How to Start a BBQ

One of the best ways to spend a summer day is gathering your friends and family for a barbecue on your deck. But let’s say you prepare all sorts of great dishes for the occasion and set up the patio for a clear sunny day outside. Everything’s ready and you go to start the grill, only to not have a single flame start up. You don’t know what to do, since all you’re hearing is the grill clicking.

Knowing how to start a BBQ is naturally one of the most vital steps in barbecuing. However, with the wide range of models and types of barbecues, the exact way on how to start a barbecue may be entirely glossed over. Considering the popularity of propane and charcoal grills, information on how to effectively start and use other kinds of grills may go scarce. This can leave some barbecue enthusiasts lost on how to even begin with their new grills.

This article covers the basics of starting some of the most common kinds of barbecues and how to control the heat on the grill to cook well.

Charcoal barbecues

As with many forms of contained fires, how to start a BBQ begins with one of the first most important steps. You need to make sure that you do so safely as to not burn your surroundings. Set the barbecue up somewhere appropriately away from any flammable materials, like any garden plants or wooden fencing. Additionally, be sure that your pets or young children don’t stray too close to the lit and uncovered barbecue, and always use a pair of long handled tongs to prevent burns. Keep a fire extinguisher or a water source nearby in case the fire becomes uncontrollable.

Next, depending on the type of heat you need, set up your coals appropriately. For indirect heat cooking methods, simply stack or place your charcoal away from the area you plan on using to grill on. Direct heat, on the other hand, is the term used for simply grilling over the hot charcoal. To further improve your barbeque experience, you can use higher grades of charcoal to improve the flavour as well.

When the coals are hot enough, it’s time to start grilling. Yet, what your cooking requirements are and whether or not you need direct vs indirect heat plays a key role as well. Cooking with indirect heat requires the coals inside the grill to be ash white but still quite hot. If the charcoal is white hot and glows with red centres, it’s great heat for direct cooking. Anything less means that you should wait longer until the coals show the mentioned signs.

On the off chance that the grill won’t light, you know that you properly set everything up and nothing’s faulty, you may need to use a torch or match to start the flames. When using this method, though, be sure to keep the heat on medium low or less to prevent accidental fires. Once all your grilling is done, just turn it off and clean up like usual.

Kamado barbecues

If you have a kamado grill, lighting one is quite similar to an ordinary charcoal grill. Though, never use any form of lighter fluid to start the flames. Kamado grills are made of a thick ceramic that makes it heavier than some others, like kettle grills. However, due to the materials that make it up, kamado grills are also porous, leaving the lighter fluid and its chemicals to absorb into it. When cooking, these chemicals can leach into the food.

How to start a barbeque like a kamado grill is quite similar to charcoal grills, and as a result starts the same way. Due to their egg shape, you can also use a charcoal chimney along with lighter cubes. Additionally, you can use an electric firestarter, though this method typically comes with its own instructions.

When using a charcoal chimney, simply place it on top of paper and fill it up with the needed amount of coal. You can then add another sheet of paper or a lighter cube to start the fire as per usual. From there, the coals should be ashy before you start to cook. Some kamado grills also come equipped with air vents to allow you to further control the internal temperature.

Kamado grills work the same when used to smoke, though naturally at lower temperatures. Much like with normal grilling, using the lid - if your grill came with one - allows you to control the smoking and ensure that it’s evenly distributed. Just use any smoking chips once the coal is ashy.

Pellet grills

Pellet grills are considered to be one of the best options due to the fact that they’re considered a hybrid of a smoker and a grill. As the name says, pellet grills use small pellets about the size of a small black eyed pea as part of a fuel source. Once turned on, the grill uses electronics to regulate the temperature and keep it at the temperature you set it to. 

In order to work, you need to fill the grill with food quality pellets that are then transferred to a burn pot. From there, all that’s required is making sure that the grill is connected to a power source and that your settings are correct. Once the smoke clears out and the flames start, its safe to place your food in once heated well.


Knowing the proper techniques on how to start your barbecue can vary depending on a number of key factors, one of which includes knowing the type of fuel source. From there, steps like loading the grill and starting the flames can be simple. 

There are also a large variety of different fire starters to choose between when considering how to start a BBQ. However, it’s important to make sure to not use lighter fluids due to chemical contents. These chemicals can leach onto the food from the grill itself and can be harmful to everyone.