How to Grill With Indirect Heat

by Alan Kirk

Until recently, many people used grills just to cook hamburgers, hot dogs and an occassional steak. Thanks to the popularity of cooking shows on television channels such as The Food Network, grills are now used to cook less-traditional foods. Many of these larger cuts of meat including chicken, turkey, and pork require a technique called indirect grilling. Indirect grilling is a slow-cooking version of grilling.

Prepare the wood chips for indirect grilling with indirect heat. One of the best things about cooking with indirect heat is the slow cooking process allows flavors to infuse the meat you are cooking. A popular way to flavor meat with indirect cooking is using smoke and to use smoke you need to purchase wood smoker chips. You should have one cup of wood smoker chips for every hour you intend to cook the meat on the grill. Soak this chips for one hour before you start the grill.

Prepare your fuel source. If you are using a gas grill, preparing the fuel source is easy. All you have to do is turn the valve on the propane tank and turn the burners on. If you are using a charcoal grill, start the charcoal using a chimney starter.

Prepare the cooking surface for indirect grilling. If you are using a gas grill, turn on the burners on one side of the grill. On the other side you will place a drip pan under the cooking surface. This will allow the meat to cook indirectly as the heat is not directly below the meat. If you are using a charcoal grill, place the coals evenly on the two sides of your grill. Place a drip pan under the middle of the grilling surface. This will allow you to grill the meat using indirect heat on a charcoal grill.

Place your seasoned meat over the drip pan on your grill. Try using a seasoning rub alone with the smoke from the wood smoker chips. Take a half cup of soaked wood smoker chips and place them on the coals of the charcoal grill. The wood will start to smolder instead of ignite as a result of the soaking. Close the lid of the grill quickly so none of the smoke escapes. Leaving the lid open will allow the wood smoker chips to ignite, which you do not want to happen. If you are using a gas grill, there is one more step to take before placing your wood smoker chips over the heating elements. You will need to create a foil packet, and place one cup of wood smoker chips inside the packet. Poke holes in the packet with skewers or a knife. Place the packet over the heating element of the gas grill. This will produce smoke. Close the grill lid so the smoke does not escape.

Cook your meat until it reaches the proper internal temperature for the desired doneness you have chosen. Remove the meat and let it sit for 10 to 15 minutes to allow the juices to settle. Slice the meat and serve with any side dishes you have prepared.


  • If you are grilling indirectly with charcoal, add 10 coals to each side of your grill once an hour. With both the charcoal and gas grills, add 1 cup of wood smoker chips each hour.

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About the Author

Alan Kirk has been writing for online publications since 2006. He has more than 15 years' experience in catering, management and government relations. Kirk has a bachelor's degree in business management from the University of Maryland.