how to bbq on a charcoal grill

How to BBQ on a Charcoal Grill: Nailing That Incredible Flavour

Last Updated on January 10, 2023

A charcoal grill infuses a smoky flavour on a steak and cooks it evenly on all sides. Not to mention, cooking with charcoal is an inexpensive way of barbecuing meat at home.

To get a perfectly cooked steak, you have to be quite careful while barbecuing meat. Cooking over high heat for long periods can dry off the steak.

In this post, you will learn how to bbq on a charcoal grill using both direct and indirect heat. We will also give you some tips on barbecuing different types of food as well as show you the most effective method of cooking steak.

Let’s take a look at the different steps you need to follow while barbecuing on a grill.

Step 1: Light the Barbecue Grill

For starters, you have to light your charcoal barbecue grill. You can use a chimney starter or an electric starter to start a fire.

While a lighter fluid might be efficient in lighting a barbecue grill, it might leave some chemical residues that may affect the taste of your food. You have to be quite careful while choosing a lighter fluid. You should opt for one that burns with a clean flame.

If you want to light charcoal with a chimney starter, start by putting some barbecue coals in the chimney starter. After that, use a newspaper to light a fire at the bottom part of the charcoal chimney. The flames should ignite the briquettes at the bottom part of the starter.

Leave the briquettes to burn for about 15 minutes. If the briquettes produce clean flames, open the lid of the grill and pour them into your barbecue grill. This is the easiest method of lighting your grill. The grill becomes ready-to-use when the charcoal produces grey ash.

You can control the heat by opening and closing the vents of the grill. Add some charcoal and dispose of the ash after a certain period. Adding coals will keep the fire burning. You should only do so again when the fire starts to dim out.

Pro-Tip: To prevent different types of food from sticking on your grilling grates, make sure to apply some vegetable oil on them. You can dip a towel on some vegetable oil, then apply it to the grilling grate. You can also use a brush.

Grilling on High Temperatures

Wondering how long a charcoal barbecue grill might take to attain the optimum temperature?

Well, charcoal briquettes may take around 10 minutes to produce high-temperature heat. Opening the charcoal barbecue grill’s vents can increase its internal temperatures by speeding up the oxygen combustion process. You can also close the lid to stop heat losses.

Once you attain the optimum temperature, separate the charcoal briquettes into two piles. Pile more briquettes on one side than the other side (leave a few briquettes on the other side).

One side of your grill should have high-temperature heat, while the other side should have low-temperature heat. High temperatures are suitable for vegetables and beefsteak.

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Grilling on Low Temperature

Charcoal briquettes may take about 30 minutes to produce medium heat. A medium-temperature heat is perfect for cooking beef steaks, chicken breasts, and pork chops. It helps you grill a piece of steak to the perfect doneness. You can open the lid of the grill to reduce the temperature in the interior compartments.

Step 2: Cooking and Grilling

The process may vary depending on the type of meat or food you’ll be cooking. To explain further, we have a separate guide for each kind.

A Piece of Beef Steak

Start by searing the beef steak on your barbecue grill.

Simply put, searing is the process of cooking food over high heat for a short time. The grilling grate should be close to the charcoal during this process.

To get those sleek and attractive grill lines on your steak, you have to sear the meat for a short time. Searing also makes your steak crunchy and crusty.

Put the beef steak on the grill grate and let it sear for around five minutes. Turn it around and leave the other side to sear for five minutes more. While searing is an effective way of making your steak crunchy, it can dry off your steak if you overdo it.

After that, place the beef steak close to medium-temperature heat and allow it to rest there for a few more minutes. This slowly cooks the interior part of the beefsteak to the perfect doneness. A cooking thermometer can help you monitor whether your steak is cooked or not.

The cooking time might differ, depending on how well you want your steak to be cooked. For instance, a medium-rare steak takes less time to cook, while a well-done takes longer to get to the perfect doneness. Plus, the thickness of a steak might affect the cooking time.

Also, the appearance differs. A medium-rare steak has a pinkish colour, while a well-done steak looks brown in the interior part.

Pork Chops

Pork can be easily cooked over direct heat. Just place the pork chops on your grilling grate and let them cook for a certain period. Pork takes less time to cook than beef steaks. If you are cooking thick chunks of meat, you can move them to indirect heat to get the perfect doneness.

Flip the pork chops after a certain amount of time so that it cooks evenly on all sides. After that, place a meat probe thermometer on the pork chops to check whether it is cooked or not. If the pork chops have a temperature of about 145°F, then they are done.


Just like pork, chicken and turkey can be easily cooked over direct heat. While beef can be eaten in a medium-rare form, an undercooked chicken can pose some health risks. For example, it may contain salmonella that may cause serious infections.

To get rid of such bacterias, you have to cook poultry meat at high temperatures. Check whether the meat is nicely cooked by inserting a meat probe thermometer into the chicken. The optimum temperature for well-cooked poultry is 165°F.

You can season it with some sauce in the last 20 minutes of your grilling session.

Barbecuing Fish and Seafood

You have to be quite cautious while barbecuing fish and seafood. If you cook it over high temperatures, it might dry off quickly. Fish and seafood should be grilled over low-temperature heat to retain their moisture. Fish takes a shorter time to get cooked. You can season your fillet on the last 20 minutes of the grilling session.

On the other hand, if you are cooking a tuna steak, just follow the same procedure for grilling a beefsteak. Sizzle it first, then place it over medium heat for a certain period.

Are You Ready to Start Grilling?

If you follow the tips that have been listed here, you will quickly master how to bbq on a charcoal grill. It is an easy process that takes a short time. Soon enough, your barbecuing skills will improve. You will be able to cook and prepare different types of food on the grill.

Just make sure that you cook food at the right temperature. For instance, if you want to cook a beefsteak to the perfect doneness, you have to place it over medium heat. Use the vents to regulate the heat inside the barbecue grill. You can open the vents to speed up the combustion process. On the other hand, you can close the vents if you want the reduce the temperatures inside.

Don’t forget to tell us about your cooking experience after following this guide! Share your tips and comments below.

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