Monday, December 5, 2022


5 mistakes beginners make when cooking with charcoal


By Cheri Sicard
A lot of people say they are familiar with how to grill properly when cooking with charcoal.  But judging from my experience, a lot of people only THINK they know how to grill properly. Sure, these folks grill… but they regularly turn out food that tastes like lighter fluid, is undercooked, or overcooked, or charred black on the outside but raw on the inside.

You don’t know what you don’t know.

If you are new to charcoal grilling, or if you feel your charcoal cooking results can use a little improvement, the video below from Kitchen Alpha is for you.

In it, the host covers five simple but common mistakes new or inexperienced grillers make all the time.

Spending just five minutes with this video can seriously help improve the quality of grilling results.

No, it’s not going to give you great marinade recipes or things like that. But it is going to teach you how to start and maintain a charcoal fire without lighter fluid or match light charcoal, how to maintain temperatures, and how to cook on the fires you build.

Without being well-versed in these grilling essentials, you could have the best recipes and best cuts of meat in the world and they are still not going to come out right.

The title says these are five mistakes, but interspersed between them are also other little tips and tricks you can put into practice.

So what are the five common mistakes made when cooking with charcoal?

  • Using lighter fluid or lighter fluid-soaked charcoal. Either of these will leave your food tasting of lighter fluid. The video uses a chimney starter, which is an easy method for sure.  For another lighter-fluid-free fire-starting method that does not require a chimney, see this video.
  • Dumping the coals into the grill before they are ready. This mistake diminishes your grill firepower. The video shows how to tell when the coals are ready.
  • Not making temperature zones. You will need a hot and cool area for both searing and for cooking over indirect heat. Having different heat zones allows you to better control how your foods cook. The video shows you how.
  • Not allowing the grill to come to the proper temperature. If your grill is not hot enough, your food will not sear or cook properly. Learn how to tell when the grill is hot enough.
  • Rushing the cooking process. Too often grill cooks try to rush the cooking process and this does not yield good results. Don’t flip that meat too early. The video will show you how to tell when it’s time.

I’m getting hungry thinking about all this grilling. Time to get cooking!


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