How much charcoal to use?
My dear grill loving newbies! It’s been more than a year we are suffering from pandemic situation. Nevertheless, we controlled the situation agreeably and now we deserve a family reunion with our loved ones. How about a grill party then? We may cope up with new normal online life, but can we have a sensational grilling party on Zoom/Google meet/Microsoft team? I’m sure not. Those who are pro, may ignore this article.
The article is mainly for our upcoming rocking grillmasters. As you are aware technology has grasped grilling field as well. We have electric griller, infrared machines and so on. But still today the traditional charcoal grill outsmarted all others – at least I believe that. Now the magic of charcoal grilling lies to the perfect quantity of charcoal to create absolute seamless heat. Rest of the article shall give you the idea how much charcoal to use to have a perfect grill.
A short lineup what we are going to discuss
- How to get right quantity of charcoal (BBQ/Grill/Smoke)
- Tips on setting up the charcoal in a proper way
- Best way to lighting up the grill and maintain heat
- Some Do’s and Don’ts to follow in order to have a great grilling experience with charcoal
Let’s get into the topics one by one.
First the million-dollar question – How much charcoal to use?
Honestly the measurement depends on the cooking method (i.e. BBQ/Grill/Smoke) and the food you are going to cook at what temperature. Besides, its also depends on the size of the grills you will use. Needless to say, choosing the right quantity is a daunting task, but we will try to sort something for your – don’t worry.
To start with we would recommend you to get a charcoal chimney. This has double folded benefits. You can use it to lit up your grill besides utilizing it as a measuring cup.
If you like to do Grilling
The following chart gives you at a glance on the Grilling thumb rule
|Types of Food||Required Heat||Quantity|
|Chicken breasts, any kind of sea food specially filets of fish and shrimp, beef tenderloin, pork chops, lamb racks etc.||Low||1/4th of the chimney|
|Burgers (beef patty) and sausages||Medium||½ or ¾ of the chimney|
|Beef or pork steak (sear meat quickly)||High||¾ of full of the chimney|
If you prefer Smoking instead of Grilling
You may choose smoking instead of grilling, for that there shall be some changes in the quantity of charcoal to use. There are basically two types of methods we will discuss here
(i) Low and Slow
The tile itself describes that you are looking for slow cooking in low temperature. So, the easy math is you will use less charcoal and make it warm really slow so you can enjoy the party as well as cooking (you shall have 6-18 hours cooking time). Grillmasters usually follows minion method in such cases. This involves a small number of lighting briquettes on top of unlit briquettes that passes the heat to unlit ones and rise the temperature really slow. Nevertheless, you can manage the temperature through air vents. Once stabilized, the temperature shall run all day without much piddling.
(ii) Hot and fast smoking
You don’t want to wait long? Looking for fast cooking with smoky flavor? Hot and fast smoking method is for you. As the name depicts, you need to cook on and average at 150°C temperature. Therefore, you have to put more hot charcoals than Low and slow. Other methods are same. Just fill up the ring with hot charcoals and you are ready to start cooking right away. By the way, don’t forget about the byproduct of this method – lots of partially burned briquettes. However, you may keep them for future use.
2-zone cooking setup
Grillmasters love the 2-zone cooking setup. This is because it gives you more control on your cooking space, allows you control the temperature perfectly, lets you cook with direct and indirect heat and saves fuel.
2-zone cooking setup has no complexity. However, all it requires to heap up the charcoal on one side of the grill – that we call the ‘hot zone’. Where we shall cook with direct heat. Conceivably, the other side of the grill is known as ‘cool zone’ that uses indirect heat for cooking.
The 2-zone cooking method is excellent for situations where a good sear on a piece of meat Is expected, however, without a constant high heat.
Some popular ways to lighting your grill are:
- Chimney starter
- Lighter fluid/traditional lighter
My personal choice is chimney starter – a safe and quickest way to light the grill. And I am certain you will find it in your nearest hardware store. Newspaper don’t have such lighting power and Lighter fluid may direct towards an exploding hazard.
Do’s and Don’ts
Based on the discussion in the article let’s have a quick look at the Do’s and Don’ts
|Use a chimney starter to light the coals
|DON’T: Pour the coals into your grill before they’re ready.
|Preheat the grill before you start cooking||DON’T: Heat both sides of your grill to the same temperature.
|DON’T: Forget about the vents.
Quick tips: How to deal with Grease fire
The most common and inevitable problem Grillmasters face is ‘grease fire’ cause by the fat from the meat (specially beef). It is basically the small flare crated by the fat and can burn your meat excessively. You can deal this in two ways. Number one, spray some water whenever you see such flare is coming up. Number two, use a two-zone fire (discussed earlier) and just shift the meat to indirect heat zone. My personal choice is the later one as unbalanced water spray can make the charcoal wet and reduce the temperature.
At last not the least whatever we have discussed here to decide how much charcoal to use is completely rough estimation, please do some experimentation and certainly you will find your perfect ratios and become a rocking grillmaster. I wholeheartedly wish you all the best.