Summer is here again, and chances are you are already excited to get out and grill. What you need now is some good charcoal. Of course, if you found your way here, chances are you also probably know that the quality of your briquettes can make all the difference in the flavor of your meal.
You want to make sure that the charcoal you chose burns long and hot enough to deliver perfectly cooked meat. So, how can you determine a good briquette from a poor one?
There are many factors to consider when choosing the best charcoal briquettes for your needs, including moisture content, calorific value, ash removal, and resistance to humidity and airflow.
We’ll consider all the above and more in our reviews of the top products on the market in 2020. Let’s get started.
The Best Charcoal Briquettes Reviewed
You need to know that not all charcoal is equal, which is why it is necessary before the purchase to check out the manufacturer’s label or people’s reviews. I invite you to make yourself familiar with my reviews of favorite brands that offer high quality charcoal briquettes.
As the leading manufacturer of charcoal in North America, Kingsford makes sure its products are of good 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 in no time with this charcoal.
This charcoal briquette from Royal Oak features a proprietary ridge shape to provide better airflow and quicker lighting. The unique shape also promotes faster ash-over, 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.
If you want to achieve an authentic wood-grilled flavor in your barbecue, you should use this all-natural charcoal briquette from Stubb’s Charcoal. It produces the aroma of typical Southern-style BBQ.
The charcoal also features similar lighting and burning characteristics seen in standard briquettes.
However, it is more environmentally friendly than the other brands because it is made from 100% natural ingredients. The product is made from 95% hardwood charcoal and 5% vegetable binder.
This charcoal briquette from Weber is also 100% natural. The product features a super-dense structure free of any chemical components and binders.
The briquette’s size is large for longer grilling time and consistent burning.
Because of its natural composition, it does cost more than other brands, but the flavor it produces is well worth it. It burns longer than the other brands, too !
Charcoal briquettes advantages
There are several basic advantages that need to be listed when it comes to briquettes.
- Much longer burning time
- Easier temperature control and better stability
- Thanks to even pieces of the same size, it is easier to arrange if you’re planning to cook using different methods/heat zones
- Considering the market, one can easily notice that it is significantly cheaper
Among the disadvantages, one could certainly list the longer fire starting time and quite a large ash production (depending on the brand).
Based on the above information, it is easy to conclude that briquettes will work better during multiple hours of smoking on a grill where larger ash production is not a problem.
Briquettes vs Lump Charcoal
I will say right at the start that both types are great.
Which of them will be better for you only depends on your individual situation.
You need to discover the advantages of briquettes and lump charcoal in more details so that you can make an informed choice. I recommend you read this article or watch the video I recommended where this problem was discussed briefly and to the point.
Personally, I mostly use briquettes during longer cooking, quick grilling or long smoking. On the other hand, I always use lump charcoal in kamado grills (due to low ash production), sometimes during quick grilling and when planning to cook top-quality, very expensive meat.
Tips for buying charcoal briquettes
The sad news is the fact that, in order to evaluate the quality of charcoal, you need to buy it, and then you can open the bag. I encourage you to buy several bags each of the most popular brands on the market or in your neighborhood.
Then evaluate the quality of each of them taking several aspects into account described in detail below. I encourage you to make notes so that you know perfectly for yourself which brand offers the best quality in your neighborhood.
Lighter fluid – You should definitely avoid charcoal that contains lighter fluid or any other chemicals that make it “easier” to start fire. The only thing you actually need is the right accessories such as a charcoal chimney starter for example. Don’t get fooled and don’t believe in fables saying that after a dozen minutes from using lighter fluid you can start cooking. The truth is that you can even smell the intense aroma for as long as several dozen minutes provided that it was completely absorbed by the fire.
Fillers – The bigger the number of fillers, the more ash left as a result of charcoal burning. On the other hand, fillers make briquettes burn longer, although you should also pay attention to the type of the filler (avoid all kinds of chemical/toxic substances).
Shape and the content of the bag – After opening, pay attention to the shape of briquettes, whether all pieces are uniform and of the same size. Also pay attention to whether the bag doesn’t contain any unidentified elements that might indicate poorer production control.
Amount of dust – It partially relates to the above subparagraph, good quality briquettes don’t crumble and don’t fall apart. All pieces should have their shape intact, and large amount of dust is sadly an indicator of poor quality.