How Much Charcoal to Use in a Grill

How Much Charcoal to Use in a Grill

For the greatest results, charcoal grilling requires the proper fuel setup. The best place to start is by learning how much charcoal to use for your barbeque grill. Learn everything you need to know about lump charcoal methods to elevate your grilled foods.

It is critical to understand how much charcoal to use in your grill or smoker. When grilling or smoking, you should be aware that using too much charcoal wastes more fuel, impacting your monthly or yearly budget. With less charcoal, whatever you’re grilling or smoking will have insufficient heat, resulting in under-grilled or under-smoked food. The article that follows is a deeper discussion of the importance of how much charcoal you can use when grilling or smoking.

How Much Charcoal to Use in a Grill

There’s no need to worry. We’ve got you covered because this article is your ticket to becoming an expert on charcoal requirements!

How Much Charcoal is Required?

There are two major elements that influence the amount of charcoal that must be considered. The first consideration is the sort of grill you have and what you are grilling.

If you’re a newbie to grilling, we strongly recommend you get a charcoal chimney. This kind of grill lets you measure the amount of charcoal that would be appropriate, along with being the best way to light your charcoal.

How Much Coal to Use in a Grill?

To calculate the amount you’ll need, consider what you are cooking. Here’s the amount of charcoal we suggest you should utilize for different kinds of meat.

  • Fill up your chimney to the brim or at least three-quarters if you aim to sear your meat or want the process to be faster.
  • Fill up half or, at most, three-quarters of your chimney for burgers and sausages; this allows you to cook at medium heat.
  • Fill up a quarter of your chimney if you’re grilling white fish or tender meat in general.

Feel free to play around with the amount of charcoal you add to your chimney since these are, after all, estimated values.

To be able to save the charcoal, we advise you put out your chimney. This will allow you to reuse it.

Video Credirt by HowToBBQRight youtube channel

How To Set Up Your Charcoal?

Have you heard of the two-zone cooking set-up? If not, don’t worry, because we will tell you everything you need to know about it and why we love it so much.

First off, this method uses considerably less fuel than other techniques. Secondly, you can cook with direct and indirect heat and regulate the temperature efficiently.

You must divide your chimney into two halves and pile up all the coal in one half. This will make your ‘hot side,’ and the other would be the ‘cold side .’These regions will let you grill your meat with direct and indirect heat.

How To Set Up Your Charcoal
and slow

This method is excellent for meats that need a nice sear on the skin, but if cooked on a high flame for too long will burn, and the inside will be raw. For instance, the tomahawk steak is comparatively thick and can’t be cooked on high heat without it burning.

The two-zone method is best suited where high heat isn’t the best choice for the entire cooking process, but it works perfectly if you need seared meat.

This technique allows you to choose whether you want to cook over direct or indirect heat. You can cook your meat over indirect heat for the entire process till it gets to medium rare and then cook over direct heat to get that perfect sear on your meat.

How Much Charcoal to Use for Smoking?

Contrary to grilling, smoking requires very different conditions and amounts of charcoal.

There are two main kinds of smoking. The first of these is hot and fast, which is often used for poultry and refers to smoking over 325 F. The other is slow, low, smoking at 225-250 F, and widely used for barbecue recipes. Let’s jump right into discussing how both of these functions.

Low and Slow

The amount of charcoal you need heavily depends on the smoker in use and how you set it up. An ideal method to use for smoking your meat is the minion method, which is perfect for smoking over 8-16 hours.

Once the temperature stabilizes using this technique, you can simply sit back and relax till your meat is ready to be taken off the smoker.

The first step in setting up your smoker using the minion method is piling up unlit briquettes in it and then lighting up another 20 briquettes and pouring them over the unlit ones. This allows the temperature to rise gradually as you get everything else in order, and you can adjust the temperature with the air vents attached.

How Much Charcoal to Use for Smoking

If you have a kettle-style grill in your possession, then the charcoal snake method will prove to be an excellent option. This process demands that you create a line of charcoal, two briquettes wide and deep. To achieve this, all you have to do is place the briquettes in two semicircles against the walls of your smoker.

After you have arranged the briquettes as indicated above, place your wood pieces on top of them. Then, using one of the briquets in your starter, light one end of the snake. You will see that the charcoal will begin burning at a low but stable temperature along the line, which is highly preferred for smoking.

Hot and Fast

Unlike the slow and low technique, where there isn’t much to do once you’ve reached that steady heat, you have to keep the fire blazing with a full chimney and constantly regulate the temperature using the vents and air regulators. This method takes less time and leaves more half-burnt pieces of charcoal behind. And the best part is that you can always reuse them.

Most of the cooking takes at temperatures of 275-300 F, allowing the smoke to infiltrate the skin of your meat, imparting that smoky flavor you want.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does the type of charcoal used affect the amount to be used?

Yes, different types of charcoal burn differently and, therefore, should be used in appropriate amounts. For instance, lump wood charcoal contains few additives and doesn’t produce a consistent flame. Briquettes, on the other hand, carry many additives such as borax and limestone, which means they have more 7ash; however, they also produce a direct flame and weigh less on your wallet than lump wood charcoal. This explains why taking the kind of charcoal in question is essential when deciding the quantity.

What is the best way to light your charcoal?

As mentioned earlier in this article, a charcoal chimney doesn’t just help you with the measurements and provides the best way to light your charcoal. Here’s our extensive guide on the best way to light your charcoal.


We hope you found the answer to the question ‘How Much Charcoal to Use in a Grill? All you need is a charcoal chimney and some briquettes, and you’ll be good to go. Of course, everyone has their own cooking styles and methods, so it will definitely take a bit of trial and error to get the amount of charcoal that works best for you. If you have any suggestions or questions, feel free to comment below, and thank you for reading till the end!

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  • Troy Miller

    Hi! My name is Troy, and I'm the founder of Grill Taster. I have a lot of experience in grilling because I've been testing out products for over a decade. With almost ten years as a professional griller and help to thousands of aspiring BBQ masters, you can trust me to help you find the best grills and accessories on the market so that you don't have to waste time or money on junk. With my family enjoying some summertime fun just outside Carolina, we're all looking forward to your comments and questions!

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