If you’ve been in the grilling section of any of your favorite markets you might have seen a new Kingsford product on the shelves. This year Kingsford is offering “Kingsford Professional” briquets. What you might not realize is that this product is new in name only as they used to be called “Competition” which you might have seen in a bag with more red coloring. The Professional branding makes use of that classic Kingsford blue that we’ve long associated with their product. Even though I was aware of this product even from its “Competition” days, I had never taken a chance to actually try it. That was until Kingsford very generously sent me a sample bag.
For new users of Kingsford Professional you’ll notice one thing initially, that it looks virtually identical to Kingsford Original. The briquets have that same groove pattern, with one side’s grooves in the shape of the letter “K”. While they may look similar they are in fact different products by way of their composition. While they come from the same source the formulation for the Professional product causes the briquets to burn at a hotter temperature and produce less ash.
As far as performance goes I feel that the claim that the Professional blend burns hotter holds true. I have cooked with it several times, using nearly the entire sample bag, each occasion using a direct grilling method. Each time I have found that I have a superior crust/browning production on each item. Now of course it is very difficult to get uninfluenced side by side comparisons, so my opinions are based purely on my perception at those moments, rather than scientific data. Based on my testing I can conclude that if you want the best direct grilling briquet from Kingsford the Professional Briquets would be the best bet.
If you are looking for more detailed data, a few years ago PatioDaddio conducted a more scientific comparison of Original and the then named Competition briquets. While I know the formulation for Original has changed since then, and it wouldn’t surprise me if Comp/Prof had as well I think it still offers a little more detailed look into the characteristics of each variety.
While it may sound like Professional is the superior product, I think Original still has applications where it is the better option. If you want to sear off some steaks or burgers the Professional is preferred, but if you’ve got an all day low and slow cook where you are looking less at maximum heat output the less expensive and more widely available Original blend would be my fuel of choice. That being said Kingsford Professional are absolutely Tailgate Approved.