To ensure that grilled foods are properly cooked. If too few briquettes are used, food may not cook evenly.
To calculate the necessary number of coals, cover the fire grate with an even layer of charcoal briquettes, edges touching-the number of briquettes needed to cover the grate is the number you'll need to get the fire started.
If you're using direct-heat cooking for more than 40 to 50 minutes of cooking time, you will need to add more charcoal. A good rule is to add 5 to 6 briquettes every ½ hour to maintain a constant temperature. Place the briquettes directly on hot coals, spacing them evenly over the existing fire area. If using indirect heat (coals evenly divided), add 5 to 6 briquettes to each side. Never add briquettes that have been pre-treated with lighter fluid to a fire that is already lit. Use regular, non-treated briquettes instead.
The Proper Number of Briquettes
In addition to the above information I am want to explore the issue a little further. I've often been asked just how many briquettes or how much charcoal do you use? The short answer is as much as you need. But that terse response really doesn't answer the question. Almost always I will follow up with the very basic what are you grilling response. I ask that because certain pieces of meat or vegetables will take longer to grill that others and thus you don't want to run out of fire before the item is done. I've done some basic measuring when it comes to expected heat output per briquette and I find that a piece operating by itself under normal circumstances will put out a sustained 90 to 100 degrees F of heat. The lifecycle of charcoal can be very much summed up like a bell curve. The charcoal starts at the low end and as the heat rises it reaches its peak on the curve and over time the heat declines and the curve drops off.
The heat level will combine or extend depending on the layout the charcoal in the grill. If you pile in on in a mound the heat level will start low but then rise to an intense level at a rate much higher than most would even consider using unless they were attempting to grill a steak. As you may know the best temperature to grill a steak is around 700 to 800 degrees. But of course for that kind of grill very few grills can ever achieve that temperature. Second, if you layer the charcoal end to end then the first segment will achieve peak and will ignite the adjacent segments slowly creating a domino effect as new charcoal begins to burn old charcoal is burn out and the range of heat continues along the layer of charcoal. Heat can be increased simply by mounding the charcoal into two or three layers following the round or square of the grill. This sort of layered row of charcoal is great for slow grilling and smoking. Wood chips are added to the charcoal row and as the charcoal ignites down the row the chips burn creating smoke which is transferred to the meat.
Overall, I tell my customers that a rack of ribs or chicken will take approximately 1/3 of a 15 lb bag of charcoal. The charcoal type being the standard non-infused charcoal meaning briquettes that have not been blended with some propellant that allows you to use one single match to ignite the charcoal. So, give this amount of charcoal a try and if that's too much you can back off by pulling away some of the unburned charcoal during the grilling cycle.
This product was added to our catalog on Thursday 21 September, 2017.