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Banish your charcoal grilling fears with this 101 on fuel, lighting and more

Choose the best kind of charcoal (briquettes vs. hardwood charcoal), learn to use a chimney starter and how to create a two-zone fire.
/ Source: TODAY

Charcoal grilling 101

June 25, 201501:34

Choose your fuel

Two popular options are charcoal briquettes and hardwood charcoal (aka lump charcoal).

Briquettes pros:

  • Inexpensive
  • Light easily
  • Burn a long time

Briquettes cons:

  • Contain binders and chemicals

Hardwood charcoal pros:

  • No additives
  • Imparts a natural smoky flavor
  • Burns hotter Leaves less ash than briquettes

Hardwood charcoal cons:

  • More expensive
  • May burn out faster than briquettes

Forget the stove! Cook a whole meal on the grill

How to light the grill using a chimney starter

  1. Open the grill's vent.
  2. Bunch up paper (such as newspaper or craft paper or even the bag the charcoal came in).
  3. Fill the space under wire rack at the bottom of the chimney with loosely packed paper.
  4. Remove top grate from grill, and place chimney inside.
  5. Fill the chimney with charcoal (briquettes or lump).
  6. Light paper (you may need to light it in multiple places to get the fire going)
  7. Allow to burn until charcoal is lightly covered with white-gray ash, about 10 to 20 minutes.
  8. Wearing heat-proof grill gloves, grasp chimney by handles and pour charcoal into the grill.

Grill the ultimate burger with Billy Dec's recipe and tips

How to create a two-zone fire

  • Mound more coals on one side of the grill for higher temperature cooking.
  • Use the side with less charcoal for lower temperature cooking.
  • When grilling, sear foods on hot zone, then move to cool zone to cook through without charring.
  • The cool side is also good for holding foods before serving.

Pitmaster Chris Lilly's top 3 tips for cleaning your grill