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7 Best Charcoal Briquettes For Grilling And Smoking (2022)

Choosing charcoal briquettes for smoking and grilling meat is so important because the briquette’s size and composition affect its burning properties. The best charcoal for smoking meat is usually made from 100% hardwood and natural binders. In this article, I’ve compiled a list of the 7 best charcoal briquettes on the market, along with my top 5 picks.

Royal Oak Chef’s Select Premium Hardwood Charcoal Briquettes

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B&B Charcoal Slow Burning Oak Charcoal Briquettes

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Kingsford Original Charcoal Briquettes

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The convenience, versatility, and even taste of charcoal briquettes make them one of the most popular smoking and grilling products in many households.

They work with gas, electric, and wood fires, which is why you can use them for everything from grilling steaks to smoking ribs with your charcoal grill.

But some charcoal briquette brands use poor-quality materials when manufacturing their products.

This means you might end up with a bag of charcoal briquettes that burns too quickly and doesn’t deliver the smoky flavor you need for your barbecue. That’s why it’s important to know how to choose a charcoal briquette brand properly.

In this guide, we’ll show you how to find the best charcoal briquettes for your needs, along with my top 9 picks, so that you can make an informed purchase when shopping for new products.

Let’s get started!

What are charcoal briquettes?

Best Charcoal Briquettes

Charcoal briquettes are a type of fuel used for grilling and cooking. They are made from wood, which is burned in an oxygen-deprived environment, which is also known as lump charcoal, to produce ash that can be recycled. 

The burned wood then goes through a process called “crushing” before being mixed with other additives like sulfur and binder. After that, the mixture is formed into briquettes and baked in a kiln. Finally, the briquettes are cooled off and packaged for sale.

Which is better: Charcoal Briquettes or Lump Charcoal?

Charcoal briquette vs lump charcoal

Charcoal briquette and lump charcoal are both types of charcoal. Lump charcoal comes in a bag, usually with a wooden handle, so you can carry it with you anywhere you go. Charcoal briquette is easier to store but must be used within a few days. Both have the same uses and benefits: they’re both great for smoking your meats and grilling food.

Lump charcoal burns hotter and has a more authentic hardwood flavor than briquettes because it is not compressed into a cylinder. As a result, lump charcoal is ideal for cooking dishes that require extremely high heat, such as steak.

On the flip side, each piece of charcoal briquette has a uniform shape, giving you more control over the temperature in calculated time.

How To Light Charcoal With A Charcoal Chimney Starter Without Lighter Fluid

Best Charcoal Briquettes

Step 1: You’ll need slightly wadded newspaper pieces to burn the charcoal. (If you don’t want to use newspapers, try using fire starters or light cubes instead.)

Step 2: Remember not to wad the newspaper up too tightly so air can flow in and speed up the process.

Step 3: When finished, place the wadded-up newspaper beneath the chimney starter.

Step 4: Fill the chimney with charcoal and light the newspaper pieces with a match or a BBQ lighter.

Step 5: Allow it to burn for 15-20 minutes, or until the coals are completely covered in grey ash, and you’ll have a pile of hot coals to use.

Millie’s pick

Weber Rapidfire Chimney Starter

Why not use lighter fluid on charcoal?

no lighter fluid

Lighter fluid, also known as butane, is a volatile hydrocarbon liquid that burns with a blue flame. It is used as an igniter for propane gas or natural gas, and it can be used to start a fire.

However, using it to light your charcoal can start a fire that quickly spreads out of control, which can cause the charcoal to burn too rapidly and ruin the taste of your food.

The best way to light your charcoal is with a charcoal chimney starter and a little patience, and you’re good to go!

A chimney starter is a metal cylinder designed specifically for starting fires. It’s made from stainless steel or aluminum, so it will not rust or corrode, and it has a handle on the side that you can use to hold the chimney starter while you’re lighting your charcoal.

What are the best charcoal briquettes?

Here are my top 9 picks for the best charcoal briquettes:

1. Royal Oak Chef’s Select Premium Hardwood Charcoal Briquettes

Best Overall

Overview

Royal Oak charcoal is sustainably sourced in the United States and is made from premium American Oak and Hickory hardwood with no additional ingredients.

This charcoal burns hot and fairly quickly—but it’s also long-lasting when cooking low and slow, producing very little ash and maintaining temperature well.

It adds a nice, subtle wood flavor to the food you’re cooking while still producing the classic charcoal-smoke smell you know and love.

But that’s not all: these produce a wonderful thin blue smoke that imparts a lovely smoke flavor.

The combination of oak and hickory produces an excellent result for almost any meat you’re cooking, whether you’re smoking a brisket or grilling up some chicken wings.

And last but not least: you can use this charcoal to fire up your favorite grill and cook up some tasty ribs, burgers, kabobs, hot dogs, pizzas, etc., whatever it is you like in your barbecue sauce!

Pros And Cons

You might love it for
  • Produce good, consistent heat without flare-ups, hotspots, or dead.
  • Packaged well, and the charcoal arrived in fine shape
  • Contain no additional ingredients
  • It’s solid and reusable
  • Produce little ash
You might not love it for
  • Heavy, difficult to carry by yourself.
  • Some say it’s pricey

2. Weber 17950 Charcoal Briquettes

Best Overall

Overview

Weber’s charcoal briquettes are made from 100% natural hardwood from sustainable forestry.

These briquettes are simple to light and give off a lot of heat, making them perfect for long cooks or large-scale barbecues.

You can leave these briquettes outside overnight (in the bag) and then use them again for your next barbecue since they come in a heavy-duty bag with a seal to close.

They may appear to be more expensive than other briquettes, but they burn well and don’t make the food taste like chemicals.

These briquettes are ready to use in the chimney after about 15-20 minutes and burn slowly and for quite a long time.

This might be unnecessary if you only smoke for 1 hour at a time. But if you plan on smoking all day long, I’d recommend these to anyone!

Pros And Cons

You might love it for
  • Give a long burn
  • Easy to ignite
  • Come with a high-duty bag for outside storage
You might not love it for
  • Expensive

3. Duraflame Cowboy Natural Hardwood Briquettes

Best for serious slow and low cooking

Overview

These Duraflame Cowboy Natural Hardwood Briquettes are made of 95% hardwood charcoal and 5% vegetable binder, making them better than normal briquettes.

The Cowboy briquettes are larger than Royal Oak or Kingsford but not too big. They’re easy to light and give you a clean, consistent burn that produces amazing results with no nasty aftertaste.

They’re perfect for true low and slow cooking like pork butt, ribs, brisket, etc.

The only smoke flavor you get will be from burning wood chips or chunks that you add, allowing you to control your smoke flavor profile with no other off-flavors.

This is where Duraflame really shines: they don’t clump or cake up like cheap coals!

All in all, this is one product you can feel good about buying—it’s good for your family’s health and the environment.

Pros And Cons

You might love it for
  • Best for true slow and low smoking
  • Don’t clump or cake up
  • Give no off-taste
  • It’s not too smokey like cheap coals
You might not love it for
  • Pricey
  • A little more difficult to light than some other brands
  • Some say they give off a lot of smoke when they are first lighting.

4. B&B Charcoal Slow Burning Oak Charcoal Briquettes

Best for burning hot and long

Overview

B&B charcoal is unlike any other charcoal you’ve ever seen.

It contains no chemical binding agents or other additives and is made from 100% pure oak—so it’s the perfect product for creating a clean burn, helping foods cook faster (without as much ash production).

With B&B charcoal, your food will cook at a lower temperature—which means your meats will stay juicier and more tender—and the smoke won’t get out of control as it does with other types of charcoal briquettes.

You’ll also love how solid this stuff feels in your hands: no more worrying about whether your briquettes will turn into dust as soon as they hit the grill – And the best part is that they are reusable.

When lit on fire, this thing won’t just burn like any other briquette—it’ll definitely burn super hot!

And since there’s little ash or bits left behind afterward, cleaning up is easier.

Pros And Cons

You might love it for
  • 100% pure oak
  • These briquettes burn hotter and longer than competitive brands
  • Easy to ignite and have no chemical odors
  • Produce about 5X less smoke than competitors.
  • Solid and reusable
You might not love it for
  • Some say it’s pricey
  • Since they burn hot, you may have issues with keeping the temp low initially

5. Kingsford Original Charcoal Briquettes

Best budget

Overview

Kingsford Original Charcoal has been the gold standard of charcoal grilling for over 90 years. It is made in the United States with 100% natural ingredients, including North American wood.

This is the most economical choice on this list. Each piece is identical, and there is no surprise flavor—they all have the same smoky taste and texture.

These charcoal briquettes are easy to light and burn quickly, making them ideal for burgers and sausages.

And because it burns so quickly and hot, I’d not recommend it for slow and low cooking or searing—it might not last as long as other brands!

Another downside of this product is that when you light it in a chimney starter, it produces significantly more smoke than many other briquettes.

You might love it for
  • Reasonably priced
  • Easy to ignite and burn quickly
You might not love it for
  • Produce lots of smoke when you first light them
  • Leave behind way more ash than others. 
  • These briquettes burn too quickly – not suitable for slow cooking and searing

6. OLIVETTE Organic Charcoal Briquettes

Best Sustainable And eco-friendly

Overview

First, OLIVETTE Organic Charcoal Briquettes are made from olive pits, olive pulp, and olive pruning branches that have been used before. Yes, these charcoal briquettes are made without cutting down any trees.

The briquettes are so easy to light and burn efficiently that you don’t have to worry about modifying your BBQ grill for them (which is the case with some other brands).

They keep their shape even through the burn, so there’s no need to reposition them—they stay lit just like when you first lit them up!

The flavor is decent—it had low levels of smoke but decent heat and not a lot of flare-ups.

The fire is easy to light, and the heat is fine. The downside? They’re really round – so it’s not easy to position the charcoal.

Pros And Cons

You might love it for
  • Cost-effective
  • Eco-friendly
  • Produce decent flavor
You might not love it for
  • Lower heat output and burning time compared to competitors
  • The “round” shape can make it hard to position the charcoal

7. Jealous Devil All Natural Hardwood Charcoal Pillow Briquettes

Best large-size briquettes

Overview

Jealous Devil All Natural Hardwood Charcoal Pillow Briquettes are bigger than what you’re used to seeing in the store.

They are 50% larger than other brands; the way they are bigger than normal briquettes, the chance for reuse is really nice. Being able to reuse gives you more of a bang for your buck feel.

They contain no chemical additives, which produce no bitter smoke or mountains of ash. Instead, they are made from pure charcoal and vegetable starch as a binder.

And once you get these fired up, they will burn long and hot and make for the perfect grilling experience.

These charcoal briquettes have the flavor of lump charcoal with ease and uniformity of briquettes.

They catch quickly in the chimney and stay burning at an even temperature. The best part is when you need a little more charcoal but don’t want to add a big lump of charcoal; you can add these briquets instead!

The packaging has a zip lock feature, so you don’t have to roll up your bag for storage.

With the high heat output, not only low smoking but you can cook your food at high and hot temperatures like giving your steak a good sear.

Pros And Cons

You might love it for
  • The large size makes it easy to reuse and less refuel
  • Contains no harmful chemical additives
  • Produce little ash
  • These briquettes burn hot and long
You might not love it for
  • Despite the large size, they don’t burn hot as hardwood lump charcoal
  • Expensive (but actually not since they can be reused)

What To Consider When Buying Charcoal Briquettes

There are a lot of different types of charcoal briquettes out there, so it can be hard to know which one is best for you. Here are some things to consider when deciding which ones to buy:

Pick a brand you trust

You want to buy from someone who knows their product, so it’s important to find out if they have any past experience in the industry. If they have been around for a while and still make all of their products in-house, that’s a good sign!

Smoke flavor

some types of briquettes have a stronger smoke flavor than others do, which means they will impart more flavor onto finished dishes during the cooking time—and this flavor can vary depending on which type you choose!

Which charcoal briquettes hold their temperature longer

It’s important to know how well the briquettes will hold their temperature over time. For example, if you’re planning on using your grill for barbecuing for an extended period of time (such as a weekend or weeknight), you’ll want to invest in charcoal briquettes that can hold their heat well.

This will ensure that your food doesn’t overcook or burn while sitting on the grill after it’s been lit up for hours on end!

Which charcoal briquettes burn hotter

If you’re cooking something that needs to be quickly cooked and then charred, like grilled meat, you’ll want to look for briquettes that are at least as hot as your target temperature.

How much do you want to spend on your new briquettes?

If you’re looking for an affordable option, then you might consider buying Kingsford Original Charcoal Briquettes or OLIVETTE organic charcoal briquettes. They’re typically a few dollars cheaper than other brands, but they still produce great barbecue results.

If you’re looking for a high-end option that will give you the best results possible, then you may want to consider buying B&B Oak Charcoal Briquettes, Royal Oak Premium Charocal Briquettes, or charcoal briquettes from Weber. They last longer and burn hotter than others on the market.

Which charcoal briquettes create less ash

The last thing is how much ash the charcoal briquettes create in your grill. Ash is the unwanted material that forms on the bottom of your grill when you use charcoal.

It’s not bad for you, but it can make it difficult to light and clean your grill after each use.

FAQs

Does charcoal expire?

No, charcoal itself has no expiration date and lasts forever. 
However, charcoal briquettes are different; some charcoal brands use charcoal mixed with additives to produce the product. These additives can go bad over time.

When the additives go bad, they can no longer provide enough heat for the briquette to burn properly. This means you’ll have to replace your charcoal if you notice that it isn’t burning as well as it used to!

Lump charcoal is the healthier option because it contains no additives or chemicals, so you can be confident that your food’s taste or texture will not be affected.

However, this is not the case for all; some high-quality brands, like Royal Oak or OLIVETTE, produce charcoal briquettes made entirely of hardwood with no toxic chemical additives so that you can enjoy the best of both worlds.

The most common way to know when your charcoal is ready is by looking at it and seeing whether or not it’s covered in grey ashes. If it is, then it’s ready to use.

However, there is no set period of time for when you will be completely covered with ash because it largely depends on the kind of charcoal you use and other factors. But the rough rule of thumb is to let your charcoal briquettes sit for about 15-20 minutes in a chimney starter.

Final Thought

The best charcoal briquettes offer high heat value, burn long, and are long-lasting, among a number of other features. instant light charcoal briquettes

However, not all of them are created equal when it comes to these and other factors that are important for grilling and smoking.

So we’ve sorted through the thousands of options currently on the market to narrow down your choices to just 7 great options.

We hope this helps you find the perfect charcoal briquette for your smoking and grilling needs.

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