stove-top grill pan or an electric indoor grill.

How do you prevent food from sticking to the grill?

Clean the grill well and lightly oil the food or grill before cooking.

How do you control the temperature on a grill?

Adjust the flame on a gas grill, or spread or mound the coals on a charcoal grill.

How long should meat rest after grilling?

Generally, for a few minutes to allow the juices to redistribute.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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