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How to Control the Temperature of Your Charcoal Grill?

July 14, 2022 4 min read

Having a charcoal bbq grill can give your food an amazing smoky flavor. But it's important to understand how to control the temperature on your bbq charcoal shelf so that your food is just right. After all, unlike a gas grill, a bbq charcoal shelf has no buttons or electronics for regulating heat. If you've been avoiding charcoal, thinking it's hard to adjust the temperature, now's your chance to learn how easy it is to control the heat on your grill. Next, we'll introduce you to the 4 best techniques for controlling the temperature of your charcoal grill. If you learn the right techniques and with a little practice, you can easily master the skills of temperature control.

Use vents to control airflow
By controlling the airflow through the vents, you can control the burn rate very accurately and thus control the temperature of your grill precisely. When monitoring your heat, see if it goes above 350° F. If it climbs to 350 and stays there, then your fire is fine, but if it continues to climb, you need to release some heat without opening the entire lid. Opening the lid will just let a lot of heat out and can lower the temperature by tens of degrees per second. Open the vent on the cover and gently release the heat. Watch the thermometer as it drops. Once you get back to your desired temperature, close the lid. But your charcoal barbecue grill also has vents near the bottom of the pot. If your fire is not hot enough, you can use the bottom vent to add extra oxygen to the fire. This should only be done if your coals are definitely hot enough and you have a roaring fire or enough red-hot coals. When oxygen touches the fire, it will burn. You may need to leave the basin vent open for 4 to 5 minutes to raise the temperature properly. Some heat will seep out of the vent, but you will be able to see a steady rise in the thermometer as most of the heat rises.

Use Charcoal Grill Vents to Control Airflow

Create different heat zones
You can do this by layering coals to create different cooking zones for your food.

High heat zone: Place two layers of coals in this zone and rake them out evenly. This is the ideal section to seal and sear your food. Basically, you can use this zone for anything that needs to be cooked at a high temperature.

Medium heat zone: Make a single layer of coals and arrange the planes in this area. All recipes that should be cooked at medium heat temperature should be placed in this area. This part of the zone is great for foods like chicken or pork that need a lower grill temperature.

No heat zone: This is a completely heat free zone. Do not place any single coal in this area. You will use this primarily for your meat in the resting area before/after cooking, or if the other areas get a little too hot and you need to readjust the temperature.

You can also create two fire zones in your bbq grill instead of three. In this setup, you place the coals on half the size of the grill, leaving the other size completely free of coals. The side with coals will act as the hot side, perfect for direct grilling. The side without coals will provide indirect grilling and cook your food by convection (i.e. using hot air to circulate around your food). This will ensure that your food is cooked evenly from the inside out.

Create Different Heat Zones for Charcoal Grill

Adjust tray height
The closer your food is to your coals, the hotter it will get and the faster it will cook. Some bbq grills have adjustable cooking grates that you can raise or lower to bring the food closer to or away from the fire. So if the food you're cooking needs a higher temperature, move the grill closer to the coals. If the food you’re grilling needs a lower temperature, you can move the grill plate up a few grates so that it is further from the coals.

Charcoal Grill with Adjustable Tray Height

Use the food shield
Even if you have trouble controlling the temperature of your charcoal bbq, food shields are an effective way to protect your food from burning. These are best made of aluminum foil. If you’re going to keep some handy, choose robust aluminum foil instead than regular cooking area foil, which is thinner and will more than likely stick to the grill or shred as you move it. Despite its durability, we fold it a few times and slide it under your food. This will go a long way to avoid direct heat, which means you will have a way to protect your food even if you can't control the temperature range. Note that this will not completely prevent heat from entering your food, but will minimize the flow of heat for a slower cooking process.

These are the 4 main techniques that you can use to reduce the heat level of charcoal grill. Don't hesitate to try all these methods and see which one suits you best!







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