Best charcoal for hibachi grill | Heat control & retention top 4

by Joost Nusselder | Updated:  April 18, 2022

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Cooking on a hibachi grill is a unique experience that anyone can enjoy.

The key to a successful hibachi grill is finding the best charcoal for your individual needs so you can cook food and still have some heat control.

There are many different types of charcoal on the market, and not all of them will work well in a hibachi grill.

Since the hibachi small has a small surface area compared to your outdoor grill, you need to find hardwood charcoal that is dense and will produce high heat.

Best charcoal for hibachi grill | Heat control & retention top 4

Any true Japanese hibachi chef will tell you the best charcoal to use is binchotan because it’s white, dense, and reusable charcoal.

JapanBargain Japanese Binchotan White Lump Charcoals are perfect for cooking with your indoor hibachi grill. They are mostly odorless and burn clean smoke so they don’t make your home smell like a BBQ festival.

I’m reviewing the best charcoal to use with your hibachi grill when cooking yakitori and other delicious recipes.

Best charcoal for hibachi grillImages
Best charcoal for hibachi overall: JapanBargain Japanese White Lump BinchotanBest charcoal for hibachi overall: JapanBargain Japanese White Lump Binchotan

 

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Best traditional charcoal for hibachi: IPPINKA Binchotan from KishuBest traditional charcoal for hibachi: IPPINKA Binchotan from Kishu

 

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Best budget charcoal for hibachi: Char-Broil Hardwood Center CutBest budget charcoal for hibachi- Char-Broil Hardwood Center Cut

 

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Best charcoal briquettes for hibachi: Thaan Thai Style Hardwood Binchotan-StyleBest charcoal briquettes for hibachi: Thaan Thai Style Hardwood Binchotan-Style

 

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Besides a grill and good charcoal, there are other essential tools a hibachi chef needs for cooking (see here)

What is the best charcoal for the hibachi grill?

Most Japanese hibachi chefs and grilling experts agree that the best charcoal for the hibachi grill is the traditional Japanese binchotan.

This is a special type of charcoal made from oak that has been slowly burned in a kiln.

Binchotan is denser than other types of charcoal and produces very high heat, making it perfect for cooking on a hibachi grill. The charcoal is also white, making it visually appealing when used in the small hibachi grill.

The reason why it’s so popular is that this charcoal burns hot but doesn’t create too much smoke so it’s safer and more convenient for indoor use. It won’t stink up your home or restaurant like regular lump coal.

Another advantage is that binchotan charcoal burns for approximately 3 to 5 hours continuously and can be reused a few times.

Therefore, even though this type of traditional charcoal is much more expensive than usual, it will last you for quite a lot of cooking.

Buying guide

When it comes to charcoal for a hibachi grill, not all are created equal.

There are many different types of charcoal on the market, and not all of them will work well in a hibachi grill. You need to find charcoal that is dense and will produce high heat.

So, what’s the best charcoal for a hibachi grill?

Here are a few things to look for:

  • A high density. This will help the charcoal last longer and produce more heat.
  • A low ash content. This will help to prevent flare-ups and make cleanup easier.
  • A uniform size. This will help the charcoal burn evenly.
  • Look for the type of wood the charcoal is made from. Some are made of coconut husks, which produce less smoke. Others are made of hardwoods like oak or hickory, which burn hot and produce more smoke.
  • Burn time. You want charcoal that will burn for 3 to 5 hours.

If you can’t find any binchotan charcoal, then go for other fuel sources like regular lump charcoal or some briquettes. These are also called hot beads and burn pretty clean for a long time.

Never buy fire starters and never use synthetic materials in your hibachi grill. These can ruin the flavor of the meat and may even contaminate the skewers.

Not only will the food taste bad but these fire starters may contain traces of toxic chemicals.

The thing about hibachi grills is that they’re not like the portable picnic grill you use outside. The hibachi grills are usually used indoors so you need to use a fuel source that is safe and relatively odorless.

Using binchotan on your hibachi grill is truly the best and most traditional way to cook delicious yakitori!

Best charcoal for hibachi reviewed

With the above things in mind, you should be able to find the perfect charcoal for your hibachi grill to make the most delicious food.

Let’s look at some of the best options.

Best charcoal for hibachi overall: JapanBargain Japanese White Lump Binchotan

Best charcoal for hibachi overall- JapanBargain Japanese White Lump Binchotan with box

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  • made from hardwood
  • burn time: 2-3 hours

Authentic binchotan charcoal is very expensive but JapanBargain sells it at a lower price and it’s still good high-quality charcoal for all your hibachi grilling needs.

It’s not quite the premium Japanese binchotan, but it’s the best for everyday grilling.

If you cook meat you need quality hardwood that can reach high temperatures pretty quickly and this one does.

These charcoals are perfect for cooking yakitori and other delicious recipes because they’re made of wood.

The charcoal is dense and produces very high heat, perfect for the hibachi grill. It can create intense heat in charcoal grills so your meats cook pretty fast.

The charcoal is also white, which makes it visually appealing when used in the small hibachi grill.

But what I like most about this charcoal is that it doesn’t burn a strong smoky smell and it doesn’t cause your whole house to smell like BBQ.

The hot coals burn for a few hours but they aren’t reusable more than a couple of times like the expensive binchotan.

Also, it’s a bit hard to light the charcoal grill with these until you get the hang of it.

But, if you don’t want a high extra cost and want sound, steady burning charcoals these JapanBargain coals are ideally sized and perfect for a traditional hibachi grill, whether it has a cast iron construction or it’s made of diatomaceous earth.

Check the latest prices here

Best traditional charcoal for hibachi: IPPINKA Binchotan from Kishu

Best traditional charcoal for hibachi: IPPINKA Binchotan from Kishu

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  • made from oakwood
  • burn time: up to 5 hours

The traditional binchotan is made in Kishu Japan out of oak wood. This IPPINKA binchotan is the real deal and it’s pretty pricey.

The Western world is only starting to discover how tasty binchotan-grilled food is.

But binchotan is the kind of charcoal expensive Japanese restaurants use to fuel their hibachi grills.

However, if you’re looking for the best flavored grilled food, this is the charcoal to use. It produces very little smoke and has almost no odor.

The manufacturing quality of this charcoal is unbeatable. These coals can maintain heat for up to 5 hours so you can keep adding more meat to your cooking surface.

The hibachi grills will stay hot and since these coals don’t burn out of control, temperature control is easier than with an outdoor or large portable grill.

You can re-ignite and re-use this binchotan to grill about 2 or 3 times.

It also lights quickly and burns very hot and evenly. The only downside to this charcoal is that it’s pretty expensive.

As I already mentioned in my buying guide, a dense binchotan charcoal is the best way to fuel a charcoal grill for the best hibachi-style dishes.

Unlike Western charcoal, this undergoes a rigorous manufacturing process and has fantastic purifying properties.

Plus, the charcoal is easy to light and burns evenly. If you want the authentic Japanese hibachi grill experience, this is the charcoal you should use.

Check prices and availability here

JapanBargain vs Ippinka binchotan

The JapanBargain is a good, lower-cost alternative to the Ippinka binchotan. The manufacturing quality isn’t quite as good but it’s still a high-quality product.

It burns for a few hours and produces very little smoke and no odor. The coals are also easy to light and produce intense heat.

The only downside is that they’re not really reusable more than a couple of times.

The Ippinka binchotan is the real deal and it’s quite pricey. The manufacturing quality is unbeatable and the coals can maintain heat for up to 5 hours.

In comparison, the JapanBargain burns for about 2-3 hours.

You can also re-ignite the IPPINKA about 3 times.

I think it’s fair to say that JapanBargain is binchotan-style but not the premium oakwood charcoal, like IPPINKA.

The IPPINKA brand coals are produced in Japan from sustainably-harvested Kishu oak.

IPPINKA is truly odorless and relatively smokeless whereas you still get some of that smokiness from the JapanBargain you’d expect from regular lump charcoal.

If you do a lot of hibachi cooking at home, the cheaper product will save your wallet.

Best budget charcoal for hibachi: Char-Broil Hardwood Center Cut

Best budget charcoal for hibachi- Char-Broil Hardwood Center Cut

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  • made from center-cut hardwood
  • burn time: about 2 hours

If you don’t want to spend a lot of money on charcoal, the Char-Broil Center Cut Lump Charcoal is a great budget-friendly option.

This charcoal is made of 100% natural hardwoods with no additives or fillers. Unlike other cheap charcoal brands, Char-Broil is made from organic center cuts of wood.

There are no binders, bark, or limbs used to make this product.

This charcoal doesn’t create a lot of fine dust and doesn’t burn any nasty residue or cause creosote on your grilling surface.

It’s also low in ash, which means it’s easy to clean up.

The charcoal burns hot and produces a lot of heat, making it perfect for the hibachi grill. It’s also uniform in size, so it burns evenly.

So, since it’s made from real charred hardwood chunks, this charcoal offers powerful direct heat for your cooking surface.

One downside of this charcoal is that it doesn’t last as long as some of the other options on this list. However, it’s still a good option if you’re on a budget.

And honestly, you can make enough food to feed a group without constantly having to fill up the grill with more coals.

This charcoal is cheap and burns clean so it’s a great alternative to Japanese charcoal. You can use it to cook your favorite hibachi dishes.

Check the latest prices here

Best charcoal briquettes for hibachi: Thaan Thai Style Hardwood Binchotan-Style

Best traditional charcoal for hibachi- IPPINKA Binchotan from Kishu with box

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  • made from coconut husks
  • burn time: about 3 hours

If you’re not familiar with Thai-style charcoal for hibachi grills, you should know this is a binchotan-style charcoal briquette product.

It’s not really binchotan, but the charcoals are small and rectangular.

These are not like your regular charcoal briquettes because they’re not square or round-shaped.

The Thai-style charcoal is an excellent option for the hibachi grill because it’s easy to light, produces high heat, and lasts long.

This product also doesn’t produce a lot of smoke when burning.

Another thing I like about this charcoal is that it doesn’t create any sparks or embers.

And since it’s a briquette, it burns evenly and slowly. This is great for cooking because you don’t have to tend to the grill constantly.

Best traditional charcoal for hibachi- IPPINKA Binchotan from burning white

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However, these charcoals don’t provide too much smoky aroma to your meats because they have a mild flavor. The entire grill won’t smell like smoky wood but the food still ends up being delicious.

The Thai-style charcoal is made of 100% coconut shell charcoal. It doesn’t contain any sulfur or other chemicals. The briquettes are also odorless and tasteless and offer excellent heat retention.

These are low ash, low smoke charcoals so they’re perfect for cooking indoors.

Most hibachi grills don’t have much grilling space so having such small briquettes is useful, especially for a small grill.

Check the latest prices here

Budget Char-broil lump charcoal vs Thaan Thai charcoal briquettes

Both of these products are cheaper than binchotan and are great budget-friendly options for your hibachi grills.

The Char-Broil lump charcoal is made of natural hardwoods while the Thaan Thai charcoal briquettes are made of coconut shells.

The Char-Broil lump charcoal produces more smoke than the Thaan Thai briquettes. However, both products produce little to no smoke compared to other types of charcoal.

The Thaan Thai charcoal briquettes offer better heat retention than the Char-broil lump charcoal. And since the Thaan Thai briquettes are rectangular, they’re more space-efficient for small grills.

If you don’t have enough space for large charcoal pieces, I recommend using the Thai briquettes with your grill.

So, if you’re looking for a cheaper alternative to binchotan charcoal, then either the Char-Broil lump charcoal or the Thaan Thai charcoal briquettes are great options.

Want to get cooking on your hibachi now? Here’s how to make easy hibachi chicken (with veggies!)

The pros and cons of each type of charcoal

Several types of charcoal can be used in a hibachi grill, each with its own set of pros and cons.

Binchotan

Binchotan is a type of charcoal made in Japan from oak wood. It is the most expensive type of charcoal, but it produces very little smoke and has an even burning temperature.

Binchotan is a good choice for those who want the authentic Japanese hibachi grill experience.

Briquettes

Briquettes are the most common type of charcoal used in hibachi grills. They are easy to light and inexpensive, making them a good choice for those new to grilling.

However, briquettes can produce a lot of smoke and have an uneven burning temperature, which can make it difficult to control the grill.

Lump

Lump charcoal is made from whole pieces of wood that have been charred. It lights quickly and burns hot, making it a good choice for those who want to cook their food quickly.

However, lump charcoal can be more expensive than briquettes and can produce a lot of smoke.

Now that you know the different types of charcoal available, you can decide which is the best type of charcoal for your hibachi grill.

How to light the hibachi grill

Coal must be heated to start your barbecue, and there are two ways to do this. Using a chimney starter is recommended by most chefs.

To start a chimney, you light an open-ended metal cylinder filled with flammable paper. It takes 20 minutes for the coals to heat up to a point where they begin to glow and produce flames.

You can also use lighter fluid to light the charcoals or briquettes in your charcoal grill.

To ensure an even heat distribution, place the coals in a single layer on your hibachi grill.

Hibachi grills typically have a center temperature of 400 degrees Fahrenheit or 200 Celsius, but if you need a hotter grill, simply use a fan or hairdryer to aerate the coals.

Takeaway

When it comes to picking the best charcoal for your hibachi grill, you need to find dense, high-heat-producing charcoal.

There are many different types of charcoal on the market, so it’s essential to do your research and find one that will work well in your grill. With the right charcoal, you can cook mouthwatering food that will impress your guests.

So, don’t settle for anything less than the best – find the perfect charcoal for your hibachi grill today. JapanBargain binchotan-style charcoal burns hot and odorless and is a great value buy.

If you’ve invested in the best hibachi grills, it’s worth splurging on authentic binchotan because you’ll realize how easy it is to cook hibachi grilled meat and how tasty it is!

Now you may have also heard of a Japanese konro grill; here’s how it differs (slightly) from a hibachi grill

Ever had trouble finding Japanese recipes that were easy to make?

We now have "cooking Japanese with ease", our full recipe book and video course with step-by-step tutorials on your favorite recipes.

Joost Nusselder, the founder of Bite My Bun is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with Japanese food at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.