What’s the difference between indirect and direct grilling?

Grill experts talk a lot about direct and indirect heat. But what does that actually mean?

Direct and indirect are two different types of cooking methods: Direct heat is very hot and food cooks quickly. On the other hand, grilling with indirect heat can be compared with cooking in an oven. Choosing which heat to use depends, above all, on the mass or the volume of the food. What’s great about grilling is that it’s possible to use both cooking methods. Naturally, this is particularly practical for different foods that have different cooking times. This allows you, for example, to grill steaks at a direct heat and ribs at an indirect heat.

Grilling using direct heat

You grill the food directly over the flames when cooking using direct heat. Direct heat is particularly suitable for searing food or for food with short cooking times. The food cooks quickly, but also burns quickly. That’s why you need to keep a close watch on the grill. The food lies directly over the burner or the charcoal. Temperatures in this range can reach 250°C and more. Foods suitable for direct grilling Thin foods with low water or sugar content can be prepared well using direct heat, e.g. steaks, fish, vegetables and other sensitive foodstuffs.

Indirect grilling

Food is cooked on the cooler side of the grill when using indirect heat. The grill works like an oven when the lid is closed. This is ideal for thicker cuts or food with a high sugar content – everything that needs cooking slowly or “barbecue style”. You can also start off with direct heat and then finish off cooking using indirect heat. Temperatures in this range are generally around 100°C. This means it takes longer to cook everything – just like cooking in the oven.

Foods suitable for indirect grilling

Tougher meat and larger roasting cuts, ribs and whole chicken are all excellent when cooked using indirect heat.

Setting up two cooking zones

Simplicity itself: Only ignite half the burners on a gas grill and pile up the coals to one side when using a charcoal grill.

Tip

You can also use the warming rack of your grill as an indirect cooking zone.

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