Summer cannot be said to be complete without the aroma of barbecue percolating everywhere in your backyard because you are making use of the best charcoal grills. Charcoal preparation is a kind of cooking that has been in use by human beings since as far back as the Stone Age but technology has brought about a lot of modifications.
In this age, there are now many styles and variants of charcoal offered by different brands and manufacturers. There are briquettes sourced using coconut shells from Southeast Asia or even lumps from the hardwood of the United States – there are many alternatives in the market.
For you to know which charcoal is the finest for you as a griller who wants to impress friends and family during the next weekend outing, you are going to find this piece to be particularly useful. Several parameters have been used to arrive at the charcoal that is finest for grilling. Some of these factors include the cost, how well they performed with burning, and even how well they did with the cooking. Overall, it is believed that the Royal Oak Lump Charcoal is the very best but there are other amazing options too.
As hinted in one of the sections above, this is one of the most excellent of the charcoal types. Even though some other options surpass it in other categories, the typical griller will find it to be a first-class choice. Upon opening the pack, you are confronted with several chunks. For those who love casual grilling, this is a nice option because you prefer a blend of pieces that can be lighted easily and ones that will also burn for long.
This brand has been able to achieve a balance between durability during burning and ease of lighting. When you light this charcoal, one of the things you will notice is the smoky and lovely aroma. It is very strong but also outstanding in a way that you will not feel choked when you are doing your grilling. From the moment you place your delicacy on the grill, like a burger, for example, it will take just seven minutes for the pit of the burger to get to 130 degrees Fahrenheit. That makes a lot of sense because you will be using just a couple of pounds of charcoal.
- Brilliant mix
- Lovely scent
- Honestly, none yet
Users do not find this funny when it comes to the lighting and that is a bit startling because easy lighting is one of the points used for its advertising. It can take as much as 11 minutes to do the cooking for just a quarter of a pound of beef. But on the other hand, this is one of the most affordable options out there as far as charcoals are concerned. These briquettes also smell nicely like the lumps.
- Reasonable price
- Lovely aroma
- Issues with lighting
- Cook time is below average
Coco-BBQ is known for its unusual features among charcoal variants in that it is made using harvested coconut shells and that is an outstandingly wonderful thing for the environment. But the most peculiar thing about this type is that it comes in a cylindrical shape. You are going to be reminded of the bincho-tan style used in Thailand employed by the iconic street food sellers.
It burns consistently over a long period and during testing with burgers, they were cooked in less than nine minutes while remaining lit for over three hours. It is believed that it was able to last that long because of the massive briquettes with a weight of around 52 grams each, more than twice what a Kingsford briquette holds in weight.
However, users have complained about the peculiar smell and even the price. Some expected it to smell like coconut oil but the smell that came out was more of incense than anything else. Even if the smell itself is not bad, it cannot be said to be extremely nice. Then the price is off the charts for many people – it is as much as six times more expensive than the Kingsford. But for anyone interested in protecting the environment even when making the finest grilling, this is the option to go for. This is because there is no deforestation of any kind involved when you make use of this.
- Sourced from coconut shells that were harvested sustainably
- The heat lasts for long
- Very costly
- The smell is not pleasant
Here is one of the most interesting alternatives on the list. It is made from a reliable mix of hickory, maple, and Missouri oak. Harvesting of the wood is done in a sustainable matter as only leftover wood is used. The charcoal chunks are cut neatly and in the same proportion. The shape in the form of a plank also means you can put a lot inside the chimney. The aroma it gives off is smoky and nice while just a little over two pounds will cook your burgers in just about 10 minutes – perfect for a picnic with your loved ones.
- Composed of hickory, map, and oak from Missouri
- Equal charcoal cuts
- Pleasant aroma
- Lighting issues
Kingsford is a brand that has been in place for more than one century so it is very trusted and considered to be a reliable brand. It is known for always working on its formula and that explains why it has briquettes today that are smaller and more portable in the packaging. For those who are just returning to the art of grilling after a while, you will notice that the briquettes from Kingsford burn longer and hotter because of their composition.
Once the briquettes start to burn, they release a pleasant aroma. If you want to cook a quarter-pound cut of beef, it will take you just about nine minutes which is lovely.
- Easy availability
- Nice campfire aroma
- Quality control issues
Those looking for the charcoal that will give them convenience will appreciate this lot. The pack comes with its zip-lock which allows for quick and easy access to the charcoal. The charcoal comes in very equal chunk size with some portion of large cuts. Those irritating chips and dust are also not present.
This is also one of the hottest in the range and you can get your burger done in a matter of just five or six minutes. It also has a very special scent that is described as medicinal by some. This particular charcoal comes from the Quebracho Blanco which is a tree from South Africa renowned for its hardness. For those who want their meals done quickly, this is one charcoal type that will never disappoint.
- Comes with a zip lock pack
- Smoke which smells different
- Made using the Quebracho Blanco wood
- Relatively more expensive
These are composed of complete hardwood and this is instantly noticed. When it comes to the heating, these can hold their ground even with the more expensive options. When tested, it gave a medium-rare beef in about seven minutes. The only demerit here is that lighting was a lot hard than Kingsford and it was also costlier. Even though long-term grillers may go for Kingsford, this is a comfortable choice for the regular and conventional griller out there.
- Composed of 100% hardwood
- Excellent heat for the price
- Lighting issues
This is made up of just massive chunks and that means that it is not that easy to light but the heat level is high alongside the prolonged burn. It is also not cheap and the price is twice that of Royal Oak. It is ideal for versatile use and that means that on a huge charcoal grill, the high heat allows you to do boiling of water, the roasting of marshmallows, or even application in a Dutch oven. Anyone looking forward to doing some outdoor, hardcore, or camping grilling, here is the real deal.
- Long burn and high heat
- Impressive versatility
- Comparatively more expensive
Well, this is not the most impressive of all the selected ones in this list because users have to cope with the unpleasant smell. You also need to follow the instructions carefully or you will end up with a lot of flames in a short period. Customers, however, have complained of the smell getting into their food and that is not cool at all.
- Normal pricing
- Extreme flaming
- Unpleasant smell
This is not consistent when it comes to quality. In the pack you are going to come across pieces of wood that were not charred properly – this is not going to be fun for many customers. That is because wood that is not charred well can be seen as a raw or underdone charcoal, not good value for the money spent. If you are familiar with this niche, you are going to find a lot of customers online complaining bitterly about the presence of rocks, plastic, or uncharred wood in their packs and they do not like that at all.
The lumps are in good shape and you can cook your burgers in nine minutes but the smoke is not its proudest aspect. It is not the very best on this list.
- Price is okay
- Uncharred wood content
Types of Charcoal
Charcoal is available in various types and these are instant charcoal briquettes, Binchotan, briquettes, hardwood lump charcoal, Thai charcoal, or flavored briquettes.
Instant Charcoal Briquettes
These are practically made from the same stuff like the usual charcoal briquettes but there is a peculiar difference: the instant charcoal briquettes are filled with lighter fluid or any petroleum-based accelerants that make it very easy for the lighting to be done. The concept here is that the product is easier to light and work with. That works but the only issue here is that you will be left with an oily taste in your burger if the briquette is not lit properly as the grilling commences.
This type of lump charcoal has its origin in Japan but it is now in use all over the United States – an attestation to its wide acceptance. It is made traditionally from the ubamegashi oak wood which is found in the southern flank of Japan. It is known for burning very nicely and cleanly while yielding a lot of heat and a long burn time so it is one of the most excellent alternatives when it comes to grilling.
But you also need to realize that this is the premium choice and it does not come cheap at all. This particular variant is costlier than the other ones. One piece of Binchotan can cost you several dollars and that is understandable. This is because practically all the Binchotan have been imported to the United States from the mangroves of Asia.
These are one of the two principal charcoal types that are used regularly for grilling in the United States of America. This kind of charcoal is present in constant shape and size as a result of its manufacturing process. Items like sawdust, borax, wood scraps, coal dust, and even petroleum binders form charcoal briquettes and they are known for producing smoke with an acrid taste when they are lit at first.
They are also known for burning for longer periods and more evenly than lump charcoal even if they cannot reach the same temperatures. Overall, charcoal briquettes are cheaper than lump charcoal but an issue is with the additives, some of which can be toxic. It is for this reason that many users prefer to select lump charcoal as it has a pure carbon base.
Hardwood Lump Charcoal
Here is the second of the main kinds of charcoal and it is known for burning with a higher level of heat than the charcoal briquettes even if it does not have the same longevity and usually comes with a higher price tag. The main reason for these variations in characteristics is that the manufacturing of lump charcoal is quite different.
The wood is made to burn with no oxygen until all the gases and moisture is removed, leaving you with pure carbon with the same form as the initial wood. This method does not contain petroleum-based accelerants or binders and that explains why it is adopted as a much healthier option compared with the charcoal briquettes. It is also a favorite for grills who love that smoky and properly grilled taste.
This is one of the most recent inclusions in the grilling niche. It is the brainchild of world-class chef Andy Ricker. He was able to turn his eco-friendly rambutan fruitwood to form this charcoal.
The outcome is lump charcoal that can be compared to binchotan when it comes to burning and heat times but it is a lot cheaper than binchotan even though it may not be that easy to light. Even though there are several benefits with Thai charcoal, users may find it hectic to get because it is not that popular or well-known with Americans who are in love with good grilling.
Flavored Charcoal Briquettes
Just as the name implies, this is the flavored variant of charcoal briquettes. The essence of these flavors is to allow you to have meals that taste very well and full of lively flavors. The flavors are available in different options like apple wood, hickory, mesquite, oak, and many others. But that said, some experts recommend that using flavored wood chips alongside normal charcoal can result in an even stronger flavor for your grilled food.
Properties of the Most Excellent Charcoal
Before you select the finest charcoal for your outdoor grilling works, it will be very nice of you to first know of the factors that you must put in mind before your selection.
100 Percent Hardwood/All Natural
The 100 Percent Hardwood and All Natural are two labels that are seen regularly on charcoal packs when doing the advertisement of products that burn very cleanly.
- All-Natural: When most people see this, they assume automatically that the products are good for health, eco-friendly, and even safe but that is not precisely the meaning. When you see this label, it means that no synthetic or man-made ingredients were used in the creation of the charcoal product.
But that said, charcoal briquettes and lump charcoal are processed without any synthetic material. The product contains coal, wood, carbon, or even borax or starch, all of which are sourced naturally. Hence, the only guarantee stemming from this label is that brand did not include anything extra which was created artificially.
- 100 percent hardwood: This is often seen on lump charcoal products and premium quality charcoal briquettes. But that does not mean that the buyers must make the mistake of assuming that the product has 100% charcoal. The meaning of this labeling is that the product was not made using wooden pallets, sawdust, or other scrap wood and that there was no mixture of any kind with anthracite coal.
This is one of the most important parameters here when looking for the best charcoal for your grilling purposes. It depends massively on the kind of charcoal that you are using as thus:
- Lump charcoal burns quickly and swiftly get to a higher level of temperature than the charcoal briquettes before it burns out. Sadly, the rapid burn does not last that long when compared with charcoal briquettes.
- Charcoal briquettes burn smoothly and at an even pace and can last longer than the lump charcoal variants. This is because of the application of petroleum-based binders that were used during the production of charcoal briquettes. It allows them to burn regularly and consistently over time.
Despite these fundamental categorizations, every charcoal brand will show the approximate burn time for their respective items and the best technique to achieve the burn time. Remember that every grill burns differently so a venture can do an advertisement of an average burn time depending on several tests, any user may not get exactly the results.
Grilling requires a lot of heat – a lot indeed. The burn temperature is another parameter that divides into lump charcoal and charcoal briquettes.
- Lump charcoal: This can get temperatures as high as 1400 degrees but you will need to be an expert before you can achieve such high temperatures. The reason for this is that it can be hectic to do the management of the swift increase in the temperature and the quickly declining temperatures that are produced by the combusting lump charcoal.
- Charcoal briquettes: They burn at a temperature range from 800 to 1000 degrees. The heat that they generate is even and can even last longer than the lump charcoal for more effective control of the temperature of the grill. For those who are amateurs when it comes to charcoal grilling, these are excellent for the building of experience but burning food at a lower rate than if a fresh beginner goes straight to making use of lump charcoal.
These are additives that the brands blend with carbon to form a very thick paste that can then be fed into the rolling molds to form charcoal briquettes. These fillers usually contain limestone, wood chips, sawdust, sodium nitrate, borax, coal, or starch with each having its contribution to the binding while assisting with the burn.
Items that make use of several fillers generate a lot more quantity of ash than lump charcoal and can also have inimical effects on food like the poor flavor or even the chance of toxic substances.
Hints on Buying and Using Charcoal
When the time comes for the selection of charcoal for your grilling, you should be sure to go for a 100 percent hardwood charcoal item. This is going to lead to a much better and clean-burning than items that contain scrap wood and pallets for the making of the charcoal.
For the identification of excellent charcoal, search for the brands that have thin edges when it comes to easy lighting. Another parameter to be considered is the uniform shape which allows for easier stacking of charcoal but you have to do away with products that have too many fillers. These charcoal items have too much ash and can choke the flame during grilling.
Filters are not the best for your health and even though they are not expensive, the self-lighting items have the highest chance to risk exposure to toxic byproducts like carbon monoxide. Amateurs should commence with charcoal briquettes until they know how to use the grill vents.
Comparing Lumps and Briquettes
Overall, there are two kinds of charcoal and these are the briquettes and the lumps. The former is composed of sawdust that has undergone compression while the latter are chunks of wood that have been cooked. When it comes to the burning, briquettes are slower and also come with lower temperatures. As for lumps, they are appreciated for a wider range of variability.
A regular pack of lump charcoal has charcoal dust, chips, and massive chunks. By making use of a blend, you can achieve very high levels of heat. Briquettes will give you more uniformity and are usually cheaper. Lumps will ensure you get excellent heat and you can be sure of having that noticeable smoky aroma.
Q: What is charcoal?
A: Charcoal can be defined as wood that has been subjected to heat in an environment that does not have enough oxygen. This boils off the extra water and carbohydrates to leave a remnant that is mainly pure carbon. Grillers use charcoal as it burns with greater heat and for more prolonged periods than normal wood.
Q: How can one start a charcoal grill?
A: Several techniques can be used for charcoal grill starting, however, the chimney technique is considered to be the most excellent. Chimneys are compared to charcoal pitchers. You place the charcoal right in the chimney and arrange a pair of newspaper sheets in the lower portion. Apply flames to the paper and put the chimney on your grill and allow it to heat up for about 15 minutes until you see the coals at the center turn orange. Once you notice that, turn the burning charcoal in the lower grate. Get a new grate and enjoy your grilling.
Charcoal is a popular alternative to natural gas or propane across the globe when it comes to grilling food using an open flame in various parts of the globe. This style of cooking is preferred by many because it offers an unbeatable taste that you will feel lingering in your mouth for a long time. The taste from charcoal grilling is unique and also depends specifically on the kind of charcoal that you are going for. That is why you are going to find this piece to be instructive and beneficial especially for those looking for the best options.