Many people use their charcoal or gas grill just for grilling hamburgers, chicken, or steak.
With indirect grilling, you can expand your grilling and even think about smoking your meat.
What is indirect grilling?
Click to jump straight to each topic
The word indirect gives it away already. You are not grilling on top of your burning charcoal or gas burner but will keep your meat on another spot on the grill grate where there is no heat underneath it.
Easier said you put your fire on one side of the grill and your meat on the other side.
Why would you use indirect grilling?
I am not saying that you should always set your grill up for indirect heat, but it has some great advantages over using charcoal or gas right under your meat.
When you cook more than one kind of meat like for example hamburgers, hotdogs, and chicken at the same time they need different cooking times. A hotdog is done pretty fast and a hamburger takes a little longer. A chicken might not need too much heat at all to cook.
It will also give you the option to use wood chips for adding smoke flavor to your meat.
Here is where indirect cooking comes in handy. You can move your meat from a hot to a cooler spot to cook it slower.
Indirect Grilling Video
Many times a video can make things easier to understand.
Indirect grilling for smoking
This is the method I use most for my smoking since I do not have a separate firebox on my grill.
I have a nice barrel grill that I bought years ago.
The picture on the left is how it looks although this is not mine.
Where the chicken is I usually have my charcoal.
When I got interested in smoking at a low temperature I didn’t feel like investing in a smoker, and one of the pellet smokers we reviewed was also too expensive, so I just used my charcoal barrel grill this way.
I use the spot on the right side of my grill for the charcoal. I even take the grill grate off to make it easier to access during smoking to add more charcoal if needed, just like in the picture.
My meat I keep on the left side of the grill so it is not on top of the charcoal but away from the heat source.
In this way, I can keep my temperature as high or low as I want it. Higher is adding more charcoal and opening the air vents. Lower is using less charcoal and keeping the air vents more closed.
I needed some time to learn how to control my air vents, but practice makes perfect.
It took me a while to figure out how much charcoal I put in one of my charcoal starters to start with. I used too much and the grill got way too hot for smoking at a low temperature.
It needed a long time before it was cooled off and on the temperature, I like to smoke. (225 Fahrenheit).
After this initial learning curve, I am pretty good at guessing how much I need for the pounds of meat I am smoking that day.
One other thing I had to figure out was how to keep my charcoal grill at 225 degrees with my vents.
After mastering that part my indirect cooking improved and I needed less time to set up my 2-zone grill system.
Eddie van Aken
Eddie van Aken has run his own full-service restaurant for many years. Before that, he worked as a grill and buffet cook in some of the mainstream restaurants. With his experience using professional kitchen equipment, he is able to write expert reviews. You can read more about Eddie van Aken here.