Preparing the Perfect Fire

Master the art of braaing

Before you can master the art of braaing with charcoal, you must learn the art of building a fire you can cook on.

Remove the lid and open all air vents

Place your kindling

Form your briquettes

Remove the lid and open all air vents before building the fire. For proper airflow, remove accumulated ashes from the bottom of the grill if present (only after the coals are fully extinguished). Charcoal requires oxygen to burn, so be sure nothing clogs the vents.

Place your kindling — either firelighters or crumpled newspaper — in the centre of the charcoal grate. Avoid using lighter fluid because it is messy and can impart a chemical taste to your food unless it is thoroughly burned off.

Form your briquettes into a pyramid-shaped pile with the peak in the centre of the grill or pile the charcoal into a Weber RapidFire chimney starter.

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Light the kindling

Arrange coals

Place cooking grate (grill) on top

Light the kindling. Add more charcoal briquettes if required.

Arrange coals when covered with a light grey ash — usually after 25 to 30 minutes — use long-handled tongs and organise the coals according to the cooking method you are going to use (see below).

Place cooking grate (grill) on top and allow it to warm up before adding food. It is recommended that the grill be heated up and the fuel kept red hot, with the lid on, for at least 30 minutes prior to cooking for the first time.

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Hot smoke for additional flavour

Lift the lid to the side

Hot smoke for additional flavour. Consider adding hardwood chips or wood chunks that have been soaked in water for at least 30 minutes and drained or moistened fresh herbs, such as rosemary, thyme, or bay leaves, for extra flavour. Place the wet wood or herbs directly on the coals just before you begin cooking. Learn the basics of hot smoking…

Lift the lid to the side during cooking, rather than straight up. Lifting straight up may create suction and draw ashes up onto your food.

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Weber Methods to try:

  • For direct braaing:

    • Spread the briquettes out evenly across the bottom of the grill. You can also create a two-level fire so that you have two areas of different temperature — a hot area and not so hot area. This allows you to sear foods and then cook them through. Learn more about the direct braaing method.Spread the briquettes out evenly across the bottom of the grill. You can also create a two-level fire so that you have two areas of different temperature — a hot area and not so hot area. This allows you to sear foods and then cook them through. Learn more about the direct braaing method.Learn more about the direct braaing method.Learn more about the direct braaing method.Learn

  • For indirect braaing:

    • Either spread the briquettes out in a ring by pushing them to the outside of the charcoal grate, or by using charcoal rails placed on the left and right hand side of the grate. In either case, leave the middle empty. Place a large Weber drip pan in the centre and add fluid to it (the fluid will prevent the braai from smoking and the meat from drying out). Water is the ideal primary fluid, but experiment with spices and marinade as these will add additional flavour to the food being cooked. Don’t forget to place your food in the centre of the grill when cooking. Learn more about the indirect braaing method.Learn more about the indirect braaing method.

  • When hot smoking:

    • Once the coals have turned from black to grey, put the cooking grate in place on top. Soak the wood chips in fluid, for example, water, beer or tea, for around 30 minutes (how long your fire will more or less take to be ready). Add a hand full of the chips to the coals on both sides. Place the lid on, with the air vent fully open and facing towards the front handle. Cook/smoke your meat for approximately 25 minutes per 250g/ or 1 hour per kilogram. Remember, every time you lift the lid you will loose the accumulated heat and add approximately 15 minutes to your cooking time. Find out more about hot smoking.Spread the briquettes out evenly across the bottom of

More information:

  • TIME CHECKLIST

    • How long should it take? Find out with our handy cooking times checklist.