5 Best Charcoal Briquettes For Smoking With In 2023

Charcoal briquettes are the modern solution to all the charcoal combustion problems, without sacrificing on flavor or burn quality. When considering which charcoal briquette you’ll need for your next smoking session, focus on what wood the charcoal is made from and if there are any other added materials, such as lighter fluid. This guide considers what makes the best charcoal briquette for smoking, looking at the highest quality and most popular options, broken down simply.

Top 5 Best Charcoal Briquettes For Smoking

Best Overall!

Duraflame Cowboy Natural Hardwood Briquettes

  • Premium & completely all natural (no additives)
  • Ignites quickly 
  • Great flavor
  • Very affordable
  • Hard to find in store
  • Isn’t the longest lasting

Duraflame Cowboy Natural Hardwood Briquettes are one of the best all natural charcoal briquettes on the market. The biggest benefit is that they are made of just 95% compressed hardwood charcoal with a 5% vegetable binder. No coal, chemicals, or added fillers.

The unique pillow shape of the briquettes make them easy to stack and help them ignite quickly and evenly, like any good briquette should. Because it’s made with a 5% vegetable binder rather than chemicals or other fillers it produces a great and real flavor. Considering the quality, these briquettes are great value for money. Although they only last about 90% of the time other longer lasting briquettes do, it’s still long enough for smoking just about anything.

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Best Quick Lighting!

Kingsford Match Light Charcoal Briquettes

  • Very quick to ignite
  • Made from high quality ingredients and real wood
  • Trusted and quality brand
  • Burns out more quickly

The main benefit and selling point of Kingsford Match Light Charcoal Briquettes is how quickly and easily it ignites. It does state that it’s ready in 10 minutes, although it’s recommended to ensure you can see a coat of white ash before using just so the lighter fluid has had time to burn off properly.

It’s definitely high quality, but not top quality and many people often prefer all-natural options. However, if you’re looking for ease of use and don’t like to mess around and wait for the charcoal to light then these charcoal briquettes will suit you nicely.

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Popular Pick!

Pok Pok Thaan Charcoal Logs

  • Burns hot
  • Very popular & reliable
  • Very clean burning
  • Awkward shape for some smokers or smoke boxes

If you’ve been shopping around for charcoal briquettes there’s a high chance you’ve seen Pok Pok Thaan charcoal logs. They are a very popular high quality charcoal log briquette. These logs are very long burning, producing low smoke and ash. The log shape with holes through the middle makes them incredibly easy to light, particularly if you’re using a quality charcoal chimney. 

The very clean burn produces extremely minimal smoke, also having quite a tame smell and taste. It’s made from rambutan fruit wood which has a very mellow smokiness, so the traditional barbecue flavor isn’t as prominent. This is not always noticeable as you can get the smokiness from using different smoking woods, but it would be nice.

Pok Pok Thaan charcoal is quite affordable, and because it burns evenly and consistently slow, you don’t need to add any charcoal throughout the process, which can be frustrating if you’re using a lower quality charcoal.

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Best Tasting!

Kingsford Mesquite Charcoal Briquettes

  • Bold & smoky barbecue flavor
  • Real mesquite hardwood
  • High quality
  • Not suitable for combing with strong smoking wood

If you love a strong smokey flavor you will love Kingsfords Mesquite Charcoal Briquettes. Purposely made with mesquite to bring a bold traditional barbecue flavor to the briquette. Kingsford again, is a quality brand you can trust to make a decent charcoal briquette.

These light quickly, within 15 minutes, and they claim to last 25% longer than other charcoal briquettes. The only caution would be to consider what type of smoking wood you are using and what meat you are smoking, as mesquite can more easily overpower the meat. If you were to smoke with lighter, fruitier or sweeter woods then this would even out the smokiness, but doubling up with more mesquite could be overkill.

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Easy To Use!

Kingsford Easy Light Charcoal Briquettes Bag

  • No fuss approach
  • Amazing easily to light
  • 100% Natural
  • Decent smokey flavor
  • You have to use the whole bag
  • Only small in size 
  • Not as long lasting

A really handy design makes the charcoal lighting process almost too easy. Literally place the whole 2.8lb or 4lb bag into your smoker and light it on fire. After a short time you’ll be good to go. I do think though, the Kingsford Easy Light Charcoal Briquettes Bag is more designed to be a portable option for camping or tailgating rather than your everyday smoker.

The fact you have to use the whole bag, and seeing as how little charcoal is actually in there does limit the total smoking time, making it less suitable for smoking brisket or pork butt over those longer times. In saying that, it makes for the perfect portable and easy to use option completely eliminating any troubles lighting it.

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Benefits Of Using Charcoal Briquettes For Smoking

The best charcoal briquettes for smoking have several advantages over the best lump charcoal for smoking. 

Burns Longer
Briquettes are specially designed to burn consistently & slowly while still burning hot. This is possible during the formation process where they compress the coal dust, sawdust, or other combustible materials. The result? A modern solution to help simplify the smoking process, which makes charcoal briquettes particularly good at burning over a longer period of time for those longer smoking sessions, such as when smoking pork butt or brisket.

Maintains Constant Temperature
Sometimes when you’re burning lump charcoal, due to the varying sizes and inconsistencies of the charcoal it can be a bit harder to control the temperature to the perfect level. Again, charcoal briquettes bring consistency to the smoking process making it easier to maintain a constant temperature to hit that smoking sweet spot.  

Easy To Use
Charcoal briquettes, although sometimes can take a bit longer to get ready for smoking, they are reliable. Some charcoal briquettes are made with lighter fluid or other easy to combust materials which remove the hassle of waiting for the charcoal to adequately light. Just remember to wait until you can see a thin layer of white ash over the briquettes as a sure sign they are ready.

More Affordable
You’ll naturally find that charcoal briquettes are much cheaper, but still hold the same smoking quality as lump charcoal. Not that we needed another excuse to have more smoke sessions, but it’s certainly more friendly on the wallet.

Final Words

For barbecue lovers, charcoal briquettes are the modern improvement on standard charcoals, offering affordable, easy to use, and long lasting advantages. If you like the 100% all natural approach you usually get with lump charcoal, but prefer the easiness of briquettes, then Duraflame Cowboy Natural Hardwood Briquettes will be an amazing option for you, combining the advantages of both. However, If you prefer lump charcoal for smoking, that’s fine too. 

Consider what you enjoy most in your charcoal, whether its flavor, ease of use, quick lighting, or long lasting. The top quality best charcoal briquettes for smoking will be everything you need to get the fire going in your backyard!

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