10 Ways to Keep a Charcoal Grill Hot While Cooking

Have you neglected your once-loved charcoal grill because it didn’t stay hot while cooking/grilling? Charcoal grilling is one of the most authentic ways to cook outdoors – but let’s admit it: as heavenly as the smoky aroma might seem, charcoal gives the most challenging time lighting up and maintaining its temperatures.

How to Keep a Charcoal Grill Hot

Unlike gas grills, maintaining consistent temperatures inside charcoal grills is critical to ensuring that your meat is barbecued to the desired tenderness. Using the correct instruments, constantly disposing of the ashes, managing air ventilation inside the grill, and experiencing two-zone cooking are the top ways to keep your charcoal grill hot while cooking.

You might find handling charcoal difficult, but not if you have the right guide! Read on to find the top ways to keep charcoal grills hot and beat charcoal’s volatile heat! Let’s get started!

10 Ways to Keep Charcoal Grill Hot

Here a 10 things to consider that will help you keep a charcoal grill going.

1. Make Sure Your Grill Can Retain Heat

Having a grill with good insulating properties can drastically lessen your efforts in keeping it hot while cooking. Ceramic and metal grills are the best as they retain the most heat.

Even after buying a grill with excellent heat-insulating materials, you should give it time to pre-heat it. Additionally, you should make sure the charcoal reaches get hot enough before throwing in your protein.

Also Read: How long Does a Charcoal Grill Stay Hot

2. Invest In a Good Thermometer

Knowing how hot your charcoal grill is will help you maintain the high temperatures.

Let’ first look at how hot the grill should be. The temperature will depend on what you’re doing and what meat your cooking. If you’re smoking you usually around the 225°F temperature mark. High temperature grilling is around 400°F and above, medium is around 300-350°F and low is indirect cooking and therefore the same as when smoking. The temperatures are of course guidelines, not the final word.

Unfortunately, unlike their gas equivalents, most charcoal grills don’t have a temperature gauge built in. Investing in a suitable quality grill can do wonders in helping you maintain your grill’s temperature. They correctly measure the ambient temperature inside the grill, giving you ample time to focus on the other ways of keeping your grilling hot when grilling.

If You Don’t Have a Grill Thermometer

Most people don’t have a thermometer attached to their charcoal grill. And to be honest, with a bit experience and practice you can definitely get away with just winging it. To check the temperature simply just open the lid and extend you hand a few inches above the grill. If you can only keep it there for a 1 or 2 second you’re probably around 450°F, if you can keep it there for 3-4 seconds you’re probably around 300-350°F, and 5-6 is around 250-300°F

3. No Airflow, No Fire – No Fire, No Heat!

Maintaining a good airflow on your BBQ is critical to keeping the fire lit and hot. If the fire is deprived of oxygen, it will slowly run out decreasing the temperature.

Charcoal grills these days have vents that enable a hotter fire by improving airflow inside the grill. Ensure the vents are open when setting up the grill and lighting up the coal. Ideally, you should leave the top vents (exhaust damper) open and adjust the bottom vents (intake dampers) as needed to maintain a consistent temperature inside your charcoal grill.

4. Clear The Ashes from Your Grill

Charcoal produces a lot of ash when burning, which accumulates at the bottom of the grill. These ashes can blanket the burning coals, slowly extinguishing them and limiting proper ventilation. Clearing out ashes from your grill can enhance the oxygen flow around the fuel, increasing its ability to stay hot.

If your grill has a simple ash disposal system (these are the best charcoal grills to have), use it every 30-60 minutes while grilling. You’ll have to empty the ashes by hand using a scoop if it doesn’t. Just be careful not to overdo it to the point where your cooking temperature is affected.

5. Use a Chimney Starter

To maintain your charcoal grill’s heat when cooking, you must first light it up. Out of the various ways to light a charcoal grill, the best method is to use a chimney starter.

Chimney starters are tall coffee mug-like containers into which you place your charcoal. The vessel serves three purposes: it produces a well-aerated space for your coals to fire in; it is appropriately shaped to let your heat travel upwards as it burns the charcoal; and it shields the coals from the weather, allowing them to burn without interruption.

In addition to being the safest and most reliable way to start your BBQ, chimney starters also provide an even distribution of coals and, as a result, consistent hot temperatures throughout the duration of your cookout.

Also Read our article on how to use a chimney starter

6. Use Good-Quality Charcoal

Quick question: if you had to choose between grilling a sirloin and a rib eye, which would you go for? The rib eye, right? Similar to how the cut of meat would dictate your barbecue experience, the type of coal you select will determine how long your outdoor grill station stays hot.

Even though it might cost extra, good-quality coal can avoid fuel wastage and save your precious time and effort. The type of coal you should use depends upon your protein. Lump charcoal is ideal for beef steaks because of its intense heat. When roasting chicken, however, you should go for briquettes as they burn for longer durations.

7. Build a 2 Zone Fire

Raking out the coal of varied thicknesses from your grill is also an excellent way to keep the equipment hot while cooking. It’s like picking out the black sheep from the already black coal! Doing this creates two cooking zones, which are excellent for achieving suitable grilling temperatures.

Dividing charcoal grills into two zones is also essential for efficient temperature regulation. Moreover, mastering this technique will allow you to utilize your grill as a smoker.

How to Create a Two-Zone Fire?

  • Transfer the coal to one side of the charcoal grill, creating a mountain of charcoal
  • Cover around 1/2 to 2/3 of your grill’s area with coal
  • Remove the cooking grate
  • You can now use the area directly above the flame for grilling or direct cooking, while the area further from the coals is excellent for indirect cooking.

Tips for When You Are Practicing to Keep Your Charcoal Grill Hot While Cooking/Grilling

The steps listed below will help you prevent your steak from turning into a disaster while you are practising to keep your charcoal grill hot while cooking/grilling:

8. Adjust the Height of the Grill Racks

The nearer the food is to the fire, the hotter the heat will be, and the food will cook faster. If your charcoal grill has adjustable grates, you can raise or lower them to adjust the distance between the charcoal and your meat.

9. Make a Grill Shield

If your food starts to cook and burn faster than you want, build a grill shield by folding a piece of heavy-duty aluminium foil in thirds like a letter and sliding it underneath the food. The foil will act as a barrier between the open flames and your protein, slowing the cooking process.

10. Add More Coal If Needed

If your charcoal grill stays cold even after implementing these tips, you probably use less charcoal than your grill and meat demands. Simply said, as the charcoal begins to burn through and the temperature begins to fall, add a bit more.

Final Thoughts

Obtaining high heat efficiency when cooking over coals is crucial to grill proteins, especially for a crowd. Not to forget, it saves you from the embarrassment in front of your guests. With our guide on keeping your charcoal grill hot while cooking, you can rest assured of delivering piping hot steaks and sausages on your barbecues!

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