A thousand great barbeque tips aren’t going to do a thing if you can't light the grill. Lighting a charcoal grill, however, is something of an art-- and there are people out there who take it very, very seriously.

How to Light a Charcoal Grill:

1. Stock up on the supplies you'll need for a charcoal grill.
2. Check out the instructions that came with your charcoal grill. They might offer you specific tips for your grill.
3. Realize that you're irresponsible and have trashed your charcoal grill instructions, along with all its great barbeque tips. (Oops!) Decide to do it on your own.
4. Stack charcoal (these are called briquettes) in the center of your grill. Try to make them into an even pyramid shape.
5. For every two pounds of charcoal, squirt about 1/2 cup of lighter fluid evenly over the briquettes. (Or follow the directions on the package-- after all, you shouldn't have thrown that away yet.)
6. Let the charcoal sit soaking in the lighting fluid for about a minute.
7. Using a long-nosed butane bbq lighter, light the charcoal.
8. Let the charcoal flame and burn in its pyramid shape for half an hour or so, until the briquettes themselves are coated in white ash.
9. Spread the briquettes over the bottom of the barbeque grill and... get cookin'! (As if I need to tell you, but... don't use your hands for this unless you're planning on serving them up with BBQ sauce. Use a long pair of barbeque tongs.)

Get cooking!

You've got your grill, you've got your food, and you've got a good heat going on the bbq. Now it's time for the fun part: cooking on the barbeque! Generally, the recipe that you use will come with some barbeque tips and instructions for marinating the meat and all that good stuff. But a lot of recipes don't give and barbeque tips for cook times... they just say "grill til done" or something else equally mystifying. Because if you haven't grilled that often (and I'm betting that's why you're on this page), how can you know when the "done" is supposed to be?

Read on for some general barbeque tips, along with a handy barbeque cook time chart for pretty much anything you'd want to cook on the grill.

  • Be sure the grill rack is scrubbed clean before using. To avoid having food stick to the rack, spray racks with cooking spray (do NOT do this over the fire, though!)
  • It's best to pre-cook thick cuts of meat, as well as ribs and whole turkeys, before you grill them.
  • Be sure to thaw any frozen meat before sticking it on the grill. It'll both cook more evenly and taste better.
  • If you want to avoid a super smokey grill, don't brush on lots of sugary barbecue sauces and marinades throughout the cook time. Save them for the last few minutes.
  • Get some practice in before grilling for a big party or people you want to impress. Just grilling yourself (or a small family) a quick dinner a few times will give you all the practice you need.

Bon Appetite!