Setting up two-zone heating blog


| Tips & Tricks | How to set up a two-zone fire on a kettle barbecue

How to set up a two-zone fire on a kettle barbecue

Grilling enthusiasts know that the key to mastering the kettle barbecue lies in understanding heat. And when it comes to optimising heat, setting up a two-zone fire is a game-changer. But what exactly is a two-zone fire, and why is it so essential?

The Magic of Two-Zone Cooking

A two-zone fire essentially divides your kettle grill into two distinct areas:

  1. Direct Zone: This is the searing hot side where food is grilled directly above the coals. Ideal for steaks, chops, and anything you want to cook fast with a nice char.
  2. Indirect Zone: A cooler zone with no coals underneath. This is perfect for slower cooking or for foods that might burn if exposed to direct heat, like chicken or roasts.

The beauty of this method lies in its versatility. You can sear meat on the direct side and then move it to the indirect side to cook through without burning.

Step-by-Step Guide to Setting Up a Two-Zone Fire in a Kettle Barbecue:

1. Clean Your Grill: Always start with a clean grill. Remove any ash from previous sessions and ensure the vents are clear.

2. Prepare Your Charcoal: Using lump charcoal or briquettes, fill a chimney starter about two-thirds full. Light the chimney starter and let the coals burn until they're covered with white-gray ash.

3. Arrange the Coals: Pour the hot coals on one side of the kettle's charcoal grate, creating a mound. This will be your direct heat zone. The other side, with no coals, will be your indirect cooking zone.


4. Adjust the Vents:

  • To increase heat, open the vents on the bottom of the kettle and the lid.
  • To decrease heat or maintain a steady temperature, partially close the vents. Remember, airflow feeds the fire, so controlling airflow controls the heat.

5. Preheat the Grill: Place the cooking grate over the coals, put the lid on (with vents open), and let the grill preheat for about 5 minutes. This will help achieve a nice sear on your food.

6. Get Cooking: Once preheated, you're ready to grill! If you're cooking foods that require direct heat, place them over the coals. For foods needing indirect heat or slower cooking times, place them on the side without coals.

7. Monitor and Rotate: Depending on what you're grilling, you may need to move food between the zones. For instance, after searing a steak over direct heat, you might move it to the indirect side to finish cooking without charring.

8. Enjoy the Flexibility: With a two-zone fire, you can simultaneously grill various foods that require different cooking temperatures. Burgers over the direct side and veggies or delicate fish on the indirect? No problem!

Mastering the two-zone fire in your kettle barbecue elevates your grilling game, offering unmatched versatility. Whether you’re looking to achieve the perfect sear, slowly smoke a cut of meat, or do both at the same time, this method has you covered.


Posted by Beef + Lamb New Zealand