Cooking Steak On A Charcoal Grill

Chef Cooking steak. Cook turns the meat on the fire.

If you’ve never tried cooking steak on a charcoal grill, then you don’t know what you’ve been missing. Cooking on charcoal will give your steak a nice thick crust and a subtle smoky flavor. If you’re new to grilling and want to learn how to cook the perfect steak on your new grill, read on to find out how.

Cooking a steak on a charcoal grill is fast and easy. To ensure you cook your steak to perfection, make sure you’re using a prime graded steak that’s at least one-inch thick. When setting up your grill, give the grate time to heat up to five hundred degrees. Once it’s reached the ideal temperature, add the steaks and put the lid on the grill. The steaks should be rotated twice every two minutes before you flip them over. Use a digital thermometer to test the doneness of your steak. And that’s it!

As you can see, grilling your steak on a charcoal grill is pretty simple. Read on to learn how to properly season your steak, what type of tools you should use, and how you can sear your steak properly to lock in the flavor.

Using Your New Grill

If you don’t already have the best portable charcoal grill, we recommend the PK Grills PK Original Outdoor Charcoal Portable Grill & Smoker Combination. This grill allows for precise temperature regulation, which is crucial when you’re grilling steak.

Next, let’s talk about the type of steak you want to grill up. When you grill a steak, you can’t just choose any type or cut. If you’re looking for the best type of steak to grill, go with steakhouse classics such as:

  • Filet mignon
  • Porterhouse
  • T-bone
  • Striploin
  • Ribeye

new grill

Once you’ve decided on the cut, you’ll need to determine the grade of beef you want. Beef is usually graded depending on the amount of fat that runs throughout the meat. Remember, with meat, fat often equals flavor. This means, the more fat that’s running through your meat, the more flavorful it going to be.

The steak you find at your local grocery store is often graded as select or choice. Select graded beef will not have as much fat as choice graded steak. If you’re not sure how to pick out a good steak, speak with the butcher and see if they can recommend a better cut or if they have any prime grade beef. Prime grade cuts will contain more marbling, which equals better flavor.

On a charcoal grill, you want to choose the thickest cut of beef possible. Thinner steaks tend to cook too fast, so you won’t even have the time to sear it properly on the outside without risking burning it or overcooking it on the inside.

Get Grilling

To cook a steak on a charcoal grill you don’t really need much in terms of supplies and tools. You can use a chimney lighter, digital thermometer, and spice rubs and other seasonings.

Once you’ve gathered all of the supplies, coat the steak with the rub. If you don’t have a specific one in mind a little garlic, salt, and pepper will do.

Lighting the Charcoal

A steak should be left to brine for approximately an hour. This will allow the meat to absorb the rub. Since you have to wait an hour before the steak is ready for grilling, hold off on lighting your grill right away.

Once your steak is ready for grilling, grab your charcoal chimney and fill it up with charcoal. You’ll light the charcoal from underneath the chimney starter. When the charcoal is lit you can dump the chimney into the grill.

In terms of charcoal placement, you’ll have a couple of different options depending on the tools you have on hand. If you have grill grates you can dump the charcoal in the center of the grill and gently space them out evenly.

If you don’t have grill grates then you can just bank the charcoal on one side. Doing so will allow you to sear the steak directly over the heat.


Beef steak on the grill.

If you prefer to just use a rub for your steak, then you can skip this next step. However, if you enjoy coarse seasoning, now will be a good time to add it. This extra layer of seasoning will provide some extra flavor and can even improve the crust and texture on the outside of the steak.

Grilling Tools for Beginners

As we mentioned earlier, grill grates are a great tool and one that will help you achieve a perfect sear. This grilling tool is made out of anodized aluminum and works to increase the surface temperature of the grill while also eliminating hot spots and reducing flare-ups. It’s also rust resistant and just a great accessory to have if you’re new to grilling and want to reduce the risk of burning your steak.

Searing In Flavor

After the charcoal has ashed over and you’ve dumped out the coals and spread them out, you should give the grill some time to heat up. Ideally, it should reach a temperature of five hundred degrees.

When it’s reached the perfect temperature put the steaks on the grill and place the lid on. Allow the steaks to cook for two minutes before you rotate them ninety degrees. Doing so will give the steaks the perfect sear marks. Flip them over after an additional two minutes. Next, rotate them another ninety degrees for the last two minutes of the grilling process.

Keep in mind that the cooking time for steak can vary depending on the cooking temperature and the thickness of the steak.

How to Grill the Perfect Steak

Aside from the grilling tips we’ve already discussed, there are other things you can do to ensure your steak is cooked to perfection and packed with flavor.

  • Try using a salt dry brining process. When you use salt, it draws the moisture out of the meat. The juice will dissolve the salt before it’s reabsorbed back into the steak. This can result in a steak that’s packed with juice and flavor.
  • Always use a thermometer. Always check the doneness of your steak using a thermometer. This will prevent over or undercooked meat based on your taste preference.
  • To rest or not to rest? Some grillers swear by resting a steak before serving. This is done to allow the juices inside the steak to settle. Not every griller agrees that this method works, but you can give this technique a shot and decide for yourself. To rest a steak, you’ll remove it from the grill and wrap it tightly in foil for a period of ten to fifteen minutes.

Related Questions

Do I Need to Prepare the Grates Before I Cook A Steak on the Grill?

You don’t need to specially prepare the grate for steak. Some people will use a little olive oil for roasting potatoes or corn, but since you’re using a fatty cut of steak there’s no need to worry about the meat sticking to the grill. However, if you’ve recently grilled or the grate is dirty, it’s important that you clean the grate thoroughly before you cook the steak. Leftover burned on food on the grate can not only negatively impact the flavor of the meat, but it can also cause flareups. To learn more about grill and grate maintenance, click here to read our article on how to clean charcoal grill grates.

What’s the Best Grill for Cooking Up Steaks?

Ceramic grills, also known as kamado grills, feature an egg-shaped design and thicker walls that allow for more precise temperature control. With steaks, it’s all about regulating the temperature in order to ensure your steak is cooked to perfection. Your steak should be moist and tender on the inside and crisp on the outside. Many grilling enthusiasts can agree that using a ceramic grill is the easiest way to achieve the perfect steak.

Can I Use a Basic Charcoal Grill to Cook Steak?

You don’t need a fancy grill to cook up a good steak. As long as you have a digital thermometer on hand, you can easily achieve that crispy crust all grilling enthusiasts strive for. However, with some models, you may need to keep a closer eye on your steak, especially if you’re new to grilling. To learn more about charcoal grills and the features to look for, read our portable charcoal grill buyer’s guide.

Final Thoughts

Cooking steak on a charcoal grill is a cinch, especially if you have the right grill, a steak that’s at least one-inch thick, you allow the grate to heat up to five hundred degrees and you use a digital thermometer to test the doneness of the steak. Really, it’s easy to make an amazing steak in the comfort of your own backyard. Once you get the hang of the process, you can enjoy grilling up a delicious steak right at home, any night of the week and without the steep cost you can expect from the steakhouses around town.