When To Close Lid On Charcoal Grill?

Whenever we talk about grilling tips, almost many people need clarification and help when to close the lid on a charcoal grill. It often seems like a straightforward query, but it is interesting to note that unlike the accurate method for boiling eggs or the best strategy for cooking steak indoors, neither your friend nor Google can solve the grill-lid conundrum.


Not at all. You want to get a clear answer. However, the answer depends upon many factors, such as what you are cooking, the amount of food cooked, the quality of the grill, and the environment. It is relatively easy to know when to close the lid on the charcoal grill and when to open it. You can read the further and detailed discussion on it below. 

Open Lid Means Convection

Cooking on the grill means aiming for food that is tender and moist internally but charred and crusty exteriorly. You want such a result, whether grilling a thick slab of rib-eye or thin flank steak. 

Also, you want this result while cooking hearty potatoes or wispy asparagus. Though the goal is the same, the methods for both thick and thin foods differ. You are making convection while closing the lid of the grill.

As a result, the hot air from the charcoal or gas grill (heat source), trapped by the lid, moves around in the chamber as it cannot escape. So, the closed lid helps the meat to get cooked thoroughly, just like in the oven. 

When To Leave Grill Open

You can leave your grill open if you do quick-grilled foods such as sliced vegetables, shrimp, fish, chops, thin steaks, and burgers directly on the flame. 

Keeping the center pink means you will not lose that delicious, juicy flavor we love about red meat. But, in the case of whole roasts, bone-in chicken, or thicker steaks, you should have to turn the lid down, especially for indirect heat.  

Close Lid Means Searing

When you close the lid on the thin food, the heat comes from above and below; as a result, the center of the food becomes grilled before getting crispy and browned on the outside. 

While with the open lid, you can get the perfect meat that will be crispy from the outside and interior. The medium-sized food for the grilling should be more than 3/4 of an inch. 

Thus, they will hold up to the heating chamber created by the lid, and the fact is that the large cuts of vegetables and meats get perfect grilling. Besides, you can avoid hard food from the outside while raw from the interior. 

When To Close Lid On Charcoal Grill

You need to keep the lid down if you add soaked wood chips for smoke flavor. Depending upon the type of grill, if you are peeking at your food while grilling, it can affect your food’s taste. 

If you have a charcoal grill, then the opening of the lid causes a lot of oxygen which can burn our food, while in gas grills, the opened lid causes heat loss. For the ribs, steak, and BQ chicken, you can close the lid and not open it till it requires it to be flipped. Following things are great for experimentation:

Basic Grilled Steak

With the beefy rib-eye steak or New York strip, you have to keep the grill close to ensure that the food will cook completely, at least as thoroughly as you desire, depending on whether you prefer medium, medium rare, or rare. Try the best recipe for grilling meat.

Mango-Jalapeno BBQ Sauce On Louis pork ribs

You will also need to close your grill while grilling ribs. In such a case, hickory and apple wood are best for cooking. By trapping the smoke from apple and hickory wood chips, it eliminates the smoky haze. But you should have to know something about the Mango Jalapeño BBQ St. Louis Pork Ribs recipe.


Pineapple Glazed Shrimp Skewers

You will want to leave the grill lid open with sweet and savory shrimp kebabs with a tropical twist. During the caramelization of the pineapple, it will cook quickly and get a nice char. 

Grilled Fish Tacos

Keep the grill lid closed while cooking fish because it will cook too fast. Applying this technique to firm white fish like Mahi Mahi, snapper, cod, or tilapia.  

Grilled Corn With Cayenne, Lime, and Cotija

Unlike other vegetables, you should close the grill’s lid while cooking this food. In husks, these vegetables are steamed and smoked for 35 minutes, which is a long time in the grilled vegetable world. 

Lid Off Vs Lid Closed

It does not matter which type of grill you have because, with the open lid, you can get the crispier char on the outer surface of the food without overburning its center. At the same time, the closed lid cooks all the parts of the food uniformly. 

Many people question whether to leave a charcoal grill open or closed when done. A common saying is that the closed lid gives more heat and a magical taste to the food. Thus, you will benefit from it as the food does not take much time to cook.

When Should You Use Lid On Your Charcoal Grill?

When do you keep the lid on the charcoal grill? The answer is a little complex as it is not a piece of cake. While cooking on the outdoor grill, the following factors decide whether you can keep the lid on the grill or not:

  • What type of grill are you using
  • Your way of cooking
  • The type of food you are cooking

Frequently Asked Questions

After burning off the fluid completely, the coal will become light gray from the sides. Over time, the ash spreads continuously and covers all the brackets. The whole procedure will require around 15 minutes of time. Your coals are ready to use when all the brackets are covered with ash.

The answer is to ensure the grill is open while lighting charcoal. Mostly, the charcoal grills contain vents at the bottom. Open your vents completely to get more hot air, and the coals burn hotter. Then, temporarily close your vents, and the air circulation stops, which results in a cooling fire. Leave the grill open or closed while lighting charcoal. 

The standard rule is that keep your lid closed while cooking thin pieces of meat like boneless chicken thighs or pancake-skinny burgers. But for cooking thick food like ribs, shoulders, chest, or bone-in chicken, ensure that the lids are closed.

If the charcoal turns white, it is cold from the inside but too warm from the outside. You would wait till the charcoal stops giving smoke and 2/3 of the charcoal turns white. To move the charcoal, use a grill tool. 

Final Words

There are plenty of debates going on out there about this topic, but the above tips should help resolve the confusion surrounding when to close or open the lid on a charcoal grill. Hopefully, this article has also helped you gain insight into the factors affecting your decision. Happy grilling!

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