The Cooking Environment

The heat of the cooking environment and the type of heat greatly influences the cooking and the result.

Controlling the heat and the movement of heat is the key to cooking successfully.

  • High Heat

Great for Grilling prime cuts, Roasting and Baking Pizza

  • Medium Heat

Slow Roasting, Baking

  • Low Heat

Smoking, Low N Slow BBQ

Direct Heat

Grilling is the perfect example, the food is exposed to direct heat radiation from the fire.

Usually, the food will be above the fire, like cooking a steak on a grill over charcoal.

Direct heat does not have to be hot, think of a leg of lamb hanging high above an open fire it is still getting radiation from the fire but at a distance that provides gentle heat.

Indirect Heat (Convective Heat)

This is where there is a deflector between the fire and the food,  or when the food is adjacent to the heat source.

Putting your food in one side of a kettle with the fire on the other side is a good example.

Radiation (Infrared)

Infrared radiation heats the food surface instead of circulating hot air.

Think about a ceramic burner like you see in the back of some rotisseries.


The fire heating a barrier of metal, ceramic or other material which then radiates that heat outwards towards the food.

Convective IR Heat

This is where there is a combination of convective heat and radiation.

An example is a Gas BBQ Rotisserie where the meat in spinning in the hot convective airflow of the BBQ cooking cavity and there is a rear Infrared burner providing heat to crisp the surface.

Another example of this would be using a Vortex Cone in a Kettle BBQ.

The cone contains the fuel and directs the air upwards through the fuel, this super-heated air circulates through the kettle but at the same time, the walls of the cone are heated to red hot and radiate infrared outwards into the cooking chamber, the thinner the walls of the cone, the greater radiation is produced as the thin metal stores less heat.  This is the best of both worlds, and the reason why this method produces Air fryer like results.


Here you can see the Vortex Cone full of fuel in the middle of the Kettle

The Convective heat is the air rising through the Vortex Cone and traveling over the food, cooling on the sides of the kettle then going back through the Vortex again

The Infra Red Radiation is the straight line heat radiated from the hot metal surface

Infrared does not heat the air, only the things it comes in contact with

This one is a Kamado

The radiation heats the deflector plate which in turn radiates heat to the food while protecting it from the direct heat of the fire to stop flare up

Hot air is the air rising past the deflector and traveling over the food


Here we can see the same thing happening in a Gas BBQ

The flame heats the Flame Tamers which in turn radiate heat to the underside of the food

Hot air is the air rising past the Flame Tamers and traveling over the food

Upward Curve

This is when the fire is establishing, and cooking chamber is heating up.

Typically, smaller entrees can be produced in this time, particularly if you want a little smoke from the juvenile fire on the food.

Downward Curve

This is typically after the main cooking is done and the heat is dropping as the BBQ or Oven is turned off or the fuel is running out.

A pizza oven’s residual heat is great for baking, slow cooking and drying.

Sometimes the downward curve is a deliberate technique, like roasting pork, where you want the cooking environment to be hot at the start and the heat to drop off as the cooking progresses.

Think about roasting in a Kettle BBQ. You start with high heat and the heat gradually reduces as the fuel is burned away

This can also be called the “Dwelling Technique”

Join our Facebook group of Food Explorers

The information in this App is provided by Urban Griller in Western Australia

urban griller bbq school logo

© Urban Griller      All Rights Reserved

© Chef Tools     All Rights Reserved



Urban Griller Chef Tools App