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Two women standing over a grill covered in meat looking down. One is holding tongs and a beer.



Move over wood pellet, propane, and ceramic vessel grills – the classic charcoal barbecue is showing up big in 2021. Nothing compares to the wonderful flavor of charcoal-cooked meats. The taste comes alive through meat drippings that strike the charcoal, rising back up into the meat. Stumped on how to make the most of your grill and achieve a mouthwatering grilled feast? Here’s how to nail the charcoal barbecue this summer.

Get That Golden Glow

In order to prep the grill before throwing food on, you’ll need to get that uniform, glowing bed of charcoal going. The great thing about a charcoal barbecue is it gets crazy hot – hotter than a gas grill. Charcoal is carbon, which means lots of energy. Heat those coals up and you’ll achieve a nice glow with little-to-no smoke. Tip: Do not use lighter fluid! It gives off a not-so-yummy taste that may not burn off. Instead, invest in a charcoal chimney.

Add Hardwood

Give your food a natural wood-fired flavor with the addition of chips or hardwood. While charcoal produces no smoke, the addition of some hardwood pellets can offer a desirable flavor when grilling meats.

Indirect Cooking

If you’re grilling a large piece of meat, like a brisket or steak, try out the indirect cooking method. Place the charcoal or briquettes to one side of the grill, and place the meat on the side without the charcoal underneath. This way, you can cook it at a lower temperature for longer – “low and slow,” as the pros say – helping the meat get more tender as it cooks.

Invest in a Meat Thermometer

It’s nearly impossible to eye a piece of meat and know if it’s at the right temperature. A good thermometer can make or break an expensive cut of meat.

Maintain Your Grill

Once you pull those juicy burgers off the grill, open all the vents to ramp up the temp. By getting your grill super hot, you can soften and burn any leftover bits, making it easier to scrape them off your grill with wire brush – or even half a raw onion.

Brisket, pizza, burgers, chicken, you name it – it’s 10 times more delicious if cooked right over coals. Follow these tips and you’ll be on your way to becoming a grill master in no time. For more summer tips and tricks, visit the Olympus Fenwick blog.