How to Grill Using a Charcoal Grill

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Charcoal should be hot in the middle and covered by a gray ash before you use it.
Charcoal should be hot in the middle and covered by a gray ash before you use it. (Image: Goodshoot/Goodshoot/Getty Images)

Charcoal-grilled foods are full of flavor, but you have to know how to use your grill to get the perfect result for your steaks, burgers, chicken or veggies. Using just the right amount of charcoal and timing when you put the food on the grill are two of the tricks to getting the most from your grilling experience.

Make sure your charcoal barbecue grill is set up away from items that could be burned or melted by the heat of the grill.

Clean out any ashes or partially burned pieces of charcoal from the grill.

Put charcoal in your grill. Pile the charcoal in the center of the grill.

Use charcoal lighter fluid or the easy-to-light charcoal that comes permeated with lighter fluid. Be sure to put the fluid away before flame comes into the picture. If your grill is equipped with dampers, open them.

Carefully light your charcoal. Once it is burning well, you can use a tool to spread it around a bit.

Keep the lid on your grill open until the charcoal starts to get white around the edges, approximately 20 minutes. Use this time to finish preparing your food for grilling.

Place the grill grate over the coals and close the grill cover.

Use a brush to coat the grate with oil; this will help keep food from sticking.

Place meat or other items on the grate over the coals. Place the thickest cuts over the hottest part of the fire.

Do not use a fork to flip meat. This keeps the juices inside so that the meat stays juicy. Use tongs or a spatula to flip grilled items.

Tips & Warnings

  • Cut-up vegetables can be placed in aluminum foil along with olive oil or butter and some spices for grilling so you don't have to worry about pieces falling through the grill.
  • As always, use caution when working with matches, flame and grills.

References

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