10 Essential Tools and Tips for Successful Charcoal Barbecuing

First BBQ of season | Reluctant Entertainer

We’ve had our first glimpse of warmer weather in Oregon, with a few weeks of amazing sunshine. We’ve already had a taste of dining alfresco, with our first barbecue of the season! Charcoal barbecuing, that is.

It takes effort to get the outdoor area ready for spring and summer entertaining. I usually take everything off of our patio, blow it or spray it down, and then clean and put everything back. This season we turned our furniture outward to enjoy the yard, pool, and garden area.

10 tips & tools for Charcoal BBQ | Reluctant Entertainer

We still use charcoal for barbecuing, and my husband takes care of getting it ready for the upcoming barbecue season. We use the CharGriller 1224 Smokin’ Pro Charcoal Grill and Smoker (long name, I know).

By the way, why charcoal over “easy” grilling? We just love the flavor that charcoal gives the food, an extra punch of flavor, and there’s just something about the time involved in slower-barbecuing, that makes us really appreciate the meal.

And the guests appreciate the flavor, too.

My hubby is the barbecue-extraordinaire, not me. I know how to get the coals started in the chimneys, but after that, I let him take charge.

Grilled Onions.

Grilled Onions

And Mushrooms.

First BBQ of season | Reluctant Entertainer

And the amazing salmon. Here’s the recipe for the marinade for the salmon.

First BBQ of season | Reluctant Entertainer

Our first barbecue this year involved salmon, grilled onions, green beans, mushrooms and I threw some sweet potatoes in the oven. So fresh, and a perfect meal to serve for our first alfresco meal of the season!

And, did I mention – our sons were home for college? Perfect timing, boys!

First BBQ of season | Reluctant Entertainer

Since we love charcoal, I’m going to share our tools and tips that make barbecuing a breeze.

10 Essential Tools and Tips for Successful Charcoal Barbecuing

1. Barbecue: research and buy a barbecue grill that fits your needs. There are many different styles, sizes, and extra features.

2. Charcoal: we stock up at Costco every year with several bags and store the briquettes in big tubs (sealed) out by the barbecue.

3. Chimneys: at least (2) chimneys for the coals. If you are barbecuing a lot of food, you’ll definitely want to use 2.

4. Grilling baskets: several sized grilling baskets. Perfect for veggies and potatoes.

5. Lighter: usually keep several by the barbecue, as we use for lighting candles, too.

6. Tongs: at least one large set of tongs is essential for flipping the meat and food items.

7. Large spatula: we keep at least one over-sized spatula handy for flipping large pieces of meat.

8. Reusable paper grocery bags: we keep these on hand for starting the coals.

9. Olive oil and old kitchen towel: these items are used to rub down the grill before starting the BBQ process.

10. Fresh herbs: we keep a cup or canning jar nearby with fresh sprigs of rosemary to either throw on the coals or garnish the meat/food with.

Here was my Instagram picture of our dinner that night! Tasty! (Are you following me on Instagram? SandyCoughlinRE is how you can find me!)

1st BBQ of year | reluctantentertainer.com

Alfresco dining with barbecued food is probably my favorite way to entertain!

You can really make it the perfect spot for relaxing with friends!

If you’re planning on entertaining, how’s your outdoor space looking? And your grilling space and essential tools to barbecue?

Summer Barbecue

I also wanted to let you know I’m posting over at Answers.com now as their Entertaining Expert. Fun, huh? You may have seen the “Answers logo” on my sidebar. I have some great posts coming up, but for BBQ season, here’s one I wrote How to Plan a Successful Summer Barbecue. Head over and check it out if you have a minute … I appreciate your support!

16 comments on “10 Essential Tools and Tips for Successful Charcoal Barbecuing”

  1. What excellent tips! We are so looking forward to grilling season.

  2. First of all, big CONGRATS on the Answers.com gig, YAY!! I just took a look, great job! And then about the charcoal barbecuing…we love it, too. I am so grateful that Blake likes his time with the grills, and we have been blessed by countless wonderful meals because of it. He does like using charcoal, it’s his preference when we have a more lazy day/evening. And I, of course, love to eat whatever comes off that grill! I just printed off your salmon recipe (again, I think!)…I need to make it soon! Have a great weekend, Sandy! :)

  3. Wow Hubs has got it down! I bbq by gas (I know, sshh) but I make up for it by smoking by charcoal for hours on end… you’re right about the flavor difference.

  4. We have a charcoal grill (same shape/size as a typical gas one) and also a Louisiana Grill bbq. We loooove ribs, pulled pork, brisket, and lamb shoulder in our Louisiana Grill! Burgers and steaks go on our regular grill.

    We’ve bbq’ed a few times already in our backyard for company. It’s kind of embarrassing … we just moved into this rental and all the beds are overgrown. It’s going to be a lot of work to just get the grass out of the flower beds, let alone planting something nice in there. But I figure friends won’t care, and if they do they’re too high-maintenance for me to keep up with anyway!

  5. We have not entertained outdoors yet this season. It has been a little cool and wet here, but are planning to as soon as possible. We have been grilling for ourselves though and enjoyed some great meals. We have a Weber kettle, a gas grill and a turkey fryer that all get a good workout. Our son is the grill whiz in our family and he enjoys seeing people sitting down to a meal he has helped prepare.

  6. Great tips, friend! We only grill on charcoal and I wouldn’t trade the flavor for anything!

  7. OH Sandy I love this post!! We love our charcoal grill, but don’t use it as often as we would like! The chimney makes it so much easier! And I think I need to pick up another grill basket, been using mine like crazy, need another one :)

    So happy for Answer.com gig – congrats friend!!!

  8. That meal looks delicious! We too love charcoal grilling. The flavor is just so much better! What did you season your salmon with? Thanks for a great post Sandy

  9. Great post and makes me wanting a charcoal bbq so much! As most of me and all friends don’t have access to backyards (NYC), this doesn’t happen much, but when we can all gather together in a public park that allows grilling – it’s on!!

    Also congrats on Answers.com!

  10. Good Morning,

    I am from Florida and we grill out 3-4 times a week as we almost never eat fried food. Not to mention it keeps our house cooler since we’re not using the oven! We used a charcoal grill for years but now we use a gas grill with side burners. However I don’t understand two things. What is a “chimney” and “reusable paper bags for starting the coals”. If you burn the paper bag to start the coals, how is it reusable? (We always used self-starting coals). Thank You!

    Keep up the great work!

  11. Congratulations on the Answers.com opportunity! There’s no one better suited for it :) As for charcoal grilling, the flavor is SO amazing – I don’t know why we don’t do it more often! The baskets tip is really great though – I don’t know how to do veggies sometimes with them!

  12. Hi Sandy,
    Longer time reader, first time to comment.

    I am South African and in our collective culture here, there is only one way to barbeque and that is using a charcoal braai – although wood is popular too, especially in the Western Cape. When I lived in North America, I just could not reconcile the gas BBQ to the ones we have in SA, that perfect smoked flavour is what gives it the authenticity.

    If there is any one cultural activity in SA that unites the rainbow nation of race groups, it is the braai – so much so that one of our public holidays, Heritage Day, in September is now also National Braai Day and is endorsed by Nobel Peace Prize winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu himself.


    Potato salad and an accompaniment of a polenta-like dish known as pap – served with a tomato and vegetable sauce called Chakalaka are all mandatory, regardless of whether you are “braai-ing” steak, chicken, boerewors (a thick, meaty and spicy sauce) or chicken.

    Wish you could join us.

    Wonderful post.

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