Tips & Techniques Grilling Indirect-Heat Grilling

When grilling with indirect heat, the food is placed away from the heat source, so it cooks from reflected heat. In a charcoal grill that means arranging hot coals so that either the center of the grill bed or one side of the bed is not delivering direct heat, and then placing the food above that space and covering the grill. In a gas grill, that means turning off one or more burners, placing the food over the turned-off burner(s), and keeping the lid on. Use this method for foods that cook for more than 25 minutes. Sometimes you are grilling foods that benefit from a good sear and also take longer than 25 minutes to cook, such as barbecued bone-in chicken. In that case, sear the pieces over direct heat until nicely browned, and then move them to the cooler area of the grill, cover the grill, and let them finish cooking in the reflected heat.


Good cuts to use: Beef roasts, leg of lamb, thick-cut pork chops, pork loins, whole chickens, bone-in chicken pieces





1. Light the coals. After 15 to 20 minutes, the coals will be covered with gray ash and glowing. Remove the grill grate from the grill and pour the coals onto the fire bed.


2. Arrange half the lit coals on one side of the fire bed and half on the other, leaving an area in the center free of coals. (Or, bank the lit coals to one side of the bed, leaving the other side free of coals.)


3. Put a drip pan (a disposable aluminum pan works well) in the space without coals. Place the grill grate on the grill, positioning it so that its handles are over the coals, and let it heat for a couple of minutes. Scrub the grate clean with a wire grill brush and oil it with a rolled-up paper towel dipped in oil.


4. Place the food on the grate over the drip pan, cover the grill, and adjust the vents as needed to reach the desired temperature. You can also use the direct-heat area of the grill to briefly sear the food, either before or after cooking it all the way through over the indirect-heat area.


5. The temperature of the fire should hold for about 2 hours (depending on what type of fuel you use, and how much). If the food needs to cook longer, add fresh briquettes or hardwood directly on the burning coals through the handles of the grill grate after about 1 1/2 hours. Or, better yet, start more coals in the chimney starter and replenish the fire after about 2 hours. See more tips for indirect-heat grilling with charcoal.





1. Ignite the grill, turn all the burners on to high, and preheat for about 15 minutes.


2. Open the lid and leave all the burners on. Scrub the grate clean with a wire grill brush and oil it with a rolled-up paper towel dipped in oil.


3. Depending on your burner setup, turn off the burner or burners that are directly under the area where the food will be placed. On two-burner models, this will be one burner; on three-burner models, this usually means the center burner. On larger grills, this can mean the center two or three burners. Most gas grills come equipped with a drip pan -- if yours doesn't, place a drip pan underneath the area where the food will sit.


4. Place the food on the grate over the area without heat, cover the grill, and cook according to the recipe. See more tips for indirect-heat grilling with gas.