How to Master Charcoal Grilling
There’s nothing like the smell of a charcoal grill being fired up to get us salivating and ready to enjoy the rest of the summer season. Grilling meat over charcoal imparts an extraordinary sear and smoky flavour that gas just can’t replicate. But having a little inside knowledge can really elevate your grill-game and make an immense difference between a great dinner and a not so hot one. Here are our tips to master charcoal grilling!
Choose your Fuel
The first, and perhaps most important question you should ask yourself when you’re about to light up your charcoal grill is, what type of charcoal should I be using? There are typically two types of charcoal to choose from: hardwood lump and briquettes. We recommend natural lump hardwood charcoal because it burns hotter, cleaner and lights faster then traditional charcoal briquettes—although it does have a shorter burn time. For an even smokier flavour, try adding wood chips to the mix!
Learn to Use Your Grill’s Dampers
Mastering charcoal grilling is all about controlling the heat! Although it seems straightforward, many people are often confused about how dampers work and what exactly they’re used for. The dampers on the lid of the grill function much like a chimney on a fireplace. They vent hot air and smoke out of the top of the grill while pulling fresh air through the bottom dampers. The bottom dampers however have precisely one function— to fuel the fire with oxygen. Typically you should start out with all the bottom dampers open and then gradually close each one to get the charcoals burning at the rate for the type of fire you want.
Arranging Your Coals is Essential
For foods that cook quickly such as hot dogs and hamburgers, simply lay the coals in the centre of the grill and distribute them evenly across the lower grate. However, for foods that take a longer time to cook, like ribs or a steak, you’ll want to build a two-zone fire. This creates a searing surface over the side with coals, and an indirect cooking area on the side without. Many of the charcoal BBQ recipes call for you to begin cooking on the hotter side, then finish on the cooler side, or vice versa.
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