The Best Charcoal Briquettes for Grilling and Smoking

Cooking is an art, and one of the fundamentals of excellent cooking is heat management. The transfer of heat energy into your food significantly alters the chemical makeup and in extension, the taste of your food.

If done right, you will get food that is tasty, nutritious, with enhanced juiciness, flavors, and composition. But, if done wrong, you will either settle for burnt meat or end up with raw meat.

Choosing the right heat source is very important, and that’s the reason we have reviewed the best charcoal briquettes for grilling and smoking and provided other helpful information to inform your buying decision.

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Top 3 Recommendations

Companies manufacturing briquettes are not in the business for a quick sale, it is a constant purchase marketplace, and they strive to have good quality products for the price they sell it.

However, though they look similar, as in all things, they are not all created equal. Thus, some briquettes are better than others.

The top 3 charcoal briquettes are described in the table below.

Editor's Choices
Kingsford Original Charcoal Briquettes, 7.7 Pound Bag (Pack of 2) (Packaging May Vary)*
Charcoal Masters Hookah Coals Instant Light - Premium Charcoal Briquettes for Hookah Set, Smoking,...*
Best Selling
Royal Oak Chef's Select Premium Hardwood Charcoal Briquettes for Outdoor Patio Grills and Smokers,...*
100% natural
Fast Lighting
Price
$18.99
$9.20
$31.99
Prime
-
-
Customer Rating's
Best Feature
The Charcoal Briquettes with Sure Fire Grooves For a Fast Lighting
Best Charcoal Briquettes For Hookah
Best for All Types of Smokers and Grills
Editor's Choices
Kingsford Original Charcoal Briquettes, 7.7 Pound Bag (Pack of 2) (Packaging May Vary)*
100% natural
Fast Lighting
Price
$18.99
Prime
-
Customer Rating's
Best Feature
The Charcoal Briquettes with Sure Fire Grooves For a Fast Lighting
Charcoal Masters Hookah Coals Instant Light - Premium Charcoal Briquettes for Hookah Set, Smoking,...*
100% natural
Fast Lighting
Price
$9.20
Prime
Customer Rating's
Best Feature
Best Charcoal Briquettes For Hookah
Best Selling
Royal Oak Chef's Select Premium Hardwood Charcoal Briquettes for Outdoor Patio Grills and Smokers,...*
100% natural
Fast Lighting
Price
$31.99
Prime
-
Customer Rating's
Best Feature
Best for All Types of Smokers and Grills

8 of the Best Charcoal Briquettes

Kingsford Original Charcoal Briquettes – The Charcoal Briquettes with Sure Fire Grooves For a Fast Lighting

Kingsford is the brand of briquettes used for grilling and other related cooking. It is a company began by Henry Ford, and the #1 best-selling brand for charcoal briquettes in North America.

Kingsford makes many different formulations, but the original charcoal briquettes are their bread-and-butter. There is a possibility that you have been to a barbecue where these briquettes were the charcoal of choice.

The Kingsford Original Charcoal Briquettes will make your grilling easy and fun. They come with Sure Fire Grooves that have edges for fast lighting. Also, these coals heat quickly after ignition. In about 15 minutes, you will be ready to start cooking.

They are made from 100% natural wood and natural ingredients thus, the product generates authentic smoky flavor. These natural, high-quality additives also ensure long burn performance, helping you grill your meat longer than other conventional charcoal brands.

The briquettes come in a 7.7-pound bag, making it perfect for picnics, and tailgate grilling. With the Kingsford Original Charcoal Briquettes, all your cookouts will be delicious.

This product, like many other premium brands, comes with cost-reducing fillers, but they are all-natural. It does not contain any lighter fluid or chemicals, and all ingredients used in the manufacturing process are sourced within North America.

The Kingsford Original Charcoal Briquettes won’t burn as hot or as long as some other premium brands, but they are more than sufficient to cater to your typical campground or backyard barbecue.

Pros
  • 100% natural wood and ingredients
  • Comes in a 7.7-pound bag
  • Sure Fire Grooves for a fast lighting
Cons
  • Does not burn as hot and as long as some other premium brands

Charcoal Masters Hookah Coals Instant Light Charcoal Briquettes - Best Charcoal Briquettes For Hookah

We looked around, and it seems as though the Hookah coals are one of the customer's favorites! It's no wonder this is the case as the product offers budget-friendly pricing and terrific quality! But, let's take a closer look.

To begin with, these Charcoal Masters coal briquettes will offer a whole different experience! You can finally enjoy your favorite flavor without worrying about the aftertaste.

But, one of the best qualities these coal briquettes offer is that they provide instant light and allow for a slow burn that lasts up to 45 minutes.

The quality is nothing to be worried about as these ones are made out of 100% natural coconut shell! Since they are made from natural ingredients, they are odorless and flavorless.

Hence, you can sit back and enjoy the rich aroma of shisha. The Charcoal Master briquettes are also a great value deal! This set includes a pack of 10 rolls with ten capsules each.

We love that these briquettes offer a smooth and consistent flame. There are no flare-ups or heavy smoke once you light them up. Plus, they light up quickly with a match or a lighter.

Lastly, you can use them for various occasions and purposes, from shisha to incense burning, where it allows you to enjoy aromatherapy or a relaxing spa day.

Pros
  • Affordable price
  • Great value deal
  • Even and smooth smoke
  • Versatile
  • Made from 100% coconut shell
  • Burn for 45 minutes
Cons
  • Some report a chemical smell

Royal Oak Chef's Select Charcoal Briquettes - Best for All Types of Smokers and Grills

Moving on with the list, we have the Royal Oak Chef's charcoal briquettes that will amaze you. With the budget-friendly price and even better quantity, the bag of briquettes will last for a long time! It's time you bring your grilling skills to a new level!

The Royal Oak Chef's Select briquettes come in a 40-pound bag. They are made from premium quality American hickory and oak hardwood with no artificial chemicals and ingredients.

These briquettes are designed to work well with high and low temperatures so that you can use them for smoking and grilling. Compared to the traditional charcoal lumps, these briquettes leave minimal ash residue.

If you already didn't know the benefits of hardwood charcoal, then you should know it works perfectly for ceramic smokers and grills, non-ceramic and traditional smokers!

The versatility is endless, and these Royal Oak Chef's Select briquettes are designed to bring out the best aroma from the smoked or grilled produce.

However, some of the customers commented that these briquettes burn out relatively quickly. Therefore, they are not the best choice if you prefer a long and slow burn, so they might suit those who need a quick grill.

Also, the delivery is not that great. Many of the bags get damaged in the process, so that you might expect a bit of a mess.

Pros
  • Affordable
  • Produces little ash
  • Made from hickory and oak hardwood
  • Suitable for all grills and smokers
Cons
  • Poor package quality
  • Burns quickly

Original Natural Charcoal Hardwood Briquettes – The Chef-Grade Charcoal Briquettes

Want to stay slim and fit by eating healthy food you enjoy?

With these 100% natural charcoal briquettes, it’s possible. This way, you will be free from cancer-causing carcinogens while still able to grill and eat your favorite meal.

While other briquettes take forever to get lit, burn and then smell badly after the painful wait; Original Natural Charcoal Hardwood Briquettes are made from natural premium materials, and light up really quick without producing a spark, smoke, and producing minimum ash.

This means in less than 10 minutes, you can set up your barbecue, and with a couple more minutes, you will be serving recipes infused with a delicious smoky, sweet, and delightful flavor.

Because these Original Natural Charcoal charcoal briquettes are made from 100% natural hardwood briquettes, the first thing you will notice is how easy they burn. You won’t need a lighter fluid or any synthetic chemical to ignite.

This chef-grade briquette charcoal is produced with pitmasters and barbecue lovers in mind. Whether you are competing against one of the best pitmasters in the world or looking to prepare a lovely meal for your family, this charcoal will help you make a barbecue that will rival high-end diners.

If for any reason, this charcoal fails to meet your cooking expectations, it comes with a 30 days 100% refund guarantee. So, what do you have to lose?

Pros
  • Light up quick
  • Made from 100% all-natural hardwood
  • No fillers and additives
  • Chef grade
Cons
  • They burn fast

Kingsford Charcoal Briquettes – The Long-Lasting Charcoal Briquettes

The Kingsford Charcoal Briquettes are easy to use and contain 100% natural materials. They are made with real hardwood and contain zero synthetic additives. You won’t incur an additional expense on a lighter fluid as this product does not require any. This is because it features a Sure Fire Grooves that allows for easy lighting.

These charcoal briquettes are also great at keeping a uniform heat spread in your smoker and do not burn out quickly. Thus, they are perfect for sporting events like tailgating, backyard parties’ picnics, and camping.

With these briquettes, you will get a perfectly crisp, smoky flavor in your meats, which won’t be annoyingly overwhelming. However, some users have difficulty using these charcoal briquettes as the instructions for use can be confusing to newbies.

The Kingsford Charcoal Briquettes also ignite quickly, and the fire can get up to 12 inches in height instantly. Managing this fire may be challenging for people new to smoking, but as a pro, this won’t be much of a problem.

This single-use bag is convenient and portable to use, which allows you to grill your food anywhere.

However, despite zero chemical additives, some users have complained about a chemical taste and smell when this charcoal is used for cooking.

Pros
  • Consistent heat
  • Contains 100% natural materials
  • Easy lighting
  • Inexpensive
Cons
  • Learning curves vary with directions
  • Strong odor

Bayou Classic 500-416 – The Charcoal Briquettes Made From 100% High-Density Hardwood

The Bayou Classic is not a household name as the other brands on the list, but it consistently ranks near the top with many positive reviews. These are high-quality briquettes made from high-density hardwood charcoal.

The Bayou Classic 500-416 burns hotter than many conventional briquettes on the market, so get ready to sear like a pitmaster. It burns longer, too –a lot longer. This offers superior smoking and grilling performance.

In addition to burning long, these briquettes are bound together with a 100% natural cornstarch, and they don’t contain any synthetic filler such as chemical additives, sawdust, or crushed limestone. With these briquettes, you will enjoy true grilling flavor devoid of chemical taste and aroma.

It also comes with an enhanced ridge in the middle of each charcoal, which makes lighting super-fast. They heat up quickly too, meaning, there will be less waiting time to get started with your cooking.

This product doesn’t contain coal, and very little of anything else, except high-density hardwood, which translates to clean and nice, natural smoke flavor anytime you cook.

However, some users complain it is difficult to ignite the first time.

Pros
  • 100% natural briquettes
  • Produce less ash
  • Infuse natural grilling flavor to food
  • Consistent burn and long-lasting
Cons
  • Difficult to ignite the first time

Duraflame Cowboy 26014 Cowboy Hardwood Briquettes - Best Charcoal Briquettes for a Slow Burn

The Duraflame Cowboy natural briquettes offer a long-lasting burn with even heat and an even better smoky aroma! If you are searching for briquettes that can deliver a long burn for your slow cooking process, then we suggest you take a look at these!

They are made from 100% natural hardwood charcoal with no harmful and harsh chemicals. They only deliver a natural smokey aroma to the meat, so you don't have to worry about the unpleasant coal smell.

They include natural elements and contain no filters or additives like standard briquettes with filters like limestone.

One of the reasons why so many customers trust these Duraflame Cowboy briquettes is their burning delivery. They will offer a long and even burning process for those low-and-slow methods.

The reason for their slow and equal burn is the pillow shape. Since all of the briquets are the same in size and shape, you will get a much better grilling and smoking delivery.

However, these Duraflame Cowboy charcoal briquettes are a bit pricey when we compare them to other models. This could potentially be a deal-breaker for some, but we assure you the quality is worth the price.

Also, you will notice that the bag contains a bit more charcoal dust than usual. This does not mean a lot, but it will result in little product waste.

Pros
  • Allows for a slow burn
  • High-quality hardwood
  • No chemicals or additives
  • Pillow shape
  • Easy to light up
  • Delivers rich aroma
Cons
  • Slightly expensive than other briquettes
  • Dusty

B&B Charcoal Slow Burning Oak Charcoal Briquettes - Best Competition Charcoal Briquettes

There is nothing better than firing up a grill on a Sunday afternoon! If charcoal briquettes are your fuel of choice, we highly recommend you take a look at these B&B slow-burning oak briquettes. 

It's time you bring it up a notch and start using high-quality charcoal briquettes.

These B&B Charcoal charcoal briquettes are made from pure oak wood with no harsh and harmful chemicals added, for starters. They are available in a 17,6-pound bag which is an extraordinary amount for a few grilling sessions.

Since they are made from natural ingredients, they will deliver the best smoky aroma to the meat. Plus, these briquettes burn pretty hotly, so they can cook the meat better and lock in the BBQ flavor!

They are also ideal for competition! This is one of the reasons this is our go-to pick. You can use them for pitmaster competitions, and your award is guaranteed!

One of their most significant benefits is that they are easy to use. All you should do is pile them up in the grill fire pit and spark the flames. Therefore, if you are a beginner, you will love the easy use!

The only downside we found was the price. For some, they are rather pricey when you compare it to other competition-suitable briquettes, but you get what you paid for.

You can only expect high-quality from these B&B Charcoal briquettes, nothing else!

Pros
  • Great burn delivery
  • Suitable for pitmaster competitions
  • Made from pure oak wood
  • Burns longer
  • No chemicals added
  • Easy to use
  • Bring smokey aroma
Cons
  • Slightly pricy

What Is Correct - Briquette or Briquet?

best charcoal for smoking

Both spellings are used interchangeably online by users and manufacturers, and you may wonder what the correct spelling is.

It is a French word, and the original spelling is “briquette,” which means “small brick.” The spelling briquet is the Americanized version of the original (We wonder why it’s not spelled as “brickette” instead).

Anyway, both spellings are acceptable, but as a French word, the briquette is pronounced “brick-ay.”

What’s the Difference Between Briquettes and Lump Charcoal?

Charcoal comes in two primary forms: briquettes and lump charcoal. What’s the difference? They both have peculiarities and differences, pros, and cons.

The answer will help you determine the best for your cooking experience.

1. Briquettes

Briquettes are an excellent choice for smokers. They last longer and maintain a steady hot temperature for longer periods. They are usually made from sawdust, and often have additives like coal, cornstarch and many more.

Briquettes are mostly cheaper than lump charcoal, but this can be a result of additives like lighter fluid in them.

Briquettes come in small compact forms and consistent shapes which makes it easier to arrange them flat in a smoker. However, briquettes are a bit more difficult to light than lump charcoal and produce more ash.


2. Lump Charcoal

best charcoal for weber kettle

Lump charcoal is pure charcoal that is free from additives. It is made by burning wood without oxygen, the process drives off all moisture and residual gases, leaving behind pure carbon, often in the shape of the wood piece that was processed.

You won’t find two bags of lump charcoal containing the same sized pieces. It is more expensive, burns faster, and it’s hotter than briquettes. Lump charcoal is more natural and purer, it contains no additives whatsoever.

You need more experience and close supervision to use lump charcoal for cooking. You may run into problems if you do not know how to adjust your air vents on your smoker when it burns very hot.

What to Consider When Buying the Best Charcoal Briquettes

Before picking the best charcoal briquettes for your grill, the following are factors to consider.

1. Time

Consider the time you want to spend grilling your meat to decide what type of charcoal briquettes to buy. While briquettes generally take a bit longer to light, some heat and light faster than others. Some briquettes will grill your meat in about 30 minutes, while others may require a longer amount of time.

Ensure whatever briquettes you choose will fit well into your pre-planned cooking time frame.

2. Beware of Synthetic Additives

Cheaper brands of briquettes will often add synthetic additives like lighter fluid to their products. Not only will this introduce a chemical taste to your food, but it is also bad for your health and the environment.

These additives will increase your cooking time because you need to wait for the fluid to burnout before you can cook.

3. Temperature

Temperature plays a significant role in the ultimate taste of your food. Settle for a briquette that burns uniformly and maintains a steady heat for long periods.

Learn how to control your air vents if the briquettes get too hot for your meat.

Ingredients in Charcoal Briquettes

Manufacturers use different types of ingredients in making their briquettes. A small one-man-band briquette maker will likely use a set of ingredients sourced locally.

In general, the ingredients used in making briquettes will fall into one or more in the following categories.

  • Release agent – borax
  • Filler – silica, clay, soil, etc.
  • Colorant – lime, calcium carbonate, and limestone
  • Accelerants – sawdust, waxes, and sodium nitrate
  • Binder – all types of starch, clay, kaolin, and cement
  • Heat fuel – biomass, coal, mineral carbon, charcoal fines, and wood charcoal.

FAQs

Our charcoal briquettes toxic?

It is known that charcoal briquettes emit carbon monoxide. It would help if you never used them inside as they do not create smoke, so there is no visual warning of carbon monoxide.

From numerous researches done by the American Cancer Association, any meat that has been exposed to high charcoal temperature can potentially develop cancerogenic substances.

Also, charcoal can be rather irritating for some in terms of respiratory infections.


How long do charcoal briquettes last?

weber charcoal briquettes

Many people opt for charcoal briquettes as they will offer a long burn time of 8-10 hours, whereas regular charcoal only lasts for around 4-6 hours.

But, the burning time would not be impressive at all if you didn't take care of the fire progress afterward. Make sure you always control the airflow and throw in more fuel if needed.


How to make charcoal briquettes?

For homemade charcoal briquettes, you will need water, crushed charcoal, and clay. Mix the soil clay with the crushed charcoal and add water. Mix it all to create a compact paste and start compressing the mixture into the shape of your choice.

You can either get a particular mold or form equal balls.


How many charcoal briquettes to use for 250 degrees?

Two hundred fifty degrees is a reasonably low temperature, so you will need to arrange the ignited briquettes on a layer across the chimney.

You will need around 50-60 charcoal briquettes for this kind of temperature, but this all depends on how long you plan to keep the 250-degree temperature.

Conclusion

Whether you are new to smoking, or already a pro, your charcoal briquettes of choice can affect your entire meal. All the products in the review above are top quality. They will give you a good burn time, and leave little ash behind.

For the best quality and to achieve a rich smoky flavor, we recommend the Kingsford Original Charcoal Briquettes. They are easy to light and made from 100% natural materials.

You do not need an ignition fuel to start cooking, saving you the stress of needing to ignite with hay or firewood before use.

With the options above, you will experience little or no problem. Your grilling experience will be easy and smooth while still getting the best possible taste.

We love to hear about your charcoal-briquette-grilling experiences. Please feel free to use the comment box below.

Sale
Kingsford Original Charcoal Briquettes, 7.7 Pound Bag (Pack of 2) (Packaging May Vary)*
  • Two 7.7 pound bags of Charcoal Briquettes
  • Ready to cook in about 15 minutes, 25% faster as compared to other nationally available charcoal brands
  • Sure Fire Grooves help coals light faster
  • More edges for quick, easy lighting as compared to other nationally available charcoal brands
  • Made in the USA with 100% natural North American ingredients and real wood

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