How to Grill Steak on a Charcoal Grill

Steak is the perfect cut for many meat lovers, primarily due to its meatiness. You can also say that it is very versatile as there are many ways to prepare it. Depending on the recipe you pick, you should know how to cook steak perfectly.

Grilling is among the to-go methods of preparing steak. When you grill steak, you get to enjoy a smoky flavor and get a good serving of its juices. If you love grilled meat, knowing how to grill it is an asset.

If you do not know, you are in the right place as we are going to show you how to grill steak on a charcoal grill.

Choosing your Steak

The first step in preparing steak is choosing the perfect cut. A thing to know about steak is that it is the meat cut from muscle fibers. It may have some bones or not. Be keen when choosing your steak at the butchery, as any mistake can be costly.

Insist on a fresh cut, which you may even store in the fridge for a few days without it going bad. If you have skills on how to tell if meat is bad, the better. Here, you can easily point out fresh or stale meat.

If you sense the meat is bad, it is best to avoid it for your health’s sake. Go for a lean cut with minimal fat. The butcher can remove the fat for you, or you do it at home.

Preparing the Steak

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Preparation is key before throwing your meat on the grill. You will need to defrost anything that has been frozen or stored in the refrigerator. Meat should be refrigerated for around 24 hours to defrost properly. While this approach is slow, it is safe from bacterial diseases and hence quite trustworthy.

If you are in a hurry, there is a fast way of thawing your frozen steak. In this case, you put the steak in an air-tight Ziploc or plastic bag and put it in a warm water bath. Let it rest in the bath for almost an hour before you remove it.

When adequately thawed, you may proceed to other prepping steps like removing fat. A filleting knife can do a great job in removing excess fat to remain with a lean steak.

Marinating the Steak

Marinating the steak is an optional stage, but to most steak lovers, it is a must.  This involves soaking the meat cut in an acidic or enzymatic solution for some time, to make it softer and enhance its savor.

Knowing how to marinate different meats is an asset to have as you know the ingredients to use and the time. You can use a mixture of vinegar, red cooking wine, ginger and garlic paste, salt, and other spices for your steak.

Let the steak marinate for at least three hours for the flavor to sink into the tissues. After three hours, you can remove the meat from the marinade and rub it with a wet paper towel.


Brining is an option for marinating, where you treat the steak with brine or rub it with coarse salt. There are three ways to brine your steak before grilling. The method you pick depends on how much time you have to spare before grilling.

If you want to prepare it in a short time, you can rub it with a mixture of kosher salt and olive oil. You may also add some spices to the rub, like chili powder or black pepper. The rub can rest for up to 30-minutes before grilling.

The other way is to soak the steak in brine, a mixture of salt and water. You can let it rest overnight. Optionally, you can rub the meat with coarse salt, known as dry brining. Put the dry-brined steak in the fridge and let it rest for up to 48 hours.

Light up the Charcoal Grill

As you prepare your steak and allow it to rest for the savors to set in, you can light up the charcoal grill. Put charcoal in a charcoal chimney and use the fuel of your choice to light it up. Kamado Joe fire starters are among the best for use in lighting up. They light fast and are odorless. The package has 24 starters, meaning it will serve you for a long time.

Once the charcoals heat up and start producing some ash, you can introduce them to the grill. You can then add some wood chips to the charcoal for a smoky flavor. Hickory wood chips or pellets work well with steak and will bring on a strong earthy savor.

Place the Steak on the Grill

Now on to the big occasion, bring the steak and place it on the grill. You have to be keen at this stage as any mishap can lead to charred-up meat. You should turn it after every five minutes for it to cook evenly.

Some seasoning can boost its taste. You may brush some sauce on the steak’s surface to improve its relish.

You can grind some chilies, garlic, ginger, and coriander using a pestle and mortar to create the sauce. You then add two teaspoons of olive oil and some mayonnaise. A dash of natural honey will make the sauce thick and tangy.

Use a barbecue brush to apply the sauce as you turn the steak. After some time, you can transfer it to the grill’s cold zone for it to get some smoke. It also allows the sauce to settle in.

Also, check our dedicated article for the best steaks for grilling.

Using a Thermometer

For the best results, you need to have a thermometer to check the steak’s temperature. A point to note is the different levels of doneness have varying temperature requirements.

If you want rare steak, the temperature should be around 115-120 degrees Fahrenheit. Medium-rare should have a reading of 120-125 degrees and medium 125-135 degrees.

For medium-well, let the temperature go up to 145 degrees Fahrenheit. If you want the steak to be well-done, the reading has to be above 150 degrees Fahrenheit.

Serving your Steak

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Once you are sure your steak is ready, you can serve it. Remove it from the grill and let it rest. The resting allows the barbecue sauce to cool down and give the steak a marbly appearance.

Meanwhile, you can prepare salsa to go with the steak, however, this depends on the recipe at hand. Slice the steak into preferred sizes and serve it.

Things to Know When Grilling Steak on Charcoal Grill

Here are some essential things to know about grilling steak on a charcoal grill.

Can You Grill Frozen Steak?

Yes, you can grill frozen steak, but only if you have the patience. It will take a long time to grill, almost twice the time you would use to cook ordinary steak.

There is also the risk of getting raw spots which might prevent you from enjoying your grilled delicacy. While you can grill frozen steak, it is best if you would let it thaw.

Grilling Vs. Smoking

Many cannot differentiate between grilling and smoking. The notion is that they are the same thing. The two are distinct methods of cooking, which look similar from afar. The main difference is the cooking time and heat levels.

When grilling, you use high heat, translating to fast cooking. On the contrary, smoking uses low heat levels. The main aim is to expose the meat to the smoke. It takes a longer time than grilling.

The average cooking time for a 2-inch steak is 20-minutes. It may take more or less time as per your desired doneness level.

The 2-Zone Grilling Method

The 2-zone grilling method is ideal when cooking thick steak. This method also goes by the name reverse searing. In this grilling mode, you divide the grill into two zones, the cold zone, and the hot zone. The cold spot has less hot charcoal than the hot one.

Start grilling the meat cut on the hot zone, which will cook the interior to the preferred doneness level. Once you establish that the interior is good, transfer the steak to the hot spot as a finisher.

The hit zone will give it an excellent golden-brown crust. Additionally, it helps solidify the interior and the sauces on the outside.

The 2-zone grilling method is ideal for reheating steak as it prevents it from getting overcooked.

As a Wrap

Grilled steak is a choice of food for many, courtesy of its tastiness. In this piece, we can see how to grill steak on a charcoal grill. A thing you may notice is that preparing the steak takes a considerably long time.

This is understandable if you want a unique taste at the end of the cooking engagement. If you love spicy food, you may marinate the meat for a decent time or come up with a spicy rub.

Your ready steak can go with many accompaniments. You can have it as a snack, where you eat it plain, maybe drown it with a drink. For accompaniments, mashed potatoes and rice will do. Furthermore, it makes an excellent sandwich filling.

Follow the preparation steps highlighted in this piece to have the best-grilled steak.

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