Direct vs Indirect Cooking

by Kevin H. on February 22, 2012 · 3 comments

There are two basic ways to use your grill for cooking:  Direct over the heat vs. Indirect away from heat.  I use both methods regularly.  I’ll describe the basics of both here.  Please watch both of the short videos below for a great visual.


This is the method most use with their grill.  For gas users, you turn on all your burners, get it hot, and grill your meat.  For charcoal users, you light your coals, get them gray and hot, and spread them in an even layer for grilling.

Direct cooking is great for a lot of basic recipes – pork steaks and chops, chicken, hot dogs, brats, burgers and searing your beef steaks.  It’s easy to set up and use your grill this way.


This is the not-so-often used method that can change the way you see your grill.  For lack of a better analogy, your grill can become an outdoor oven.  This method is for slower cooking which will give your meat more flavor and juice.

For gas users, you turn on half your burners – left on, right off – or however your grill is situated.  For charcoal users you will either buy the charcoal bins to gather your coals or simply push them all to one side of your grill.  This will give you a portion of grill space for searing, with the remainder an area to place your meat for indirect cooking.

This method is fantastic for pork tenderloin, whole chickens or large chicken parts with bone and skin on, and other larger cuts of meat for smoking. It allows you to sear your meat if you choose, and cook it slower indirectly.  Add a chunk of wood or a couple handful of wood chips to add another dimension!

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Donald E. Weekley November 5, 2013 at 12:29 pm

I am smioking 4 Pork Shoulders and 5 Whole Chickens ofr our football team. the 4 Shoulders tiogether = 33lbs… I have never tried to smoke this many all at tone time on my Ugly Drum Smoker.. Usually the time factor is 1 hr and 15 minutes per pound, but since I have 4 shoulders at one time how much longer should it take to smoker and reach an internal temperature of 185 degrees???? The 5 Chickens are going on a seperate smoker with 2 dozen Sausages!!! I thnk I am good with that time of 4 to 5 hours… Let me know if you think different.


Nathan Potter March 15, 2013 at 6:52 pm

not sure if you know, your 2nd video is only one second long


Kevin H. March 15, 2013 at 9:46 pm

I think it’s fixed now. I’m not quite sure what happened. Thanks for the heads up!