6 Best Charcoal Briquettes (2024 Updated) Buyer's Guide

Timothy Woods
Published by Timothy Woods
Last Updated On: November 9, 2023

Years behind a charcoal grill have given me a keen eye for top-quality briquettes—and a nose for the not-so-great ones. So what's the best charcoal for your grill?

To end the guesswork, I rolled up my sleeves and put six popular brands to the ultimate test. Read on to find out which briquette takes the crown, and why some options should be left gathering dust on the store shelf.

The Best Charcoal Briquettes

Our Top 6 Charcoal Briquettes:

1

1 - Weber 17950 Briquettes (Best Overall & Large Size)

Weber
Quality
5.0
Price
4.9
Overall Score
5.0

The Weber 17950 Briquettes may not be known for grills, but they do produce some of the best charcoal briquettes around.

Just like all the other premium brands listed here, there are no added chemicals in this lump charcoal.

What sets these briquettes apart, in my experience, is their size. They're slightly larger than most brands, meaning you don't need a heap to get your grill going.

This is particularly useful for those of us who are experienced grillers and know the value of efficient fuel.

In terms of performance, these briquettes burn hot and sustain that heat for an extended period. As someone who loves long grilling sessions, this is a feature I can't ignore.

These are also some of the best charcoal briquettes when it comes to value. Even though these briquettes are rather inexpensive, they don’t sacrifice quality and consistency.

They also come in waterproof, resalable, and recyclable packaging - which is great for your carbon footprint.

Pros
  • Inexpensive
  • Extended burning time
  • Waterproof and recyclable packaging
Cons
  • No design enhancements for an easy light
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2

2 - Royal Oak Premium Charcoal Briquettes (Best Hardwood)

Royal-Oak
Quality
5.0
Price
4.5
Overall Score
4.8

If you've never heard of Royal Oak premium charcoal briquettes, you're not alone—but you're also missing out. I stumbled upon these hidden gems during one of my many grilling adventures, and I was pleasantly surprised.

Made almost entirely from 100% hardwood lump charcoal sourced from hickory trees, these briquettes stand out for their chemical-free composition. As someone who values clean grilling, I found the absence of coal and chemicals a breath of fresh air—literally.

The hickory origins not only yield a cleaner smoke but also contribute to a longer burn time and a delicious, distinct flavor. It's something I noticed right away when I fired up the grill; the smoky undertones were richer and more nuanced.

The design of the Royal Oak briquettes is worth mentioning as well. They feature an enhanced ridge around the middle, which I found makes lighting them a breeze. Within just a few minutes, my grill was hot and ready for cooking.

Pros
  • Burns hotter than most brands
  • Easy to use
  • No harmful chemicals - just natural hardwood charcoal briquettes
  • Enhanced flavor
Cons
  • Can be a little pricey
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3

3 - Jealous Devil All Natural Hardwood Lump Charcoal - 20LB (Best Natural)

Jealous-Devil
Quality
4.8
Price
4.5
Overall Score
4.7

Jealous Devil isn't exactly a big name in the world of charcoal grilling, but I found it to be quite noteworthy. Their Jealous Devil All Natural Hardwood Lump Charcoal comes from South America, and is made from a mix of oak and hickory. This blend, in my experience, adds an interesting layer of flavor to the meat.

The mild flavor profile of this charcoal works well for different kinds of meat, including fish. I've used it in various recipes and found it added a nuanced smoky taste without overpowering the natural flavors of the food.

On the performance front, these briquettes have been reliable. They burn up to 12 hours under optimal conditions and create minimal ash, which makes cleanup easier. Additionally, I haven't had issues with them splitting or popping, which can be a nuisance during longer grilling sessions.

One practical aspect I appreciated was how quickly they light. Many charcoals need lighter fluid or additional aids, but these briquettes ignited quite easily on their own. This feature is helpful whether you're new to grilling or a seasoned pro looking for a straightforward experience

Pros
  • Produces an intense heat
  • Doesn’t leave a lot of coal dust
  • All-natural charcoal
Cons
  • The packaging could be better
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4

4 - Kingsford Original Charcoal Briquettes (Cheapest & Best Smokey Aroma)

Kingsford
Quality
4.0
Price
4.5
Overall Score
4.3

Third on our list is Kingsford's Original Charcoal Briquettes, a brand that many are already familiar with. I've used Kingsford for several of my own grilling sessions, and it's been generally reliable.

While these briquettes may not be the top-tier option available, they are decent performers that offer good value. In my experience, they provide a consistent burn and high heat, which is useful for a range of grilling tasks.

It's worth mentioning that these aren't pure charcoal briquettes; they contain additional natural ingredients. However, I haven't noticed any adverse effects, like off-flavors, in the food I've cooked with them.

What stood out to me was their groove design. This feature seems to help with lighting and airflow. I've been able to stack the coals and still get a consistent burn, usually having them ready to cook on in around 15 minutes.

Pros
  • Will burn hotter than most brands
  • Adds great smoky flavor to your food
  • Uniform shape so no hot-spots
Cons
  • Produces more ash than most
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5

5 - Duraflame Cowboy Natural Hardwood Briquettes (Minimal Ash Residue)

Cowboy
Quality
4.5
Price
4.0
Overall Score
4.3

Duraflame Cowboy Natural Hardwood Briquettes may be one of the best briquettes you can choose if you’re looking for a premium brand.

These briquettes are made from hardwood lump charcoal, such as American oak and hickory, and the ingredients are all-natural. Not only does this make charcoal grilling healthy, but it also produces minimal ash.

In my experience, the wood gives off an authentic smoky flavor that enhances the food without overshadowing it. The briquettes also heat up quickly—in under 15 minutes, they reach their maximum heat level, which tends to be hotter than most other brands I've tried.

Since each briquette produces a nice woody taste, they’re great for both grilling and smoking. These quality briquettes are also designed to make even heat, ensuring your food is cooking all the way through.

Pros
  • Premium ingredients
  • Minimal ash production
  • Burns hot
Cons
  • Can be a little pricey
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6

6 - Kingsford Charcoal Professional Briquettes

Kingsford-Charcoal-Professional-Briquettes
Quality
4.0
Price
4.0
Overall Score
4.0

Heading back down Kingsford Road, our 5th instant light charcoal briquettes on the list are the Charcoal Professional Briquettes from Kingsford.

You can use these briquettes to grill, slow-smoke, and sear your food since they can burn red hot and maintain great temperature.

What makes them practical for me is their quick lighting time. I've noticed they're ready to use in about 10 minutes, which is convenient when I want to get cooking without much delay. Another advantage is their low ash production, which simplifies the post-cooking cleanup.

I should mention that these aren't pure charcoal or hardwood briquettes. However, Kingsford claims that the ingredients are 100% natural, and I haven't detected any off-flavors or chemical aftertastes in the food I've cooked using them.

Pros
  • Produce little ash
  • Ready within 10 minutes
  • 100% natural ingredients
Cons
  • Recent price increase
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Charcoal Briquettes Buyer’s Guide:

Top view of charcoal briquette black background

There are a few things to look out for when purchasing charcoal briquettes for your grill. Every brand is different and has a range of different things to offer.

Here is a quick summary of the things you want:

  • Thin edges for easy lighting
  • Fire grooves for maximum airflow
  • Uniform sizes for even heat and effective charcoal pile
  • 100% hardwood lump charcoal
  • Fewer fillers for less ash

Things you should avoid when buying charcoal briquettes:

  • Added chemicals such as lighter fluid, corn starch, or sodium nitrate
  • Wood scraps and fillers as they create more ash

Charcoal briquettes will include “100% hardwood lump charcoal” on the packaging. This means that the briquettes don't come from any unwanted sources such as pallets, sawdust, and scrap wood. They also won’t be mixed with any anthracite coal - like cheaper briquettes on the market.

You should also avoid self-lighting briquettes. These things are usually sprayed with all sorts of chemicals to make lighting easier. It will just transfer unwanted chemicals and tastes onto your food.

1. Burning Time

Charcoal

Burning time is probably one of the most important things to look out for when buying a new brand of charcoal briquettes. There’s no point in spending a ton of money on some fancy briquettes that only burn for an hour.

When using charcoal for grilling, you don’t have much flexibility with cooking methods such as smoking or searing as you do with gas grilling.

If you would like to try out either of these methods, you will have to find charcoal that provides a long cooking time to power through your meals.

Lump charcoal (considered ‘pure carbon’) will burn shorter than charcoal briquettes since these have a more uniform shape.

Each company will state an approximate burn time for their charcoals; however, the size and shape of your grill will also affect this. [1]

2. Burning Temperature

It will also depend on what type of cooking process and food you’re looking to cook. Since many charcoal grills don’t have insulation, the heat of the charcoal will vary each time you cook.

This could have something to do with the weather, how many charcoals you use, and similar.

“Charcoal or gas. Both give excellent results, so choose the one that best suits your style of cooking.”
- Bobby Flay, Chef

Charcoal briquettes burn at a lower temperature, but they do so more evenly. Lump coal is better for hot and fast burning - aka great for searing.

3. Easy Lighting

Another important thing to note is how long the charcoal takes to light. Some charcoal briquettes have a special shape that helps the charcoal catch fire easier. Keep an eye out for thin edges as they burn easier.

You can also use a charcoal chimney starter if you’re having trouble starting your grill. [2]

4. Ash

Charcoal briquettes turning into ash close up image

No one enjoys cleaning up a pile of ash, or even worse, having ash blow all around your food as you cook. Burning charcoal will always produce ash, and there isn’t any way to avoid it.

You can purchase certain types of charcoal briquettes that bring down ash production considerably.

The best briquette will have no added fillers or additives such as sawdust or wood scraps since these cause excessive ash. However, some ash is good since it helps insulate the coals.

Certain grills, such as ceramic grills, should use lump coal since a large amount of ash isn’t good for them. A larger charcoal grill will be able to handle ash a lot better.

Read More: What To Do With Charcoal Ash?

5. Package Size

Different brands of charcoal briquette with white outer line

There is no set package size for charcoal briquettes - it all depends on the company and what they offer. Some companies offer both 20 and 40-lb bags, which are perfect if you’ve already decided that you love the brand and are going to keep using them.

“I prefer lump charcoal over briquettes, but I do use both for different reasons and different recipes. Sometimes, I combine them both when I really want the woodsy aroma from the lump charcoal and long, even heat from the briquettes.”
- Bobby Flay, Chef

If you’re buying briquettes during grilling season, purchasing a big bag is ideal. That way, you won’t run out of charcoal mid-grill and struggle to find more. Plus, you’ll always save more money with larger bulk purchases.

You can also opt for a smaller pack such as 12lbs if you’re unsure of the brand and how it holds up. Single-size packs are also available.

Not only is this super convenient, but ideal if you’re not looking to grill more than once or twice in a season.

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FAQs

Are Charcoal Briquettes Safe?

Yes, charcoal briquettes are safe if you use the right ones. If you want to make sure you’re using safe briquettes - don’t skimp on price.

Do You Need to Use Lighter Fluids on Charcoal Briquettes?

No, you do not need to use lighter fluids on charcoal briquettes. These days, companies have found a way around this lighting problem, and briquettes burn without the need for extra fuel, unlike wood chips.

Not only do lighter fluids create a chemical taste on your grill, but it is also quite dangerous.

If you’ve found yourself a good brand of briquettes, all you will need is a match or a lighter fluid to get them started.

Is Charcoal Environmentally Friendly?

Using charcoal isn’t too harmful to the environment. It does create more greenhouse gases compared to gas grills. However, you can reduce these if you search for sustainably sourced charcoal. [3]

You can choose charcoal made in America if you want to reduce the transportation carbon footprint. Another option is charcoal made from coconut husks. They can be harvested much quicker than hardwood charcoal.

How Do I Know When the Briquettes Are Ready?

You’ll know your briquettes are ready when the edges begin to turn grey. As they get hotter, the briquettes will form ash which will fall into the grill, revealing a fine layer of gray ash over the charcoal. Once they look like this, they are ready to be grilled.

Most briquettes will take 10 - 15 minutes to heat; however, they should have a recommended time depending on the brand.

Which Brand of Charcoal Briquettes Is the Best?

All of the briquettes mentioned today are worthy competitors. However, our winner is the Weber 17950 Briquettes, mainly because they don't contain chemicals and have a fantastic burning time.

Among all the brands I tried, I feel like it produces the best flavor and holds the best temperature without leaving behind any unwanted chemical tastes in the food.

It is also affordable and packed in high-quality waterproof, and recyclable packaging. So, Weber 17950 Briquettes is perfect for people new to grilling and those who would consider themselves grill masters.


Weber 17950 Briquettes (Best Overall & Large Size)

Our #1 Recommendation

  • Inexpensive
  • Extended burning time
  • Waterproof and recyclable packaging
  • Get the BEST PRICE until the end of February
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One thought on “6 Best Charcoal Briquettes (2024 Updated) Buyer’s Guide

  1. Consider trying out Olivette organic charcoal briquettes as an alternative to traditional lump charcoal briquettes! You may be surprised by the difference in flavor.

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