How To Use A Small Charcoal Grill – Complete Guide

How To Use A Small Charcoal Grill

A small charcoal grill is often ideal for small families and also for traveling. Cooking steaks and burgers over direct heat are as good as grilling on a larger grill. However, when it comes to cooking over indirect heat, using a small charcoal grill can prove to be a challenge for many. For this reason, we have prepared this article to give you a simple guide on how to use a small charcoal grill.

Why Choose A Charcoal Grill?

A charcoal grill brings out such a beautiful and enticing smell that automatically gets you salivating as you get ready to celebrate summer. Many other advantages come with choosing a charcoal grill, which includes; light easily, they are inexpensive and burn long and steady. Simultaneously, it results in a more intense and smoky flavor that you will fall in love with.

Things You Need To Grill With a Small Charcoal Grill

There are a few things that you need to grill your food using a small charcoal grill effectively. Below is a list of the essential ones and their use.

  1. 1
    Small Charcoal Grill: A grilling process can never be successful without a grill in place.
  2. 2
    Charcoal: This will be the source of fuel.
  3. 3
    Lighter Fluid: A lighter fluid is essential for lighting the grill.
  4. 4
    Wire grill brush: this comes in handy most when grilling sticky or oily food. The brush is used to apply vegetable oil on the grill surface to prevent food from sticking.
  5. 5
    Long-handled tongs: these come in handy when moving coals on the grill especially when grilling the food using indirect heat.
  6. 6

    Vegetable oil: This is applied on the grilling surface to prevent food from sticking on it.

  7. 7
    Spray bottle of water: For safety purposes, you will need a spray bottle of water to put off any accidental fires or sustained flare-ups.
  8. 8
    Aluminum drip pan: This is optional as it is used when you want to catch drippings when cooking using indirect heat. At the same time, you can use it to control the temperatures when cooking food for an extended period of time.
  9. 9
    A wire brush: This is used to clean the surface of the grill.
  10. 10
    Hand broom/stiff brush: Comes in handy for sweeping out the bottom of the grill.

Simple Guide To Using a Charcoal Grill

Using a charcoal grill can be very intimidating. However, the steps outlined below can make things much easier and more bearable for you.

Heating The Grill

There are very many advantages that come with using a small charcoal grill. However, you will never be able to enjoy all this without first learning how to heat the grill. Heating the grill follows the simple steps listed below:

Step 1

Place the grill on a level surface outdoors, away from roofs, overhanging trees, and other structures. Open the vent on the bottom of the grill.

Step 2

Remove the grilling rack as well as the lid from the grill. In a pyramid, pile charcoal briquettes at the center of your grill. For every pound of meat you plan to cook, you will need at least 30 briquettes of charcoal. This might, however, increase or decrease depending on the climate. On wet, cold, or windy days you will need more charcoal.

Step 3

Sprinkle at least 2 ounces lighter liquid/fluid on top of the charcoal, ensuring that each briquette gets coated. Light the charcoal carefully using a match. The lid is supposed to be kept off until the coals are totally hot and ready to cook.

Step 4

Heat the coals for around 20 to 25 minutes. By this time, there will be a layer of white ash covering the charcoal.

Step 5

Spread out the charcoal and cover the bottom of your grill if you want to grill your food directly. However, in case you want to use indirect heat, bank them to the side. To move the coals, use the long-handled tongs.

Step 6

Use vegetable oil to coat the grill rack to prevent sticking. The vegetable oil can be spread using a brush or a saturated paper towel. To place back the grilling surface on the grill, wear mitts for safety purposes. Before you place your food on the grill, make sure that the grill surface is fully heated up.

How To Grill Over Indirect Heat

When it comes to grilling, you can choose to use direct heat or indirect heat. This is, however, determined by the kind of food you are cooking. When it comes to grilling large cuts of meat like turkeys, roasts, and chickens that require more prolonged cooking, indirect heat works better. You can also use indirect heat for cooking fatty meats and foods that need lower heat like fish fillets.

When it comes to grilling meat over indirect heat, the following steps are followed:

Step 1

When using a small grill to grill using indirect heat, it is not a walk in the park. This is because the cooking surface is too close to the charcoal. Therefore, you need to be more careful with the grilling. To make it easier for you, the first thing you need to do is to move charcoal to one side of the grill. This will ensure that no coals are left at the center.


Once this is done, place a drip pan between the burning coals if you desire to catch the drippings. You can add a thin layer of cold water on the drip pan if cooking foods that require long cooking times.

Step 2

After ensuring that there are no coals left at the center of the grill, it is time to get to the second step of placing your meat there. Close the lid and let it remain closed unless when basting the meat. Check for doneness, and if not convinced about it, add more coals.

Step 3

When you need more cooking time, add additional charcoal. Every hour you add to your cooking, you will need to add more charcoal to ensure you get even cooking. Place 16 to 18 maximum briquettes around the outer part of the hot charcoal. Allow them to heat for around 20 minutes before you need them.

How To Grill Using Direct Heat

More control is needed when grilling with direct heat. Luckily, you have the vents to control the temperatures. To get fire, keep the vents open throughout the cooking time. However, when you need to lower the heat partially, close the vents. Below are the simple steps you need to follow to get perfect results.

Step 1

For greatest heat in the grill, place your food at the center of the grill. Alternatively, you can move it to the side where the grill is too hot. Before you turn the food, allow it to be brown on one side. If you turn the food too often, you will prevent it from building a nice crust. This will not only affect the taste of the food but also might cause it to fall apart.

Step 2

To be on the safe side, have a spray bottle of water at hand to deal with flare-ups in case they happen. Most flare-ups don't need any special attention as they quickly die off after a short time. However, if they are too large or take long to go off, the spray bottle of water might come in handy. The flare-ups char quickly, leaving undesirable flavors behind.

How To Clean A Small Charcoal Grill

To ensure that you maintain your family and friends' good health, you need to ensure the grill is clean at all times. If you are not an expert in grilling, you might have a problem cleaning your grill for the first time. However, after reading this guide, this is not going to be a problem anymore. Below are simple steps to follow to keep your grill as clean as new.

Step 1

Once you are through with the grill, close the lid and the vents. Allow the grill to cool down for 48 hours at most before dumping the coals. In case you want to dispose of hot coals, pick them one by one using long tongs. To avoid burns and fire accidents, bury the hot coals in a bucket of water or sand.

Step 2

Using a wire brush, clean the surface of the grill. In case of burned foods, scrub with the wire brush to remove it.

Step 3

Dump the cold ashes before sweeping out the bottom of your grill using a stiff brush or a hand broom.

Final word:

Summer comes up with the fun of firing up the grill. Although gas grills are more convenient and indeed easy to use, meals prepared on a charcoal grill are truly special. Charcoal is typically less expensive than gas, and the results of your cooking are just excellent. Give it your best and enjoy that smoky taste coming from those juicy sausages, burgers, or chicken!