Last updated: August 11, 2021

Welcome to our large charcoal test 2021. Here we present all the charcoals we have tested in detail. We have compiled detailed background information and added a summary of customer reviews on the internet.

We would like to make your purchase decision easier and help you find the best charcoal for you. You will also find answers to frequently asked questions in our guide. Furthermore, you will also find some important information on this page that you should definitely pay attention to if you want to buy charcoal.




The most important facts

  • Charcoal is an important ingredient for the perfect barbecue. Everyone who likes to barbecue should pay attention to a few details when buying it. This is because it is important that the pieces of charcoal are not too small. The larger the pieces, the longer they keep their glow.
  • There are both classic charcoal, which is untreated, and briquettes. Briquettes need a little more time to catch embers, but they keep the heat longer.
  • Charcoal is made from different types of wood. It is often made from quebracho wood (Argentina), coconut shells or beech wood (Germany). However, as there is a great risk of burning, it is best to always stand in front of the barbecue in combination with barbecue gloves.

Charcoal: Our Picks

Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying charcoal

What is the difference between charcoal and briquettes?

Charcoal is made by charring wood. Briquettes, on the other hand, are pressed charcoal pillows. Charcoal is therefore an unmodified product that does not require any other additives. Briquettes also consist of pieces of charcoal or ground charcoal, but a binding agent such as potato starch or maize is added. This mixture is then pressed moist and then dried again.
Did you know that charcoal can be mixed with briquettes to improve grilling performance? Many experts advise mixing charcoal with briquettes. While charcoal gets hot faster, briquettes can hold the heat longer. The combination of both is therefore advantageous.

Charcoal usually catches embers more quickly, becomes very hot, but also loses its heat again more quickly. Briquettes, on the other hand, take much longer to reach their operating temperature. But when it does, they keep the temperature much longer than normal charcoal. You can also mix the two types if necessary.

What should you look for when buying?

If possible, you should buy large bags of charcoal. Smaller bags usually contain much smaller pieces, more breakage and charcoal dust. To avoid buying such bags, you should inspect the bag sufficiently before buying. Large pieces of coal are also relatively easy to feel.

A particularly important point to look out for is the DINplus logo , which should be printed on the charcoal bag The European standard DIN EN 1860-2 determines the ash, water and carbon content of charcoal and briquettes. Additives such as bitumen, slag, pitch and glass are not allowed. When buying charcoal, you should always make sure that the product is DIN- or at least TÜV-approved.

When buying, you should lift the coal bag. This way you can check whether it contains large pieces of coal in good condition.

Decision: What types of charcoal are there and which is the right one for you?

Basically, you can distinguish between two types of charcoal:

  • Classic charcoal
  • Briquettes

The choice of fuel is one of the most important decisions to be made when planning a barbecue. If you do not choose the right charcoal for your needs, or if the quality is poor, the enjoyment of your barbecue could be reduced. For this reason, it is necessary that you make your choice depending on the intended use, the required burning time and the uniformity of the glow.

The glow is also related to the size of the pieces of wood. Pieces of wood of the same size ensure an even glow and a longer burning time. It is also important to consider the time it takes to start the barbecue. This is one of the biggest deciding factors between briquettes and classic charcoal.

However, it must be mentioned here that a good barbecue lighter, such as a lighting chimney, is advantageous for both types. The following section briefly explains the differences between the various types so that you can decide for yourself which fuel is right for you. The advantages and disadvantages of each type of charcoal are also described.

How does classic charcoal work and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

Classic charcoal convinces many consumers with its low time intensity when the charcoal glows through. This takes only 20 to 30 minutes until it is ready for use and the food can be placed on the grill.

When using a barbecue lighter, this process can be accelerated even further. In doing so, the ember bed generates a high degree of heat, which can quickly rise up to 700 degrees Celsius. This has the effect that the food is quickly cooked through.

However, caution should be exercised, especially in combination with a liquid barbecue lighter, as this could lead to dangerous sparks. However, classic charcoal loses its heat output very quickly because the charcoal glows only unevenly. For this reason, you can only barbecue effectively for about one to two hours.
For longer barbecue parties, new charcoal must therefore be added regularly and reheated. Many consumers swear by the special aroma that the charcoal gives the grilled food.

Kohle am Grill

Both pure charcoal and charcoal briquettes are suitable for barbecuing. The difference lies in how they are made and how long they burn. (Photo: flyupmike / pixabay.com)

When buying charcoal, it is important to look for the DIN mark with the designation "EN 1860-2". This seal promises that it has not been manufactured with artificial glue and is free of harmful substances. The charcoal is a thoroughly natural product without any other additives.

During production, the wood is first dried until it only has a residual moisture content of 15 to 20 percent. This process takes a long time and can take up to two years. In the next step, the wood is heated at a heat of 450 to 550 degrees Celsius in the complete absence of oxygen.

In this way, volatile substances such as tar and wood vinegar escape so that only pure charcoal remains. Qualitative differences can arise in the process, however. The lower the dust content and more uniform the charcoal, the more beautiful the ember bed.

Advantages
  • Little time to glow through
  • Produces high heat
  • Special aroma
  • Natural product
Disadvantages
  • Loses heat quickly
  • Qualitative differences
  • Heat uneven

How do briquettes work and what are their advantages and disadvantages?

Briquettes have the particular advantage that they retain their heat output for a very long time and are also suitable for longer barbecues. The ember bed stays warm for a few hours up to five hours - depending on the quality and quantity.

However, they have a lower heat output than classic charcoal, which makes them more suitable for passive grilling. The ingredients used ensure that the grilled food does not take on a different aroma and that it retains its natural flavour.

The briquettes are particularly easy to dose and glow evenly, which also influences the burning time and smoke development. Barbecue briquettes consist of pieces of charcoal and charcoal dust, which are pressed together with the help of binding agents, such as corn starch.

The addition of binders is indispensable for this process, but should be as natural as possible. If the packaging does not indicate which agent is used, it is better to use a different product. Otherwise, questionable or even harmful substances could come into contact with you and your barbecue food. The briquettes are usually egg-shaped, are all the same size and reduce smoke development.

Advantages
  • No special aroma
  • Glows evenly
  • Easy to dose
  • Suitable for indirect grilling
Disadvantages
  • Plenty of time to glow through
  • Lower grilling temperature
  • Slow roasting through

Buying criteria: These are the factors you can use to compare and evaluate charcoal

In the following, we would like to show you which factors you can use to compare and evaluate charcoal. This will make it easier for you to decide between the different types of charcoal. In summary, these are:

  • Barbecue intention
  • Burning time
  • Smoke development
  • Sustainable production
  • Size of the charcoal pieces

In the following paragraphs you can read about the individual purchase criteria and how you can classify them.

Barbecue intention

Which charcoal is more suitable or whether you should rather use briquettes depends on what you want to grill. For meat that needs to cook in your barbecue for a while, it is helpful to use briquettes, as a constant temperature is needed for a long time.

Burning time

The burning time of charcoal varies from type of wood to type of wood. Quebracho wood or coconut briquettes in particular have a long burning time. However, it is better not to use lignite. Although it has a comparable burning time, its ash contains sulphur and is therefore not suitable for barbecuing.

Smoke development

Of course, you should be aware that every charcoal produces a certain amount of smoke. However, there are also a few differences between the various types of wood. Especially quebracho and beech wood can score with a low smoke development.

Another point that might interest you is the amount of ash that is produced when grilling with the different types of wood. Both when grilling with beech wood and with quebracho charcoal, relatively little ash is produced. However, it is different with charcoal or coconut briquettes. Here, a larger amount of ash is produced during grilling.

Holz verkohlt

For a pleasant barbecue experience, you should pay attention to the type of wood when buying charcoal. The type of wood determines how much smoke is produced when the charcoal burns. (Photo: tookapic / pixabay.com)

Sustainable production

If it is important to you where the charcoal is produced and how sustainable its production is, we would like to provide you with some information here. Due to our geographical location in Germany, only beech charcoal can be produced here.

Quebracho wood or coconut palms, which are used for other species, of course do not grow here in Germany. So these are imported products. You should be aware of this when buying.

Did you know that the rainforest is cleared for the production of charcoal? Up to 200,000 tonnes of wood are transported to Germany alone every year for the production of charcoal. A large part of this comes from the rainforest

Size of the charcoal pieces

The size of the charcoal pieces also depends on the occasion for which you want to barbecue. In general, the larger the pieces, the longer it takes for the charcoal to be covered with embers. But of course, the larger pieces burn longer.

When choosing charcoal, you should also pay attention to the size of the pieces. There is a difference between "normal" and restaurant charcoal. Both types of charcoal come from the same production and are only sorted before packaging.

The large pieces are then used for the restaurant charcoal and the small pieces are filled into the smaller bags. Due to the size of the restaurant charcoal pieces, lighting takes a little longer than with normal charcoal and the heat when burning is a little lower. The larger the pieces, the longer the burning time.

The larger the pieces of charcoal, the longer their burning time.

Interesting facts about charcoal

Is charcoal also made in Germany?

In Germany, there are few manufacturers who also produce charcoal themselves. One of them is proFagus. It produces beech charcoal. Untreated wood is charred in special ovens called retorts. This is then first dried until it only has a residual water content of 15-18%.

The wood is then heated in the retorts under exclusion of air. Acids and tars that are produced during the process are directly burnt or extracted in the retort process and further processed. From three tonnes of beech wood, about one tonne of charcoal and two tonnes of by-products (acids, tars) are produced.

Picture source: Pixabay.com / Barni1

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