Slow ‘N Sear® Grill Lighting Instructions

Unless otherwise noted, all temperatures listed are in degrees Fahrenheit, and “charcoal” or “briquets” will refer to Kingsford Original Briquets. Any charcoal substitutions, such as lump or other brands/types will likely yield differing temperatures and times from what we provide as a baseline. Use any substitutions with caution. “Chimney” or “charcoal chimney” refers to the standard sized Weber charcoal chimney starter, for volume consistency. Other products/brands may have varying amounts.

How To Light A Slow ‘N Sear or Weber Charcoal Grill

1. Light the coals with a charcoal starter cube

Install the water reservoir (SnS Deluxe only) and light a starter cube (or similar fire starter) near one corner of the Slow ‘N Sear. Add a dozen briquets or lump charcoal on top of the starter cube with the charcoal tucked tightly into the corner of the Slow ‘N Sear.

2. Wait for the smoke to clear

Wait until the smoke dies down and the coals are well lit (about 15 minutes).

3. Add charcoal chimney

Add a full chimney of unlit briquets to fill the remainder of the charcoal basket. Note: the SnS XL will require approximately 20% more charcoal.

4. Add wood chunks for smoking

If desired, add a few chunks of smoking wood spread out over the top of the charcoal. Place one chunk on the lit coals to start generating smoke early in the cook.

5. Add boiling water to reservoir

Add one quart of boiling water to the reservoir. Fill opposite from the burning coals. Do not overfill! Leave ½” or more space at the top.
Tip: Adding hot water to the reservoir decreases unnecessary stress that can occur when metal is exposed to rapid temperature extremes. Long-term, repeated stress will lead to metal fatigue and unrecoverable product damage. This includes product deformation and cracks. Water also readily absorbs heat. The hot water allows the heat from the coals to warm the grill, rather than warm up the water. This reduces the time needed to get the grill up to stable cooking temperature and extends the cooking time.

Grill vent position - if the top vent of your charcoal grill is not centered, place the lid on the grill securely with the vent positioned opposite the Slow ‘N Sear. This will help draw hot air/smoke over the food on the indirect side.

6. Open the vent until temperature reaches 150° F to 175° F

Open the top vent fully and the bottom vent about halfway. The temperature will slowly rise as the grill and the water in the reservoir begin to heat up. When the temp at grate level reaches 150° F to 175° F, close the top vent to about ½ open, and the bottom vent to a crack (¼” wide). Continue to monitor and adjust vents as pit temp settles in between 225° and 250° F. Adjust vent settings as necessary based on weather/altitude.
Tip: If the target temperature is significantly over (by 50+ degrees) before the vents are closed, use a spray bottle filled with water to quickly extinguish some of the coals!

7. Add your protein at 225° - 250°F

When the pit temperature is around 225° - 250° add in a protein. For best results, use a dualprobe, leave-in thermometer - one for the meat, and one to monitor grill temps. Make sure the pit probe is at least 2 inches away from the meat. If it’s too close, pit temp readings early in the cook will be affected by the cold meat.

The Slow ‘N Sear is so efficient at burning fuel that any unintentional air leaks (e.g. an improperly sealed lid) can prevent the kettle’s indirect zone from getting below 250° F. An easy solution: use 2” binder clips to seal the lid. Space three clips around the kettle lid for an improved seal.

Other Cooking Methods

Roasting & baking on the grill

When cooking hot and fast at 325 degrees - such as with chicken - do not fill the charcoal reservoir full of unlit briquets. Instead, begin by using half a chimney of briquets (approximately 40 briquets). Light the chimney and allow them to burn for approximately 10 minutes. A good indicator of when they are well-lit is when the blue smoke begins to lessen or is gone completely and heat waves are visible from the top of the chimney. This is easier to notice from afar than relying on the “ashed over” appearance of the coals themselves. Add only these coals to the Slow ’N Sear’s charcoal reservoir, spread out evenly. Do not use any unlit briquets for cooking chicken, as the cook time is relatively short and extra coals are not necessary.

Note: If you are using the SnS Deluxe - place the water reservoir in the Slow 'N Sear but do not fill it up with water. This allows for a smaller heat zone but large enough to maintain 325-350 degrees.

When cooking something that needs to be cooked at 325 for 2-3 hours, the above steps will not provide enough fuel. In order to maintain a 325-350 degree temperature over a several hour span of time, place half a chimney of unlit briquets in the Slow 'N Sear and then follow the steps above to light a half chimney of charcoal and once lit, pour them on top of the unlit briquets that are in the Slow 'N Sear.

This method will also be helpful in colder weather where charcoal use will naturally be increased to maintain temperatures. There will likely be a lot of coals left over after the cook is complete - these can be snuffed out by closing all the vents.

Partially-spent coals can easily be re-lit and reused on the next cook!

High Heat Grilling

What is high heat on a grill?

High heat grilling is usually considered to be cooking at temperatures over 400° F. 

To cook with temperatures over 500° F using the SnS Original or the SnS XL:Fully light a chimney full of charcoal, then add to the Slow ‘N Sear. The Slow 'N Sear will allow the coals to get extremely hot if the vents are fully opened with the lid off. It is very easy to hit 700 degrees.

To cook with temperatures over 500° F using the SnS Deluxe:

For a normal size sear zone, install the water reservoir (do not add water) and use one chimney of fully lit charcoal. For a larger sear zone, remove the water reservoir, cover the bottom of the Slow ‘N Sear with a single layer of unlit charcoal, and add a fully lit chimney of charcoal over the layer.

Temperature Maintenance for Cooking Low and Slow

Charcoal requires oxygen from the air to combust and make heat. Grill vents regulate how much air the coals are allowed to receive. This process takes time, both in raising and lowering the temperature.

How to keep your charcoal grill at 225° F

Make very small vent adjustments, and allow 5-10 minutes for these changes to affect the temps. Do not expect instant results as if adjusting a gas burner. Do not simply take the lid off to lower the temperature, as this will only temporarily work. This will actually allow the temp to climb even higher due to the large supply of fresh oxygen this adds into the grill.

Resist the urge to make large adjustments if the temperature goes too high or too low. Remember, when cooking “low & slow” at 225° the grill does not have to maintain 225° precisely for great results. A little variation is normal and will not harm things. Try to stay within a range of 200-250 degrees, with the target being 225°.

Similarly, when cooking “hot & fast” at 325° the temperature does not have to maintain exactly 325°. A good range is 325-350°; much higher than 350° can cause sugar in various rubs to begin to burn.

The more you cook with your kettle grill and your Slow ‘N Sear and follow our lighting guidelines, the more familiar you’ll get with your grill and your vents and how it reacts to adjustments. Soon you’ll know automatically what needs done, and your temps will hold remarkably steady.

How To Use Charcoal Grill Vents

If your kettle grill has the top lid vent off to one side, place the lid on the grill securely with the lid vent positioned opposite the Slow ‘N Sear. This will help draw the hot air over the grate and the food.

Open the top vent fully and the bottom vent about halfway. The temp will slowly rise as the grill, its components, and the water in the reservoir begin to heat up. When the temp at grate level reaches ~150 to 175°, close the top vent to about 1/3 open and the bottom vent to about 1/4 open*. Continue to monitor the temperature as it nears 225° and close the top vent as needed to hold 225°.

How To Use Weber Charcoal Grill Vents 

This reference shows the 2015 model Weber “Original Kettle Premium” handle positions relative to the vent settings.

Older model Weber grills, such as the “One Touch Gold”, may be different than pictured here.

If you’re operating an older model grill, we strongly recommend you inspect your grill handle and vent positions and make notes for ease of use later on. Weber grills without the clean-out handle and other brands can simply be adjusted by sight.

Note: the most common adjustments will occur between the 2nd hole and the 3rd.

some prior inspection may be necessary with your grill so as to know the bottom vent positions relative to the sweep handle on older Weber One Touch kettle grills. This will be very necessary to know for proper temperature maintenance as the cook progresses.