12 min. read

The Best Charcoal for Grilling for 2023

No matter what kind of grilling or smoking you enjoy, our top picks will help you find charcoal that meets your needs.

The smell of a backyard barbeque emanating from the most fantastic charcoal grills screams summer. The charcoal part of it dates back to the Stone Age. However, much has changed. The variety of charcoal brands and types available now is dizzying. Those who are new to the pleasures of grilling may not know what to look for when buying charcoal. In light of this, we chose to put some of the most well-liked charcoal products on the market today through rigorous (and delicious!) testing to find out which ones really reign.

How We Picked

  • Type of Charcoal

    We made our selections based on the kinds of events you'll be utilizing the charcoal for and the kinds of charcoal that will work best for you.

  • Long Lasting

    Not all charcoal can hold heat and burn for a long time. We chose high-quality items that will last and serve you well.

  • Health Considerations

    The fumes from charcoal can be unhealthy for people at times, causing problems. Be sure to fire up your grill in an open, well-ventilated space. Also, we opted for charcoal with minimal fumes and smoke to make grilling safer.

  • Cost-Effectiveness

    When looking for low-cost charcoal for grilling, you don't always have to forgo quality. We attempted to achieve a balance between cost and quality.

Our Top Picks

Best Pick

Jealous Devil Hardwood Lump Charcoal

Our top pick offers you premium-quality, all-natural charcoal.

The zip lock will be the first feature you notice. Thanks to it, charcoal is simple to obtain. The bag's chunk sizes are remarkably consistent, with only a few particularly huge ones. There is also no pointless dust or bothersome chips in the bag.

Buy Now for $39.97

This charcoal is crafted from pure, all-natural South American hardwood and specially carbonized for a superior, high-performance burn.

Runner Up

Fogo Super Premium Lump Charcoal

A tropical hardwood blend with a light smoky flavor.

The Super Premium is only available in large amounts to start. Although having just enormous bits of carbon made it more difficult to ignite, it produced significant heat and a lengthy burn.
Fogo excelled in terms of adaptability. A huge charcoal grill's high heat setting makes it possible to cook with a Dutch oven, boil water, or roast marshmallows.

Buy Now for $32.70

FOGO’s artisanal production process maintains the aromatic essence of Inga wood, ensuring your food will have far more flavor.

Most cost-effective

Kingsford Original Charcoal

In search of a budget-friendly option? Look no further.

The fact that Kingsford is cost-effective and always appears to be in stock everywhere cannot be disputed. They are also a reputable company with a high standard of quality control. If you haven't been grilling in a while, you'll find that Kingsford briquettes burn hotter and for a longer time due to the denser material.

Buy Now

Whether you’re smoking a brisket, grilling up vegetables, or firing up the grill at your next tailgate, Kingsford Original delivers the best in authentic BBQ flavor.

Almost made the cut

Rockwood Premium All-Natural Lump Charcoal

This lumpy charcoal has a pleasant campfire aroma and is made from Missouri oak, maple, and hickory.

In the world of grilling aficionados, Rockwood is very popular. It is the charcoal that Naked Whiz customers most highly rate. This highly praised charcoal will cost more than usual, but it will make grill nerds jealous.

Buy Now for $74.98

Made from renewable natural resources, the Rockwood-lump charcoal burns longer and cleaner, with less ash for faster cleanup.

Everything We Recommend

Best Pick

Jealous Devil Hardwood Lump Charcoal

Our top pick offers you premium-quality, all-natural charcoal.

$39.97

Buy Now

Runner Up

Fogo Super Premium Lump Charcoal

A tropical hardwood blend with a light smoky flavor.

$32.70

Buy Now

Most cost-effective

Kingsford Original Charcoal

In search of a budget-friendly option? Look no further.

Buy Now

Almost made the cut

Rockwood Premium All-Natural Lump Charcoal

This lumpy charcoal has a pleasant campfire aroma and is made from Missouri oak, maple, and hickory.

$74.98

Buy Now

Who This Is For

Grilling with charcoal is ideal for those who enjoy a good barbeque on a summer’s day. Grilling is a fun, tasty way to prepare a meal year-round. Charcoal grills aren’t as easy to use, but they give food even more flavor

Can I grill using charcoal?

Yes. Most people prefer the smoky taste of charcoal grills since they add a little something extra to your food. For many, the flavor profile of grilled food is all about the kind of charcoal used. Grilling with charcoal requires a thick, condensed layer of lit coals for even temperatures across the cooking surface. A thin layer creates less heat for a shorter amount of time. Grilling directly over the hot coals will sear the outside of the food and make attractive grill marks.
Difference between lump charcoal and briquettes

Lumpy charcoal is composed of charred pieces of wood, whereas briquettes are composed of compacted sawdust. Briquettes often create lower temperatures and burn more slowly. Lump variability is higher. Dust, chips, and sizable pieces can all be found in a standard bag of lump charcoal. You may produce a very high temperature by combining many of them. Briquettes provide consistency and are typically less expensive. Lump offers more heat and produces a smoky taste.

Why You Should Trust Us

We’ve done all the necessary research, so you can rely on us to make sure you get anything worthy of the caliber of your purchases. To guarantee that we provide you with the best, we spend hours conducting in-depth research and reading through various evaluations.

How We Picked

We took the following factors into consideration:

Type of charcoal
There are now three main forms of charcoal in use. Each has advantages, and the charcoal you choose to use will depend on the meal you are cooking or the circumstances surrounding your grilling.

Lump charcoal
This is additive-free and entirely natural. It is simply wood that has been burned at extremely high temperatures in an oxygen-poor environment until it is nothing but carbon. The way it burns will vary depending on the type of wood it was initially; for instance, maple or oak put out a constant heat, while certain other types of wood can be a little sparky. The burn period is shorter for lump coal since it burns hotter but more quickly than briquettes. Ensure you obtain double-sieved lump charcoal so you don’t pay for something messy that won’t burn.

Briquettes
Briquettes are a type of composite fuel and have a pillow-like shape. They are a blend of binders, an oxidizing agent, charcoal fines, accelerants, and coal dust. The binder keeps the briquettes in their distinctive shape and prevents them from crumbling, and the oxidizing substance makes the briquette easy to ignite. The remainder is often carbonized hardwood particles made from coal or charcoal. Using a chimney starter is advised because some briquettes do release an unpleasant-smelling smoke when first lit. We advise utilizing the smokeless and odorless heat beads, as they deliver hot, dependable cooking temperatures.

Hardwood
This product is produced when the wood is burned until it turns into impurity-free coal. There are no binders or fillers in pure, high-quality charcoal. You can quickly put your food on the grill because it lights up more quickly. Your two-inch ribeye will get a deeper sear because it burns hotter. Additionally, since it creates less ash, your grill’s bottom won’t collect as much grime. Because the size of the hardwood pieces varies, you must be more careful when creating and lighting the fire to prevent all the smaller pieces from burning out before you can begin.

Long lasting
We have chosen the best charcoal for you, which will help you grill more thoroughly for a longer period of time and in a variety of other ways. We made sure of this so you wouldn’t have to purchase as many bags in case one caught fire too soon.

Easy to use
We looked for the best charcoal that you can use right away without needing to do anything more to make it work.

Health considerations
Everything that causes fire or smoke must be closely examined to see whether it is safe for people, and yes, we have looked through and chosen the best items so that you won’t need to worry about them as much.

Price vs. quality
Even though everyone needs charcoal, not everyone has a lot of money to spend on it. As a result, we’ve chosen charcoal that is within your price range. We made sure that the products we chose were comparable in terms of price and quality.

Our Picks For You

Best Pick - Jealous Devil Hardwood Lump Charcoal

Best Pick

Jealous Devil Hardwood Lump Charcoal

Our top pick offers you premium-quality, all-natural charcoal.

The zip lock will be the first feature you notice. Thanks to it, charcoal is simple to obtain. The bag's chunk sizes are remarkably consistent, with only a few particularly huge ones. There is also no pointless dust or bothersome chips in the bag.

Buy Now for $39.97

Who it is for

Jealous Devil is ideal for those who want superior charcoal for maximum performance. With Jealous Devil's 100% all-natural hardwood lump charcoal, you can add a smooth, delicate smoky flavor to your cuisine and use it as fuel.

Why it is great

The hardwood is hand-fired in brick kilns to produce high-quality carbonization after being sustainably obtained from Paraguay, utilizing a very dense South American species called Quebracho Blanco. The Quebracho Blanco tree is one of the world's toughest timbers, which sets the final charcoal apart from other products. The flavor of your meal will be enhanced without an overpowering smoky or gasoline flavor thanks to the absence of fillers, chemicals, additions, or binders in this premium hardwood lump charcoal.

Potential flaws

This charcoal could be expensive for some, and the strong flavor may not appeal to certain people.

Other features

This lump charcoal is easy to light and can achieve temperatures of over 1000 degrees Fahrenheit in just 15 minutes. Additionally, it doesn't explode or spark while reaching this high heat and produces little ash, which reduces waste, clogging, and maintenance. To give it its distinctive long, even burn and high-performance heat, each 35-pound bag has consistently sized pieces with no fluctuations in moisture or density and a meager amount of chips and dust. You can be confident that this charcoal will provide you with longer burn times of up to three hours in open air or up to 20 hours in smokers or low-oxygen environments.

Runner Up - Fogo Super Premium Lump Charcoal

Runner Up

Fogo Super Premium Lump Charcoal

A tropical hardwood blend with a light smoky flavor.

The Super Premium is only available in large amounts to start. Although having just enormous bits of carbon made it more difficult to ignite, it produced significant heat and a lengthy burn.
Fogo excelled in terms of adaptability. A huge charcoal grill's high heat setting makes it possible to cook with a Dutch oven, boil water, or roast marshmallows.

Buy Now for $32.70

Who it is for

Thanks to the lump charcoal pieces being over four inches long, you'll have a longer overall burn time, which is ideal for low and slow cooking and means your lump charcoal won't be done before your meat is. As such, it’s ideal for people who like slow grilling.

Why it is great

FOGO's artisanal production process preserves the aromatic essence of Inga wood, resulting in far more flavorful food. The premium charcoal is made from a unique blend of Inga wood from Central America with no additional ingredients. These lumps are designed to be easy to light and durable enough to burn at high temperatures for an extended period.

Potential flaws

The only drawback of this charcoal is that it is quite expensive compared to other brands.

Other features

FOGO Super Premium Hardwood Lump Charcoal allows you to confidently serve all of your barbeque favorites. FOGO produces its products in small batches using artisanal brick ovens and methods that date back thousands of years. This, combined with their process of hand-picking only high-quality charcoal lumps, results in the distinct FOGO flavor you're sure to enjoy.

Most cost-effective - Kingsford Original Charcoal

Most cost-effective

Kingsford Original Charcoal

In search of a budget-friendly option? Look no further.

The fact that Kingsford is cost-effective and always appears to be in stock everywhere cannot be disputed. They are also a reputable company with a high standard of quality control. If you haven't been grilling in a while, you'll find that Kingsford briquettes burn hotter and for a longer time due to the denser material.

Buy Now

Who it is for

This option is suitable for people looking for high-quality charcoal at an affordable price.

Why it is great

In comparison to other nationally available charcoal brands, Kingsford Original Charcoal Briquettes are designed with Sure Fire Grooves and have more edges for better airflow and quicker lighting. This ensures extended burning performance. These grilled coals heat up rapidly and are ready to use in about 15 minutes.

Potential flaws

This charcoal generates more ash and can be a bit difficult to ignite.

Other features

Kingsford Original Charcoal Briquettes are produced with 100% natural ingredients and genuine wood to provide an authentic smoky flavor, just like BBQ should. It grills food in just 15 minutes! That’s 25% faster compared to other nationally available charcoal brands. Each 16-pound bag of original charcoal briquettes generates about four uses. It is ideal for outdoor gatherings or tailgates because it has more edges and surface area to catch the flame rapidly and grooves that create air channels for quick heating and even burning. It also imparts a smoky, wood-fired taste to beef, chicken, pork, fish, vegetables, and other foods.

Almost made the cut - Rockwood Premium All-Natural Lump Charcoal

Almost made the cut

Rockwood Premium All-Natural Lump Charcoal

This lumpy charcoal has a pleasant campfire aroma and is made from Missouri oak, maple, and hickory.

In the world of grilling aficionados, Rockwood is very popular. It is the charcoal that Naked Whiz customers most highly rate. This highly praised charcoal will cost more than usual, but it will make grill nerds jealous.

Buy Now for $74.98

Who it is for

The Rockwood Premium is perfect for individuals looking for pure lump charcoal that's truly environmentally friendly.

Why it is great

Rockwood is all-natural and made exclusively from Missouri hardwoods. The wood is aged, kilned, and cooled to ensure consistent performance. It has no added harsh chemicals, so you know you are cooking with natural flavors.

Potential flaws

This charcoal may be difficult to ignite, and some pieces may be too tiny to use.

Other features

Rockwood is 100% all-natural Missouri lump charcoal! The ash-free, slow-burning hardwood lump bbq charcoal lights easily, heats quickly and burns boldly for juicier, more flavorful food, It is suitable for any type of grill or smoker. Rockwood is kilned to a higher carbonization level, allowing it to burn cleaner and hotter, making it ideal for grilling or smoking any type of meat, fish, or vegetable. It also produces very little ash, resulting in less mess to clean up after you've finished grilling. The coal bag is also made of 100% natural kraft paper with soy ink and can be recycled, composted, or burned to help light the charcoal.

Care and maintenance

Safety information

Never use gasoline to light charcoal. Do not add lighter fluid directly to burning charcoal. Make sure the ashes are cold before discarding them. Never burn charcoal inside homes, vehicles, or tents (burning charcoal gives off carbon monoxide, which has no odor). Barbecue away from flammable items, overhangs, and trees.
Is it safe to eat food grilled with charcoal?

Yes. However, take care not to burn or scorch any meat, poultry, or fish. Heterocyclic amines are produced when meat, poultry, and fish are charred, burned, or grilled at high temperatures (HCAs). These HCAs have the potential to alter genetic material, raising the risk of colorectal and stomach cancer.
How do you use charcoal to grill food?
To cook using direct heat, position the lighted coals for the tropical zone on about half of the charcoal grate. Sear the meat over the embers, then transfer it to a cool spot for slower indirect cooking. Place the cooking grate in position and close the lid, regardless of the charcoal configuration.
How to store charcoal
Charcoal should always be stored in a cold, dry place, as far away from any source of moisture as possible. Otherwise, you may discover that your charcoal supply is no longer ignitable.
Can I use charcoal if it’s wet?
Wet charcoal can be salvaged, depending on the type and amount of moisture it has been exposed to. Wet lump charcoal can be restored if it’s kept in the sun for a few days. Place them in a single layer and flip them over every day. Ensure that they are completely dry to the core; otherwise, they will take longer to ignite.
Does charcoal expire?
Charcoal is a manufactured substance produced almost entirely from elemental carbon. In other words, charcoal does not “expire” or go bad and may be stored eternally. However, if you use briquettes, the additives used to produce them might “go bad” or become ineffective in evaporation.