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What are the Mistakes to Avoid When Cooking on a Charcoal Grill?

August 18, 2022 4 min read

When it comes to cooking, there is nothing more satisfying than mastering the art of grilling. Part of the reason for this is the smoky, fully charred but juicy and delicious results that are unattainable with other cooking methods. And for most people, food grilled over charcoal tastes better than food grilled over gas. Gas grilling is faster and more convenient, but if it's a weekend and you have plenty of time, then charcoal is really the way to go. However, charcoal bbq can take some time to get used to and some trial and error. Here are five common rookie mistakes we all make when grilling over charcoal, and how best to avoid them.

Not cleaning the grill grates
One of the most common charcoal bbq mistakes is not cleaning the grill grates or grids before you start grilling. Not cleaning the grill grates means that your food will stick to the food left over from last night's meal. This not only affects the flavor of the food you grill, but also how your food sticks to the grill. When you flip meat, it may tear or tear off some of the meat and leave it on the grill grids. And this residue is likely to lead to unhealthy carcinogens, mold and bacteria, rust and other debris that affect the taste, quality and safety of your food, and may also attract pests. Allowing excess grease to build up can lead to dangerous flare-ups and fires, which can also affect flavor. Therefore, it's important to clean these grill grates and with a clean charcoal bbq grill, you can be guaranteed tasty barbecues with nice grill marks.

Not Cleaning the Grill Grates

Not preheating the grill before cooking
Many people think that once their bbq grill reaches high temperature, it is ready to start cooking. You should let the grill preheat longer to heat up the grill. The grill may generate a lot of heat, but the grill grates remain relatively cool. This means that your food will not receive the heat transferred directly from the grill grates. Your food will also stick to the metal. When this happens, your food will tear and shred when you flip or remove the meat from the grill. The best thing to do is to cover the grill and let it preheat for at least 10 minutes to transfer the heat to the grill. Some recommend longer preheating times, perhaps even 20 to 30 minutes, depending on the grill. Whether you choose to preheat the charcoal grill for 10 minutes, 20 minutes or 30 minutes, this will reduce the chance of food sticking to the grates on the grill.

Preheat the BBQ Grill Before Cooking

Opening the grill often
The key to creating beautiful dishes on the barbecue grill is constant heat. Each time the lid of the charcoal outdoor grill is opened to check the progress of the food; it causes it to burn hotter. The open lid delivers oxygen to the coals and increases the burn. If you keep the lid open to check the food, you may overheat and burn the food. Therefore, trust that your food is cooking well and open the lid less often. If your recipe calls for flipping after 5 or 6 minutes, wait until then. Set a timer so you can be sure you are following the correct procedure. If you're concerned about the doneness of your food, buy the grill with an internal thermometer that checks the temperature for you with the grill lid down.

Open the BBQ Grill Often

Using the wrong type of heat
When using a charcoal grill, the charcoal acts as a direct heat source. Cooking food directly over hot charcoal is similar to cooking on a gas grill with high heat. Some foods are best cooked over direct (or high) heat, while others benefit from indirect (or low to medium) heat. If you don't use the best heat source for the job, you run the risk of undercooking, overcooking, or even burning the meal. Before adding charcoal to the grill, consider what you are cooking. This will determine whether direct, indirect or a mix of both is your best option, and whether to spread the charcoal over the entire grill or just a portion of it. Foods such as burgers, hot dogs, steaks and chicken breasts benefit from direct heat because of their relatively quick cooking times, while larger foods with longer cooking times (such as whole chickens, pork tenderloins and ribs) are best cooked under indirect heat.

Zoned Cooking on a Charcoal Grill

Forgetting the vents
Many people who use charcoal grills for the first time don't realize what the vent is. To them, it may look like it's for display. However, this is not the case. The vent is used to control the flow of oxygen and heat inside the charcoal grill. Depending on the food you are cooking on the charcoal grill, you may want the coals to be hotter or cooler. Adjust the position of the vent to regulate the heat inside the grill. If you forget to open or close the vents, you risk burning food at extremely high temperatures or burning the charcoal before the food is ready. When preheating the grill, control the temperature by adjusting the vents. Close the vents to lower the temperature or open them to increase the heat. Our advice is to read your grill manual to learn which positioning is best for the type of food you are cooking. Learning how to use the vents can help you avoid common grilling mistakes.

Use the Vents of the Charcoal Grill

Charcoal grilling should not be difficult if you follow the right steps. So before you start grilling, you should learn more about the mistakes that can affect your delicious barbecue meal. If you can learn from your mistakes and take a scientific approach, you will avoid many grilling mistakes.

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