Direct vs Indirect Heating Method – What’s the Difference

There are two different methods of grilling, the direct and the indirect one. How you prepare your food influences plenty of its aspects such as the flavor, the meat’s juiciness and the aroma. It’s a good idea to learn the basic methods of grilling to simply be a better cook.

You have to know that these methods are used depending on what type of meat you want to prepare and how.


The direct grilling method

It’s a simple and basic way to cook. It revolves around the food being located directly above the source of heat. The charcoal or other type of fuel is spread over the entire surface, right below the grates.

This method is the best for preparing food with the time of cooking of up to about 20-25 minutes, in most cases it’s smaller pieces of food. Such as chicken legs, hamburgers, steaks, veggies, sausages or fish fillets.

direct heating grilling

One advantage of that method is the fact that we can cook meat fast. It is characterized by being very well done, there’s also the grate mark left on the food. The kind of food like steaks or hamburgers should be very well done, which makes it the best method for them.


How to grill using the direct method?

When it comes to charcoal grills, one has to simply spread the charcoal evenly inside the grill. Then the lid has to be closed and only get opened when you have to flip the meat or remove it. Closed lid causes equal temperature to be maintained at the entire area inside the grill.

How does it work when it comes to gas grills?

All it takes is to set all the burners at the same power. Then just like in case of a charcoal grill, the lid has to be used to keep the heat inside the grill. Do not lift the lid every few minutes or you will lose the temperature fast.

All the thicker chunks of meat, which require more than half an hour to cook, should be grilled using the indirect method.


The indirect grilling method

Only available in grills equipped with a lid and a larger cooking area, it requires enough space to create the cold area and the warm one. They say that this method is more like baking than indirect grilling, I’d say they’re right.

There are many different methods of indirect grilling.

indirect heating grill

Always make sure the the grill’s lid is closed. That’s crucial for the indirect method to work. Briquette will generate heat that will bounce off from the grill’s lid. That way the same temperature will be maintained on the entire surface of the grate inside the grill.

Basic indirect grilling - 50/50 method

We split the cooking area into two areas. One of them will be filled with briquette that will generate the heat, whereas the other area remains cold. Grilling using this method relies on the meat lying on the cold side. It is best to use special baskets that divide the grill’s area in half.

You should definitely check out other popular methods of indirect grilling using charcoal grills.


Indirect grilling using a gas grill

All it takes is turning on the burners on one half of the grill and leave them off on the other half. Then put the food on the cold side which is where the burners are off.

A heated rack can very often serve as an indirect grilling method. It is located far from the hot briquette.


Practical tips

If possible, put a dripping tray under the meat, it will help prevent dangerous flare ups if the grease directly touches the flames.

Do not open the grill lid too often, only do that when necessary. By opening the lid you allow the heat to escape the grill fast. Your goal is to keep the heat inside the grill. To control temperature, you have to use the air vents installed in the grill as well as the amount of charcoal used.

If you want to check if the meat is ready, the best and most surefire way is to buy a meat probe. You will be able to check if the meat’s internal temperature is already right for the particular type of meat. Remember that there’s nothing worse that serving your guests raw meat. That’s why it is better to spend few dollars on a good meat probe and make sure that the meat is already done on the inside.

Now you already know what indirect and direct grilling is about. Go and see for yourself what the results will be after using one of those methods.