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Elizabeth Karmel: Direct and Indirect Grilling

The key to great grilling is indirect heat. I always tell people that once they understand the difference between direct and indirect heat and when to use it, that they will embrace indirect heat.  In fact, I use indirect heat at least 80% of the time that I use my grill.  That is why I love the Memphis Wood Fire Grill.  Unless you use the direct flame insert, the grill is already configured for indirect heat.

“That is why I love the Memphis Wood Fire Grill.”

Below is a quick and easy definition of the two major different grilling methods:

DIRECT GRILLING means that you put the food directly over the heat source—similar to broiling in your oven.

INDIRECT GRILLING means that the heat is circulated evenly above and below the food by means of convection fan – allowing for roasting and baking.

My general rule of thumb is:

— If the food takes less than 20 minutes to cook, use the DIRECT METHOD

— If the food takes more than 25 minutes to cook, use the INDIRECT METHOD

Once you’ve mastered cooking by Direct and Indirect heat, you are ready for the COMBO method.  It is exactly what it sounds like.  A combo-nation of the Direct and Indirect methods. It is as simple as searing the food over direct heat and finishing (cooking) over indirect heat.  This technique works well for everything from chops and steaks to whole tenderloins and even slices of denser vegetables such as sweet potatoes and fennel.  It is a time honored and well-respected tradition and the outdoor grill version of the way most restaurants chefs cook almost everything—searing with direct heat and finishing with indirect.

Memphis Elite with both direct and indirect flame inserts.
Memphis Elite with the perforated direct flame insert (left) and the solid indirect insert (right).

“I truly believe that it is the best way to prepare a roasted chicken, bar none!”

Now that you know the difference between direct and indirect cooking and how to use it, I can’t think of any better recipe than beer-can chicken to try out your newfound knowledge.  And, since you are cooking it on a Memphis Wood Fire Grill, you are already set for indirect heat. If you have never made beer-can chicken, I guarantee that if you make it once, you’ll make it over and over again and it will become a fast family favorite!  I truly believe that it is the best way to prepare a roasted chicken, bar none! You can find the recipe for Elizabeth Karmel’s: Original Beer-Can Chicken here.

Find this article on Elizbeth’s website and more like it here GrillsatTheGrill.com