Charcoal Grilling 101: Enjoy the Perfect Meal with these Tips

The weather has been ideal for a delicious grilled meal: burgers, hot dogs, chicken, steak, corn, potatoes, vegetables, and more. Each type of grilling has unique tips and tricks for the perfect meal. For charcoal grills, there are a few things to keep in mind before you even light the coals. 

So, settle in for our edition of charcoal grilling 101.

Consider how you light the coals

The charcoal is the most important part of charcoal grilling, so pay the closest attention to this detail. It takes the most time to get the coals ready, and it’s well worth taking extra effort to get it right. 

How do you set up and start your charcoal grill? You might be tempted to place the coals directly into the grill and start them there. Also, you might consider lighter fluid to help the coals along. Keep in mind that lighter fluid will flavor your food, and that might not get the result you wanted.

A simple way to get your charcoal grill started is to use a chimney starter. With this method, you would pack the bottom with newspaper and fill it with charcoal. You would then light the bottom and let it get to work. After about 15-20 minutes, the charcoal should be heated and then you can carefully pour the coals into the base of a charcoal grill.

Don’t forget to preheat the grill

Now that the charcoal is in place, you need to give the grill itself a little time to warm up. Just like an oven, it’s best to preheat your grill. Put the lid on and give your grill 5-10 minutes to get hot. You will know it is ready when a piece of meat sizzles once it touches the hot grates.

Use the vents

Gas grills are known to give a large amount of temperature control, but that also can be the case with charcoal grilling. Your charcoal grill will likely have two sets of vents: on the top of the lid and at the bottom of the base. These vents control the airflow through the grill. The wider they are open, the hotter the grill will get. If you are cranking up the heat, make sure to keep an eye on your food so it doesn’t burn.

Clean grill = happy griller

Make sure to clean your grill after it cools down each time you use it. Leftover ash and residue can block airflow, making grilling harder and less enjoyable. A clean grill means preventing any damage or mold from producing, especially if you happen to go a long time between cooking, such as over winter (though grilling any time of year is still possible!)

Are you ready to add a charcoal grill to your cooking repertoire? If you’re in South Central PA, Contact AES Hearth and Patio for all your charcoal needs, let’s get grilling!

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