How much Charcoal?

by Kevin H. on February 22, 2012 · 12 comments

When working with charcoal, the basic rule is the more coal, the hotter your fire. You do not need much if you are just cooking easy stuff like burgers, dogs, brats.  Maybe 15 – 20 coals will do the trick.  If you want a blazing hot fire for searing steak, for instance, then you’re going to need a lot more.  At least double that.  I get a good hefty mound going if I want to sear.

If you’re slow cooking/smoking, again you don’t need very much.  Maybe 15.  However, if you’re cooking for a long period of time, you may need to add additional coals.  Watch the temperature of your grill – if it’s not staying above 200, you need to throw a few more on.  Maybe 5 at a time.

As a rule of thumb, go on the low side to start – you can always add more.

Watch the video about how to set up your grill for direct cooking.  I talked about the amount of coals to use!

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Neil Bienvenu February 11, 2018 at 6:55 pm

How many charcoal briquettes should I use to cook steaks and sausage in an ol Smokey?


Kevin March 13, 2018 at 2:14 pm

You won’t need much in the little guy. Maybe 15? Whatever amount makes a nice even layer across the grate.


dr.shameer February 3, 2016 at 7:49 pm

How much coal briquettes needed to make 6-7 pieces of chicken thighs (tandoori Kabab)? I use an 18 inch kettle. Thank you..


Kevin February 9, 2016 at 11:10 am

Not many – I’d say maybe 10-15 coals? Just enough for a thin layer across your grate.


Brucekriner April 30, 2014 at 11:24 pm

Can i use cherry wood for ribs. I have a ton of cherry wood and apple wood.


Kevin May 1, 2014 at 6:22 am

Yep, I use cherry all the time.


bruce April 28, 2014 at 12:47 pm

i have a big brickman to use for inderect heat. i smoke alot of ribs. i use half hickery half apple chips. what do u recemend?


Kevin April 30, 2014 at 8:55 pm

I’m a big fan of mixing woods. Hickory and Apple is a good combo. Hickory and any fruit wood is a good combo. If you find hickory to be too strong, go with all fruit. On the flip side, if you feel like it’s not strong enough – go with all hickory!


ed emig March 26, 2013 at 1:49 pm

Can you crank the heat in the “Party” Model and smoke/cook at higher temps (375-450)????
Ed Emig


Kevin March 26, 2013 at 1:56 pm

You absolutely can, Ed. We’ve actually used our Party as a pizza oven with great success. The best way to achieve and maintain a hot cooker is to eliminate the water. I’ll simply lay tin foil in the water pan to catch drippings, open up the vents and let that baby fire up.

Yesterday I burned out my fatboy to help clean it after a day of cooking ribs. I emptied the water, opened all the vents and had plenty of lit charcoal in the firebox. What temp did I hit? 550.