Many recipes simply instruct “Grill over a hot fire.” But we know that for the best results, there’s no one-size-fits-all fire setup. Here are the three we use most often and the applications we typically use them for.

Single-Level Fire

This simple arrangement is suited to foods that you want to brown but that can also overcook quickly.

Setup: Distribute lit coals in even layer across bottom of grill.

Best for: Quick-cooking foods such as fish fillets, shrimp, and our Grilled Lamb-Stuffed Pitas with Yogurt Sauce

Half-Grill Fire

With hotter and cooler sides, this versatile setup is ideal for quickly searing foods and then gently cooking them through. We also use it to cook different types of food in a single recipe.

Setup: Distribute lit coals over half of grill in even layer.

Best for: Chicken parts, thick steaks, recipes with different components

Concentrated Fire

Corralling the coals in a disposable pan concentrates the heat to create an intense fire ideal for quick-cooking foods that we want to give a substantial char.

Setup: Poke holes in bottom of large disposable aluminum pan, place pan in center of grill, and pour lit coals into pan.

Best for: Burgers, thin steaks