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How To Light A BBQ

  31/07/2019 at 20:20 pm

While there’s nothing wrong with using a gas BBQ, there’s something special that comes from lighting up a charcoal BBQ. The flavour and smokiness you get from grilling on charcoal is unique and delicious, but getting the setup right so you can achieve the best results can be tricky even if you’re the most seasoned grillmaster. We’re here to take you through each step of how to light a charcoal BBQ so you can have the most successful barbecue season yet.

grilling with Weber charcoal BBQ outdoors

1. Set up your barbecue in a stable, outdoor area

With any outdoor cooking, safety is key. Set up your charcoal barbecue on a stable surface outdoors, whether it’s on your deck, patio or lawn. Stability is important because you don’t want your grill to potentially tip over and spill all your food and charcoal. Setting up outdoors in an open area away from fences, trees and other hazards is crucial to avoid accidentally starting a fire. We also recommend having a fire extinguisher or bucket of water handy in case anything goes wrong.

opening charcoal briquettes

2. Choose the right type of charcoal

There are a few different fuel options to light your charcoal BBQ. The most common types of charcoal you’ll find are lump charcoal and charcoal briquettes.

Lump charcoal is essentially pure wood that has been burned slowly to the point where all that’s left is charcoal. There aren’t any fillers or additives, meaning it’s all natural and will light faster and burn hotter than briquettes will.

Charcoal briquettes are made from a combination of different types of wood scraps and sawdust, burned slowly to the point where all that’s left is charcoal just like lump charcoal - except briquettes contain some sort of additive to hold the materials together and make them into the tidy little rounded rectangular blocks that you can stack. Briquettes will burn longer than lump charcoal will, but they won’t burn quite as hot.

Both are fantastic options for grilling, but depending on what you’re cooking that day, you may prefer one type of fuel over the other. For example, if you’re making burgers or other thinner cuts of meat, hotter, direct heat will cook your food through quickly and effectively. On the other hand, if you’re grilling a whole chicken or roast or anything that will take longer to cook through, you’ll want to use a lower heat to avoid burning the outside while cooking the inside.

Weber chimney charcoal starter

3. Using a chimney charcoal starter

Chimney charcoal starters are the best, easiest way to light a BBQ to achieve an even temperature and perfectly burning charcoal every single time. Simply arrange your charcoal inside the starter, light up some newspaper or lighter cubes inside and watch as your coals catch and start glowing. The chimney contains the coals and protects them from the elements and helps light your coals quickly and easily. Once your coals are ready (about 10 to 15 minutes), carefully pour them into your barbecue and arrange them based on whether you are going to cook over direct or indirect heat. Then, replace the grate and put the lid on to heat up the grill and you’re ready to cook!

If you decide not to use a chimney charcoal starter, it’s important to arrange your coals in an even stack, use some sort of fire starter like lighter fluid and then let the flames die down so that you’re not grilling over open flames. You want your coals to be ashen rather than on fire so that you don’t burn your food.

Direct versus Indirect heat

4. Recognise when your charcoal is ready

Grilling is an art, and recognising when your charcoal is ready is key to delicious, great-tasting food. You want your coals to be glowing white hot with red centres to start cooking with direct heat, or ashen white to cook with indirect heat. If they are still black or grey or have flames, they’re not ready yet.

grilling steaks on charcoal BBQ

5. Heat up your grill properly and cook!

Once you have your coals hot and distributed evenly around your barbecue, put the lid back on and open the vents to allow the grill to pre-heat with the oxygen flow. You want your grill to be heated properly before putting food on so that you get that nice sizzling sear that we all love from barbecued food. We recommend using a meat thermometer to ensure that your food is cooked all the way through to your liking.

Now that you know how to light a BBQ, you’re ready to throw your very own cookout! Shop online or stop by Arboretum today to pick up everything you need for the perfect barbecue.

By Barry Doyle