You’ve got yourself a shiny new charcoal grill and you’re looking forward to a summer of outdoor cooking. The only problem is that you haven’t cooked with charcoal before, and you’re not quite sure how to maintain temperatures when using solid fuel.
It’s a problem that all new charcoal owners go through. Thankfully, there are some easy solutions to keep your grill burning at its optimum temperature.
Maintain the Magic Temperature
Grilling enthusiasts and professional chefs will tell you that 225°F is the ideal temperature for cooking over charcoal. Unfortunately, measuring the ambient heat inside of a grill can be a challenge.
If your grill has a hood thermometer, you’ll have an advantage here. If it doesn’t, you can invest in an ambient probe like this Weber iGrill Pro.
Starting Your Grill is the Most Important Step
To keep your charcoal grill hot, you’ll need to get your coals started right. A chimney starter is the easiest way to do this. It’s also safer than starting the grill inside the firebox.
A chimney starter is a small cylinder designed to get all of your coals burning. In addition to making the first step easy, it also ensures even distribution of the coals and heat.
This GrillPro Chimney Charcoal Starter is a popular option that will get your grill going in just ten minutes.
Keeping the Charcoal Grill Hot
With temperature and a starter taken care of, you’ll now need to keep your grill hot throughout the session. There are a few things to manage on a charcoal grill, and understanding how it all works is essential.
Charcoal needs oxygen to burn. The dampers on your charcoal grill are designed to control the flow of oxygen from the air.
Open the dampers fully when starting the grill with your chimney. You can gradually close off the dampers if things start getting too hot, and open them again if the grill starts to cool.
The solid fuel will eventually burn out, so you need to keep a careful watch of your coals.
As they start to deplete and the temperature drops, place new coals in your chimney starter and get them burning before adding them to the grill.
You can also add coals directly onto the old ones. If you don’t mind dealing with some extra smoke, go ahead and simply add coals to the firebox.
You can continue to repeat this process for as long as you are cooking.
Keeping Your Charcoal Grill Hot is Easy!
Keep in mind that there are only a few steps here to remember.
Temperature matters. An ambient probe (or hood thermometer) will be useful.
It’s easier to start your grill using a chimney.
Dampers control the temperature as long as there are coals to burn. Open dampers to increase heat. Close or restrict dampers to cool the grill.
Add more coals as the old ones burn out. Use a chimney or put new coals directly in the firebox.
When you master the art of keeping a charcoal grill hot, you’ll enjoy long cooking sessions without inconvenience.