How to Light Charcoal Without Lighter Fluid or Accelerants

How to Light Charcoal Without Lighter Fluid or Accelerants

Yuck! Hate how lighter fluid does to your barbeque? Well, here’s how to how to light charcoal without lighter fluid.

Lighter fluid is the bane of the backyard barbecue artist, even though 70% of people (Source) still use it to start their charcoal grills.

While it’s a handy way to get the coals going, it also imparts some of its petroleum essence into the meat.

Is there a better way?

Absolutely. Read on and we’ll discuss the how to light charcoal without lighter fluid.

Why Go Without Lighter Fluid?

Many of us grew up with the ol’ backyard lighter fluid method. It’s easy enough: spray the charcoal down with the fluid, toss in a match, wait for it to heat.

The problem is that the chemicals which make up lighter fluid are toxic in and of themselves, even if you leave aside the obvious danger of standing next to a fire with a plastic bottle full of an explosively flammable liquid.

While most people are content just throwing their food down as soon as the coals are red hot… it’s a big mistake. And it’s one that even the best grill can’t fix for you.

It can alter the taste of your carefully prepared meat, leave toxic residues on food, and generally wreak havoc due to the aromatic compounds contained within the mixture. While the boiling point of the compounds is quite low, the process of burning them off takes about fifteen minutes (Source), you’re exposing yourself to the chemicals within if you don’t allow the charcoal to go grey first.

There are also emissions to worry about for those who are green-minded, lighter fluid is still a burning petroleum product even if it seems like a small amount compared to what’s in your car.

Of course, the final ingredient is taste. While this can be avoided, many people use lighter fluid to get old coals going again or simply put the food over them before the fluid has all boiled off. This leaves a tell-tale “off” taste to the meat you’re cooking.

Don’t Play With Pre-Soaked Coals

Before we get into starting your coals off without the use of a liquid accelerant, we need to discuss “quick-light” charcoal.

While handy, the way they work is a bit funky and there is a reason most experienced BBQers avoid them.

These coals are soaked in a petroleum compound before they’re shipped. This makes them incredibly easy to light, just throw a match at them for the most part, it also means that the porous structure of the charcoal is impregnated with the stuff you’re trying to avoid.

That means more “chemical” flavor and vapor deposition of stuff you really don’t want to ingest. Just avoid them altogether, even without the increased carcinogen risk they’re not suitable for anyone who’s serious about the grilling arts.

How to Light Charcoal Without Lighter Fluid

There are a few common methods which people use when it comes time to light up their coals without having to resort to using lighter fluid or another accelerant.

The most common method used is a chimney starter (click to check current price on Amazon). These handy cans feature a grill at the bottom to hold the briquettes over a source of fire and get started. Since the shape keeps the heat and flame moving directly into the coals it really doesn’t take any longer than the lighter fluid method either.

The most frequently used fuel is paper, but pretty much anything that burns can be used in a pinch to get it going.

Even better, compact chimney starters are easily portable, making them ideal for a barbecue at the lake or beach. They also protect the fire from the wind, something which even lighter fluid can’t accomplish.

The other primary method used is an electric charcoal starter (click to check current price on Amazon). These are essentially a high-resistance heating element which is placed in a pile of charcoals. The heating element ramps up the heat until the charcoal is ignited.

This usually takes from 10-15 minutes, depending on the model and weather conditions.

While electric starters are slower than a chimney they’re not affected by wind at all and are the absolute cleanest way to get a fire going since it doesn’t involve combusting anything.

Lastly, some people will simply pile their charcoal and hit them with a propane or MAP gas torch. It’s quick and effective, but not everyone just has one sitting in their garage.

Can I Start Charcoal With Just a Fire?

While it’s more difficult than if you have the right tools, getting charcoal to cooking temperature is perfectly possible with just fire and some fuel.

In this case, you’ll want to carefully create a layer of paper and possibly wood depending on the external conditions. Leave a trailing piece of twisted paper extending from the fuel pile before placing the briquettes.

Place the charcoal in a pyramidal shape for the best results, then simply light the paper and wait. It may take a few tries to get the right technique, but as long as there isn’t too much wind you’ll be good to go in about the same time as any other method.

Some people advocate soaking the paper (Source) in olive or vegetable oil as well, making it more flammable and longer burning and increasing your chances of getting it right on the first shot.

The important thing is to use enough fuel to get the charcoals started, otherwise you’ll have to tumble the pile and start over again while risking burns from any charcoal that did light.

Grilling Without Fluid: Cleaner and Tastier

Learning how to light charcoal without lighter fluid isn’t just handy for when you don’t have your favorite accelerant around… it’s one of the essentials to getting the most out of your BBQ.

When it comes down to it, the fewer chemicals involved in your grilling the better off you’ll be. The lack of petrochemical emissions is a bonus as well for those who are environmentally conscious.

So, now that you can start your grill no matter what… maybe it’s time to get some new ideas for your next BBQ session. Check out our handy BBQ guides today!

13 Tips On How To Charcoal Grill at Home

13 Tips On How To Charcoal Grill at Home

Charcoal grilling is a fantastic way to add that extra flavour to your BBQ. Follow these 13 Tips On How To Charcoal Grill at Home!

Ready to take your grilling skills from beginner to cook-off winner?

Sure, a gas grill gets things heated up quickly. But there’s something about the smoky flavor you can only get with charcoal that makes your summer barbecues a hit. Charcoal grills give your favorite burgers, steaks, and chicken those drool-worthy sear lines.

Don’t let the flames scare you. Learning how to charcoal grill is something anyone can do with the right tips.

Keep reading our charcoal grill guide to make your grilling skills the envy of the neighborhood.

1. Prep the Grill

Before you throw charcoal in your grill, set it up for success. Charcoal grills have dampers along the bottom. You want those open to start with the lid also open to feed the fire oxygen.

Remove the cooking grate for now. Put it somewhere out of the way where it won’t get dirty.

2. Light the Charcoal

When lighting your charcoal grill, it’s easiest to use a charcoal chimney. This cylindrical tool lets you light the charcoal without lighter fluid. That eliminates the potential chemical taste you get if the fluid doesn’t burn off before you start grilling.

Start with crumpled newspaper in the bottom. Then, top it with your charcoal. The charcoal lights and burns like normal.

If you don’t have a charcoal chimney, pile your charcoal in a pyramid shape. Soak the charcoal with about 1.6 ounces of fluid for every pound of charcoal. Wait about 30 seconds before lighting the charcoal.

When all the charcoal has a white surface, spread it out in the grill. Put the lid in place and wait five more minutes before cooking the food.

3. Have the Food Ready

When your coals reach the perfect point, you want to get the food on quickly. By prepping your food early, you don’t waste any of that perfect heat.

If you’re grilling steak, pork, or other whole pieces of meat, trim the excess fat that you don’t want to leave on while cooking. Add any seasonings or marinades to the meat. Marinating meat for at least 30 minutes lets the flavors soak into the meat.

Calculate the cooking times if you’re grilling more than one thing. Burgers need more time than hot dogs. Thick steaks need more time than thin slices of veggies.

Use those cooking times to plan when to put each item onto the grill. Consider side dishes you’re cooking inside to coordinate the finishing time for everything.

Organizing your condiments and side dishes early lets you focus on the grilling once you start. It’s easy for food to go from perfect to burnt on the grill. Being able to focus on the grill helps prevent that.

4. Add Smoky Flavor

Cooking on charcoal grills naturally gives food more flavor that you don’t get on a gas grill. Add even more flavor with wood chips.

Pick the variety of wood based on the flavor you want to add. Here are some options:

  • Applewood or cherry for a touch of sweet, fruity flavor
  • Mesquite for a strong tangy, earthy flavor
  • Hickory for a hint of bacon flavor
  • Maple for a slightly sweet, smoky flavor

Combine different wood varieties for custom flavors.

Put the chips in water to soak for about two hours before grilling. Toss them in with the coals after they turn white to infuse the meat with the flavor.

5. Cook in Zones

When you grill, you can use direct or indirect heat. Direct heat means you cook the food directly over the coals where it’s hottest. Think of it as the high heat setting on a gas grill.

Indirect heat means moving the food away from the coals so they don’t receive as much heat. Depending on the placement, it’s equivalent to the low or medium heat settings on a gas grill.

Foods that cook quickly, such as burgers, thin steaks, hot dogs, and chicken breasts, work best over direct heat. They can handle the heat for longer. 

Larger items, such as ribs, whole chickens, and thicker meat, do better under indirect heat. They need longer to cook completely. By using indirect heat, you give them more time to cook without the outside getting burned.

Another option is to start food over direct heat to get a noticeable char on the outside. Then, move it away from the direct heat to let it finish cooking.

If you’re cooking different types of foods, set up zones for both direct and indirect cooking. Center most of the coals in one area for direct heat. Position other foods away from those coals to cook them indirectly.

6. Prep the Grate

You can already taste the delicious grilled meal you’re about to enjoy. You naturally want to start cooking as soon as possible. But putting food on too soon can cause sticking.

Place the cooking grate over the hot coals after you spread them. Let the grate get hot before you start cooking.

Greasing the grate also prevents sticking. Dip a wadded paper towel in a little oil. Use tongs to rub it on the grate.

7. Adjust the Vents

You can’t adjust the temperature of a charcoal grill with a knob like you can on a gas grill. Instead, the vents built into the grill help you control how the food cooks. Look for the vents on the top and bottom of the kettle.

Opening the vents helps release heat from inside the grill. If the food cooks to fast, open the vents more carefully. Use a grill tool or something else to help you adjust the vents once you start the grill to avoid burns.

At the same time, close the vents at the bottom. That cuts down on oxygen flow to the coals, which limits the heat. If you leave the bottom vents closed for too long, it can extinguish the fire completely.

If you need more heat in the grill to cook food properly, reverse the process. Open the bottom vents to get more oxygen to the coals and shut the top vents.

8. Watch for Flare-Ups

Grease from meat sometimes causes flames to flare up in the grill. The flames can burn the food so you want to tame them quickly.

Putting the lid on the grill suffocates the flames. Close the vents to smother the flames.

Don’t pour water on the flames. It can cause ash to splash up on your food. Water also makes grease fire flames flare up even more.

9. Keep the Lid in Place

It’s tempting to peek at your meat and veggies as they grill. But each time you lift the lid, oxygen fuels the coals. That makes them hotter and can result in burnt food. It’s exactly the other way round with gas grills. Here, peeking lowers the heat inside the grill.

Limit how often you take the lid off your charcoal grill. Only remove it to quickly flip the food and check it occasionally.

If you can’t keep your hands off, set a timer based on what you’re cooking. A burger is good for four to five minutes per side before you flip. Wait until the timer rings to take off the lid.

10. Use an Instant-Read Thermometer

The last thing you want at your backyard barbecue is undercooked meat. Instead of eyeballing doneness or relying on the clock, use a reliable meat thermometer to decide when to remove food. The time can vary on a charcoal grill because of differences in temperature.

An instant-read thermometer gives you a quick readout of the internal temperature. The ideal temperature varies depending on the type of meat. Common internal temperature recommendations include:

  • Chicken: 165 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Burgers: 160 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Steak: 145 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Fresh pork: 145 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Fish: 145 degrees Fahrenheit

11. Follow Grill Safety

Safety is important no matter what type of grill you use. Take extra care with charcoal grills.

They tend to be a little less stable than gas grills. Place your charcoal grill on level ground away from structures. Choose an out-of-the-way spot so it doesn’t get knocked over.

Never leave your charcoal grill unattended, especially when it’s still flaming. Keep a fire extinguisher on hand in case your flames get out of control.

12. Shut Down the Grill

You want to enjoy your grilled masterpiece, but don’t forget to shut down the grill for the night. Shutting the vents cuts off oxygen to help the coals burn out. It takes a while for a charcoal grill and the coals to cool completely.

Don’t extinguish the coals with water. It can create steam, which can burn you. It can also cause damage to your grill because of the sudden temperature drop.

You don’t have to remove the ashes from your grill. Your fresh charcoal can go right on top the next time you grill.

If you clean out the ashes, wait until they’re completely cool.

13. Clean the Grill

Cleaning the grates of your charcoal grill reduces buildup and helps your food taste better. It can also prevent grease fires from happening.

A wire brush knocks off the gunk off the grates easily. Another option is a ball of aluminum foil.

At least once a season, do a deep clean on the grill interior. Wipe off any gunk that builds up on the sides, lid, and bottom of the grill.

Learn More About How to Charcoal Grill

Now that you know how to charcoal grill, what are you waiting for? Pull out that charcoal grill, make up your favorite burger recipe, and start grilling. Read more of our best grilling tips, including grilling safety tips, to make your next cookout a success.

9 Masterchef Tips to Use When BBQ Smoking Ribs

9 Masterchef Tips to Use When BBQ Smoking Ribs

These Top Tips Make BBQ Smoking Ribs Easy

Looking to upgrade your grilling skills? Is someone you’re looking to impress on your barbecue invite list? If so, then read this post to get tips for BBQ smoking ribs that will blow everyone away.

Whether you’re celebrating a special occasion, meeting new neighbors, or having a cookout “just because” you know one thing for sure: everyone is going to be judging your barbecuing skills.

There are few better ways to test your BBQ chops than by smoking ribs.

But if you’re relatively new to the grilling life — or if your skills aren’t quite where you want them to be just yet — it can be a disastrous experience.

This post is here to make you feel like a pro when it comes to BBQ smoking ribs.

Read on to learn the top tips and tricks you need to fool everyone into thinking you’ve been at this for years — and to become your neighborhood’s official grill master.

1. Get the Right Ingredients

The most important thing you need to consider when you’re ready to start BBQ smoking ribs?

The quality of your meats.

If possible, buy from a local butcher shop instead of a chain store to get the freshest meat available. Yes, you’ll have to pay a bit more — but it’s still cheaper than hiring a catering company.

What should you look for?

First of all, make sure that you don’t buy ribs referred to as “shiners.” This is where so much of the meat has been removed from the ribs, that the bones actually gleam through the packaging.

If you’re buying pre-packaged ribs, also be on the lookout for an excessive amount of liquid in the packaging. This is a clear sign that the ribs have been frozen and then thawed — and that’s not something you want.

Finally, be on the lookout for ribs with phrases like “basted,” “self-basting,” or “enhanced” on the packaging.

This usually means that the meat has been injected with salty liquid brine, which can ruin your own flavor and make it tougher.

Try to buy your meat as close to “grill day” as possible, so that you don’t have to freeze it.

Finally, ensure you pick up enough meat to feed everyone. This post makes it easy to know how much to buy.

2. Prepare the Meat

Next, it’s time to remove the membrane from the ribs.

You can ask your butcher to for this, or handle it on your own if you’re up for making your BBQ smoked ribs from as close to scratch as is possible.

It’s important to get rid of these membranes because they’re so tough, that they make it hard for the rest of the meat to absorb the flavors from the rub and sauces.

It’s surprising, but often the best way to get rid of membranes is by using a standard meat thermometer. Starting at the center of the ribs, put the meat thermometer between the membrane and one of the bones.

Then, slowly and gently pull off the entire membrane.

Yes, you may have heard a few debates about leaving the membrane on, but this is best left to serious grillers who have the professional training needed to make sure the flavor reaches all the meat.

3. Start With a Dry Rub

Now, let’s get into another great debate when it comes to bbq smoked pork ribs: dry rubs vs. sauce.

Yes, for best results, you want to use both sauce and a dry rub. But you don’t actually want to add that barbecue sauce to the meat until you’ve smoked the ribs.

So, how do you ensure you’re getting flavor through to all the parts of the meat? Through dry rubs, which can easily saturate the entire rib as opposed to just sitting on top.

Of course, dry rubs take a little bit of prep work.

Apply your dry rub about 8-10 hours before the barbecue begins to ensure that the flavors have all the time they need to soak through.

To make an incredible rub, mix up:

  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery salt
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1.5 teaspoons paprika
  • 1/3 teaspoon cinnamon

Once you’ve made the dream dry rub recipe, you can keep any leftovers of it for about a month.

Above all, make sure that you coat both sides of your ribs with the rub.

4. Mop It Up

Don’t worry: we’re not suggesting that you completely eliminate barbecue sauce from the rib-making process. (After all, we’re not monsters!)

Instead, it’s just about knowing how and when to apply sauce when you’re bbq smoking ribs.

The best way to evenly spread out the flavor and avoid drowning your ribs in sauce is by using the “mop” method. It’s also a great way to ensure that your ribs stay juicy and moist.

To create a mop, use about two tablespoons of the leftover dry rub we taught you how to make above. Mix it in with a cup of either apple cider vinegar or beer. Then, using a little brush, gently baste or “mop” your ribs with this mixture, when they’re about 2/3 of the way through the smoking process.

For more of a mop-based flavor, try mopping about once every 45 minutes. For an extra bit of intensity, we suggest wrapping the ribs in aluminum foil after you apply the final mop (for about a half an hour.)

This helps to keep things especially tender.

Only apply the barbecue sauce near the very end of the smoking process. It should act as a kind of a glaze. After all, the wood smoke is what really sears that flavor into your ribs.

And speaking of wood…

5. Select the Right Wood

One of the most important parts of smoking ribs with barbecue sauce — about as essential as selecting the right cuts of meat — is choosing the kind of wood you want to smoke with.

Sometimes, you may have a particular allegiance to a certain type of wood based on the region you live in.

For example, in the south, you’ll be hard-pressed to find anyone willing to smoke with anything other than hickory. However, in Texas, mesquite reigns supreme.

Pecan, alder, maple, oak, and even apple are also popular options. This post breaks down some of the top choices you have when it comes to smoking woods.

However, you don’t have to limit yourself to what’s available locally, especially because it’s easier than ever to find all different kinds of woods online.

After all, you can always use experimenting with different kinds of woods as an excuse to have cookouts more often.

6. Watch the Damper

Not all of the tips for properly BBQ smoking ribs have to be complicated.

But sometimes, it’s the simplest tips that are the most important. Always make sure that the exhaust damper on the grill is completely open throughout the entire smoking process.

If you leave the damper shut, then the flavor of the ribs will be especially bitter, regardless of the kind of wood you used.

7. Know When They’re Done

So, after about five or six hours of hard work, you feel like your ribs are just about done.

But how do you know for sure?

Usually, the meat will have moved from the bones’ ends by about half an inch. Additionally, you can lift up the rack of the ribs using tongs. Pay attention to the center of the ribs, often referred to as the flexing point.

Once the flexing point starts to shred slightly when picked up, you’ll know for sure that ribs are done.

You can also use a toothpick test to ensure the ribs are ready to eat. You just need to gently poke a toothpick between the bones of the ribs. The goal is for the toothpick to slide in easily, with no resistance.

For best results, use this method across different parts of your ribs.

Remember that the sign of truly well-cooked ribs is that you can tear them apart with your fingers.

Make sure that you also know the right sides to serve with your smoked ribs to really compliment the flavor and ensure everyone leaves full and happy.

BBQ Smoking Ribs Doesn’t Have to Feel Impossible

We hope that this post has simplified the process of BBQ smoking ribs.

Need help deciding on the right smoker to invest in? Want to make sure you’re able to use a charcoal or gas grill the right way?

On the hunt for even more creative barbecue tips and tricks?

We’ve got you covered when it comes to all that and more. Check out our blog for everything you need to learn about BBQ.

Make sure you keep checking back in with us to learn secrets used by the biggest barbecue masters in the world. Who knows? If you keep it up, you just might become one of them.

How to Keep Your Eyebrows: 8 BBQ Grilling Safety Tips

How to Keep Your Eyebrows: 8 BBQ Grilling Safety Tips

A barbecue can be the perfect way to spend a summer day… until you set something on fire. Keep everything and everyone intact with these grilling safety tips.

Having your friends over for a barbecue is guaranteed to be a great time, but you do need to take some precautions. Accidents can happen, and you don’t want to become another statistic.

To keep you safe, here are 8 grilling safety tips to keep in mind when you’re barbecuing.

1. Control the Fire

Fire is one of the most destructive forces in the world; when you have a barbecue, you’re willingly inviting that force into your backyard. You should always treat fire with the respect it deserves.

Always have at least one person watching the fire at any one time. When a fire is left unattended, it can quickly turn ugly. You should always have a fire extinguisher on hand.

Every year, there are injuries and fires caused by people operating smokers and barbecues. Don’t let it happen to you; always make sure you keep an eye on the fire.

Even if you do keep a close watch on the flames, accidents can still happen. If you’re hosting a barbecue, make sure you or someone present knows how to treat burns in the event that someone gets hurt.

2. Read the Manuals

Whenever you buy a grill or a smoker, it’ll usually come with a manual. If it doesn’t, you can probably find it available in PDF format online.

You might think you have experience in operating grills, but these kinds of devices all have different operating ranges. Don’t make the assumption that a new grill is going to operate in the same way as your previous one. This is not always the case, and it could result in an accident.

Before you host a barbecue, you should take some time to read the operating instructions. Yes, it can be boring, but it doesn’t hurt either…

3. Place the Grill in the Right Place

It’s vital you place the grill in the right location. If you place your grill in the wrong place, the chance of there being a fire goes up significantly. You should look into the manual to find out how far you should place the grill from other objects.

On top of following the manual specifications for placement, you should also consider the need to keep the grill away from other people. You should never place a grill in an area where there’s going to be people walking past. This is especially important if your barbecue is going to be attended by children who probably won’t take as much care as they should near the grill.

4. Keep the Grill Free of Grease

You also want to make sure you keep the grill as clean as possible. When there’s a lot of grease on your grill, it can cause it to flare up unexpectedly.

Whether you’re using a gas or charcoal grill, you need to make sure grease isn’t building up on your grill over time. You’d be surprised at how much grease can accumulate after just a handful of cookouts.

Again, if you’re unsure in this area, you should refer to your grill’s manual. In there, you’ll probably find detailed instructions on how to keep your grill clean and relatively grease-free.

5. Keep Drinking to a Minimum

If you’re responsible for operating the grill, it should go without saying that you need to be careful. If you drink an excessive amount of alcohol around the grill, focusing can become difficult.

Quite often, when there’s an accident involving a grill, the person who was involved was drunk. Don’t get us wrong here. Of course, it’s perfectly acceptable to drink during a cookout, but consider only having a beer or two to begin with. And once the fire is out and the food’s been served, you can cut loose and have a few more drinks.

6. Know How to Put out a Grease Fire

grease fire should be put out by depriving it of oxygen. You should be able to cover the grill and close the air vents to achieve this.

Don’t ever put water on a grease fire! It won’t put it out and all it’ll do is spread the fire around.

You should always keep a fire extinguisher on hand whenever you’re operating a grill, as this will put out the flames without any issues.

7. Know When to Call 911

If a fire is starting to get out of control and you no longer feel confident in your ability to put it out, you should call 911 and ask for the fire department. Sometimes, a grease fire might burn so hot it’s impossible to get close enough to put it out.

If you feel like a fire is starting to get dangerous, you should call for help as soon as possible. The longer you wait to call, the worse it’s going to get.

8. Watch the Smoke

While the smoke from a barbecue can smell great, it isn’t a good idea for you to breath it in. The smoke from a barbecue contains a range of dangerous chemicals, such as carbon monoxide. It also has cancer-causing substances that form as the grease burns.

Make sure the smoke isn’t blowing towards people and that you only enjoy the smell from a distance. Of course, it should go without saying that you should never try to use a grill indoors. Not only will your health suffer, but your home will get damaged as well.

Practice Good Grilling Safety

The key to safe grilling is to make sure you’ve read the manual for your grill, don’t overestimate your abilities and to keep relatively sober while grilling. Make sure someone always pays attention to the flame when it’s lit and that no one operates the grill while they’re intoxicated.

If you keep these grilling safety tips in mind, then you’ll pave the way to a summer full of fun and safe get-togethers!

Need some new barbecue recipes to impress your friends with? Then check out our delicious recipes!

How To Grill While Camping

How To Grill While Camping

Camping is one of the most awesome and fulfilling outdoor activities you can engage in. For most of their existence humans have had a deep connection with nature – for obvious reasons. And even after we have become ‘domesticated’ and built huge cities and settled in houses and apartments, we still feel that urge to go out and connect with mother nature from time to time.

Even just a short trip to the nearest nature reserve will ‘recharge your batteries’ and lets you feel that lost connection again.

For those not wanting to go full caveman, car camping is an option to get the best of both worlds. Not only will it make for a much more relaxed outdoor experience, but it will let your stay in the outdoors be that little bit more comfortable.

One of the possibilities it provides you with, is the ability to take a grill with you. And that is a huge plus in our book. Anyone who has ever been on camping trips knows that some of the best and most memorable moments of camping are sitting down together (or even on your own) and having a barbecue in the outdoors.

Sure, some people are fine with just eating snacks or nutrition bars all day long. But we are looking at something more fulfilling here at BBQChiefs. Something that will make you look forward to every chance to go out camping.

Even if you take people with you that don’t enjoy physical activities during the trip, even they will undoubtedly appreciate a well-cooked breakfast, lunch or dinner after a long day.

All you are going to need for this is a portable grill and doing some preparations at home. Just ask anyone who has ever been on a camping trip in case you haven’t; food never tastes better than during your time in the outdoors.

There is something unexplainable to being under wide open skies, away from all the hustle of the city that makes your taste buds appreciate good food even more. Especially if you engaged in some straining physical activity like hiking during the day.

The whole experience is so profound that some people go camping just for the sake of cooking and enjoying food outdoors!

Now, let’s take a look at what dishes you can enjoy while exploring the outdoors and what equipment will help you the most on your camping trip.

Preparations

Before you go out into the wilds, it’s essential to get some preparations done at home. There is nothing worse than travelling to wherever you want to go camping, only to realize that you’ve forgotten something back at home.

You might be a long way out from the nearest store! And even if not – it’s still an inconvenient interruption of your trip. So, to avoid that you should put some time aside and get those pesky preparations done at least one day before your trip.

If you plan on taking a lot of non-perishable goods, just put them in a single box and put that next to the door so you will basically fall over it when leaving. Done.

Also, you will need a durable container in which to put the food you want to bring with you. In case you are going with a group of people, just make it a couple of containers. Organize what goes where so that you won’t get confused and leave something behind.

You will need plates, utensils and cups in terms of portable dinnerware. Grab a couple of spare ones of each, just in case anything might get damaged during the trip. A tea kettle is also a must for any good camping trip (hot water!). And most importantly, don’t forget tin foil. You will need a lot of it for both grilling and packing leftover food.

Looking for more ideas on good grill accessories to take? Check out our recommendations!

What To Cook While Camping?

You would be surprised about the variety of food you can take on your camping trip. And there is a large number of snacks and meals that don’t even require cooking. If you are camping at a site that allows visitors to start a fire however, that opens up a whole world of possibilities to you.

I you fancy a bit of nostalgia, cook some marshmallows over the fire and toss some sausages wrapped in tin foil into the remains of the fire, or even cook potatoes in it. Oh, you want more details? Well, ok then…

Sweet Potatoes

The best thing about camping foods is the taste and simplicity. So, what better way to combine both of it than with some grilled sweet potatoes. All you need is to wash and dry some potatoes and cut them up into strips.

The sizes can vary and mostly depend on your preferences, but we would suggest aiming for a standard french fries size. Try to stay more or less consistent with the length and width, to ensure all of the potato strips will be done cooking at the same time.

Once you are done preparing the sweet potatoes, put them on a sheet pan covered by a layer of tin foil. When grilling, turning them over once or twice while cooking should get the job done.

Sausages

You may also want some sausages with the sweet potatoes. They are easy to cook, no matter the circumstances – in the comfort of your kitchen or in the middle of nowhere.

There are many kinds and half a dozen ways to cut them up, but in the end, that’s nitpicking. Just make incisions down the length of the links and don’t leave the inner part undercooked. Without the incisions, you might burn the sausages before they are grilled all the way through.

Vegetables

Vegetable kebabs are a fun, easy and healthy dish to make for an outdoors cookout. Sure, you can eat your veggies raw, but why waste a perfectly good opportunity to enhance their flavor while using that grill of yours.

Mushrooms, peppers and onions make for a terrific combination. Top that off with a bit of vinegar. By the way, you are by no means limited in your choice of vegetables. Go for what you love. Same goes for condiments. Grilled veggies will go lovely in combination with the previous two dishes.

If you want to expand on vegetarian dishes, here is some more ‘food for thought’ (pun intended).

Burgers

If you’ve ever cooked a burger on a barbecue in your backyard, you are fit to prepare a burger on your camping trip. All you need for that are the components you prepared at home, a grill and some tin foil.

You can also get some fried eggs and cheese in there to mix things up. Heat some buns and put them around all of that deliciousness. After doing some hiking and preparing your burgers, sit back, grab a cold one and enjoy the scenery. How does that sound? Life cannot get better than this.

Looking for more ideas? We have some simple yet great recipes over here.

What Is The Best Grill For Camping?

There is a myriad of options available in the camping grills section. The main difference between all of them is, as always, about what fuel they use (propane, charcoal, or wood), how big they are and how much they cost. Since we are looking for one to use on a camping trip, let’s find the ones that are easiest to transport.

Blackstone Portable Camping Grill Top

The Blackstone Portable Tabletop Grill (click to check current price on Amazon) is a dream come true for everyone barbecuing on a budget. It’s simple design and size make it the perfect portable gas grill.

However, don’t be fooled; the low price does not mean low quality. This grill is ideal for beginners and people who don’t need anything fancy to throw their meat on. It is easy to take care of and its weight makes it easy to transport.

Mr. Steak 1-Burner Infrared Portable Grill

If you are ready to make an investment that will pay off and if you are looking for something relatively easy to carry around in a car of almost any size, then the Mr. Steak 1-Burner Infrared Portable Grill may be what you are looking for.

It’s dimensions are relatively small, but it does have some weight to it. However, it delivers a punch that you won’t expect from a grill of this size. It’s a propane-powered grill that can achieve a pretty high temperature in a matter of minutes; and we are talking about a temperature of over 500 degrees here.

Coleman RoadTrip 285 Portable Stand-Up Propane Grill

As the name implies, this is a grill that is designed with camping in mind. Coleman is known for providing quality grills for prices lower than their competitors.

The Coleman RoadTrip 285 Portable Stand-Up Propane Grill (click to check current price on Amazon) is a propane-fueled grill that will give you 285 inches of grilling space. The perfect size for a camping trip with your family or a group of friends. Or even friends and family at the same time. Also, this grill is ideal for beginners, both in camping and grilling.

How To Use An Electric Grill

How To Use An Electric Grill

Electric grills are a solution to many of the problems linked to traditional barbecues. Grills usually are associated with outdoor, backyard BBQ parties for family and friends. People tend to use charcoal or gas as a fuel.

But there are two problems many folks have with this. First, if you live in an urban environment, there is a big chance that you don’t have a backyard at all and you typically are not allowed to use a charcoal grill on a balcony which will limits them to the use of gas or electric grills.

Moreover, if you do have a backyard, the size of it may sometimes not allow for a party involving a grill. And if you have a small backyard, you won’t enjoy using charcoal, gas or wood as fuels — all of them can cause pollution to some degree. Cramming people into a small and smoke-filled environment, doesn’t sound much like an awesome party in anyone’s book.

Using non-electric grills inside your house is out of the question which is unfortunate for many because there are a lot of benefits to grilling your meals. Not only do they include a great taste, but grilling makes a lot of foods much healthier to consume.

Electric grills have been a solution to many of the problems that come with traditional grills for quite some time now. Still, many people are hesitant to pick one up because of excuses such as ‘it sounds complicated to use’ or ‘the food doesn’t taste as good’ and the like. But if you’re looking for a solution to all the problems that can come with traditional grills, you should really consider investing in a good electric one. So, let’s take a closer look at all benefits that they can provide us with and how to best use them.

What Are The Types Of Electric Grills

There are two types of electric grills: indoor and outdoor electric grills. An outdoor electric grill is what people usually associate with backyard BBQ parties and it’s fit for outdoor use.

No matter what type of electric grill you choose, they offer a lot of benefits over traditional barbecue grills:

  • they are incredibly easy to use
  • they produce less smoke
  • no need to handle fuel sources
  • they require less cleaning

And best of all: they produce almost the same results as, for example, gas grills.

Can You Use An Electric Grill Inside?

Yes, you can use an electric grill inside. This is the main advantage they offer over gas or charcoal grills. Electric grills don’t require handling of dangerous fuel sources and produce almost no smoke (not more than a regular frying pan).

Contact grills, especially, are made for indoor use. However, they don’t provide the same versatility as open outdoor grills. This lack of versatility is especially noticeable when you want to cook not just for yourself, but for a more significant number of people. Contact grills are also not very good for cooking something more complicated than a cheese sandwich or grilling a sausages or chicken breast.

How To Avoid Smoke Indoors

Generally, the biggest problem with grilling indoors is the smoke. But besides ventilating your room, there are several tricks that will help you reduce the smoke.

As a general rule, electric grills produce less heat than their more traditional counterparts. This is no problem however, as the heat they provide is still more than is needed. Due to the lower temperatures and because they don’t require a fuel source (like charcoal or gas), electric grills produce less smoke.

So, overall it’s advisable to keep you grill’s temperature at medium levels. Not only will this save your food from burning but it will prevent the room from filling with smoke (just think of the kind of smoke the already mentioned frying pan can produce, if you don’t believe us).

Also, don’t cook more food on there than fits the grill. Even if you do have a large party of guests waiting to eat.

And try to get rid of most of the fat on meats. If it starts burning, you might find your home filled with smoke faster than you may think.

To prevent food from sticking to the grates, always use oil on the food before putting it on the grill. If you apply oil to the grill instead of your food, you will run into the same problems that you wanted to avoid in the first place: the heat will start evaporating the grease, and you will get a large amount of smoke developing.

While we are on the subject of grease and oil, here is another piece of advice: when using an electric grill indoors, always go for oil that has a high smoke point. This type of oil requires a higher temperature before it starts producing smoke and by the time you will reach that temperature, you should be already halfway done cooking. Olive oil and grapeseed oils are good choices for that reason.

Can You Use Wood Chips With An Electric Grill?

With all the benefits that electric grills provide, why do people still prefer charcoal or gas grills over electric ones? The most common answer you will get to this is that electric grills cannot provide the same smoky flavor. Purists claim that the food doesn’t taste as good or as authentic. And there might be some truth to that.

But what if that wouldn’t be a problem at all? So, can you use wood chips with an electric grill? Yes, you can! By choosing the correct wood chips, you will get all the flavor you want.

There are many different types of wood chips that you can use for that and we even have an extensive article on the use of wood for BBQ smoking. All of the various types of wood chips will provide you with different flavors.

Mastering meat smoking – not only with an electric grill, but in general – may take some time and energy, but it is well worth the investment.

Summary

There are a lot of misconceptions and misinformation about electric grills. Some barbecue purists do not consider them to be a worthy competitor to the charcoal and gas grills. But as you see, this is not the case at all. Not only do electric grills provide you with the benefit of being able to use them both outdoors and indoors, but they are also much safer and easier to use.

You don’t need to handle fuels and preparing the grill for cooking is a lot faster. And you can also add wood chips to enhance the flavor of your food. For these reasons, electric grills are a good alternative to traditional grills that offers you versatility and comfort.

If you are looking to buy an electric grill and need some advice, check out our list of recommended grills.