How to Improve Your Grilling Technique With a Brick

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Photo: Claire Lower

I don’t know how to build anything with them, but I do keep a few bricks around for cooking reasons. Foil-wrapped bricks are super useful in the kitchen, especially when you need things to be flat and keep still. Bricks are also very useful in my new outdoor kitchen (which is comprised of a single Weber Kettle), only now I’m using them to lift things—well, one thing—up.

It’s a simple hack based on a simple premise: If I can get the charcoal closer to my food, I’ll get a really excellent sear. By placing a few bricks under my charcoal grate, I am able to lift it up a few inches. It’s simple. It’s elegant. But that’s a brick for you, baby. (Safety Note: I used regular bricks with no issues, but a few people have pointed out that there is a small chance of these bricks cracking, or exploding at high temperature and pressure. This is mostly a problem with concrete bricks—I’ve seen conflicting info on clay bricks—so get some fire bricks, which are made to withstand fire, and are the safest option.)

If you would also like to create an excellent golden crust on your next steak through the clever use of bricks, follow these simple instructions:

Start by piling 4-5 bricks into the bottom of your charcoal grill, making sure you arrange them to allow plenty of air flow.


Photo: Claire Lower

Next, place your charcoal grate on top of the bricks.


Center it better than this.
Photo: Claire Lower

Finally, light your charcoal, get it nice and ashy, and dump it on one side of the charcoal grate. Cook your food as you usually would.

Yesterday was my first time attempt at employing the humble brick this way—I had seen the method mentioned a few times on, and I must say it did deliver the best sear I’ve managed from a charcoal grill so far. It’s true that I haven’t seared that many things over charcoal—not yet—but the results I saw from this brick lift give me confidence that there are many more beautifully seared meats in my future. It is a good feeling.

Updated on 05/06/2021 at 11:45 am EST to clarify the type of bricks you should use.

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