Top 6 – The Best Lump Charcoal For smoking, Grilling and Kamados – A Guide To the Best brands of charcoal 2021

burning charcoal

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Lump Charcoal is very popular and favored among backyard warriors and pitmasters alike. There is nothing like the smell of 100 percent natural charcoal “lighting up” on a weekend morning. If you are serious about grilling or smoking meats, lump charcoal is one of the best BBQ fuel and heat sources you can use in your grill or smoker.

However, the best lump charcoal blend alone will not make you a chef nor improve your grilling skills. Charcoal is your source of heat, fuel and you should use the best natural and cleanest heat source possible the get better cooking results.

Nevertheless, it is worth mentioning that lump charcoal produces that traditional charcoal wood flavor we all enjoy, mainly because the best lump charcoals brands use real wood to produce their charcoal.

Our Top Picks For: The best lump charcoal For Your Grill Or Smoker

Pro Tip: Try using smoke wood chips or chunks to add flavor to your meat.

Things to consider when Buying lump charcoal:

Materials used or wood mix – “The Blend”

Some companies use recycled wood, and although less expensive, this method can introduce unwanted preservatives and other chemicals used to “treat” the wood for its original purpose. 

Try to buy charcoal that originates from natural woods and without preservatives. An example of a wood blend is oak, hickory, and maple, or another popular blend is hickory maple and pecan. Be prepared to pay a bit more for truly 100 natural lump charcoal.

Popular blends are oak-hickory, maple, oak, and hickory being the top pick adopted by top pitmasters.

BBQ Grill Academy natural hardwood lump charcoal tests are performed using a Kamado grill (Big Green Egg), and good quality charcoal is important.

Size and shape of hardwood lump charcoals

best lump charcoal
BBQ Grill Academy – Fogo large chunks

When choosing a 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 the fire.

Too many small pieces will light up quickly but will also burn faster and generate more ash. BBQ Grill Academy tests using our Kamado grill revealed that big charcoal lumps allow greater airflow, cleaner smoke, and a good fire.

Availability

Lump charcoal is not available or readily found in every store. We prefer brands available online, so we can have the charcoal bag delivered to our doorstep. After all, 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 hottest burning Best Lump charcoal?

Lump charcoal with Oak blends usually burns the hottest and cleanest. Keep in mind that charcoal should be considered a fuel source and not a flavor source. Use charcoal to fuel your grill and wood chips to add flavor.

Lump charcoal is capable of long burning times and you do not need large amounts of lump charcoal to generate proper cooking temperatures in your grill.

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 Can 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, an essential thing is “small ash production.”

 

the best lump charcoal For Grilling and Smoking, for Your Grill, Smoker or Kamado. – Our Research

We reviewed and tested several charcoal brands and shared our picks are below. I have been using kamado grills for years and have tried numerous charcoal brands to find the best lump charcoal.

However, it is important to remember that not everyone has the same taste or enjoys 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!

The Best lump charcoal brands:

1. Best – Jealous Devil All Natural Hardwood Lump Charcoal

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 main ingredient in this blend is Quebracho Blanco “ax-breaker” hardwood from Paraguay. The coal is made from South American hardwoods similar to oak but lacks unpleasant bitterness that sometimes sneaks in.

The smoky flavor is smooth and mild, which is excellent for slow cooking.

We like this charcoal because it produces little spark, low ash, and smoke, which is great when cooking in small areas, kamados. This charcoal blend is great for grilling or smoking meats and produces a subtle flavor.

What we like:

  • Natural hardwood lump charcoal – 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 will help keep the coals in good shape and dry.
  • Great for Kamados, minimal ash.
  • Long and superior burn times, lights quickly.
  • Produces good smoky flavor which is great for pultry and fish.
  • Good size coal chunks.
  • Great for low and slow cooking and best charcoal for grilling.

What we don’t like:

  • This charcoal burns hot and users need to know how to control airflow and temperature management.
  • Some users like more smoke for smoking meats.

2. Our Favorite – Fogo Super Premium Hardwood Lump Charcoal 17.6-pound Bag

Fogo makes its charcoal from South American hardwood. This lump charcoal comes from “Quebracho,” known for its hardness. We like that this charcoal produces little ash, lasts long, and delivers a good flavor.

Fogo is an excellent charcoal brand. For long, this has been a go-to option for many BBQ pitmasters. FOGO Super Premium lump charcoal is easiest found online. I was surprised by how hard it is to find such a good product locally. 

We also like the fact that Fogo claims their charcoal is not harvested from living trees, contributing to the protection of our planet. So in a sense, this brand claims to be environmentally friendly. This lump charcoal brand striving to be eco friendly.

What we like:

  • High quality charcoal natural hardwood lump charcoal
  • Long-lasting charcoal, but it does burn faster than Jealous Devil Lump Charcoal
  • Produces a good balanced and mild 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, minimal ash.
  • Big lumps of charcoal ( Fogo Bags pack a lot of large chunks )
  • Fogo premium blend should be my first choice but Jealous Devil produces less spark but this is a very close scond option.

What we don’t like:

  • Small charcoal pieces can spark a lot during ignition.
  • This charcoal can burn faster than otehr brands.

3. Good Value – Royal Oak All Natural Hardwood Lump Charcoal

Is Royal Oak lump charcoal good?

hand holding royal oak charcoal

Royal Oak Lump Charcoal is made in the USA using 100% all Natural wood but uses renewable oak and hickory hardwood. Some users have reported finding foreign objects in charcoal bags, such as small rocks. ( I have as well )

Although Royal Oak lump charcoal uses “natural recycled wood,” you do not get the quality and coal size of other charcoal brands listed in this roundup.


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

What we like:

  • Good value – Using recyle wood cuts down cost.
  • Works well in any grill including Kamados.
  • Lights up fast, easy to light
  • Balanced flavor

What we don’t like:

  • Some users have reported finding foreign objects in the charcoal 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 can produce sparks during the light-up process.
  • Smaller lump inconsistent chunks – this can be anoying when trying to setup the grill for smoking.
  • A 30 pound bag we purchased for our test did have many small pieces of coals. Small coal lights up fast but also burns fast.

4. Good for Kamado Grills – Kamado Joe KJ-Char Big Block XL Lump Charcoal, 30 lbs

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 Joe uses a natural blend of hardwoods – Guayacan, Guayaibi, Mistal, and White Quebracho.

Kamado Joes Lump Charcoal offers good quality; it is easy to find and a good option for those cooking with Kamados. This charcoal can be re-ignited and reused multiple times, which is welcomed by those cooking regularly. 

What we like:

  • 30 pounds of 100 percent natural lump charcoal- good quality.
  • Can burn for up to 18 hours – great for slow and low smoking.
  • 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.
  • Charcoal size not consistent.

5. Harder Charcoal 100 Percent Natural XL Restaurant Style Charcoal

Harder Charcoal makes a good product, and although it is fifth on this list, we actually like this 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 good option for Kamados.

What we like:

  •  Restaurant-style charcoal that’s good for grilling and smoking your favorite foods. 
  • Good options for Kamados.
  • Good for Smoking Meat.
  •  Handmade from the Quebracho Wood – good flavor.

What we don’t like:

  • Smaller charcoal pieces compared to the top brands in this list.

6. Rockwood All Natural Hardwood Charcoal

Rockwood All Natural Hardwood Charcoal is a good hardwood lump blend and priced affordably. We like this brand because and although its blend is not from some exotic jungle, it is made from natural hardwood Missouri Oak, Hickory, Maple, and Pecan wood. This Natural hardwood lump charcoal blend produces a mild but tasteful smoky flavor.

What we like:

  • Works well in kamado grills like the Big Green Egg.
  • The mild flavor should not overpower meats seasoning.
  • Made from Oak for those oaky-flavor lovers.

What we don’t like:

  • Quality is not as good the top brands but it is a value pick.

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. We wrote a full article to address the lump vs briquette charcoal topic which you can read in the link below. The article is a great resource and lump charcoal guide to learn more about the differences between lump and briquette charcoal.

Both Lump and Briquette charcoal are sources of heat for your charcoal grill. However, these two charcoal types have Pros and Cons and their place and application in the grilling world.

Lump charcoal lights faster, burn hotter, longer, and produce little ash. Ash production is crucial for people using kamado-style grills. Kamados like airflow and have small space for ash deposits. A brand like Jealous Devil All Natural Hardwood makes one of the best lump charcoal products is known for its small ash generation.

Also, lump charcoal burns hotter per pound than briquettes, which means your bag of lump coals can last longer and produce proper heat to sear a steak.

Natural hardwood lump charcoal is a pleasure to use once you figure out how to manage it and control it.

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 Kamados or smaller stainless grills.

Is lump charcoal better than regular charcoal?

Hardwood lump charcoal is the closest 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, natural lump charcoal can burn faster, be harder to manage, be easily found in local stores, and be 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)

Another reason lump charcoal is well linked is because it is natural and it contains no additives or fillers. Unlike briquettes, lump charcoal does not need additives or fillers to bond it together, shape it or aid the lighting process. Lump charcoal is natural.

Thus why, if you are looking for ways of keeping your cooking as natural as possible, lump charcoal will be your charcoal to use. Lump charcoal is easier to light. Briquettes normally require some sort of chemical to light the charcoal where lump charcoal is easy to light using lighting cubes or a charcoal chimney.

Lump charcoal is more expensive to produce but pound per pound; lump charcoal can burn hotter 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!

Briquettes can take longer to light up and turn “white,” Some brands can produce inconsistent quality and chemical smell. Briquette charcoal can produce large amounts of ash, restricting the Kamado’s airflow and ultimately clog the grill. 

Kamado style grills like the Primo and Kamado Joe work best with lump charcoal. Lump charcoal’s best property is its ability to burn hot, and its natural tree-like aspect and large pieces create enough openings for airflow. This is very much needed in grills like your Kamado Big Green Egg and perfect for smoking meats slow.

Kamados like the Green Egg Kamado Joe and others do not have large ash collection areas and we recommend using lump charcoal as it produces a small amount of ash. A small amount of ash production means the airflow of the grill won’t be obstructed and it can operate effectively for long periods.

People often use chemicals to start briquettes or purchase self-lighting briquettes, which can leave a chemical-like taste on your food. If you are serious about grilling good BBQ, you know that using chemicals to start your fire is a big NO.

Use a fire starter such as a charcoal chimney starter or fire starting cubes to keep your charcoal clean of chemicals; after all, one of the reasons for using lump charcoal is its natural origin.

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, less ash production, and charcoal reusability. But mainly, lump charcoal burns hotter than briquettes while producing less ash, making lump charcoal an efficient heat source for slow smoking and hot enough for searing meats.

Natural hardwood lump charcoal does not contain chemicals that can change foods’ flavor and ruin BBQ taste.

Charcoal briquettes are not terrible for the occasional beach trip, but some brands add lighter fluid mixes that can leave an aftertaste on your foods.

More importantly lump charcoal burns hot, in fact, while briquets’ maximum burning temperature is rated to about 800 degrees lump charcoal burning temperature can reach 1200 degrees F.

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 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 tastes and flavors we like.

Generally, you do not want to use charcoal made from recycled materials containing chemicals or preservatives that your meat can absorb.

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. 

After burning their wood mix, some cheap charcoal brands will not do a great job filtering out scrap metal and other foreign objects. Yes, metal!

How to light lump charcoal

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

How Long does lump charcoal burn?

Lump charcoal burns hot but also fast. You can expect a burn time of about an hour but when cooking at low temperatures, not searing at steak at 600 degrees, and your grill is set right you can expect hours of grilling.

One Last Word.

Okay, guys, our review methods do not aim to criticize 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.

In a very close second place comes Fogo Super Premium Hardwood Lump Charcoal. Fogo Premium Hardwood 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. Lump charcoal is very versatile and is great to grill anything from steaks and burgers to smoking amazing large pork cuts.

The best natural charcoal is made using nothing but wood. Anything extra will burn and end up in your food.

100 natural lump charcoals are a great source of fuel for your grill and smoker. Pick up a bag and give it try, the results will amaze you.

Enjoy the process, have fun cooking for friends and family, enjoy life!

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