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picture of a parrilla grill for the guide "What is a Parrilla BBQ"

What is a Parrilla BBQ

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Origins of the Parrilla BBQ

The Parrilla BBQ finds its roots in Argentina, a country known for its rich meat-centric cuisine. The word "parrilla" translates to "grill" in Spanish, but it holds a much deeper meaning in Argentine culture. It symbolizes a way of life, a gathering of family and friends, and a celebration of food.

The origins of the Parrilla BBQ can be traced back to the gauchos, Argentine cowboys who roamed the vast grasslands, known as the Pampas, in the 19th century. These gauchos would prepare their meals using simple grilling techniques over an open flame. This primal way of cooking meat has evolved into a revered tradition and an art form that continues to be passed down through generations.

Parrilla BBQ | full view of Parrilla BBQ with an optional spit attachment on white background

What Makes a Parrilla BBQ Different

While the concept of grilling is universal, the Parrilla BBQ distinguishes itself from other barbecue styles in several ways. Here are some key characteristics:

  • Wood Fire:

Unlike gas or charcoal grills, the Parrilla BBQ relies on wood as the primary fuel source. The choice of wood, such as quebracho or mesquite, adds a distinct smoky flavour to the meat. The use of wood also allows for better temperature control, as the embers can be moved and adjusted to create different heat zones on the grill.

Parrilla BBQ | cooking steaks on the Parrilla BBQ

  • Iron Grate:

The Parrilla BBQ features a heavy-duty iron grate, often adjustable, placed directly over the fire. This allows for precise temperature control and searing the meat to perfection. The iron grate retains heat exceptionally well, ensuring even cooking and beautiful grill marks on the meat.
  • Cuts of Meat:

Argentina is renowned for its high-quality beef, and the Parrilla BBQ highlights this by using various cuts of meat. From succulent steaks to juicy sausages, every part of the animal finds its place on the grill. Popular cuts include entraña (skirt steak), vacío (flank steak), asado de tira (short ribs), and morcilla (blood sausage). These cuts are often seasoned simply with salt, allowing the natural flavours of the meat to shine.
  • Slow Cooking:

Patience is key when it comes to the Parrilla BBQ. The meats are cooked slowly over the wood fire, allowing the flavours to develop gradually and ensuring tender, juicy results. This slow cooking method, combined with the smoky wood flavour, creates a distinct taste that is cherished by barbecue enthusiasts around the world.

Parrilla BBQ | close up view of Parrilla BBQ with firebricks on white background

  • Simplicity:

The focus of the Parrilla BBQ is on the quality of the meat itself. Minimal seasoning is used, typically consisting of salt and sometimes herbs, allowing the natural flavours to shine. The simplicity of the seasonings allows the flavours of the meat and the smokiness from the wood fire to be the stars of the show.


The Parrilla BBQ Experience

Participating in a Parrilla BBQ is not just about enjoying delicious food but immersing yourself in an unforgettable experience. Here's what you can expect:

  • Social Bonding:

The Parrilla BBQ is a social affair that brings people together. It's a time for conversation, laughter, and creating lasting memories with loved ones. In Argentine culture, the Parrilla BBQ is not merely a meal, it's a communal event that fosters connection and strengthens relationships. Friends and family gather around the grill, sharing stories and enjoying each other's company while the tantalizing aroma of grilled meat fills the air.

  • Aromas and Ambience:

As the meats sizzle on the grill, the enticing aromas fill the air, creating an ambiance that is hard to replicate. The combination of the wood fire, searing meat, and natural seasonings creates a unique scent that evokes feelings of anticipation and hunger. The crackling sound of the fire adds to the sensory delight, immersing you in the experience of the Parrilla BBQ.
  • Asado Ritual:

Asado, the term used to describe the Parrilla BBQ event, follows a ritualistic pattern. It begins with the preparation of the fire, which is carefully built using wood and kindling to create a steady and consistent heat source. The wood is chosen for its specific flavour properties, such as the intense smokiness of quebracho or the aromatic qualities of mesquite. Once the fire is ready, the meats are placed on the grill, each cut carefully positioned to achieve optimal cooking results.

The asador, the person in charge of grilling, takes great pride in his or her skill and expertise. They monitor the heat, adjust the position of the meats, and carefully turn them to ensure even cooking. This attention to detail and craftsmanship is an integral part of the Parrilla BBQ experience.

  • Accompaniments and Traditions:

While the grilled meat takes centre stage, the Parrilla BBQ is often accompanied by a variety of side dishes and condiments. Traditional accompaniments include chimichurri, a vibrant sauce made with parsley, garlic, vinegar, and olive oil, and salsa criolla, a tangy onion and tomato relish. Grilled vegetables, provoleta cheese, and fresh salads are also common additions to the meal.

In addition to the food, certain traditions and customs are observed during a Parrilla BBQ. For example, it is customary for guests to bring their own beverages, such as wine or beer, to share with the group. It is also common for the asador to be revered and respected for their grilling skills, often receiving compliments and praise throughout the meal.

Parrilla BBQ | Cooking vegetables on the Parrilla BBQ

Types of Parrilla Grills | Models

There are many variations and types of Parrilla grills. Each type has almost universal features including; A fly wheel to raise and lower the grill away or towards the heat, a food grade stainless steel grill surface, and a charcoal pan or gas source for generating heat for cooking.

The best types, we find, are the ones withlarge V-shape cooking grills that allow the fat to funnel away from the heat source, preventing flare ups. These grills should be 304 food grade stainless steel. A large fly wheel with thick cable should be used, with a strong locking mechanism to allow the grill to sit at any custom height.

Parrilla grills can include a base and charcoal tray, however, some models are free standing, able to be put ontop of a pre-existing barbeque, camp fire, or fire pit.

Below we have a parrilla short video guide which demonstrates the different types of the best ones in Australia! You can go to each grill via the links with time stamps posted above the video. We think you'll agree these parrilla grills are well designed and of exceptional quality!

  1.    starts at 0:00 and goes to 01:05
  2.     starts at 01:08 and goes to 02:05
  3.     starts at 02:05 and goes to 02:43
  4.   starts at 02:45 and goes to 03:23


The Parrilla BBQ embodies the essence of Argentine culture, showcasing the country's passion for grilling and love for high-quality meats. It represents a culinary tradition that dates to the gauchos and has evolved into a revered art form. The use of wood fire, iron grates, and minimal seasonings allows the natural flavours of the meat to shine, creating a truly unforgettable dining experience.

Beyond the food, the Parrilla BBQ is a celebration of togetherness and shared moments with loved ones. The social bonding, the tantalizing aromas, and the immersive ambience make it an experience that goes far beyond the act of grilling. So, the next time you come across a Parrilla BBQ, be prepared to indulge in a sizzling journey into authentic Argentine grilling, where flavours, traditions, and memories intertwine.

Author Bio Image

Allan Cooper

Allan Cooper, a licenced electrician is an avid foodie, with experience in spit roasting, smoking meats, and kegerators. He loves the outdoor living lifestyle and shares it with his young family.

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