Holds a Master’s degree in Linguistics, loves traveling and learning new languages. Fluent in Spanish, is learning French and Czech at the moment. Enjoys exploring national cuisines every time he visits new countries.
Claims that grilling is the art that he has been learning all his life long and is not planning to stop. Has been grilling for as long as he can remember. Author of numerous online and offline grilling masterclasses runs his own BBQ accessories shop.
Last updated: July 26, 2021
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While it might not seem so obvious, not all charcoal briquettes are created equal. Luckily, we’re here to guide you through this search, full of pitfalls.
Finding the best charcoal briquettes means finding a natural product that can heat up quickly and last for a long grilling session. That’s exactly what we were looking for while compiling this list. All of the briquettes contain no chemicals and harmful particles that might spoil the food’s taste and quality. Also, we made sure that each product will heat up in no more than 20 minutes and burn hot and consistently for no less than 2 hours. On the list, you’ll find packages of different sizes to choose the ideal one for your needs (just keep in mind that you’ll need about 3 pounds for one session). Our Editor’s Choice, the Kingsford Charcoal Professional Briquettes, for example, is a whopping 12 pounds of all-natural, low-ash charcoal that heats up in just 10 minutes and burns for 2.5 hours. For more exceptional options, be sure to read on.
Kingsford Charcoal Professional Briquettes comes in a nice, medium-sized bag weighting 12 pounds. This is excellent for those who love to grill but hate having to constantly buy new briquettes.
The 2.5-hour burn time is pretty standard and allows you the opportunity to slowly roast your choice cuts of meat without having to put new briquettes in the grill. This also allows you to find the right temperature and maintain it.
Kingsford Charcoal Professional Briquettes is a professional-grade product. It won’t disappoint and provides consistent grilling results. You can use it to grill, sear, or slow-cook your food, allowing you to really showcase your culinary expertise.
In just 10 minutes, these briquettes will heat up enough to start grilling. There’s no need to awkwardly stand around, waiting impatiently to put your first piece of meat down. Furthermore, Kingsford Charcoal Professional Briquettes has a low-ash formula. You don’t have to worry about cleaning up a large pile of ash at the end of the night, nor worry about sudden gusts of wind blowing ash everywhere.
Perhaps one of the hidden features of Kingsford Charcoal Professional Briquettes is that its parent company is Clorox. This well-known brand is most famous for its cleaning products but has since branched out into other industries. Because the Clorox brand is so famous, you can expect a high level of professionalism and quality control from these briquettes.
The only downside to Kingsford Charcoal Professional Briquettes is its price. It is moving into the premium product category and as such, might be a bit out of some people’s price range.
Weber is the king of grilling. If you have a Weber grill you know that you’re getting a powerful, reliable machine to help you with your culinary skills. Weber 17950 Briquettes follows this pattern.
Weber 17950 Briquettes is a very large, 20-pound package. For those who take grilling seriously and are in the backyard most nights of the week, you will want a large bag and this one will last for quite some time.
Inside, the briquettes are of great quality. The offer a burning time of a bit longer than average, at 3 hours. You can get quite a bit of grilling done within that timeframe.
One really nice feature of Weber 17950 Briquettes is that they are 100% natural charcoal briquettes. A lot of briquettes use a chemical substance that is coated on top of them. While this coating can help the briquettes burn for longer, there is a chance the fumes will come in contact with your food. Having a completely natural fuel source means your food will taste perfect and authentic.
Really, customers rave about this product. The briquettes will burn for a long time and more importantly, at a consistent temperature. You don’t have to worry about flare-ups or hot spots, and your meat will cook exactly how you want it to be.
The only feature that may be a drawback is the size. This is a lot of briquettes. If you’re still looking for the best product, or don’t do much grilling, you might be better off with a smaller bag.
Why is it special?
Good value for money
Long, 3-hour burn time
The bag is weather-resistant
What are the flaws?
Quite a large bag – might not be ideal for transportation
Get ready for the grilling season by purchasing a large bag of briquettes. Royal Oak Chef’s Select Charcoal Briquettes comes in a 20-pound bag but if that’s not big enough for you, there is also a 40-pound option. Yes, if you can’t imagine a summer without the sound of meat sizzling on a grill, then you will need to stock up and this is the perfect product to do so with.
Royal Oak Chef’s Select Charcoal Briquettes are made from a blend of American oak and hickory hardwood. The result is a natural taste that will penetrate all your food and leave them with a delicious, savory taste.
Whether you want to sear your stakes or slow-cook a roast, Royal Oak Chef’s Select Charcoal Briquettes have you covered. They are made for both low and high heat, making them quite versatile.
Furthermore, the formula is designed for low-ash as the end so there is less of a cleanup needed. You can use Royal Oak Chef’s Select Charcoal Briquettes in both traditional grills as well as ceramic and non-ceramic grills.
By far the biggest complaint about Royal Oak Chef’s Select Charcoal Briquettes is not that is a faulty product but rather that its description is often wrong. It is often referred to as lump charcoal, but it is not. Lump charcoal is bigger, burns longer, and at a lower temperature. These are smaller-size briquettes and thus offer higher heat but won’t retain it for as long as lump charcoal.
For those who really want to grill with briquettes but also want ease and convenience, the Kingsford Easy Light Bag is the way to go. This single-use bag has everything you need for a grill session. There is no prep needed and no lighting fluid. What’s more there are even grooves on the bag to make it simple to light.
All you need to do is place the bag of briquettes under a grill, light it, wait 15 minutes, and start your grilling adventure. The 15 minutes is a bit longer than other products but still an acceptable time to have before you can get going.
The Kingsford Easy Light Bag is made with natural ingredients so you don’t have to worry about chemical fumes. Furthermore, it is made from real wood. The result is an authentic smoky flavor to your food, one that is subtle enough to be enjoyed by everyone.
The Kingsford Easy Light Bag is unfortunately a bit pricey. However, if you buy in bulk it becomes more affordable. The manufacturer gives you the option of buying a package of two bags or six. As so often happens with bulk purchases, the six-pack is double the price of the two-pack, making it the more economical choice.
If you want a simple way to grill or want an easy package to carry on your camping adventure, the Kingsford Easy Light Bag is a great way to go. It is convenient and requires no clean-up.
By far, the biggest problem with briquettes is that they are messy, clumsy, and hard to transport. If you want to elevate your cooking abilities while our camping or hiking, a better alternative is MUXI Portable Grilling Charcoal Briquettes. This unique design makes it much easier to grill your favorite foods, no matter where you are.
MUXI Portable Grilling Charcoal Briquettes comes in a package of four. Each square is further individually wrapped so you don’t have to worry about any residue coming off and making your surrounding items dirty.
MUXI Portable Grilling Charcoal Briquettes are very simple to use. After unwrapping the plastic, place the squares where you will be grilling. You will want to use enough squares to fill the grilling area, which can be two for a small grill or even six for a large-size one. Once placed, ignite the briquette. The surface will burn for 30 to 60 seconds before it starts to smolder. Then, wait 10 to 15 minutes for them to heat to the ideal temperature. Finally you can start grilling.
Each individual product measures 5 by 5 inches, with a depth of 1.6 inches. So, you can plan ahead on your hike by measuring your grill and taking the required briquettes.
While this is an incredibly convenient product, it can become quite expensive quite quickly. If you are hiking for an extended trip and want to grill each night, you will need a lot of briquettes.
What makes it special?
Very convenient and portable
Individually wrapped and very clean
Easy to plan thanks to their size
What cons did we find?
Can get quite expensive if a lot are needed
Not the longest burning time
Things to Consider
Charcoal briquettes may seem like a simple product to purchase but there is actually a lot that needs to go into the decision-making process. A bag of briquettes can make a difference in the flavor of your grill. To help you find the best charcoal briquettes, we’ve put together this buying guide.
Advantages over lump charcoal and wood pellets
For grilling, there are many fuel options to consider. Charcoal briquettes are quite versatile. They have a long burning time, meaning you can choose whether you want your grill for quick, searing purposes, or for longer roasting purposes. However, if you want a product specifically for longer roasts, lump charcoal is better. The large pieces retain more heat and give a longer heat, although usually at a reduced temperature.
Wood pellets not only cook your food but flavor it as well. There are many types of wood pellets to choose from and each one will affect the taste of your meat. However, all this choice can be a bit confusing. You need to do a lot of research and conduct a lot of grilling trials to find the perfect taste you’re looking for. As well, wood pellets burn faster than charcoal briquettes which means more hassle and more money spent.
To decide whether you should purchase lump charcoal, wood pellets, or charcoal briquettes consider what you will be grilling and how often. Think about all of your favorite grill foods, as these are most likely the foods you will want to replicate. Once you’ve come up with a list of grilling items, then you can think about what fuel source will work better for the majority of them.
Features to consider when choosing charcoal briquettes
Charcoal briquettes may seem like a simple product but there are actually a lot of factors to consider. Here we will describe the different types of briquettes to choose from and talk about their qualities and what circumstances they are best used in.
All-natural ingredients used
Charcoal briquettes start out as wood which is burned until it becomes coal dust. That dust is then pressurized to form a briquette. Often, a chemical layer is sprayed on the briquettes so that it makes it easier to light as well as last longer as it burns.
However, there are now many products that offer 100% all natural ingredients during the entire process, like the Weber 17950 Briquettes. While some products may state that they include natural ingredients, some may not be completely made from these. You will want to look for certification if you want a completely natural product.
If you aren’t sure about the natural properties of your briquettes, you can always leave them cooking a bit longer before you add any food to your grill. Most chemicals that are used on briquettes have the purpose of making them easier to light. Then, the chemical is burned off. Wait longer, up to 30 minutes after lighting, before you start to grill your food. This way there shouldn’t be any chemicals still lingering in the flames.
Ignition and burning time
Two of the most important factors to consider with briquettes are the ignition time and the burning time. The ignition time refers to how long it takes for the briquettes to not be on fire anymore. When you light your charcoal briquettes, there will be flames. You need to wait for these flames to subside before you can start grilling. Generally, an ignition time will be between 10 and 15 minutes. Kingsford Charcoal Professional Briquettes and Weber 17950 Briquettes are the fastest products on our list and will be ready in just 10 minutes.
The only problem with ignition time is that it can actually be a lot longer than the posted time. So, be sure to factor as much as a 30-minute ignition time in when you’re cooking. Otherwise if you’re planning on eating at a specific time, your steaks might be more rare than you’d like.
The other factor to consider is the burning time. This refers to how long the charcoal briquettes will burn for, and thus can be used. The best charcoal briquettes for smoking will have a long burning time, such as Weber 17950 Briquettes which run for 3 hours.
While you can always add more briquettes if you want to slow-cook a piece of meat, it can mean a sharp change in temperature which may decrease the overall flavor.
The package size of charcoal for grilling can vary greatly. At the large end of the scale, you can encounter a product such as Royal Oak Chef’s Select Charcoal Briquettes. This package comes in both a 20-pound and a 40-pound size. This is a great option if you have already tried the brand and like its results.
If you grill a lot during the summer then a large package size is ideal. There’s no worse feeling than being excited about grilling your latest meat purchase only to realize there aren’t any briquettes left. To combat this disaster, always have a large bag at hand. As an added bonus, you usually save money with larger bulk purchases.
Yet another option is a single-size package. Kingsford Easy Light Bag is a single-use bag. Simply place it in your grill and light it on fire. There is great convenience in this, especially if you are camping or new to grilling. This product comes in packages of two or six bags and if you want to save a bit of money, purchasing the larger quantity will help.
Finally, in the same vein as single-use bags, there are briquette disks that come individually wrapped. MUXI Portable Grilling Charcoal Briquettes comes in a package of six. To use, simply measure your grilling area and use the corresponding number of disks. Again, this is a great product if you are camping and want something easy to use and extremely convenient.
If it requires any lighter liquid
It used to be that you would have to squirt tons of lighter liquid on your charcoal briquettes and then stand back in an uncertain manner, hoping you won’t burn your eyebrows off. Not only was this dangerous but the extra chemicals didn’t always result in the most flavorful food.
Now, thanks to ever-changing grilling technology, more and more charcoal briquettes don’t require any lighter fluid.
Instead, all you need to do is place the briquettes in your grill, throw a match on top and watch as the briquettes catch on fire. If this seems too easy, it is, but why shouldn’t it be?
There are some types of charcoal briquettes that need a bit more help, but are still manageable. You may need to hold a long lighter for a few seconds until the flame catches, or possibly a long matchstick. Still, there shouldn’t be too many issues.
When you’re ready to barbeque, place your briquettes in the grill and turn on the heat. You’ll start to notice that the edges of the briquettes will start to grey. As this continues, more ash will flake off and eventually there will be a fine layer of grey ash over all the briquettes. This means they are now ready to cook on. Most charcoal briquettes take 10 to 15 minutes, which is also called the ignition time. You can use this as a reference although individual products will vary.
Charcoal actually starts off as wood and is in fact wood that has been pre-burned in an oven without exposure to oxygen. As a result, it can store more heat and will in turn produce more heat than wood pellets.
Yes, one of the benefits of briquettes is that you are left with less ash than if you used lump charcoal. There will still be ash, and some clean-up, however. If you are concerned about ash, look for products that are specially formulated to be low-ash.
There are many products that fit the title of best charcoal briquettes for grilling. Among them is our Editor’s Choice, Kingsford Charcoal Professional Briquettes. This 12-pound bag of briquettes offers consistency and a chance to really make your grilling process easier. If you’re looking for a value option, consider Weber 17950 Briquettes. Backed by a name known all over the grilling community, this large 20-pound bag will have you grilling nightly. Finally, if you know that you want to spend all summer long grilling and entertaining, it’s best to find a large bag of the best charcoal briquettes. Royal Oak Chef’s Select Charcoal Briquettes gives you the option of purchasing a 20 or 40-pound bag, both full of quality briquettes. Make this summer optimal grilling time and always have a bag of BBQ charcoal briquettes on hand.