Choosing A Charcoal Grill
If youre looking to buy a grill or just upgrade the one you have, there are a few criteria to keep in mind.
- Shape: Youll find charcoal grills in many shapes and sizes. Round kettle shapes are very common, though you can also find barrel-style, rectangular and square grills. Any shape will work, but you may prefer one based on what suits your yard, storage space and cooking style.
- Surface area: Grills come in all sizes. Make sure youre buying one with enough space for your needs.
- Ease of cleaning: Charcoal grilling is a messy business. Look for models that give easy options for cleanup including ash containers.
- Price: Charcoal grills vary greatly in price. The classic Weber kettle grill starts at around $100 and is a great option for amateur and pro grillers alike. Youll also find some pretty fancy charcoal grills out there nearing the $1,000 mark. Its all up to you and your budget.
Best Internal Temperatures For Grilling Meat
As you start making your way through these fun grill recipes, remember: Cooking meat always requires you to be adamant about temperatures. Your meat should be cooked within certain temperature ranges for safety reasons, but grill temperatures can also vary for the sake of flavor and how you prefer your meat to be cooked.
Heres a simple outline of grill temperatures for various types of meat. Note that these are internal temperatures of the meat and should be read with a meat thermometer.
Arranging Your Coals From Direct And Indirect Heat
While you might think that you want to cook everything from hot dogs to kabobs right over the coals, thats not always the case.
Inside your grill, youll want to push your charcoal to one side. This area will be hotter and is where youll do all your direct heat grilling. Foods that should be grilled with direct heat are sausages, kabobs, shrimp and any food that you want to be seared like steaks.
The side without the coals will still be hot, just not scorching. This is the indirect heat area. Use indirect heat to grill foods that take 20 minutes or longer to cook like larger or tough cuts of meat. You can also use the indirect heat area of your grill to keep foods warm.
Recommended Reading: Get Grease Out Of Concrete
Mistake #: You’re Adding The Barbecue Sauce Too Early
The Thinking:I’m gonna paint this sucker with multiple layers of barbecue sauce and let each one cook on because it’ll give everything more flavor.
The Reality: The barbecue sauce starts to burn and turns acrid way before your meat is even close to completion. Your guests sheepishly scrape off the layer of blackened soot from what used to be chicken before adding extra sauce straight from the bottle to cover up that bitterness, but it doesn’t help. The bitterness stays. All. Night. Long.
The Fix: Barbecue sauce does very little penetrating no matter how early you apply it. At most it’s a surface treatment, which means that you can add it towards the end of cooking and still get just as much flavor out of it without risking burning it. If you are using a sweet barbecue sauce, wait until the final five to 10 minutes of cooking to paint it onto your meat with a brush.
Grilling Mistakes You Don’t Have To Make
Ah, summer. That special time of year when those good spatula-wielding folks who only cook for one season out of the year dust off the old grill to burn a few steaks and serve up some medium-rare chicken. Okay, perhaps I’m being unfair here. There are plenty of amazing backyard cooks who take a structured, scientific approach to good grilling and reap the flavorful rewards because of it, but there are just as many who think that all it takes to put together a successful backyard cookout is the ability to buy some steaks and light a fire.
I’ve been to enough cookouts in my time to recognize the warning signs of tough, sooty, or downright dangerous meat to come. Here are some of the most common mistakes beginning grillers make and how to avoid them.
Don’t Miss: Best Temp To Grill Pork Chops
Use The Right Amount Of Charcoal
Once you’ve gotten your hands on a chimney starter and you’re comfortable using it, everything else seems to fall into place. Especially the question of how much charcoal to use. Your target grill temperatures can be easily reckoned in terms of how full your chimney is.
For high-heat grilling, , you want a full chimney. For medium heat , 1/2 to 3/4 chimney. And for low heat , 1/4 chimney.
Can I Use A Basic Charcoal Grill To Cook Steak
You dont need a fancy grill to cook up a good steak. As long as you have a digital thermometer on hand, you can easily achieve that crispy crust all grilling enthusiasts strive for. However, with some models, you may need to keep a closer eye on your steak, especially if youre new to grilling. To learn more about charcoal grills and the features to look for, read our portable charcoal grill buyers guide.
Grilled Kebabs All Summer Long
- A healthy, hearty Mediteranean feast starts with these grilled beef kofta kebabs with tzatziki.
- Loaded with warm spices and brightened up with pineapple and peppers, these grilled jerk chicken kebabs are your summer BFF.
- Yogurt is seasoned with turmeric, cinnamon, cumin, and cardamom to create a flavor-packed marinade for chicken thighs in these juicy, tender grilled chicken shawarma kebabs.
Things That Are Better Grilled Over Charcoal
While not all chefs prefer charcoal over gas, the majority do. Thats because grilling over charcoal infuses the meat, fish or vegetable with a delicious smokiness that you just wont get if youre using a gas grill.
While not all chefs prefer charcoal over gas , the majority do. Thats because grilling over charcoal infuses the meat, fish or vegetable with a delicious smokiness that you just wont get if youre using a gas grill.
If youre worried about working with unruly charcoal, brush up on your skills with this quick video from Jonathan Waxman. Then get to grilling these wonderfully smoky dishes.
You May Like: Pork Tenderloin Cooking Time Grill
How To Use Vents
Charcoal grills often come with a small vent on the top of the lid and the bottom of the grill. It’s not just for decoration or letting all those delicious cooking smells out and about to tease your neighbors. These vents are there to control how much oxygen gets to your coals, in turn controlling how hot or cool your grill will run. Too little oxygen , and your flames may die out. Too much oxygen and you might have a flare-up. Adjust the vents so you have a perfect balance of air movement and control your heat.
How To Hold Ribs
Sometimes time and circumstances wont allow you to enjoy your BBQ ribs immediately, in which case its imperative that you hold and store them in a way that wont heavily impact flavor or quality.
Remove the ribs from the grill and allow to cool for 10-15 minutes. Using plastic wrap, wrap the ribs tightly in a few layers. Its key here that you dont use aluminum foil as BBQ sauce and foil can actually react due to the acidic nature of the sauce.
If you are going to be enjoying the ribs any later than an hour after cooking then put them in the refrigerator. For tips on how to then warm them back up again, check out my guide on how to reheat ribs.
Recommended Reading: Weber Grill Repair Parts
Not Using The Vents On A Charcoal Grill
Unlike a gas grill, charcoal grills have vents, typically located on the hood and on the bottom of the grill. These parts of the grill control air flow, which is essential to keep the charcoal burning, and for controlling temperature. Two things can happen when you forget to either open or close the vents: The charcoal may burn out before your food is finished cooking, or the heat may soar way too high, potentially burning your food.
Follow this tip: Adjust the vents as you preheat the grill and during cooking to control the temperature. For extra air flow, keep the vents open when lighting and preheating the grill. If it seems like your food is cooking too quickly, try closing the vents a bit to lower the temperature. Or if you want to raise the heat, try opening the vents a bit.
What Time Should I Start Brisket
For planning purposes smoke times for 14 pound brisket should smoke for about 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes per pound at 250° F. For a 14 pound brisket which comes out to 14 to 17 1/2 hours. Smoking meat always seems to take longer than you plan for, so start early and just let it rest longer.
Also Check: Grilling Thin Chicken Breast On Gas Grill
How To Clean A Grill
To keep your grill ready for cookout after cookout, you do have to give it a quick clean. Heres how to clean a grill to keep it ready for a summer full of barbecues.
- Brush the grates: After youre done cooking and while the grate is still hot, use a grill brush to clean the grate of any major debris. The heat will make some of the baked-on mess easier to remove.
- Clean the grates: If the grates are still a bit grimy after brushing, you can give them a serious clean by soaking them in hot water and dish soap. Use a good dish scrubber to get rid of any extra dirt.
- Remove the ash: When the grill is completely cool, remove the grates and empty out any ash or leftover coals into a metal container.
- Clean the interior: If you notice the bowl of your grill getting a little grubby, use a wire brush or steel wool to get rid of any stuck-on mess. For a deep clean, scrub the interior with warm water and dish soap, then rinse.
- Wipe the exterior: Keep the outside of your grill looking shiny by giving it a quick wipe with warm water and soap.
You dont need to complete every step every time you grill, but its a good practice to at least make sure youre starting with clean grates each timethis will prevent any flame flare-ups. And if you want your grill to keep looking its best, be sure to store it in a garage or shed when not in use. You can also invest in a grill cover.
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.
Recommended Reading: Internal Temp Of Pork Tenderloin On Grill
How To Cook On A Charcoal Grill
Consumer Reports has no financial relationship with advertisers on this site.
One thing we routinely find in our testing of charcoal grills is that the resultshow your food turns outare largely dependent on the skill of the user, who has to be ready to adjust dampers, monitor cooking temperatures, and handle coals to get outstanding results.
But despite all the oversight, charcoal grill enthusiasts think it’s well worth the effort. Smoke is a byproduct of combustion, and the smoke from burning gas and charcoal are different,” says Craig “Meathead” Goldwyn, a celebrated grilling expert and judge on the professional barbecue circuit, on his website, Amazingribs.com. “Charcoal makes more smoke than gas, with a broader range of tasty flavor molecules, because it’s burning complex organic molecules. In other words, the smoke from charcoal makes food taste better.
Below you’ll find our video tutorial on how to cook on a charcoal grill, as well as step by step directions. If you’re still looking to learn more about all kinds of grills, start with our grill buying guide. CR Members can also jump right to our ratings of charcoal grills.
Not Cleaning Public Grill Grates Before Cooking
Charcoal grills require cleaning and maintenance to make sure they function and cook properly. This goes for you own grill in the backyard and the ones found in public parks and at campsites. While public grills are perfectly safe to use, you should give them a quick cleaning before tossing your food on.
Follow this tip: Whether youre planning to fire up a charcoal grill at home or one in a public space, the first order of business should always be cleaning the grates to ensure theres no stuck-on food. This is especially important when using public grills since you dont know what was cooked on there previously, or the last time it was cleaned.
Preheat the grill and then use a stiff wire brush to remove any charred debris from the grates. Not only will this prevent those old food bits from getting stuck to what youre grilling, but clean grates also make for nicer grill marks. Read more: How To Clean a Charcoal Grill
Also Check: Camp Chef Woodwind 24 Vs Traeger Pro 575
Can You Cook Steak Directly On Charcoal
Yes, you definitely can and there are times when you get better results when cooking steaks directly on hot coals than lifting the steaks on a grill above the heated charcoals.
It can give your steak a better finish as the steak is closer to the heat source.
The crust will be amazing and the interior will cook faster so there is no risk of burning the outside part too much.
If you are worried about the ashes, then you just need to fan off the charcoals to blow away the ashes.
From there, you can cook your steaks directly on the hot coals for a great finish.
How Do You Grill A 2 Inch Filet Mignon
Grilling Filet Mignon fully. grilled filet mignon steak grilling filet mignon Weber Grills Tips & Techniques BlogGrill your filets over direct high heat with the lid closed as much as possible for 6-8 minutes, turning once. Move the filets over to indirect heat for an additional 4-6 minutes or until your desired degree of doneness.
Don’t Miss: What Temperature Do I Grill Pork Chops
How Do You Keep A Charcoal Grill At 225
How to Keep Charcoal Grill at 225 °F Invest in a good temperature probe. To keep your grill stable at 225 °F, youre going to have to keep an eye on the temperature. Light charcoal for fuel. Use a chimney starter to light charcoal briquets for your grill evenly and safely. Open the dampers. Set up a 2-Zone Grill. Adjust the vent as needed. Monitor the fuel.
How To Wrap Ribs
Another hour later, check on the ribs. We want them to curve slightly without breaking. If theyre yet to reach this point, allow them to cook for a little longer. However, if they are bending nicely then double wrap the ribs in aluminum foil. We do this to help increase the internal temperature of the meat while also holding in moisture, making them extra juicy.
Place the wrapped ribs back on the grill. Check on the coals and water again. Dont add more wood chunks this time as the ribs will have absorbed enough smoke.
Read Also: Grilled Halibut With Skin
Do You Close The Grill When Cooking Steak
Cooking steaks on a grill means that you need to make the cooking process faster.
Closing the grills lid when cooking steaks will help make sure that the grill maintains its temperature.
If you leave the lid open, the temperature around the steak will not be balanced causing cold spots around the grill.
It will slow down the cooking process as heat will not reach the inside of the steaks.
Closing the grill lid will allow the heat to go deeper into the meat and make sure that it cooks all the way through.
How To Cook Ribs On A Charcoal Grill
Smoke the perfect barbecue pork ribs on your charcoal grill with our step-by-step recipe and guide. Cooked over indirect heat and applewood, this smoked rack of spare ribs will rival anything youve had before.
Any good BBQ chef knows his way around a good rack of ribs, but some fall short by thinking they dont have the right equipment. While ribs are traditionally cooked in a smoker or Kamado grill, they can actually easily be made on a charcoal grill as well.
Charcoal grills are often underrated for their flexibility, and unlike their gas brothers, they can actually be turned into brilliant smokers without compromising on that classic smoky BBQ taste.
Todays guide will walk through the steps on how to cook ribs on a charcoal grill.
Need a recipe? Check out our Texas Style Baby Back Ribs
Also Check: Grilled Pork Temperature Time
Know The Difference Between Direct Vs Indirect Heat
Another way of controlling how quickly your food cooks is by understanding the difference between direct and indirect heat. A certain amount of coals will produce a certain temperature, but your food will cook faster if it is situated directly above those coals as opposed to away from them. This fact leads us to our next tip…