Charcoal Grills

Why Cook with Charcoal?

Versatility? Well, that’s just charcoal’s job. Charcoal grills not only operate at both higher and lower temperatures than most other grills, but they also achieve one as easily as the other (along with everything in between). High-heat grilling and low-heat smoking are yours to command, and even the simplest charcoal pit lets you manipulate the coals to create direct heat, indirect heat, and even both at once. As if that wasn’t enough, these grills facilitate flavor by infusing food with smoke from either vaporized drippings on the hot coals or wood chips added to the coal bed. Our experts have spent more than 20 years cooking with charcoal, and even they’re still occasionally blown away by the versatility and flavor this fuel type provides. We think you’ll be, too.

Charcoal Grill Advantages

  • High Heat: Unlike gas grills, charcoal pits have no max temperature setting. That means you can get them as hot as you want (within reason, of course).
  • Versatile Cooking: Charcoal can produce both direct infrared heat and indirect heat. Depending on the grill’s design, you can grill, smoke, sear, bake and more.
  • Dual-Zone Cooking: Arranging dual zones on a charcoal pit is incredibly easy — just bank some or all coals to one side, and multiple cooking styles are yours.
  • Incredible Flavor: When direct-heat grilling, charcoal instantly vaporizes food drippings into smoky, aromatic flavor particles that work wonders for flavor.
  • Juicier Meats: Charcoal placed below food cooks it using infrared heat, which results in less moisture loss when compared with other types of heat transfer.
  • Easy Wood Flavor: By simply adding wood chips to the top of your coals, your pit becomes filled with wood-fired flavors. No need for smoker boxes here!
  • Less Expensive: Because they lack highly priced components like burners and valves, charcoal pits generally cost less than gas grills at the point of purchase.
  • Sense of Pride: Many consider charcoal grilling a skill passed down from one generation to the next, making it a tradition you can share with others.

The Versatility of Charcoal Grills

Like a classical instrument, charcoal grills are simple devices that can be wielded by anyone — in the hands of a master, though, what comes out is nothing short of art. A charcoal smoker or grill’s results vary depending on the user’s skill, but we aren’t pointing out this learning curve to scare you away. We just want you to know that it’ll take a little patience, research, and practice, but you’ll soon be able to create results that rival your local BBQ joint. Plus, charcoal grilling can be an extremely rewarding hobby and a highly satisfying skill to master over time (quite frankly, it’s borderline addictive). So, if you’re considering taking up grilling or smoking with charcoal, your journey should start with an exploration of the different kinds of heat these pits produce and how their properties contribute to different cooking methods.

Cooking with Indirect Heat

Using indirect heat to cook chicken on the Nuke Delta Charcoal Grill

Along with smoke production, this type of heat transfer is necessary for tasty, slow-cooked BBQ. Charcoal just so happens to be great at creating both, making it the ideal — and usually the competition-required — fuel for low-and-slow cooking. You might think only large charcoal smokers can churn out tender and flavorful BBQ bathed in smoke for hours, but any charcoal pit is actually just as capable. All you need for indirect heat is a heat deflector or a setup where your food and coals are on opposite sides of the grill, then you can smoke, roast, and even bake. We told you these things were versatile!

Cooking with Direct Heat

using direct heat to grill a steak on the Nuke Delta Charcoal Grill

Most steakhouses use infrared burners to sear their beef. Why does this matter for charcoal? Well, roaring-hot coals actually radiate infrared waves in the same manner, heating only what they come into contact with instead of just the surrounding air. This type of energy transfer doesn’t disturb the moisture barrier of your meat, meaning that it gets cooked without drying out (all told, infrared heat results in 35% less moisture loss than other kinds of heat). That’s not even accounting for the amazing flavor that comes from cooking directly over the coals, which transform food drippings into tasty smoke.

The Power of Dual-Zone Cooking

Dual-Zone cooking on a Nuke Delta Charcoal Grill

Both direct and indirect heat are great on their own, but where charcoal grills really shine is their ability to use both at once. A two-zone setup is by far the most versatile cooking method known to mankind, which has been doing this cooking-over-fire thing for quite some time. Just push your coals to one side of the grill — for direct heat, place food on the grates directly above the coals; for indirect heat, place food on the opposite grates with no coals below. Certain charcoal pits make dual-zone grilling easier by design, and many brands make heat deflectors or charcoal basket accessories that help, too.

For immediate questions please call the store at (478)986-9200 and speak with one of our knowledgeable Grill Associates!