How to Start a Charcoal Grill

We usually grill with charcoal because it's the biggest grill we own right now. Here you'll find a list of helpful and must-have tools as well as a step-by-step guide for starting a charcoal grill.

Weber Charcoal Grill
Weber Charcoal Grill

Things you'll need

To start the grill:

To grill food:

How to Start a Charcoal Grill by

How to start a charcoal grill

Instructions will differ slightly depending on the type of grill you're using, use these as a starting point.

  1. Empty grill of any ash or leftover briquettes (the shovel may be useful here)
  2. Make sure all vents are fully open (lid and bottom of grill, if applicable)
  3. Put grill grate in place and make sure it is level
  4. Place 3 crumpled sheets of newspaper into the bottom of the charcoal chimney, fill chimney to the top with charcoal briquettes
  5. Lift chimney, light newspaper in chimney, once well lit, set on top of grill grate
  6. Let burn until flames reach the top of the charcoal
  7. Once you can see flames at the top of the chimney, remove grill grate and dump charcoal at the bottom of grill, spread evenly using ash shovel or bottom of chimney, replace grill grate
  8. Put lid on grill and allow grill to heat for 5 minutes or so
  9. Open lid, use wire brush to scrape grill clean
  10. Arrange briquettes per desired cooking method: 
    • direct (hotter, shorter cooking times for things like burgers, pork chops, sausages, boneless skinless chicken breasts, etc), leave briquettes evenly spread
    • indirect (for thicker foods like tri-trip, bone-in chicken, etc), remove grill grate, push briquettes to either side of grill using shovel, and grill food over the center, with briquettes on either side
Are you excited to try grilling for the first time? or a seasoned pro with tips to share? We'd love to hear from you in the comments!


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