Learn Indirect Grilling

There are two ways to grill: indirect grilling and direct grilling. Which method you choose depends on what you want to cook.

The indirect method is equivalent to roasting and is best for any of the following:

  • Or any other big piece of meat that takes time to cook - the sort of thing you would otherwise cook in an oven.

What is Indirect Grilling

The Indirect grilling method is really much like baking or roasting - as you would in a household oven.

This way a large piece of meat, say a turkey or a leg of lamb (or anything else that needs a long time to cook through properly) is cooked due to the ambient temperature of the oven rather than by having applied to it directly.

Technically the meat is cooked by radiant heat and convection, which surrounds it and cooks it more slowly and evenly. Smoking is a variation of this where specific types of wood are burned, creating another layer of flavor.

Temperatures are much lower somewhere round 250F, plus or minus 25F, and cooking times from say 1 to 3 hours - but 8 or even more isn't unheard of.

The Method of Indirect Grilling

In theory, either a gas grill or charcoal grill can be used. All that is required is a lid or cover (preferably with vents) and a drip pan beneath the food. And weber kettle grills are especially easy for a beginner to use.

Personally I've found that gas grills are much easier for fine tuning temperature - with charcoal it's more of an art!

Incidentally, the temperature needs to be between 225F and 275F (105 - 135C) whichever fuel you use.

With a gas grill simply put a burner on low on one side of the grill, put the meat in the other half such that it isn't directly above the burner and close the lid.

The heat source isn't as hot, but the lid keeps the heat in and makes the temperature more consistent for a longer period.

It may take a little experimentation to keep the temperature right.

With a charcoal grill the same idea applies, put your hot coals in one side and the meat on the other. Again, experiment by

  • pushing the coals all round the outside edge of your barbecue and the food in the middle.
  • Putting the coals in the middle and food items on either side.
  • Or just have coals in one half of the grill.

Wherever you put the coals, a drip pan needs to go underneath the food. This adds moisture to the atmosphere in the grill, to stop the food drying out. It also catches any juices dripping from the meat, thus keeping the grill clean.

With either gas or chacoal grills, a barbecue with air vents and temperature gauge built into the lid, will help massively.

A very useful tool is a meat thermometer that you can leave the probes in. Use one probe to monitor the internal temperature of the meat until it's perfectly cooked, and one to monitor the heat from the barbecue.

In this respect it seems much like cooking in an oven.

Here the lovely Elizabeth Karmel explains the whole indirect grilling process very well:

The Best Barbecue for Indirect Grilling

In short - any grill with a lid! We have looked at a lot of grills over the years and reviewed a few of the best.

I think the Weber One Touch is the best all-rounder, but the are a few other great choices - check out the Charcoal Grilling 101 page.

If you prefer gas (and frankly it is easier to use) you can't wrong with a Weber, but there are several other really good gas grill reviews.

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