How to Know When A Charcoal Grill Is Ready?

18 minutes read

Knowing when a charcoal grill is ready involves observing certain visual cues and gauging the temperature. Here are some indicators to look for:

  1. Ash-covered charcoal: Before cooking, the charcoal should be gray or covered in a layer of white ash. This indicates that the briquettes have burned evenly and are ready for cooking. Avoid cooking on flaming or black charcoal as it may cause uneven heat distribution.
  2. Consistent heat: Place your hand around 6 inches (15 cm) above the grill grate. If you can hold it there for about 2-3 seconds before feeling the heat becoming unbearable, the grill is at high heat. If you can hold it for around 4-5 seconds, it is medium heat. And if you can comfortably hold your hand for around 6-7 seconds, the grill is at low heat.
  3. Preheating time: Depending on the type of grill and amount of charcoal used, it typically takes about 20-30 minutes for a charcoal grill to reach cooking temperature. During this time, the charcoal will gradually turn gray, indicating that it is getting hotter.
  4. No visible smoke: When the charcoal is properly ignited and ready for cooking, you should see a minimal amount of smoke rising from the grill. Excessive smoke could be a sign that the charcoal is not fully lit or that there is still unburned fuel.
  5. Proper grill grate temperature: A good way to check the temperature of the grill grate is to sprinkle a few drops of water on it. If the water immediately sizzles and evaporates, it is an indication of a hot grill. If the water drops sit on the grate and evaporate slowly, it is medium heat. And if the water drops skid around the grate without evaporating, the grill is at low or indirect heat.


It is important to note that these are general guidelines, and the exact temperature and readiness may vary depending on the specific grill, type of charcoal, and desired cooking method. Always refer to the manufacturer's instructions and use a reliable grill thermometer if precise temperatures are required for your cooking.

Best Charcoal Grills of May 2024

1
Royal Gourmet CC1830SC Charcoal Grill Offset Smoker with Cover, 811 Square Inches, Black, Outdoor Camping

Rating is 5 out of 5

Royal Gourmet CC1830SC Charcoal Grill Offset Smoker with Cover, 811 Square Inches, Black, Outdoor Camping

  • 811 Square Inches: Includes 443 sq. in. porcelain-enameled steel wire cooking grates, 184 sq. in. chrome-plated warming rack and 184 sq. in. offset smoker.
  • Tasty Smoke Flavors: The offset smoker is firmly attached to grill to ensure good circulation of heat and smoke. Easy to open side door to add charcoal and remove ashes; air vent stokes fire instantly.
  • Adjustable Pan: 2-level height-adjustable charcoal pan creates better heat control and holds up to 4.4 lbs. of coal.
  • Temperature Monitor: Lid-mounted thermometer gauge helps check and monitor the cooking temperature and you can cook with great confidence.
  • Grill Cover Included: Made of heavy-duty fabric, the cover protects your grill from elements and withstands the harshest weather.
  • Ample Space: Front and side tables offer workspace for seasonings and grilling tools. The bottom shelf provides extra storage space and holds up to only 20 lb. accessories when they are evenly distributed.
2
Weber Original Kettle 22-Inch Charcoal Grill

Rating is 4.9 out of 5

Weber Original Kettle 22-Inch Charcoal Grill

  • Stay true to the modern version of the kettle that started it all—the Original Kettle, invented by Weber’s founder, and loved around the world. Its ultra-durable, porcelain-enameled lid and bowl retain heat, while the damperseasily adjust for precise temperature control. With a One-Touch cleaning system for easy cleanup after a long day of grilling, the Original Kettle will always be the grill built for everyone
  • Holds up to 13 burgers made with a Weber burger press
  • One-Touch cleaning system provides hassle-free ash cleanup.Removable, aluminum ash catcher
  • Porcelain-enameled lid and bowl Retain heat, and won’t rust or peel
  • Use the lid hook to avoid placing the lid on the ground while grilling
  • Dampers allow you to easily control the temperature inside your grill
  • 3D interactive assembly instructions for this product are available through the free BILT app.
3
Char-Griller E1515 Patio Pro Charcoal Grill, Black

Rating is 4.8 out of 5

Char-Griller E1515 Patio Pro Charcoal Grill, Black

  • CHARCOAL GRILL - Barrel style BBQ Grill with heavy duty steel construction and powder coating finish, the perfect grilling solution for small decks, backyards, and patios
  • LARGE COOKING AREA - 250 square inch total cooking area delivers exceptional taste and charcoal flavor
  • BARBECUE GRILL FEATURES - Thick Cast Iron Cooking Grates, Bottom Storage Rack, Heavy-Duty Steel Construction, Side Air Vent, Stay Cool Wood Handle, Wheels for Easy Mobility, and Side Shelf Workstation with Barbecue Tool Storage Hooks
  • EASY TO ASSEMBLE & CLEAN - Assembles easily and quickly cleans up after use with the Easy Dump Ash Pan
4
Royal Gourmet CC1830 30 Barrel Charcoal Grill with Side Table, 627 Square Inches, Outdoor Backyard, Patio and Parties, Black

Rating is 4.7 out of 5

Royal Gourmet CC1830 30 Barrel Charcoal Grill with Side Table, 627 Square Inches, Outdoor Backyard, Patio and Parties, Black

  • 627 Smoking Space: 443 sq. in. porcelain-enameled steel wire cooking grates with 184 sq. in. chrome-plated steel wire warming rack offer enough space to cook.
  • Heat Control: Close the side air vent completely that cuts off the oxygen flow to help extinguish coals and adjust the smoke stack for extra heat control.
  • Adjustable Fire Grates: 2-level height-adjustable fire pan ensures more controlled cooking and holds up to 6 lbs. of coal.
  • Temperature Monitor: Lid-mounted thermometer gauge helps check heat fluctuations for confident grilling.
5
Royal Gourmet CD1824M 24-Inch Charcoal Grill, BBQ Smoker with Handle and Folding Table, Perfect for Outdoor Patio, Garden and Backyard Grilling, Black, Medium

Rating is 4.6 out of 5

Royal Gourmet CD1824M 24-Inch Charcoal Grill, BBQ Smoker with Handle and Folding Table, Perfect for Outdoor Patio, Garden and Backyard Grilling, Black, Medium

  • Spacious Cooking Area: 384 sq. in. porcelain-enameled steel wire cooking grates and 106 sq. in. stainless steel warming rack provide a total of 490 sq. in. cooking space respectively, serving up to 10 people.
  • Height-adjustable Charcoal Pan: The crank handle controls the distance between the charcoal pan and food for fine-tuning temperature and regulating heat. The charcoal pan holds charcoal up to 4.5 lb. for each use.
  • Convenient Access Door: Front charcoal access door with heat-resistant spring handle provides more convenience for adding charcoal and controls heat loss to a minimum during cooking.
  • Built-in Thermometer Gauge: The lid-mounted thermometer indicates the temperature changes precisely in real-time.
  • Air Flow: Two adjustable air vents control air circulation to enhance sufficient burning of charcoal for efficient smoking.
6
Royal Gourmet Barrel Charcoal Grill with Front Storage Basket, Backyard BBQ Party and Outdoor Cooking Grill on Clearance Prime with Wheels, Black, CC1830T

Rating is 4.5 out of 5

Royal Gourmet Barrel Charcoal Grill with Front Storage Basket, Backyard BBQ Party and Outdoor Cooking Grill on Clearance Prime with Wheels, Black, CC1830T

  • Additional Cooking Options: The charcoal grill can meet your versatile cooking demands by slow smoking or grilling ribs, veggies, lobster tails, or other preferred ingredients.
  • Ample Cooking Area: To accommodate 23 hamburgers at once, there are 443 sq. in. porcelain-enameled steel wire cooking grates and a 184 sq. in. chrome-plated steel wire warming rack as a secondary heating area.
  • Impressive Storage: Store seasonings in the front basket, hang some cooking utensils on the integrated hooks, place plates and other food on the side tables, and meanwhile put your charcoal on the bottom storage shelf.
  • Adjustable Charcoal Pan: Easily control the distance between food and fire with the lifting handle to regulate cooking temperature, which also saves fuel in the meantime.
  • Heat Control: Customize your desired temperature by twisting the air damper and smoke stack, thus getting the best cooking results.
7
Weber Original Kettle Premium Charcoal Grill, 22-Inch, Black

Rating is 4.4 out of 5

Weber Original Kettle Premium Charcoal Grill, 22-Inch, Black

  • Holds up to 13 burgers made with a Weber burger press; Built-in lid thermometer. Rust-resistant aluminum dampers
  • One-Touch cleaning system with high-capacity ash catcher provides hassle-free ash cleanup
  • Porcelain-enameled lid and bowl retain heat, and won’t rust or peel
  • Use the lid hook to avoid placing the lid on the ground while grilling
  • Cooking grate is hinged for easily adding charcoal while grilling
8
Royal Gourmet CC1830S 30" BBQ Charcoal Grill and Offset Smoker | 811 Square Inch cooking surface, Outdoor for Camping | Black

Rating is 4.3 out of 5

Royal Gourmet CC1830S 30" BBQ Charcoal Grill and Offset Smoker | 811 Square Inch cooking surface, Outdoor for Camping | Black

  • 811 Square Inches: Includes 443 sq. in. porcelain-enameled steel wire cooking grates, 184 sq. in. chrome-plated warming rack and 184 sq. in. offset smoker.
  • Tasty Smoke Flavors: The offset smoker is firmly attached to grill to ensure good circulation of heat and smoke. Easy to open side door to add charcoal and remove ashes; air vent stokes fire instantly.
  • Adjustable Pan: 2-level height-adjustable charcoal pan creates better heat control and holds up to 4.4 lbs. of coal.
  • Temperature Monitor: Lid-mounted thermometer gauge helps check and monitor the cooking temperature and you can cook with great confidence.
9
Dyna-Glo DGN576SNC-D X-Large Premium Dual Chamber Charcoal Grill

Rating is 4.2 out of 5

Dyna-Glo DGN576SNC-D X-Large Premium Dual Chamber Charcoal Grill

  • Removable firebox divider for single or dual cooking zone
  • Primary cooking area is 576 square inches
  • Secondary cooking area is 240 square inches
10
Royal Gourmet CC1830W 30 Barrel Charcoal Grill with Side Table, 627 Square Inches, Outdoor Backyard, Patio and Parties, Black

Rating is 4.1 out of 5

Royal Gourmet CC1830W 30 Barrel Charcoal Grill with Side Table, 627 Square Inches, Outdoor Backyard, Patio and Parties, Black

  • Spacious Cooking Area: Includes 443 sq. in. porcelain-enameled steel wire cooking grates, 184 sq. in. chrome-plated steel wire warming rack, and 184 sq. in. offset smoker.
  • Offset Smoker: Use the side fire box to get tasty and authentic smoky flavors in the main chamber. Smoking, grilling, or searing all will be your choices.
  • Adjustable Charcoal Pan: 2-level height-adjustable charcoal pan ensures better heat control and holds up to 4.4 lb. of coal.


What is the ideal temperature range for a charcoal grill to be considered ready?

The ideal temperature range for a charcoal grill to be considered ready is typically between 350°F (175°C) and 450°F (230°C). This range allows for effective grilling and searing of various foods. However, specific recipes and grilling techniques may require higher or lower temperatures. It is always recommended to refer to the recipe or cooking instructions for the desired temperature range.


Can you check the readiness of a charcoal grill by measuring the temperature with an infrared thermometer?

Yes, you can check the readiness of a charcoal grill by measuring the temperature with an infrared thermometer. Infrared thermometers are designed to measure surface temperatures, so you can point the thermometer towards the grill's surface to get an accurate temperature reading.


Is it necessary to preheat a charcoal grill before cooking?

Yes, it is necessary to preheat a charcoal grill before cooking. Preheating ensures that the grill reaches the desired cooking temperature and helps to burn off any residual debris or grease from previous uses. This also helps to create a hot and even heat distribution across the grill grates, which is crucial for achieving proper cooking and searing of the food.


How can you tell if a charcoal grill is ready for low and slow cooking?

There are a few key indicators to determine if a charcoal grill is ready for low and slow cooking:

  1. Temperature: Low and slow cooking generally requires a lower temperature range, typically around 225-275°F (107-135°C). Use a thermometer to monitor the internal temperature of your grill. If it consistently stays within this range, your grill is ready for low and slow cooking.
  2. Ashes: Make sure to clear any accumulated ashes from previous grilling sessions. Proper airflow is essential for low and slow cooking, and excess ashes can restrict airflow and hinder temperature control.
  3. Coals: Ensure that the charcoal briquettes are fully lit and have reached the white ash stage. Red-hot coals with a layer of white ash indicate a stable and even heat distribution, which is perfect for low and slow cooking.
  4. Air vents: Adjust the air vents to control the amount of oxygen feeding the fire. For low and slow cooking, partially close the vents to restrict airflow and maintain a lower temperature. This will help to create a sustained, low heat environment for a longer cooking time.


Remember to be patient and allow sufficient time for your grill to reach and stabilize at the desired temperature before placing your food on the grates.


Should you wait until the flames die down completely before cooking on a charcoal grill?

It is generally recommended to wait until the flames die down completely before cooking on a charcoal grill. This is because flames can create an uneven heat distribution and lead to food being burnt on the outside while remaining undercooked on the inside. Waiting for the flames to die down allows the charcoal to turn into glowing embers, which provide a more consistent and controlled heat for cooking.

Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Telegram Whatsapp Pocket

Related Posts:

To keep a charcoal grill going for hours, it is important to properly manage the charcoal, airflow, and heat. Here are some tips:Start with the right amount of charcoal: Depending on the size of your grill and cooking needs, start by arranging a double layer o...
Cleaning a charcoal grill before cooking is essential to remove any residual food particles, grease, and debris that may have accumulated during previous grilling sessions. Here's a step-by-step guide on how to clean a charcoal grill:Allow the grill to coo...
Cooking on a charcoal grill is a popular and time-honored method of outdoor cooking. It is favored by many grill enthusiasts for the smoky flavor it imparts to the food. While using a charcoal grill can seem intimidating at first, with a little practice and kn...
When it comes to cooking chicken on a charcoal grill, the process can be quite simple if you follow a few key steps. Here's a step-by-step guide on how to do it:Prepare the charcoal grill: Start by setting up your charcoal grill for indirect grilling. This...
Cooking pork chops on a charcoal grill is a great way to add smoky flavor and delicious charred marks to the meat. Here's a step-by-step guide on how you can do it:Start by preparing your charcoal grill. Remove the cooking grate and place charcoal briquett...
To cook chicken breast on a charcoal grill, follow these steps:Prepare the grill: Set up your charcoal grill for direct cooking by arranging the charcoal on one side of the grill. Place a chimney starter filled with charcoal on the bottom grate and light it. A...