Are you in the market to get a portable charcoal grill for an upgrade? or perhaps you’re a first-time buyer and want to buy the best portable charcoal grill that is right for your tailgating and camping event? This article is for you!
There are many types of charcoal grills but the basics are the same. So keep reading for the A-Z basics of how to use a charcoal grill.
Whether you’re the type that likes to go for a barbeque at the park, on a camping trip and of course in the middle of nowhere, or the kind that wishes to hunt and bbq their dinner, then you all have one thing in common; you need to have the best portable charcoal grill to cook that tasty meal.
One of the most available options of most portable grills is a portable charcoal grill, and if you choose the right one, you will find it provides you with a few essential benefits.
The best thing about cooking with a charcoal grill is the natural, smokey flavor it gives to the meal prepared on it.
It’s no doubt that charcoal gives a much better barbeque-flavored taste and aroma to foods than any gas grill ever could.
In fact, in Argentina, a country known to have the best meat and the best barbeques in the world, they will never use gas for grilling their meat.
It is always done using a charcoal grill because of the delicious, juicy, smokey flavor it gives.
Best portable charcoal grills – Best portable charcoal bbq grills
Benefits of a portable charcoal grill
There are many reasons one would opt for a portable charcoal grill. For many who engage in fun outdoor lifestyles, BBQ and grilling are a traditional must-have in any given activity like camping and tailgate parties.
A portable charcoal grill is also the cheapest type of grill available because it is the most basic, yet offers the best BBQ taste.
Essentially, all you need is a solid bowl of metal held up my legs, with a rack on top, some even come with foldable legs!
It is, therefore, cheaper to buy, and of course, the best ones, very durable.
Charcoal grills like portable charcoal bbq grills are also much safer since you do not need to carry around propane, which can be a hazard when it isn’t handled correctly.
There is always a chance that something happens to the propane (gas) tank, and it explodes.
If you’re a family with children around, the safest option is, once again, is a charcoal bbq grill.
Although there are many benefits to using portable charcoal grills, though, not everyone is cut out for them.
Is a portable charcoal grill right for you?
Charcoal is more challenging to cook with because controlling the temperature is not as easy as other alternative grilling equipment.
One has to be somewhat experienced in cooking with charcoal to get good results. Nevertheless, it is not that hard to do; you only need to know the basics, then you’re good to fire the charcoals up!
Another downside to cooking with charcoal is that lighting the charcoal can be a challenge without the right tools or know-how, especially if it is wet outside.
Furthermore, charcoal can get messy if you’re not careful because it’s black and can quickly get onto clothes or personal items, this could be easily avoided still, by putting on an apron.
A propane gas grill is cleaner and more straightforward, but that’s shouldn’t turn you away from snatching you a charcoal grill, I mean, think of all the other perks that come with it.
Portable charcoal bbq grills might not be the cleanest, but they sure are a cheaper, safer grilling tool that is further complemented by impressive final results that’ll always keep your tastebuds yearning for more!
If you decide that a portable charcoal grill is right for you, your next step then is knowing how the best one can be chosen.
Choosing The Best Portable Charcoal Grill
How do you choose the best portable charcoal grill that is tailored to your style?
A charcoal grill is a great way to go when selecting a grill to bring with you to your outdoor camping life.
To be able to navigate, compare, preselect, re-compare again, before making up your mind on which grilling model and brand are right for you, there are a few things you need to know and look for, which will help you choose.
First of all, it is crucial to choose the right grill size. Some relevant questions you will need to ask yourself are:
- What’s the occasion, for example, camping, tailgate, hangouts, etc.
- How many people are you planning, or hoping to cook for?
- What do you plan to cook on the grill, a few steaks, and vegetables?
- How do you plan on transporting it to your destination – by car, walking, bus?
By answering these questions, you should have a decent idea of how big a grill you will need.
Adjustable grilling grate
Make sure the grill you’re going to purchase has an adjustable grill rack, meaning one in which its height can be set to either higher or lower levels.
This is important so that you can control the amount of heat that your food is receiving.
If, for some reason, you unable to get an adjustable grill, make sure that the grill rack will sit at least one inch above the charcoal.
This means you will probably need about a 2-inch clearance between the rack and the part that holds the charcoal.
If it is any lower, your meat will cook at too high a temperature, which is not ideal for cooking the perfect steak.
Grill grate material
Try to buy a charcoal bbq grill that has a non-stick grill grate. These are not always easy to find, but are very handy, as they are much easier to clean.
Your charcoal grill should also have something to hold it off the ground. Most have adjustable or foldable legs, and either of these works great, and will significantly affect its portability.
What is important is to make sure the grill is very sturdy – you need grilling equipment that can withstand some wind, and that doesn’t fall over if it gets nudged.
Extra: Side tables
If possible, try to find a grill that has side tables. Some of the best portable grills have one or two side tables. You have no idea how useful these are until you use a grill that doesn’t have them.
These tables can be used to place bbq accessories, sauces, or appetizers and snacks. You name it.
These are definitely some of the most important things to look for when picking out your portable charcoal grill. If you can find one that meets these requirements, it is almost a guarantee you’ll be happy with the purchase.
Once you have bought your portable grill, the next most crucial thing is to learn how to use your new grill.
Best Charcoal Comparison – Lump Charcoal and Briquettes
Cooking food with pure hardwood charcoal can, not only add to the flavor of your food, but it’s also makes cooking more efficient.
Grilling purists recommend using all-natural lump charcoal(charcoal blocks). Because, Unlike the briquettes, which are uniform in appearance, the lump charcoal is irregular, both in size and shape. The reason is that you’re getting chunks of real hardwood that’s been kilned to get rid of moisture and sap.
The lump charcoals are pure and all-natural, they contain no chemicals, additives, or even fillers. They are exceptionally great for use in your kamado grill, lump charcoals burn hotter than briquettes and makes less ash at the end. The only drawback using to lump charcoal, it’s that it can take a bit longer to light, and it heats unevenly, which causes hot spots.
While we love lump charcoals, however, there are advantages to using briquettes instead. Hardwood lump charcoal gets so hot then it can be hard to control sometimes, especially when you want to maintain low-and-slow cooking temperatures.
Because of their uniformic size and shape, the briquettes provide better consistent and predictable heat.
Briquettes also light easier and burn longer than charcoal.
If you opt to cook with briquettes, use high-quality ones like Humphrey’s Hardwood Charcoal Briquettes, which are 100% all-natural and contain no chemicals, additives, or fillers.
Stay away from briquettes that have been presoaked in lighter fluid, which can leave a chemical residue on food and affect its flavor.
How to start a charcoal grill
How do you start a charcoal grill?
Cooking with charcoal is much different than cooking with propane gas. The result is also different, and much better if done correctly using a charcoal type.
Here are some really important tips to help you get the best results out of your portable charcoal grill.
You’ll start by deciding what you are going to use; briquettes or charcoal pieces?
If you are going to use briquettes, you will need to be sure you know what you want.
Charcoal can come in many shapes, sizes, and flavors. Most people who are not overly health-conscious will go for the regular briquettes, which are all over the place and are considered the “norm” these days.
Though some people nowadays are consciously looking at the chemical content of every food item they consume, and that includes “chemical” consumption via cooking elements.
Those folks prefer the use of lump charcoal as it is made more naturally and burns down to nothing.
Lighting a charcoal grill consists of layering and the use of additives to help ignite it.
Some folks like to use lighter fluid. Some use pre-soaked self-lighting coals, and again some like the lump charcoal as it generally lights quickly and easily with less of a hassle.
When deciding how to start a charcoal grill, gather your tools. You will need:
- Lighter fluid
- Long stem matches or a long stem lighter
You begin by layering first a bit of paper and then layer like a pyramid your briquettes. Some people will stick shards of paper in between and then pour the lighter fluid on top to help ignite nicely.
I don’t recommend overdoing it; you may get a fire going that you didn’t anticipate! In lighting a charcoal grill, you should always exercise caution and be sure you know what you are doing.
Once lit… let the charcoals burn down a bit. You will know when the charcoals are ready to get grilling because they will be slightly gray on the outside and bright red in the middle.
That means they are the hottest they can get and are ready to be moved around a bit to begin grilling. So with a fire poker, gently push the coals around and evenly distribute them or push them to one side depending on what you are cooking.
Can you light charcoal without lighter fluid?
Sure you can, and here’s an easy way to do it.
- Take some dry old newspaper, scrunch it up, and twist in into cylindrical shaped pieces of paper.
- Place a few of these at the bottom of the grill.
- Then place a few pieces of charcoal on top, and light the newspaper in a couple of different spots.
- You should get a pretty decent flame, and as long as it stays burning for a while, it will light the charcoal.
- To get the charcoal going, be sure to blow on the bottom of the flame, which will help illuminate the charcoal even more.
Once you get the first few pieces of charcoal well lit, you can put the rest of the charcoal onto your portable grill.
You will need to cover the base of the barbeque, but the charcoal shouldn’t be stacked.
Let it burn until there is no visible flame, making sure the charcoal is red hot, and make sure it is well spread out inside the grill – there should be about an inch between the actual grill and the coals.
If the clearance between the grill and the charcoal is too little, your meat will cook too fast and will end up dry and chewy – not the way to eat a good steak or some smoked ribs!
At this point, you are fired up and ready to put your food on the grill.
You can move the coals around if you need to concentrate more heat in certain areas, or if you want to stop cooking something, remove the coals from underneath that part of the grill.
It’s essential, however, not to flip the meat more than twice. While your meal cooks, relax, grab a bottle of your choosing, take a seat in one of your camping chairs, and enjoy that unbeatable aroma of the grilled meal.
Using a portable charcoal grill
One of the most crucial things when cooking with charcoal is lighting and prepping your coals.
There are certain things you can buy to make this easier, but if you don’t have anything, do the following: take some dry old newspaper, scrunch it up, and twist in into cylindrical shaped pieces of paper. Place a few of these at the bottom of the grill.
Then place a few pieces of charcoal on top, and light the newspaper in a couple of different spots. You should get a pretty decent flame, and as long as it is going for a while, it will light the charcoal. To really get the charcoal going, be sure to blow on the bottom of the flame, which will help light the charcoal.
Once you get the first few pieces of charcoal well lit, you can put the rest of the charcoal onto your portable grill. You will need to cover the base of the barbeque, but the charcoal shouldn´t be stacked.
Let it burn until there is no flame, but the charcoal is red hot, and make sure it is well spread out in the barbeque – there should be about an inch between the actual grill and the coals.
If the clearance between the grill and the charcoal is too little, your meat will cook too fast, and will end up dry and chewy – definitely not the way to eat a good steak or some smoked ribs!
Now cut a piece of fat off of the meat, and run it along the lines of the grill. This is done so that when you put the meat down, it will sear very quickly, and give it a nice flavor.
At this point, you are all set to put your meat on the grill, as well as potatoes, chicken, or whatever you are cooking.
You can move the coals around if you need to concentrate more heat in certain areas, or if you want to stop cooking something, just remove the coals from underneath that part of the grill.
It’s important, however, not to flip the meat more than twice. While its cook, just relax, take a seat in one of your camping chairs, and enjoy that unbeatable smell of grilled meat.