The Best Charcoal Briquettes For Grilling and Smoking

The Best Charcoal Briquettes For Grilling and Smoking

It’s grilling season. Grill masters all over the neighborhood are dusting off their spatulas, donning aprons with cringe-worthy puns, pulling their grills out of hibernation, and deciding what new elaborate meat recipes they want to conquer, that will probably be ignored by their kids in favor of hot dogs. All that preparation is in vain, though, if they don’t use this time to deliberate, ponder, and meditate on the age-old grill master’s query:

Which charcoal briquettes should I use this year? Fear not, Backyard Boss is here to help with a buyers guide to purchasing charcoal briquettes, and reviews of the top 5 charcoal briquettes you can buy online right now.

PRODUCT FEATURES
Kingsford Original Charcoal Briquettes - The Best Charcoal Briquettes For Grilling and SmokingKingsford Original Charcoal Briquettes
  • 100% Natural
  • 7.7 Pounds
  • Long Burn
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Duraflame Cowboy Natural Hardwood Briquettes - The Best Charcoal Briquettes For Grilling and SmokingDuraflame Cowboy Natural Hardwood Briquettes
  • 95% Hardwood 5% Vegetal Binder
  • 14 Pounds
  • Clean Burn With Little Ash
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Royal Oak Premium Charcoal Briquets - The Best Charcoal Briquettes For Grilling and SmokingRoyal Oak Premium Charcoal Briquets
  • All-Natural
  • 15.4 Pounds
  • Unique Ridge Shape
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Weber 17950 Briquettes - The Best Charcoal Briquettes For Grilling and SmokingWeber 17950 Briquettes
  • 100% Natural
  • 20 Pounds
  • Natural Hardwood With No Chemicals
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Kingsford Charcoal Mesquite Briquette - The Best Charcoal Briquettes For Grilling and SmokingKingsford Charcoal Mesquite Briquette
  • 100% Natural Ingredients
  • 14.6 Pounds
  • Mesquite Flavor
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What are Charcoal Briquettes?

Charcoal briquettes are wood that was burned in a low-oxygen environment, until only carbon remained, which was then mixed with other additives until it reached a “thick paste” consistency, at which point it was fed into molds, and compressed into small, easy-to-use bricks. The other additives normally help bind the briquettes and help them burn. They may be wood chips, coal, sawdust, borax, limestone, etc.

Are Charcoal Briquettes Safe?

How safe charcoal briquettes are is really in your hands because it depends on which briquettes you buy, and if you safely use them. Don’t skimp on your briquettes. It’s worth it to get high-quality ones, like those reviewed below, because you know that they contain safe, organic ingredients that will only add heat and flavor to your food – not chemicals.

Use your charcoal briquettes safely. Never, ever, EVER, burn charcoal briquettes in an enclosed space, like in a home, tent, or RV. The carbon monoxide the charcoal briquettes emit will fill the space, building up until they reach toxic levels. Avoid inhaling the dust and fumes from charcoal briquettes because, like any other smoke, they can be a respiratory irritant, and can cause more serious problems for people with pre-existing respiratory issues.

Make sure you dispose of your charcoal ashes safely and that all embers have been put out.

Do Charcoal Briquettes Have Chemicals?

Everything is made of chemicals. But some chemical compounds are toxic or carcinogenic, and it’s good to know where those are most  If you grill meat, especially red meat, and allow it to become overcooked or charred, this can result in carcinogens entering the meat. This is not a problem unique to charcoal briquettes, but rather grilling as a whole. When fat from meat drips onto hot coals or fire it results in PAHs forming which then float on the smoke up and settle on your food. There has been no direct link between PAHs and cancer in humans, however, 12 of the 18 PAHs in cooked food cause cancer in laboratory animals.

What’s the Best Charcoal to Use?

The best charcoal will give you the maximum amount of burn time and produce a minimum amount of ash. Ash can clog up your grill, harden when moist, be annoying to clean up, and smother fires. Charcoal briquettes that are made with lots of ingredients will produce more ash.You can’t make a briquette out of 100% charcoal though, because then it won’t bind together.

If your briquettes are quality they should hold their shape in the bag. The beauty of briquettes is their ease of use, so they should be intact so you can easily stack them. Make sure that the additives binding them together are natural, not chemical. Also, avoid charcoal that contains softwood filler or lighter fluid since that will result in a bitter taste being imparted on your food.

What is the Healthiest Charcoal to Use?

The healthiest charcoal to use is charcoal that includes only natural ingredients and a minimum amount of fillers. Buy charcoal that is made of hardwood and doesn’t contain coal, oil, or petroleum. Look for third-party certification recognition to ensure that your charcoal contains what it says it does.

Uses For Charcoal Briquettes

charcoal drawing on paper of guitarCharcoal: not just for grills anymore! Yes, of course you can use charcoal in your grill. You can use it to grill meat and veggies normally, or to turn your charcoal grill into a smoker and make delicious recipes like apple bacon-wrapped tenderloin. But you can also use charcoal for lots of other projects.

Remove Air Moisture

Leave charcoal briquettes in your bathroom, attic, closet, bookshelf, or toolbox to remove moisture and musty odors. Place it on a metal tray or in a can with holes punched in the lid to treat your desired area.

Maintain Garden Moisture

Mix charcoal into your garden soil to add carbon to the soil and help it maintain moisture. You can also add it to your compost heap for extra nourishment. It can also act as mulch when broken up into chunks, suppressing weeds.

Draw With It

You can use it to draw outside, making hopscotch squares, or drawing silly pictures. With some hose water you can easily remove it. You can also use it indoors to fill in scratches on black furniture or floors.

Which Is Better, Charcoal or Briquettes?

It depends on what you are looking for from your charcoal. If you are looking for a consistent, long burn than briquettes are your carbon. However, if you are looking for intense heat, then you should probably go with lump charcoal. Lump charcoal is pure charcoal without any added ingredients. It’s the remaining carbon after wood is burned without oxygen. Charcoal lumps are more expensive, burn faster, and should only be used by experienced grill masters, however they are more “pure.”

DIY Charcoal Briquettes

Skeptical of the ingredients companies are putting into briquettes? Hoping to save money? Have a lot of time on your hands? Then you should try making your own briquettes! It’s a cute DIY project except it involves, you know, burning stuff. You will need bricks, a metal barrel, an electric drill, newspapers, an empty container, cornstarch, water, and of course, wood scraps. Make a few holes that are about 1.5 inches in diameter in the base of the barrel with an electric drill, close to the barrel’s center.

Place three bricks on the ground and balance the barrel on them. Then, crumple up some newspapers and place them in the barrel. Light the papers, and once they fully catch fire, add the wood scraps piece by piece, until a strong fire is going at which point you can add all of them.

When the fire turns from yellow-white to light-blue, cut off the oxygen supply, placing the lid over the barrel and removing it from the bricks. Place the bricks on the lid and gather dirt around the barrel. Allow the barrel to sit for 24 hours, not removing the lid until the barrel is cool to the touch. Move the charcoal chunks from the barrel into an empty container. You can crush the smaller pieces of charcoal into briquettes.

Mix cornstarch and water in a pot and stir over heat until they form a thick paste. Add as much charcoal dust as possible to the paste and then move the paste to Styrofoam egg cartons and allow it to dry. In a week you can use your briquettes!

Remember, throughout the briquette-making process be very careful, because it has the potential to be quite dangerous in parts. You can watch the video below to see a slightly different way to make DIY charcoal briquettes!

Top 5 Charcoal Briquette Reviews

Best Charcoal Briquette for Everyday Home Grilling

Kingsford Original Charcoal Briquettes
    The king of charcoal’s all-natural briquettes burn smoothly and evenly, with twin grooves that make lighting easy and help maintain open airflow.

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Kingsford is, well, the king of charcoal. They are unquestionably the most recognizable name in the charcoal industry and it’s no wonder why: the price is right, the burn is long and consistent, what else could you ask for then a couple of hot dogs and hamburgers.

Although Kingsford is the king of charcoal, they are not exactly a premium brand. There are definitely more fillers in their charcoal briquettes than in some of the other ones on this list. However, all of those extra ingredients are natural, there are no harmful chemicals or lighter fluid in Kingsford’s charcoal briquettes. Their charcoal briquettes feature twin grooves which makes lighting them easier and improves airflow between the briquettes. This allows you to stack them without worrying about an even burn.

Just pop them in the grill, wait 15 minutes for them to reach their maximum temperature, and then get cooking. The only downside of Kingsford to watch out for is that because of all the filler that their charcoal briquettes include, they do produce a lot of ash. Other than that though, this product is excellent for beginner to intermediate grillers looking to have some casual barbecues.

Best Premium Charcoal Briquettes

Duraflame Cowboy Natural Hardwood Briquettes
    These premium charcoal briquettes are made with only the best, natural ingredients, with 95% hardwood and 5% vegetal binding.

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Looking for premium quality charcoal briquettes? These are the ones for you. Duraflame’s cowboy natural hardwood briquettes are made from ingredients that are genuinely all-natural, not only not including chemicals, coal, or lighter fluid, but an innovative vegetal binding that ensures nothing nasty is getting into your food. The vegetal binding only makes up 5% of these charcoal briquettes; the other 95% is charcoal. That crazy-high charcoal content means that you have to deal with less ash.

The hardwood the charcoal is made from infuses your food with flavor, taking advantage of the unique taste charcoal grills can inject food with. These briquettes are easy to use, requiring less than 15 minutes to reach their maximum heat level, and have an innovative pillow-shaped design that ensures even heating of your food when grilled. This is the perfect product for more experienced grillers who love to cook on charcoal because they enjoy the hint of woodsy taste on their food.

Best Charcoal Briquettes for Long, High-Heat BBQ

Royal Oak Premium Charcoal Briquets
    These premium charcoal briquettes burn for longer, and burn hotter, than almost any other charcoal briquettes on the market.

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Kingsford isn’t the only royalty on the charcoal market. Royal Oak has been regularly recognized as one of the best charcoal brands out there. Their charcoal briquettes burn much hotter and much longer than other brands. Containing no coal, lighter fluid, or chemicals, these charcoal briquettes are almost entirely made of hardwood charcoal. The charcoal is derived from American oak and hickory trees. The lack of unnecessary fillers means that Royal Oak doesn’t have a super high ash content, although the briquettes definitely produce a substantial amount of ash, and that the flavor they impart on your food is clean and smoky.

These premium charcoal briquettes are easy-to-use, holding their shape well in their packaging and having enhanced ridges on the middle of each briquettes which makes lighting easy. Once you light them, you only have to wait a short time until they reach maximum heat and you can get cooking. The only downside of these charcoal briquettes is that they are expensive, but if you want premium quality you are going to have to pay for it. This product is best suited for grillers who want a consistent, high heat charcoal, or who are planning on grilling over an extended period of time.

Best Charcoal Briquette for Marathon Grilling or Smoking

Weber 17950 Briquettes
    These large charcoal briquettes burn hot for up to 3 hours, making them perfect for long barbecues.

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These no-nonsense briquettes are made out of 100% natural hardwood with zero added chemicals. They are some of the least expensive charcoal briquettes on this list, yet, even though their price is low they don’t sacrifice quality, burning hot and consistently for an extended amount of time. They also include a minimal amount of filler, not just adding ingredients to lower the cost of production. They can burn steadily for up to 3 hours, so feel free to extend that BBQ. A bonus feature of these charcoal briquettes is there new and improved packaging which is recyclable, resealable, and water-proof.

Their briquettes are larger than the other ones on this list so you don’t have to use as many when you grill. However, they have no design enhancements to make lighting easier, so it can be a bit harder to get them lit and started. This product is best suited for capable grillers who throw a lot of long BBQs at home.

Best-Tasting Budget Charcoal Briquettes

Kingsford Charcoal Mesquite Briquette
    These Kingsford charcoal briquettes pair Kingsford quality with a smoky, mesquite flavor.

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Back to the ol’ Kingsford brand! These mesquite charcoal briquettes are similar to Kingsford’s traditional briquettes in cost and quality except they add an extra mesquite flavor to the food you use them to cook. They are infused with a mesquite flavor that when burned drifts up and adds a tang of mesquite to the food that you are grilling. No fake flavoring here either, this is real mesquite added to the charcoal. The charcoal is made up of mesquite, hardwood, and some natural filler and binders.

Like Kingsford’s regular charcoal briquettes, these burn for a long time and burn consistently. They sport a twin groove design that makes lighting easy and increases airflow. Once lit these charcoal briquettes only need 15 minutes to heat up to be ready to cook your food. The only downsides of this product are that these charcoal briquettes do produce a lot of ash and that there are only some foods you are going to want to use these with. After all, mesquite isn’t for everyone or everything. This product is perfect for everyone who loves a little mesquite flavor.

Conclusion

The clear winner of the roundup is the Kingsford Original Charcoal Briquettes.

They win out over the other products because of their natural ingredients, long and consistent burn time, and inexpensive price. Their inexpensive price paired with their ease of use makes these charcoal briquettes a great option for a wide range of people. If you are looking for a more premium brand, less ash, or a longer or hotter burn, feel free to go with one of the other options on this list. They are all top-rated, quality charcoal. Use your top-rated charcoal in a top-rated grill to make sure that this BBQ season is a success!

I hope you found this guide helpful! If you did, be sure to share it and comment below with which charcoal briquettes you decided on.

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