How to Make a Charcoal Grill Hotter (4 Simple Methods)

Have a charcoal grill but want to make it hotter? You’ve come to the right place!

In this guide, you’ll learn:

  • How to make your charcoal grill hotter
  • Tips for cooking with a charcoal grill
  • And much more!

Making Your Charcoal Grill Hotter

Charcoal grills are a favorite for a reason; the smoky taste they add to a piece of meat is simply unparalleled. But with great cooking power also comes the problem that you may have difficulty bringing your charcoal grill up to a high temperature because it doesn’t have a temperature gauge like a gas grill does.

When your charcoal grill won’t get hot enough, this can cause a lot of issues when it comes to cooking food. Either it’s going to take much longer than you expected, or you might end up with a piece of meat that is just too rare to eat

The good news is that you can easily make your charcoal grill hotter, so you can enjoy charcoal grilling your favorite meats! Read on to learn the exact steps to four different methods for  making your charcoal grill hotter.

Related: Can You Add Charcoal While Grilling?

Supplies Needed to Make Your Charcoal Grill Hotter

While making your charcoal grill hotter is an easy process, it won’t look the same for each type of grill and cooking style. We recommend taking a look at your owner’s manual for suggestions there, otherwise, see if you have any of the following supplies on hand to make your charcoal grill hotter. 

  • Lump Charcoal
  • Rag
  • Soap
  • Warm Water
  • Spray bottle
  • Cast-iron grate

Got everything on the list? You likely won’t need to use it all, but they’re good things to have on hand as you work to make your charcoal grill hotter.

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How to Make Your Charcoal Grill Hotter

Method 1: Switch Charcoal

Not all charcoal is created equal, and while briquettes, which aren’t pure charcoal, heat faster, they don’t produce as much heat as pure charcoal. We recommend doing everything you are doing now but with lump charcoal and see if this helps your grill to get to a higher temperature. 

Method 2: Clean Air Vents

As weird as it may sound, leaving the air vents open while you cook can actually help your charcoal to burn hotter. This is because air is needed to feed the fire, and more air means more fire. Here’s how you clean your air vents. 

Step 1: Let the Grill Cool

You can’t do anything while the grill is hot, so allow it to cool to ambient temperature before you begin. 

Step 2: Mix Cleaning Solution

In the meantime, make a cleaning solution by mixing some mild soap with warm water.

Step 3: Clean 

Once the grill is cool, use an old rag to clean the air vents. Dip the rag in the cleaning solution and gently scrub off any ash that may be clogging the air vents. If your air vents can detach from the grill, it may be easier to separate them from the grill for this process. 

Step 4: Dry

Allow the grill to dry completely before you attempt to use it again. Cook with the vents wide open and the lid on and see if this helps raise the temperature.

Method 3: Rearrange Your Charcoal Grill

There is actually a right way to stack the charcoal in your charcoal grill so that it is closer to the food. Many suggest a rim around the edges of the charcoal grill, with some wood chips on top. 

Others recommend a pyramid or pile in the dead center of the grill as close to the grate as possible. If your grill has an adjustable grate, ensure it is as close to the charcoals as possible, leaving just one inch between the coals and the grate. 

Method 4: Buy a Cast Iron Grate

Most charcoal grills come with lightweight steel grates. While these make the grill more portable, they simply don’t get as hot as a cast iron grate.

If your charcoal grill is a permanent fixture in your backyard, consider purchasing a cast iron grate which will maintain the heat much better and give you a higher cooking temperature for your meat. 

Ensure that you measure your current grate before you order your cast iron one, and try to order from the company that provided your grill if possible.

Related >> How To Put Out a Charcoal Grill

fact about charcoal grill temperatures

Tips for Making Your Charcoal Grill Cook Hotter

Hopefully, one of the above methods worked for making your charcoal grill hotter. Below are some additional tips that can help your charcoal grill to maintain a higher temperature.

Tip 1: Don’t Open the Lid Constantly

It can be tempting to check on your steak 6 times in one minute, and we get it, we’re hungry too. But this is actually counterproductive as each time you check on your steak, the heat is released from the grill, and it cools down. 

Tip 2: Clean Your Grill Regularly

Although cleaning the air vents can work wonders when it comes to helping your grill hotter, cleaning your entire grill also helps. This is because built-up food on the grate and base of your grill can also lower your grill’s cooking temperature. 

You should deep clean your grill at least once per season and perform light cleaning (like grate cleaning) after each use. 

Tip 3: Keep Fuel One Inch From Air Vents

Above, we discussed stacking your charcoal, so they are closer to the food. When you do this, ensure you don’t block airflow to the air vents, otherwise, you’re stacking them for nothing. Generally, you should keep the fuel at least one inch from the air vents.

Related >> How To Control the Temperature of a Charcoal Grill

Final Thoughts on How to Make Charcoal Grill Hotter

As you can see, there are several different methods you can try when it comes to making your charcoal grill hotter. But know that none of these will work if you don’t follow the tips of keeping your grill clean, fuel away from the air vents, and open the lid constantly as you cook. 

But if you follow all of the advice and use all of the above methods, your charcoal grill will be cooking just as hot as an inferno in no time at all!

Photo of author

Hope Davis

Born in Denver, Colorado as the oldest of 5 children, I learned at a young age that the grill was one of the best ways to prepare food for a crowd. And during the winter storm months, when the snow was likely to knock out the power to our house, the propane grill was a lifesaver! You wouldn’t believe the number of things you can cook on a grill when necessary. With parents who couldn’t tell salt from pepper unless you told them, I spent my late teen years making my own seasoning mixes and marinades to dress the meat before barbecues. It wasn’t long before I developed a secret marinade that people still beg me to make for them today! When I was 21 years old I bought my first smoker. Picked up some cedar chips for making a cedar plank salmon...and well, the rest they say is history! I’ve been grilling and smoking all kinds of creations ever since and I’m always excited to share my passion with others through my favorite medium--writing!

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