Best BBQ fuel to use: Guide for hybrid, electric, gas and charcoal barbecues

Ever wondered what type of coal you need for your BBQ, or what wood will make your food taste better? Read our in-depth guide for more advice on the best barbecue fuel. 

Man talking to woman with son preparing food at barbecue grill BBQ fuel

by Natalie Corner |
Updated on

BBQ season is here - and you've found the perfect opportunity to try out your BBQ. A summer heatwave is on its way and lovely long Bank Holiday weekends. This means we’ve got plenty of time to light the barbecue and get tasty BBQ food to feast on. Luckily, we've written this ultimate guide to the best BBQ fuel to use for your cookout.

But before you whip out your chef apron and tools to get cooking, sourcing the best BBQ fuel is a necessity because it can be the difference between a perfectly cooked sausage with a crispy outer layer and moist centre, or a burnt piece of dry tasteless steak.  Of course, choosing the right type of BBQ fuel depends on what type of barbecue you have in your garden, so, whether that’s charcoal, gas or a hybrid BBQ, we’ve covered all fuel for your outdoor kitchen in detail.

Best BBQ Fuel Shortlist

Gas for small BBQs - Coleman Value C500 Gas Cartridge
Best gas for large BBQs - Flogas Butane
Firelighters for convenience - Weber Lighter Cube
Best BBQ briquettes - Weber
Charcoal for flavour - Weber Lumpwood Charcoal
Best for ignition - Big K Instant Light Charcoal

Perhaps, you're wondering: what is the best BBQ fuel? Well, there are several different types of BBQ fuel you can choose from to grill food. Picking the best fuel is determined by what kind of BBQ you have, what food you are cooking and the taste you want to achieve, as well as how much time you are going to spend grilling. To find out more information on each type, scroll down to the FAQs. Here, you'll find the best fuel for your Kamado grill and beyond.

But, the question is: where to buy gas for BBQ fuel? It's worth noting that the initial cost of buying a gas bottle may be higher, but once you have a bottle you can buy gas refills. For small gas BBQs, a small gas bottle will suffice, for a gas BBQ with three burners you will need a gas bottle at around 5kg and for anything with four burners and above, a 13kg bottle is most suitable. It does depend on how often you use your BBQ, and how much food you are grilling so take that into consideration. Calor Gas is highly recommended and is currently available at most online stockists.

With that, we have the best BBQ fuel for your outdoor kitchen.

Best BBQ Fuel

Best gas for small BBQs


The Coleman Value C500 Gas Cartridge, Six Pack provides a steady consistent burn across a wide


  • Great value for money
  • Will fit the majority of portable gas appliances


  • Can only recycled at the council recycling centre
  • Small capacity

Best gas for large BBQs


Ideal for patio heaters and large BBQs with four burners or more. The Flogas Butane Gas Cylinder,


  • Value for money


  • Burn time may vary depending on your heater or BBQ

Best domestic use butane gas


This Calor Gas Butane 7kg Gas Bottle is compatible with many different outdoor appliances and can


  • Versatile usage
  • Experts in butane gas


  • Can be expensive
  • Some customers have experienced difficulties with the delivery of their order


Electric grills are pretty energy efficient due to the power source. You will still need to preheat your grill for around 10-15 minutes so your meat cooks evenly, but you won’t have a lot of tidying up afterwards. It goes without saying, that rainy-day BBQs are an absolute no-no with an electric grill.

What fuel is used in hybrid BBQs?

You can use any cooking charcoal or gas on a hybrid BBQ, although it's worth checking the manufacturer's instruction manual in case they have any requirements or recommendations. The BBQ brand Outback, for example, recommends that you use its Hybrid Coconut Briquettes for its charcoal BBQ, and John Lewis recommends propane or patio gas cylinder bottles ranging in sizes from 3kg to 13kg for its gas BBQ.

How do I start a BBQ?

There are a couple of options when starting a BBQ and which option you choose depends on which BBQ you have, if you have a hybrid BBQ then the choice is all yours.

How to start a gas BBQ: For beginners selecting the right gas like butane gas or methane gas is the best starting point, advises Robert Dyas. After following the manufacturer's instructions to connect it correctly, keep the lid open and light it. Gas canisters can last for up to four hours on low heat but it’s wise to have a backup just in case. Never leave your gas BBQ unattended and set it up away from flammable products.

How to start a charcoal BBQ: To make things easier when lighting a charcoal BBQ, you’ll also need firelighters. This can be liquid lighter fluid, natural eco-friendly firelighters, or firelighter blocks. Pack them in between your charcoal and light them to get your fire going using lump charcoal or briquettes. Robert Dyas recommends using the 1:1 ratio for your coal – for every kilogram of meat, add a kilogram of charcoal.

Best lighters for convenience

Weber 17670 Lighter Cube
Price: £5.49


Use a Weber 17670 Lighter Cube with charcoal barbecues and smokers. They're a non-toxic and


  • Less smell than other firelighters
  • Effective
  • Easy to use


  • Take care - highly flammable product
  • Handle with gloves as the product can irritate skin

Love Weber? We do, too. Check out our review of the Weber Genesis EPX 335 Smart BBQ.

Best natural firelighters

FIRE UP Natural Sustainable Firelighters
Price: £8.97


FIRE UP Natural Sustainable Firelighters are made from sustainably sourced (FSC Certified)


  • All-natural, carbon-neutral emission
  • Some reviews have commented that the smell chocolatey when they burn
  • Great value and versatile use


  • A little tricky to ignite - need to engage the rough edge

Best firelighters for versatility

Natural Eco Wood Firelighters
Price: £22.99


Eco-friendly odourless firelighters made from wood, wool and wax. Say goodbye to chemical-laden,


  • All-natural
  • Value for money
  • Easy to use


  • None that we can think of!

How do I know when BBQ coals are ready?

After waiting at least 15-20 minutes, you’ll also know when your charcoals are ready because they will no longer be solid black but white-hot and covered with grey ash. Make sure all the coals are of the same appearance and evenly heated before you start cooking.

What is the best coal to use for a charcoal BBQ?

Firstly, you’ll need to decide whether you are using lump charcoal or briquettes for your charcoal BBQ.

Brands to look for when choosing your coal that will deliver the best results: Weber, Outback, Rockwood, Komodo Joe, Jealous Devil, or Royal Oak.

Best BBQ briquettes

Weber 1759180 Briquettes 8kg
Price: £21.99


If you want consistent results briquettes are hard to beat. They light evenly and burn at the same


  • Perfect for grilling, roasting or baking on a BBQ
  • Eco-conscious, made from waste wood
  • Easy to light and emit heat for a long time


  • Expensive

Best fuel for hybrid BBQ


These Outback Hybrid Coconut Briquettes are for use with all Outback® Hybrid gas BBQs. Simply add


  • Slow burning
  • 100 per cent natural


  • None

Best long lasting charcoal


Made from real trees, the Kamado Joe XL Natural Reusable Lump Charcoal for BBQ burns clean and


  • Creates a distinctive charcoal flavour
  • Achieve high temperatures for searing
  • Burns cleaner, hotter and longer than standard charcoal


  • Carbon Monoxide hazard - use outdoors only

Best charcoal for flavour

Weber 1782580 Lumpwood Charcoal 5 kg
Price: £15.29


This Weber 1782580 Lumpwood Charcoal, 5kg is made from beech, hornbeam, birch, and oak woods,


  • Easy to light
  • Ideal for grilling and searing
  • Imparts a unique flavour


  • A bit messy
  • Some customers received bags containing small pieces of charcoal
  • The charcoal falls between the grill

Best organic charcoal
Marienburg Organic Restaurant Grade Lumpwood BBQ Charcoal for Barbecues and Pizza Ovens
Price: £17.95


Another popular charcoal with Amazon shoppers, this Marienburg Organic Restaurant Grade Lumpwood


  • Organic lumpwood charcoal
  • Odourless
  • Clean and convenient


  • Only use outside

Best charcoal for ignition
Big K Instant Light Lumpwood Charcoal

Rrp: £11.95

Price: £10.49


A best-seller on Amazon this four-pack of instant light lump wood charcoal bags has been rated


  • Convenience
  • Easy to light


  • Lack of information about the provenance of the wood
  • impregnated with chemical


What is the best BBQ fuel to use?

Charcoals and lump charcoals – Perhaps the most well-known type of BBQ fuel, charcoal takes the longest to cook food with on a stylish charcoal BBQ. However, once heated charcoal is the easiest to cook with and the most versatile when it comes to the type of food you wish to cook with. Lump charcoal comes in larger forms and looks most like its original form, it is the best for achieving a smoked flavour.

Briquettes – These are compressed blocks of wood by-products like coal dust or wood, along with cleaner-burning ingredients. They are cheaper than coal and as they are uniform in shape when lit. They provide a consistent and controllable level of heat, longer than lump charcoal.

Wood - For the advanced fire cooker, using wood on a BBQ can add another level of smoky flavour to your meat due to the choices available. Match your wood to your meat and you’ll have your guests talking for weeks to come. Sweet chestnut, silver birch, applewood and English oak are all solid options. You’ll need to support the BBQ with coal still but make sure your wood is dry and cooked down to embers before you start cooking your food, otherwise, it will taste quite literally like a fire.

Butane/Propane gas – This is a natural highly flammable hydrocarbon gas available in canisters that fit in your gas BBQ. Propane stores all year round, so if you don’t use your whole canister during BBQ season it will be usable when the next season arrives. Gas is a great option for beginners because you don’t have to wait around for coals to heat, once lit the heat is instant. Make sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions when connecting any tank.

Hand Lighting Charcoal Grill with Autumn Leaves in Background
Charcoal briquettes

How long does it take for charcoal to get hot enough?

It takes roughly 15-20 minutes for the charcoal to get hot enough to cook with. You should keep the lid of your charcoal BBQ closed for maximum heat efficiency.

Does lump charcoal burn longer than briquettes?

Lump charcoal lights faster and burns hotter, however, it tends to burn down faster so can be better for cooking meats like steak or burgers. Briquettes don’t get as hot as lump charcoal, but they hold a steady temperature so are good for long and even burning.

The ultimate guide to the best BBQ food

Our pick of the best smoker grills for your cookouts

Best BBQ cleaners for an effective clean-up


Discover everything you need to know to make your outside space look fantastic, quickly and

Natalie Corner is the Commercial Content Editor across the Specialist Portfolio for Bauer Media and is slowly learning how to care for her plant babies. When she's not soaking up the three days of sunshine in the great British outdoors, she's testing out the latest BBQ products.

Just so you know, whilst we may receive a commission or other compensation from the links on this website, we never allow this to influence product selections - read why you should trust us