Grilling food is one of the fastest ways to barbecue and by using a charcoal grill, you will be in for flavors that cannot be traded with anything else.
Grilling with charcoal is the best traditional form of cooking meats, hamburgers, pork ribs etc as it takes you to deep smoky roots.
Hence, in this article we share easy steps with pictures to teach you how to use a charcoal grill to achieve great flavored food that is scrumptious on all sides.
Come along as we explore them!
1. First, you need a charcoal grill and some charcoal
Charcoal grills are very different from charcoal smokers with most of them coming in smaller sizes and designed for a quick cook.
Do a good scan on the market if you do not have one to help you get the best that will fit your needs.
In our article on the best charcoal grills, we share 10 different kinds that will serve as a good guide for you for making a good choice.
You will also need a bag of charcoal which will be the sole source of fueling.
2. Next, clean the grates thoroughly
This is a critical part of the grilling process whether you are using a brand new smoker or an existing one.
With the help of a grill brush, brush the grates thoroughly to remove any hardened grease, dust or ashes sitted on the grates.
These components if not removed could find their way into the food while you cook in the form of germs and can be harmful to the health.
Insist on not missing this step.
3. Fill the fire box with charcoal
Once the grill grates are well cleaned, remove them and fill the fire box with as much charcoal as you will need.
Do ensure to use a decent amount of charcoal when you start cooking as you will not want to heat up your grill too much.
It is often better to start with an average amount of charcoal for good heat, and in the middle of grilling your food, you may add up some more charcoal.
4. Light up the charcoal with a chimney
In this step, we teach you how to light your coals with a chimney.
A chimney as seen below is widely sold and affordable aimed at helping you light your charcoal with ease.
Pour some amount of charcoal, two thirds way up the chimney. With the help of lighter, light the coals through the holes situated at the bottom of the chimney.
Once a few coals have lighted, leave the chimney in open air to allow all or most of the coals to light.
Once lighted, pour the coals in the unlighted charcoal in the grill with the lid open for the charcoal to light up.
5. You can also use organic fire starter for lighting
This may be an easier option for lighting up your coals as they light up pretty fast.
Purchase some organic fire starters as seen in the picture below and arrange 4 to 5 of them in the charcoal already poured in the grill. Ensure to spread them out.
With the help of a lighter, light the fire starters and leave them in the open air to light the charcoal to the level of fire that you desire.
6. Or you can use an electric starter to light your coals
This is the most easiest form of lighting your coals. All you need is an electric starter and an electricity source.
Place the device in the charcoal in the fire box, light it up and leave it to light the coals.
Once you have a good number of coals lighted, turn of the starter and remove it. Leave the coals in the open air to have some more coals lighted.
7. Close the lid
Once the coals are lighting up fast, close the lid of the grill with the vents and dampers opened.
This will preheat the grill, killing any existing germs in the grill and preparing it for the food to come in.
Aim at heating the grill up to a range of 350 oF to 400 oF. You can determine the temperature level using the thermometer attached to the grill.
8. Open the lid to prepare for the food
Once the grill is well heated, carefully open the lid and take off the grill grates.
You will ought to be extra careful in this process as the grill and grates will be very hot.
Using a heat proof fire ladle, spread out the coal to have an even concentration of heat across the firebox.
Afterwards, place the grates back.
9. Prepare the grates
Before the food is placed on the grates, they will need to be oiled to ensure that the food doesn’t stick to the grates.
Using a grill application brush coated with oil, evenly spread oil on all sides of the grates.
Ensure to not use too much oil to avoid dripping into the fire as this will create a lot of unwanted smoke for the food.
10. Start cooking.
Next, place your food on the grill grates in a well arranged manner with enough space between the foods.
Ensure that you food has been well marinated with the right spices as you prefer.
Also, make sure to place a necessary amount of food on the grates without overcrowding. This may affect the doneness of the food if ignored.
11. Close the lid again
It is a must do practice to always close the lid of your grill for at least one and a half hours once the food has been introduced.
This is to ensure the food is cooked in a stable temperature without heat interruptions that may affect the doneness of the foods.
Also, keep the food in the desired temperature hot enough to cook the food fast but without burning.
12. Regulate temperatures using the dampers and vents
Every charcoal grill comes with dampers and vents to aid you in controlling heat or temperatures.
As grilling aims at cooking food faster, you want to ensure that the level of heat in the grill is not too low which will cause it to cook for a longer period of time causing it to smoke.
Opening the dampers or vents at different levels determine the amount of airflow that will go in and out of the grill.
Determine the amount of heat against the amount of air that you want have, and control the these using the dampers and/ or vents.
Use the thermometer attached to the grill to help you in determining the best temperatures for your food.
13. Remove the food
After the desired time of cook under the right temperatures, your food should be well done and ready to be served.
Carefully open the lid and remove the food onto a platter.
You can also use a food thermometer to check the inner doneness of the food to be sure that it is well cooked before it is served.
If not, keep the food cooking over the fire, close the lid and keep cooking for a few more minutes. After, open it and get ready to serve.
14. Clean the grates immediately
The practice of cleaning your grates after eating is a very wrong thing to do.
The best time to clean the grates is while it is still warm, hence, ensure to brush every stuck food on the grates away while it is still hot.
You can do this even while the grill still has some fire in it. This is to ensure that a proper clean is done while the food residue is still soft.
Once the coals are quenched and the grill has totally cooled, you can then wash the grill with some soapy water and metal sponge.
Tips and Tricks
1. Be adventurous with your charcoal kind
There are two main kinds of charcoal pieces to use for grilling with different ways of operation. These are lump charcoals and charcoal briquettes. Their essence are driven by their lighting style.
Charcoal lumps are often bigger in size and quicker to light, but are the fastest to burn out.
On the opposite, briquettes are harder in nature, slower to light and long lasting.
Based on the your time essence and the level of heat that you are hoping to achieve per time, either of these types will serve your needs well based on their nature.
2. Marinate your food for an hour.
Due to the fact that grilling is a fast cooking way of barbecuing, an appropriate way of locking in as much flavor in your food is to marinate it for a long time, at least for an hour.
Use fresh spices, veggies and some oil to marinate your foods and you will be blown away by the great taste and aromas that will be derived from your cook.
The oil component in the marinade will aid in creating some crunchiness to the food. Try not to miss it.
3. Keep charcoal on standby
This is necessary especially if you are using lump charcoal.
It is a practice of emergency to get your food in good heat even if your fire runs out unawares.
You can quickly open the fire box and add some more coals and continue cooking without much damages.
4. Pre- remove the food before full doneness.
At least 5 minutes before the food is fully done.
It is scientifically proven that foods still cook for at least 5 minutes after it has being removed from the fire.
Hence, this is an important practice to have the food not to over cook and also allows the sizzling spices in the food to settle well before the food is enjoyed.
Finally, this allows the food to cool to avoid burns in the excitement of eating a good food.
5. Always be safe when grilling
This is a super important tip as you will be dealing with a lot of heat.
You want to ensure that you are using heat proof gloves and utensils when grilling so as to not create burns on your body while you cook.
Even on grills, some makes come with cool to touch features on the outside to allow the user handle the grill at ease while cooking.