Best charcoal briquettes | For quality, flavorful and long lasting BBQ

by Joost Nusselder | Last Updated:  August 17, 2021

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Summertime is all about spending time around the grill with family and friends and making memories that last a lifetime. But that won’t happen if your charcoal burns down too quickly, and the meal is cut short!

All good grillers know that the fuel is a massive part of what makes a good BBQ.

If you’re using charcoal briquettes, they not only add to the flavor, they also influence the cooking time and overall quality of the food.

Best charcoal briquettes for the keen griller

My personal favorite briquette brand is Kingsford Original Charcoal because I love the innovative ‘Sure Fire Grooves’ that help the briquettes light faster. They also create very little ash or smoke and add a delicious, balanced flavor to the food I’m cooking.

I’ve detailed four of my favorite briquettes in the article below to help you figure out which one would suit your grilling needs and preferences.

Best charcoal briquettes Image
Best overall charcoal briquettes for the keen griller: Kingsford Original Best overall briquette for the keen griller- Kingsford Original

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Best old-school charcoal briquettes: Duraflame Cowboy Brand Natural Hardwood Best old-school charcoal briquettes- Duraflame Cowboy Natural Hardwood

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Best charcoal briquettes for a smoky flavor: Royal Oak Chef’s Select Best charcoal briquettes for a smoky flavor- Royal Oak Ridge Natural

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Best eco-friendly charcoal briquettes: BlackBear HEX LOGS Best eco-friendly charcoal briquettes- BlackBear HEX LOGS

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Tips for buying charcoal briquettes

When choosing the right briquettes, you want to make sure that the charcoal you chose burns long and hot enough to deliver perfectly cooked meat.

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How to buy a bbq smoker video

So, how can you determine a good briquette from a poor one?

There are a number of factors to consider including moisture content, calorific value, ash removal, and resistance to humidity and airflow.

The frustrating part about buying charcoal briquettes is that you can’t see inside the bag before you buy it! So you have no idea if the briquettes are broken up into tiny pieces, or if it’s going to be the perfect option for your BBQ.

If you’ve never used charcoal briquettes before, I’d advise you to buy a bag of the best briquettes you can afford. That way, you will know what to look out for in terms of quality.

The things you should check are:

Added chemicals?

Avoid charcoal briquettes that contain lighter fluid or any other chemicals that make it “easier” to start the fire.

What you really need is a charcoal chimney starter to help you get the coals burning, you don’t need loads of potentially harmful chemicals!

Also read: How to Light Charcoal Without Lighter Fluid Made Simple

Fillers

The more fillers, the more ash will be left for you to clean up. Fillers do, however, make briquettes burn longer.

A few fillers are fine, but make sure they are non-toxic. Avoid chemical fillers at all times.

Shape of briquettes & leftover debris

After opening, check the shape of the briquettes. Are all the pieces relatively the same size? Are there any unidentified elements at the bottom of the bag that could indicate a low-quality product?

The briquettes should be intact, and there shouldn’t be a lot of debris or dust left in the bag.

Also read my review of the best lump charcoal – Don’t go for low grade fuel!

The best charcoal briquettes reviewed

Now you know what to look for in a quality briquette, I’ve shared four of my top products below, and the reasons I would recommend them to family and friends.

Best overall charcoal briquettes for the keen griller: Kingsford Original

Best overall briquette for the keen griller- Kingsford Original

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As the leading manufacturer of charcoal in North America, Kingsford makes sure its products are of excellent quality. You can see this in their original charcoal briquettes.

This product makes BBQ grilling fun and easy, as it only takes around 15 minutes for your briquettes to be ready to use.

The company also manufactures their briquettes from real wood and high-quality natural ingredients to guarantee long burn performance. The charcoal delivers an authentic smoky flavor for your barbecue chicken and ribs.

Kingsford Original briquettes also feature Sure Fire Grooves for faster lighting. The grooves facilitate airflow between the briquettes to achieve more even heat—no more hot spots.

Thanks to a quick start and consistent heat, you can savor the taste of your delicious meal with friends and family without any hassles.

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Best old-school charcoal briquettes: Duraflame Cowboy Brand Natural Hardwood

Best old-school charcoal briquettes- Duraflame Cowboy Natural Hardwood

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The Cowboy all-natural charcoal briquettes are made up of 95% hardwood charcoal and 5% vegetable binder. They are 100% all-natural and contain no color or chemicals.

The pillow shape is the original briquette shape, which some die-hard grillers swear by. No ‘fancy’ grooves or shapes, these briquettes are authentic originals.

They provide an extremely clean burn with very little ash and are definitely worth the price.

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Best charcoal briquettes for a smoky flavor: Royal Oak Chef’s Select

Best charcoal briquettes for a smoky flavor- Royal Oak Ridge Natural

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This is a very popular brand, which has a lot of respect from grillers around the world. This premium charcoal briquette from Royal Oak features a proprietary ridge shape to provide better airflow and faster lighting.

The unique shape also promotes faster ash development (so you can start cooking sooner), hotter burn, and more even cooking to produce perfect grill conditions.

True to its promise of producing premium quality charcoal briquettes, Royal Oak manufactures this briquette from quality ingredients to deliver that bold, smoky flavor that BBQ lovers want.

The product also burns hotter and longer than conventional products.

Even better, this charcoal lights up easily and comes up to cooking temperature quickly. It also produces very little ash during cooking.

All the above make for a superb briquette sure to result in a delicious meal.

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Another way to get that smoky flavor on your charcoal grill is by using wood pellets

Best eco-friendly charcoal briquettes: BlackBear HEX LOGS

Best eco-friendly charcoal briquettes- BlackBear HEX LOGS

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Easy to light, and offering a clean burn, the BlackBear Charcoal HEX LOGS are made with 100% natural coconut shells recycled from the food and beverage industry.

So not only will you be able to enjoy a delicious meal, you’ll also be contributing towards minimizing waste and saving the planet!

One of the things I like most about these logs is how little ash and smoke they create. I recommend them for camping and picnics as well as summertime BBQ events with friends and family.

While they are a little pricier than other briquettes, they do last long (they can even be reused!) and have the added benefit of being eco-friendly.

If you are done with cooking and want to reuse your briquettes for your next BBQ, just douse them with water and dry them out in the sun. Read more on how to put out a charcoal grill here.

Best eco-friendly charcoal briquettes- BlackBear HEX LOGS slow glowing

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FAQs about charcoal briquettes

What are the advantages of charcoal briquettes?

There are several basic advantages of briquettes.

What are the disadvantages of charcoal briquettes?

It does usually take a little longer to light the briquettes (depending on the brand). However, once they are lit, they retain heat for longer and produce far less ash.

Are briquettes or lump charcoal better?

Both types of fuel are great! The choice is dependent on your personal preference, and the type of cooking you’re going to do. I personally use briquettes for longer cooking sessions or longer smoking sessions.

I always use lump charcoal in my Kamado grills, and I prefer it for quick grilling too.

How long does it take before briquettes burn down, and I can start cooking my food?

Briquettes typically take around 15-20 minutes to burn down to a point where you can start cooking. Watch the coals, and when they are mostly covered in ash, you can start putting your food on the grid.

Takeaway

Any pro-griller knows that the quality of your BBQ depends on the fuel you use. So get the best charcoal briquettes for your grill and enjoy the ease and flavor!

Rather not deal with charcoal at all? Then a neat stainless steel gas grill might be the thing for you

Joost Nusselder, the founder of Lakeside Smokers is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with BBQ Smoking (& Japanese food!) at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.