Cooking Over Coals: A Beginners Guide to Charcoal Grilling

According to the most recent Weber Canadian GrillWatch Survey, gas grills come out on top when grilling on weekdays (70% vs. 19% for charcoal).  However, when grilling on weekends (43%) and on special occasions (42%), the charcoal grill wins.  Top reasons for using a charcoal grill on the weekends is because grillers have more time (63%) find it relaxing (37%) and like the aroma of a charcoal grill (30%).

Weber Performer® Deluxe Charcoal Grill
Weber Performer Deluxe Charcoal Grill

Cooking over coals goes back centuries. Still today, something in our human DNA prefers the rustic, smoky flavours we enjoy from cooking on a charcoal grill.

Charcoal grills are a great choice when spending the lazy, hazy days of summer weekends in the backyard. They are also inexpensive and a perfect compliment to a gas grill. A well-made charcoal grill will contain a sturdy, heavy-duty plated steel cooking grate and an additional grate to place the fuel on. Look for a rust-resistant damper on the lid to provide proper airflow and complete heat control. A charcoal grill that has a porcelain-enameled bowl and lid wont rust or peel.

Weber Original Kettle Premium
Weber Original Kettle Premium Charcoal Grill

You’ll also want a hassle-free cleaning system that catches all of your ashes in an enclosed removable aluminum ash-catcher beneath the bowl.  This system makes it super easy to contain the ashes until ready to discard. Additional features to look for include a built-in thermometer and a lid holder. Some higher-end models come with an additional workspace, a cart-frame, a charcoal storage container, and an electronic gas-ignition system that ignites charcoal briquettes with the push of a button!

If you are looking to up your grill game and start experimenting with charcoal grills, Weber, the company that started the backyard revolution in 1952, has a number of models and price points available.  So, gather around the grill this weekend and enjoy a meal with family and friends, hot off the coals.

Time to put your skills to the test! This irresistible grilled chicken recipe is brought over the edge with the smoky flavour infused through the charcoal grill. Give it a try and let us know how it goes!

Rosemary Chicken Breasts with Black Olive Aioli

Serves: 4
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Marinating Time: 1 – 2 hours
Grilling Time: 8 – 12 minutes


¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon ground fennel seed
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, about 6 ounces each
½ cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons black olive tapenade
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


1. In a small bowl mix the paste ingredients. Reserve the woody stems of the rosemary branches to add to the charcoal. Put the chicken breasts on a plate. Coat them
on both sides with the paste. Cover and refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours.
2. In a small bowl whisk the sauce ingredients until smooth. Cover and refrigerate until 30 minutes before serving.
3. Prepare a two-zone fire for medium heat.
4. Brush the cooking grate clean. Toss the rosemary branches onto the lit charcoal. Grill the chicken over direct medium heat, with the lid closed as much as possible, until the meat is firm to the touch and no longer pink in the center, 8 to 12 minutes, turning once or twice and swapping their positions as needed for even cooking. Remove from the grill and serve warm or at room temperature with the sauce.

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© 2007 Weber-Stephen Products Co. Recipe from Weber’s Charcoal Grilling™. Used with permission.