Best Charcoal For Grilling

For consumers unaware, charcoal itself is actually a very diverse product. One would think that it would be as easy as researching for a few seconds to find the best version. Yet, there actually is a lot you have to think about it. For starters, ensure you actually own a charcoal grill as the substance will be useless in a gas model. But, there are different types and they offer different outcomes and performance. Some will burn longer than others, while others will produce enhanced flavor.

Below we have listed the top ten best charcoal for grilling in the market today, including detailed reviews for each product to help you decide which one suits your grilling requirements best. Before you shop for your next grill, the most important thing to keep in mind is what you plan on grilling. The types of meats you plan on cooking on a regular basis really influence the type of grilling temperature you need – and not all grills are created equal in this respect.  Read on to learn all about the best charcoal grills available to you so that you make all seasons BBQ season!

Last Updated: October 9, 2018
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By Melissa Coleiro:

This buying guide for charcoal for grilling has been put together to show you the best researched and reviewed product to help get the best tasting food when you grill. A great charcoal for grilling to keep your eye on is the Royal Oak known for not leaving a potent after taste and its ridge shape promoting quicker ash-over.

Fire & Flavor John Wayne
  • Fire & Flavor John Wayne
  • 5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Lumps can be used 3 times
  • Made from real trees
  • Price: See Here
Jealous Devil
  • Jealous Devil
  • 4.8 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Very easy to burn
  • Strict quality control
  • Price: See Here
Coshell Coconut
  • Coshell Coconut
  • 4.6 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Burns extremely hot
  • Doesn't leave a potent aftertaste
  • Price: See Here

10 Best Charcoal For Grilling Brands

Fire & Flavor John Wayne

Just as with the last product, many consumers simply feel you are not offered enough for the price of these next briquettes. Then again, a portion of all the sales of this is donated to the John Wayne Cancer Foundation, which is not a bad gig.
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Type and Design
While these are advertised as being briquettes, per one user, they are more like chunks of random sizes. But, they are made from oak and hickory.

Flavor Produced
The general consensus here is that the flavor is superb. Most buyers rave about the delivered flavor and given the hardwood composition that is not much of a surprise.

Quantity
Most users are fooled by the actual size provided here. Take note that each bag has a net weight of 8.3 pounds. But, they can be bought in packs of two or six.

Burning Efficiency
Based on the experiences of some users, it seems like these do not last as long as other top-end brands. In fact, one buyer noted they only got 20 minutes out of them.

Additives
As this is crafted of oak and hickory and is all-natural, there is no concern over added chemicals or additives.

Overall
Without a hint of doubt, there is a lot to like about this entry. Not the least of which is the tremendous flavor it adds to your meals and also the fact that it is crafted of all-natural hardwoods.
Pros

A portion of your money will be donated to the John Wayne Cancer Foundation

Produce a wonderful flavor

Can be bought in multiple packs

Cons

Many consumers feel this is overpriced

Others claim it can be difficult to get going

Jealous Devil

Ironically, this next entry is a lot like the previous but has the exact opposite issue amongst users. While the critical acclaim here is evident, some users were not fond of there being too many smaller pieces.
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Type and Design
Even though this lump charcoal is advertised with a higher ratio of large lumps, there have still been users to complain about the amount of smaller pieces present.

Flavor Produced
What is superb about the flavor that is provided is it is not overpowering. Instead, it adds a touch of mild smokiness to your favorite meats to take them over the top.

Quantity
To be honest, for most users, one 35-pound bag will be sufficient enough until they decide if they like this brand. But, you can buy a pack of two, if you desire.

Burning Efficiency
Jealous Devil claims that their product will burn twice as hot and three times as long as compared to traditional brands. If even slightly exaggerated, that is impressive.

Additives
As Jealous Devil points out, this has no extra chemicals or fillers at all. Instead, enjoy 100-percent natural flavor that will burn extremely cleanly and efficiently.

Overall
It is not really that difficult to see why this has garnered such praise. After all, it burns hotter and longer than traditional brands and adds no chemicals or additives in the slightest.
Pros

Produces no smoke or sparks

Extremely efficient burning

Only pure hardwood is used

Cons

There are a lot of very small pieces

Packaging has been an issue for some buyers

Coshell Coconut

Now, this one right here is mightily interesting. These briquettes are actually made of 100-percent recycled coconut shells. While this seems completely asinine on the surface, it actually makes for superb results.
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Type and Design
As just mentioned, this is nothing but recycled coconut shells. But, they are in the form of briquettes, so keep that in mind for folks who do not prefer them.

Flavor Produced
So, what kind of flavor could these actually produce? Well, there actually is no flavor that is added. For those fearing there meats would taste like coconut, fear no longer.

Quantity
If you want this to last for a long time, you will have to come back and buy more bags. The reason for this is they are offered in bags with a net weight of 3.3 pounds.

Burning Efficiency
As one buyer pointed out, they saw no noticeable difference in burning time when compared to other briquettes that they have used.

Additives
On top of being manufactured without the use of any harmful ingredients or petroleum, this brand is also nice as it saves on trees and burns fewer greenhouse gases.

Overall
It still seems absurd that coconut shells could result in such amazing charcoal. If you are still a skeptic, then get your hands on this and see for yourself.
Pros

No harmful ingredients are used

Fewer greenhouse gases are emitted

Burns longer than regular briquettes

Cons

The coals will leave black dust on your hand

Can be very hard to find in stores

Fogo Premium

Fogo Premium
Fogo presents one of the largest models on this list and they decided to craft their charcoal out of dense hardwood with no other additives included. Smart choice, Fogo.
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Type and Design
While some users may not like the massive chunks here, one can’t deny the overall design. Each piece is hand selected and made from dense Central American hardwood.

Flavor Produced
It seems like the flavor that this produces is second to none. The only ingredient is Oak hardwood and the smoky flavor that is provided is superb.

Quantity
As was alluded to, there is a very large quantity available. Of course, if the 35-pound bag is too immense for your liking, Fogo offers a 17.6-pound bag, as well.

Burning Efficiency
Did you know that Fogo means fire? Well, that is apropos here as the company designed their porous solids to light very quickly and burn extremely hot (easily being able to sear your meats).

Additives
There is no concern here over extra additives as this is made exclusively from dense hardwood trimmings with no other additional ingredients.

Overall
Even though some buyers have taken issue with the larger chunks and rather poor packaging, the performance of this design is almost unmatched and speaks for itself.
Pros

There are no fillers or chemicals

Made of Oak hardwood

Burns very hot and efficiently

Cons

Some users have commented on poor packaging

The larger chunks may not be ideal for some

KamadoJoe

KamadoJoe
The top product on this list consists of what is known as lump charcoal. One nice aspect about this specific type is that it burns extremely efficiently. But, the larger chunks may not be ideal for some users.
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Type and Design
Interestingly enough, the individual pieces of this product were crafted by Argentinian artisans. The result is chunks that are much larger than other brands (some exceeding four to seven inches in diameter).

Flavor Produced
Thanks to the fact that KamadoJoe only used real trees, when you cook with this, it will not only burn clean but will emit a robust wood-like flavor that will work its way onto your meats.

Quantity
KamadoJoe does have other quantity options available on the web but this one, in particular, comes in a six-pack (with each pack weighing 20 pounds).

Burning Efficiency
From just a single batch, this can burn 16 to 18 hours, which is remarkable. In addition to this, the lumps themselves can be used up to three times for maximum efficiency.

Additives
While some other brands are actually made of processed wood or scrap furniture, this is made from real trees and features no additives to worry about.

Overall
The only reason you may not be too fond of this top pick is if you prefer smaller chunks to work with. You can look far and deep, but you would be hard-pressed to find another reason.
Pros

Crafted by Argentinian artisans

The lumps can be used three times

Made from real trees

Cons

The chunks can be too large for some

Kingsford Briquettes

Kingsford Briquettes
Even if you have never grilled anything in your entire life, chances are, the logo or brand name of Kingsford will be recognizable to you. For most, it should be no surprise to see them make an appearance on this list.
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Type and Design
As the title spoiled, these are briquettes. One fancy feature about them, though, is that they have been crafted with Sure Fire Grooves. This allows the edges to light faster for enhanced efficiency.

Flavor Produced
Each individual briquette has been made with real wood and natural ingredients. The result for your meets is an enhanced smoky flavor that you will fall in love with.

Quantity
Kingsford actually gives you two options for quantity. You can either buy two bags with a net weight of 12.9 pounds or two bags with a weight of 7.7 pounds.

Burning Efficiency
As advertised, as compared to nationally available brands, this is going to get the party started 25 percent faster. Plus, the high-quality ingredients ensure a longer performance.

Additives
Each individual briquette of this package is made with all-natural ingredients and also out of real wood.

Overall
This is a strong example of why Kingsford is such a recognizable name. From a performance perspective, few brands can compete, let’s just say that.
Pros

Burns slow and hot

Made with real wood and natural ingredients

Feature Sure Fire Grooves

Cons

Several consumers note how it is cheaper elsewhere

Royal Oak

Royal Oak
Grilling enthusiasts around the world have raved about these all-natural briquettes for their peak performance and fantastic flavor.
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Type and Design
To promote superior airflow, these briquettes have been designed with a ridged shape. This feature optimizes overall performance by ensuring even heat and flavoring.

Flavor Produced
The flavor produced by this product is superior. What's more is that there is no potent aftertaste that detracts from the overall flavor achieved.

Quantity
This is offered in a seven-pound bag - just enough to test the waters if you are a new user. Then, if you like it, you can simply keep buying more and more. The bag size is also optimal for transporting if you are going camping or on a picnic for the day.

Burning Efficiency
In addition to the fact that Royal Oak Sales claims that this can heat your grill in around 15 minutes, the black solids themselves will burn hotter and longer than others.

Additives
These briquettes are made with all-natural renewable oak, hickory, maple and walnut from sustainable wood sources. There are no added chemicals either, which is why there is no aftertaste.

Overall
It is hard to argue with briquettes that offer this kind of performance. The efficiency and flavor of this product are hard to beat
Pros

The ridge shape promotes quicker ash-over

Burns extremely hot and clean

Does not leave a potent aftertaste

All-natural, sustainable ingredients

Cons

Some consumers were concerned that there may be traces of sawdust in this product

Only one size of bag offered

Rockwood

Rockwood
Rockwood Lump Charcoal is made from natural 100% ingredients with no fillers or chemicals. They are great for any type of smoker or grill which makes the perfect addition for anyone!
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Type and Design
In addition to the oak and hickory flavor there are also maple and pecan tastes.

Flavor Produced
As one consumer explained, the flavor produced by these briquettes is very unique. They described it as being a smoky flavor, which may or may not appeal to you.

Quantity
The Rockwood Lump Charcoal comes in a 20 lb bag burns longer and cleaner than most other products on our list, although it also comes at a higher price tag than most others.

Burning Efficiency
The fact that these lumps burn longer than most competitors gives you more bang for your buck.

Additives
Rockwood Lump Charcoal is made from natural 100% ingredients with no fillers or chemicals

Overall
If you are willing to spend a little more for an extremely efficient, all-natural charcoal with a unique smokey flavor, Rockwood id for you.
Pros

Provides a unique smoke flavor

Burns longer than other brands

Cons

The price-to-size ratio is not ideal

Original Natural

Original Natural
This next entry must be commended; if not for the simple reason that it is incredibly easy to burn and will hold its fire longer than other brands. That is just the beginning, though.
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Type and Design
As mentioned, the ease at which these black solids burn is exceptional and you do not even need lighter fluid. But, also note that these are briquettes.

Flavor Produced
What is really cool about purchasing this product is that the manufacturer promises that if you are not enthralled by the flavor, within 30 days, they will refund you. If that is not confidence, what is?

Quantity
With your purchase, you receive two full bags that measure 7.07 pounds each. All things considered, that is not too bad of a value for the price.

Burning Efficiency
Of all the greatness here, the burning efficiency may be the feature that stands out the most. As several buyers have reported, this is going to produce great fires for longer durations.

Additives
In addition to everything else, one of the best features of these briquettes is there are no additives or chemicals whatsoever. Thus, you are safe from any carcinogens and the flavor is not compromised.

Overall
It almost seems that third place is too low here. With all that is provided, how come this did not land in the top spot? Well, one report alluded to an awfully amount of smoke being outputted; so, that is concerning.
Pros

Each bag undergoes strict quality control

This is very easy to burn

Backed by the 100 percent delicious guarantee

Cons

One user noted that a bad smoke was emitted

Kingsford Match

Kingsford Match
Kingsford wraps up what has been a stellar list. But, it is worth noting that their Match Light is more suitable for family gatherings at the park. For home grilling, there are heftier and superior options.
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Type and Design
As with other Kingsford charcoals, the Match Light features briquettes with Sure Fire Groove technology that allows them to light quicker. But, do note that they smell like lighter fluid.

Flavor Produced
The briquettes of this package have been designed to produce an authentic, smoky flavor that the entire family will love.

Quantity
While this does come in a pack of six, each bag only weighs 3.1 pounds. While 6.2-pound bags are also available, as mentioned, this is more suitable for park grilling.

Burning Efficiency
As the porous solids do already have lighter fluid in them, they will burn and light very quickly.

Additives
One reviewer did make mention of the fact that they could smell the treated chemicals while these were burning. If this draws a red flag, that is understandable.

Overall
For what it is, the Match Light is far from bad. However, the slight red flags that are present may be enough to deter you away.
Pros

Feature Sure Fire Groove technology

Made with real wood

Ready to go in 10 minutes

Cons

Decent for home grilling

One user noticed treated chemicals

Criteria Used For Evaluation

Lump vs. Briquettes

To be perfectly honest, this entire guide almost revolves around the debate between lump and briquettes. These are the two main types of charcoal that you can invest in and while we are essentially going to break this up into mini-sections, let’s start with describing the two types. Okay, so the first type you can invest in is what is known as lump. This is made by burning chunks of wood at higher temperatures with low oxygen levels. What this engineering method is going to do is char the wood and remove any tar or remaining fluids. But, you want to ensure that the wood being burnt is all-natural (oftentimes hardwood) and not scrap wood.

As for briquettes, these are a little different. These are typically much smaller in size and are created by taking small pieces of wood and crushing them into dense-dust. From there, the dust is formed together to make a briquette. As for which type is superior, you are going to need to decide that. But, let’s dive deeper, shall we?

The Provided Flavor

Even on a gas grill, foods and meats just seemed to taste better when they are grilled. But, this can be even more so for charcoal as they can add enhanced flavor to your already seasoned meats. However, the question then becomes, what type provides the best flavor for your meats? Well, it is hard to deny that hardwood lumps are at the top of the heap. Whenever you see any type of hardwood lumps, you will typically see users rave about the flavor. This is due to the lack of additional additives and the natural flavor produced by them. Then again, some manufacturers may specifically create their briquettes to produce a smoky or hickory flavor, which is nice.

For this section, the best way to go about it is to glance through user feedback. See what the general mass is claiming about the flavor because from one brand to the next, it may be vastly different. Then again, the flavor is a personal preference and just because one person is not fond of it that does not mean you will be, as well.

How Much You Need

It is worth noting that the next section, which alludes to the burning efficiency, plays a major role in determining the outcome of this section. But, no matter, you still need to conclude how many lumps or briquettes you will need. In order to do so, however, you will first need to determine a few other factors. Firstly, how large is the grill that you are using? Clearly, if it is smaller, you will need to place as many briquettes inside for grilling. But, if the opposite is true, you may want to increase the quantity.

Burning Efficiency

Above all else, this is typically the area that consumers concern about the most. After all, nobody wants to invest in briquettes or lumps that are not going to burn for very long (or very hot, for that matter). So, the ultimate question is this. What burns better, lumps or briquettes? Even though certain briquette brands can outperform other briquette brands (and the same with lumps), each type has their own distinct advantage.

Starting with briquettes, they are typically going to burn longer than lumps. When you need to spend upward of an hour grilling, this can come in handy as you may not need to add more. But, where lumps hold the advantage is the temperature at which they burn. You see, they are going to burn hotter (and also faster) than briquettes. But, keep in mind, that this can make temperature control much more difficult. Yet, this also allows higher temperatures to be met without adding more charcoal.

The Additives

A lot of people do not like eating goods in which there are a ton of other additives and preservatives. Well, the same can be said here and this is another area where lumps (specifically hardwood lumps) can hold the advantage. With this type, they will be all-natural and will not need any additives added in. Due to the manufacturing process, which was described previously, it would be asinine to add any other ingredients in. But, what about briquettes?

Well, this is where things can get a little dicey. You see, some manufacturers will use some sort of additives to hold the materials together so the briquettes can maintain their shape. In this case, you may begin to smell them while you cook and sometimes even taste them. But, it is important to note that not all manufacturers will use this engineering process. Our recommendation is to look for all-natural briquettes that add no chemicals or fillers whatsoever.

 

FAQs

Q:   What is the Best Way to Light This Stuff?

With a gas grill, to start it up, you merely turn on the propane tank and fire it up (then allowing it to preheat for a short time). Yet, with charcoal, you will not use propane so how do you go about lighting? While the obvious answer may be lighter fluid, this should be avoided. Adding lighter fluid can add unwanted flavor to your meat as it is a petroleum product. Instead, you should invest in a charcoal chimney or other similar device.

With this device, you can use newspaper instead of lighter fluid. All you need to do is pour the briquettes or lumps inside the chimney and light the newspaper. From there, wait around 10 to 15 minutes for the coals to get hot and then dump them into your grill. Wala, you are ready to rock.

Q:   If it Performs Better, Should you use Less?

This is a very interesting question and it goes back to what was talked about in the quantity section of this guide. Many consumers will assume that if a particular brand outperforms another that less of it needs to be used when they grill. By outperform, this is simply referring to its ability to burn. However, this is not exactly true and the reality is, you should probably just use the same amount as you were using with the other brand.

Unless, of course, the situation changes. For example, if you go from fish to steak and want to sear it then yes, you would probably want to use more if it does not burn as hot as you desire. Again, though, it really just comes down to the size of your grill and what you are cooking.

Q:   How Do You Extinguish the Fire?

Once again, if you are accustomed to gas grills, then you know that merely turning the knobs to the off position and turning off the propane will turn the system off. Yet, what are you supposed to do with charcoal, especially considering it may burn much longer than you need it to? If you can wait, go ahead and close the lid of your smoker or grill and also any vents. With the system enclosed, the fire should be extinguished within 48 hours or so.  For a much faster approach, though, you can use sand. Then again, the former method allows you to cook with the same briquettes again.

One thing to note, though, is you may instinctively want to use water. Well, shy away from your instincts as water can not only cause cracking or damage to your grill but can also be a burn hazard as it will create steam.

Q:   Do Briquettes Generate More Ash?

One area that was not documented in the debate between briquettes and lumps is the generated ash. As you will see in the marketplace, there are several claims that are thrown about on the issue of ash generation. Based on the manufacturing processes alone, it makes sense that briquettes will generate more ash than lumps.

But, even if this is true, how much bearing does it have on the outcome? Granted you maintain the airflow and monitor it as you cook, then it will have very little. Then again, when finished, be sure to clean this ash as it should be removed.

Q:   Can You Grill with Used Briquettes?

The answer to this question was already provided to you if you remember. If you do not remember, yes, you can actually use briquettes more than once. But, there are a few key factors that you should keep in mind when doing so. For starters, if you do plan to reuse your briquettes, they need to remain dry. Because of this, always ensure that you are covering your grill when you are finished using it (allowing the surface to cool down a bit beforehand). This way, no rainwater can get inside and ruin the briquettes.

Yet, it also may be wise to use some fresh coal with the coal that is already inside. Outside of the fact that there is probably not enough in there, to begin with, this still allows some fresh charcoal to be used.

Q:   What is the Shelf Life?

Some people like to grill on a weekly basis, while others will only do so at family gatherings or on random occasions. Either way, in order for you to maintain either briquettes or lumps for as long as possible you need to ensure that you are storing them properly. The best way to do so is to store them in a cool and dry place (inside either the packaging they came with or a sealed container). Moisture is the enemy here because if they become damp, they will not light as efficiently.

Some brands can last indefinitely when you do this and others may last a few years if stored properly. But, you also want to make sure you are closing the bag properly. If it becomes torn or is left open, solvents can evaporate. Once again, this can lead to inefficient burning, which is the death of charcoal.

Final Thoughts

Who knew that so much could go into a small piece of charred wood or into balled up pieces of sawdust? It is quite amazing when you think about it.  In narrowing your buying choices, first, determine whether charcoal briquettes or lumps are best-suited to your requirements. From there, you can assess the top brands of each.  Hopefully, this guide will have you feeling more confident about which grill works best for your cooking style, so for your next  BBQ, you can serve up some extra smokey cuts of meat or veggies with your new charcoal grill.

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