The 4 Finest Charcoal Chimney Starters of 2024, Examined & Reviewed


Charcoal Chimney Starter Capacities
Product Variety of charcoal briquettes to fill it
Weber Rapidfire Chimney Starter 100
Outset Collapsible Tenting Grill and Chimney Starter 100
Char-Griller Charcoal Chimney 90
BBQ Dragon Giant Chimney of Madness  60
Kingsford Heavy Responsibility Deluxe Charcoal Chimney Starter 66
Lodge Chimney Charcoal Starter 60
Beau Jardin Charcoal Chimney Starter 66
Konexcel Heavy Responsibility Charcoal Chimney Starter 90

A bigger-capacity charcoal chimney is essentially the most versatile, even in case you’re solely grilling a small quantity of meals. That mentioned, if cupboard space is restricted (otherwise you solely grill as soon as in a blue moon), the 3.5 quart Lodge proved its mettle in my exams.

Airflow Was Every little thing

Critical Eats / Greg Baker

Convection is the important thing to chimney starter success. After you’ve got lit newspaper or starter blocks, air enters the underside and flows upwards, heating the charcoal till the highest coals are ashy. With out sufficient airflow, there’s no convection and, consequently, poor ignition. Fashions with too little airflow, such because the BBQ Dragon Chimney of Madness, carried out poorly and required relighting to get the charcoal burning. An excessive amount of airflow will also be detrimental, as I examined on breezy days and located the paper will burn quicker than the charcoal can catch. Even when your chimney has the most effective convection design, you’ll be able to stymie it by packing an excessive amount of (or too tightly packed) paper within the backside. 

Handles Have been Cooler Than Anticipated

It’s been just a few years since I’ve used a charcoal chimney repeatedly, so throughout my testing I used to be impressed by the advances in deal with design. Up to now, it was only a given that you just’d shield your hand with a kitchen towel or grill glove. Fashions from Char-Griller, Lodge, and Weber had the most effective designs, using warmth shields to deflect warmth and preserving the handles cool sufficient to choose the chimney up with naked fingers.

Not All Chimneys Are Good for Each Sorts of Charcoal

Since lump charcoal and briquettes are essentially completely different animals, you must count on completely different lighting outcomes. Some chimneys, just like the Kingsford Heavy Responsibility Deluxe, shone brightly throughout our briquette testing, solely to fizzle when confronted with lump charcoal. Fashions from Beau Jardin, Weber, and Char-Griller put up the most effective displaying throughout the 2 varieties, whereas the Outset and Lodge fashions took higher to briquettes. Sadly, I couldn’t discover a clear rhyme or cause as to why sure chimneys did higher or worse with completely different charcoal varieties. 

The Standards: What to Search for in a Charcoal Chimney Starter

Critical Eats / Greg Baker / Grace Kelly

I’ll scream this from the mountain tops: airflow is every thing. The most effective charcoal chimneys have good convection: air goes into the underside, will get heated and drawn up by the chimney (which will get the coals burning), and exits on the prime. Good chimneys even have a warmth defend to guard the deal with, permitting you to carry and dump the coals into the grill. Lastly, it ought to be straightforward to gentle with holes on the facet to make it straightforward (although holes on the underside work in a pinch). After that, the capability relies on your wants, primarily based in your grill dimension and preferences. For those who primarily use lump charcoal, contemplate our prime performers in that space, just like the Char-Griller or Weber Rapidfire.

Our Favourite Charcoal Chimney Starters

Amazon Weber Rapidfire Chimney Starter


What we appreciated: The Weber Rapidfire is an especially easy-to-use chimney with a big hopper, ample room for paper or lighter cubes, and a deal with that stays cool. Not one of the chimneys I examined lived as much as their marketed lighting time, so I’m not out of line in saying that the startup time of just below half-hour for a six-quart load of briquettes was a stable efficiency. The Weber additionally had the most effective convection designs, making it one of many quickest to gentle, too. It’s additionally fairly inexpensive. 

What we didn’t like: It didn’t fare as effectively when lighting lump charcoal. After about 10 minutes, when the primary batch of paper burned out, I had so as to add extra and relight it. After that, issues moved alongside quickly. The underside holes that facilitate convection have been simply shy of the dimensions of my stick lighter, which pressured me to gentle it from the underside. If the holes have been only a wee bit bigger, the chimney can be considerably simpler to gentle.

Key Specs

  • Acknowledged capability: 5 kilos
  • Examined capability: 100 briquettes
  • Dimensions: 12 x 7.5 inches
  • Supplies: Aluminized metal, thermoplastic
  • Deal with dimensions: 5.75 x 1.25 inches

Critical Eats / Greg Baker

Amazon Outset Collapsible Camping Grill and Chimney Starter


What we appreciated: This chimney’s massive capability and straightforward lighting made it a robust contender for prime mannequin. Giant backside holes—greater than sufficient to insert a lighter—offered glorious airflow and straightforward lighting. Once more, not one of the chimneys lived as much as their marketed lighting occasions, however the Outset was our quickest briquette-lighting mannequin, taking 26 minutes to gentle six quarts and 20 minutes for 3. 

What we didn’t like: The Outset was one of many few that didn’t require relighting in the course of the lump charcoal check, however it had one of many longest lighting occasions at about 36 minutes. After the second (three-quart) check I seen a number of the inside end flaking, and the deal with obtained uncomfortably heat.

Key Specs

  • Acknowledged capability: 7 kilos
  • Examined capability: 100 briquettes
  • Dimensions: 10.75 x 8.5 inches
  • Supplies: Zinc, chrome, Nylon
  • Deal with dimensions: 5 x 1

Critical Eats / Greg Baker

Amazon Char-Griller Charcoal Grill Chimney Starter


What we appreciated: The Char-Griller’s massive capability and straightforward lighting have been particular pluses. It was one of many quickest to gentle, regardless of the amount or charcoal kind. It was additionally one among two chimneys I didn’t must relight in the course of the lump charcoal check, and it had the charcoal able to go in about 23 minutes. The dishing out characteristic, which consists of a handle-release latch that releases a “lure door” on the hopper’s backside, was a pleasant addition; it allowed me to carry the entire thing over the grill, squeeze the discharge lever, and the charcoal fell out the underside. It was additionally straightforward to load, and the deal with stayed cool whereas the charcoal burned.

What we didn’t like: I’m not anybody’s thought of a small individual, and I had some problem holding the chimney with a full six-quart load and squeezing the discharge lever with one hand. The deal with stayed cool in the course of the lighting course of, in order that wasn’t a problem—it was simply an unwieldy mixture of holding the chimney upright whereas squeezing. It was a a lot simpler job with the three-quart load, however nonetheless clumsy. A private annoyance: one briquette caught within the lure door association that dumps the charcoal, and life obtained a little bit furry once I shook it free, and the briquette headed straight for my naked foot. Just like the Weber, the underside holes are too small for a lighter, so you must gentle the chimney from the underside.

Key Specs

  • Acknowledged capability: 4 kilos
  • Examined capability: 90 briquettes
  • Dimensions: 10.75 x 8.75 inches
  • Supplies: Zinc-coated galvanized metal, Nylon
  • Deal with dimensions: 5 x 1 inches

Critical Eats / Greg Baker

Amazon Lodge Chimney Charcoal Starter


What we appreciated: Let’s be clear in regards to the small-capacity designation—the Lodge chimney nonetheless held 3.5 quarts or 60 briquettes. That’s not an insignificant quantity to get grilling on. Plus, it had three quarts of charcoal briquettes prepared in 22 minutes. The underside design, which featured oval-shaped slots, was glorious for airflow and lighting. These slots offered loads of room to insert a stick lighter, making it straightforward to make sure the paper was burning absolutely at the beginning of the check. The deal with stayed cool due to a warmth defend between it and the hopper.

What we didn’t like: Though lump charcoal solely took half-hour to gentle, I needed to restart the check after it didn’t ignite the primary time. A wider hopper would add a little bit extra capability with out negatively affecting the airflow.

Key Specs

  • Acknowledged capability: “Substantial”
  • Examined capability: 60 briquettes
  • Dimensions: 12 x 6.25 inches
  • Supplies: Galvanized metal, wooden
  • Deal with dimensions: 7 x 1 inches

Critical Eats / Greg Baker

The Competitors

Additionally Really useful

  • Kingsford Heavy Responsibility Deluxe Charcoal Chimney Starter: This chimney had okay outcomes in the course of the briquette testing, which took a little bit over half-hour to finish. Fifty-six minutes into the lump testing, I had already restarted the check thrice and known as it a day. It’s obtained massive holes for lighting and could be very straightforward to make use of, however reserve it for briquettes solely.
  • Weber Rapidfire Compact Chimney Starter Charcoal Grill: This compact model of Weber’s Rapidfire chimney works pretty effectively. It has a capability of about two quarts, which is nice for smaller or transportable grills, however it takes extra time to ignite coals than its bigger sibling.

Not Really useful

  • BBQ Dragon Chimney of Madness Charcoal Starter: A reputation like Chimney of Madness units expectations for spectacular outcomes, for higher or worse. Sadly, as a standalone chimney, this mannequin was exceptionally mediocre. I needed to restart it with recent paper in the course of the three-quart and lump charcoal exams since there was treasured little airflow; that is partially as a result of many of the house is dominated by an air shaft supposed to be used with the non-obligatory BBQ Dragon. It will definitely lit the briquettes, taking about 20 minutes to take action. As an experiment, after the chimney had timed out of consideration for the lump charcoal check, I made a decision to emulate the BBQ Dragon. This non-obligatory fan suits into the Chimney of Madness’s air shaft. I inserted a leaf blower into the shaft (that is why ladies stay longer than males), the chimney burst into flames, and the lump charcoal was prepared a short while later. This chimney would possibly ship on its title with the BBQ Dragon (or a superb leaf blower), however not by itself.
  • Beau Jardin Charcoal Chimney Starter: The Beau Jardin is an efficient charcoal chimney. It did effectively within the three-quart and lump exams, lighting the lump charcoal in about quarter-hour. Nevertheless, I needed to restart the check after the paper burned out with out igniting any charcoal. It carried out effectively, however it didn’t draw any response from me apart from, “It’s okay.” Full disclosure: I’ve used this chimney prior to now, and it didn’t have nice longevity, because it fell aside after a few month of semi-daily use.
  • Konexcel Heavy Responsibility Charcoal Chimney Starter: Once I mentioned “airflow is every thing,” I meant it. The Konexcel has little or no; with out that essential convection beginning, a chimney gained’t gentle effectively. I needed to restart this chimney throughout each check and deserted the lump check after the third attempt. After the three-quart check, the deal with turned “bouncy,” for lack of a greater phrase. The deal with did not wiggle just like the rivets have been free; it simply obtained oddly versatile, which gave me low expectations for the chimney’s longevity.


Do it is advisable clear a charcoal chimney?

A charcoal chimney wants about as a lot care and a focus as a hearty houseplant, which is to say, the naked minimal. You don’t want to wash, rinse, or in any other case wash your chimney, however you do have to dump any residual ash and maintain it out of the weather when not in use.

What’s the most effective charcoal to make use of? 

“The most effective” relies on your desire for lump or briquette charcoal. I’m firmly within the lump camp as a result of once I grill, it’s often a gradual cooking method, and lump charcoal provides extra taste and burns longer than briquettes. Nevertheless, you would possibly discover briquettes simpler for rapidly grilling some burgers or scorching canine.

Are charcoal chimneys value it?

This reply relies on how you are feeling about lighter fluid. I can’t carry myself to pour poisonous chemical substances on the charcoal I’ll quickly burn to cook dinner my meals over. That leaves me with two different real looking decisions, and the chimney is the extra sustainable possibility. We’ll focus on the opposite in a second.

What can I take advantage of if I don’t have a charcoal chimney? 

There’s at all times lighter fluid, though I counsel towards it. You should buy lighter blocks or cubes (like these, from Weber or Kingsford) product of compressed wooden or cardboard, usually coated in paraffin, and place them within the grill round your piled-up charcoal to start out it. There’s additionally the choice of constructing a small kindling hearth and including your charcoal after it’s burning.

How lengthy do you permit charcoal in a chimney? 

Time is a horrible unit of measure in cooking. There are just too many variables to say X will at all times cook dinner for Y time. That mentioned, you’ll go away your charcoal within the chimney till the highest layer is glowing and ashy. Per my exams, that may take between 15 and half-hour.

What’s the science behind a charcoal chimney? 

Chimneys work through convection. While you gentle a fireplace within the chimney’s backside, you create a draft of warmth rising. The holes within the backside permit airflow, heated by the burning paper (or lighter block.) The heated air rises, spreading the fireplace upwards till the highest coals ignite and you’ve got ready-to-use charcoal.

Why We’re the Consultants 

  • Greg Baker is a former James Beard nominated chef from Tampa Bay, Florida.
  • He’s written about sous vide machines, vacuum sealers, and pizza gear for Critical Eats. 
  • For this evaluate, Greg burned by 78 kilos of charcoal to seek out the most effective charcoal chimney starters. He evaluated them primarily based on how straightforward they have been to arrange and use, and the way rapidly and effectively they heated briquette and lump charcoal. 
  • He could have gotten a little bit enthusiastic and used a leaf blower to instigate one of many poor performers to gentle—sadly, it was nonetheless a loser.


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