Hitting Desired Temperature And Keeping It There
Part of the beauty of grilling is that every grill has its own personality, and so my best advice is to experiment with these two vents, mainly the intake damper, and learn your own specific grill.
They are all slightly different, but the process is the same.
Using a thermometer, get to understand how your grill reacts to small adjustments to the vents, how this affects temperature and cooking conditions.
Managing vents is one of the key things to successful grilling.
How To Add More Charcoal To The Fire
If you’re still in a grilling frenzy but the briquettes are losing steam, don’t add unlit charcoal to the grill. This can produce a lot of acrid-tasting smoke and a quick rise in temperature, which may burn the food already on the grill. Instead, light a few more briquettes in your chimney and add them to the direct heat side of the grill to keep you going.
Save Basting For The End
Basting your chicken on the grill can create a delicious caramelized coating. But if you baste your chicken, make sure you time it right to avoid burning.If you baste the meat too early, its more likely to burn than carmelize. We recommend basting no sooner than 15 minutes before the chicken is done, maximizing the flavor and eliminating burnt spots.Make sure you baste often. Doing it once or twice wont create a noticeable change. Try basting your meat all over, every few minutes until its done.If you marinated your chicken , basting is an excellent way to double up on flavor. To learn more about basting, we suggest watching this video for some hands-on advice.
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Preheat The Cooking Grates
Once your coals are hot and arranged in the grill, allow them to preheat the grill grates for a few minutes. This is a great time to brush off any charred food and debris on the grate and apply a thin layer of cooking oil .
Now your grill is ready to cook burgers, chicken, vegetables, and whatever else is on the menu for your next cookout.
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How To Become A Charcoal Grill Master
Sometimes old school is the best school.
Theres something undeniably alluring, inherent, and perhaps even primordial about cooking outdoors on a charcoal grill. And its not just the smoky flavor that we find appealing, its the whole process: pouring out and piling up the charcoal briquettes, striking the match to create fire, waiting for the briquettes to turn ashen gray, and finally the sight and sound of sizzling meat. Simply put, cooking on a charcoal grill is irresistible.
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Bbq Tip: How To Use Charcoal Grill Vents
Controlling barbecue temperature doesnt need to be difficult. Heres how to use your charcoal grills vents in 3 easy steps.
There a lot of factors that contribute to good grilling, but of all of them temperature control is the most important. Its also one of the most difficult.
Or at least thats the myth. In my guide to using charcoal grill vents, Ill show you exactly how to keep on top of the heat at your barbecue.
Using your grill vents comes down to three key stages: The first is to fully open both the upper and lower vents to feed your charcoal with oxygen. The next is to partly close them to keep the heat at a consistent 225°F . The last is to close them completely in order to allow the heat to die out.
Good charcoal grilling is all about temperature. If its too hot, youll obliterate and dry out your food. If its to cold, your meat could be unsafe to eat. Its a fine balance, but if you get it right then youll soon be presenting perfectly barbecued meat.
Your charcoal grill essentially has two fuels. One is the coals sitting at the bottom of chamber. The other is the oxygen flowing through it. Control of both is hugely important to the success of your cooking.
The key lies in whether your vents are set open or closed, and knowing when to set them. Theyre not just a chimney or exhaust for heat to escape, but instead a way for you to directly control the temperature in your grill.
With charcoal grills, we need to take a lot more care with our vents.
How Much Charcoal Should You Use In A Grill
This depends on what you are cooking and how hot you want the grill. We have an entire guide dedicated to how much charcoal you need to use for grilling, but here is the summary.
Small pieces like individual steaks, chicken legs, and sausages will need a good quick hit of high direct heat. So youll want a full chimney of lit coals about 100 so you can quickly build a scorching fire, around 450550 °F.
For more delicate fish fillets, vegetables, or chicken breasts that you dont want to dry out, shoot for a medium heat of 350450 °F, using a chimney that is ½ to ¾ full of lit coals
And for low temperatures of around 250350 °F, a 1/4 full chimney of burning coals will be enough to get the cook going. And of course, you can always light more coals in the chimney and add later if the cook is a long one.
Keep in mind, too, that the thinner the layer of charcoal, the more quickly it will burn through and the less intense the heat will be. Kind of like wearing a thin sweater. This is fine for a quick cook of hot dogs or sausages where you dont need too much heat.
On the other hand, build your coals up thick and multi-layered, then you will have more intense heat and for longer.
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Be Somewhat Relaxed With Grill Temps
Although cooking somewhat demands precision, dont go too nuts over the accuracy of your grills cooking temperature.
If a recipe calls for a low 250 °F heat, anything from 225 to 275 °F will suffice.
If a recipe calls for a medium-high 400 °F heat, then anything from 375 to 425 °F will suffice.
You WILL get pretty much the same results, only the cooking time will be shorter or longer.
Dont go nuts over pin-point accuracy, the ballpark is good enough. Otherwise, you will be continually tweaking your vents chasing perfection and, in the process, take away some of the fun.
How To Use Old Smokey Charcoal Grill
Old Smokey is churning out the charcoal grill for the last sixty years! They made good stuff where you can toss all types of pellets and enjoy different flavors and food. It is a popular bait for its immersive heat, we experience its accelerating temperature that soars 250 degrees F in a few moments.
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Indirect Vs Direct Heat Grilling
You can create different cooking “zones” on a charcoal grill, which is great for searing, cooking, and keeping food warm. After the charcoal is lit, don’t cover the entire grill with the briquettes. Create a “hot zone” or direct heating area on one end of the grill by evenly distributing the coals under half of the grill. This is the perfect spot for searing meat and getting beautiful hatch-marks. Then move to a “cool zone” or indirect heat with fewer or no briquettes to finish cooking. This will prevent flare-ups and cook food more evenly. If you leave it over direct heat for too long, you often end up with a burnt exterior and raw interior. Plus, if you are grilling a large cut of meat , cooking over the indirect heat with the lid on will create the same effect as using an oven.
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How To Turn A Charcoal Grill Into A Smoker In 6 Easy Steps
Smoking is by far one of the best methods for making a juicy, tastier and distinctively tender barbecues. Even much better, you dont need a charcoal smoker to do it as were going to share exactly how to turn a charcoal grill into a smoker in this article and you wont even have to dig dip into your pocket.
Therefore, if you own a charcoal grill and you are wondering how to add that smoky yet delicious flavor to all your barbecues, then weve got you covered. All it takes is a little effort, a bit of DIY ingenuity, and some guidelines, and you are good to go.
Aside from our simplified method, you will find some useful additional information below that will help you reap the most out of your grill so that you can always create those perfectly smoked barbecues.
This guide is intended for standing charcoal grills, but would also work for those with kettle grills that have a fitted lid. So, without any further delays, lets get started.
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How To Use A Charcoal Smoker
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A charcoal smoker is a great way to cook tender, delicious meat that is full of flavor. Smoking is a little different from grilling in that the goal is to cook the meat with indirect heat. The way you set up the charcoal is important, as well as adding water to keep the meat moist. Making adjustments as the meat cooks ensures the temperature of the smoker stays in the sweet spot, which is about 220 and no higher than 250 .
Prep Your Meat And Grill
With all the necessary things available, the first thing you should do is to thoroughly clean out all the debris and ash from the bottom of your charcoal grill.
You would also want to ensure you have the food ready. If its meat or poultry, then have it cut to your desired size, rubbed and marinated. Just prep it the way you need so that its ready for smoking.
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Learn To Recognise When Your Coals Are Ready
If you try to cook something when the coals arent ready, it may overcook or burn its not a risk worth taking. Use our colour code guide to help decide when to start cooking your food:
Black or grey with flames: Not ready yet. Step away, have a beer and relax.
Glowing white hot with red centres : Ready for direct heat.
Ashy white but still very hot: Ready for indirect heat or cooking in the coals.
Important Things To Know While Using An Old
Until now, hopefully, you have come to know how to use your classic smoker which is almost similar to masterbuilt smoker use. But oftentimes we ruin everything by putting over water inside the pan. So dont do it. Carefully, fill the water pan and make sure its not overloaded.
Moderate water filling will create perfect moisture. Thats the reason your meal wont dry out at all and offer you super juicy smoked food.
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Lighting Charcoal With A Charcoal Chimney
Loading charcoal into a charcoal chimney or charcoal starter keeps the charcoal packed together with space between lumps or briquettes for easy ignition. You can place balled-up newspaper on the charcoal grate and set the chimney starter on top of the newspaper. Light the newspaper through holes in the bottom of the starter. The coals will be ready to cook when theyre ashy, about 15 minutes. When theyre ready, pour the charcoal onto the bottom grill grate and spread it out with a long-handled grill tool like a spatula or tongs.
Option 1 Use A Chimney Starter
This simple metal cylinder with venting at the bottom is available from most hardware stores and a surefire way to get, well, a sure fire.
Concentrating all the coals in a small space, combined with the chimney effect , allows intense heat to build fast.
Simply screw up 2 or 3 sheets of newspaper and place underneath the chimney or a firelighter if you prefer then light it and wait. The coals will be fully lit and ready to pour into your grill and to cook over in 15 minutes or so.
This is a fast, simple, and efficient way to light a charcoal fire. We absolutely love them, and you can check here for our recommended charcoal chimney starters!
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Additional Ways To Light The Grill
If this method has not been working, you can also do a charcoal grill start with a chimney starter, as described by Food & Wine. Pack the bottom of the grill with newspaper and place the charcoal right on top of it. Light the bottom and the flames will work their way into the charcoal. Do not put on the charcoal grates until the coals have turned white.
There is a third way to arrange the coals in your grill with three heating zones. Place a double-thick layer on the side farthest from you this will be the hot zone. Rake out the rest in the middle in a single layer to serve as a moderate zone and leave the last third empty as the cool zone. This can allow you to shift around the food as you are cooking. If something cooks faster, you can keep it on one of the other parts.
Oil The Grates Before Adding Food
Theres nothing more heart-breaking than turning a carefully marinated expensive steak only to have all that beautiful seared exterior ripped off, left behind stuck to a poorly prepared grate.
So dont forget this quick but important final step before adding food:
Grab a small wad of paper towel with tongs, dip it in a little vegetable oil and lightly brush your grill grate up and down to give it a thin non-stick coat.
You can use an old but very clean paintbrush for this too, but then youll have to clean it. I prefer a use-it-and-toss-it paper towel.
Dont forget your gloves!
Youre going to need those hands to eat your delicious grilled food soon. So any time youre working near the hot surface of the grill, don a pair of quality heatproof gloves to protect yourself.
During the Cook
If youre cooking hot n fast using direct heat, dont stray too far from the grill. That foods going to need frequent turning to get a good sear and to prevent overcooking on one side.
If cooking with indirect heat, place food on the side with no coals directly beneath and close the lid.
Try not to peak too often as you will lose valuable heat and upset the stable temperature every time you open the lid.
Instead, get your thermometers in place so that you can monitor the temperature without having to look inside.
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Best Way To Light Charcoal: Blowtorch
Just say the word blowtorch and weâre in, no questions asked. The JJ George Grill Torch is the easiest, fastest, and funnest way to light your grill. You donât need to blow air on the charcoal, which reduces sparking, and it has no annoying cords. It uses a self-ignition for easy start, and the flame is adjustable up to 1300 degrees C . Attach it to any standard 14oz propane or MAP gas canister, and light from up to 20â away, which is great to also keep you away from dangerous fire and smoke.
Weâre honored to sell the JJ George Grill Torch in our inventory because itâs one of our favorite ways to show off our grill skills and streamline the charcoal lighting process.
When using a blowtorch to light up your grill, we suggest lighting a few pieces of old charcoal rather than fresh charcoal from the bag because old charcoal sparks considerably less than brand new charcoal.
Once The Grill Is Preheated:
- Use the hook on the inside of the kettle lid to hang it off the bowl or use the lid bale if you have that feature on your kettle.
- Next time you grill, this is the point where you would brush the grates clean using a Weber stainless steel brush.
- Place the steaks on the cooking grate on the part that is over the coals, close the lid and set a timer for 3-4 minutes. Lookin aint cookin! Keep the lid on until your timer goes off.
- Once the timer has gone off, while using a glove, remove the lid and hang it from the bowl. Flip the steaks using tongs and place the steaks back on the side over the coals. Put the lid back on the kettle.
- Set your timer for another 3-4 minutes. Then check the steaks with an instant read thermometer to make sure they are done to your liking. Here is a guide to help you interpret internal temperatures.
- Once you take the steaks off the grill, it is important to let them rest! A good rule of thumb is to let your food rest for about 20-30% of the total cook time. It took 8 minutes to cook the steaks so I am going to let them rest for about 2 minutes before cutting into them.
Enjoy and grill on!
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