Grilling can be intimidating mostly because actually lighting the grill can be a daunting task. There seems to be a ton of ways to do it and it takes forever, right? Well, kind of. It’s not quite as simple as piling up some coals and lighting a match, but it’s actually pretty easy. As soon as you get the hang of it, you’ll be on your way to grilled, smokey goodness. Now, I know there are a plethora of grilling snobs out there ready to pounce, but we use this method and we make some pretty fantastic meats, so for us, this is the best way to light a charcoal grill.
Now, I’ll start by saying that we are huge fans of the lump charcoal. There are oodles and oodles and oodles of articles on the lump vs. briquette debate, but we like lump because it:
- lights faster
- burns hotter
- has no added chemicals
- produces less ash
On the flip side, it is irregularly shaped and doesn’t burn as long as briquettes, but the pros outweigh the cons for sure.
On to the next hot topic (get it? heh). Using a charcoal basket also makes things a lot easier. It enables you to keep the charcoal concentrated to one spot, lets you move them around easier, and creates a hot spot for super hot direct heat and leaves a portion of the grill with no coal at all so you have have indirect heat. We need that in a lot of what we grill.
Now it’s time for the fire! No, put that lighter fluid away and get some fat wood fire starters. (Here are some on amazon but we get them at our grocery store all the time). They are naturally packed with resin and burn SO easily with a match light. Take one, keep it intact, and split the second one into smaller splinters lengthwise (a small hatchet will do. These aren’t particularly difficult to split). Put them in a little pile in the basket and light it! They’ll burn for a good length of time, long enough to light the coals.
Add the coals to the basket and let ’em burn! Add a generous amount, as these do burn faster than briquettes. The fire will spread and get around to all the coals, giving you a nice, hot pile of glowing charcoal.
Let the red glow spread and the coals to turn white. When it has spread fairly evenly around, you’re ready to get cookin’! Make sure you give yourself about a 30 minute lead time to make sure you get a nice, strong fire.
And there have it! We definitely have found this to be the very best way to light a charcoal grill. Look at that nice glow back there. And look at those peppers! Go get that grill going and toss on some tasty bacon wrapped jalapeño peppers.