Grilling with charcoal is an art form and mastering it will take time and practice. But if you’re willing to put in the effort, grilling over charcoal can be incredibly rewarding.

The smoky flavor that charcoal imparts on food is truly unique, and the method of cooking allows you to create tender yet slightly charred dishes that are perfect for any outdoor gathering or summer barbecue.

By understanding how to properly use your grill and choose the right type of fuel for your recipe, you’ll be able to make delicious grilled meals every time.

Types of Charcoal to Grill

Charcoal is the traditional fuel for grilling and there are several types to choose from. Lump charcoal is made of 100% hardwood without added chemicals, so it burns clean, hot, and fast.

Briquettes are compressed charcoal with added binders and fillers like sawdust or coal dust. They provide a longer burn time but don’t get quite as hot as lump charcoal.

Charcoal briquettes can also contain additives such as lighter fluid or flavorings which can affect the taste of your food.

Finally, there’s natural wood charcoal which is made by burning wood in a low-oxygen environment until all that remains is pure carbon. Natural wood charcoal produces an intense heat and smoky flavor making it an excellent choice for grilling.

No matter what type of charcoal you use, be sure to give it time to get hot before adding food to the grill. That way your food will cook evenly and have a great grilled flavor every time!

How to Grill with Charcoal? Measure the Heat

After you get your charcoal grill started, one of the key aspects of how to grill with charcoal is measuring the heat of your grill. 

Here’s a grilling tip for you: You can do it by using only your hand.

The trick is in the timing. Hold your hand five inches away from the grill. The longer you can hold your hand over the grill the lower the heat. Yes, this is extremely logical. That’s why we like it.

Here is a handy guide (sorry about that pun folks) that tells you temperature for a given time. Try not to singe your palms.

Intensity of FireTime you can hold your hand 5 inches above the grate.
Hot Fire2 seconds
Medium-Hot Fire3 to 4 seconds
Medium Fire5 to 6 seconds
Medium-Low Fire7 seconds

Tips for using this trick with charcoal: Once the coals have been spread out on the bottom of the grill, put the grate in place and cover for five minutes. Then place your palm five inches above the grate. Measure the time. Now you know a little bit more about how to grill with charcoal.

Gas: Preheat your gas grill with the hood down. Make sure all burners are on high for 15 minutes. Then place your palm five inches above the grate. Measure the time. Yes, this is a post about how to grill with charcoal, but we didn’t want to exclude anyone.

Learn more about how to grill with charcoal, from the BBQ Pit Boss.

This tip on how to grill with charcoal (and with gas) was brought to you by the Pit Boss BBQ Tool Belt.  The Pit Boss BBQ Tool Belt makes and outstanding grilling gift for him.

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