10 Best Charcoal Grilling Tips

10 Best Charcoal Grilling Tips
10 Best Charcoal Grilling Tips

There’s something very special about charcoal grilling.

And we love it. We love the cooking process, we love the taste, and we love cooking together with our family and friends. To help you start with charcoal grilling, we’re sharing these tips. It’s grilling on charcoal for beginners and those still thinking of trying it out. You can also call it the basics of charcoal grilling. We want to show you that there’s nothing difficult about charcoal grilling.

Here are some of our best charcoal grilling tips.

Our Best Charcoal Grilling Tips

Try to follow these things first, before learning of more advanced charcoal grilling tips and techniques. These are the very basics of charcoal grilling.

1. Don’t Buy the Cheapest Grill

Cheapest grills are a waste of money.

You may not be ready for a purchase as big as My BBQ Table sets, but surely don’t get yourself the cheapest grill. Think of your needs first, understand what is that that you want to get. Maybe you don’t even need a grill, and can simply choose food catering for that one or two occasions. However, if you do want your own charcoal grill, get the one that fulfills your needs.

2. Start Your Grill Properly

Most importantly — don’t rush it!

No matter how you start your charcoal grill, with or without lighter fluid, don’t rush it. Let all the firewood to burn up, if you’re using any. Preheat your charcoal grill well, until most of the coals are fully grey. This is how you know when charcoal is ready to cook on.

It’s especially important if you are using lighter fluid to start a grill. You want the fumes from the lighter fluid to be gone — so your food doesn’t taste or smell of it.

See also: Charcoal Grilling Safety Tips

3. Don’t Forget About Charcoal

Well, it’s obvious, but don’t forget about this.

A charcoal grill requires charcoal. How much charcoal do you need? How long does charcoal last? How long do charcoal briquettes last? It depends. With My BBQ Table grills a single 2-kilo pack of charcoal briquettes and about the same amount of firewood is enough for up to 5 hours of grilling. We use firewood to start a grill. So, now you know approximately how much charcoal to use when grilling. If you’ll be using regular lump charcoal, take into account that it burns faster than charcoal briquettes — mostly you’ll need at least twice as much of it.

4. Prepare for the Cooking

Charcoal burns very hot, don’t forget about this.

Cooking on a charcoal grill isn’t the same as cooking in your kitchen. Once you’ve started it, and the coals are going and starting to grey, there’s no way to slow it down. You’ll be cooking now, and at the temperature you have. You can’t turn off the grill for 5 minutes to do some extra preparations. Everything has to be prepared in advance. 

5. Planning Matters

Preheating a charcoal grill takes time.

With most small and medium-size charcoal grills it takes between 15 to 30 minutes. This means that you have to make sure you start your grill some 30 minutes before the party starts. That’s around an hour before you plan your food to be ready (depending on what you’ll be cooking). You can cook almost anything on a charcoal grill.

Cooking on My BBQ Table grill

Cooking on My BBQ Table grill

6. Control the Heat

No, there is no switch for that.

At the same time it doesn’t mean you can’t control it. You can. If you divide all coals into two zones, with more coals on one side and fewer or none on the other side. Use the hot side for all the cooking and cooler side for gentle cooking or to keep your food warm.

7. Prepare the Food Properly

If it’s meat, let it warm up a bit. 

Let it sit at room temperature before grilling, and don’t forget to season it before grilling. The same stands true when charcoal grilling fish. If the meat is covered in marinade, wipe off the excess marinade before cooking to prevent flare-ups. Keep just a little marinade on the meat to enhance flavour.

If it’s vegetables, don’t cut them too thin, or be extra cautious when cooking. Otherwise they will burn the moment you take your eyes off of them.

8. Be Careful With Sweet Sauces

Don’t add them too early, or you’ll get your food burnt.

To avoid this, add the sauce towards the end of cooking.

9. Clean the Grate

Doing a light clean up every single time goes a long way.

Better do it soon after you’ve finished cooking. It’s easier to loosen the bits of food when the grate is still warm. If you don’t have a grill brush, take an onion, cut it in half, and use it for cleaning. Wiping the grate with an onion, makes it much easier to clean it, by loosening stuck-on bits of food.

It’s not that hard to clean a charcoal grill.

10. Enjoy the Process

That’s the best part about outdoor cooking.

The process itself, you being together with your loved ones and friends, enjoying food and spending time together, that’s what matters the most. So even if you forget about something mentioned earlier, don’t forget about this one. Enjoy it!

For more tips see our Charcoal grilling 101.

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