How To Grill With Charcoal In 5 Steps By Steps

If you’ve never grilled with charcoal before, we can recommend it for a few reasons. For starters, it produces good flavor, a wonderful aroma, and that all-important smokey taste. It also ensures your food is evenly cooked from the inside and out. You don’t have to bother with gas or propane tanks (although you will need to buy some charcoal). And best of all, it makes for a great evening outside with family and friends.

In this article, we will be talking about how to grill with charcoal. Aside from the obvious, there are lots of benefits to using charcoal as your main source of grilling heat. Charcoal is simple and easy to use, and it doesn't require any complicated ingredients or have any particular cooking limitations like some other types of fuel. Though there are many different ways you can grill with charcoal, for most purposes an electric starter will work just fine. Keep reading for info on how to go about this process!

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How to light and use charcoal

You’ve made it through the first two steps of this process, and your food is ready for grilling. To start the cooking, here is a quick overview of how to light and use charcoal.

1) Find a really hot fire pit or fireplace grate. It will be hot enough to cook with only one match, but be sure it's not too hot that you can't get the fire started without getting burned!

2) Next, light the charcoal on fire using a carefully placed match or lighter (or by putting some lighter fluid on your briquettes). A small pile of briquettes should catch fire quickly and burn slowly until they change color, then slowly develop an even heat all around the perimeter.

3) Once your coals are going, it is time to put the food on! Use an oven mitt or your tongs (put them in first!) to remove the grate and get your briquettes ready. Place them around the food on the grate.

4) Now you can put the grate back in place and check on your food from time to time. When it is ready, use a spatula and/or tongs to take it off of the grill and enjoy!

How to grill with charcoal

There are many ways to do this. We found that a basic setup works well. Wood chip grills and coal grills are great for most types of meat, but charcoal requires more of a methodical approach. We advise you to try a few different ways and see which one you like best, but the steps below will get you started:

1) Prepare your grill for cooking by turning off all burners. Next, make sure it is nice and hot. Fill the charcoal chamber with charcoal briquettes, place the grill over your hot fire, place the foil tea bag on top of them, and cover with heavy-duty foil to keep in the heat while the grill heats up (otherwise the coals might cool down too much).

2) Once your grill is at decent heat, use the tongs to remove the foil and tea bag. It's okay to leave them there as long as they are over the hot coals but you don't want to cook with them in place or they will make your food taste like tannin.

3) Once you can lift the tea bag and foil with ease, shake out all of the loose tea leaves into the fire below. Lightly spray or spread butter over both sides of your food items, then sprinkle on any desired spices and seasonings. Be careful what type of spices you choose for grilling; some foods go better with certain spices than others.

4) Once the coals below are hot and glowing, it is time to find the right distance between the food and the coals (watch out for flare-ups!) Place your food on top of the grill grates, away from any direct flames, and close the hood.

5) Check your food a few times while it is cooking. When you think it is ready, use the tongs to reach over and lift up one corner of a piece to check how well done it is. Poke at a steak with a sharp knife; if you see clear juices coming out around the meat, it is done. Let the meat rest for a few minutes, then cut into it and enjoy!

The three types of charcoal

Charcoal is made by heating wood to the point of burning off everything but carbon. This process results in a completely pure form of carbon that ignites easily with a match and burns very hot. It is commonly used for grilling because it burns hotter than wood, which means it cooks faster and more thoroughly. There are three types of charcoal: lump charcoal, briquettes, and pellets.

Lump charcoal

Lump charcoal consists of small pieces of wood that have not been processed at all. They burn quickly and hotter than briquettes, so they need to be constantly added to the fire during cooking to maintain a constant temperature level. The upside to this type of charcoal is that it burns much more evenly than briquettes and gives food a great smoky flavor.


Briquettes are small cubes made from a blend of charcoal and lighter fluid. This blend is refined during a process called “cooking”, which stabilizes the briquettes and makes them burn more evenly than lump charcoal. A big downside to this type of charcoal is that it produces less smoke, so if you want that great smoky flavor you are going to have to do some extra work.


Pellets are made from compressed sawdust, which makes them burn very efficiently. They provide a consistent temperature throughout the cooking process and are great for cooking meats at high temperatures. The main downside is that they do not produce as much smoke as briquettes and require a little extra effort to get the smoky flavor you will want in most grilling scenarios.

Tips for Grill Success

1) Make sure you have everything ready before you light the charcoal. You don't want to be distracted trying to retrieve something from the house when you could be getting your fire going!

2) Try not to open the grill more than three times during cooking. Opening the lid makes it hard to keep the fire hot, and each time you check on your food it will lose heat, too. It may take a little longer this way, but your food will not dry out as much and you will have a better-finished product.

3) Check and adjust your temperature often. A lot of people leave their grill and forget about it. If you are constantly being distracted by things going on in the house or wondering what's taking so long, you will have a hard time keeping track of what temperature is needed to cook the food you are putting on the grill. Keep a spare set of tongs handy so that you can still put more charcoal into the fire when needed (especially if your first batch wasn't hot enough).

4) Baste your meat often! It sounds obvious, but meats like burgers and hot dogs tend to dry out quickly if they don't get basted with some sort of barbecue sauce when they are cooking. Grilling is the easiest and most effective way to get that delicious aromatic flavor you love in your food, so don't skip this step! There are lots of different recipes out there for sauces, rubs, and marinades that can be used to baste your meat as it cooks.

5) Keep an eye on the temperature. Meat heats up a lot faster than other foods. Keep an eye on the temperature in order to not overcook it. Be sure to know how long you have cooked your food at a given point before serving it so that you can be sure that everything will be done well.

6) Use a thermometer! It will help you know when your food is done, and it will also make sure that it is done properly. Using a thermometer is helpful for two reasons: first of all, it will help you know exactly how hot the fire needs to be. Secondly, if you know that your temperature is too high, you can use an aluminum foil shield over the grill to avoid charring or burning the food before it is ready.

7) When you are done cooking, clean up as soon as possible. It is not hard to clean up charcoal. Make sure to have some water on hand that you can use to put out the fire before you start cleaning up.

Charcoal Accessories

There are a number of charcoal accessories to make your grilling experience even more enjoyable.

1) Charcoal Starter Logs – These can be bought in bulk at most home improvement stores and are essentially just lumps of charcoal that you light to get your fire going. They work great if the fire you are starting is burning at a steady pace and there is no need to constantly add more fuel throughout the cooking process.

2) Hot Coals – These can be used after cooking so that your food will stay warm while you finish preparing it. Hot coals can also be used to make drinks like S'mores, which is a fun way to end a good barbeque.

3) Smokers – If you want to take your grilling to the next level, a smoker is a great investment. It is essentially a grill on top of an oven, which makes it easy to cook at very low temperatures. Smoking times can be adjusted depending on the type of meat being used, and the smoke produced can be adjusted by adding wood chips throughout cooking.

4) Stainless Steel Grills – These are more expensive than traditional grills but last much longer. They can also cook food more quickly than charcoal because they don't get as hot and will not overheat as quickly as you might think and leave your food's flavor slightly charred or burnt.

5) Barbecue Tools – Ultimately, a good grilling experience is about the tools you use to get the job done. This includes tongs, forks, spatulas, and paper towels. With these tools, you can make sure that your food is ready to eat as soon as possible without having to wait for your fire to cool down or your meat to finish cooking.

6) Pans – When you are grilling, it's a good idea not to cook everything at once on one grill unless you want your grill to smell like smokey goodness for hours afterward. It's important to cook stuff in batches so that each piece of food doesn't blacken or char before the next piece is ready. To do this, you need a good grill pan to hold the food you aren't cooking right away.

7) Grilling Gloves – These are helpful if you want to turn your meat over without fear of getting burned or if you want to pick it up without getting your hands dirty.

8) Thawing Bags – If you forgot to thaw out the meat before dinner time, make sure that you get a quicker alternative than running warm water over it. Allowing the meat to sit in warm water just weakens its structure and allows for bacteria growth. Instead, use an airtight bag with some ice cubes in it.


How long should charcoal sit before grilling?

If you are using charcoal that has been sitting, make sure to get a fire going and let it burn for around five minutes before adding your food. This will help the ashes settle in and out of the coals and prevent your food from tasting burnt or charred.

How do you use a charcoal grill for the first time?

When you are first using a charcoal grill, you should make sure to get everything set up and ready before using it for the first time. You need to light your fire, add the necessary amount of charcoal, keep an eye on the temperature of your grill, and cook a little bit at a time so that you don't overheat your food or burn it before it is done cooking. You should also take note of how long different foods take to cook at different temperatures so that you know how long grilling will take before eating each piece.

How long should charcoal burn before cooking?

When cooking at low temperatures, charcoal takes a little longer to heat up than it does to start burning. If you are preparing food that needs to cook for more than an hour, then you need to make sure that you keep an eye on the temperature of your grill so that everything will be done right.

When starting a charcoal grill do you leave it open or closed?

When starting a charcoal grill, you should always leave it open to the cool air outside. This will help keep it lit and will help prevent the fire from burning out of control before cooking food.

Can I add charcoal while cooking?

You should never add any more charcoal to your fire while you are cooking with it. Adding charcoal to a fire that is already burning is risky and can introduce smoke or hot ashes into your food. It's better to clean up the fire on your grill and start over than to risk ruining all of your hard work by adding more fuel late in the game.


Charcoal is a great way to cook just about any type of food. Not only does it take off the risk of overcooking or burning your food, but you can also easily control the temperature and make sure that everything turns out exactly how you want it every time.

Not only that, but you can use charcoal as an alternative fuel source if traditional fuels like wood or charcoal are not available to you. In addition, many different types of cooking utensils are available for making grilling easier and more fun than ever before.

There is definitely a lot of information to remember about how to grill with charcoal. But don't worry – it only takes a couple of tries to master the art of charcoal grilling. Keep these tips in mind when you're getting ready for your next barbeque and you will be able to make a bunch of delicious meals in no time!

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