How to Keep Your Charcoal Grill Hot | 7 Easy Tips


Keeping your charcoal grill at a constant temperature is one of the most difficult parts of grilling, but absolutely the most reliable. Here are my 7 quick tips for keeping your charcoal grill hot.

Charcoal grilling is one of the purest forms of outdoor cooking. We all associate its smoky flavors and glowing heat with a good barbecue. However, charcoal is notoriously difficult to light and even harder to control the temperature.

Charcoal grill temperatures can fluctuate, especially when burning for hours. But to ensure that the meat is smoked tender, it is very important to keep the temperature stable. The fluctuations can cause hot spots on the grill surface and ruin the meat.

To keep your charcoal grill hot & YOU vent the air in the grill’s ash chamber WHILE DURING 2-zone cooking, constantly removing & using simpler tools like air probe thermometers & fire starters Getting started is the green way e.

How to keep your charcoal grill going

Camp charcoal grill flames and smoke with storage grate

Get a good clinical thermometer.

For grill surface temperatures, you may often see the number 225. A cooking temperature of 100 °C is ideal for roast beef. While it may be tempting to light a flame and sear chicken, beef or pork cuts, this number 225 is perfect for creating delicious, tender and juicy roast beef.

The difficulty, however, is that unlike their gas counterparts, most charcoal grills don’t come with a way to read the temperature. And for sure which dies do, they are notoriously inaccurate and unreliable. This can lead to overcooked and dry meat. That’s not funny.

Recommend purchasing an air probe. These devices are probably the best type of grill thermometer , and they closely monitor the ambient temperature inside the grill, which will mean increasing that number by 225°F as you track changes in your cooking environment—charcoal, fuel, and ventilation Add.

The Lavatools Javelin is recommended (see prices on Amazon here). Not only is it accurate, but it’s also very fast, helping you react quickly to temperature changes.

When you receive your air probe, be sure to install it near your food to get the most accurate readings in key areas of your grill.

If you prefer a built-in analog model, you can easily attach a grill thermometer to the lid of your grill.

Use a chimney lighter

There are a few ways to light your charcoal sticks , but using a chimney starter (also known as a charcoal fireplace) is the best way. Not only is it one of the safest and most reliable ways to operate your grill, it also ensures optimal, even distribution of embers and thus consistently high temperatures throughout the grilling time.

If you’re struggling to get grills working, learn how to light charcoal.

Chimney starter filled with burning charcoal


Chimney starters are containers similar to a coffee cup that are filled with charcoal. The container works in three major ways: first, it creates a superbly ventilated space in which to ignite the coals; the second IS that it is perfectly shaped to allow heat to flow upwards when the charcoal is lit; and thirdly, IST protects the embers from the weather and lets them shine undisturbed.

If you don’t already have a chimney starter, I recommend the WolfWise Fire Starter ( Guide to the Best Charcoal Fireplaces) .

Open damper

Just as important as a healthy supply of charcoal or wood chips in your grill to maintain an adequate temperature, oxygen plays a relevant role.

Your grill uses two main fuels: charcoal and oxygen. Therefore, it is important to ensure that a good amount of air is flowing into the chamber.

Intake flap on the Weber grill half open

Before you begin, locate the dampers on your grill. it should be two. One IS the inlet regulator, which is often located near the bottom of the grill, near where the charcoal sits. The other is an exhaust flap, which is usually on the cap.

The two work together to allow a healthy flow of air to flow in through the inlet flap and out through the outlet flap. If one of these is closed, you are removing a good flow of air from your burning coals.

Open both doors before lighting your grill. As the heat increases, you can adjust it later as needed.

Create 2 zones

Those who encounter indirect grilling will know the importance of trying 2 zones (and for certain who don’t, check out my guide to indirect grilling ). The key to correct temperature control is the ability to create 2 work zones.

Charcoal grills require 2 zones set up within them to create the moderate temperatures that a good grill requires. If you get comfortable with this technique, you can even use your grill as a smoker.

The good news is that this is very easy.

After lighting the coals in the chimney starter, place them on one side of the grill only. Once in place, replace the racks. When placing food on the grill, place it on the side opposite the hot coals. When the grill is covered this will create a low but even temperature for cooking food.

Watch your fuel

Depending on what you’re cooking, grilling or smoking can take a few hours. If this is the case, the charcoal will likely start to burn, causing the surface temperature to drop below 225°F.

No problem. We can restore our fuel supply in a number of ways.

One is to pull the chimney starter back out and light a dozen pieces of charcoal before placing them on the grill.

The other is to simply add the new coals directly to the already lit coals in your grill. Of course, this is much easier, but the coals, when lit, give off a lot of smoke and increase the temperature, which can significantly destabilize the temperature in the cooking area. To counteract this, you can try limiting the intake flap, but you will find that using the chimney starter is a better option.

Adjust ventilation

Although we have both dampers set to open, adjustments are sometimes needed as the heat of the carbon inevitably drifts past 225°F.

In this case it can be tempting to play with both dampers to try to correct the temperature. However, do not die. Always leave the exhaust flap open and only adjust the intake flap.

Use your air probe to check the grill’s air temperature about every 5 minutes. If the heat is too low, open the inlet flap slightly. Too high and close it a little. Very soon you will find an ideal point that WILL align you with our 225°F goal.

Remove the ash

When the charcoal burns, a large amount of ash is produced, which then collects at the bottom of the grill. This can smother the glowing embers, slowly extinguishing them and preventing proper airflow.

If your grill has easy ash removal ( many of the best charcoal grills have one ), be sure to use it every 30-60 minutes after grilling. If not, you may have to do it manually with a shovel. Just be careful not to do so much that you disturb the cooking temperature levels.

For said…

Charcoal grilling is a skill, and as with any skill, it’s important that you experience it for yourself. Every grill is different, so get out there and familiarize yourself with your grill.

What method do you use to light your grill? Do you have any tips for keeping the heat consistent? Let us know in the comments below!

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