The Reason You Should Keep The Lid On Your Charcoal Grill

To lid or not to lid, that is the question. Or at least it should be when it comes to those sizzling morsels on your summer grill. Whether or not they're covered while cooking can make a big difference in what will grace your dinner plate. It's long been a topic of debate amongst grill masters, though most seem to agree: Keep that lid on, especially with charcoal grills.

The Kitchn explains the dynamics of heat and airflow when it comes to charcoal grills. Unlike their gas-fueled counterparts, opening the lid of a charcoal grill doesn't typically release the built-up heat. Instead, it brings in a rush of oxygen that heats the coals to higher temperatures and can accidentally burn your food. Rather, it's best to raise the lid only for monitoring or flipping the grill's contents. It is advised that grillers should use built-in air vents for maintaining consistent heat as needed.

But heat control isn't the only reason for covering a charcoal grill as it works its magic on your steaks, burgers, or vegetables.

How keeping the lid on your charcoal grill affects flavor and texture

When cooking with a charcoal grill, myriad flavor profiles exist based on the type of hardwood charcoal used. According to Eat This, Not That, Miami Beach chef Sean Brasel says that closing the lid will create a mouthwatering smoky flavor in your food, depending on the variety of wood charcoal. You can even add woodchips to further enhance the flavor, from hickory to mesquite, maple, oak, or even pecan.

The thickness of the food can also indicate whether to open or close the lid when charcoal grilling, per Epicurious. If your meat or vegetables are over ¾ inch thick, lidding can help retain a moist interior while still allowing that desirable charred exterior. That's because closing the lid works similarly to a convection oven in which trapped hot air circulates and cooks your food to perfection. On the other hand, thin-sliced grill items under ¾ inch thick need an open lid to keep the inside from cooking more quickly than the outside. You don't want an exterior lacking that succulent, seared texture of charcoal grilling. 

So the next time you want the most flavor out of your charcoal grill, make sure to keep a lid on it whenever possible.