Difference Between Barbecue and Tandoor

Key Difference – Barbecue vs Tandoor

Barbecue and tandoor refer to two methods and appliances of cooking. Barbecue refers to cooking meat on low heat and smoke, and a barbecue (the noun) is a machine used to cook food in this way. Tandoor is a special oven used in Asian and Middle Eastern countries. The key difference between barbecue and tandoor is that barbecue is specially used to cook meat whereas tandoor can be used to cook a variety of food.

What is Barbecue?

The word barbecue refers to a cooking method and the appliance used in this method. Traditional barbecues involved placing a large cut of meat in a closed pit and letting it cook directly (no direct contact from the fire) with low heat and smoke of wood fire or charcoal. This process uses a temperature around 225-250 degrees and takes a considerable amount of time since it uses low heat. However, it is this slow and low heat supplied for an extended period of time that helps to break down the connective tissues of the meat and turns tough cuts into tender, delicious food. Restaurant barbecues use large brick or metal ovens.

Barbequing is often mistaken for grilling, which involves moderate to high direct heat and less smoke. Barbequing usually uses meats like pork and beef.

Difference Between Barbecue and Tandoor

What is a Tandoor?

A tandoor is a special type of oven used in Asian and Middle Eastern countries. Traditional tandoors are cylindrical in shape and have an open top to allow ventilation. Although they are typically made of clay and plated with an insulating material like mud, there are also metal tandoors in the modern market. A tandoor can either be a small and portable oven or a large and permanent structure in a kitchen.

Traditionally food was cooked in a tandoor by building a fire at the bottom, exposing the food to direct heat. A tandoor cooks food by live-fire, radiant heat cooking, convection cooking, and smoking.  The temperature of the tandoor can go even up to 900° Fahrenheit (≅480° Celsius).

Tandoors are mostly used to cook Indian and Arabic food. Flatbreads like tandoori naan, tandoori lachcha paratha, tandoori roti, and meats such as tandoori chicken, chicken tikka, and snacks such as samosas, kalmi kababs are cooked using tandoors.  However, there are different methods to prepare these different dishes; meat is cooked in long skewers that are placed over the mouth of the tandoor or inserted into the tandoor whereas flatbreads are slapped against the sides of the tandoor.

Key Difference - Barbecue vs Tandoor

What is the difference between Barbecue and Tandoor?


Barbecue is popular in Western countries.

Tandoor is used in Asian and Middle Eastern countries.

Cooking methods:

Barbecue uses low, indirect heat and smoke to cook food.

Tandoor uses a variety of methods such as live-fire, radiant heat cooking, convection cooking, and smoking.


Barbecue can cook meat such as pork and beef.

Tandoor can cook meat, flatbreads as well as snacks like samosas.


Barbecue uses a low temperature.

Tandoor uses a high temperature.

 Image Courtesy:
“Tandoori Chicken with oven” By Nitinmaul – Own work (CC BY-SA 4.0) via Commons Wikimedia
“Barbecue (29883227986)” By Marco Verch – Barbecue (CC BY 2.0) via Commons Wikimedia