There are many different types of charcoal to choose from when grilling. Some people prefer briquettes, while others go for lump charcoal. One thing that can make a big difference in flavor is how much you use.
This article will teach you the right amount of charcoal to use for smoking or grilling based on your needs and preference.
Many people are not sure how much charcoal to use for grilling and smoking. It is important to know the size of your grill or smoker, as well as the type of food you want to cook. When cooking on a gas grill, it may be necessary to adjust the heat by opening or closing vents.
This will affect how quickly your food cooks and can often help with flare-ups. However, when cooking on a charcoal grill, there’s no foolproof way to control temperature other than adjusting coals or adding new ones if needed.
Remember that the more coals you add, the higher your fire will burn so make sure you don’t overload! As always when cooking outdoors in any kind of weather condition, take precautions against possible injuries and take note of wind conditions.
The more coals you add, the longer it will take for them to ash over.
This blog post will also give some tips on what type of coal works best with certain foods, as well as what kind of grill to use for which dishes! So read on if you want some expert advice about cooking perfect food this summer!
What is charcoal and how does it work?
Charcoal is made from carbon-rich materials like wood, nutshells, and corncobs. The charcoal briquettes that we use for grilling and smoking are made from a blend of these materials. When heated, the charcoal will glow red and release heat. This heat is then used to cook food.
There are two main types of charcoal grills: the kamado and the offset. The kamado is a ceramic grill that is well-insulated and holds heat very well. The offset is a traditional steel grill with a firebox on one end and the cooking surface on the other.
There is also a newer type of charcoal grill called the pellet grill. This uses compressed wood pellets to create heat. Pellet grills often come with digital temperature controls, making them more like an oven than a grill.
What is the difference between grilling and smoking?
Grilling usually refers to cooking food over direct heat. The food is cooked quickly with high heat on a hot grill grate.
Smoking is a slower process that uses low heat and smoke to cook the food. This can be done with a smoker or a grill with a smoker box. The smoke adds flavor to the food and also helps to keep it moist.
Smoking generally requires less heat, around 225°F-275°F (110°C-135°C). At these lower temperatures, the heat cooks the meat more slowly and it absorbs flavors from hardwood smoke as it cooks.
Smoked meats are often cooked at higher altitudes because low pressure can make it difficult for smoke to circulate well, resulting in smoky but not well-flavored food. Smoking is best done outside because of the strong flavor that results from the wood smoke interacting with the meat juices.
However, you can also do smoking indoors under controlled conditions where there are no drafts or other contaminants that might affect the food.
How much charcoal should you use for grilling or smoking?
There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. It depends on the size of your grill or smoker, the type of food you are cooking, and the weather conditions.
However, as a general rule, you will need about 1/2 pound (227 g) of charcoal for every inch (2.5 cm) of grill grate.
So if you have a 10-inch (25 cm) grill grate, you will need about 5 pounds (2.3 kg) of charcoal. This number can vary depending on the type of charcoal and the brand.
When smoking, you will need less charcoal than when grilling. For example, when smoking a pork, you might only use 2-3 pounds (0.9-1.4 kg) of charcoal because the lower heat means that the coals are not burning as intensely, so they last longer.
Different types of grills and smokers will require different amounts. Use this guide as a general reference point, but it is always best to start with less charcoal than you think you need and add more as needed.
Large offset or kamado smoker: 20+ lbs (9-14 kg)
Small offset or kamado smoker: 15-18 lbs (7-8 kg)
Offset charcoal grill: 10 lbs (4.5 kg)
Kettle grill or ‘bullet’ smoker: 8 lbs (3.5 kg)
WSM – Weber Smokey Mountain : 15 lbs including water pan on top of coals for added humidity at 225°F 12-13 lbs (5.4-6 kg) for 250°F
Weber kettle grill: 7 lbs (3 kg)
The two main types of charcoal grills are the kamado and the offset. The kamado is a ceramic grill that is well-insulated and holds heat very well. The offset is a traditional steel grill with a firebox on one end and the cooking surface on the other.
There is also a newer type of charcoal grill called the pellet grill. This uses compressed wood pellets to create heat. Pellet grills often come with digital temperature controls, making them more like an oven than a grill.
How much charcoal to use for smoking?
For long, slow smokes (6-8 hours), you’ll need about 20-30 coals/coverage per hour. For shorter smokes (2-4 hours), you’ll need 30-50 coals/hour of coverage. What is the best charcoal for smoking?
There is no one definitive answer to this question as different people prefer different types of charcoal for smoking. Some good options include: oak, hickory, mesquite, apple, cherry and pecan.
How much charcoal to use for grilling?
For grilling, the general rule of thumb is that you need about one handful/coverage per item that you’re cooking. For a typical grill or smoker, this means you’ll use about 10-20 coals for a two to three hour session.
If you’re using an offset smoker, 15-30 coals should be sufficient. For direct heat grilling, How much charcoal do I need for a kettle grill?
If you are using a kettle grill, it can be difficult to determine how many coals you will need because there is no fixed guideline as far as quantities go. In short, start with 20 briquettes and experiment from there. You may have to add more at any given time depending on your cooking conditions.
How much charcoal do I need for a fire pit?
If you are using briquettes, expect to use about 15-20 coals per hour. If you are using lump, the amount will vary according to how hot and consistent your fire is. You’ll want about half as much if you use a chimney starter.
How to calculate the right amount of charcoal for your needs?
Here’s the formula you need to calculate how much charcoal you will need:
Required coals = (length of cook time in hours) x (your average temperature setting); divided by 2.5
This means for a four-hour cook session, you’ll want about 5 pounds of briquettes or 10 pounds of lump. If your goal is to keep a steady fire all day long, say during an 18-hour smoke, then you’ll need about 40 pounds of briquettes or 80 pounds of lump. How much charcoal should I use for overnight cooking?
For overnight cooking, use the same amount as what would be required for a normal cook session but just leave it burning overnight. How much charcoal do I need for smoking a turkey?
A good rule of thumb is to use about 1/2 lb. of charcoal for every pound of bird. This will provide enough heat to smoke the turkey evenly. How much charcoal do I need for smoking a brisket?
For smoking a brisket, you’ll need around 10-15 coals per hour.
How much charcoal should I use for a Weber Smokey Mountain (WSM)?
When using the WSM, you should use about 15 lbs of coal including the water pan on top of the coals for added humidity at 225°F or 12-13 lbs (5.4-6 kg) for 250°F. You can also use less coal if needed by removing the water pan. Alternatively, if you are using Lump charcoal, fill the charcoal chamber 1/2 to 3/4 of the way full.
Now that you know how much charcoal to use for different smoking and grilling needs, you can get started on your next outdoor cookout! Just remember to start slow and add more as needed to ensure a successful and delicious meal.
How do you light a charcoal grill or smoker?
There are many different ways to light a charcoal fire but here are some general guidelines for lighting your grill or smoker using paper and kindling. This technique is good for smaller kamado grills, bullet smokers, and other grills or smokers with small fireboxes or cooking surfaces.
For larger grills or cookers with bigger fireboxes, you will probably need to use either lighter cubes , chimney starter , electric starter , flammable liquids , etc., instead of paper and kindling. Be sure you follow all instructions and safety precautions for your specific device.
Why you should never use lighter fluid or gas to start a fire?
Lighter fluid and gas may make it easier to start a fire in your grill or smoker, but they also create an unhealthy and dangerous environment.
The fumes from both can cause serious health problems and are highly flammable, so they are best avoided. Instead, try one of the methods described below for a safe and healthy charcoal fire.
How to light a charcoal grill or smoker using paper and kindling:
1. Remove the cooking grate from the grill or smoker and place all of the unlit charcoal in the firebox or cooking surface.
2. If using chimney starter, fill it with crumbled newspaper then light it and let it burn until all of the coals are hot. Alternatively, you can use a fire starter cube for ready-to-use starters.
3. Spread the hot coals evenly across the bottom of the grill or smoker and pour any remaining kindling onto them. If needed, add 1 or 2 pieces of split wood to the blaze as well.
4. Place a small bundle of paper (2 sheets) next to each pile of charcoal and stuff it under all sides of the lump charcoal. The paper should be snug against the briquettes but not tightly compacted – leave room for airflow between pieces for maximum fuel efficiency and heat production .
5. Reassemble your grill or smoker and prepare to cook!
This technique is good for smaller grills with smaller cooking surfaces since it uses less charcoal. For larger grills or cookers, you will need to use a different lighting method. Be sure to follow all instructions and safety precautions for your specific device.
Where do you place the charcoal?
Light the paper at one end of the grate, underneath all the charcoal. The paper will burn for about 5-10 minutes, depending on how much it has been crumpled up.
If you are using kindling instead of paper, keep adding kindling until there is a thick layer of coals across most or all of the grate (depending on your grill model).
Once the coals are engaged (glowing red with flames rising from them), use tongs to push half of the lit coals into an even line across one side of the firebox. Place a few more small pieces of wood along this row—enough to create smoke once the fire is established.
Place the remaining lit coals in a pile near the opposite side of the firebox, away from any food you are cooking (though it’s best not to let bare coals touch raw meat anyway).
This will be your starting coal pile. Wherever you place this pile, don’t put it directly under your grill grate; that would create high heat and possibly lead to scorching or flare-ups.
You may need to experiment with different locations over time to figure out where works best for your grill or smoker—and where there is no risk of dripping grease hitting the coals and creating flames.
Tips on How to use charcoal griller/smoker:
Tips on how to get a good fire going:
-Attend to the fire at least every 45 minutes and add fresh paper and kindling if needed
-If you do need to add more than 1 or 2 pieces of wood, try using small sticks instead of logs so your fire doesn’t smolder and put out too much smoke
-Use a lighter cube or flammable fluid for faster ignition in cold weather or high altitudes where charcoal struggles to burn well
-Put aluminum foil on top of coals when cooking fish, chicken, sausages, veggies, etc. for easier cleanup
Tips on how to properly maintain your charcoal grill:
-Sweep excess ash off grate with a brush before preheating (less caked on ashes will keep coal lit longer)
-Keep cover on while cooking to trap heat and prevent ash from blowing into your food
-Clean the grate with a brass bristled brush after every use (when coals are completely cooled)
Tips on buying quality, long-lasting charcoals:
-Look for natural charcoals made from hardwoods like oak, hickory, or maple – these will burn the longest and produce the most consistent heat
-Avoid briquettes that are coated in chemical accelerants – they may be easier to light but they also produce more harmful fumes
-Some brands of lump charcoal come pre-soaked in a variety of flavors – these can add great smoky flavor to your food, but can also be expensive
-compare prices and weights between different brands before making a purchase to get the best deal
What kind of charcoal should I buy?
Different types of wood burn at different temperatures. The hotter the fire, the more easily it will ignite lump charcoal over other kinds.
Lump has no binders or filler, so it burns quickly and hot; briquettes are made up of coal dust, sawdust, dried plant material (such as coconut husks), waxes to help with ignition, and starch to keep the dust together – these ingredients create a longer-burning fuel that is less prone to catching fire.
There are many different types of charcoal on the market, and they all have different properties. The most popular type is briquettes, which are made of wood sawdust, ground-up nutshells, and other binders.
They come in a variety of flavors (mesquite, hickory, apple, etc.), and some brands are pre-soaked in oil to help create better-quality smoke. Lump charcoal is made of whole pieces of hardwood, which gives it a cleaner flavor but also makes it more difficult to control the heat.
How to Choose the right charcoal for your food?
If you’re looking for a strong, smoky flavor, then lump charcoal is the best option. It burns hotter and cleaner than briquettes, meaning that it’s less likely to affect the taste of your food.
However, it can be difficult to control the heat with this type of charcoal, so it might not be the best choice if you’re cooking something delicate like fish.
Briquettes are a better choice for beginners, as they are easier to light and maintain a consistent temperature. They come in a variety of flavors, so you can choose one that will complement the food you’re cooking.
However, they do produce more ash than lump charcoal, so you’ll need to clean your grill more often if you use them.
Different types of coal work better with certain types of food. For example, mesquite charcoal is great for smoking beef and pork, while oak is perfect for poultry and fish. You may need to experiment a little bit to find the best type of coal for your favorite recipes.
You can also use different types of coal to add different flavors to your food. Mesquite charcoal, for example, has a strong smoky flavor that goes well with red meat, while Applewood gives food a sweeter taste. Experiment with different types of coal to see what you like the best!
How to choose the right charcoal Grill/smoker for your dish?
The size of your grill will determine the type of charcoal you need to buy. If you have a small grill, then you’ll need to use lump charcoal, as it burns hotter and is easier to control than briquettes. If you have a large grill, then you can use either type of coal.
Another factor to consider is the shape of your grill. Some grills are round, while others are rectangular or square. This will affect how much coal you need to buy – for example, if you have a square grill, then you’ll need more briquettes than if you have a round one, as they take up more space.
You also need to decide what kind of you want. Some smokers use charcoal as the main fuel source, while others use a combination of charcoal and wood. If you want to smoke meat or fish, then you’ll need a smoker that uses charcoal as the heat source.
The type of food you cook will also determine the type of charcoal you need to buy. For example, if you’re cooking beef, pork, or poultry, then you’ll need to use mesquite or oak charcoal, as they produce the best flavor. If you’re cooking fish or vegetables, then you can use any type of coal.
When shopping for charcoal, be sure to compare prices and weights between different brands to get the best deal. Some brands sell briquettes for less than lump charcoal, but the briquettes are usually smaller and will run out more quickly.
The best way to grill and smoke with charcoal briquettes:
Lighting charcoal briquettes is different than lighting natural hardwood charcoal. Briquettes are made with various ingredients like wood, wax, and petroleum products, so they do not light as easily as natural hardwood. However, once they are lit, they will burn for a long time and produce consistent heat.
Here are the steps on how to light charcoal briquettes:
1. Remove the cooking grate from the grill and place all of the unlit charcoal in the firebox or cooking surface.
2. If using a chimney starter, fill it with crumbled newspaper then light it and let it burn until all of the coals are hot. Alternatively, you can use a fire starter cube for ready-to-use starters.
3. Once the coals are hot, carefully pour them onto the charcoal grate with a grill tool or tongs. Spread them out evenly to cover as much of the cooking surface as possible and then replace the lid.
4. When you can hold your hand about 5 inches above the cooking grates for no more than 3-5 seconds, the temperature is around 350 degrees Fahrenheit (175 degrees Celsius). You can purchase a smoker/grill thermometer to keep an eye on temperatures at any level throughout your cooking process.
If you need to add more charcoals after 45 minutes of cooking time, place new unlit pieces around existing hot coals and wait 20 – 30 minutes before lighting another round of briquettes to let the grill come up to cooking temperature again.
Tips on how to cook with charcoal briquettes:
Now that you know how to start and maintain your charcoal grill or smoker, we will give you some tips on how to cook with it like a pro!
If you are cooking food directly over the coals, make sure to use a wire brush to clean the grate of any excess grease or food particles before cooking. This will help prevent them from burning and creating unpleasant flavors or aromas.
When grilling fish, chicken, or delicate meats, it is best to place them on top of a sheet of aluminum foil. This will help prevent them from sticking to the grate and also make for easy cleanup.
If you are using charcoal, it is important to note that there are different types. Some brands come pre-soaked in a variety of flavors, which can add great smoky flavor to your food, but also make them more expensive.
To avoid flareups, don’t try to move foods around too much when they’re cooking – this will disturb the natural juices and cause you to lose out on good grill marks and flavors. Wait until the end of the cooking process before making any adjustments or turning meats over.
Lastly, we recommend that you do not use lighter fluid to light charcoal briquettes because it is made with petroleum by-products and creates harmful fumes when burned.
By following these simple steps, you should be well on your way to becoming a master with your charcoal grill or smoker. Now, go show off your skills to all of your family and friends!
FAQs on How Much Charcoal To Use:
How many briquettes do I need to use?
This will depend on the size and type of grill, as well as the amount and type of food you are cooking. A good rule of thumb is to use about 20-25 briquettes for a standard 22-inch grill.
Can I use lighter fluid to light my charcoal grill?
No, using lighter fluid is not recommended because it creates harmful fumes when burned. There are other methods available that we outlined in our tutorial on How To Light A Charcoal Grill or Smoker Without Using Lighter Fluid.
How do I start a charcoal fire?
There are a number of ways to light your charcoal, but our favorite method is using a chimney starter. If you need a refresher, take a look at our tutorial on How To Start A Charcoal Fire Without Lighter Fluid
What kind of food can I cook on a charcoal grill?
Almost anything! You can grill chicken, steaks, burgers, hot dogs, vegetables, and even pizza.
One of the most popular things to cook on a charcoal grill is ribs. There are many different methods for cooking ribs, but the most common is indirect heat.
This means that the ribs are cooked not over the direct heat source, but rather off to the side. This prevents them from drying out and allows them to absorb more smoke flavor.
How long does charcoal last for?
This will depend on the type of charcoal you use, as well as how hot it is. A general rule of thumb is about 2 hours for a standard 22-inch grill.
How long do I cook chicken on a charcoal grill?
As with most meat, it’s best to cook chicken over indirect heat at about 300°F until it reaches an internal temperature of 165°F or higher. Once you have reached 165°F, place sauce on top and continue cooking until the sauce has caramelized to your liking.
Then turn up the heat and sear both sides for a few minutes until they become nice and crispy!
Is there anything else?
Remember that a clean grate is extremely important because any leftover bits or food particles will affect the flavor of your food. So keep a clean grill brush handy to scrub down your grate before lighting your charcoal. You can find our recommended grills on Amazon here!
Final Thoughts on How Much Charcoal To Use:
We hope you have enjoyed this article on the different types of charcoal and tips for how to use it. As a final note, make sure that your grill is hot before placing coals in or onto it.
If your grill is not hot enough, it will affect the overall cooking time. We hope you have enjoyed this article on how much charcoal to use and look forward to seeing you again soon!
If you need any more information about grilling with charcoal, feel free to reach out! Contact us today if you would like help finding the right type of coal for what dish you are cooking up.
With our team’s expertise in all things related to outdoor living, we can provide guidance from start to finish when it comes to selecting your new grill or smoker as well as which fuel will work best for each meal.
We can’t wait to hear from you so shoot us a message using the contact form above!