Direct vs. Indirect Grilling

To grill the most succulent food, you'll need to choose between direct and indirect grilling methods. Here are guidelines to help you decide which to choose.


What Is Indirect Grilling?
Enlarge Image Place a drip pan right underneath where the food will be set.
  • Indirect grilling positions the food on the grill rack away from or to the side of the heat source.
  • Grill is covered.
How Does Indirect Grilling Work?
  • Similar to an oven, heat inside the grill reflects off the lid and other interior surfaces.
  • Food is cooked from all sides (eliminating need to turn it).
Foods to Use for Indirect Grilling
  • Larger foods that take longer to cook such as ribs.
Tips for Indirect Grilling
  • Place a drip pan, such as a heavy-gauge disposable aluminum pan, under the food to catch drippings that could cause flare-ups.
  • Use long-handled tongs to place drip pan.
  • Add hot water to drip pans to keep drippings from burning.
  • Can use other liquid, such as apple juice or beer, to add flavor and moisture.
  • For indirect grilling, heat the coals until they are covered with gray ash.
  • Don't peek! The heat and smoke will escape and lengthen cooking time.
What Is Direct Grilling?
  • Food is placed on grill directly over heat source.
  • Can be covered or uncovered based on manufacturer's directions.
Foods to Use for Direct Grilling
  • More tender meat cuts such as rib eye steaks.
  • Thinner meat and poultry such as boneless chicken breast.
  • Smaller quick-cooking (under 30 minutes) vegetables such as zucchini slices.
Direct Grilling Tip
  • Turn food only once for most even cooking.
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