BBQ Terms for Beginners

Grilling can be a very tricky skill to master. There is fire involved, food, heat, the elements, and a whole host of other distractions and obstacles. While we can’t hold your hand (the one without the tongs/spatula/thermometer in it), we can guide you on some common (and not so common) barbecue lingo and grilling terms that come in handy when learning the art of barbecue. The next time you step up to the grill, you won’t come under heat – pun intended – for your lack of BBQ jargon savvy: you’ll sound like a pro.

Common Grilling and BBQ Terms

Note: Some of these bbq words and grilling phrases aren’t typically associated with grilling, but that’s what makes Memphis Grills so great! A Memphis Wood Fire Grill is a state-of-the-art grill, convection oven, and smoker all rolled into one versatile machine.

  • Barbecue: While many people use the word “barbecue” to describe anything and everything that’s been cooked on the grill, barbecue is actually a technique in which you cook your meat over low heat, with a lot of smoke and a lot of time (often referred to as “low and slow”)
  • Baste: Basting is a way to keep your meat tender and juicy while roasting. You do this by brushing pan drippings, fruit juice, butter, or some other delicious liquid onto the meat during the cook.
  • Basting Brush: Basting brushes are used to spread marinades onto your food and meat while it’s already on the grill. Long handles are ideal to keep your hands away from the heat and don’t use the same basting brush for different marinades as this will muddle the flavors.
  • Braise: Braising is a great way to utilize your Memphis Grill Direct Flame Insert. In order to braise your meat, you first give it a good sear and then simmer it over low heat in a covered pot filled with liquid.
  • Broil: Broiling, like grilling, is a dry heat cooking method. The only difference is when grilling, your heat is coming from below what you’re cooking and in broiling, heat is coming from above. Poultry, fish, and tender cuts of meat are best for broiling and because you won’t be adding any moisture to the meat during the cooking, you’ll most likely be marinating the meat first.
  • Convection: Often found in higher-end ovens, convection cooking allows for the even dispersal of heat which leads to even cooking. It also has the added benefit of circulating wood smoke thus enhancing flavor and providing an extra crispy skin when cooking poultry. Every Memphis Grill comes with one or two convection fans built right into the unit. No rotisserie is needed.
  • Grill: Okay, if you don’t know this one, you’ve got a lot of work to do. In order to grill the meat, you simply place whatever you are cooking over a hot flame.
  • Marinade: Marinades come in all forms, everything from dry rubs to acidic-based liquids. They’re used to give food an extra burst of flavor, to tenderize it, or both.
  • Marinate: When marinating, you use a marinade and either coat what you’re cooking in it or you let it sit in the marinade to soak up the flavor you’re after.  
  • Parboil: In order to parboil your food and meat, you cook it in water until it is just softened. Then the food is rinsed with cold water and set aside to finish cooking at a later time. When you buy frozen vegetables, they have often been parboiled first so they will cook faster once you want to use them.
  • Roast: Roasting is another form of dry heat cooking in which the food is cooked uncovered. When meats are roasted at higher temperatures, the outside becomes brown, but there is a chance the meat will end up dry. Roasting at lower temperatures helps keep the meat moist, but the color is often not as golden brown. Tenderloins, rib roasts, and poultry are most commonly roasted. 
  • Rub: Rubs are either of the wet or dry variety and are full of spices, herbs, and seasonings that enhance the food you’re cooking. Rubs can either be sprinkled onto or actually rubbed into the meat. 
  • Sauté: The most important aspect of sautéing is using a very hot pan. In addition to the hot pan and a small amount of added fat, food is cooked and browned very quickly. It is crucial not to overcrowd the pan, as this will lead your food to steam itself. You also want to keep your food moving, usually by tossing it into the air, hence the word sauté, which in French translates to “jump.”
  • Sear: When you sear a piece of meat, you aren’t actually cooking it, just caramelizing the outside on a hot cooking surface or over an open flame. This method is very similar to sautéing, except instead of flipping or stirring your food around, it is best to just let it sit and the heat will work its magic. When the meat is ready to be turned onto the other side, it will release itself from the cooking surface – if it’s still sticking, it’s usually not ready.
  • Smoke: Smoking meat is done for two reasons. The first is to preserve it and this is most commonly done with fish, bacon, and ham. The second is used in the world of slow barbecue and can take anywhere from 1 to 20 hours, depending on what type and cut of meat you’re cooking. The most popular smoking meats include ribs, brisket, and pork shoulder, but because Memphis Grills use wood pellets as their fuel source, you won’t need a separate smoker – anything and everything can get that delicious smoky flavor.
  • Tenderize: When you tenderize your meat (round, flank, or skirt steaks are ideal), what you’re doing is right in the word – making the meat tender and easier to cut and eat. You can do this with a marinade containing citrus, acidic, or enzyme-rich items such as wine or ginger that will soak into the meat. Another way to tenderize meat is by giving it a good pounding with the toothy side of a mallet.  

Memphis Wood Fire Grills BBQ Terms and Grilling Phrases

  • EZ Access Hatch: Also called the indirect cooking insert, this metal plate evenly distributes smoke and heat throughout the grill chamber and also allows easy access to the burn pot.
  • Direct Flame Insert: Our direct flame insert allows you to cook directly over your grill flames, at very high temperatures (ideal for searing steaks, burgers, etc).  It is interchangeable with the EZ Access Hatch.
  • Genie Tool: The “Swiss Army Knife of the Memphis Grill,” the Genie Tool pretty much does everything. You can use the flat end to scrap the Savorizer®, the end with the grooves gets rid of leftovers on your cooking surface and the notches help remove the grates or Savorizer®. There is even a built-in bottle opener to help quench your thirst from all that amazing grilling you’ve been doing.
  • ITC: The ITC (short for Intelligent Temperature Control), is the awesome device on the front of your grill that allows you to set your desired cooking temperature. Depending on your model, this could be anywhere from 180 to 700 degrees F. You can also use your ITC to set the desired done temperature of whatever you’re cooking.
    BBQ Terms for Beginners 2
  • ITC Meat Probe: Our meat probe communicates directly with your ITC display while cooking, allowing you to check the “doneness” of your meat, without needing to constantly check and recheck the temperature with a traditional food thermometer.
  • Wood Pellets: These little wood pellets are the gas to your car, the food to your body, in other words, the fuel for your grill. While traditional grills use gas and charcoal, wood pellet grills rely on natural, compressed wood to heat your food.
  • Pellet Hopper: The storage container on your Memphis Grill holds your pellets and also includes an auger that feeds the pellets into the burn pot.
  • Burn Pot: This is where the wood pellets ignite and produce heat and smoke. On a Memphis Grill, the pellets never actually touch the igniter rod, thus extending its lifespan. Rather, ridiculously hot air is blown directly over the pellets, instantly combusting the wood.

If you’d like to continue to expand your grilling vocabulary and learn a few more bbq terms, we’ve gathered a few links for further reading: