Top 9 Best Charcoal Starters in 2021

Many of us delight in the opportunity to fire up the old charcoal grill and display our long practiced meat grilling skills. We take enormous pride and comfort in the process and the tasty outcome. Before we can start sizzling steaks on the grill, we need to get those coals to just the right temperature and shade of grey. We have many options for how to get the coals glowing, but some are clearly safer and more efficient than others. Starting your charcoal effectively and evenly allows you to control and time your heat and, in turn, properly plan your cooking, grilling, or smoking. These days there’s no need to douse charcoal with liquid fuel and risk seasoning your food with petroleum aroma; let’s just stick to salt and pepper on our food. Learn how to effortlessly and effectively get your charcoal going with these top 9 best charcoal starters in 2021.

What is a charcoal starter, and why do I need one?

charcoal fire

A charcoal starter is a device or a consumable that allows you to effectively heat the charcoal until it is ash grey white and ready for your charcoal grill or chiminea. You might ask why would I need one if I can take a ball of rolled-up paper, cover it with charcoal, and light it up? But be honest with yourself, how many times has your paper or tiny kindling fizzled out under the charcoal, forcing you to begin again and pushing back your dinner schedule by another 1/2 hour? Or the charcoal lit up unevenly, and your grill temperature kept on changing every 5 minutes, making it hard to time your cooking? Save time and hassle by picking one of our best charcoal starters and move onto what you do best – grill!

Different types of charcoal starters

Charcoal starter on a grill
old charcoal starter

There are several types of charcoal starters you can get your hands on; they are very different in how they operate, but in the end, how much they cost or how fast they can light up the charcoal are the main differences. 

Chimney charcoal starters

charcoal chimney

Chimney charcoal starters are probably the most popular way to effectively and evenly light up your charcoal. A basic chimney starter construction consists of an upper compartment for your coal, a bottom compartment for a fire source, and a handle to transport or pour out hot coal. These starters are popular because they are easy to use, budget-friendly, and heat the coal evenly. It will take around 20 minutes in a chimney starter to have your coals ready for cooking.

Electric charcoal starters

A new trend among beginning and seasoned grillers are electric charcoal starters. They usually have a heating element or a very hot air fan to heat the coals. The most significant advantage of electric coal starters is that some of them can heat your coals in just a few minutes; however, they require an electric outlet and are a bit pricier.

Propane gas charcoal starters

You may have used a standard torch to light up a fire or grill yourself at one time or another. These are very portable and relatively cheap, but they are not as efficient in heating coals and require you to manually hold and point the torch towards the coals until they get hot.

Consumable charcoal starters

These starters are usually made from wood chips, paraffin wax, paper, or a mix of all of them. There are a lot of eco-friendly options that are made with nontoxic products and are very portable. However, they are not as reliable in quickly and evenly heating the charcoal.

Best Charcoal Starter Reviews

Weber 7447 Compact Rapidfire Chimney Starter

Weber Grilling equipment is one of the most popular BBQ equipment brands worldwide, so you know you’re on the right track with the Weber 7447 chimney charcoal starter. It’s made from stainless steel and features a heat protection plate to protect the handle from getting too hot, which also increases the sturdiness of the whole chimney.

The Compact Rapidfire chimney can fit around 40 briquettes, making it a perfect size for small to medium grills. The Weber 7447 Compact Rapidfire innovative grate inside the chimney lets you heat your coals in about 15 minutes. A cool-to-touch handle protects from burning your hand; however, always wear a heat-resistant glove or oven mitt to be safe.

This Weber grill is the best chimney starter on our list for a small grill or if you’re on a budget.

Key Features:

  • Well recognized brand
  • Fits around 40 briquettes
  • Compact
  • It gets coals hot in 15 minutes
  • Cool to touch handle
  • Sturdy construction
  • Budget price


  • It might be small for larger grills

Oklahoma Joe’s 9848125R04 Half-Time Charcoal Starter XL

If you have a huge grill that needs a lot of charcoal, you might be interested in Oklahoma Joe’s Charcoal Starter XL. This large chimney starter can fit up to 100 briquettes at a time, and as the company boasts, the charcoal lights up twice as fast compared to competition chimneys. We’re not entirely sold on this statement, but the coal heats up at least a bit more quickly due to many air intake holes in the chimney.

We love the two handles on this chimney. The main heat-resistant handle (improved design, nonplastic) with a heat protection plate allows lifting the chimney safely. Since the XL chimney is large and becomes heavy when full of charcoal, an extra handle will enable you to use two hands and control the pouring of hot charcoal.

While the main handle is solid and sturdy, we did feel the second one was a bit flimsy, so you might want to tighten the bolts yourself.

Despite having a bit higher price point, Oklahoma Joe’s XL is the best large chimney starter on our list if you have a large grill and want to avoid lighting 2 or 3 batches of coal.

Key Features:

  • Extra-large capacity of 100 charcoal briquettes
  • Stainless steel construction
  • Improved heat resistant handle and shield
  • Extra handle for controlled dumping of the coal


  • Construction is a bit flimsy
  • A bit expensive

BBQ Dragon Chimney of Insanity Charcoal Starter

BBQ Dragon Chimney is an innovative chimney charcoal starter with a 90-degree elbow inside to fit their grill fan and supercharge the heating process. This allows the charcoal to heat up in just 3 minutes. All you need to do is grab a couple of crumpled balls of paper, stuff them into the elbow, and light them up. Now turn on the fan, stick it into the elbow, fasten the fan onto the grill and leave it running for 3-4 minutes. (fan not included)

The thick galvanized steel construction feels really solid and easy to handle. As with all chimney starters, you have a heat protection shield and a heat-resistant nylon handle.

Be informed that the chimney itself is sold separately and is quite expensive compared to other chimney starters. Without the fan, you won’t be able to utilize the unique design elbow tube. The chimney and fan combination is quite expensive but allows you to heat the charcoal in just 3 minutes and makes it the best luxury charcoal starter on our list.

Key Features:

  • Innovative design
  • Lights up charcoal in 3 minutes
  • Thick gauge galvanized steel
  • Thick heat shield and heat resistant nylon handle


  • Quite small
  • Expensive
  • Have to buy the chimney starter and the fan

MIGI WOLF Electric Charcoal Fire Starter

Hot airstream charcoal lighters are probably the most popular charcoal starter currently on the market. They blow hot air of up to 1100°F to light up the charcoal in around 60 seconds. By heating 2-3 spots of the charcoal pile, you’ll have your coal ready for grilling in just 3-5 minutes. This is the fastest charcoal starter on our list.

This electric charcoal starter doesn’t use any flame or gas, so it’s much safer for you or your party-goers. The long heating fan stick allows you to safely hold it without burning your hand.

The only disadvantage of the looftlighter is that it’s pretty expensive, and like with most electric lighters, you’ll need an electric socket nearby to use it.

Key Features:

  • Heats up to 1100°F
  • Very powerful 
  • An extended heat stick protects the hand from getting hot
  • No gas or flame used
  • Can heat targeted charcoal in 60 seconds


  • It needs to plug into an electric socket
  • Expensive

BISON AIRLIGHTER 520 Cordless Fire Starter

Love camping and need a portable option or just don’t have an electric socket? The Bison Airlighter 520 is a cordless charcoal starter perfect for on-the-go grilling where there’s no easy access to electricity or space is tight.

The refillable butane tank powers a small flame to light up the coal first, and then you can switch to the fan to quickly heat the coals.

The fan is a bit weak but enough to get your coals going in 3-5 minutes. The small size and no need for electricity make it one of the best portable charcoal starters in 2021.

Key Features:

  • Cordless
  • Portable
  • Convenient and versatile
  • 15 minutes of burn time
  • Refillable butane tank


  • The fan is a bit weak

GGC Electric Charcoal Fire Starter

This GGC electric charcoal starter is an excellent option if you’re on a budget but still want to light up your coals in less than 5 minutes. With this fire starter, you can safely light up your charcoal using nothing but hot air. Just plug it into the socket, aim it at the charcoal until it gets red and move onto the other side of the charcoal pile. In about 5 minutes, the charcoal should be ready for grilling.

The build and fan might not be as strong as other top brands, but GGC electric charcoal starter is pretty cheap, making it a great budget option.

Key Features:

  • No gas or flame used
  • Budget price
  • Heats coals in several minutes


  • It needs to be plugged into an electric socket
  • Not very powerful 

Stanbroil 600W Electric Charcoal Starter

Here we have a Stanbroil 600W electric charcoal starter that uses a heating element instead of a fan. It’s a great passive way to heat your charcoal without the need to stand next to your grill. Just stick the heating element into a pile of charcoal and plug it in. In about 8-10 minutes, your charcoal will be started.

The 600W powerful heating element can cover a large amount of charcoal at the same time, so you don’t need to relocate it during the process. It may not be the most conventional charcoal starter, but it requires little to no attention. This is the type of charcoal starter that I use and I find it very effective and has lasted me for at least five years without any sign of failure.

Key Features:

  • 600W heating element
  • Large heating element
  • Easy to use
  • Cheap


  • It needs to plug into an electric socket

Naked Flame Fire Starters Natural Fast Lighting Charcoal Starters 

These wood wool fire starters are dipped in food-grade wax, making them 100% natural with no unpleasant odor. Just grab a couple of rolls, stick them in different sides of your charcoal pile and light them up. The perfect option for camping and traveling when space is really tight.

Key Features:

  • 100% natural
  • Easy to light up
  • 8-10 minutes burn time


  • A bit expensive

Weber Lighter Cubes

This is another consumable charcoal starter, this time from our famous grill master Weber. These lighter cubes are very easy to light up even if they are wet or during conditions. You don’t need any paper or kindling, just a touch of fire. 

All it takes is 1-2 Weber lighter cubes in a pile of charcoal and 15-20 minutes of burn time to get the coals hot.

Key Features:

  • Lights up fast
  • Lights up even wet
  • Burns for 15-20 minutes


  • Messy packaging
  • It has some lighter fluid smell

Frequently Asked Questions

How to use the chimney charcoal starter?

Using a chimney starter is quite simple. The first step is to fill the top container with charcoal of your choice. Make sure to fill it up with as much coal as you’re going to use, so all coals light up at the same time. Now roll up some paper, paraffin wax, lighter cubes, or small kindling on your grill grates and light it up. Put the chimney starter with coals on top and let it burn. 

The air intake holes at the bottom part of the chimney starter will get the fire going upwards straight to the coals. You can leave the chimney burning for around 20minutes; by that time, your coals should be ash grey white and ready for grilling. Grab a heat-resistant glove or oven mitten and pour out the hot charcoal into your grill.

How to use an electric charcoal starter?

An electric charcoal starter is even easier to use. You’ll usually find two types of electric charcoals – heat guns that blow hot air onto the coals or starters that use a heating element that you need to bury into charcoal.

Using a heat gun is pretty easy; just plug in your starter, push the button, and aim into the coal. When a few pieces of coal start sparking and are red hot, continue with the next charcoal and repeat until all the coals in your grill are turning ash grey white and are red hot.

If you have a heating element coal starter bury the element into the coals, plug it in and leave for a good 8-12 minutes. You can check-in between if some coals are not getting any heat and rearrange them with a poker. Be sure to follow the directions, these starters can melt in the charcoal if left for too long.

Top 7 Best Propane Gas Grills in 2021

Are you tired of taming flame on your wood-burning fire pit or waiting for your coals to get hot in a charcoal grill? Consider getting a propane gas grill that will let you start grilling in 5-10 minutes. If you are a beginner or just lazy like we are, you’ll love the convenient and quick heat control whether you’re searing a steak or BBQing tasty ribs. To save you the hassle of researching which propane gas grills are the best, we have compiled a list of the Top 7 Best Propane Gas Grills in 2021 with detailed and compact information about top-performing grills in various categories.

What to Consider When Buying a Gas Grill?

Before jumping in and buying the first recommended gas grill, take some time and think about what kind of gas grill best fits your needs. Here are a couple of points you should take into consideration.


weber grill

As always, your budget is one of the most significant factors when looking for a gas grill. If you’re looking for a budget option, be ready to sacrifice quality, durability, and special features. However, you don’t need to spend $10,000 (yes, there are grills for $10,000 or more) on a grill to get high-quality. Our list contains propane gas grills with the best price-to-quality ratio, so you don’t spend a single dollar for something you don’t need.


Reflect on your previous grilling experience. How many people do you usually need to feed? Is it just your family of 4 or large parties? Large gas grills are pretty chunky and take a lot of storage space, so if you’re going to fire up the grill only occasionally for a few burgers, go for a compact two-burner gas grill or even a tiny portable tabletop grill.

For bigger households or events, get a four-burner grill or at minimum three burner one to avoid cooking your food in multiple batches and making a part of your guests wait while others already munch on your delicious burgers.


best propane grill
grilling meat

Warmer rack, rotisserie forks, a side burner for side dishes or sauces, safety gadgets, LED lights for night cooking, fuel conversion, and many other various features can be found on a propane gas grill. Just remember, the more special features a gas grill has, the higher your total price will be. 

In our opinion, a good gas grill should have a good igniter, high-quality grill grates, a warmer rack, and maybe a side table. Anything extra is optional and should be picked depending on your needs.

Best Propane Gas Grill Reviews in 2021

Coleman Portable Propane Grill for Camping & Tailgating

The Coleman portable propane grill is excellent for camping trips or tailgating events for 2-4 people. The 28.81 x 18.31 x 10.63 inches size will fit in any car trunk and will be easy to store during the cold season.

The high-quality cast iron grill construction and stationary legs provide stability and extra sturdiness to the whole build. The grill grates are enameled cast iron which is dishwasher safe but can be easily cleaned with some hot soapy water. However, avoid using metal utensils, or you’ll scratch and damage the non-stick surface.

We love that this Coleman grill is very easy to maintain. The grates can be washed with soap without any strenuous scrubbing, and the bottom of the grill has a water pan to catch all of the nasty grease drippings.

This small 225 sq. in. grill has two burners; however, they are divided into an inner and outer ring instead of separate heat zones.

All in all, the Coleman Portable propane gas grill is not the most powerful gas grill you can get but is the best portable gas grill for camping, tailgating, or tabletop cooking for a small family.

Key Features:

  • 225 sq. in. cooking surface
  • Two burners
  • 11,000 BTU power
  • Water pan to catch grease
  • Solid build
  • Very portable can be used tabletop
  • Easy to clean


  • It cannot be adapted to natural gas line
  • Just one heat zone
  • Expensive for a small grill

Cuisinart CGG-750 Portable, Venture Gas Grill

Look at this beauty! If you’re a sucker for beautiful builds and aesthetics, the Cuisinart CGG-750 portable grill is one of the most beautiful portable propane gas grills on our list. It’s perfect for trips to the beach, park, or short BBQ sessions in your backyard.

The Cuisinart CGG-750 has an innovative stacking design with a bottom with space for a 1-pound propane gas cylinder, the middle part containing the grill itself, and the top cover with an integrated cutting board. Everything stacks up nicely, and you can carry it like a small picnic basket.

The small 154 sq. in. cooking surface is best suited for two people. 9,000 BTU power is also a bit weak and won’t give you scorching heat to properly sear a steak. 

The most significant advantages of this small grill are its beautiful aesthetic build, looks, and portability to take it almost anywhere. This is a perfect option for an occasional tableside grilling in your beautiful backyard, park, or beach.

Key Features:

  • 154 sq. in. cooking surface
  • 9,000 BTU burner
  • Integrated cutting board
  • Portable and lightweight
  • Efficient stackable design
  • Beautiful looks


  • Small cooking surface
  • The grilling grate is more like a grill pan
  • Shallow drip pan
  • Weak BTU power

Char-Broil 463673519 Performance Series Propane Gas Grill

Let’s leave portable grills and move on to grills for your backyard. The Char-Broil 463673519 is a two burner and 24,000 BTU powered propane gas grill which is excellent for 2-4 person households. 

This model ignites very easily with a battery-powered ignition by a button push. Two burners allow you to have different heat zones on the 300 sq. in. primary cooking surface. There is also an additional warming rack (100 sq. in.) to place already cooked protein or veggies. If you don’t have a table nearby, you’ll love the two folding side tables to place any dishes or barbecue equipment while grilling.

The Char-Broil 463673519 propane gas grill is very easy to maintain. Porcelain-coated cast-iron grates are non-stick and easy to clean after use. A removable grease pan is convenient to take out and clean up. When grilling and cleaning are done, you can unfold the side tables and conveniently store the grill even in small storage spaces. 4 caster wheels allow you to easily transport the grill no matter if it’s on your brick patio or thoroughly groomed lawn.

This is one of the best compact gas grills on our list for small households that don’t have a lot of space in their backyard or patio.

Key Features:

  • 300 sq. in. primary cooking surface
  • 24,000 BTU power
  • Two burners
  • The thermometer on the lid
  • Compact design
  • Porcelain-coated cast-iron grates
  • Electronic ignition
  • Two side tables
  • Easy to move wheels with lock ability


  • Less at the front of the grill than in the back
  • Requires quite a bit of assembly

Huntington 30040HNT Liquid Propane Gas Grill

The Huntington 30040HNT propane gas grill is one of the best mid-sized gas grills if you’re on a budget but still want to enjoy all the perks of proper grilling. Huntington products are made in North America and actively compete with overseas brands by offering customers lower price points while maintaining high quality.

The Huntington 30040HNT propane gas grill has a cast aluminum box that helps retain more heat and is less prone to rusting, increasing the grill’s longevity. The whole body is made from North American steel, which should be very sturdy; however, the steel is relatively thin, so the build does feel a bit flimsy when assembled.

As mentioned above, it’s a mid-sized gas grill with 430 sq. in. of primary cooking surface and 130 sq. in. space on the warming rack. You’ll have no trouble feeding 3-5 people, but a bigger party will have to wait in line.

The Huntington 30040HNT is a fantastic option on a budget for occasional grillers. It may not be the most powerful grill and a bit flimsy, but the quality of materials is quite good. It delivers everything you would want from a propane gas grill without costing a fortune.

Key Features:

  • 430 sq. in. primary cooking surface
  • 30,000 BTU power
  • Two burners
  • Porcelain-coated grates
  • Two side tables
  • Affordable


  • Flimsy build quality

Weber 61016001 Genesis II E-335 3-Burner Liquid Propane Grill

If you’re a regular reader, you know that the Weber company name pops up in almost every article about grilling. They’ve been producing consumer-boasted grilling equipment since the invention of the kettle grill in 1952. The Weber Genesis II E-335 is no exception. The superb build quality, power, and numerous accessories take us to the professional grillers league.

The GS4 high-performance system is backed up by a 39,000 BTU power main burner and 12,000 BTU side burner for sauces or side dishes. Additionally, there’s a 9,000 BTU sear station explicitly made to add fantastic sear and grill marks on your meats.

A large 513 sq. in. cooking surface grates are made from 7mm solid stainless steel rods and will fit up to 20 burgers. The grill has three burners, so you can multitask on three separate heat zones and rest your food on a warming rack.

Genesis II E-335 is a very versatile and convenient grill. You’ll have quite an ample storage space under the grill for your disposables or cleaning equipment. Tables on the sides give you enough space for prepping or keeping dishes and drinks.

The whole build of the grill and accessories are protected by a 10-year warranty making it the best large propane gas grill in 2021 on our list. You’ll have to spend a bit more, but it is a long-term investment that should serve you a decade.

Key Features:

  • 513 sq. in. primary cooking surface
  • 39,000 BTU power main burner, 12,000 BTU side burner, and 9,000 BTU sear station
  • Solid stainless steel grates
  • Interactive 3D assembly instructions
  • Storage space under the grill
  • Sear station
  • Side burner
  • 10-year warranty on all parts


  • Expensive

Char-Broil 463377319 Performance 4-Burner Liquid Propane Gas Grill

The Char-Broil Performance 4-Burner gas grill is an excellent option for large households or party caterers who are on a budget but still want to entertain a large group of people. 

The 425 sq. in. primary cooking surface is large enough to cater 10 to 15 people at a time while also cooking up a sauce or side dish on the side burner. The cooking grates are made from porcelain-coated cast-iron, which helps retain heat and is easy to clean. Having four burners allows you to divide the grill into multiple heat zones to cook multiple dishes simultaneously. 

The grill construction is made from gauge steel with stainless steel finish on other parts. We felt that the steel is a bit thin, making the grill flimsy if moved around, but you probably shouldn’t expect superb quality for a budget price. The Char-Broil 463377319 is our pick for the best large propane gas grill on a budget.

Key Features:

  • 425 sq. in. primary cooking surface
  • The temperature gauge on the lid
  • Side burner
  • Side table
  • Warming rack
  • Four burners
  • Porcelain-coated cast-iron grates
  • Budget price


  • Thin gauge steel construction is a bit flimsy

Blackstone 36 Inch Cooking 4 Burner Flat Top Gas Grill

If you can’t live without pancakes, eggs, and bacon, consider getting a flat-top gas grill in your backyard. Imagine waking up early in the morning and firing up a tasty diner-style breakfast on your own flat top!

The Blackstone 36-inch flat top grill has four burners and a 720 sq. in. cooking surface to create various heat zones for multiple dishes at a time, even for a large party. Want to have a large barbecue party? No problem, this grill can handle up to 30 burgers at a time, and the flat top will allow you to get that crunchy sear by using burger grease, which would usually be lost on a regular grill. Additionally, you have less hassle when cooking bacon or small veggies, and cleaning is much easier since you have only one surface to clean.

This flat-top grill has 4x 15,000 BTU burners and a thick rolled steel surface for fantastic heat retention to sear your steaks and burgers properly.

Because of the thick steel surface and wide-spread legs, the whole grill feels very solid on the ground and stays in place with the help of lockable caster wheels. This flat top is not the best to take camping since it is pretty bulky and weighs 120 pounds.

All in all, Blackstone 36-Inch flat top grill is one of the best flat-top grills currently on the market and a fantastic budget option for large catering events and parties.

Key Features:

  • 720 sq. in. cooking surface
  • 15,000 BTU power
  • Four burners
  • Budget price
  • Thick rolled steel surface
  • Easy to clean


  • Heavy
  • Not as powerful as other large grills

Gas Grill Maintenance Checklist

Preheat before grilling

You should always cook on a hot grill. When a grill is preheated, you’ll have indirect heat cooking your food (when the lid is closed, of course). If the grill is just turned on and you slap a burger on cold grates, it most likely will get stuck, and only the bottom will be cooking by direct heat for the next 5 minutes.

Clean your cooking grates

Before and after every use, you should clean your grilling grates or flat top to avoid burnt charcoal on your next meal or even food poisoning. Use necessary grilling tools like grill brushes or just soapy water, depending on your cooking surface material.

Empty the grease drip pan

Avoid nasty smells by occasionally removing and cleaning your grease drip pan. We like to clean it every other grilling, but the more often you clean it, the better.

Use a grill cover

If you want your grill to last long, you need to get a grill cover. Rain, wind, sun, leaves, and other debris will have a toll on your grill very quickly despite it being rust-resistant. A cheap water-resistant cover will keep your grill clean and moisture-free.