How to Set Up a Charcoal Grill in 5 Easy Steps


Using a chimney starter is the best way to light a charcoal grill. Never use lighter fluid, as its odor and chemical components can penetrate your food. Place a few sheets of crumpled newspaper inside the bottom of the cylinder and fill to the brim with charcoal.

Preparing the Coals

Light the paper in several places, which will ignite the coals. After 20 to 30 minutes, when the coals are ashy white, pour the coals in an even layer across the grate.

Related: 15 Kitchen Shortcuts That Will Change the Way You Cook

Creating Direct and Indirect Heat

For direct heat, spread the coals evenly over the lower grate. For indirect heat, pile coals on one side of the grill; place meat on the other side. Keep the lid closed (with vents open) to trap heat inside. Or arrange coals around a drip pan (such as a disposable aluminum pan) with food centered over pan. You will need to replenish the hot coals about every hour.

Cleaning Grates

Heat the grill about 10 minutes before each use to let the stuck-on bits of food burn off. Then scrub with a wire brush to free the grates of charred debris and residue. Repeat after cooking. The stiff brass bristles rub off grime, while the steel blade tackles cooked-on bits and pieces.

Related: 10 Clever Ways to Save Space in Your Kitchen

Oiling the Cooking Surface

To keep meat from sticking, use a heatproof silicone brush to coat the grate with vegetable oil (or rub grate with an oiled rag or paper towel, holding with tongs). Apply the oil just before you place the meat on the grill; otherwise it may burn off before you start cooking.

More from Martha Stewart:
19 Tips for Perfect Laundry Every Time
30 Things Everyone Should Know How to Do
Martha Stewart's Ultimate Organizing Solutions
12 Secrets for a Cleaner Bathroom Without Spending More Time Cleaning It