How To Grill With Charcoal

Here is a guide to charcoal grilling below

Preparing The Charcoal Grill

How To Grill With Charcoal
Preparing a charcoal grill requires a few steps: clear away any remaining ashes from your last grilling adventure (more on that later), and then open the vents to let oxygen pass through. You can then preheat the grill by lighting some charcoal and prepare the grates through a process called seasoning, as described below.

Light The Charcoal

How To Grill With Charcoal
To speed up the charcoal-starting process, The go-to method is to use a product called a chimney starter.

Follow these steps to use your chimney starter:

  1. Place newspaper or a lighter cube at the base of the chimney starter
  2. Fill the top of the chimney starter with charcoal
  3. Light a newspaper or lighter at the bottom to get the coals burning quickly
  4. Pour burning coals onto larger lumps of coal
If you don't have a chimney starter handy, you can pile the charcoal into a pyramid and use a fire starter to heat it. Matchstick starters are a great way to do this. Here discourages the use of accelerants such as lighter fluid, warning that this may cause some of the flavor transfer from these substances. This is one of the reasons why more people prefer natural lump charcoal to briquettes.

Whether you use a chimney starter or the standard method to burn charcoal, you'll know it's ready when the charcoal takes on a white, chalky appearance and emits an amber glow. This usually takes 20 to 30 minutes.

Season The Grill

How To Grill With Charcoal
Once the grill starts preheating, it's time to start seasoning the grill. This doesn't mean sprinkling spices on the grill, but creating a non-stick environment and cleaning the grill at the same time.

To season your grill after it's preheated, follow these steps:

  1. Use a wire brush to brush the bars and grates
  2. Wipe the grates clean with a rag or cloth; you can use tongs and/or grilling gloves to prevent yourself from getting burned
  3. Use another rag or cloth to lightly coat with oil to help prevent food from sticking to the grill, again using tongs and/or grilling gloves to prevent burns
  4. Control heat for perfect cooking

Once the charcoal is ready and the grill is properly seasoned, you can begin controlling the temperature by distributing the coals. For example, raking a small pile in one direction and leaving a large pile on the other side creates two heated zones.

Adjusting vents can also help control temperature. Open the vents wider to provide more oxygen to the fire and generate more heat, or make the vents smaller (without closing them completely) to lower the flames and temperatures.

If you're cooking a large piece of meat that will take several hours to cook, you'll need more indirect heat. You can leave the coals on one side of the grill and move the meat to the other side. Items that require indirect heat include whole chickens, beef briskets, or pork butts.

Larger, more tender foods, such as pork chops or chops, steaks, or tuna steaks, will require higher, more direct heat.

How To Grill With Charcoal

Here are the following warning signs that may indicate you're not cooking your meat properly:

Burnt, burnt on the outside, undercooked on the inside: Your grill is too hot. If your food is undercooked in the middle and dark on the outside, the solution is to lower the temperature. You might also consider grilling the meat in a hotter area and then moving it to a "lower, cooler area for a more even cooking experience." This is also a great way to roast vegetables.

Grill marks are pale or not noticeable, or the grilling time is too long: Your grill is too cold. The solution is to make sure you preheat your grill for the right amount of time - as mentioned, usually around 20 to 30 minutes. If you're cooking in batches, you'll also want to make sure you allow the grill to return to its original temperature after each batch. You may need to go back to using more coal, but that's probably not the case, especially if you know how much food you're cooking and how much fuel to feed in the first place.

A dark, greasy, or even smoky appearance on food: Your meat has too much fat or oil in the food or other ingredients like marinades. If you use a marinade, let it drip before grilling, or watch the amount of oil in the marinade.

Extinguish Charcoal

How To Grill With Charcoal
After cooking, while the grates are still hot, clean the grates with a wire brush.

You can let the coals sit if you are not in a flammable area and will be there to monitor them. However, for peace of mind, recommend using water to extinguish the coal. No matter which method you take, recommend keeping a fire extinguisher on hand when grilling.

The day after grilling, pour the barbecue ash into a small metal can. Once the bin is full, you can put it in a compost bin or send it to a landfill.

You can place leftover charcoal in any bag and store it in your shed or garage. Alternatively, if you plan to keep the remaining coal outdoors, you can place it in a separate waterproof container.