7 Tips on How to Keep Charcoal Grill Hot

Keeping your charcoal grill at the right temperature might be difficult for you, especially if you’re a new griller. Follow our 7 tips on how to keep charcoal grill hot to have the perfect temperature for your grilling.

People love cooking outdoors especially when the weather is good and the company is even better. There is something special about being able to barbecue with friends and enjoy a relaxing day filled with fun and some good drinks. Cooking on a charcoal grill is pretty exciting and fulfilling but also, quite challenging.

Grilling outdoors do require skills and a good understanding on how to maximize your fuel and be able to utilize it through cooking all your proteins evenly and at the right temperature. This is the reason why there are some who opt to use gas fueled grills or just forego barbecuing altogether. It’s a shame though because once you do learn how to cook with your charcoal grill, you will realize that you definitely want to consistently have that smokey, savory taste that only charcoal grilling can provide.

It is true that keeping your charcoal grill’s temperature at a consistent level is difficult. The heat level can easily fluctuate over the cooking hours and can be quite a test to hit that sweet spot for your steak or your poultry on the grate. These fluctuations can cause to some spots on your grill heating up more than other areas therefore ruining the evenness that your meat requires to cook properly. So, learning the basics in keeping your grill’s temperature on point is something you need to master.

However, before you learn the basic principles of keeping your charcoal grill at the right temperature, you should first know the reasons why a grill loses its high heat.

Why is the Charcoal Grill Not Growing Hot Enough?

Heating problems and maintaining heat is a natural hurdle for most barbecue cooks. It is not only sometimes difficult to light but more difficult to control once the fire is going. However, if your charcoal grill is not getting warm enough or even hot on the onset, you might need to check your grill for whatever is causing this defect.

No need to go out and replace your grill with a new one. Check out if your charcoal grill is experiencing the following causes and follow the easy remedy to fix it.

grill air vents
Clogged Air Vents

It might have been a while since you last cleaned your grill and the vents might have gotten clogged with debris. There are many factors which can cause debris to form inside the charcoal grill from burning the charcoal, food drippings and even lighter fluid. So check the vents before you start grilling since the inside of your grill needs oxygen or consistent airflow to get lit and maintain its temperature.

Quick Fix – Remove the grill grate and the charcoal inside your grill. Wipe the sides of the grill with a wet sponge making sure to get rid of the ash and debris. You can use a grill brush to thoroughly clean the interior of your grill and its vents, ensuring that you get rid of all the gunk you see inside or clinging to it.

Closed or Damaged Vents

Again, airflow is important in keeping your charcoal grill’s temperature up so you might want to check your grill’s vents to make sure they are not rusted shut or rusting because it has been left out in the rain or something. Rusting and corrosion can damage the grill’s vents and will hinder them from hinging close or open.

Quick Fix – If you tried opening the vent but will not budge, try to use a stiff grill brush to loosen the debris inside the vent. If there is rusting, you can also use or spray a rust inhibitor on the hinges of your vents, just make sure to clean it off before using. Finally, if all else fails, you can contact the grill’s manufacturer and ask for a vent replacement so you can go back to easily controlling your grill’s air ventilation.

Check Your Charcoal
Check Your Charcoal

It is essential that you are using not just the right amount of charcoal but also good quality ones to ensure that your grill is hot. Low-end charcoal will lead you to think that your grill is not reaching the proper temperature when really, it just takes a whole while longer to get hot or requires more charcoal layers. It could also be that you are using worn or wet charcoal. If your coals are soaked, they will not light up at all.

Quick Fix – Always make sure that you are using the type of charcoals that is recommended to be used with your grill. High-end briquettes are not that expensive and will be great investments to ensure that you are always grill-ready! It is also important that you store your charcoal properly, keep them sealed and out of the rain. Handle your charcoal with a little care by setting it down instead of tossing it on the cemented ground so it will keep its integrity and shape.

How to Keep Charcoal Grill Hot (7 Tips)

Now that you know what can cause your grill to malfunction in terms of temperature, you can now go ahead and learn the tips on how to maintain its high heat without having too much trouble!

Invest in a Good Thermometer

1. Invest in a Good Thermometer

It is imperative that you have a temperature gauge on your barbecue to keep it at the right cooking temperature for your meat. This will help you monitor if the heat rises or lowers too quickly. You can invest in a good air probe which are awesome types of grill thermometer as they keep tabs on the ambient temperature inside the grill accurately so you can track the changes and add fuel or adjust the ventilation to improve or maintain the right cooking temperature environment.

If your grill has a built-in thermometer on its lid, check that it is not defective. However, you have to know that this reading usually pertains to the inside of your grill and does not say how hot your grill grate is.

Use a Chimney Starter

2. Use a Chimney Starter

Using a chimney starter or charcoal chimney is one of the best ways when it comes to getting your barbecue grill going. It is reliable and safe as well as provides you with a consistent and even distribution of coals. This is essential for keeping hot temperatures going for the duration that your meat requires to cook perfectly.

3. Open the Dampers

Remember that your grill has two main sources of fuels: charcoal and oxygen. You have to have as much supply of oxygen flowing into the chamber as well as a healthy supply of coals or briquettes. Locate your dampers or vents, one is usually located on the lid and the other is on the base of your grill, near where the charcoal sits. Make sure that both are open when lighting your grill and adjust them as soon as the heat rises to maintain your grill’s temperature.

4. Keep the Lid On

It is a rule of thumb that in order to use your charcoal grill effectively, you must use its lid. This will not only help cook your food effectively but will regulate airflow to keep the heat up but eliminate the risk of flair ups which can cause your food to blacken on the grill. You will also burn through your coal supply quickly without a lid on your charcoal grill.

5. Invest on Good Quality Charcoal

The charcoal you choose to use greatly affects the duration of how long your grill will stay hot. You have to pick the right coal for the job so that you will not waste fuel unnecessarily. Good quality charcoal might be a little bit more expensive but they are worth every penny.

6. Add More Charcoal When Necessary

It is obvious that when your charcoal starts to burn through, the temperature of your grill will drop, so it is essential to maintain the heat by adding more coal or briquettes. Do not dump a load of new charcoal in the chamber because it will reduce the heat significantly instead, add little by little or use the chimney starter.

Of course, adding more fuel will depend on how long you plan on cooking on the grill. If you have more meat to barbecue then go ahead and add more coals to keep the fire going. However, if you are done, it is time to let your charcoal die out naturally so you can eventually let your grill cool off so you can clean and store it properly.

7. Remove Ashes

Airflow is essential and if you have been cooking for a long while, ashes will have started to pool under your grill. The ash can smother your coal and keep them from burning through. Try to dispose of the ashes every 30 to 60 minutes using your grill’s ash disposal. If your grill does not have one then carefully scoop out as much as you can manually without disrupting your cooking temperature levels.


Do not let the challenging task sway you from serving up some good grilled grub! All you need is some patience, practice and a few easy tricks on how to keep your charcoal grill hot and soon, you will be barbecuing confidently like a pro!

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