How to use a charcoal grill

Do you have a new charcoal grill and want useful tips and techniques for making your guests want more of your food? How to use a charcoal grill? Charcoal grilling is common amongst cooking enthusiasts and traditionalists as compared to electric or gas grills for various reasons.

There is a certain smoky flavor and a juicy appeal attached to it as opposed to the use of an electric one to prepare the same food. It may look simple but in order to use these particular devices, you need to have certain skills that can be easily learned and understood quickly.

We are basically talking about starting the fire, controlling it during the grilling process, and putting it out. Check how you can properly use them at your home and cook delicious and flavorable dishes.

Charcoal grilling tips and techniques

Before using a charcoal grill, you must decide on the cooking method that you will use. The method can either be direct or indirect. What are the differences between these two techniques?

Direct grilling

The raw food is placed directly over the heat with just the grill rack between it and the hot coals. The direct grilling method is most suitable for cooking tender, thin and small food like steaks, kabobs, burgers, hotdogs, fishes, boneless poultry, and most vegetables. These raw foods can be cooked in 30 minutes or less in an open flame set-up.

Indirect grilling

The food is placed on the drip pan with no direct heat source underneath it, while the grill itself must be covered while cooking the food. This method is best suited for cooking whole birds and fishes as well as large roasts and ribs, which take longer cooking time.

Keep in mind that nearly any regular barbeque grill can be prepared by both methods of grilling. You may have to purchase accessories like the drip pan and the cover, when necessary.

How do you cook on a charcoal grill?

After you have arranged the grill in a manner that matches the chosen cooking method, you can now light up the charcoal. I suggest you follow these 6 steps to cook with your grill.

How do you use briquettes?

Place a sufficient number of charcoal briquettes on the bottom grate of the grill. Ensure you spread out the briquettes to ensure that they spread over an area 3 inches greater than the proportion of the food you want to cook.

How to light charcoal briquettes?

Place the charcoal briquettes, flare-up these lumps with the help of an electric starter, and allow the fire to spread until the whole mound has a red glow. Be sure to leave the grill’s lid off at this point. The mound should be ready within 20 minutes.

How to use coal?

Your grill should have a chimney where you heat the coal. When you heated them, spread the glowing coals over the briquettes on the grate. Let the coals burn for 5-10 minutes so that the bottom layer can also become hot.

How do you cook on a charcoal grill?

Using the grilling method you have preferred, set the raw food to be cooked on the drip pan or over the rack. Make sure the food stays there until a crispy seal forms. In fact, this is an essential part of the entire cooking and you definitely don’t want to interfere with it.

How to check if the meat is done?

Once you can sear its surface, a natural barrier is created that maintains all the juices inside the food. Don’t cut the meat to verify if it is properly cooked, as that is a major mistake. Don’t touch the meat, use a timer instead to calculate when the meat will be done.

How to control the heat on a charcoal grill?

You have to adjust the heat on the cooking device depending on the cooking temperature required for the food to cook as you want. To lower the heat, you can raise the pan or rack as this will allow either get rid of a few of the briquettes or the spreading the coals apart. To increase the heat, you can remove the ashes, add briquettes, or lower the pan or rack.

Common charcoal grilling mistakes to avoid

It is not unusual that grillers make mistakes when cooking, especially on a charcoal grill. No matter if you are a beginner or an advanced griller consider the next tips.

Clean grill grates before and after cooking

When using your cooking device in the yard or the ones found at campsites, and in public parks, they require regular maintenance and cleaning to ensure that they cook and function properly. Before using public grills you should ensure that they are perfectly safe for use by cleaning them before tossing food on.

When do you put food on a charcoal grill?

You should be patient when placing food on the grill. You should add food after the device is totally preheated to avoid food from sticking to the grates which can divulge off-tastes over the food that you are cooking with briquettes.

Charcoal grill temperature

This is one of the most vital charcoal grilling tips for you to know. You should choose the type of heat depending on the type of meal you are cooking.

The temperature of the charcoal grill is vital because a grill is used as a direct source of heat. When cooking food over burning charcoal, it is like cooking food over intense heat over a gas grill.

Particular foods require extreme heat while others will need low heat. It is risky when you cook while not using the best heat because you may undercook, overcook, or even burn a meal.

Using the charcoal grill vents

A charcoal grill requires the use of vents that are located in the hood and at its’s bottom. Vents are used to control temperature and air circulation. This is necessary to keep the charcoal burning.

Two things may happen once you fail to recall to either close or open the vents. The charcoal may get finished before you are through with cooking the food, or the heat could potentially burn the food.

Should you grill with the lid open or closed?

Opening the lid when using a charcoal grill provides more oxygen towards the coals. This makes the coal to become even hotter and this increases the likelihood of burning food. This is opposite to gas grills and ovens which will lose heat once the lid is lifted.

Use a charcoal grill like a pro

How to use a charcoal grill like a pro? If you fancy using it as a professional chef, you better learn it practically. I am sure that my grilling tips will help you to prepare delicious food for you and your crowd.

Consider the tips and do it with passion. Through time your skill and experience will make you prepare fantastic, juicy, flavorful, and delicious grilled food that will leave your guests yearning for more.

Ready to celebrate the summer?

Charcoal grilling is here to makes your celebration complete.

Summer is here, and you aren’t firing up grills; it can’t just happen. Many of us think that gas grilling is easier than why so many efforts put in charcoal grilling? Well, it’s right that charcoal grilling is intimidating, but it’s also fun. If you know how to use a charcoal grill, the result is delicious and worth the effort.

How to Use a Charcoal Grillanncapictures (CC0), Pixabay

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Why is Charcoal Grilling Best?

I can guarantee that you won’t find the real flavor (juicy and smokey test) of food in any other cooking way. In charcoal grilling food, there is something special that too by spending less than gas counterparts. The prices are very affordable. You can find out the best charcoal grill under 200$.

Anyway, it’s not a matter of money, but about the taste; you won’t get that delicious hamburger, juicy sausages, and smokey chicken in gas grilling. Almost everyone claims that charcoal is best for outdoor cooking, as it gives you a natural experience of cooking with better taste results.

If you are new and don’t have any charcoal grilling experience, don’t worry. We have covered you from start to end. Read and follow the instruction; we hope you will cook the best delicious charcoal food for the first time.

How to Use a Charcoal Grill?

Charcoal is easy to light, inexpensive, stay steady, and burn for a longer time. If you want more smokey flavor than the natural charcoal flavor, you can go with hardwood, citrus woods, and fruitwoods. These woods are radiantly hot but burn out faster than others and gives you a smokey flavor that you want.

Before you start, you must remember that your vents need to be open before you light your grill. Because the fire will need some oxygen to sustain, after placing the charcoal in the grill, you can adjust the vents as per your need to control the internal cooking temperature. The wider the vents will be, the hotter flames and oxygen you will get, and the smaller means the cooking temperature is cold; if you want your food to cook correctly, never close the vents in all ways, as it will help all the flames go out.

How to Get your Charcoal Ready to Start Grilling:

Take a newspaper, dip it into vegetable oil, and place it at the chimney’s bottom point. Fill the chimney with charcoal to the point it can be filled out. Take a match long enough or stick, light it up and touch the newspaper with it. Let the coal burn for 20 minutes until they are gray-ashed over, and if you want high heat, then burn the coal for 5-10 minutes.

How to Prepare your Grill Perfectly:

Clean your grill first with a wet rag; it’s safe. Now wear grill gloves, hold the chimney properly, and put all the charcoal on the grill. Place the food over the charcoal when it’s hot. In this step, if you want to grill fast cooking food, then place it in the direct heat, or if you’re going to grill food that takes a long time, then place them in the side of the coal or indirect heat.

How to Cook your Food Over Charcoals:

Cover the grill with a paper towel that is soaked in vegetable oil or cooking oil and spread it over the grill if needed. This is the best trick to keep your food from sticking to the grill. Don’t open the towel often and let the heat come out if you want to cook something in lower heat. But if you want your food to cook fast, then open it and let the coal burn quickly with oxygen. You can use a temperature read thermometer to check the food if it is rightly cooked from inside or not. How to measure that? Let me tell you about the right temperature.

If your food temperature is 160f (71), then its right for porch, 165F (74 C) is for chicken pieces, and 170f (77 C) is for beef.

How to Light a Charcoal Grill

Before we dig into how to cook in a charcoal grill, we need to know how to light the charcoal grill. To cook in a charcoal grill, this is the problematic step freshers face. So I will tell you about some way you can follow to light the charcoal grill to get the perfect smokey taste.

Light Your Charcoal Grill with a Newspaper

Using the newspaper as a fire starter is the easiest way you can light your charcoal grill. In another way, it will be newspaper recycling. Rolled up the old newspaper, light it with the help of a match or lighter, and place it into the charcoal-grilled. This method works very fast if your newspaper is well lighted.

Light Your Charcoal Grill with a Charcoal Chimney

At first, fill the chimney with enough charcoal, keep holes between them too light up. Now take a long stick or newspaper, light it with fire and leave it in several chimney spots filled with charcoal. Gradually the newspaper or stick will burn, and the charcoal will also burn with them. Check if the charcoals are burning with the stick or not. If not, then burns another one with some cooking oil and leaves it in the chimney like before. When the coals will turn ashy, pour them onto the bottom grill, and spread it.

Light Your Charcoal Grill with an Electric Charcoal Starter

In this method, we will take the help of an electric device with a handle and a metal loop. Plug the electric device on an outdoor-rated extension cable. Load one layer of charcoal and keep them together near the center of the charcoal grill. Now place the metal element or heating element onto the center of the charcoal layer. Now put another layer of charcoal on the top of the electric device and the nearby charcoals. When the charcoal is well lighted, remove the electric charcoal starter. But this process a little time to ignite the coals than other methods, so if you want to use this method, you have to keep some patience in lighting the charcoals.

Light Your Charcoal Grill with a Lighter Fluid

This is the most tried method that works best to light the charcoals, but this process is risky. Any little mistake can turn into a big problem, so use it only when other failed methods.

Arrange the charcoals in a pyramid shape, add lighter fluid on the top of the pyramid, wait for 30 seconds and light the fluid immediately. Be careful never spray lighter onto hot charcoals. After the liquid is entirely burned, the coals’ side will turn deep ashy, and that’s when the charcoals are ready to use and spread out. This process is the fastest; you can light up your charcoals, and it will take only 15 minutes, but this process is risky. So, keep that in mind.


So, knowing how to use a charcoal grill and how to light your charcoal grill is must-have things you would wish.

How to Use a Charcoal Grill

It wouldn’t be wrong to say, Weber charcoal grills are the best type of grills to prepare a barbecue. But, everyone doesn’t know how to use a Weber charcoal grill!

This is something that might confuse a newbie before preparing any type of meal on it. They might have a fear of burning or leaving a meal pink. They may also find it difficult to add sufficient charcoal or set the right temperature. All these things could get perplexing.

It is very disheartening to not acquire the right taste after spending hours in a barbecue. So, here we are with a little help.

In this post, you are going to learn Weber charcoal grill tips and tricks and how to cook using a Weber kettle.

How to cook using a Weber Kettle?

Though it seems difficult, it involves simple steps to cook your meals on a Weber kettle.

The first task is to prepare the kettle for preheating. For this step, you will need to keep the dampers on the bottom and lid fully open. Now, remove the top cooking grate. You can hang it off the handle.

The next step involves filling up the chimney starter halfway with charcoal. If you are confused about quantity, it is appropriate to add about 50-60 briquettes. You will need to place two lighter cubes under the chimney starter using the bottom grate.

After lighting them, the charcoal will take around 10-15 minutes to ash over completely.

Now, the next stage comes; it involves preheating the kettle. You need to put the charcoal over the charcoal grate evenly.

You can spread coals all over the grate surface. You can also put them on one side to leave the other one as a safe zone. After placing a cooking grate, you can put the lid of the kettle. However, it is crucial to check if the vents are completely open. This step will take around 10-15 minutes.

As the kettle is preheating, you can utilize the time by seasoning the meat. Now remove the lid and place your food over the cooking grate.

You need to set the timer after closing the lid. 3-4 minutes’ time is enough.

How to Use a Charcoal Grill

After this time, you can remove the lid and flip the meat. Now check the cooking level of the meal with the help of an instant-read thermometer and keep the meat on the grate until you achieve your desired temperature.

This is a simple way of how you can cook using a Weber kettle. Well, there are a few other methods. It involves using different heat types to obtain the required flavor. In the following sections, we are going to discuss these methods:

Low-temperature indirect cooking setup

It might feel tricky for a newbie to understand how to use a Weber charcoal grill for indirect cooking. Let’s first discuss what indirect cooking is. The indirect cooking method, as its name says, sends heat in an indirect way. In this method, the heating source is placed either at one side or two sides of the grate. The center part of the grill is kept free of burning coals.

Which foods qualify for indirect cooking? All those meat which are nearly more than 2 inches thick! Also, tough meat parts and delicate food items that take longer are good on indirect cooking setup.

So, in a Weber kettle, for low-temperature indirect cooking, you need to keep the temperature around 225-250 degrees. How?

Choose only a few hot coals coated with white ash. However, you will also need unlit coals to supply fuel. This small setup will reach the temperature of 225-250 Fahrenheit and would burn for around 4-5 hours.

Here’s a pro tip…

The more unlit coal you add, the more time you will get for heating without adding more. The more burning coal, the higher the temperature you will attain.

Low heat direct cooks

Many pitmasters think direct cooking can only be done with high heat. It is not true. You just need to use a simple trick for this purpose. So, how to use a Weber charcoal grill for low heat direct cook?

Here is the method:

You will need to perform a similar process that you did for simple cooking. However, coal selection would be different. If you want your meal to be cooked directly but with a slow heat, arrange the heat and fuel source. Burn some coals until they have a white coating all over them.

Now spread them over a charcoal grill sparingly. You need to place unlit coals between the burnt one. You can take around 50 unlit coals for the purpose of supplying fuel. Now, you can place a cooking grate over it. Whatever food type you are making, you can place them over the coal set-up.

If coals tend to reach a higher temperature, you can control it using the lid. Using this method, you can prepare a meal within 30 minutes without burning them.

Using the vents to control the temperature

Besides adjusting the temperature with the number of coals, you can use vents to manage the heat as well. So, how to use a Weber charcoal grill by means of the vents for temperature control? Here is the method:

You first need to arrange the burning coals and unlit ones to serve as a heat source. For a long and slow cook, around 5-6 burning coals are enough. However, to attain more heat, you will need to add around 30 or even more coals. It will depend on the temperature you need.

In order to use vents, you first need to stabilize the temperature. If the temperature inside the kettle is not stable, it would be hard to achieve the target accurately.

Conversely, if it is stable, only a slight change in vents will increase or decrease the temperature. Moreover, the newer value will take 15-20 minutes in order to stabilize itself because the coal will take its time to change the temperature. Once they are done, you will be able to enjoy the steady heating again.

Weber charcoal grill tips and tricks

Few are experts in making scrumptious meals, while others are not very good at cooking. The basic method of cooking is the same, but the things that bring taste are simple tips and tricks.

Here, we are going to discuss a few Weber charcoal grill tips and tricks. It will assist you in knowing more about grilling:

  • Preheating your grill with closed lid and temperature reaching 500 °F is recommended.
  • Untie the pieces of food hanging with the grate and brush off the grill. It will prevent your meat from sticking on the grate.
  • When hot, you can easily clean the grate with a stainless steel brush.

How to Use a Charcoal Grill

How To Use A Charcoal Grill: An In-Depth Guide

In a nutshell, here’s how start a charcoal grill step-by-step:

  • To light a charcoal grill, put an adequate amount of charcoal in there. Heap the charcoal into a cone or pyramid shape.
  • Pour the lighter fluid on the charcoal cone, pouring a sufficient amount in the middle and around the edges. Use about a quarter cup of the liquid for every pound of charcoal. Allow the fluid to stay on the coals for about 30 seconds.
  • We recommend using a long match to ignite the charcoal at the base on two of the sides.
  • Allow the charcoal to burn until every coal is white on the surface.
  • Then use a tool with a long handle and spread the charcoal equally across the grate.
  • Shut the lid and wait for five minutes.
  • Then open the cover, and place the cooking grate over the coal. Place the food on the barbecue and begin cooking.

The best method to use to light your charcoal grill is a charcoal chimney or a similar tool. A charcoal chimney uses newspaper as an alternative to lighter fluid.

How to Use a Charcoal GrillA charcoal chimney – handy if you don’t want to use lighter fluid.

By doing away with the use of a fuel product, you also do away with any added petroleum flavor that could remain in your food. You merely place several sheets of wrinkled newspaper in the base of the chimney and place charcoal on top of them. Ignite it, and wait about 10 minutes to add the charcoal.

Another alternative way to light a charcoal grill is to use an electric charcoal fire starter. What you do is to put it on the barbecue between two layers of charcoal. It will supply sufficient heat to get the charcoal to change color and develop some white ash. After that you can take the electric charcoal fire starter out and allow the charcoal’s temperature to rise.

Both of the methods above allow the charcoals to burn until they develop a grayish surface before you start cooking. By doing so, you make sure that any pastes or preservatives are burned off. It is better not to purchase self-lighting charcoal since it contains preservatives that work like lighter fluid. Additionally self-lighting charcoal can add off-flavors in addition to chemicals to your food if they fail to burn off completely.

Remember though: every time you are using fire, there is a potential for an injury to you and any person nearby. It should also be emphasized that fire can rapidly get out of control when you do not use common sense.

For those without an electric charcoal fire starter or charcoal chimney on hand, you might want to learn how to make use of lighter fluid in a safe manner. Fuel-based lighter fluid is not the only alternative though. There are bio-fuel lighter fluids that are made from plant-based alcohols and oils that you may want to research.

Never add lighter fluid to burning coals. Even though there is no flame, the temperature will make the lighter fluid vaporize, and this can cause an explosion.

Use great care with lighter fluid and other explosive fuels. And never lean over the grill when lighting it with combustible liquids. Don’t believe us? Just head over to YouTube and search for ‘grill explosion’…

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Charcoal Grilling Tips And Techniques

Using a charcoal grill can to some extent be more complicated than using an electric or a gas barbecue, especially if the person grilling is a novice. Here are some tips and techniques to get the best results when using a charcoal grill.

Ignite the coals for about 30 minutes before of cooking and if you are using lighter fluid, make sure that the flames have gone out completely before putting the meat on the grill. Otherwise, you could get the nasty taste of fuel in your meat. At this point, the charcoal is supposed to be mostly an ash-gray color with a little bit of bright red glow underneath.

Only put charcoal on the base of one side of your charcoal grill. After that, place some mesquite or hickory wood chips on top of the hot charcoal to add more flavor. Lay the meat on the side of the barbecue away from the charcoal and keep the lid shut.

Chimney starters are a necessity for charcoal grilling because they can heat up to 100 charcoal briquettes in 20 minutes by using nothing but a match and one sheet of newspaper. No need for lighter fluid anymore! Using a chimney starter means that there will be no risk of explosions or petroleum tasting food. The most recommended chimney starters are the 6-quart models.

You cannot regulate the heat of a charcoal grill with a knob as you would with a gas grill. However, you can manage the heat on your grill by controlling the oxygen flow. You can do this by adjusting the vents to let in more or less oxygen.

More air will generate more heat. Be sure the bottom of the grill is not overfilled with cinders. Otherwise ash can block the vents.

To be considered an expert of charcoal grilling incorporate wood! Whether you are planning on high or low-temperature grilling, or you just want to add a little smoky note to the food, wood is the way to go. Mesquite and Hickory in addition to fruitwoods such as cherry and apple are some favorites of grill masters. For roasting and smoking, use large pieces of dried wood.

You can also just add a few wood chips over your hot charcoal for grilling, however, be sure to soak the wood chips in water first. Hardwood charcoal usually burns out quicker than briquettes, but it gives your meat a delicious, smoky taste.

How To Keep A Charcoal Grill Going For Hours

Cooking meat over a charcoal grill involves cooking slow and low. In other words: the heat is supposed to be held stable at a low temperature for a long time.

A pack of charcoal that is enough to load a home grill will typically be exhausted in less than two hours if it is not attended. However, two hours is not enough time to grill especially thick pieces of meat. That’s why knowing how to keep the grill going for hours is vital to being successful at grilling.

Master This Skill and Become a Cookout Pro

How to Use a Charcoal Grill

If you’re learning to use a charcoal grill, you might be new to grilling or you may be transitioning over from a gas grill.

Either way, learning to use a charcoal grill is like learning to drive a stick—once you do, you can drive any type of car. And if you know how to use a charcoal grill, cooking on a gas grill will be a breeze. Here’s a guide to get you started.

How to Use a Charcoal Grill

Measuring the Coals

The first step to learning to use a charcoal grill is to learn about charcoal.

With a gas grill, the fuel is propane gas. Because it’s either on or off, there’s no need to measure it. Like an ordinary kitchen range, you simply adjust the size and intensity of the flame on each burner by turning a knob.

With a charcoal grill, however, the fuel is—well–charcoal, so you need to fill the grill with the proper amount of briquettes before you start cooking. Some grill grates feature hinged sides that you can open during cooking to add more charcoal. But this is only really practical if you’re slow-cooking or smoking a large piece of meat.

Keep in mind that more fuel produces more heat and some foods require higher temperatures than others. Steaks and other thin cuts of meat need a very hot grill, like 450 to 550 F. Chicken pieces, vegetables, and fish require a medium temperature, around 350 to 450 F. Pork ribs, whole chicken, and larger roasts need low heat, somewhere between 250 to 350 F.

To convert these temperatures into charcoal quantities, a hot grill needs about 6 quarts of charcoal (about 100 briquettes); a medium grill between 3 and 4.5 quarts of charcoal; and a low grill 1.5 to 2 quarts.

Lighting the Coals

It happens that there’s a tool that will not only measure out your charcoal, but also help you light it using no lighter fuel whatsoever, and get them glowing hot within 20 minutes.

It’s called a chimney starter and it’s something no charcoal griller should do without. You simply stuff a sheet of newspaper into the bottom of the canister, load the chimney with the desired amount of charcoal, light the newspaper with a match, and place the chimney on the rack inside the grill (where the coals go, not atop the cooking grate). When coals glow red hot, carefully pour them into the bowl of your grill.

Conveniently, a standard chimney starter has a 6-quart capacity. So to measure charcoal, all you have to do is fill the canister quarter full, half full, three-quarters full or all the way depending on how hot you want the grill.

Preparing the Cooking Grate

While the coals are lighting, you can clean and oil the cooking grate. Cleaning is mainly a matter of scraping and brushing off any cooked-on debris. To oil the grate, brush it with a paper towel moistened with cooking oil. This helps prevent your food from sticking.

The next step is preheating the grate. Once you add your charcoal and arrange it (see below), install the grate, cover with the lid and wait three to four minutes.

Building a Fire

While it’s probably obvious that more charcoal will produce more heat, there’s another dimension to it as well. More coals will produce a larger pile and a larger pile means that those coals will be closer to the food.

If you’re cooking all one type of food, you might want to distribute those coals evenly across the bowl of your grill. However, you can gain more precise temperature control by building a two-zone fire—loading the charcoal to one side of the grill bowl while leaving the other side empty.

This creates a hot zone and a cool zone, which is helpful for cooking two different types of food, like steaks and vegetables, for instance.

It also lets you move items around as they near doneness to prevent overcooking. A cool zone also helps control flare-ups, which are generally caused by fat dripping onto the coals. You can move the dripping item to the cool zone as the flare-up subsides. In short, building a two-zone fire is almost always the way to go.

How to Use a Charcoal Grill

Controlling the Temperature

The amount of fuel and how high you pile it are not the only ways of obtaining fine control of the temperature in your charcoal grill. In addition to fuel, a fire also needs oxygen. Thus another way of controlling temperature is by controlling the flow of oxygen via opening and closing the vents.

Regardless of the type of grill, most charcoal grills will feature at least one vent on the underside of the bowl along with one on the lid. Which means you should almost always grill with the lid on.

Grills are designed to pull cool air in through the air vents on the bottom, circulate it around the cooking surface, and then expel smoke and hot air through the upper vents.

Both upper and lower vents should always be open. For the hottest fire possible, open them all the way. Closing the top vent halfway will produce a medium grill or 350 to 450 F. For low temperature (250 to 350 F), the top vent should be open a quarter of the way. In most cases, the bottom vent should stay all the way open. Don’t close the vents completely or your fire will go out; also make sure the bottom vent is not obstructed by ash or other debris.

The way the air circulates produces a convection effect, which promotes fast and even cooking and the shape of the lid is designed to facilitate that airflow. Removing it stops the flow altogether and takes away one of the key ways that you can control the temperature.

How to Use a Charcoal Grill

    July 17, 2020

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Learning how much charcoal to use when firing up your grill or smoker is a vital skill to master.

Use too much charcoal and you’ll waste valuable fuel. Use too little and your grill will struggle to get hot enough or you won’t be able to maintain temperature until you are finished cooking.

Click to jump straight to each topic

How much charcoal do I need?

As with most things when it comes to grilling, how much charcoal you need depends on what you’re cooking and the type of grill you have.

Unfortunately, we can’t give you any hard and fast numbers because they might not work for your particular set up, but we can suggest some ways for you to lock in the correct ratios for yourself.

The first thing we suggest is getting a charcoal chimney. Not only is a charcoal chimney the best way to light your charcoal (more on that later), but they also act as a measuring device, of sorts, for how much charcoal you should be using.

How to Use a Charcoal Grill

Think of it as your charcoal measuring cup.

How much charcoal to use when grilling

To figure out exactly how much charcoal you need in your hot zone, consider what you’re cooking and use your charcoal chimney.

Our favorite charcoal briquette company Kingsford recommends the following:

  • For tender meats, like white fish, fill around a quarter of the chimney with charcoal.
  • For burgers and sausages, try around half to three-quarters of a chimney for medium heat.
  • If you’re using your grill to sear meat or want to cook something hot and fast, use three quarters or a full chimney.

Obviously, these are rough generalizations, and you’ll need a little experimentation to find the perfect ratios for your particular grill.

How to setup your charcoal

When it comes to grilling, we’re huge fans of the 2-zone cooking setup.

The 2-zone method gives you more control over your cooking space, allowing you finer temperature control and the ability to cook with direct and indirect heat. It also uses less fuel than traditional setups.

Creating a 2-zone cooking setup is easy.

All you do is heap up your charcoal on one side of your grill. This creates the ‘hot zone’ on which you cook with direct heat. The other side of your grill is the ‘cool zone’ that cooks with indirect heat.

How to Use a Charcoal Grill

The 2-zone cooking method is excellent for situations where you need to get a good sear on a piece of meat, but a constant high heat isn’t suitable for the entire cooking process.

For instance, a chunky tomahawk steak needs a good sear on the outside, but its thickness means that cooking it over very high heat will either burn the exterior or leave the center uncooked.

Using the 2-zone method, you can do the majority of the cooking over indirect heat, getting it to just shy of that perfect medium-rare before searing it to a finish on the hot side, in what’s called the reverse sear method.

How much charcoal to use when smoking

Smoking is a very different beast than grilling and requires a different setup and varying amounts of charcoal.

There are two main types of smoking:

  • low and slow – What most barbecue recipes use, around 225-250ºF.
  • hot and fast – Anything above 325°F, often used when cooking poultry.

Low and Slow

The right amount of charcoal to use depends on the type of smoker you are using, and how you set it up.

One of the best methods for setting up a charcoal smoker is the minion method.

This is ideal for low and slow cooks between 6 – 18 hours.

This involves filling the charcoal ring with unlit briquettes, and then lighting a small number of briquettes (around 20), and pouring them over the top.

This method is great because the temperature will slowly rise (while you are getting everything else ready), and you can dial in the temperature with the air vents.

Once your temperature has stabilized, you can run all day (or night) without much fiddling.

How to Use a Charcoal Grill

If you are using a classic Kettle style grill, the charcoal snake method is a great alternative setup.

This involves placing a double semicircle of charcoal briquettes around the inside of your smoker, creating a line of charcoal two briquettes deep, and two wide.

How to Use a Charcoal Grill

You then place your wood chunks on top of the charcoal and light one end of the snake using briquets started in your chimney starter. The charcoal will burn along the line, keeping a low and steady temperature, ideal for smoking.

Hot and Fast

Hot and fast smoking cooks the food at a temperature between 275 – 350°F (135 – 175°C) while imparting a smoky flavor. Unlike low and slow cooking, you’ll need to get your smoker raging hot with a full chimney hot coals and then use the vents and air regulators to keep a steady temperature.

This combination of high heat and short cooking time can leave you with a lot of partially burned coals. The good news is, there’s no reason you can’t reuse them.

Does the type of charcoal affect how much you should use?

We’ve already done a deep dive into the difference between lump wood charcoal and briquettes, but, to give you the run down, lump wood charcoal has fewer additives, which some claim can flavor your food, but it burns less consistently.

By comparison, briquettes can contain additives like cornstarch, borax, limestone, and they do produce more ash, but they burn more consistently and are cheaper than lump charcoal.

If you’re using lump charcoal made from hardwood like pine, you can expect it to burn hot and fast but burn out faster as well.

How to Use a Charcoal Grill

Making grilling foods on your charcoal grill is a bit complicated, especially if you don’t have enough experience with it. Because if you want to cook on your gas or electric grill machine, it becomes more effortless and comfortable. But when it comes to cooking on a charcoal grill, you should be more experienced, and then you can make your favorite grilling foods on it.

However, in this article, you are going to learn how to use a charcoal grill tips. There are many charcoal grills out there in the market right now. But among them, you have to find out the best one which may best suit your requirements. Some are pricey, while others may be your budget-friendly. You can do the same thing with a Charcoal Grill Under 200 available in the market for you.

How does a Charcoal grill work?

If you are fond of grilling foods, then you might know about the grill machines available out there in the market. These grillers can be bought from the market or you can also make one yourself. If you have creativity and time, you can make a charcoal grill yourself at home. However, in this article, I am not going to cover you with how to make a charcoal grill at home.

Instead, let me tell you how a charcoal grill really works. From my experience, a charcoal grill is the best option to make grill naturally, which left grill marks on the foods after making them. However, the basis of a charcoal grill consists of a thick layer on which foods will remain for cooking, and underneath the plate, hot coal will continue to provide heat evenly to make the grilling foods.

How to Use a Charcoal Grill Tips

When it comes to using a charcoal grill to make grilling foods for you and your family or guests, it requires a little bit more extra knowledge. Because unlike other grilling machines out there in the market, it needs to use coal as its fuel except for propane gases or electricity. Therefore, it is easier and convenient when you are going to make grills using a gas grill or electric grill.

You just need to turn on and off the switch if you use a gas or electric grill machine. But you also have to measure the coal you are going to burn in the charcoal grilling machine to make grills for you. Therefore, you also have to understand a bit about charcoal to use the grillers properly for making grilling foods for you and your guests.

1. Coal as fuel

The very first step of using a charcoal grill is to measure the charcoal you need to use as fuel in the grilling machine to make grilling foods. Because it is not something like you just turn on the grill by a switch and then turn it off. Instead, you have to make sure you are using the proper amount of charcoal in the grilling machine to get the most out of it.

It is important, especially when you start cooking grills on it. Because some charcoal grillers do not allow you to add charcoal after starting the process. But some of them allow you to open the side grates using hinges so that you can add charcoal when you need them to add.

2. Put the coals on fire

It is not that grill machine that needs just turning the switch on and off. If you have used a gas grill or electric grill, then it is pretty easier for you to turn on and off. But your charcoal grill needs more attention when it comes to light the coals. Not only that, it takes your effort and time to light the coals in the grilling machine. How to use a charcoal grill tips should now be easier for you to understand and apply.

Sometimes, you may need several minutes, maybe 20 minutes, to get the glow of the fire to start cooking your grilling foods on it. Your charcoal griller will not go without a chimney starter to start burning the charcoals in it. After loading the chimney with your needed amount of charcoal, you can put a newspaper sheet beneath and start firing.

3. Get ready of your cooking grate

As your coals are starting to light, it is time to place the cooking grate on the griller. Before you go to put it on, you have to clean and add some essential oil on it so that the cooking process on the grill becomes easier and convenient. Also, the oil you have added will help you eliminating sticking foods on it. All you need to do is just brush the cooking grate and all oil on it.

Now your cooking grate needs to be preheated. It does not take a lot of time to preheat the cooking grate. After lighting the coals under the cooking grate, it may require only three to five minutes maximum to get it preheated.

4. Distribute fire evenly

You know that the more coals you add to the grill, the more lighting will be produced to make a grill. But you also have to make sure that the fire that is producing heat for cooking grilling foods on it distributes the heat properly and evenly. By building two-zone lighting, you can control the temperature evenly to the cooking grate so that the grilling foods you are going to cook get even heat everywhere.

You have also understood that excessive heat to the cooking grate will ruin your cooking grills. Therefore, you should keep an eye so that it is not too much or not too low. That’s why you have to build a two-zone fire, which should be your best way to make grills on the grilling machine.

Final Verdict

Cooking grills on a charcoal griller is somewhat difficult, especially if you don’t have cooked before. Learning everything about how to use a charcoal grill tips will help you cook grilling foods. Because after starting the grilling, you might need to control the temperature as well so that the cooking grate can receive heat evenly. Also, building a two-zone fire for the cooking grate will help you to cook the grills perfectly and evenly leaving a natural grilling mark on the foods you have grilled on it.

Grilling is a favorite for many people during not only the summer months but almost all year long if the weather permits. There’s something about firing up the grill and spending time outdoors cooking the entire family a delicious meal. When food is cooked on the grill, it’s filled with that amazing flavor we all know and love.

Grilling, though, is a skill. Not everyone knows how to grill, and not everyone can grill. It’s also important to take note that there are several different types of grills, and each has its own way of grilling.

Knowing how to use a charcoal grill is its own craft. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll be cooking up some pretty amazing meals! To become the next charcoal grill master, continue reading below.

Here are all the charcoal grilling tips and tricks you need to know to do just that!

Making Preparations

Before you start grilling, there are several things you need to do to prepare it. You should never begin grilling without preparing the grill first because the preparation process is what’ll ensure your food comes out great!

You should start by removing any ash that’s left in the grill from the last grilling session. Leaving ash in the grill can cause the food to taste different and cook differently because it’ll prevent the grill temperature from remaining consistent.

You’ll then need to clean the grates on the grill. Use a wire bristled grill brush to clean them. This will create the perfect grilling environment.

Starting the Grill

You can now begin to start up the grill. You’ll need to decide between briquettes and lump charcoal. Once you have your charcoal ready, open the vents on the grill. In order for the fire to burn well, it’ll need oxygen.

Light the charcoal and adjust the temperatures using the vents. The more you open the vents, the hotter the grill will get. To light the charcoal, you can try a few different methods.

Place charcoal in a pyramid shape and use lighter fluid to light the coals. You can also use an electric starter and place it in the middle of the pyramid. You’ll need to plug the electric starter into an outlet, which may require an extension cord.

Allow it to heat the coals until ash begins to form on them. You can then remove the starter.

A chimney starter is another method. Place crumbled newspapers into the bottom of it under the wire rack. You’ll then fill the chimney with the charcoal of your choice and light the newspapers.

Let the newspapers burn until the coals are covered in ash. While wearing your gloves, remove the top grate of the grill and pour the coals into it. You’ll then want to replace the grates and cover them with oil.

No matter which method you choose, allow your oil-covered grates to become hot before placing food on them. This will prevent the food from sticking.

Cooking on High Heat

When cooking on high heat, you allow steaks and vegetables like corn or onions to cook on the outside while remaining juicy on the inside. When using high heat, you can create an area of direct heat and an area of indirect heat on the grill.

Direct heat is when you cook directly over the flames, while indirect heat is when you cook the food off to the side of the flames. Direct heat is best when cooking smaller pieces of meat that you want to cook quickly. Indirect heat works best for cooking large pieces of meat that you want to cook for several hours, like ribs or brisket.

Cooking on Medium Heat

The best foods to cook on medium heat are food that you’ll need to cook all the way through. One example is chicken. Meats that need to be cooked on medium heat can also be marinated overnight for extra flavor.

Trying to cook marinated food on high heat will only lead to the flavoring being cooked off. It’ll take longer to cook this way, but medium heat will ensure that food is cooked thoroughly without burning the outside.

When your food is done cooking, no matter what heat you use, be sure to allow it to cool off the grill and soak up all the flavor for a few moments before serving. Be sure to have a smoker thermometer nearby as well to help you determine when the grill and when the meat is at the right temperature.

Beginning the Cleaning Process

When you’re done using your charcoal grill, you need to clean it. Cleaning the grill after each use makes it easier for yourself when you’re ready to use the grill again. You’ll need to clean the grill immediately after you’re done cooking.

Use a wire grill brush to clean the grates while it’s still hot. This will make it easier for you to clean, because the heat will help remove the leftover food pieces.

You should also give your grill a good deep cleaning once every grilling season or twice every grilling season if you use your grill often.

Now You Know How to Use a Charcoal Grill!

If you love grilling or love eating food off the grill, then you need to know how to use a charcoal grill. Charcoal grills are the best way to get that scrumptious smokey flavor. Once you master the charcoal grill, you’ll find yourself outdoors using the grill more often than you use your oven or stove!

To discover some of the best charcoal grill options for your needs, be sure to browse these options today.

Chef Sam Lawrence, chef de cuisine of Estela, demonstrates the uses and benefits of cooking with binchotan charcoal. “The reason why I started using binchotan is because it’s a small kitchen, a tiny space, we wanted to try to develop the flavor you’d get if you’re cooking outside and grilling and grilling on a larger scale, which is not possible in New York City.”

What is White Charcoal? What makes this charcoal so sought after?

‘Binchotan’ means charcoal in Japanese. There is a wide variety of binchotan that is used in various settings. White binchotan specifically refers to an artisanal type of Japanese charcoal popularly used for high end grilling and culinary uses. It is frequently advertised by Japanese restaurants that they use white binchotan, because of the level of quality associated with this grilling material. “It’s able to conduct such a heat and be consistent in a really small space, particularly with the ceramic grill, it holds heat so well that for us, cooking for long services and being able to conduct heat quickly this is a really worthwhile and consistent process for us,” shares Chef Lawrence.

Characteristics of White Charcoal

  • Smokeless and scentless
  • 100% natural hardwood – No chemical additives like lighter fluid
  • Expertly and patiently crafted over ten days of tending to the charcoal by constantly cooling, heating, and refining. This long process carbonizes the structure of the wood, and leaves countless microscopic cavities that contribute to the many uses of this special charcoal.
  • Multiple usages – grilling, filtering water, increase quality of rice, fertilizer

Preparing White Charcoal

As tested by the Charcoal Standard Specification Test by the Agricultural Ministry of Japan, although white charcoal takes more time to ignite, its thermal conductivity is far superior to ordinary black charcoal. Chef Lawrence explains, “for example we cook turbot on the grill, we want to crisp that skin in a quick and efficient way and to be smokey but still have the fish be just, just cooked — this kind of precise cooking you’re not able to do if the charcoal isn’t as hot.”

  1. Place charcoal over direct flame using a charcoal starter pan or charcoal chimney.
  2. Periodically fan to feed oxygen to the charcoal and heat hotter.
  3. Keep over direct flame until the charcoal glows bright red.
  4. Use metal tongs to place charcoal into the konro grill.

How to Grill Maitake Mushrooms

How to Use a Charcoal Grill How to Use a Charcoal Grill

“It’s such a meaty product, when you grill it it honestly feels like a piece of meat. You can get a smokey intense flavor grilling on this [konro and charcoal]… The great thing about this grill is that you can keep one side cooler and the other quite hot. We can rotate cooking the meat and vegetables. It ends up being a delicate way of cooking, while still getting some crisp and charred bits on the outside”

  1. Season the mushrooms.
  2. Place on the konro grill.
  3. Use a pastry brush to lightly oil the mushroom.
  4. Use a spray bottle to steam the mushroom with salted water while on the grill to keep it moist.
  5. Fan the grill to feed oxygen to the charcoal. This will make the charcoal glow red and raise the heat.

Grilling Iberico Pork

Chef Lawrence utilizes the benefits of cooking with the white charcoal and lacquers layers of ingredients to create complex flavor profiles.

“We get some char on the outside of the meat first, then move it to the cooler side of the grill. We actually lacquer it using a different mixture of soy sauce, pork fat, fish sauce, garlic oil, and different kinds of technique to try to build a layer of flavor on the outside of the meat. It also helps from keeping the meat from getting dry. It makes it quite rich on the outside layer as well as inside the meat.”

  1. Place the pork on the hottest area of the konro grill. (Area where the charcoal is glowing red).
  2. Char the outside of the meat then move the pork to a cooler part of the konro.
  3. Use a pastry brush to layer on different sauces and ingredients while cooking on the grill to create a lot of crust.

Temperature Control and Smoking Ingredients

How do you utilize this small grill to the fullest extent?

“There’s not a lot of options to get smoke on things in [small] kitchens like this. You can get a consistent smokey profile. You can control the heat for long periods of time. If I were to let the charcoal burn a bit further then break the coals down, I would get a more consistent but warm heat. We would cook things differently on that. As we go through service, we generally have one side that is much more intense. Then the middle part of the grill that is burned down so it is warm, and we could cook middle heat kind of things like vegetables. Then the inner part of konro where there isn’t any charcoal. It would be the resting area or just to warm things through. It’s quite vertisitle to have different kinds of heat over a longer period of time to use and cook differently. It just takes some more thought to do it that way.”

How does white charcoal compare to normal charcoal?

Chef Lawrence demonstrated for us the various ways he is able to utilize the many characteristics of cooking with binchotan. He explains, “If you want to keep an ingredient almost raw but also want to add a smoky profile and just warm it we press the binchotan directly to the ingredient, in this case it’s a raw shrimp. We press a raw shrimp, in this case a red shrimp from Spain that we press the binchotan to and won’t cook at all so the inside has a decadent, creamy texture, but the outside of it is warm and smokey.

So we get the flavor of grilled shrimp with the texture of raw shrimp.” This is due to the Far Infrared Ray (FIR) waves and dry consistent heat emitted from the white binchotan. This wave of energy is absorbed by the surface of the food and prevents the core from heating too abruptly. The only moisture produced while cooking with white binchotan is created when the fat of ingredients fall on the charcoal. The smoke permeates around the ingredients and can create a beautiful smoky flavor.

Thank you chef Sam Lawrence on showing us the various ways you use binchotan.

Charcoal grills are the most versatile types of grills because unlike their gas-fuelled counterparts, you can use alternative types of fuel to heat them up. In addition to charcoal, one of the things you can use is wood pellets. With wood pellets, there’s more to the efficient and eco-friendly fuelling, and the best thing I love about them is the different flavours they add to food.

So if you’re looking forward to doing something different with flavours, you can choose from the cherry, alder, maple, apple, hickory, oak and mesquite pellets depending on what excites your taste buds. One thing that you should know before heading to the store to grab a few pieces is that not all the wood pellets are suitable for charcoal grills.

Therefore, insist only on grilling wood pellets because other types like heating pellets are infused with chemicals that can easily contaminate your food. Many still don’t know how to use wood pellets in a charcoal grill, and if you’re one of them, we’ve got you covered. We will walk you through the basics that you have to observe once you have decided to use wood pellets for your next grill.

Step-step guide on how to use wood pellets in charcoal grill

  • Fire up the grill

It’s always recommended to mix wood pellets with charcoal when grilling. This is to let the charcoal do the heating as the latter brings flavour as you desire. A combination of the two will have your food ready in relatively shorter duration unlike when you heat up the grill with pellets only, helping you conserve energy.

There’re many ways to start-up fire in a charcoal grill,but I prefer to use a chimney starter. It will have you incurring extra expenditures, but it’s relatively faster and effective. They’re also durable, so you won’t need to make any replacements any sooner.

  • Transfer the coals to the grill

With lit coals at hand, your grill will heat up in no minute after you’ve transferred them from the chimney starter. After this, remember to put the grill lid on to retain the heat. To speed up the process further, leave the vents fully open. Leaving them closed will have your already lit charcoal dying-out and you may end repeating the first process, which is already time-consuming.

  • Add the wood pallets

Before adding wood pellets, you have to see-to-it that the grill is heated to the desired temperatures, depending on what you’re planning to grill. There’s absolutely no limit to the amount of pellets that you should add. You should be guided by how much smoke and flavour you want in your food and for how long you’ll be cooking.

On average, half a cup of wood pellets will keep the flavour flowing for close to 30 minutes. Today we have different flavours of wood pellets as we have seen. This makes it easy to match the flavour with whatever you’re preparing for a tastier outcome.

  • It’s time to cook

After adding wood pellets over the charcoal, you’re required to give them time to ignite before placing your food on the cooking grate or grilling mat. This takes time depending on the quantity that you used. This helps in actualizing the needed amount of smoke and also allows heat from the coal to fully reach the food.

  • Close the grill lid

The final step is to close the lid and let your grill handle the rest. Having opened the grill vents the entire time, you should ensure that they are only half-open at this point. This is key, especially for foods that need slow cooking. Leaving the vents fully open will run out your fire, prompting for addition of fuel.

However, you may also require to have them closed, and the best way to know this is by using a grill thermometer that helps figure out if the cooking temperatures are running high or low. For foods that require cooking times that go up to an hour or more, always check on your grill to know if you need to add extra wood pellets or charcoal to keep the process going.


There you have it; all made simpler. Learning how to use wood pellets in a charcoal grill makes it easier to embrace this modern aspect of grilling that will leave your guest amazed at how flavourful the food is. You don’t even have to worry about the pellets getting the grill all messed up.

Unlike charcoal or regular wood, they leave minimal traces of ash after burning out, giving you easy times when cleaning afterwards. However, it’s important to note that they burn out way faster than charcoal. Therefore, if you choose to use them without adding charcoal, you might need to keep adding them to the fire in order to bring your grill to the desired heat levels.

Another thing that you should note is that for genuine flavour, always buy from trusted brands. This applies to all stores, whether you’re buying them online or at the local store. With them you’ll only need a few pieces of pellets to actualize the true flavour, saving you money. It also guarantees you safety, with no fear of any added harmful substances during preparation.

Safe Ways to Get the Charcoal Burning With or Without Lighter Fluid

How to Use a Charcoal Grill

Jay B Sauceda / Getty Images

When using a charcoal grill, getting the fire going isn’t the hard part. You need to pay attention to safety since lighter fluid is one of the top causes of grilling-related injuries. Learn about alternatives and how to light your charcoal grill safely with or without lighter fluid.

How to Use a Charcoal Grill

Charcoal Starters

The best way to start your charcoal is with a charcoal chimney or similar device. A charcoal chimney uses newspaper instead of lighter fluid, eliminating the use of a petroleum product that can add unwanted flavor and residue to your food. You place a couple of sheets of crumpled newspaper in the bottom of the chimney and charcoal on top of it. Light it and the charcoal will be ready to add to your grill in about 10 minutes.

Another option is an electric charcoal fire starter. You place it on your grill with the charcoal and it provides enough heat to get the charcoal going. Now you can remove the electric loop and let the coals come up to temperature. Either of these options allows your coals to burn to a complete ashy surface before you start cooking, ensuring that any glues or additives have been burned off.

It’s best not to buy self-lighting charcoal as it has additives that act as a lighter fluid. These can add off-tastes and chemicals to your food if they aren’t burnt off completely.

Preparing Your Grill

Make sure you have read your charcoal grill’s instructions and that you understand them. Cleaning the grill before each use reduces the kind of smoke that can leave a bad taste on foods. Always thoroughly clean out the grill, removing ash and grease.

Determine how much charcoal you are going to need. You will need one layer of burgers and steaks or two layers for roasts and whole chickens.

You need to allow time for charcoal to light and build up the heat. You will need to allow about 20 minutes before you can begin to cook your food.

Using Lighter Fluid

If you don’t have a charcoal chimney or electric charcoal fire starter available, learn how to use lighter fluid correctly and safely. Petroleum-based lighter fluid isn’t your only option. Look for bio-fuel lighter fluid made from plant-based oils and alcohols instead. This is the basic method for lighting charcoal with lighter fluid:

  1. Pour enough charcoal into the grill to make the layers needed.
  2. Stack the charcoal into a cone or pyramid shape.
  3. Pour lighter fluid over the charcoal cone, using more in the center than around the edges. Use about 1/4 cup of fluid for each pound of charcoal.
  4. Let the fluid sit on the coals for about 30 seconds.
  5. With a long match, light the charcoal from the bottom on at least two sides.
  6. Let coals burn until all coals are white on the surface.
  7. With a long-handled instrument, spread the coals evenly across the coal grate.
  8. Close the lid and wait five minutes.
  9. Open the lid, replace the cooking grate, add the food and start cooking.

Safety Precautions

Never add lighter fluid to burning coals. Even if there is no flame, the heat will vaporize the lighter fluid and can cause a serious flare-up the second the vapor encounters a flame. You can singe your eyebrows and sustain burns.

Charcoal should never be added to a gas grill. If you’ve run out of gas, this isn’t an option. You’ll need to locate a charcoal grill or restock gas.

How to Use a Charcoal Grill

It’s no secret that both charcoal and wood pellets are extremely popular and affordable fuel sources for grilling. Pellet grills in particular have become more popular in recent years, and because of this there’s been an increase in quality and variety when it comes to wood pellets for smoking.

That combined with the fact that traditional wood logs and chips that you’d put in a traditional charcoal grill for flavor are relatively expensive, it’s easy to see why one would ask the question – can you use wood pellets in a charcoal grill?

The short answer is an emphatic, yes! You can most definitely use wood pellets in a charcoal grill. In the rest of this post, we’ve created a little guide for how to use wood pellets in a charcoal grill. We’ll go over everything you need to know, along with some tips and suggestions for creating the best possible flavor in your food. –>

It’s very important to note here that we are talking about food grade BBQ pellets designed for use in pellet grills, NOT heating pellets. Heating pellets often have insecticides or other chemicals in them and are for use only to heat a pellet stove. More details about pellets for smoking can be found in our list of the best pellets for smoking right here.

How to Use Wood Pellets In a Charcoal Grill

As we already mentioned, it’s perfectly fine to use wood pellets in a charcoal grill. Remember, in this case the pellets won’t be the primary source of fuel. We’re just using them to add some smoky flavor to your food.

The best way to utilize wood pellets with a charcoal grill is as follows:

  • –> Light up a charcoal fire in your grill just like you normally would. Personally, I think the easiest way to do this is with the help of a chimney starter, but you should feel free to use whichever method you find easiest.
  • Wait until the charcoal heats up and has the signature burning glow, indicating that your fire is hot and ready to cook.
  • Next, we’re going to cover the top of the burning coals with a blanket layer of your favorite BBQ wood pellets. We don’t want to dump a small mountain on there, but we also want to make sure that there’s enough pellets to emit a proper amount of smoke.
  • Wait for the pellets to ignite. As soon as they do, we’re ready to get to work on cooking our food. When the pellets ignite they’ll begin to emit that delicious, smoky flavor we’re after.
  • Close your grill’s lid and ventilate as necessary to keep the temperature ideal for whichever food you are cooking.
  • You may need to add more pellets depending on how long you’re cooking. The rule of thumb is that half a cup of pellets should give you about 40-45 minutes of smoke. If you’re cooking a steak or burgers you might not need to add more. If you’re smoking a brisket all day, you might need to reapply pellets every so often.

That’s it! There’s the simplest and most efficient way to use wood pellets for flavoring on a charcoal grill.

Alternative – Use a Pellet Smoker Tube

Depending on the engineering and design of your grill, it might actually be easier to use a pellet smoker tube. These contraptions essentially fill up with BBQ wood pellets, you light them, and then smoke will produce for up to 5 hours.

Honestly, a pellet smoker tube might be the best call if you’re smoking a brisket, jerky, or anything else that could last for more than a couple of hours.

Note, the smoke produced by a smoker tube will be stronger and more robust, so make sure you have your ventilation systems set up properly to handle this. If you aren’t careful you could end up with over-smoked, bitter food.

Benefits of Using Wood Pellets With Charcoal

You might be asking yourself why one would use wood pellets with a charcoal grill. After all, it’s probably more traditional to use wood chips or logs as a means to flavor your food with charcoal.

But, there are actually quite a few benefits to using wood pellets – here are a few of them:

  • BBQ wood pellets are actually repurposed sawdust that gets leftover from lumber yards and wood manufacturing plants. The scrap dust gets collected, then compressed into the little cylinders that you and I call pellets. So essentially, by using pellets you’re using repurposed scrap wood and supporting an eco-friendly operation.
  • You can achieve some delicious, wood fired flavors. Nothing beats properly wood smoked foods – the flavor is so incredibly robust and unique.
  • Wood pellets come in all sorts of flavors – basically any type of wood that you could normally smoke with you will find a pellet version of. Our favorites are Hickory, Mesquite, Maple, Apple, Cherry, Oak, Alder, and Pecan. You can experiment and mix and match flavors until you find your favorites.
  • Relative to other fuels, wood pellets are extremely efficient. They’re efficient in the sense that almost all of their contained energy can be turned into heat because the sawdust particles are packed so tightly. Pellets are also efficient in the sense that you get a lot more bang for your buck compared to wood chips or logs. You can burn more smoke with less dollars spent with pellets.
  • Wood pellets are clean and easy to work with, especially compared to charcoal. They leave minimal ash and residue so the cleanup process is pretty easy.
  • The smoky flavor they produce is just flat out delicious.

Articles in this section

  • How to Light a Performer Deluxe or Summit Charcoal BBQ
  • How to Light a Smokey Mountain Cooker
  • How to Light a Portable Charcoal Barbecue
  • How to Light a Charcoal Barbecue

Preparing the Grill for Lighting

  1. Remove the lid. Depending on your grill model, you may be able to position it on the side of your grill using the Tuck-N-Carry® lid lock which lowers to double as a lid holder.
  2. Remove the cooking (top) grate from your grill.
  3. Remove the charcoal (bottom) grate and clear ashes and any chunks of old charcoal from the bottom of the bowl and ash catcher if present on your model.
  4. Open bowl vent(s).
  5. Replace charcoal (bottom) grate.
    • NOTE: Instructions for using lighter fluid were purposely left out of your owner’s guide. Lighter fluid is messy and can transmit a chemical taste to your food, while lighter cubes (sold separately) do not. If you choose to use lighter fluid, follow the manufacturer’s instructions and NEVER add lighter fluid to a burning fire. Always wipe away any excess fluid before lighting your fuel.

Lighting the Charcoal Using a Chimney Starter

The simplest, most thorough way to light any kind of charcoal is to use a chimney starter; particularly, the RapidFire™ Chimney Starter (sold separately). Refer to the cautions and warnings included with the RapidFire™ Chimney Starter before lighting.

  1. Place a few sheets of wadded up newspaper in the bottom of the chimney starter and set the chimney starter on the charcoal grate, or place a few lighter cubes in the centre of the charcoal grate and place the chimney starter over them.
  2. Fill the chimney starter with charcoal.
  3. Light the lighter cubes or newspaper through the holes on the side of the chimney starter.
  4. Keep the chimney starter in place until the charcoal is fully lit. You can tell when the charcoal is fully lit when it is covered with a coating of white ash.
    • NOTE: The lighter cubes used must be completely consumed and the charcoal ashes over before placing food on the grate. Do not cook before the fuel has a coating of ash.
  5. Once the charcoal is fully lit, arrange your charcoal and begin cooking according to your desired cooking method (Direct or Indirect method).

Charcoal grills are versatile, and unlike gas-fuelled ones, they can be heated up using alternative types of fuel. Besides charcoal, you can use wood pellets. Using wood pellets in a charcoal grill is an efficient and eco-friendly way to add amazing flavors to your food.

There are several pellet options to choose from. Here are some of my favorite:

  • Maple
  • Hickory
  • Cherry
  • Mesquite
  • Alder
  • OakВ

Using Wood Pellets in a Charcoal Grill

Start by firing up the grill

There are several ways to start-up fire in a charcoal grill, but a chimney starter is relatively faster and effective. Also, mixing your wood pellets with charcoal when grilling is recommended. The charcoal helps with the heating, while the pellets bring in the flavors.

If you don’t have a chimney starter, you can always use any other charcoal grill firing methods at your disposal.

Transfer the lit coal to the grill

Transfer the coal from the chimney starter into your grill. To retain heat, make sure you put the grill lid on. But, leave the vents open to speed up the process and prevent the coal from dying out.

Add the wood pellets

Once the grill is heated to the desired temperature, you can then add a thin layer of wood pellets over the coals. The number of pellets to add will depend on the time you will take to cook, as well as the amount of smoke and flavor you want. Normally, half a cup of wood pellets should keep the flavor flowing for about 30-40 minutes.

Place your food on the cooking grate or grilling mat

Once the wood pellets you put over the charcoal has properly ignited, then it is time to start the cooking. The time it takes to properly ignite will depend on the amount you used.

Close the grill lid

After everything is set up, close the lid and let the grill be. Also, tweak the grill vents to be half-open. If you require more time, then after 30 minutes you’ll need to remove the grill’s lid and add more wood pellets.

I recommend you try using a pellet tube smoker to create a stronger smoke flume and add a stronger flavor to your food. The tubes are fairly inexpensive and are available on online stores like Amazon. To use them, you fill them with pellets before placing them on top of your lit coals.

Can I Use Wood Pellets in Smoker Box?

You can also use the wood pellets in a smoker box. A smoker box allows you to control the temperature of your wood to maintain low, stable heat that allows for maximum flavor-rich smoke. Don’t use just any wood, but instead get high-quality wood pellets we listed at the start for desirable results.

Here is how to use smoke pellets in your smoker box:

  • Fill your smoker box about 3/4 full
  • Close the lid
  • Then, add your smoker box to the grill

Wood pellets are an affordable fuel source for grilling and are available in a variety. With the above easy steps, you should be able to make nice-tasting food to enjoy with your family and friends.

We had a rusty charcoal grill in the corner of our backyard growing up, but it was usually covered in spider webs and we only pulled it out once, maybe twice, a year. But being in temperate California weather, we could grill out more often than that, and we did. Where did we go instead? We packed up our food, headed to the beautiful parks in our neighborhoods, and happily used the public grills there.

For those of you who are scared of these well-used grills, I’m healthy and here to assure you that yes, it’s fine and safe to use public grills. It just takes a little cleaning and know-how.

I get that it’s a bit scary to use a public grill, I really do. You don’t know who’s been there before you and the whole concept is a bit strange, but that shouldn’t stop you from enjoying some of the perks of parks and campsites. In fact, I’ve had great conversations with neighboring park-grillers and shared recipes and grilling ideas! And how awesome is it that you can grill even if you don’t actually own one?

Most anti-park grillers think it’s unsafe to grill on park grills, but let’s just get this straight. Grills use fire, lots of fire. Fire and heat do an amazing job of killing off any germs or bacteria that might be on the grill. So as long as you get that fire rip-roaring hot, you’ll be okay. My family and I fared just fine, and you will too!

5 Tips for Grilling on a Public Grill

If I’ve convinced to you take up the best summer “sport” — aka public grilling — here are some tips to help you out if you’re doing it for the first time.

1. Clean out the grates as best as you can.

Cleaning out a public grill before you use it is fairly similar to cleaning out a regular kettle charcoal grill, and the first step is cleaning out the grill grates. You’re not restoring them to a sparkling clean, just using a grill brush or a wadded-up piece of foil to scrape off any carbon or food stuck on there. Do your best but know you’ll be covering the grates with foil or scrubbing the grates again once the grill is hot.

  • Learn how to clean the grill: How to Clean a Charcoal Grill

2. Remove any ashes or debris from the bottom.

If there are any ashes on the bottom of the grill, get rid of them. An easy way to do this is to place a hand in a plastic garbage or shopping bag and use that to “sweep” the ashes out of the grill and into a trash or paper bag.

3. Cover the grates with foil if you like.

If you’re feeling really squeamish about grilling directly on the grill grates, just cover the grates with foil and poke a few holes in it with foil before you light the grill. This is also worth doing if you’ll be grilling small things, like shrimp, that might easily fall through the grates.

4. Make sure you really preheat the grill if you’re not using foil.

If you choose not to do the foil thing, which I usually don’t, just preheat the grill for a while first. When you’re ready to grill, give the grill grates another quick brush to scrape off any remaining bits that are stick on there. Oil the grates if you can to create more of a nonstick surface.

5. Clean up.

When you’re done grilling, give the grates another brush or scrape to remove any residual food while the grill is still hot, or throw out the foil. You usually don’t have to wait for the grill to cool off and remove the ashes, but some parks or campsites might require that, so check before you arrive or when you get there. In general, though, you should be a good citizen and leave your grill site as clean and tidy as possible for the next person.

See, using a public grill isn’t so bad, right? Now you have no excuse not to head out to your local park with a few friends and enjoy a meal al fresco. Be brave — just do it!

How to Use a Charcoal Grill

Grilling of meat can be done using different methods such as the gas grill, charcoal grill and electric grill. Charcoal grill is mostly used by many because it is the most affordable method among the three. Charcoal grilling is actually a great fun and this type of grilling produces great tasting food. You can use traditional briquettes in lighting up this grill. Traditional briquettes do not cost a lot, they light easily burn for a long time with steadness. For those individuals who may wish to have a more intense and smoky flavor, they are advised to go for hardwood charcoal in lighting up their grill.These grills are normally hot and burn very fast. They are cost effective compared to gas or electric grill.

How To Use a Charcoal Grill

The easiest way to get the charcoal grill going is to start up the grill with the charcoal chimney. Then stuff the newspapers loosely inside the bottom of a chimney and then fill the chimney with charcoal. Ensure that you also remove top grate from the grill and place the chimney inside. You can then light up the newspapers and allow the charcoal to burn to the point of being covered with the white gray ash. Remove the top grate from the grill. Using the protective grill gloves hold the chimney and pour the charcoal into grill. To your food from sticking into the grill, take the paper towel that is soaked in the vegetable oil and spread over it on the grates using tongs.

It takes around five to ten minutes for coals get the perfect sear on the outer part but ensure the inside is kept juicy. If you grill using high heat, create two fire zone. Stack some coals on one part of thee grill using higher temperature cooking and less charcoal to give lower temperature cooking on the other side of the grill. As you continue with the grilling, sear the foods on the hot zone and then move over into cooler zone to prepare your food without burning. After you have finished grilling allow your meet to rest for five minutes on the cutting board. Grilling your meat using charcoal grill will be very easy if you properly follow the basics. This method is simple, convenient effective and efficient. The summary of the simple steps on how to use charcoal grill include the following:

  • Clean any dirt or ash on the grill before you use the grill
  • Remove grill grates from the charcoal grill
  • Open the vents that are on the bottom of the grill
  • Arrange charcoal briquettes in the pyramid
  • You can then add lighter fluid into the charcoal
  • Light the charcoal
  • Spread charcoal briquettes
  • Replace grilling grates
  • Cook the food


Charcoal grill is one of the methods of grilling meat for a delicious meal. This method is liked by many because it is cost effective and takes longer time or period to burn and give all the services you may want. Many charcoal grills available in the market have great design that ensures enough heat is supplied. They also have multiple vents that lets you control and experience a superior cooking abilities.

When you are researching for utilizing the charcoal grill, you should be familiar with grilling as well as could be conveying through from the gas grill. Besides, researching how to make the best use of the charcoal grill is similar to control the stick. Even if you understand how to use a charcoal grill, preparing for some food onto the gas grill could be a breeze. There is a tip for you to begin below.

Evaluating some coals

The initial phase to researching for using the charcoal grill is to pin down about the charcoal. In other words, the fuel may be the propane gas. Since it is for both off and on, and you do not need to take it as well. In reality, there is no difference between the typical kitchen range; you straightforwardly alter the dimension as well as the flame intensity for every burner via switching the knob.

With the assistance of charcoal, the fuel will be charcoal so that users could fill the grill along with the appropriate host of briquettes you begin making. The grill grates could represent the hinged sides which you could open throughout preparing for putting a lot of charcoal. Here is particularly practical when you are in such slower cooking and smoking the huge slice of meat.

Remember that some fuel creates a lot of heat, or various foods request the greater temperature, compared to different versions. The slimy cuts or steaks of meat will require the great grill from 450oF to 550 oF. Besides, the chicken veggies or fish request the middle temperature up to 450oF.

On top of it, the entire chicken, or huger roasts want the low heat from 250oF to 350oF. To transform some temperatures inside the charcoal, the perfect grill requires around 6 quarts of charcoal or the grill up to 4.5 quarts of charcoal and the low grill around 2 quarts.

Burning some coals

It occurs that there is an equipment which both measure the charcoal and assist you in lightening up and getting them glowing hot for 20 minutes.

Besides, the chimney starter or it’s a thing no charcoal griller could make. On the other hand, you straightforwardly stuff the paper inside the canister bottom and load the chimney along with the expected quantity of charcoal.

Besides, lighting the paper along with the match or put the chimney onto the rack into the grill. While some coals glow become hot, remember to pour them inside the bowl.

Next, the normal chimney starter owns the six-quart amount as well. Thus, to measure the charcoal, what you need to do is filling the entire quarter, partially full, and three quarters based on how hot you need to grill.

Making the cooking grate

When the coals are burning, you could clean or lubricate the cooking grate. Hygiene is particularly the issue of scraping or cleaning off some unpleasant debris. Besides, to lubricate the grate, wipe it along with the paper saturated along with cooking oil. It could assist in avoiding the food from sticking as well.

The following phase is to preheat the grate. When you put the charcoal or sort out it, set up the grate or cover along with the lid, finally, keep waiting for up to four minutes.

Setting a fire

When it’s perhaps realistic that a lot of charcoal can create a great deal of heat, here is another size for it. Some coals can create the huger pile which some coals could be nearer the food.

When you are preparing for all dishes, you should need to spread some coals entirely through the grill’s bowl. Besides, you could obtain the accurate temperature control through constructing a double-area fire – loading the charcoal on the single side of the bowl when leaving the rest.

On top of it, it could produce a hot area as well as the cool area that is beneficial for cooking various double kinds of food such as veggies and steaks.

It even makes you convey some stuff because they could do to protect from the overcooked. The cool area even assists in controlling the flare-ups that are particularly due to the fat dripping for the coals. Last but not least, you could convey the dripping stuff towards the cool area since the flare-up subsides. Constructing the double-area fire is a good path to move.

Keeping track of the temperature

A great deal of fuel or how greater you pile it is not the fabulous ways of collecting the suitable control of temperature for the charcoal grill. Moreover, the fire even requires oxygen. Therefore, the next solution of alternating temperature is taking more control of the oxygen’s flow through turning on or off vents.

With regarding of grill’s kind, some charcoal grills could represent around single vent beneath the bowl with a single on the lid. On the other hand, you could grill along with the lid on.

Apart from it, grills are built for discharging the cool air via the air vents in the bottom, distribute it nearby the cooking surface. Lastly, expelling the hot air via the vents.

When it comes to the hottest fire, please use them as well. Closing the top vent can create a middle grill up to 450oF. As usual, the top vent could be opened with the quarter of path. In some situations, the bottom vent could keep until the path open. Thus, do not close the vents entirely and guarantee that the bottom vent is not stuck from the ash as well.

The path air could spread can create an adverse impact that strengthens quickly as well as the shape of the lid is built for distributing the airflow. Finally, taking it off to avoid the flow move together so far.

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Heston Baker

My name is Heston. I am spending most of my time cooking and using cookware. I hope the knowledge I share in this blog can help you, in many ways! Thanks for visiting!