Master Two-Zone Grilling on a Gas Grill

Welcome to the art of two-zone grilling, an efficient and effective technique to master for any grilling enthusiast. This method involves partitioning your grill into two sections: one for direct, high-heat grilling and one for indirect, lower-heat cooking. The beauty of this approach lies in the control it offers during the cooking process. Whether you’re grilling a juicy steak or a delicate fish, learning to use the two distinct zones correctly can drastically improve the flavor, texture, and doneness of your culinary creations. To help you grasp this technique better, we’ll explore how to properly set up a gas grill for two-zone grilling and how this method can be applied for various types of food.

Understanding Two-Zone Grilling

Embracing the Art of Two-Zone Grilling: A Game-Changer For Barbecue Aficionados

Two-zone grilling is a staple technique that every grill enthusiast needs to embrace fully. Often touted as a secret weapon for perfectly grilled food, it provides both direct and indirect heat zones on the same grill, allowing a batch of diverse food to be cooked simultaneously. But why is this method bringing a new realm of possibilities for grilling enthusiasts?

Understanding Two-Zone Grilling

So, what exactly is two-zone grilling? Well, it isn’t rocket science. It’s about strategically dividing your grill into two quintessential zones – a high heat zone (direct heat) and a low to no heat zone (indirect heat).

Creating these zones is simple. For charcoal grills, light the coals and once they’re ashy and hot, pile them all on one side of the grill. This side becomes the direct heat zone, cranking up the temperatures for searing or quick cooking. The other side is your indirect heat zone (no coals), perfect for slow cooking.

In case of gas grills, heat all burners to preheat the grill, then turn off one side. The heated burners incite direct, searing heat, while the turned-off side provides indirect heat.

Why Two-Zone Grilling is a Game Changer?

Here are a few valuable reasons why mastering two-zone grilling can up your barbecue game.

  • Flexible Cooking: Employing two-zone grilling allows for versatile cooking styles on a single grill. It can accommodate sizzling steaks on the direct-heat side while slow-cooking veggies on the indirect heat side.
  • Awarding Control: Two-zone grilling hands the control over to the cook. Instead of being at the mercy of merciless flames, it allows for a well-managed heat source. Think of it as a fail-safe, with the indirect zone serving as a neutral zone for rescue operations if food starts to burn or flare-ups occur.
  • Enhanced Food Flavor: The direct heat side is perfect for searing the food and sealing in the juices, while the indirect zone lets the food to cook slowly, enhancing flavors and ensuring tenderness.
  • Effective Use of Fuel: Instead of needing to keep adding coals or wasting gas, once the grill is heated, the two-zone method makes efficient use of the heat source. This way, we are not just grilling smart but also grilling green!
  • Reduced Flare-Ups: By pushing the coals onto one-side, the risk of nasty flare-ups caused by dripping fat, sauce, or marinade is reduced. The flare-ups can not only ruin the food but loom as a safety concern.

Two-zone grilling is more than just a technique, it is an exciting journey that unfolds a whole new world of taste-filled possibilities, and becomes an endless horizon of creative cooking experimentation. Happy Grilling!

Illustration of two-zone grilling technique with flames on one side and indirect heat on the other, demonstrating the cooking process.

Setting up a Gas Grill for Two-Zone Grilling

A Step-by-Step Guide to Setting Up Your Gas Grill for Two-Zone Grilling

You’ve embraced the art of two-zone grilling and have a basic understanding of its advantages. It awards unmatched control to the cook, yields splendid food flavor, minimizes flare-ups, and promotes efficient use of fuel. Now, let’s delve into the process of setting up your gas grill for this exciting culinary journey. Even though you know how to create two zones on gas grills, having a detailed, step-by-step guide can be beneficial. So, let’s get right into it!

Determining Your Grill’s Hotspots

The most crucial initial step is identifying your grill’s hotspots. Understanding where your grill gets hottest provides a roadmap for setting up your two zones. To do this, evenly spread slices of bread across your grates and allow them to cook. The areas that char the fastest are your hotspots.

Designating Your Direct and Indirect Zones

Once you’ve identified your hotspots, it’s time to set up the direct and indirect zones. The “direct zone,” or the primary cooking zone, will be over the hotspots. This area is ideal for searing meats or achieving well-grilled veggies. Opposite the direct zone, establish your “indirect zone,” a cooler space for slower, thorough cooking. Think of it as a haven for foods needing more time to reach the required internal temperature without charring.

Arranging the Burners

Next, organize your burners. For standard gas grills with two burners side by side, initiate the two-zone setup by turning one burner on high (direct zone), leaving the other on low (indirect zone) or entirely off, depending on what you’re cooking. For grills with three or more burners, light the burners on either end for the direct zone, leaving the middle burners off for your indirect zone. In grills featuring back-to-front burners, the back part becomes the direct zone, and the front part represents the indirect zone.

Two-Zone Grilling Technique

After your zones are set, you can begin cooking. Start by searing your meat or veggies on the direct zone to lock in flavors and achieve an attractive crispy crust. Afterward, move the partially cooked food items over to the indirect zone to finish cooking without worrying about flare-ups or overcooking.

Remember to Monitor Temperatures

Always pay attention to your grill’s temperature. Gas grills often have built-in thermometers, but they can sometimes be inaccurate. It is advisable to invest in a reliable grill thermometer to ensure proper monitoring of both zones.

Adjusting as Needed

As you grill, continue adjusting your burners as required to keep both zones at their ideal temperatures. This practice grants you the flexibility needed in two-zone grilling.

Setting up your gas grill for two-zone grilling isn’t complex; it merely requires precision. Execute these steps methodically, and soon, you’ll be grilling diverse foods simultaneously with ease. Here’s to a future of incredible grilling experiences! Happy grilling!

Image of a gas grill with two-zones set up, showing separate areas for direct and indirect cooking

Using Two-Zone Grilling for Various Foods

Working with two-zone grilling opens up a world of opportunities for every grill enthusiast.


Now that we have a good understanding of this technique and have set up our grills accordingly, let’s delve into experimenting with different types of food using this method.


First off, meat forms the strongholds for any grilling experience. For two-zone grilling, this requires a bit of tactical thinking. Start by searing your steaks on the direct heat zone, locking in the precious juices and colors. Then, move them to the indirect heat zone to cook slowly to your preferred doneness. Remember, thicker cuts are great for this process, thanks to the ample time for flavors to sink in. The reverse searing method works wonderfully, too – slow cooking your steaks with indirect heat before finishing off with a sizzle on the direct zone.


Poultry gets a new lease of life with two-zone grilling. To achieve a crisp, browned skin without burning or undercooking the inside, start by placing your poultry skin-side up in the indirect heat zone. Let it roast slowly until nearly cooked, then flip it skin-side down onto the direct heat, rendering the fat for a beautiful, golden-brown finish.


Grilled seafood is an absolute delight! However, it demands careful handling as overcooking can sap out all the moisture. Fish filets, shrimps, and scallops are ideal for grilling directly as they cook quickly. Make sure to oil the grate to avoid sticking. For whole fish or larger, fleshier cuts, start on the indirect heat for slow cooking, then sear on the direct heat for crisp skin.


Vegetables are the unsung heroes of the grill, often overlooked but tremendously flavorful when done right. Hard veggies like potatoes can be started on direct heat for beautiful grill marks, then moved to indirect heat to cook through. Delicate veggies like zucchini or bell peppers only need a quick toss on the direct heat, taking in beautiful char while retaining their crunch.


Finally, unconventional grill items like bread or pizza also yield fantastic results on the two-zone set-up. Here’s an experiment – try toasting your breads or pitas on the direct heat until crisp, then move to indirect heat while adding toppings or cheese. You can make fantastic melty, crispy grilled sandwiches or pizzas this way!


There’s something magical about how two simple zones can turn basic ingredients into gourmet meals. The trick lies in learning the behavior of different foods on the grill and improvising accordingly. So keep those fires burning, amigos, and let the two-zone grilling revolution take over your next backyard barbecue!


Grilling pic showing two zones: one with direct heat and one with indirect heat

Two-zone grilling is not just a cooking technique, it’s a way of ensuring that every piece of food grilled on your gas barbecue reaches its maximum potential. By following the guidelines on setting up your gas grill, you can achieve the flexibility that two-zone grilling provides. This setup allows a steak to be perfectly seared and cooked to desired doneness; it also keeps more delicate foods from burning, providing even cooking. Remember, savvy grilling comes to those who understand the importance of managing their grill’s heat. Get grilling today, use these tips, and bring your barbecue dishes to a whole new level.

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