Ask Pam: What is the best way to fire up my grill?

June 5, 2013 | By | Comments (0)

In our June issue of Southern Living we have lots of fabulous grilling and smoking recipes. Before you get grilling, I recommend you learn how to properly light your grill since the way you start your fire is just as important as cooking the food.

First, start with a natural hardwood lump charcoal or charcoal briquettes. I prefer to skip lighter fluid and anything that’s been soaked with chemicals (you know, the fast lighting stuff!) I think the smell and taste of accelerants carry over to the food, and who wants that for dinner?

Photo by

Natural Hardwood Lump Charcoal (left), Charcoal Briquettes (right)

Next, light your fire. I have two preferred methods, the first being the chimney starter. You can’t beat the price or the efficiency. Here’s how it works: First, stuff crumpled newspaper under the chimney. Add charcoal to the top, and light the paper. In about five minutes, give the chimney a shake to redistribute the coals. In 10 to 15 minutes the charcoal will have a grey ash on the top layer; this means it is ready to pour into your grill or smoker.

My other favorite fire starter is a gadget called a Looftlighter—it’s a little pricey, but way fun to use. It acts like a super-charged hair dryer meets flame thrower! To use it, pile the charcoal in the grill, and plug in the Looftlighter. Then, hold the Looftlighter next to the coals, press the button, and in about 20 seconds you will have sparks! Pull back from the coals a little and in about 60 seconds, you’ll have glowing coals. Stir the coals and 15 minutes later, you’re ready to grill.


Chimney Starter on Left. Looftlighter on Right. Photo by Pam Lolley

Now, what to cook over that perfect fire? Try the tasty Buttermilk-and-Honey Chicken Kabobs  from the June issue.


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