Various Heating Styles for Charcoal Grilling




When you are cooking on a charcoal grill, there are various heating styles you can choose. Here we bring you four heating styles along with their respective features, as well as what food types that each heating style is applicable to.  


The four heating styles include methods of direct heating, indirect heating, circular heating, and 50/50 heating. Actually it is all determined by the way how you place charcoals when it comes to which category your method falls into.  



Direct Heating. This is the heating method you use when charcoals are distributed evenly and foods are cooked over direct heat source. Generally speaking, this cooking method is mainly used for searing food and for cooking that takes less than 20 minutes. It is suitable for cooking chicken slice, shrimp, meat pies and steaks etc. When you are applying this method, food is placed directly over the heat source, and you need to flip the food once during the entire cooking process in order to make sure both sides are cooked evenly. 




Indirect Heating. This is the heating method used when charcoals are banked at two ends of grates, and between them an aluminum foil box (grease cup) is placed. This cooking method is most suitable for cooking of larger cuts of meat and other foods which take longer time to cook at lower temperature. Therefore, it is perfect for cooking such foods as legs of lamb, whole turkey, chicken pieces and brisket. Since foods are cooked by reflected heat, it’s not necessary to flip food but still faster cooking and juicier meats are possible to realize. For charcoal indirect cooking, it’s recommended to add briquettes to the fire every hour, so as to keep fire burning and maintain even temperature. In conclusion, the major difference between direct heating and indirect heating lies in that for the former method, food is cooked directly over the heat source, whilst for the latter method, cooking is near heat source. However, in usual practice we often combine direct and indirect cooking together. For example, a thick steak can be seared for a short period of time over direct heat in the first place, and then move to the indirect heat area to continue cooking slowly and internally. The major advantage of such combined cooking is that it can ensure both searing exteriorly and a juicy and tender flavor interiorly at the same time.  



Circular Heating. This is the heating method when charcoals are banked around rims of grates and in the center, a drip pan is placed. This is suitable for cooking pizza, bread and turkey etc.    




50/50 Heating. This is the heating style when charcoals are banked at one side, and next to it the aluminum foil box is placed. This is suitable for cooking duck breast meat, fillet, chicken and corn flakes.  


Since the above four heating styles influence various aspects of food such as food flavor, meat juiciness and aroma, you need to pick the right style before cooking depending on what food type you are preparing.