How to Use a Charcoal Grill [Charcoal Settings, Cooking Temperatures & BBQ Tips]


Charcoal grilling is the purest form of outdoor cooking and anyone can master it. From charcoal lighting tips to temperature control, find out how to use a charcoal grill today.

How to Use a Charcoal Grill [Charcoal Settings, Cooking Temperatures, and Grilling Tips]

There is nothing quite like cooking over the fire with a charcoal grill. Whether it’s the crackle and crackle of the embers or the primal urge to exert some control over the fire, you can’t truly call yourself a master of the pit until you’ve perfected the art of charcoal grilling.

If you’ve got a charcoal grill and a new cut of meat ready, this guide is for you. Find out how to set up your new grill for efficient backyard cooking, how to adjust airflow and temperature, and most importantly, how to master flame grilling. How to use a charcoal grill.

Charcoal grill for preparing roasted beef steaks

Benefits of a charcoal grill

While cooking with gas may be for easier grilling beginners, let’s not discount the many that come from learning the benefits of a charcoal grill:

  1. Flavor: For an authentic smoky grilled flavor, SHE should cook your meat on a charcoal grill. Searing meat in a hot charcoal flame produces flavors unachievable with gas; As the juices drip onto the coals, they create their own smoke, which is poured back into the meat.
  2. Cost – Charcoal grills are easy to make and operate, which means they cost considerably less than gas grills
  3. Portable: Due to their simple design, charcoal grills are much more portable than gas or electric grills. This makes them easy to take out on the road to camp or to the beach (always remember to check open fire and BBQ regulations wherever you visit).
  4. Temperature Control – Not only do charcoal grills get significantly hotter than gas grills, but the temperature is easier to control which means YOU can maintain a lower temperature better too, making them ideal for smoking and grilling.

Season a charcoal grill

Whether you have a charcoal grill or you’re getting a new used bargain, it’s important to season your grill to create the best non-stick grilling surface and to protect the metal from wear and tear.

How to season a charcoal grill

  1.  Clean the inside of the grill, the grates, the cookbox and the lid with a damp cloth or sponge with hot water (a splash of liquid detergent can be added if necessary).
  2. After drying the surfaces, coat with a light layer of oil; It must be an oil with a high smoke point.
  3. Light a fireplace full of coals. When they have a nice layer of white ash, pour them into the bottom of the grill with the vents open to ensure maximum airflow and the highest heat possible.
  4. Close the lid and allow the grill to reach a temperature of approximately 150-230°C (300-400°F) for 1-2 hours, until the oil has burned off and a dark protective coating has formed.

A grill’s seasoning can wear off after a while, so it’s worth repeating the process a few times a year (depending on how often you grill) for maintenance.

Carbon configuration

Knowing the best way for YOU to set up the coals for your charcoal grill is one of the fundamental things every budding grill master needs to learn. Proper charcoal settings give you great control over cooking temperatures and create the perfect smoking environment. 

How Much Charcoal Should You Use?

The amount of charcoal you need depends on what you’re cooking, how hot you want the grill to be, and how long you’re cooking. One of the easiest ways to estimate how many coals to use is based on how hot you want the grill to be. 

A standard charcoal fireplace contains 100 briquettes, so the advice is:

  • High Heat (450°F to 550°F/230°C to 290°C) You are using 1 full chimney 
  • Medium Heat (350°F to 450°F/180°C to 230°C) You are using a half chimney 
  • Low heat (250°F to 350°F/120°C to 180°C) use ¼ full stack 

The time you cook outside of the coals and the maximum temperature you reach depends on how finely you spread the coals (the larger the area and the smaller the spread, the less heat).

Charcoal settings for grilling

If YOU are for charcoal, YOU can use IT to create direct or indirect heat. Direct heat means that the food IS cooked directly on the coals and gets the full effect of the heat given off. With indirect heat, the food is cooked alongside the coals and is slowly cooked by the heat the coals give off as they move around the food.

Direct heat

This is a good setting when you need high heat to quickly cook thin cuts of meat. You can think of it as a typical prep for a quick weekend barbecue: prep some burgers, sausages, kebab skewers, etc. before. before before before before before to.

The coals are distributed in a uniform layer along the base of the grill (if you don’t need the entire cooking surface, it helps to keep a small area clear of coals to give you a cooling zone for food). Once the coals are distributed, you should close the lid and give it a few minutes to heat up; You want to start cooking when it’s a nice high temperature.

Grilled in 2 zones   

The two-zone grill is (according to most grilling experts) the best way to set up your grill. With this method, you spread the coals evenly on only one side of the grill, creating an area of ​​direct heat directly above them and indirect heat on the grill over the empty area of ​​the grill.

Setting up your grill this way gives you more control over cooking food and allows you to cook a wider variety of food with ease.

3 zone division

This is a grill setup said to be best for grilling meat. It works similarly to the two-zone grill in that it diverts area with direct and indirect heat, but instead of having half the charcoal on one side of the grill, it creates two piles at each end of the grill, creating a gap in the center. Plus, the coals on both sides ensure more even heat, which means YOU don’t have to turn the meat over to grill because you don’t have to turn it over, you don’t have to open the lid, so you don’t ‘t ‘t have to do it. it loses heat, which means it cooks faster too.

Charcoal settings for grilling 

Setting up the charcoal for smoking is a bit more complicated, as we’re not just relying on charcoal, we’re also adding pans of water and wood shavings.

The classic setup is similar to a two-zone grill, where the coals are placed on one side, giving YOU a direct heat zone and an indirect heat zone. A pan of water can be placed on the empty side of the grill, and then the cooking grate can be placed on top. Once the grill has reached the higher smoking temperature, SHE can pour the wood chips over the charcoal.

There are also some other interesting charcoal settings for grilling:

Minion method

In the Minions method , you place the unlit charcoal on the grill, make a spot or pit in the center, and open the top and bottom vents. He then lights a series of starter charcoals and adds them to the pit he made. When the starter coals burn, they ignite the other coals around them, giving you a long, steady heat.

Snake method

The snake method works by paving a long ring or chain of coals around the rim of the grill and only lighting the last few in the chain. Then, like the Minion method, once the coals have burned down, they ignite the adjacent ones and continue up the chain to produce long, even heat.

How to light a charcoal grill

Charcoal chimney starter

When you’re just starting to learn how to properly use a charcoal grill, one of the most daunting things can be learning how to properly light it and get the coals to a decent grilling temperature. Once YOU master the technique, IT BECOMES second nature to YOU; Let’s take a look at some of the most common questions people have about lighting a charcoal grill:

Lumpy charcoal vs. briquettes

The choice of fuel for your charcoal grill comes down to personal preference, and grilling pros have differing opinions.

Lump charcoal is made by slowly burning wood until all natural chemicals, moisture, and sap are removed; The end result is a piece of what is just carbon in the document. It burns hotter than briquettes, ignites quicker, burns quicker and leaves less mess, all of which are pluses, but because it burns hotter and faster you need to get your temperature control game on. It is also more expensive than briquettes.

Charcoal briquettes are made from sawdust and wood waste processed like lump charcoal. Additives are then added to aid in carbon sequestration and create uniformly sized briquette blocks; As a result, they produce much more ash than lump charcoal. Briquettes burn longer than lump charcoal but don’t get as hot; They can also be made with additives like lighter fluid to help them ignite faster; While this can be helpful, it can also produce a chemical smell when burned, and some people will say they notice a chemical taste in overcooked food. briquettes

Charcoal briquettes are a great way to learn how to cook on a charcoal grill as they give you longer cooking times at a consistent temperature; They are also cheaper to buy than lump coal.

How do you use a charcoal fireplace?

Using a charcoal fireplace is one of the best ways to light the coals for your grill; It helps them heat up at an even level and heats up much faster than if you were to start on the grill.

To use a charcoal fireplace, you must fill it completely with lump or briquette charcoal. Some people will tell you to stack them neatly or a certain way, and others will tell you to just throw them away; It’s another case of personal preference and it’s worth trying a few different shapes to see which you prefer. 

Next, place firewood on the hearth’s base: crumpled newspaper or a paper bag are ideal for this, but you can also get custom-made firelighters. 

Place the firewood on the grill grate, light it and place the fire pit directly above it. 

As the wood burns, the shape of the chimney pulls the heat and flames upwards (thanks to the chimney effect). The flames begin to ignite the coals at the bottom, the heat from those coals will ignite those above and next to it, and the process continues throughout the stack. 

You will have to wait 15-20 minutes for all the coals to be lit, you can see them glowing through the chimney vents and the flames should lick up the top layer. The coals can be poured into your grill once they have a good layer of off-white ash. 

Why YOU shouldn’t use lighter fluid

If you feel like your embers aren’t heating up fast enough, it can be tempting to spurt a lighter fuel to light them, but it’s not a good idea. 

Not only can lighter fluid leave an unpleasant taste in your food, but it also contains many chemicals that you really don’t want to breathe in or release into the environment. If not used properly, it can also create a major fire hazard and result in nasty burns.

Grill vent temperature control 

Weber charcoal grill

The vents (sometimes called dampers) of your charcoal grill are your secret weapon when it comes to temperature control. 

When we cook with charcoal, it burns especially hotter the more air reaches it; therefore we blow out the embers when attempting to start a campfire by hand and stoke or stoke it; it’s all to introduce more oxygen into the mix. 

When you first light your charcoal in your fireplace, it will have excellent airflow and access to oxygen. If you’re also putting your glowing coals on the grill, you’ll want to make sure they still have good airflow. It is also important to ensure that all vents are fully open when the grill is lit to provide enough oxygen to keep the coals burning nice and hot; Once they have reached a suitable temperature, we can regulate them with the ventilation holes.

The vents on the bottom of the grill are called dampers and they provide airflow to the coals. The vents at the top are called exhaust louvers, and they help deflect smoke the way a chimney does inside a house, by drawing air through the grille of the lower vents.

Which damper to use? 

The decision of which damper to use for temperature control is yours. The options are to leave the exhaust (top vent) flap fully open and control the airflow with the intake flap at the bottom, or do it the other way around and leave the bottom vent open and control the temperature with the exhaust flap. 

It’s worth experimenting with both options to see which one works for you: the best way to gauge which works best is to monitor the temperature with a digital thermometer and see how easy you can get one Bring the grill to the optimum temperature and then turn it down. simply by adjusting the vents.

How do I extinguish a charcoal grill?

The surest way to extinguish a charcoal grill is to deprive it of oxygen. By closing the lid and closing the ventilation slots, you deprive the charcoal of oxygen, which means that it can no longer burn; As soon as IST is used up, the oxygen contained in the closed grill extinguishes itself.

You should wait at least 4-8 hours to quench all the gluten and fully reach the grill.

Why not just use water?

While water will likely extinguish the coals, there are several reasons why it’s not a good idea.

The main reason is that it poses a major risk of burning in the cloud of vapor it emits. Vapors can be harmful to the skin, eyes or throat, as can flames and unpleasant burns.

You could also contradict your grill by dousing hot coals with cold water. When hot meets cold, heat shock occurs; This could cause cracks or fractures in the structure of your grill.

Finally, pouring water over ashes and cooking fats creates a big squishy mess on the underside of the grill that can be a nightmare to clean.

Can coal be reused?

If you find charcoal in your grill that is not fully used (it has a certain texture and is still dark instead of white and ashy), you can definitely use it again! The immediate precaution when reusing charcoal is to make sure it is 100% grilled; Even if you’re sure it’s cold, it’s best to remove usable charcoal with metal tongs and store it in a fireproof container until you’re ready to use it again.


No one likes tidying up and tidying up after eating, but it’s a necessary chore for indoor and outdoor cooking. Regular cleaning of your charcoal grill is important for several reasons:

  1. Prevent flare-ups: Barbecue grease doesn’t always burn. It can sometimes freeze in unnoticed places and again, if not removed before using the grill, can cause dangerous bursts of flame.
  2. Prevents Mold and Pests: If you put your grill away for a few weeks due to inclement weather without properly cleaning it, it can become a breeding ground for mold or worse, attract some furry friends looking for leftovers. Animals like mice and rats spread feces and urine wherever they go; Nobody wants a hamburger with mouse poop on it.
  3. ALLOWS YOU TO CHECK FOR MAINTENANCE PROBLEMS – When your grill is clean and in good condition it is much easier to spot wear and tear issues such as rust or cracks/fractures in grill parts.
  4. Preserves Food Quality and Flavor – If you don’t clean your grill after every use, you could end up cooking old, burnt bits of food into your raw meat.

Ideally, you simply clean the grill and dump the charcoal ash after each use. Ash left on a grill can absorb moisture and form a cement-like substance that’s really difficult to remove.

How to clean a charcoal grill

  1. The first step in easy grill cleaning (after the grill is on) is to remove the leftover ash in a fireproof bucket.
  2. Next, you want to remove any leftover food or grease from the cooking grates.
  3. Go over the grates with a wire grill brush to remove anything that might be stuck; Be sure to remove any debris YOU brushed off the bottom of the grill.
  4. If there are grease stains, blot with paper towel and if there is any sticky residue (perhaps from a glaze or sauce), you may rub with a little soapy water to loosen it.
  5. If using soapy water, rinse well afterwards and allow the grill to air dry completely before closing the lid.
  6. Then you should do a more thorough deep cleaning every few months (depending on how often you use the grill).
  7. To do a thorough cleaning, you’ll need to scrub everything with warm, soapy water; It’s if you just die, remove and do separately to make sure you have all areas clean.
  8. Rinse the grill parts under clean, warm water and pat dry with paper towels (we don’t want to use a cloth towel or cloth as it could leave lint that could be a fire hazard or stick to food).
  9. When everything is dry, check for signs of rust or attack before reassembling.
  10. After a thorough cleaning, it’s a good idea to re-season the grill.

The best food for charcoal grilling

Everything tastes great when grilled, but some foods can withstand intense heat better and achieve that extra flavor when cooked over an authentically smoky charcoal grill.


Charcoal grilling is a great way to cook, but some meats lend themselves better to higher heat and a smoky infusion than others. These are just a few meats that are ideal for cooking on a charcoal grill:

  • Pork chops
  • Rib steak
  • Truthfulness
  • Citizens
  • Ribs
  • Marinated chicken wings and thighs
  • Fish and seafood

Vegetables, cheese and more

Why stop at meat? Have you tried any of these other grilled foods or dishes?

  • Chicken and Seafood Paella: The paella should have a smoky flavor; Traditionally, the dish was prepared outdoors in a large pan over a fire.
  • Cheese – Cheeses like halloumi and kefalotyri have a higher melting point than other cheeses, making them perfect for grilling.
  • Fruits: Pineapple is delicious when cooked on a charcoal grill – the sweetness of the juice mixed with the smoky flavors and caramelized char are second to none.
  • Vegetables – Corn on the cob is another summer barbecue staple that tastes so much better when cooked over charcoal. Asparagus develops a sweet, nutty flavor when grilled, just like sweet potatoes.
  • Sweet Treats – Don’t forget the toasted marshmallows and s’mores!

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