How to Grill Ribeye on Charcoal: Step-by-Step Guide for Perfect Steak

Discover the art of grilling mouthwatering ribeye steaks on charcoal with our easy-to-follow guide, perfect for all skill levels.

There’s something about the smoky aroma of charcoal that makes any BBQ enthusiast’s heart skip a beat. And when it comes to grilling steak, nothing beats a perfectly cooked ribeye.

But let’s face it, grilling a ribeye on charcoal can be intimidating, especially if you’re new to the game. That’s why we’ve put together this guide to help you master the art of grilling ribeye on charcoal like a pro.

So fire up your grill and get ready to impress your friends and family with juicy, flavorful steaks that are sure to be the highlight of any backyard BBQ!

Choosing the Ribeye

how to grill ribeye on charcoal step by step guide for perfect steak

When it comes to grilling ribeye on charcoal, choosing the right cut of meat is crucial. The ribeye is a popular choice for many grill enthusiasts due to its marbling and rich flavor.

But not all ribeyes are created equal.

To ensure you get the best results, look for a well-marbled steak with even thickness throughout. Avoid steaks that have large pockets of fat or uneven thickness as they can result in an inconsistent cook.

Another factor to consider when choosing your ribeye is whether you want bone-in or boneless steak. While both options offer great flavor, bone-in steaks tend to be more flavorful due to the added marrow and connective tissue around the bones.

Choosing the Right Cut

The ribeye steak is cut from the beef’s rib section and has a high-fat content that makes it tender, juicy, and flavorful when cooked correctly. However, not all ribeyes are created equal.

For starters, you’ll want to look for a well-marbled piece of meat with visible fat running throughout. This marbling helps keep the steak moist during cooking and adds flavor as it melts into the meat.

You should also consider whether you want bone-in or boneless steaks. Bone-in cuts tend to have more flavor due to their proximity to bones while boneless cuts are easier to handle on your grill.

Lastly, pay attention to thickness when selecting your steaks – aim for at least 1 inch thick so that they cook evenly without drying out or becoming overcooked on one side while still raw in another area.

Preparing the Charcoal Grill

First, remove any ash or debris from the previous use of the grill. Next, arrange your charcoal in a pyramid shape at one end of the grill and light it up using lighter fluid or a chimney starter.

Once lit, let the coals burn until they’re covered with white ash before spreading them out evenly across half of your cooking grate. This setup creates two zones on your grill: direct heat for searing and indirect heat for slower cooking.

It’s important to note that when grilling ribeye on charcoal, high heat is crucial to achieving that perfect crust while keeping its juicy interior intact. So make sure you have enough hot coals ready before placing your steak on top.

Lighting the Charcoal

The key to a successful cook is getting your grill hot enough before placing the steak on it. Here are some tips for lighting charcoal:

1. Use a chimney starter: This is one of the easiest and most efficient ways to light charcoal.

Fill up your chimney starter with briquettes or lump coal, place crumpled newspaper in its base, then set it over lit kindling.

2. Avoid lighter fluid: While lighter fluid can be used as an accelerant when starting coals, avoid using too much of this chemical as its fumes can affect food flavor.

3. Give yourself plenty of time: Allow at least 20-30 minutes for coals to heat up properly before cooking begins.

4. Arrange coals strategically: For direct grilling (placing steaks directly above hot embers), arrange them in a single layer across half or two-thirds of grate surface area; leave remaining space empty so that you have room for indirect cooking later on if needed.

Preheating the Grate

This will help prevent sticking and ensure that your steak cooks evenly. To preheat the grate, simply close the lid of your grill and let it heat up for about 10-15 minutes.

During this time, make sure to keep an eye on the temperature gauge so that you can adjust as needed.

Once your grill is heated up, use a wire brush or scraper to clean off any debris from previous grilling sessions. This will help create a smooth surface for cooking and prevent any unwanted flavors from transferring onto your ribeye.

Remember: never use water to clean off hot grates! The sudden change in temperature can cause them to warp or crack.

Seasoning the Ribeye

Seasoning is an essential step in grilling a delicious steak that will have your taste buds dancing with joy. The key to seasoning a ribeye is keeping things simple and letting the natural flavors of the meat shine through.

Start by generously sprinkling kosher salt on both sides of your steak, making sure to cover every inch evenly. Letting the salt sit for at least 40 minutes before grilling allows it to penetrate deep into the meat and enhance its flavor.

Next, add freshly ground black pepper for an extra kick of flavor. You can also experiment with other herbs and spices like garlic powder or rosemary if you want more complexity in your seasoning blend.


Start with high-quality meat from a reputable butcher or grocery store. Look for well-marbled steaks that are at least one inch thick and have a bright red color.

Next, choose your seasonings wisely. Keep it simple with just salt and pepper or get creative with your favorite herbs and spices like garlic powder, paprika, or rosemary.

Don’t forget about the oil! Brushing your steak lightly with olive oil before seasoning will help prevent sticking to the grill grates while also adding flavor.

Grill Setup for Ribeye

First, make sure that the charcoal is evenly distributed in a single layer across the bottom of the grill. This will ensure even heat distribution and prevent hot spots on the grate.

Next, create two zones on your charcoal grill: one for direct heat and one for indirect heat. The direct-heat zone is where you’ll sear your steak to get those beautiful char marks while cooking it quickly over high heat.

The indirect-heat zone is where you’ll move the steak after searing to finish cooking it more slowly with lower temperatures.

To create these zones, simply pile more coals onto one side of the grill than on the other or push them all to one side using tongs or a shovel if necessary.

Once you’ve created these two zones, place an aluminum drip pan under where you plan to cook so that any fat drippings don’t cause flare-ups and burn your meat.

Grilling Ribeye Instructions

Place the seasoned steak on the hot grate and let it cook for about 4-5 minutes per side for a medium-rare doneness level. Use tongs to flip the steak only once during cooking, as this will help retain its juices.

If you prefer a different level of doneness, adjust your cooking time accordingly. For example, if you like your ribeye cooked medium-well or well-done, leave it on the grill for an additional minute or two per side.

Remember that every grill is different and may require some trial-and-error before finding what works best for you. Keep an eye on the temperature of both sides of the meat using a meat thermometer until they reach around 130°F (54°C) internal temperature – which is perfect if aiming at medium-rare.

Grilling Time and Temperature

How long should you cook your steak? And at what temperature? These are important questions that can make or break the perfect grilled ribeye.

First, let’s talk about temperature. For a perfectly cooked medium-rare ribeye, aim for a grill temperature of around 400-450°F (204-232°C).

This high heat will sear the outside of the steak while keeping it juicy and tender on the inside.

As for cooking time, this will depend on several factors such as thickness of your cut and personal preference. As a general rule of thumb:

  • For rare: Grill each side for 2-3 minutes
  • For medium-rare: Grill each side for 3-4 minutes
  • For medium: Grill each side for 4–5 minutes
  • Note that these times are approximate; always use an instant-read thermometer to check if your steak has reached its desired internal temperature.

Remember that grilling is not an exact science – there may be some trial-and-error involved in finding just how long to cook your steaks based on their size and thickness.

Cooking Time

The cooking time for a ribeye steak on charcoal will depend on several factors, including the thickness of the cut and how well-done you prefer your steak. As a general rule of thumb, plan to cook each side for about 6-7 minutes per inch of thickness for medium-rare doneness.

However, keep in mind that this is just an estimate – different grills may have varying heat levels or other variables that can affect cooking times. To ensure that your steak is cooked perfectly every time, use an instant-read meat thermometer to check its internal temperature.

For medium-rare doneness (which many people consider ideal), aim for an internal temperature of around 130°F (54°C). For medium-well or well-done steaks with less pink in the center but still juicy and flavorful inside aim between 145°F -160°F (63°C-71°C).

Remember also not to flip too often as flipping frequently can cause uneven heating which leads to overcooking one side while undercooking another.

Testing for Doneness

The most accurate way to do this is by using a meat thermometer. Insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the steak, making sure not to touch any bone or fat.

For medium-rare, aim for an internal temperature of 130-135°F (54-57°C), while medium should be around 140-145°F (60-63°C). Keep in mind that carryover cooking will continue after removing from heat and resting so take off a few degrees before reaching desired temperature.

If you don’t have a meat thermometer on hand, there are other ways to check if your ribeye is cooked just right. One popular method is called “the finger test.” Simply press down on the center of your steak with your index finger and compare its firmness with different parts of your hand:

• Rare: When pressed lightly with one finger tip feels like pressing against soft flesh between thumb and forefinger. • Medium-Rare: Pressing lightly against middle fingertip feels like pressing against same spot as above.

• Medium: Pressing lightly against ring fingertip feels like pressing palm below thumb when touching pinky • Well-Done: Pressing firmly agains fingertips together feel similar resistance as well-done steaks.

Getting the Right Internal Temperature

This will help you achieve the perfect level of doneness and avoid overcooking or undercooking your steak. The ideal internal temperature for a medium-rare ribeye is 130°F (54°C), while a medium steak should reach an internal temperature of 140°F (60°C).

For those who prefer their steaks well-done, aim for an internal temperature of around 160°F (71°C).

To get an accurate reading on the internal temperature, use a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the steak without touching any bone or fat. Be sure to remove it from heat before taking its measurement.

Remember that cooking times may vary depending on factors such as grill type and thickness of your cut. So keep checking with your thermometer until you get used to how long it takes for each level of doneness.

Ribeye Cooking Techniques

How do you ensure that your steak is cooked perfectly every time? Here are some ribeye cooking techniques that will help take your grilling game to the next level.

One of the most important things when it comes to grilling a ribeye is getting those beautiful grill marks. To achieve this, make sure you preheat your grill on high for at least 10-15 minutes before adding the steaks.

This will ensure that the grate is hot enough for searing.

Another technique worth trying out is reverse-searing. This involves cooking the steak low and slow over indirect heat until it reaches an internal temperature of around 120°F (49°C), then finishing with a quick sear over high heat for those coveted grill marks and added flavor.

No matter which technique you choose, remember not to flip or move your steaks too often as this can cause them to lose their juices and become dry. Instead, let them cook undisturbed until they’re ready for flipping – usually around 4-5 minutes per side depending on thickness – then give them a quarter turn halfway through each side if desired.

Letting Grilled Ribeye Rest Before Slicing

Hold on just a minute! Letting your steak rest for a few minutes before cutting into it is crucial for ensuring that all those delicious juices stay inside the meat where they belong.

When you cook a steak, the heat causes the juices inside to move towards the surface of the meat. If you cut into it immediately after taking it off the grill, all those flavorful juices will spill out onto your plate instead of staying in each bite of steak.

To prevent this from happening, let your ribeye rest for at least 5-10 minutes before slicing into it. This allows time for those hot juices to redistribute throughout each piece of meat so that every bite is juicy and tender.

Covering your ribeye with foil during this resting period can also help keep things warm while allowing flavors and moisture levels within its fibers equalize properly.

Resting the Ribeye

Resting allows the juices in the steak to redistribute and settle, resulting in a more tender and flavorful bite.

To rest your ribeye, simply remove it from the grill with tongs or a spatula and place it on a cutting board or platter. Tent loosely with foil for about 5-10 minutes depending on its thickness.

During this time, resist the urge to cut into your steak right away – trust us! The resting period will make all of the difference when you finally slice into that juicy piece of meat.

Slicing and Serving

Use a sharp knife to cut the steak against the grain into thin slices. This will help ensure that each bite is tender and easy to chew.

Arrange the slices on a platter or individual plates, garnish with fresh herbs if desired, and serve immediately.

If you’re serving a larger group of people, consider carving the entire ribeye roast at once for an impressive presentation. To do this, remove any excess fat or connective tissue from the surface of the roast before slicing it crosswise into thin pieces.

Suggested Sides and Sauces

When it comes to pairing with grilled ribeye, there are plenty of options that can take your meal to the next level.

For a classic side dish, you can’t go wrong with a baked potato or roasted vegetables like asparagus or Brussels sprouts. If you’re looking for something more unique, try grilling up some corn on the cob or whipping up a batch of garlic mashed potatoes.

As for sauces, there are endless possibilities depending on your personal taste preferences. A simple chimichurri sauce made from fresh herbs and olive oil is always a crowd-pleaser.

Or if you prefer something creamier, consider making a blue cheese sauce or horseradish cream.

Side Dishes for Grilled Ribeye

When it comes to grilled ribeye, there are plenty of options that can elevate your meal and make it even more memorable.

One classic side dish for grilled ribeye is a baked potato. Simply wrap a large russet potato in foil and place it on the grill while you cook your steak.

The heat from the grill will bake the potato perfectly, creating a crispy skin and fluffy interior.

Another great option is roasted vegetables such as asparagus or Brussels sprouts. Toss them with olive oil, salt, pepper, and any other seasonings you like before placing them on skewers or directly onto the grill grates.

If you’re looking for something lighter but still flavorful, consider making a simple salad with fresh greens like arugula or spinach topped with sliced cherry tomatoes and crumbled blue cheese.

And let’s not forget about sauces! A classic béarnaise sauce pairs perfectly with grilled ribeye steaks while chimichurri sauce adds an herby kick that complements its smoky flavor profile beautifully.

Why High Heat Makes Steak Taste Better

The intense heat of a charcoal grill creates a Maillard reaction on the surface of the meat, which results in those delicious caramelized crusts that we all love. This reaction occurs when amino acids and sugars in the meat react with each other under high temperatures, creating new flavors and aromas.

But why does this happen? Well, it’s all about chemistry! When you cook steak over high heat on a charcoal grill or any other type of grill for that matter – you’re essentially breaking down proteins into smaller molecules called peptides. These peptides then react with sugars present in your marinade or rub to create complex flavors through browning reactions.

So if you want your ribeye steaks to taste amazing every time they hit your plate, make sure you’re cooking them at high temperatures over hot coals. Not only will this give them an incredible flavor profile but also ensure they are cooked perfectly every time!


How long do you cook ribeye on charcoal grill?

Cook ribeye on a charcoal grill for 9-12 minutes for a 1-inch steak, or 12-15 minutes for a 1½ inch steak, turning once halfway through, until a meat thermometer reads 130°F for medium-rare doneness.

How long should charcoal burn before cooking steak?

The charcoal should burn for about 20 to 30 minutes before cooking steak, allowing it to fully catch and heat up, creating a bed of red-hot coals with high, even heat and minimal flames and smoke.

How often do you flip steak on a charcoal grill?

On a charcoal grill, you should flip your steak just once, about halfway through the cooking process.

What temperature do you grill ribeyes on a charcoal grill?

To grill ribeyes on a charcoal grill, preheat the grill to high heat, approximately 450 to 500 degrees Fahrenheit.

What is the ideal thickness of a ribeye steak for charcoal grilling?

The ideal thickness of a ribeye steak for charcoal grilling is about 1.5 inches.

How can you determine when your ribeye has reached the desired doneness while grilling on charcoal?

To determine the desired doneness of a ribeye while grilling on charcoal, use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature for the accurate level of doneness (rare, medium, etc.).

Are there any specific seasoning recommendations for enhancing the flavor of ribeye steaks when grilling on charcoal?

Season ribeye steaks with salt, pepper, and garlic powder to enhance their flavor when grilling on charcoal.