The Best Lump charcoal for your grill and Smokers

Best Lump Charcoal

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If you own a charcoal grill, congratulations, you own one of the coolest, most versatile cooking tools ever made. However, unless you use good lump charcoal for your grill or smoker, you might be spinning your wheels and missing out on a world of flavor, efficiency, and great cooking.

I went on a hunt to test the most popular brands of charcoal, test them in my Green Egg so I could find the best lump charcoal and share my findings with you.

I have owned a Kamado Green Egg grill for a little over 6 years now and have burned hundreds of pounds of charcoal. I have put every brand of charcoal through that grill, some were great and some were bad, very bad. Below is my list of top picks, along with my take on each and why they are on this list.

Our Top Picks for Best lump charcoal

1. Jealous Devil Lump Charcoal – Best Overall lump charcoal

Jealous Devil lump charcoal

Jealous Devil has made good efforts to package and deliver the highest quality lump charcoal to your doorstep. I was very impressed by the three-layer bag, which does a great job of keeping the coals dry and in good shape.

I know many will say, what does the bag has anything to do with the charcoal being good? It doesn’t. However what it does do is protect the lump charcoals inside so when you get home and open it, you get acutal large lump charcoal pieces and not a bag of charcoal sand.

Testing Bag of Jealous Devil Lump charcoal

The main wood in the Jealous Devil all-natural hardwood blend comes from Paraguayan Quebracho Blanco “ax-breaker” hardwood trees and this is what makes this charcoal so good and high quality.

This charcoal is made from South American hardwoods that are similar to oak wood but do not contain the unpleasant bitterness that sometimes creeps into certain blends.

Jealous Devil uses small-batch carbonization processing to ensure quality and a 100 percent natural hardwood lump charcoal product. In short, they work hard to make a good product.

I like this charcoal because it produces little to no spark when lighting it, and it produces little ash.

Another thing like like and quickly started enjoying is how little it takes for this charcoal to be ready to cook.

Once the charcoal is lit there is very little smoke, which is great when cooking on small portable grills or kamados. This blend produces a subtle flavor and is ideal for grilling or smoking meats.

Why our top choice

We chose the Jealous Devil as our best lump charcoal choice because it light up faster than most brands, produces very little ash, and it burns hot. Even the bag is of high quality and the size of the lumps is impressive.

What We Like:

  • Jealous Devil promises a 100% natural product from dense hardwoods with no chemicals, fillers, or foreign materials. We like this!
  • Great packaging, the three-layer Devil lump charcoal bag protects the lumps, keeps them good shape and dry.
  • Great for Kamados, minimal ash.
  • Long and superior burn times, yields high temperatures, gets to cooking temperature fast.
  • It produces a good smoky flavor, which is great for poultry and fish.
  • Good-sized coal chunks.
  • It’s great for low and slow cooking.
  • Light up quickly.

What We Don’t Like:

  • Burns hot, so users need to know how to control airflow and temperature in their charcoal smokers and grills.
  • Some people might find the taste of this hardwood blend strong but not unpleasant.

2. Fogo Super Premium Lump Charcoal – Runner Up ( Best for Smoking )

Fogo Premium lump charcoal

Fogo Premium lump charcoal is made from South American hardwood as well, but from a different tree. This charcoal is made from Brazilian eucalyptus, known for its hardness. Just like the Devil charcoal, the Fogo produces little ash, lasts a long time, is flavorful, and is good quality hardwood lump charcoal.

For a long time, this has been my go-to option when buying lump charcoal for my smoker. FOGO Premium lump charcoal is easiest to find online. I was surprised by how hard it is to find such a good product locally. 

Like the Jealous Devil, it burns slowly without filling up your grill with tons of ash. The biggest difference I noticed between our top pick, Jealous Devil, and Fogo is that Fogo premium lump charcoal seems to have a more “harmonious” flavor profile, which is why I use it in my smoker or when I want to sear a good grilled steak. When I smoke meat, I want the wood to handle flavor, not my charcoal, but this brand does well when when smoking brisket.

Fogo is natural charcoal, and it shows; when I opened the bag, there were nothing but large chunks, unlike what I have seen with other, cheaper brands.

What We Like:

  • High quality natural made from natural hardwoods.
  • Long-lasting, but it does burn faster than Jealous Devil Charcoal.
  • It produces a good, balanced, and mild smoky flavor.
  • It works great in kamado ceramic grills.
  • Pretty consistent restaurant-quality. 
  • Lights up fast and easy – burns hot, minimal ash.
  • Big lumps of charcoals ( Fogo Bags pack a lot of large chunks )
  • Fogo Premium Blend would be my first choice, but Jealous Devil produces less spark, so this is a very close second pick.

What We Don’t Like:

  • During ignition, small charcoal pieces can spark a lot.
  • It can burn faster than other brands.

3. Royal Oak Lump Charcoal – Budget Pick

Royal Oak lump charcoal bag
hand holding royal oak charcoal

Royal Oak lump charcoal is made in the USA using 100% natural wood but uses renewable oak hardwood, walnut wood, and hickory hardwood. Some users have reported finding foreign objects in packaging bags, such as small rocks, and let me tell you, I have as well.

Royal charcoal uses “natural recycled wood,” so you do not get the quality and consistency in coal size of other charcoal brands listed in this article. You can get as many large lump pieces as small chips. 

However, this is a very affordable charcoal brand and an all natural hardwood lump charcoal product. In fact, you can see many barbecue pitmasters using Royal Oak. Why? because even though it is not as high quality and refined as other brands, it is affordable, and it gets the job done, plain and simple. Remember, charcoal is your fuel, and wood is for flavor.

This charcoal blend is an excellent option for those getting started in grilling and who are looking for great value and availability.

What We Like:

  • Good value—using recycled wood cuts down on the cost.
  • It works well in any grill, including Kamados.
  • Lights up fast, easy to light
  • Balanced mild flavor

What We Don’t Like:

  • Some users have reported finding foreign objects in the bags, although to be fair, the way lump charcoal is manufactured opens the door for small rocks and other debris to make it to the end product.
  • I have used Royal Oak on my kamado grill, and it sparks a lot during the light-up process.
  • Smaller pieces, inconsistent chunk size—this can be annoying when trying to set up the grill for smoking.
  • A 30 pound bag we purchased for our test did have many small pieces of coal. Small coal lights up fast but also burns fast.

4. Kamado Joe Hardwood Lump Charcoal – Good Charcoal for Kamado Grills

Kamado Joe lump charcoal bag

Kamado Joe’s 100% Natural Lump Charcoal is made from real trees, so it burns clean and gives you a robust wood-fire flavor. This is high quality charcoal and will keep your smoker’s ash drawer pretty empty.

While some brands use scrap wood and processed wood with fillers, Kamado Joe uses a natural blend of hardwoods—Guayacan, Guayaibi, Mistal, and White Quebracho.

Kamado Joe offers good quality; it is easy to find and a good option for those cooking in Kamados. This charcoal can be re-ignited and reused multiple times, which is well liked by those who cook regularly. This brand is among the top lump charcoal options in my book.

What We Like:

  • 30 pounds of 100 percent natural – good quality.
  • can burn for up to 18 hours—great for brisket slow and low smoking cooking sessions.
  • It is reusable up to three times, making it cost-efficient.
  • The blend choice of Guayacan, Guayaibi, Mistal, and White Quebracho yields great flavor.

What We Don’t Like:

  • It burns faster than the top two brands.
  • The charcoal size is not consistent.

5. Harder Charcoal 100 Percent Natural XL Restaurant Style

Harder charcoal bag

Harder Charcoal makes a good product, and although it is fifth on this list, we actually like this brand a lot. 

Harder Charcoal is made using South American quebracho, an excellent choice for grilling and smoking meats. This charcoal is another good option for Kamados and another affordable charcoal option.

What We Like:

  • Restaurant-grade ,good for grilling and smoking your favorite foods. 
  • A good option for Kamados.
  • Good for smoking meat.
  •  Handmade from Quebracho Wood – good flavor.

What We Don’t Like:

  • smaller charcoal pieces compared to the top brands on this list.

6. Rockwood All Natural Hardwood lump Charcoal

Rockwood natural charcoal bag

Rockwood All Natural Hardwood Charcoal is a good hardwood lump blend and is priced affordably. We like this brand because, although its blend is not from some exotic jungle tree, it is made from natural hardwoods like premium Missouri Oak, Hickory, Maple, and Pecan wood.

This natural hardwood blend produces a mild but tasteful smoky flavor. The wood for this blend is sourced from hardwood leftovers from lumber mills.

What We Like:

  • Rockwood, all natural hardwood, works well in kamado grills like the Big Green Egg.
  • The mild flavor does not overpower the meat’s seasoning.
  • Made from oak for those oaky-flavored lovers.

What We Don’t Like:

  • The quality is not as good as the top brands, but it is a good value for the price.

7. B B Charcoal

B&B charcoal bag

Another alternative is B B charcoal, which is made entirely of natural oak wood. If you like oak flavor, B B charcoal will provide some flavor, but not as much as the top brands on this list.

What We Like:

  • It burns clean and lights up fast.
  • good for cooking at high temps and fast.

What We Don’t Like:

  • Chunks and lumps are not as consistent as the top brands on this list.

Things To Consider When Buying Lump Charcoal

Type of Wood Used Or Wood Mix used in the lump charcoal – “The Blend”

Some charcoal makers use recycled wood, which is cheaper but can add unwanted chemicals and preservatives that were used to “treat” the wood for its original purpose. The best lump charcoals are those made from actual trees, real wood, limbs, and branches.

lump charcoal testing

Try to buy charcoal made from real hardwoods with no preservatives. For example, consider oak, hickory, mesquite, or south American hardwoods. Be prepared to pay a bit more for a truly all-natural hardwood lump.

Popular blends are oak-hickory, which is the top pick used by top barbecue pitmasters. The type of wood used to produce the charcoal will impact its flavor profile, how fast or slowly it ignites, and how long it burns.

All our tests are performed using a Kamado grill, and using good-quality charcoal is important. Unlike a pellet grill, in a charcoal smoker or grill

Lump charcoal Size And Shape consistency

lump charcoal sizes

When selecting a charcoal brand, consider the shape, size, and consistency of the charcoal lump. Too many different lump sizes generate uneven heat, but large pieces can also make it challenging to control the fire.

Too many small pieces will light up quickly, but they will also burn faster and generate more ash. During our tests, using our kamado, we discovered that big charcoal lumps allow greater airflow, cleaner smoke, and a good clean fire.

Availability of the Lump Charcoal

Lump charcoal is not widely available or easily accessible in all stores. We prefer brands available online, so we can have the charcoal bag delivered to our doorstep. After all, these bags are heavy, and some bags can be dirty. 

Do yourself a favor and have your charcoal delivered to your doorstep, these bags are heavy.

Tips from the team at BBQ Grill Academy

How To Light Up Lump Charcoal

Lump charcoal lights easily, but using a chimney starter will help you light lump charcoal faster and safer. There are different methods and techniques for lighting charcoal, but the chimney starter method remains one of the preferred methods.

When lighting charcoal, you want to avoid using lighter fluid. You are not only defeating the point of getting an all natural source of fuel, but lighter fluid can introduce chemical smells that you can later taste on food.

Related: The difference between lump charcoal and briquettes

Conclusion

All these charcoal brands are great, but there are two that we absolutely love. Based on our research and lengthy hours of testing , the Jealous Devil is our top pick and best lump charcoal due to the flavor it produces, its low to little spark, and its ability to burn well and hot for long periods. Also, its lump size is very consistent.

Their website has tons on information on how they manufacture their product, the woods they use, and their unique methods for manufacturing quality products.

We also believe Jealous Devil bags are among the best on the market and protect the coals.

In a very close second place comes Fogo Super Premium. Fogo Premium Hardwood is a great brand and, for a long time, has been the go-to fuel for many of our cookouts.

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