Indirect and Direct Charcoal Grilling

You’ve got the right charcoal, the right Weber grill, and you’ve marinated the heck out of that chicken. Now it’s time to wow your family and friends with delectable, perfectly barbecued food. Before you dive in, take a minute to check out our short video on indirect and direct charcoal cooking to make sure you have all your drumsticks in a row.

Remember its direct cooking for steaks, burgers and hot dogs; and indirect for larger pieces of meat that need a little more time under the lid.

What are your thoughts? (11)

04.09.13

Andrew H

Hi Kevin,


Thanks a lot for the reply. I sure am enjoying the Performer! Just bought it over the weekend.


I have another general question. When cooking burgers, it says to fill up the chimney to the rim which is the equivalent of 80 -100 charcoal briquettes and should be sufficient to spread out and cover the bottom of the grill with hot glowing coals. I tried this out and found that: 1) it didn't cover fully the bottom grate, therefore leaving a few gaps, and 2) I lost a lot of heat fast and had uneven cooking (the middle was hotter than the outside even though the briquettes were spread evenly). I was careful to keep the lid closed at all times but still found it difficult to keep the heat and maintain even cooking on the grill with the recommended amount of coals. What would you suggest here? I thought about trying the baskets together, but then realized I wouldn't have a very big area to cook on. I really want to make full use of my 22.5" grilling grate.

04.08.13

Kevin Kolman

Hi Andrew,


I am glad to hear that you are enjoying the Performer. Now, let's talk through this together. I would never recommend using 80-100 briquettes for anything inside the kettle. The maximum I ever put is 50-60. It is extremely difficult to control temperatures with that many lit briquettes. If you want to utilize the whole grate for burgers and maintain the 425-450 degrees Fahrenheit temperature, make sure you fill the chimney a little more than half way full. Once the briquettes are lit, spread them evenly across the charcoal grate. Just be sure you leave yourself a safe zone in the front of the kettle. Preheat your kettle for 10-15 minutes, and you should be good for 1-2 batches of burgers depending on the outside climate. Please let me know if you have any more questions.


Happy Grilling!
-Kevin

04.08.13

Andrew H

Hi Kevin,


I have seen a lot of different ways to lay the charcoal (direct/indirect) but was wondering what your thoughts were on the snake method for low and slow cooking. I have the performer and wanted to experiment with some ribs. I just am not sure which method i should to use to prevent me from adding charcoal ever hour. I heard the snake is as better way to go? Thanks, Andrew

04.08.13

Kevin Kolman

Hi Andrew,
Although I like the snake method, it does not leave you with much room for your food. It takes up a lot of cooking space, so I prefer the adding method. For consistency purposes and a constant burn, you are better off using the traditional add methodology. Enjoy that Performer and let me know how the ribs turn out. I hope that helps. Let me know if you have any other questions.
Happy Grilling!
-Kevin

03.02.13

Bilgi K

Hi Kevin,


I upgraded to a Performer after using a One-Touch 18.5'' charcoal grill for years. The reason was that I was having difficulty providing adequate food for my guests when the crowd was more than 4 people since the grilling area is small. They finish their meat and wait before I can supply them with a new round. So I bought a 22.5'' Performer with the Touch-N-Go gas ignition system. The grill comes with two charcoal baskets and I use them with the ignition system as stated. However, the charcoal baskets area is even smaller than my 18.5'' old grill. I am only using a small part of the grill for direct cooking and my cooking volume is still low. I can use a chimney starter just like the old days to provide more charcoal and get rid of the charcoal baskets, but by this time the ignition system will be redundant and the baskets provide long burning time. What is the solution? By the way, the maximum heat I hit is around 400-450 degrees Fahrenheit with briquettes. With turkey, I start up at 300 degrees Fahrenheit usually while cooking. Is that too low? I usually observe no effect when use indirect heating.

03.01.13

Kevin Kolman

Hi BKUFLU,

First, congratulations on getting a Weber Performer. It is one of my favorite grills! Now I can appreciate having a large cooking area, especially for entertaining. If you are trying to increase capacity, please start with the baskets. Once the coals having ashed over, you have two options. One: place the baskets on one side of the kettle and spread them apart about 3-4 inches. Because they are close together, there will not be a big difference in temperatures between the two baskets. Keep in mind you should always have a safe indirect zone when grilling with charcoal. Two: dump the coals out and spread them over three quarters of the charcoal grate. This will give you a medium to high heat of 450-500 degrees Fahrenheit. This should be perfect for grilling almost anything using the direct method. Hopefully this helps. Let me know how things are working out.

Happy Grilling!!
- Kevin

06.07.12

Dawn B

I am new to the Weber Performer and charcoal grilling. How do I direct grill some steaks? The grill came with charcoal baskets. is it better to keep charcoal in the baskets in the center of the grill, or not to use baskets and spread them all around grill after they are ignited? If I am grilling a few steaks, I want them to all cook evenly. Help!!!

06.07.12

Kevin Kolman

Hi Brooks548:
Wow great choice in the Performer!!! I have one and love the fact I can grill with charcoal in less than 15 minutes. I would use 50 briquettes (25 in each basket) and move the baskets to one side of the grill. Just make sure you preheat the grill for 10 minutes to get the grate nice and hot. You should be able to grill 4-5 steaks over the baskets with no problem. You want a medium to high heat with steaks, so a hot high zone is important. If you want the steaks to grill evenly keep them over the heat with the lid closed. Follow the grilling guide that came with the grill and your life will be easy. Covered cooking is the key!! Hope this helps and always Happy Grilling!!-Kevin

03.04.12

Brandon K

Kevin,

I had a great time at the Weber Academy (Home Depot) last week and enjoyed the overall presentation and training.

I am an avid griller and smoker and I am looking to venture in cold smoking cheese this spring. I am an owner of a smoky mountain smoker 18.5" and looking for some advice on how to do this process.

Thanks,
Brandon

03.04.12

Kevin Kolman

Hi Brandon, I appreciate the great feedback. We had a lot of fun at the training and hopefully you picked up some new grilling skills. As of now there is no way to cold smoke in a Weber Smokey Mountain cooker smoker. Fortunately we are restricted to pork shoulder, brisket, ribs, chicken, turkey and anything else that you enjoy. Hope this helps and Happy Grilling!! Additionally here’s a wonderful cheese recipe that you may enjoy: http://www.weber.com/grillout/recipes/appetizers/grape-leaf-wrapped-brie-with-grape-salsa

-Kevin

09.28.11

Chris L

Hi Kevin,

It would be very useful to know what the recommended grate-level temperatures should be for indirect high/medium/low cooking. I say this because the hood thermometer isn't accurate when you have one side of the grill on and the other off. I know ideally on a gasser the indirect section would be in the center with left and right burners on, but when the food takes up a lot of room and you need both burners off then the grate temperature is greatly affected by the 2nd one being off. Having recommended temperatures would help me adjust the left burner accordingly. Thanks!

09.28.11

Kevin Kolman

Hi StoopidMonkey81:
This is an interesting question. The ideal air temperature of your grill really depends on how you set the grill up. The temperature range for indirect or direct high is around 450 degrees Fahrenheit, the medium setting is 350 degrees and the low setting is 300 degrees. All Weber grills feature infinity control valves which gives the user complete heat control.

Always remember that the lid thermometer gives us an indication of what the air temperature is in our grills. When grilling indirectly the grill is using a convection heat to cook your food very similar to an oven temperature. The grill also uses conductive heat from the grate to help grill your food. Therefore a grate temperature would really only help if your food was being cooked with conductive heat.

My suggestion is to use all the tools at your disposal to insure you are grilling the best meal. Use the thermometer is an indicator, follow the grilling guide, and use a timer and meat thermometer to make sure you are grilling your foods to perfection. Also please remember to pre-heat your BBQ grill. This will help to make sure you are grilling at the desired temperature. It also helps in caramelizing the food you grill and helps create those great grill marks.

Honestly, I think it would be very difficult to get grate temperature readings because there can be so many variables that can affect the readings--how much food is on the grill, how cold is it outside, how long did you pre-heat the grill, and what kind of grates do you have to name a few. For Weber, the thermometer in the lid is the best way for us to measure heat and provide the best possible grilling experience for all of our consumers. Hopefully this helps. Happy Grilling!! -Kevin

09.02.11

Perry M

I have a great Weber gas grill but I'm now returning to a charcoal grill via a Performer by Weber. A seasoned user of Weber kettle grills suggested I try this method on burgers, stakes, chicken, etc:

On the Performer, and before you separate the coals for indirect cooking, sear each piece of meet over the hot coals. Time of sear depends on the cut of the meat. Once, all pieces have been seared, move the bins to each side for indirect cooking. Now move all seared meat cuts to middle for cooking over indirect heat until done.

I tried his method and the food was tender moist and very tasty.

I'm aware this is in conflict with Weber's instruction to cook most boneless cuts over direct medium to high heat until done.

I will appreciate any comments.

Thanks

09.02.11

Kevin Kolman

Hi Perry Miller:
Well if you are going to be "returning" to charcoal grilling, the performer is the way to go. The performer is loaded with features that make charcoal grilling much easier. The technique you are using from above is a more advanced grilling method. It is called the "sear and slide" method. I have used this many times. I start by grilling food directly and then switching to indirect. When performing this method I might suggest moving the baskets all the way to one side of your kettle making this your sear zone. Then use the other 2/3 of the cooking grate as a safe or indirect zone. By keeping the baskets together and moving them all the way to one side of the kettle, this should eliminate adjusting or moving during grilling. Now if you are setting up the kettle for indirect grilling I would recommend using the traditional method. Either one of these grilling methods will work great especially on your Weber Performer. Just make sure when you are grilling you always pre-heat the grill for 10-15 minutes. This will allow the metals of the grill to heat up and help get you great grill marks. I am glad to hear you have gotten some great results and keep us posted on your grilling techniques. Happy Grilling!!- Kevin

08.25.11

Kyle F

Thanks Kevin. When preheating the the sear burner, what should the other burners be set at and, based on the three minutes per side over the sear burner, what time frame would you estimate for the balance of the cooking, assuming we're grillling a 1" steak?

I really enjoy the grilling videos and have found them very informative. It would be nice to see a video based on the sear burner using different types of meats. Thanks again.

08.25.11

Kevin Kolman

Hi AKF:
Great questions! Before searing you should turn all of the main burners on high for approximately 15 minutes to preheat the grill. Once the grill is preheated, turn the burners to the right off or down. Leave the far left and center burners on high and ignite the Sear Station® burner. After the searing process I would then keep two of the main burners on high and turn one burner off. You should finish up your steak over an indirect heat. This can take anywhere from 1-4 minutes depending on how you like your steak grilled. Using a timer, a meat thermometer and the grilling guide can help ensure you are grilling the steaks to perfection. Don’t forget to let the steak rest for 5 minutes after you get done grilling. This will allow for the juices to run back into the steak keeping it moist and more flavorful. Thank you for the words of encouragement. We appreciate your feedback and know we are currently working on posting more videos!! Happy Grilling!! –Kevin

08.25.11

Chris L

Hi again Kevin,

About that sear burner since we're on the subject. What I have been wondering (and perhaps many others as well) is whether or not Weber recommends adjusting the total cooking time on seared foods like steaks if they are cooked with the sear burner is set to high. In your example of a 1" thick steak, you still stuck with the recommended 3-minutes per side that Weber specified for direct high heat without the sear burner. Wouldn't total cooking time go down when using all that extra heat? I know the sear burner is a new feature but if Weber has any general adjustment recommendations it'd be useful to know. I also remember you saying you'd try to dedicate a blog post to the sear burner, which would be very cool indeed. :o) Thanks a lot! --Chris

08.25.11

Kevin Kolman

Hi StoopidMonkey81:
You make some great points in your post. I would definitely suggest that you adjust your grill times when using the sear burner. This could be as little as subtracting 30 seconds or a minute or more out of the total grilling time. Grill times can be affected by the temperature outside, how long we preheat our Weber grill, temperature of the grill, the type of grill we are using and the type of grates used. In the end it ultimately depends on how you like your foods grilled. Grilling is a real art form and the more information and practice we have, the better we become. Using timers, meat thermometers and following the grilling guides can help to ensure that we are grilled a perfect meal. When I teach grilling classes I try to provide the students with the insight to help them better understand the whole grilling process. Preparation is one key to being a great griller. Hope this helps. Happy Grilling!!-Kevin

08.23.11

Kyle F

Hi Kevin,


I purchased a Genesis 330 which, as you know, features a sear burner. Can you give some pointers on how best to use this feature. I can find lots of information on searing steaks using the direct heat method but little about how to properly use it on this particular grill.

08.23.11

Kevin Kolman

Hi AKF:
Congrats on your new Genesis 330 gas grill!! You have come to the right place for help.
I am sure you will be very happy with all the great features that are loaded into this grill. First step in bringing a new Weber grill home is reviewing the owner’s manual. This will give you a solid foundation into how to properly use and maintain your new Genesis 330.
You will find that searing provides great flavor and color to the foods we are grilling. The advantage of using the Sear Station is that when you are grilling larger cuts of grilled foods it provides you the extra power you need to get those great sear marks which will enhance the appearance of the foods. Once your grill is preheated, place the food directly over the Sear Station burner. You should only sear the food for 1 to 4 minutes per side depending on the food type and thickness of what you are grilling. If you want to get those great diamond marks give your food a quarter turn before searing the other side. For instance, if you are grilling a steak about 1 inch think, try searing each side for about 3 minutes, doing a quarter turn at the 1 ½ minute mark. When doing the quarter turn, place the meat on a different spot of the cooking grate. This will help you to create better sear marks. If you have any other questions let me know. Happy Grilling!!- Kevin