How to Use a Charcoal Grill

Charcoal grills are among the world’s most popular types of grills, considered almost tied with gas grills. For barbecue lovers who prefer to prioritize the flavour of their barbecue over the time it takes to cook and the process, charcoal grills come out on top. The ability to easily add in a handful or more of wood chips only adds more flavour to what you can get, making a choice so much easier for some people

However, when it comes to actually cooking with it, knowing how to use your charcoal grill can be surprisingly tricky. There are many different ways to light the coals and many different sources say different things about when the best time is to start grilling. Some people prefer to grill with the coals glowing, while others don’t. Knowing which methods are the most effective can be challenging for a beginner.

That’s why we made this guide on how to use a charcoal grill, from starting it up all the way to the final cleaning process once you finish barbecuing. If you’re interested in getting a charcoal grill for yourself, visit Dickson Barbeque Centre to buy a grill as well as any sauces or accessories you might want.

Getting the right accessories

Accessories are often some of the most useful items you can get when it comes to barbecuing. While to some people, they can seem unnecessary or something to show off, many accessories have far more advantages than disadvantages when it comes to using them. And when it comes to learning about your charcoal grill and how to use it, these accessories can be a massive help and can make barbecuing easier on you.

Take, for example, chimney starters. As one of the best accessories you can get, chimney starters make lighting your charcoal much easier. While you can get the coal lit and glow far faster with lighter fluid, the chemical can release its scent when burned, most of which would get absorbed into your food and leave you with nasty flavoured burgers and steaks. Lighting the charcoal in a chimney with a bit of paper allows the heat to travel up and light the other coals, resulting in a far more natural taste.

Beyond the other usual accessories that all kinds of grills should use, finding and investing in a good grill brush that can get rid of your charcoals’ ash can make the cleaning process easier as well. Preferably, avoid a brush that’s rough, since it can damage the base of your grill and its grate. Similarly, a brush that’s too soft would make the cleaning harder.

How to start a charcoal grill

As mentioned before, there are many different ways you can light your coals. One of the ways, besides using a charcoal chimney, is to use a couple sheets of newspaper, cardboard egg trays or other paper materials as a general source to light the coals. Start by simply layering a few sheets of paper or other material near the center of your grill and surrounding it with a few chunks of charcoal. Light the paper and wait for the fire to start growing before slowly adding the needed amount of coal. Let the fire burn until a good amount of your coals have turned ashy white, then start grilling.

Many others prefer to use other methods to light their coals, though charcoal chimneys and newspapers are the most commonly used. If you don’t have much waste paper, you can also use other electric starters as an option. Some barbecuers use heat guns or loft lighters that you can plug into a nearby socket, while others might have an actual electric charcoal starter. Essentially, as long as the method doesn’t create toxic chemicals or chemical aftertastes to the food, you can use it to light your charcoal. 

How to charcoal grill

One benefit charcoal grills have is the ability to make indirect methods of grilling far easier. As the name suggests, indirect grilling involves barbecuing away from where the fire or main source of heat is. With charcoal, you can easily shift lit coals over to one side and grill your meat or veggies on the opposite side. In knowing how to use your charcoal grill well along with the different grilling methods, you can grill more than burgers and steaks. Keep in mind that you should only flip once - when the food’s halfway cooked.

As you’re barbecuing, make sure that you check and adjust your vents to control the flow of oxygen to the coals. Not only does this control how much heat you have in the grill and how quickly you can cook, but it also ensures that any wood chips or pellets that you use keep creating smoke. 

With these tips, grilling with your charcoal grill is as simple as putting meat on the grill and letting it cook. From there, all you need to do is clean and prep the grates for the food you’re going to grill.

How to clean up your grill

Cleaning your grill’s grates are simple but needed. Removing any charred food from the grates and any ash from the grill’s bowl should be done after every cooking session to ensure that the next time you use it, everything runs well. Dedicating every other week or sooner for a deeper clean makes sure that no rust or other damage can form but require more scrubbing.

It’s also a good idea to redo the seasoning on the grill’s after you do a deeper clean of your grates. This adds a layer of oil deeper into the surface of the grate that acts as a barrier against rust. It also adds the oil’s flavour as well as a nonstick barrier to the metal, so when you grill the next time, it becomes far easier to move and flip the food.


One of the most important steps in how to use your charcoal grill is to keep it as well maintained as possible. With a clean grate and a rust free grill, you can get far better results from it. A clean and seasoned grate prevents your food from sticking to it, making the perfect grill lines and smoky flavour that everyone loves. From there, the only thing you need is good food. If you need any tools or accessories that can help make using your charcoal grill easier, just visit Dickson Barbeque Centre to buy them.