How to Grill Steak on a Charcoal Grill- Easiest Guide
Sep 05, 2023 By Cassandra Bailey

Grilling steak on a charcoal grill is a timeless culinary art that brings out the rich flavors and tantalizing aromas that steak enthusiasts love. Whether you're a seasoned grill master or just starting, mastering the technique of grilling steak on a charcoal grill can make your outdoor cooking experiences even more rewarding.

The combination of open flames and sizzling juices creates an experience that's hard to replicate. As a steak enthusiast, mastering the charcoal grill technique can make you the hero of backyard gatherings and Sunday cookouts. In this guide, I'll take you through step-by-step instructions on achieving the perfect steak cooked to perfection on a charcoal grill.

How to choose the perfect steak

The foundation of a fantastic charcoal-grilled steak starts with selecting the right cut. Opt for well-marbled cuts like ribeye, New York strip, or filet mignon. Marbling ensures a tender and flavorful steak that can withstand the grill's intense heat.

Prepping for Grilling

Before you fire up the grill, give your steak some TLC. Pat it dry with paper towels to promote a beautiful sear, and let it rest at room temperature for about 30 minutes.

Setting Up the Charcoal Grill

Creating the ideal setup is crucial. Arrange your charcoal in a two zone configuration: a direct heat zone and an indirect heat zone. Use a chimney starter to light the charcoal evenly and avoid chemical aftertastes.

Igniting the Flames

Light the charcoal using your preferred method. Let the flames develop until the coals turn ashy and emit a steady, medium-high heat. This is the moment where anticipation starts to build—your grill is almost ready to perform its magic.

Achieving the Ideal Heat Zones

Push the ignited charcoal to one side of the grill to create two heat zones. The direct zone is for searing, while the indirect zone is for gentle cooking. This setup allows you to control the doneness of your steak more effectively.

Searing: The Sizzle Secret

Place your well-seasoned steak directly above the searing hot coals. The initial sizzle is music to any grill master's ears. Sear each side for a few minutes until you achieve that coveted crust—a harmonious blend of flavor and texture.

Monitoring and Flipping

Keep a watchful eye on your steak as it grills. Use tongs to flip it gently, avoiding excessive poking that can release those precious juices. A digital meat thermometer is your ally in determining the steak's internal temperature.

Adding Flavor with Marinades

Marinades are the gateway to flavor experimentation. Whip up a mixture of olive oil, garlic, herbs, and your favorite spices. Allow the steak to bathe in this concoction for at least an hour before grilling.

Resting and Slicing

Once your steak reaches the internal temperature, remove the steak from the grill and rest for about 5-10 minutes. This rest period allows the juice to redistribute, resulting in a juicier bite. Slice against the grain for maximum tenderness.

Common Grilling Mistakes to Avoid

Grilling is a learning process, and even seasoned grillers make mistakes. Avoid these pitfalls: flipping too frequently, pressing down on the steak, overcrowding the grill, and neglecting to preheat properly.

Cleaning Your Charcoal Grill

A clean grill is essential for optimal performance. After your grill has cooled, remove the grates and brush away the residue. Empty the ash catcher to prevent airflow issues during your next grilling adventure.

How to Grill Steak on a Charcoal Grill: A Delicious Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 2 bone-in ribeye steaks (about 1.5 inches thick)
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Olive oil
  • Optional: your favorite steak rub or marinade

Equipment:

  • Charcoal grill
  • Charcoal briquettes
  • Chimney starter
  • Grill brush
  • Tongs
  • Meat thermometer

Instructions:

  • Prep the Grill:
    • Begin by setting up your charcoal grill for two zone cooking. Arrange the charcoal briquettes on one side of the grill for direct heat and leave the other side empty for indirect heat.
    • Use a chimney starter to light the charcoal. Let the briquettes burn until they're covered with a layer of gray ash, indicating they're ready for cooking.
  • Season the Steaks:
    • To ensure a great sear, begin by patting the ribeye steaks dry with paper towels. If you prefer, you can also apply your selected steak rub or marinade for an added burst of flavor.
  • Preheat the Grill:
    • Using long-handled tongs, place the steaks directly over the hot coals on the direct heat side of the grill. Sear for 2-3 minutes on each side, rotating them 45 degrees halfway through each side to create those beautiful grill marks.
  • Move to Indirect Heat:
    • After achieving a nice sear, move the steaks to the indirect heat side of the grill. This allows them to cook more gently and evenly without excessive charring.
  • Monitor the Temperature:
    • Insert a thermometer horizontally into the thickest part of one steak. Close the lid and monitor the temperature. For medium-rare, aim an internal temperature of about 130-135°F (54-57°C).
  • Rest and Serve:
    • Once the steaks are perfectly cooked, remove them from the grill and place them on a clean platter. Tent the grill steaks loosely with aluminum foil and let them rest for 5-10 minutes. This allows the juices to be redistributed, resulting in a juicier steak.

Tips for Perfect Grill Marks

  1. Preheat and Clean the Grill: Make sure your grill grates are clean and well-heated before you start cooking. A clean grill prevents sticking and promotes even cooking.
  2. Oil the Grates: Brush the grates with oil before placing the steak on the grill. This helps create a non-stick surface and aids in forming grill marks.
  3. Use High Heat: Grill marks form best when the grates are hot. Preheat your steak grill to a high temperature, around 450-500°F (232-260°C).
  4. Create a 45-Degree Angle: Place the steak on the grill at a 45-degree angle to the grates. This initial placement sets the foundation for the crosshatch grill marks.
  5. Don't Disturb Too Soon: Let the steak cook for a few minutes without moving it. This allows the grill marks to form and helps prevent sticking.

Conclusion

Grilling steak on a charcoal grill is more than a cooking method—it's a culinary journey. The aroma, the sizzle, the camaraderie around the grill—every step contributes to an experience transcending a mere meal. With the proper techniques, you can create mouthwatering, restaurant-quality steaks in the comfort of your backyard.

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