How To Start A Charcoal Grill?

Have you just brought home your new grill, but you’ve never started one before? Do not worry: it’s easier than you might think.


Furthermore, knowing exactly what to do and the best tips to start a charcoal grill will make things even easier for you! In this article, we’re discussing how to start a charcoal grill.

Read: What Are The Benefits Of Grill?

Also Read: How To Use A Charcoal Grill?

Before You Get Started

It all begins with the right preparation.

1. Clean The Grill

Clean The Grill

Whether your grill it’s new, or you’ve already used to it, cleaning it properly is very important. You don’t want that any odor or flavor end up on your food while cooking. So, make sure you clean the grill properly, even if it’s brand new.

Charcoal Choice

The choice of charcoal is important for the quality of the cooking, the temperature that you can reach with your grill, and the taste of the food.

As you may know, there are different types of charcoal: you can choose the one you like, but it’s important that you check that it’s 100% natural.

If it’s not, not only it won’t burn properly, but all the chemicals trapped in it will end up on your food, and you’re going to eat them! 1

2. Start Your Charcoal Grill

Arrange The Charcoal

Arrange The Charcoal

It’s now time to start your grill. First, you need to put the charcoal inside the grill. The best method is by using a charcoal chimney.

You can build one like this:

  • Put the charcoal in the chimney (charcoal grills come with it). How much charcoal should you put in there? It is specified on your product. In general, you want the charcoal to reach the top but not overflow.
  • You should have some room to place the starter under the chimney.

3. Light Your Grill

Light Your Grill

You can now light the starter. When you start seeing flames, you can pour coals onto the grill. Put the grate above the hot pieces of charcoal, and you can cook your food.

How to start a charcoal grill with lighter fluid?

If your grill doesn’t come with a chimney, you can start it more simply: 

  • Remove the grate from the grill
  • Distribute some pieces of charcoal on the grill. Arrange it so that it covers all the surfaces. Just leave some space on the edge so that you can make sure you can move the pieces around if needed.
  • Now you can move some lighter fluid evenly over the pieces of charcoal.

You need to wait now, at least 30 seconds. This is important, but almost no one does it. Wait for 30 seconds before lighting the charcoal.

After 30 seconds, you can carefully and safely light the charcoal. When the coals start turning white, it’s time to put the grate over the charcoal because the grill is ready to cook your food.

Read: 5 Best Weber Charcoal Grills

How To Start a Charcoal Grill With a Lighter Fluid?

Using lighter fluid can be dangerous if not done properly. Hence, here is a step-by-step guide on how you can start a charcoal grill with a lighter fluid:

  1. Start arranging your charcoal pieces into a pyramid shape on a large base and start stacking the coals into smaller layers.
  2. Now pour the lighter fluid as per the package instructions or till it coats evenly on the charcoal.
  3. Now leave the charcoal as it is for 30 seconds to that the fluid can soak in completely.
  4. Using a grill lighter with a long nose, start lighting the charcoal in several different places.
  5. All the coal pieces would catch fire, and when they turn white, you can use them for cooking your food. 2

How To Start a Charcoal Grill Using a Chimney?

Many people prefer a charcoal chimney for lighting coals. Let us look at how to do this:

  1. Fill your chimney with coal till it reaches the top. Make sure it does not start overflowing.
  2. Now place some newspaper or paper cups on top and light the starters under the chimney, and make sure to keep an eye on it for the next 10 minutes or more.
  3. When you see the flames around the coal, you can flip the chimney by grabbing the handle and pouring the coal out.
  4. Spread the coals on the grate when you see they have turned white. 3

Why should you use a Charcoal Chimney and tips for using it

How To Start a Charcoal Grill Using an Electric Starter?

Using an electric fire starter is another quick way to light the charcoals. Here’s how you can use this perfectly:

  1. The first step is to arrange the charcoal on the grill in a pyramid shape.
  2. Plug in the fire starter and place the nose on the coal. It will start heating right away.
  3. Pull the fire starter away from the charcoals once you see them sparking.
  4. Move around the fire starter near the coal pyramid until the fire starts, and then move it away.
  5. You can spread the coal on the grate once it turns white.

How To Set Up a Charcoal Grill?

Setting Up The Coals in a Charcoal Grill For Different Types Of Cooking

Wrapping Up

Sure, using a charcoal grill requires more effort as compared to gas grills, but the taste of the food cooked on a charcoal grill is much more delicious than a gas grill. And learning this skill is going to pay you off.


How long does a charcoal grill take to get ready?

Depending on the quantity of charcoal that you are using, it will take 15-20 minutes for the briquettes to be ready.

For how long does charcoal burn?

The burning time of the charcoal depends on the quality of the charcoal that you use. Ideally, charcoal lumps burn for two-three hours, whereas briquettes burn for four-five hours.

Should I keep the grill lid open or closed while lighting charcoal?

Keep the lid open while arranging and lighting the charcoal. Close the lid when the charcoal is well-lit.

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