Indirect cooking involves setting up your coals so they are not directly underneath your food. Using this method, your food will not be cooking from the direct heat coming from underneath it, but the ambient heat built up inside your BBQ when the lid is closed.
This method of cooking allows you to cook anything that you would in your traditional kitchen oven outside on your BBQ, from large cuts of beef and whole chickens to breads and cakes.
Smaller cuts of meat with typically be cooked direct as they will be cooked all the way through before the outside starts to become overcooked. Larger cuts will generally need to cook a little slower and so indirect is perfect for them
Can you cook Indirect on any BBQ?
Indirect cooking is possible on almost all Gas and Charcoal BBQ’s as long as they have a lid. It is the lid on your BBQ that allows the ambient temperature to rise and be maintained allowing your food to cook.
Setting up your BBQ for Indirect Cooking
There are a number of different setups for indirect cooking, each with their own advantages and disadvantages. On a gas BBQ, you simply turn off a burner to give you an area of indirect heat, for example, on a 3 burner BBQ you would have the left and right burners on and the middle one off. With your food placed above that middle burner and the lid closed, the ambient temperature will rise inside the BBQ and cook your food.
On a charcoal BBQ there are a few more options:
50/50 – Half the charcoal grate covered with coals and the other half empty. Your food would be placed above the area with no coal.
50/50 Split – This method splits the charcoal to the left and right of your charcoal grate, leaving the middle portion empty. You food would be placed in the middle of the cooking grate above the area with no coals
Ring of Fire – Your coals are placed in a ring around the outside of the charcoal grate leaving the centre portion empty. When your food is placed in the middle of the cooking grate above the area with no coals, it will receive an even heat from all sides
Bullseye – Made popular by products like the vortex, the bullseye method gives you a small area in the centre of the BBQ with a high direct heat then a ring around the outside with no coals and therefore an indirect heat. This is a great setup for searing food quickly then moving it to the outside to finish off.
You can read about these different setups in a little more detail in a previous article I wrote on how to setup your Charcoal BBQ for indirect cooking.
Once you get to grips with these different setups, you can choose which one will work best for the food you are cooking. With a little practice on the different setups, the sky’s the limit with what you can cook!