From grilling burgers and sausages to preheating, we've tapped our experts to help you tackle all your burning questions. Direct heat, indirect heat: What’s the difference? The direct heat method cooks food directly over the flames; indirect heat cooks food over a hot but flame-free area. Indirect heat cooks more slowly, developing exceptional flavor and tenderness without flare-ups and charring. Generally, thinner, leaner foods are cooked over direct heat, while thicker or fatty foods (think skin-on poultry) are cooked with indirect heat.