The Ultimate Guide: How to Grill With Charcoal for Beginners
Summer is in full swing, which means the joy of pool parties, beach trips, and grilling outside has returned. The scents of a carefully assorted collection of foods on the grill are staples of the summer season. They signify that savory dishes like seared steaks, smoked salmon, roasted veggies, cured sausages, or other cookout favorites are on their way. Whether you’re a veteran or amateur grill master, returning to the grilling basics can help enrich your experiences behind the spatula.
At Zenfiyah, we know a thing or two about what it takes to get the most out of your grill and the components that go into making grilled goods absolutely delicious. To help share our love of successful backyard cookouts, we’ve compiled an ultimate guide on how to grill with charcoal for beginners. No matter what cooking background you have, you’ll be sure to find hot tips and tricks to up your grilling game. Read on to discover (or recall) all that you need to make your next cookout a memorable and delicious one.
Tips for Preparing Your Grill Before You Start Grilling
Before the excitement of grilling begins, you need to perform the more mundane tasks to get your grill ready for cooking. Preparing your grill is crucial to grilling success.
Tips for Cleaning Your Charcoal Grill
Though tidying up a grill might not be the number one task on every grilling aficionado’s list, it’s a necessity to keep cooking safe and efficient. Here are some tips for sprucing up your charcoal grill.
Before and After Grilling Season
Whether it’s time to break out the grill or stow it away for the winter, be sure to utilize the following tips to keep your charcoal grill in quality condition.
Use soap and water or grill cleaner and a rag to clean your grill’s bowl and lid. Towel them dry to avoid rusting.
Use a grill cover to protect your grill from external elements when the season’s over.
Replace your grill brushes each season to promote thorough, efficient maintenance.
After Each Use
Especially with charcoal grills, ash tends to gather at the bottom. Ash accumulation interferes with temperature consistency, as it blocks the grill’s vents at the bottom. Vent blockage also increases the risk of an unwanted fire. Consider the following after each grill use to avoid ash buildup.
Remove charcoal bricks once they cool and brush out the ash. If you use coconut shell charcoal briquettes, you can use their minimal ashes as a natural fertilizer. Otherwise, find someplace to toss the ash.
Use a long-handled stiff-wire brush to scrub down the grill grates. An alternative option is to use aluminum foil at the end of long-handled tongs.
Grab a rag or paper towel and clean the grates with vegetable oil. Vegetable oil is vital to rust and food buildup prevention.
Clean the inside of the grill once it cools with a steel brush and mild dish soap.
Prepping Your Grill Grates
Once you’ve cleaned your grates, coat them with an oil that has a high smoke point. This step is also known as “seasoning your grill grates.” Covering your grates with oil will prevent food from sticking to them. Oil plays the same role here as it does in a pan.
Don’t know which oils have a high smoke point? Employ vegetable or canola oil for seasoning your grates.
Configuring Coals for Direct or Indirect Heat
The way that you set up your charcoal influences the temperature and taste. How you configure your charcoal will heavily depend on what you plan to grill.
Inside your grill, you’ll push your charcoal to one side. Food cooked over this pile will experience direct heat, which is hotter than the rest of the grill. Any items you wish to sear, such as steak, shrimp, kabobs, and sausages, should go over direct heat.
Indirect heat comes from the side that doesn’t have charcoal. The indirect heat side of your grill will still be quite hot. You can cook larger and tougher cuts of meat with indirect heat. It’s also great for keeping food warm.
How To Choose a Charcoal That’s Right for Your Desired Heat and Flavor
When you’re a beginner learning how to grill with charcoal, you must understand that your charcoal selection matters. Your choice can have a huge impact on your grilling time, the technique you should use, and the food’s flavor. Check out the unique factors of charcoal briquettes, lump charcoal, and coconut shell charcoal briquettes here.
Grocery stores sell several different types of charcoal briquettes all summer long. Because briquettes are made of compressed sawdust and other wood byproducts, they produce lots of ash that you need to clean up after grilling. Though affordable, charcoal briquettes aren’t likely to create the charred flavor that you may want.
Lump charcoal is comprised of pure wood, which can create a smokier, more charred flavor. Lump charcoal tends to burn quicker than its counterparts, making it a costlier choice. However, you won’t experience as much ash with lump charcoal as you would with briquettes.
Coconut Shell Charcoal Briquettes
Coconut shell charcoal briquettes are on the rise with serious grillers, and for some good reasons. As their name implies, coconut charcoal briquettes utilize compressed coconut shells. This means that they don’t require any felled trees for their production, making them an eco-friendly option.
Coconut briquettes are smokeless, odorless, and sparkless. These are elements that regular grillers find super convenient. This type of charcoal burns roughly three times longer than the other options, yet it produces much less ash and carbon dioxide.
If the advantages of this charcoal type appeal to you, you can buy coconut shell charcoal with Zenfiyah, where sustainability meets grilling efficiency.
Basic Tips for Grilling Your Food
Below, you’ll find some practices to follow when grilling with charcoal.
Aim to turn your food only once.
Don’t press on your proteins; that’ll cause them to lose their juices.
Adjust your grill’s vent positions as necessary to optimize airflow.
Utilize the lid to maximize heat and reduce grilling time.
Don’t be afraid to expand your grilling options beyond hot dogs and steaks. There are lots of unique recipes out there that can benefit from the flavors that a charcoal grill provides.
If you’re new to the grilling scene, you may not have encountered your favorite grill hacks yet. By following our advice for grilling beginners, you can become a trusted chef at your next cookout.