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How to Set Up Cooking Zones on a Charcoal Grill

Learn how to set up cooking zones on a charcoal grill from Pork Barrel BBQ pitmasters Heath Hall and Brett Thompson in this Howcast video.


Today we're going to talk about setting up zones in a charcoal grill. Now this is a very important technique, because there are two very different kinds of cooking, direct and indirect. Now, if you're cooking direct, you might be cooking something like chicken where you just want to cook it right over the charcoals. If you're cooking something like pork, indirect is perfect because you'll have it cooking for several hours, not directly on the heat. Now, if you're cooking steak, it's actually a combination of both. You'll cook the beginning directly on the heat and then you'll set it for several minutes indirect. So, we're going to talk about setting up the zones in the charcoal grill. Now this is a standard kettle grill, a Weber kettle. What's great is you can really cook anything you want as long as you know the techniques of setting up zones of the charcoal grill.

The first I'm going to show you is setting up for indirect on one side. You pour all of the charcoal on one half. This is perfect for when you're cooking something like a pork butt. You would just set the pork butt on this side and it also works really well when you're cooking steaks, because you can cook the steak directly over the charcoal for the first ten minutes and about five minutes indirect on this side of things. One other thing that's really good to know, another form of indirect technique is if you didn't want them all on one side, you could actually take the individual charcoals and put them in what's called the split method on both sides which would allow an indirect zone directly in the middle of your charcoal grill. So, there's two different ways to do indirect. All you have to do then, once you've got your charcoal set up, is you put your top grate on. It's perfect, set. One technique you can use as well is say you want to add a little bit of wood flavor. A lot of grills actually have side vents where you can put the wood chunks right in, get that good wood flavor in what you're cooking. So, that's it. It's an important technique if you want to cook great barbecue. The wonderful thing is anything you want to cook, you can do it on this type of grill, as long as you know how to set up your zones.

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