Picking a Safe Grilling Area
- Place your grill on a flat, level surface so it won't tip over. Make sure it's located away from overhangs, fences, deck railings and shrubbery that could be ignited by a sudden flare-up or flying spark.
- Position the grill in a well-ventilated location. Never barbecue indoors as toxic, odorless fumes (carbon monoxide) can build up.
- Keep children and pets away from the grill when it's in use.
Starting a Charcoal Grill
For great-tasting barbecue, the makers of KC Masterpiece® Barbecue Sauces, Marinades and Seasonings recommend grilling with Kingsford® charcoal briquets. Follow these easy steps:
- Arrange charcoal briquets in a pyramid at the bottom of the grill.
- Add approximately four squirts (2oz) of Kingsford® lighter fluid to the center of the briquets and carefully light with a match.
- When coals are ready for cooking, spread them in a single layer or bank them, set the grilling grid in place and put on the food.
- If coals are slow to start, never add lighter fluid directly to warm coals – it can be dangerous. Instead, place several new briquets in a small metal can and apply lighter fluid. Add these briquets, using a pair of long-handled tongs, to the pyramid and light with a match.
- Wait to put a lid on the grill until you are ready to cook. Keeping the lid on your grill can help foods retain their natural juices and deepen flavor. However, putting it prematurely on the grill can prevent the lighter fluid from completely burning off and may impact the taste of your food.
Charcoal Cooking Methods
Direct grilling method:
Cooking directly over the coals is best for foods that take less than 30 minutes to grill, including boneless chicken, steaks, fish fillets, hamburgers and hot dogs.
- Position and cook food directly over briquets.
Indirect Grilling Method:
Similar to oven roasting, this method is recommended for foods that are higher in fat and take longer than 30 minutes to cook. These foods include roasts, whole turkeys, bone-in chicken, ribs and briskets. It's a good way to prevent burning since heat circulates around the food.
- Bank charcoal briquets on one or both sides of a drip pan on the lower grid.
- Place food on the grill, centered over a drip pan.
- Close the grill lid to contain heat and seal in smoky flavor.
- Add water, apple juice or other flavored liquids to the drip pan to provide extra moistness and flavor to food, if desired.
How Much Charcoal to Use
The number of charcoal briquets required for grilling depends on the size and type of grill, the type of food being cooked and the weather. Use the following as general rules of thumb:
- For food cooked using the direct grilling method, it takes about 30 briquets to grill one pound of meat or poultry. Charcoal should extend about one inch beyond the area the food will cover so the food cooks evenly all around.
- For foods cooked using the indirect grilling method on a full-size covered grill, use approximately 25 briquets on each side of the drip pan for up to one hour of cooking time. For each additional 50 minutes of cooking time, add eight new briquets to each side of the drip pan.
- For foods that require more than one hour to cook, new briquets should be added periodically to make sure the food is cooked thoroughly. Add 16 to 18 new briquets for each additional hour of cooking time. Additional briquets should be added to the outside edges of the charcoal as the original coals reach their cooking temperature. Move the new briquets to the center of the fire when they're ashed over.
- If you're grilling on an especially windy day, in cold temperatures or in high humidity, use a few more briquets than normal to make sure the fire stays hot enough to thoroughly cook food.
How to Tell When Coals Are Ready
- Good quality charcoal briquets – like new Kingsford® Sure Fire Charcoal – should be ready in about 15 minutes. They should be at least 70 percent covered with ash and have a slight red glow.
- To estimate the temperature of the coals, hold your hand, palm side down, about six inches above the coals. Count "one thousand one, one thousand two, etc.," until the heat is uncomfortable and you have to pull your hand away. If you can keep your hand in place for:
- 2 seconds – it's hot, about 375 degrees or more
- 3 seconds – it's medium-hot, about 350 to 375 degrees
- 4 seconds – it's medium, about 300 to 350 degrees
- 5 seconds – it's low, about 200 to 300 degrees
Other Grilling Tips
- Rub the grilling surface with vegetable oil or spray with non stick cooking spray before grilling to prevent food from sticking. You can also brush a light coat of oil onto your meat just before placing it on the grill.
- Trim excess fat from meats, especially roasts and steaks, to prevent flare-ups. Keep fat trimmed to 1/4" or less.
- Prevent sudden flare-ups by using a marinade on meats prior to cooking.
- Use tongs or a spatula to turn food. Poultry and meat can lose flavorful juices and moistness when pierced by a fork.
- Brush the grilling surface (once it's cooled) with a wired brush to remove any stuck on food.
Putting Out the Fire
- Place the cover on the grill, close the vents and allow the coals to burn out completely. Let the ashes cool for at least 48 hours and then dispose of them in a non combustible container.
- If you must dispose of coals before they've completely cooled, remove them individually with long-handled tongs and carefully bury them in a can of sand or in a bucket of water. Never pour the hot coals into a pail of water, or vice versa. Steam from the briquets may burn you.
- Never add lighter fluid directly to hot coals to get a sluggish fire going again. The flame could travel up the stream of fluid and burn you.
- Never use gasoline or kerosene to light a charcoal fire. Both can cause an explosion.
- Never use aerosol spray oils over hot coals.
- Do not close the lid until you are ready to cook. Doing so might put out the fire or cause a rush of flame when the lid is removed. Closing the lid prematurely also can prevent charcoal lighter fluid from completely burning away, giving foods an off flavor.
- Remember, coals get HOT – up to 1000 degrees. Use insulated, flame-retardant mitts when cooking or handling any part of the grill. Also, use long-handled barbecue tongs and utensils for safe handling of food and coals.