How Much Charcoal for Grilling

Do You Often Contemplate How Much Charcoal for Grilling Is Needed?

Understanding the correct amount of charcoal to use for grilling various foods can not only save you money but also ensure your fire remains efficient.

Cooking at a consistent temperature is essential while grilling. When you use the proper quantity of charcoal, you’ll always have the optimum flame and control.

How much is charcoal for grilling required?

One of the first stages in becoming a grill master is determining how much charcoal to use on a barbecue. Fortunately, determining how much you require is a simple task!

I’m going to make two assumptions only because we have to start somewhere:

  • You’re grilling on a Weber 22-inch charcoal barbecue.
  • You’re making use of Kingsford briquettes.

The most popular grills and charcoal brands are the 22-inch kettles and Kingsford charcoal. If you’re using anything else, utilize this information as a starting point and make adjustments as needed.

The Basics of Grilling with Charcoal

The two variables we’d want to have an impact on are:

  • What temperature do we want the grill to reach?
  • When we want the grill to be hot, how long do we want it to take?

The amount of charcoal you use and the amount of air available to the charcoal will affect the temperature of your grill. In general, a hotter grill results from more fuel and air.

The charcoal is placed and fired will determine how long it burns at the desired temperature.

Consider the following examples:

Grilling for A Crowd in A Hurry

This version uses the most energy, needing roughly 4.5 pounds of charcoal.

Let’s pretend you want to cook a grilled dinner of hamburgers and chicken drumsticks. Extreme heat will be necessary for around an hour in this situation.

I’m estimating an hour because you could be making the burgers in batches or wish to cook the chicken separately from the patties.

In this situation, I would fill a Weber charcoal chimney with charcoal. This will require roughly 90 Kingsford Blue briquettes, or about 4.5 pounds of fuel.

Light the charcoal using the chimney and then scatter the coals evenly around the charcoal grate once they’ve been ashed over. Keep the air vents on the bottom and top totally open.

Grilling for A Few People in A Hurry

Let’s imagine you only want to make ribeye steaks and grilled asparagus for you and your sweetheart.

You’ll want to use a lot of heat for a short period of time.

In this situation, I’d fill the chimney halfway with roughly 45 Kingsford Blue briquettes.

Light the charcoal using the chimney and put the coals onto a mound in the center of the charcoal grate once they’ve been ashed over. Keep the air vents on the bottom and top totally open.

The charcoal will burn hotter than you need it to, but it will be hot enough for some major searing action in the time you utilize it.

Low and Slow Grilling/Smoking

Hot and fast grilling isn’t always the best option, and there are occasions when Low & Slow is the preferable alternative.

Consider Country Style Ribs or a stuffed pork chop, for example.

In these instances, I like to bank roughly 30 briquettes (around 1.5 pounds) on the left side of the grill. I prefer to use a paraffin wax cube or even a propane flame to ignite one side of the charcoal bed. While the meat cooks on the other side of the grill, let the fire gently burn across the charcoal bed.

If the fire goes out before the meal is done, put 5-10 extra unlit briquettes on top of the lighted charcoal to lengthen the cooking time.

Charcoal Grill Maintenance 

Given below are some primary steps one should follow after grilling.

  1. Take out the grill grates.
  2. Clean off any leftover ashes from the downside of the grill.
  3. Now, get an oven cleaner and spray it over the grates. Allow enough time to penetrate.
  4. After this, put a few drops of a liquid detergent in warm water and make a soapy mixture.
  5. Now, using soapy water, clean the grill grates and exterior of the charcoal grill.
  6. Once finished. Take some clean water and rinse the whole grill.
  7. Using a paper towel, wipe off the grill and start using it again.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use too much charcoal?

Knowing how much charcoal is for grilling is an absolute skill. Suppose you will use a lot of charcoal that will be considered a waste of fuel. Consequently, if you use very less amount of charcoal, that will leave you with uncooked food. Therefore, always go for an optimal amount before grilling.

Do I need to open or close the grill initially?

Well, you need to let the lid open unless the charcoal is properly lit up. Once the charcoal is lit perfectly, you can close the lid as per your need.

How much time does it take for charcoal to be lit?

For this, you need to give enough time to the charcoal to light up. Let them burn till you see whitish-grey ash. However, at high heat, it takes around 5 to 10 minutes and half an hour on medium heat.

Is it ok to reuse old charcoal?

Yes, of course. You can reuse the old ones too. Opt for the big pieces of charcoal and remove the ash. Keep the old charcoal in a dry place. However, while grilling, you need to add some new pieces of coal too.

Does charcoal become worse over time?

Charcoal does not have an expiry date. You can, however, keep it for as long as you desire. However, avoiding moisture is a key factor here.


Everyone’s cooking setup is different, so it may take some trial and error to locate the perfect quantity of charcoal to fuel yours. You should be perfectly well on your way to discovering the proper ratio for you if you follow our recommendations and use a chimney charcoal starter.

Do you have any recommendations regarding how much charcoal to use for different forms of cooking, or perhaps an ideal setup for a certain grill or smoker? Please let us know in the comments section below.


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