Home » 11 Best Charcoal Grilling Tips and Techniques

11 Best Charcoal Grilling Tips and Techniques

Best Charcoal Grilling Tips and Techniques

What can be better than a mouth-watering and juicy steak that has those fancy grilling marks?

But not everyone can acquire this desirable result from the first try.

Having a charcoal grill and a lot of time to practice will surely help you in reaching your goal.

If you don’t know where to start, let us help you with some charcoal grilling tips and techniques.

Before grilling

If you’re a novice, or perhaps you haven’t been grilling for a long time, we will explain to you how to grill for beginners with a few pro-tips included.

1. Getting ready

Before grilling

First, you need to make sure that your grill grates are clean and there’s no food residue on them. You can use a wire brush to clean grates from hard parts if there are any. Then, with a paper towel, apply some vegetable oil and wipe grates to remove any brush bristles.

Also, make sure that you have all necessary utensils nearby, so you won’t make a run for the tongs, for example, when placing meat on the grilling grate. Preseason meat in advance, using salt and any seasoning of your choice. Preseason it for 12 to 24 hours to bring out the best flavor.

2. Lighting the fire

Lighting the fire 1

There’re a few ways how to heat up charcoal grill, such as using a chimney starter, lighter fluid, and self-starting briquettes. As original charcoal is hard to light, you should use a chimney starter that will easily light up about 100 charcoal pieces and make them hot in 20 minutes. Lighter fluid will speed up the process as it has petrochemicals that start the ignition. Self-starting briquettes burn much faster than original charcoal so that you can mix them up, and that fire will travel from briquettes to the original charcoal.

3. Pouring coal in the grill

After your coals burn for 10-15 minutes, you can pour them back into the grill. You should also check if you have the right amount of coal for the grilling adventure. If you want to grill a steak or thin cuts of meat, you need a full chimney and temperature range from 450°F to 550°F. If you have chicken pieces, seafood, and vegetables, then you need from 1/2 to 3/4 chimney with a temperature range from 350°F to 450°F. For grilling whole poultry and pork ribs, you need 1/4 chimney and a temperature range of 250°F to 350°F.

Always wear protective gloves when you’re transferring and arranging coal in the grill. Arrange coal in the grill and add some pre-soaked wood chips for better smoke and flavor. Almond, cherry, alder, apple, mulberry, hickory, pecan, maple, orange, and apricot are highly recommended with most kinds of meat and will give it a sweet taste with different flavors.

During grilling

Although coals are in your grill under the grilling grate, it doesn’t mean that you should place the meat on the grilling grate right away. There’re a few things that you should do beforehand.

4. Preheating


With or without wood chips, you should leave the coal burning inside the grill for about 15 minutes. After that, you should make your grates non-stick, and there are two ways to do that. The first and well-known one is to apply some oil, and the second one is to cut a potato in half and rub it on the grates to avoid oil soaking.

5. Venting

Knowing how to vent is crucial when you’re grilling with charcoal because you’re controlling the flow of oxygen by opening or closing the vent. Opening vents allow more oxygen in your grill, which results in high temperatures. Softly closing the vents slows the oxygen flow, and that results in lower temperatures. But you should pay attention not to close the vents completely, or your fire will suffocate.

6. Direct, indirect, and modified charcoal grilling

Direct, indirect, and modified charcoal grilling

Direct charcoal grilling includes cooking small pieces of meat that will be ready in approximately 20 minutes. When direct grilling, you should keep the lid on to avoid uncooked or scorched food. You should spread your briquettes evenly under the grate and place the food over the coals. Monitor the temperature and slightly close the vents if it’s too high.

Indirect charcoal grilling is perfect for those dishes that need to sit over the fire longer than 20 minutes. You should place a tray with water on the glowing charcoal briquettes, put down the grilling grate, and place food above the tray. Close the lid and monitor the temperature of the food while it’s cooking.

Modified charcoal grilling allows you to seal the flavor inside over the direct heat and finalize it over indirect heat and is perfect for sausages and chicken breasts. For perfectly adjusting heat zones with modified grilling, you need a grill surface thermometer to measure the precise temperature. You should put all briquettes on one side of the charcoal grate and insert a tray full of water under the other side of the grate. Place the meat over the heated zone and then put it over the zone with indirect heat to finalize cooking.

7. Let meat rest

Generally, you shouldn’t place any food that was just taken from the refrigerator on a grilling grate. You should let it rest out of the fridge for about 30 minutes.

8. Seasoning


To make your meat flavorful, you can sprinkle meat with apple juice or apple cider vinegar to add some flavor and moisture. It is best used for chicken and pork. Also, you can make a grill brush by tying a bunch of fresh herbs, dip it in oil, and grease vegetables, fish, meat with it.

9. Grill marks

Grill marks

Whereas grill marks may seem that it’s done only for a display, it is actually more than that. Grill marks are a sign that meat was cooking without you checking and changing its place. To achieve those grill marks, you need to flip the meat only once.

10. Juices

Nobody likes to chew on meat that is extremely well done, so you need to pay attention that the juices stay inside. Don’t press the meat down or pierce with a fork. Keeping juices inside will reduce your cooking time and make the meat tender so that when you bite it, all the flavors will explode in your mouth. Yum!

11. After grilling

When you’re done with cooking, you need to clean all used equipment to ensure that it’ll be safe to use the next time. You can clean the hot grilling grate by cutting an onion in half and rub the grate with it. Or when the grate cools down, you can clean it with the help of the brush.

After that, you should get rid of ash when you don’t see any pieces that are still burning. You can empty your grill in a place where you can extinguish any remaining burning ash with water.

Charcoal Grilling: conclusion


We hope that you’re getting ready to implement our charcoal grilling tips and techniques and that they will help you a lot. Summing up, grilling using a charcoal grill can be a bit overwhelming if you are a beginner, but following these steps guarantee you a delicious result. Always start with preheating the charcoal to the desired temperature depending on what you plan to cook and season the meat in advance. Choose between direct, indirect, and modified charcoal grilling and monitor the temperature with a surface thermometer. Keep juice inside and grill marks outside for the best grilling experience every time.

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