Best Lump Charcoal – Choose The Best Charcoal For Your Grill
Lump Charcoal is very popular and favored amongst backyard warriors and pitmasters. There is nothing like the smell of charcoal “lighting up” on a Sunday morning. If you are serious about grilling or smoking meats, lump charcoal is one of the best fuel and heat sources you can use in your grill.
However, the best lump charcoal blend alone will not fix your food’s flavor nor improve your grilling skills. Charcoal is your source of heat, and you should use the best and cleanest heat source possible the get better cooking results.
Pro Tip: Try using smoke wood chips or chunks to add flavor to your meat.
Nevertheless, it is worth mentioning that lump charcoal yields that traditional charcoal wood flavor, mainly because the best lump charcoal brands use real wood to produce their charcoal.
Our Top Picks:
- Best Overall: Jealous Devil All Natural Hardwood Lump Charcoal
“Excellent quality lump charcoal, long-lasting coals with a strong flavor.“
- Our Favorite: Fogo Super Premium Hardwood Lump Charcoal
” Good quality lump charcoal with good flavor, well-balanced mix.“
- Good for Kamado Grills: Kamado Joe KJ-Char Big Block XL Lump Charcoal
“Good brand, good product. Designed for Kamado Joes”
- Best Value: Royal Oak All Natural Hardwood Lump Charcoal
“Good value and a great option for those cooking simple meals.“
- Good Option: Harder Charcoal 100 Percent Natural XL Restaurant Style Barbecue Grilling Lump Charcoal
“This is a good option and a brand you should try at least once.“
There are two types of charcoal: Lump vs. Briquette Charcoal
Is lump charcoal better than briquette charcoal? Long has this argument existed, and the bottom line is both types of charcoal are good. However, these two charcoal types have Pros and Cons and their place and application in the grilling world. Both Lump Charcoal and Briquette Charcoal are sources of heat for your charcoal grill.
However, where the similarities end. Lump Charcoal ignites fast, burns hotter, longer, and produces little ash. Ash production is crucial for people using kamado-style grills. Kamados like airflow and have small space for ash deposits.
Also, lump charcoal burns hotter per pound compared to briquettes, which means your charcoal bag can last longer and have proper heat to sear a steak.
In this article, we will focus on lump charcoal. Lump charcoal is more effective for serious cooking requiring a reliable heat source, and we prefer its natural nature.
Briquettes are excellent, but many briquette brands add chemicals and fillers during the manufacturing process, which many pitmasters and consumers dislike. Also, briquettes tend to produce a lot of ash, which will not work well for those using Kamado grills or smaller stainless grills.
Is lump charcoal better than regular charcoal?
Hardwood lump charcoal is very close to cooking with real wood and, in many cases, is the only option for Kamado style grills due to its small ash productions but much more heat. However, lump charcoal can burn faster, be harder to manage, not easily found in local stores, and more expensive.
Briquette charcoal can burn longer, easier to maintain consistent temperature since all charcoal pieces are the same size, and briquette bags are cheaper plus found anywhere. I mean, you can find briquette charcoal at gas stations, but I personally wouldn’t cook a stone with those self-lighting bags found at gas stations! (joke)
Lump charcoal is more expensive to produce but pound per pound, lump charcoal can burn hotter and longer than briquette charcoal. We studied papers by the USDA during our research and found that one pound of lump charcoal can burn hotter than two pounds of briquette coals. If you are interested in a good research paper on charcoal, check out this USDA report. If you like to sear steaks, lump charcoal is your friend!
Charcoal briquettes can take longer to light up, turn “white,” and some brands can produce a chemical smell. If you are using a Kamado type grill, briquette charcoal is not your best choice. Briquette charcoal can produce large amounts of ash, restricting the Kamado’s airflow and ultimately clog the grill.
People often use chemicals to start briquettes or purchase self-lighting briquettes, which can leave a chemical-like taste on your food.
Why is lump charcoal the best option for serious smoking and grilling?
The best hardwood lump charcoal brands will make their product using real pure wood blends, producing the cleanest best burning charcoal you can buy. The right wood blend in lump charcoal will contribute to flavor, heat, ash production, and even charcoal reusability. But mainly, lump charcoal burns hotter than briquettes while producing less ash, making lump charcoal an efficient heat source for long and slow smoking, searing meats, and all grilling varieties.
Natural hardwood lump charcoal does not contain chemicals that can change the foods’ flavor and ruin BBQ flavor. Lump charcoal does much better for long and slow cooking. The coal lumps last and remain at temperature longer.
Charcoal briquettes are not terrible for the occasional beach trip but some brands and lighter fluid which can leave and after taste on your foods.
How to choose the best charcoal for your grill? What is lump charcoal used for?
Let’s start with the materials used to make the charcoal mix or blend. The materials used to make charcoal are essential since a good blend of materials will dictate the end product’s quality.
The best hardwood lump natural charcoal brands will use top-quality South American hardwoods, and others will use a mix of oak, hickory, maple, and walnut to their mix. Some cuts off woods will yield different flavors, and other cuts of wood will simply burn faster.
Choosing a charcoal mix that best suits your cooking style and flavor takes time and patience. No one can tell you what wood combination works best. We all have our own taste and flavors we like.
Generally, you do not want to use charcoal made from recycled materials containing chemicals or preservatives that can be absorbed by your meat. So the first rule of thumb when choosing your best charcoal brand is to look for a wood blend originating from organic or natural materials that do not contain chemicals, recycle wood, or other materials, including metal.
Some cheap charcoal brands will not do a great job at filtering out scrap metal and other foreign objects after burning their wood mix. Yes, metal!
Things to consider when choosing the best lump charcoal:
Materials used or wood mix – “The Blend”
Some companies will use recycled wood, and this method can introduce preservatives and other chemicals used to “treat” the wood for its original purpose. BBQ Grill Academy lump natural charcoal tests are performed using a Kamado grill (Big Green Egg), and good quality charcoal is important.
Try to use charcoal that comes from natural woods and without preservatives. Be prepared to pay a bit more for truly natural lump charcoal. A an sample of wood blend is oak hickory and maple or oak and hickory.
Size and shape of lump charcoals
When choosing a lump charcoal product, pay attention to the charcoal shape and what you get in the bag. Too many different lump sizes create uneven heat, but also large pieces can be challenging to control. Too many small pieces will light up quick but will also burn faster and generate more ash. BBQ Grill Academy lump charcoal tests using our Kamado grill show that big charcoal lumps allow greater airflow and cleaner, hotter charcoal burns
Lump charcoal is not available or easily found in every store. We prefer brands available online, so we can easily have the charcoal bag delivered to our doorstep. After all, lump charcoal bags are heavy, and some bags can be dirty.
Do yourself a favor and have your charcoal delivered to your doorsteps. Good charcoal for grilling is hard to find at gas stations and small stores.
Here are some charcoal questions we often receive from our readers:
What is the healthiest charcoal to use?
Yes: You should consider clean-burning charcoal and chemical-free. The charcoal brands we use mostly use all-natural or organic wood mixes, but some brands also use renewable wood.
If you find foreign materials such as pieces of metal and car parts, well, this should be a red flag.
What is the hottest burning charcoal?
Lump charcoal with Oak mixtures usually burns the hottest and cleanest. Keep in mind that charcoal should be considered a fuel source and not a flavor source. Use lump charcoal to fuel your grill and wood chips to add flavor.
Pro Tip: Do yourself a favor, pick up some wood chips or wood chunks such as hickory, pecan, and add flavor to your meat.
What kind of charcoal do you use in a Kamado grill? What’s the best charcoal for Kamado Joe, Primo, or Green Egg?
The brands below all work well with Kamado grills. When choosing a lump charcoal brand for your kamado grill, the most essential thing is “small ash production”.
- Jealous Devil All Natural Hardwood Lump Charcoal
- Fogo Super Premium Hardwood Lump Charcoal
- Kamado Joe KJ-Char Big Block XL Lump Charcoal
- Royal Oak All Natural Hardwood Lump Charcoal
- Harder Charcoal 100 Percent Natural XL Restaurant Style Barbecue Grilling Lump Charcoal
- Rockwood All Natural hardwood hickory maple and pecan blend
Let’s talk about lump charcoal. – Our Research
We reviewed and tested several charcoal brands and shared our picks are below. I have been using a kamado grill for years and have tried numerous charcoal brands to find the best lump charcoal.
However, it is important to keep in mind that not everyone has the same taste or enjoy the same flavors. Also, cooking styles can play a role and determine what charcoal brand works best for you. Below you will find our top lump charcoal picks. Enjoy!
Here are the brands we have used and enjoyed:
Jealous Devil has made reasonable efforts to provide adequate packaging and deliver the best charcoal to your doorsteps. We are very impressed by the three-layer bag, which does a great job keeping the coals dry and in good shape. The coal is made from South American hardwoods similar to oak but lacking the unpleasant bitterness that sometimes sneaks in. The main ingredient in this blend is Quebracho Blanco “ax-breaker” hardwood from Paraguay. The flavor is smooth and mild, which is excellent for slow cooking.
We like this charcoal because it produces little spark, ash, and smoke, which is great when cooking in small areas, kamados, and some users feel safe using this brand.
- 100% NATURAL: Pure, ultra-dense South American hardwoods – no chemicals, fillers, or scrap material
- Jealous Devil Charcoal promises a 100% natural product from dense hardwoods with no chemicals, fillers, or foreign materials. We like this!
- Great packaging, three-layer bag
- Great for Kamado grills, minimal ash
- Long and superior burn times – burns hot
- Produces good smoky flavor
- Good size coal chunks
- Great for low and slow cooking
Fogo is an excellent and consistent charcoal brand. For long, this has been a go-to option for many of my bbq pitmasters. FOGO Super Premium lump charcoal is easiest found online.
Fogo makes its charcoal from South American quebracho wood known for its hardness. We also like the fact that Fogo claims their charcoal is not harvested from living trees, contributing to the protection of our planet. We like that this charcoal produces little ash, lasts long, and delivers a good flavor.
- Long-lasting charcoal, but it does burn faster than Jealous Devil Lump Charcoal
- Produces a good balanced smoky flavor
- This charcoal works great in kamado ceramic grills ( i.e Big Green Egg )
- Pretty consistent restaurant-quality charcoal
- Lights up fast, easy to light – burns hot
- Large lumps of charcoal
- Fogo premium blend
Is Royal Oak lump charcoal good?
Royal Oak Lump Charcoal is made in the USA using 100% all Natural wood. Royal Oak uses renewable oak and hickory hardwood. Some users have reported finding foreign objects in charcoal bags, such as small rocks. Although Royal Oak Lump charcoal is good value charcoal, you do not get the quality and coal size of other brands listed in this roundup.
This charcoal blend is an excellent option for those who grill often and are looking for great value and availability.
- Good value – best budget
- Works well in any grill including Kamados
- Lights up fast, easy to light
- Balanced flavor
- Some users have reported finding foreign objects in the charcoal brands, although to be fair, the way lump charcoal is produced opens the door for small racks and other debris to make it to the packaged product.
- I have used Royal Oak, and at least on my kamado grill, it can produce a bit of spark during the light-up process.
- Smaller lump chunks
- The bag we purchased for our test did have many small pieces of coals. Small coal lights up fast but also burns fast!
Kamado Joe 100% Natural Lump Charcoal is made from real trees, so it burns clean and gives you a robust wood-fire flavor.
While some brands use scrap wood and processed woods with fillers, Kamado uses a natural blend of hardwood – Guayacan, Guayaibi, Mistal, and White Quebracho.
Kamado Joes Lump Charcoal offers good quality, easy to find, and a good option for those cooking with Kamado grills. This charcoal can be reignited and reused multiple times, which is welcome by those cooking regularly.
- 30 pounds of 100 percent natural lump charcoal
- Can burn up to 18 hours – great for slow cookouts and smoking meat
- Reusable up to three times, making it cost-efficient
- The blend choice of Guayacan, Guayaibi, Mistal, and White Quebracho yields great flavor
Harder Charcoal makes a good product, and although it is last on this list, we actually like Harder Charcoal a lot. This restaurant-style lump charcoal produces excellent heat and flavor.
Harder Charcoal is made using South American Quebracho wood, an excellent choice for grilling and smoking meats. This Charcoal is another superb option for Kamado grills.
- Restaurant-style charcoal that’s perfect for grilling and smoking your favorite foods
- Great options for Kamado Grills
- Great for Smoking Meat
- Handmade from the Quebracho Wood – good flavor
- Works excellent with Ceramic Kamado grills
- Made from Quebracho trees
Okay, guys, so our review methods do not aim at criticizing products but rather research products and share the results. Our website’s focus is to help you become a better cook, pitmaster, and enjoy grilling with your friends and family.
All these charcoal brands are great, but there are two brands we absolutely love.
First, Jealous Devil All Natural Hardwood Lump Charcoal due to the flavor it produces, low to little spark, and burns well, and charcoal size is very consistent. We also believe Jealous Devil charcoal bags are among the best in the market and protect the coals well.
In a very close second place comes Fogo Super Premium Hardwood Lump Charcoal. Fogo is a great brand, and for a long time has been the go-to charcoal for many of our cookouts.
However, we give Jealous Devil a slight edge due to the little spark it produces, its reusability, and its packaging. Remember, when choosing your charcoal brands, spend some time researching the wood blend and mixes used to create the charcoal. I recommend trying a few brands to find the blend that yields the best flavor for you. Once you try a few brands, you will pick up on the differences and flavors and pick what works best for you.
Enjoy the process, have fun cooking for friends and family, enjoy life!