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How to Grill Indirectly with Charcoal

There are many ways to grill indirectly. Below I’ll present you the most popular ones and the best ones for charcoal grills.

Some of them are characterized by burning up to over a dozen hours with properly laid out charcoal. It’s a perfect solution for longer burning of more demanding meat.

Most of the methods can be used with majority of the available charcoal grills as long as their cooking area is big enough.

They are all perfect for Kettle type charcoal grills.

What will you need?

  • A lot of charcoal
  • Big enough cooking area
  • A grill with a lid ( Remember! Keep the lid closed at all times, only open it if you have to )
  • A grease tray that has to be placed underneath the food

What will be very helpful?

  • Special baskets designed to easily split the space of the grill
  • Charcoal Chimney Starter – it makes it faster and easier to get the briquette burning

Indirect Charcoal Grilling - Fire Configurations

Indirect - Two Zone Fire

The simplest solution that you can use in any charcoal grill without any problems.

All you need to do is split the area of your grill in half. One side is the place for charcoal briquette, the other side is left empty.

This method has its upsides as you can use it as the indirect and the direct one at the same time. 

For that purpose, if you want to grill indirectly, all you need to do is put the food on the opposite side to the briquette.

If you’re interested in the direct method however, just put the meat on the grates directly over the briquette.

It works best with the PK charcoal grill, its construction and large cooking area help with convenient two-area grilling.

Indirect - Snake Method

Change your charcoal grill into a real smoker

Why would you spend over 500$ for a dedicated bbq smoker if you can use the snake method. 

Completely for free, all you have to do is properly lay out the charcoal in the grates.

This method is great for longer burning of large chunks of meat such as ribs, roast, pork shoulder, chicken or a whole turkey.

snake method

It consists of building a wall of briquettes leaning against one another. It looks a little like a domino, after setting one end on fire it will gradually burn until all the charcoal burns down.

It works with every round grill and allows to maintain the temperature for many hours without any problems. The longer the snake arranged, the longer it will burn.

Additionally, you can put wood on the snake at short intervals which will result in a better flavor of the food.

Use a charcoal chimney to get it burning, it’s a fast and convenient method to get the briquette burning.

Next to the snake, put a tray filled with water to the 3/4 of its capacity. It will allow to maintain temperature and create a humid environment.

All that is left to do is close the lid, open the lower vent completely and the upper one halfway. Once the temperature is right, you can put the meat in the center of the grates.

Remember not to put it above hot charcoal.

Now all that is left to do is check the temperature once in a while. To control temperature, use the air vents, raising or lowering it adequately.

Indirect – Three Zone Fire

A very good solution in Kettle grills.

Weber Kettle is equipped with specially designed baskets that make it possible to split the grill into three areas fast and easily.

How does it work?

Put the charcoal baskets on either side of the grills, then put a grease tray in the middle.

If you don’t have baskets then simply put the charcoal on either side of the grill leaving plenty of space in the middle . 

indirect three zones

Such solution creates better cooking conditions thanks to equalizing the heat on both sides.  It allows to achieve much higher temperatures thanks to two hot sides.

Once your charcoal gets hot, you can put the meat in the center of the grill. The tray that was specially prepared before will collect the grease, preventing flare ups.

More Tips

Always place the grease tray directly beneath the food when grilling using the indirect method. The grease won’t stain your grill and won’t get in the fire, causing troublesome flare-ups.

Try to open the lid as little as possible. The moment you open the lid, the hot air escapes outside very fast, making you lose the temperature.

The right temperature inside the grill is crucial for cooking, so only open the lid when you really have to. There’s no reason to check on the meat every 2 minutes.

Buy a proper meat thermometer, it doesn’t cost a lot and it will allow you to check the temperature inside the meat.

If you cook large chunks of meat using the indirect method ( Pork shoulder, beef etc ), it is very important for the meat to reach the right internal temperature. Otherwise, it might turn out that the meat is still raw.

Find out what is the difference between the direct & indirect grilling.