Temperature control on charcoal grill cover photo

Temperature Control on Charcoal Grill

Temperature control on charcoal grill is all in the vent settings of your grill along with few other easy to control factors. In this post we are going in depth into the vent settings on a Weber Kettle. What temperatures you can expect to reach with them. This is geared towards someone who is new to charcoal grilling.

When your just starting out grilling with it is important to be consentient with the amount of charcoal you use. We are using a basic charcoal chimney full (around 5lb’s of charcoal) but you can measure it with whatever you would like. A few suggestions are 2 coffee cans full or 3 or 4 extra large plastic cups full of coals. Piled to one side of your grill.

Once you have your charcoal lit (we have several articles about this that can be found here, here, or here) bring your grill up to temp. We do this by covering the grill and leaving both vents wide open. Let the grill sit for about 10 to 15 minutes. Leave your top vent open at all times. Adjust your lower vent to where you need it set (see below). Open the lid for a few seconds, if closing the vent and recover the grill. Let it sit for around 5 to 10 minutes and you should be where you need to be.

Temperature control on charcoal grill with the Weber Kettle:

Please note that the temperatures listed here are the ambient chamber temps. The temperature directly over the coals will be much hotter than listed here.

Upper Vent Always Fully Opened

Upper vent on a weber kettle grill

Unless you are trying to extinguish your charcoal this vent should always be left open. It allows your smoke to escape without settling onto your food thus avoiding that bitter smoke taste.

Lower Vent Wide Open

Vent wide open charcoal achieved maximum temperature

This is the most common setting great for your everyday grilling steaks, burgers etc.. With a 5lb. load of charcoal you will get about an hour of prime grilling time with this setting. After that your temps will begin to slowly fall. Temperature at this setting is approximately 375 degrees

Lower Vent Half Way Open

This setting can extend your prime grilling time for an additional 15 to 30 minutes (depending on how often you open your lid). Temperature at this setting is approximately 345 degrees

Lower Vent Just Open a Crack

Glowing coals and lower vent inside weber kettle

This is your low and slow setting you can get up to 2 hours of grilling time if you use this setting. To be consentient with this setting I will slide a kitchen knife into the top of the vent hole and then close the vent. Temperature at this setting is approximately 310 degrees. Here is a way to go even lower and slower.

Your temperatures and cook times will vary, this is just to give you a starting point.

Other temperature control tips:

Higher temps are easily achieved by adding more coals.

Getting lower temps and longer cook times you may want to use the Ring of Fire technique.

To write this the equipment used was: Kingsford Charcoal, infrared thermometer, Tel-Tru BQ225 thermometer and our trusty 22 inch Weber Kettle. Now get out there and grill!


aka Sultan of Sizzle

I have been blogging about and selling grilling tool for over 12 years. A Certified Food Safety Professional, KCBS member, award winning writer and have over 10 years experience in the food service industry.

“I have experienced some of the best food this country has to offer and nothing is better than the food that comes off my own grill!”

Temperature Control on Charcoal Grill
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Temperature Control on Charcoal Grill
Use only the lower air vent and the amount of charcoal to control your grills temprature. With a 5lb load of coals you can achieve a high temp of 375 with the vent wide open. Or you can get your grills temp down to 310 with it open just a crack. Vent setting also affect your cook times.
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