Kitchen Confidence

How to Light a Grill

By • July 3, 2012 • 15 Comments

Inspired by conversations on the FOOD52 Hotline, we're sharing tips and tricks that make navigating all of our kitchens easier and more fun. Today, Merrill lights a charcoal grill -- without lighter fluid. 

Here at FOOD52, we'd throw everything on the grill if we could (and sometimes, we do). Since summertime -- especially Fourth of July -- means it's finally time to head out and barbecue, we felt it was our patriotic duty to show you how to light one properly.

Today, Merrill shows you how to light a grill -- without lighter fluid. With just some charcoal and a chimney starter, you can get outside and grilling in no time. Now, grab a beer: time to celebrate!

What are your favorite things to grill?

Today's video was shot by Alex Lisowski, and edited by Kyle Orosz. 

Jump to Comments (15)

Tags: kitchen confidence, grilling, grill, summer, how to, how to light a grill, lighting a grill, barbecue, how-to & diy, video, video

Comments (15)

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10 days ago BARBARA MORGAN

Thank you for this video. I purchased a Weber charcoal grill and it has been sitting in the box since May because I did not know how to properly light charcoal and use that chimney thing. I'll unbox the BBQ today and start using it.

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3 months ago Joseph Zarrillo

We've only been utilizing that method for about forty years now. You can also use very thin dry twigs piled underneath your layer of charcoal right in the BBQ without the need of the chimney. I use one match everytime to light my BBQ.

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about 2 years ago SmokingQ

Put that chimney on top of a turkey fryer to start it up. Only needs one min of flame time to light and if you give it 3 the coals should be lit if you keep them on high!

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about 2 years ago smurrd

We live in an area with a lot of bay laurel and have an ongoing collection of bay leaves at varying stages of dryness. They light up beautifully--no need for newspaper.

Merrill

about 2 years ago Merrill Stubbs

Merrill is a co-founder of Food52.

Love it!

Zester_003

about 2 years ago pierino

pierino is a trusted source on General Cooking and Tough Love.

I'm intrigued by the bay leaf idea as I have branches at the ready and they should smell better than newspaper as a starter.

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about 2 years ago Hal Shubin

Is there a way to do this *without* a lot of smoke? Houses in our neighborhood are close together, and when I light the grill (as demonstrated in the video), smoke pours out until the coals are ready.

Merrill

about 2 years ago Merrill Stubbs

Merrill is a co-founder of Food52.

Alas, I think smoke is a necessary part of this process, and we have the same issue of close houses/apts. in Brooklyn. I find that the smoke only lasts a few minutes, though -- once the paper has burned up and the bottom coals are lighted, the smoke disappears.

Zester_003

about 2 years ago pierino

pierino is a trusted source on General Cooking and Tough Love.

Yes, smoke is part of the process. But if you are using wood at least it's an aromatic smoke which can actually cause a Pavlovian response with the neighbors. The other thing to be careful about is sparking embers. Myself and my own neighbors are surrounded by acres of oak trees and it can get really windy here during the early evening so I have my grill positioned in a sheltered space. I don't want to burn down Paso Robles.

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about 2 years ago chefrockyrd

Thanks for showing this video. I almost got in a fist fight with someone at a bbq this past week end. They used practically a WHOLE container of lighter fluid on already pre soaked briquets. They kept squirting and squirting at the fire to make it burst into high (stinky) flames.
A few of the men said - don't worry it burns off! Well the smell and taste doesn't. I mentioned this method of fire starting and they all said it took too long.
I will be passing this video on to them.

Zester_003

about 2 years ago pierino

pierino is a trusted source on General Cooking and Tough Love.

Yes, chefrockyrd those briquettes are packed with accelerants that will give your food a really nasty taste.

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about 2 years ago roryrabbitfield

I am going to buy my neighbor a chimney and teach him how to do this. Every time he lights his grill, we are overcome by the lighter fluid fumes. Gross!

Zester_003

about 2 years ago pierino

pierino is a trusted source on General Cooking and Tough Love.

Real wood charcoal? What else would you want to use? Briquettes are for sissies and recidivist, compulsive burger flippers. Real wood, with the chimney starter is the only way to go. You can skip the paper step by using parafin cubes to ignite, or to be green you can use fire starters from Big Green Egg. They come in the form of little tiles that you apply your match or Bic to. Nothing toxic. They light up right away and then you can get to work on the wood for your fire.

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about 2 years ago Vox

I do it differently, without any lighter fluid (or similar stuff) and without a chimney. This works, of course, when you are trying to grill in an uncivilized place, which is where I learned the trick :)

Grab 2 or 3 paper napkins, put 3 or 4 spoonfuls of sugar in them and crumple the napkins together with the sugar inside; put it in the middle of your grill, optionally, wet the napkins (not soak, just wet) with kitchen oil (any will do) and then add your charcoal around and over the napkins, leaving enough space around them so air circulates...light up the napkins from a couple of places and let it work...you'll have ready-to-cook charcoal in about 15 minutes.

Merrill

about 2 years ago Merrill Stubbs

Merrill is a co-founder of Food52.

Your way sounds really cool! I'll have to try it.