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How to Cook a Steak on Your Charcoal Grill

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Published April 28, 2010 | Updated June 11, 2015

It may take a bit of effort, but for fans of the charcoal flavor, cooking a steak on a charcoal grill is worth the extra work. Follow these steps to consistently cook delicious steaks on your charcoal grill.

Charcoal-Grilled Steaks:

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Things You'll Need
Charcoal grill
Charcoal briquettes
Matches or a lighter
Grilling tongs
Lighter fluid
Salt, pepper, and olive oil
  1. Get Everything Ready First

    It's best to have all the meat, grilling tools, and seasonings ready and near your grill, so you don't have to run back to the kitchen for anything. Leaving a grill unattended can be dangerous, so make sure you're ready to cook before you start.

  2. Heat the Charcoal

    Pile charcoal briquettes in your charcoal grill and light them using lighter fluid and matches or a lighter. Close the lid, open the vent, and let the coals heat up. While the charcoal grill is heating up, get your steaks out and allow them warm up to room temperature. They will cook much more evenly when the internal temperature of the meat is even.

  3. Prepare the Steaks for Grilling

    Pat them dry with a paper towel and brush some olive oil on each side. Season them with salt and pepper.

  4. Place the Steaks on the Grate

    Once the coals are a grey-ish white color and covered with ash, use your tongs to move the coals slightly over to one side, leaving a small cool spot on the other side. Lay the steak on the grill away from direct flames. As the steak cooks, fat will drip down and cause the flames to flare-up. Move the steaks out of the flames when they flare up. Cook the steak for 2 to 3 minutes depending on how well-done you like it and then rotate the steak 45 degrees and cook another 2 to 3 minutes to give the steak diamond-patterned sear marks. Flip the steak and repeat the process on the other side.

  5. Keep the Steak Juicy

    To preserve the natural juices of the meat, don't poke it or stab it with a fork or a knife while it's cooking. Always use tongs to turn your steak. You can usually tell how done a steak is by pressing down on the meat with your tongs. Rarer steaks are softer than well-done ones. Steak meant to be more done should be placed on the grill ten or fifteen minutes before meat meant to be rare. Don't turn your meat too often; constantly lifting the lid will cool off your grill and cause your steaks to cook more slowly, and it will be harder to maintain a steady temperature.

  6. Rest the Steaks

    To make sure the juices don't run onto your cutting board, let the steak rest for five minutes before serving.

Steak Cooking Times

Rare: 8-10 minutes for a 1-inch steak or 10-12 minutes for a 1 1/2-inch steak.

Medium: 12-14 minutes for a 1-inch steak or 16-20 minutes for a 1 1/2-inch steak.

Well-Done: 16-20 minutes for a 1-inch steak or 22-26 minutes for a 1 1/2-inch steak.