How Much Charcoal Should I Use In My Grill?

How Much Charcoal Should I Use

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It’s hard to beat the delicious flavors that come with grilling meat on a charcoal grill. If you’re new to cooking with charcoal, you may be curious how much charcoal you need to properly heat your grill.

The short answer is that it depends! Factors like the type of grill you are using, how big your grill is, and which type of food you cook can all make a difference as to how much charcoal is ideal in your grill.

Read on to learn more about how much charcoal is ideal for different grilling scenarios.

How Much Charcoal Do I Need?

Generally speaking, if you want to cook easier, smaller things like hamburgers, dogs, brats, and other similar foods, you don’t need much charcoal. Around 15-20 coals should be more than enough to complete your cook.

For searing steaks, you will need a lot more charcoal. Ideally, you will need 30-40 briquettes.

If you like cooking or smoking slowly, then you don’t need a lot of coal. It is expected that you will need more coal if you plan on cooking for a long time.

If your grill has trouble getting a charcoal grill up to temperature, adding more coals may be the solution. But no matter what you cook or grill, you should start low and gradually increase the amount of charcoal.

A single layer of charcoal should cover the bottom of the cooking grate if you want an even cooking surface. For some grills this can be as little as 40 coals and for larger ones it can be up to 100 briquettes.

If you’d prefer a two heat zone grilling set up, you can concentrate your coals on one side of the grill to create a hot side.

If you want to cook different cuts of meat at different temperatures to bring out a bit more variety, a two zone set up is the way to go.

How Much Charcoal For A Kamado Grill?

Kamado grills run on charcoal – lump charcoal to be precise.

Since kamado grills are made of ceramic, which is highly efficient at retaining and distributing heat, you don’t need much charcoal to get it scorching hot.

Depending on the size of your lump charcoal, you can probably get away with using only 8-10 coals per cook.

Maintaining Grill Temperature With Charcoal

You can control the charcoal temperature by controlling the dampers on the charcoal grill. It is also important to pay attention to how much charcoal you add to the grill.

Adding charcoal slowly will allow you to achieve a lower temperature. However, if you want intense heat, you should add charcoal more often. Adjusting the intake and exhaust dampers is essential, as well.  

How Much Charcoal Should You Use When Grilling?

How Should I Use Charcoal When Grilling

Various types of charcoal require different techniques for use. Charcoal briquettes are easy to light and burn for a long time. With hardwood charcoal, also known as lump charcoal, you will get more intense and blazingly hot to burn your stuff faster.

Before lighting your grill, you must open the vents. In order for your grill to burn, it needs oxygen. With the help of the vent adjustment, you can control the internal cooking temperature after placing charcoal in your grill.

When you use wider vents, you will get hotter flames and more oxygen. Using smaller vents will result in a cooler cooking temperature. Make sure you don’t close them when you’re cooking or you’ll choke your fire out.

It’s important to point out here that kamado grills in particular require lump charcoal

Frequently Asked Questions

How Long Does A Bag of Charcoal Last?

It depends on how much food you’re grilling at a time and which type of grill you have, but a bag of charcoal should last anywhere from 5-8 cooks.

Can You Reuse Charcoal?

You are only able to reuse charcoal two to three times for the next use. Reusing charcoal is a widespread practice, so there is no issue with this. 

Final Thoughts

In order to recap the whole thing of your question regarding how much charcoal do I need, let’s write a few more sentences. Fill your charcoal chimney with 25% of its capacity if you want low heat.

You can fill it 50% when you want medium heat, and 75% when you want medium-high heat. You can, however, fill the chimney to 100% for intense heat. This will achieve the desired temperature and results.