How to Use a Charcoal Grill – Step by Step

Last updated on May 12th, 2020 by

At first, using a charcoal grill can be a little of a daunting experience. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

When you are learning how to use a charcoal grill, it can be quite intimidating. But if you learn how to use it correctly and get the most out of it, you are sure to become a grill expert in no time!

Here we are going to explain the process of using charcoal grill the right way. Care to discover more about it and become an expert at grilling? Then keep scrolling and learn!


Learn to Use a Charcoal Grill in 4 Simple Steps

Using a charcoal grill is not hard in any way unless you are entirely clueless. If you are, then follow the following 4 steps to use it like an expert:

Step 1: Measure Your Coals

It is the first step for learning how to use a charcoal grill, which is to know about charcoal. Here charcoal acts as the fuel for cooking. So, you need to know the right amount of coals to be put in the grill. Here is a basic set of instructions on the amount of coal:

If you are going to cook steaks or other cuts of meat, you need to have the grill’s temperature around 450-550°F. And to obtain that, you need to put in around six quarts of coal, which is almost equivalent to a hundred briquettes.

If you are going to cook pieces of chicken, fish, or vegetables, you need to have the grill’s temperature around 350-450°F. For that, you need to put in between 3-4.5 quarts of coal.

If you are going to cook a whole chicken, bigger roasts, or pork ribs, you need to have the grill’s temperature around 250-350°F. To achieve that, you need to put in between 1.5-2 quarts of coal.

You have to remember that some grills come with hinged grates, which you can use by opening it while cooking to put in more charcoal. But this is recommended when you are cooking slowly or grilling a big portion of meat.

Step 2: Light Your Coals

There’s a tool that every charcoal griller should have, which is called “chimney starter”. This not only helps you to light your coals but also helps you to measure your coal. And it does that without using a lighter too and within twenty minutes!

At first, you just need to dip a piece of newspaper in vegetable oil and put it at the foot of the canister. Then you have to put in the required amount of coal in the chimney starter and light up the newspaper with a matchstick.


Now you put the chimney where the coals usually go in the grill and wait for the coals to glow red. Finally, just pour all of it in the bowl of the grill.

You need to keep in mind that the usual chimney starter has a capacity to hold 6 quarts of coal. So, it’s really convenient to measure! Now, all you need to do is fill up the canister all the way, or three quarters, or half based on your requirements of grilling temperature.

Step 3: Prepare Your Grate

Now that your coals are lit, you can move onto preparing your grate for cooking. At first, you need to clean the grate you will be using. Then you need to dip a paper towel in cooking oil and brush the grate with it. As a result, your food won’t be sticking to the grate.

Lastly, you need to put the grate in place on the grill and let it be for 3-4 minutes. Basically, it’s done for preheating the grate before you start cooking.

Step 4: Control the Temperature

You need to know that you can control the temperature in several ways, but here we will discuss the most common ones.

At first, you can build a 3-zone or 2-zone fire depending on what you need. Basically, in a 3-zone fire, the coal is spread in such a way that the first zone, farthest from you, will be the one with high heat, the second zone will have medium heat, and the last zone will be heat-free.

And in a 2-zone, the coal will be spread in such a way that 2/3 of the area will be for grilling, and the remaining 1/3 area will be for cooling.

Secondly, you can adjust the airflow to control temperature by opening or closing the vents of the grill. The basic principle here is that the more the airflow, the more the heat.

So, the more you open the vents, the higher temperature you will get, and the more you close the vents, the lower the temperature.  Thus, if you completely close the vents, there will be no heat.

Lastly, you need to monitor the distance between your food and coal. You can do this by moving the adjustable grates higher or lower depending on your temperature requirements. But if your grill doesn’t have any adjustable grate, you just have to build 3-zone or 2-zone fire based on your need.


Start Using a Charcoal Grill Like an Expert Now!

Does using a charcoal grill look like a hard job? Not at all – even for an inexperienced user, this will be a total piece of cake.

There are many things to consider and tips to follow. But as long as you read this guide carefully and take our advice into account, you can always use any type of charcoal grill.

So, are you ready to start using a charcoal grill like an expert? Don’t waste more time and begin now!

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