The Best Lump Charcoal For Grilling – Top 5 Reviews & Buyer’s Guide

I remember being skeptical the first time I purchased lump charcoal, wondering if it could really be much different than briquettes from the grocery store. But from the moment my chimney starter fired up, I was a believer. The smell was amazingly deep, woody, and complex compared to the plain old briquettes I had used previously. And something about the natural wood-shaped chunks just felt right. In this article I’ll give my opinion on the best lump charcoal, explain what makes this stuff really great, and tell you the best brands for specific cooking scenarios.

Lump Charcoal

Type of Wood

Weight

Our Rating

Type of Wood

#1 Fogo FHWC35LB

35 lbs

Oak

#2 Jealous Devil

35 lbs

Oak

#3 Original Natural Charcoal

17.6 lbs

Apple, cherry & oak

#4 Mangrove Hardwood

20 lbs

Oak

#5 Kamado Joe, KJ-CHAR

20 lbs

Quebracho & Mistol

Fogo FHWC35LB

Type of Wood

Oak

Weight

35 lbs

Jealous Devil

Type of Wood

Oak

Weight

35 lbs

Original Natural Charcoal

Type of Wood

Apple, cherry & oak

Weight

17.6 lbs

Mangrove Hardwood

Type of Wood

Oak

Weight

20 lbs

Kamado Joe, KJ-CHAR

Type of Wood

Quebracho & Mistol

Weight

20 lbs

The first thing you’ll notice when opening a bag of FOGO charcoal is the size of the chunks. They are generally large, but not massive, and I found them to be the perfect size. While there are some smaller chunks mixed in, you won’t find a bunch of dust and tiny broken bits. You may have to break some of the bigger pieces with a hammer or other tool, but it’s very easy to split the lumps.

When lighting up FOGO there are minimal sparks. Once it’s lit, you’ll notice it burns through at a moderate rate. Some charcoals burn extremely hot at a fast rate, and others burn slower and cooler. One thing I love about FOGO is that it’s a happy medium – noticeably hotter than briquettes, but the heat isn’t too intense.

FOGO notes that the only ingredient used to make this charcoal is Oak hardwood. This creates a nice, mellow smokey flavor that works with a variety of foods. While the punch that mesquite charcoals provide can be nice at times, it can be overwhelming with a lot of foods.

With all this being said, there are still other quality brands on the market.


2. Best Lump Charcoal for Smoking - Rockwood

If you’re using your lump charcoal to smoke meat, you’re probably more concerned with burn time than high temperatures. Rockwood is a great choice for extended cooks. This lump charcoal is a delicious blend of Oak, Maple, and Hickory that isn’t too overpowering. And it’s made in the USA, from Missouri hardwoods!


3. Best Lump Charcoal for Grilling at High Temps - Original Natural

If you’re mainly concerned with creating the highest temperatures possible for a fast, amazing sear, then Original Natural is the brand for you. It grades out as one of the hottest of all lump charcoals. It’s also made from a blend of Oak, Apple, and Cherry, which makes it a versatile choice that works great for beef, pork, poultry, and just about anything else.


4. Best Lump Charcoal for Big Green Egg - Jealous Devil

Are you in need of a charcoal for your Big Green Egg? Look no further than Jealous Devil. This charcoal has a mild flavor that works great for longer cook times. If you’re cooking with charcoal for an extended amount of time, it’s important that it doesn’t overpower the natural flavor of your meat. Additionally, Jealous Devil lump charcoal burns for three times longer than traditional charcoal.


5. Best Lump Charcoal for Kamado - Kamado Joe Big Block

No products found.
No products found. No products found.
No products found.

If you need a charcoal for your Kamado-style grill, go with the obvious choice: Kamado Joe Big Block. This lump charcoal is made from a hardwoods so dense that they are referred to as “axe-breakers.” That means these big chunks of wood burn longer than the competition, so they can handle whatever you want to cook.

What Exactly is Lump Charcoal?

Now that the main question has been addressed, let’s focus on what makes this stuff unique. Lump charcoal is nothing more than wood that has been carbonized – burned down in a low oxygen environment – until the moisture and other chemicals have disappeared. The process creates lumps of charcoal that are mostly pure carbon. Lump charcoal is additive-free and all natural, and as a result it retains its original shape.

Lump Charcoal vs Briquettes

Though lump charcoal an briquettes are interchangeable in most situations, there are still considerable differences. 

First off, lump charcoal lights up faster than briquettes, so you won’t have to wait as long to get grilling.

Another benefit of lump charcoal – perhaps the main advantage – is that it burns hotter than briquettes. This allows you to get a better sear on your meat.

During the cooking process, lump charcoal creates less ash than briquettes since it is free of binders. Ash can get on your food, and it also means you’ll have to clean your grill more often.

Last but not least, lump charcoal is completely natural and contains no additives. Briquettes contain saw dust and other materials used for their shape, and the “instant-light” variety often contains lighter fluids. The purity of lump charcoal is appreciated by both the health-conscious and those with discerning palates.

What Makes a Good Lump Charcoal?

Quality lump charcoal should not have a lot of tiny bits and carbon dust in the bag. These should be filtered out during the production process. But remember that a small amount of dust is unavoidable due to production handling and the shipping process.

Second, when you light up your lump charcoal, it shouldn’t create a ton of sparks. That’s a sign of low quality wood and/or a poor carbonization process. And speaking of lighting charcoal, it shouldn’t be a long, tiresome process. While lump charcoal won’t light up like briquettes covered in lighter fluid, getting your charcoal lit should be no problem with a chimney starter.

Your charcoal should also smell great, which is honestly one of my favorite aspects of working with lump charcoal. Not all of the smell will translate to whatever you’re cooking, but the natural scent really makes the cooking process more enjoyable than working with briquettes. If you’re getting acrid fumes when lighting up your charcoal, something is wrong.

One more subjective aspect of choosing the best lump charcoal for you is the type of wood used. Some lump charcoals are single-species, meaning made from only one type of wood. Woods like hickory and mesquite can provide more intense flavor, while most others are more mild.

Another subjective point is burn temperature and speed. If you’re searing steak, you’ll likely want higher temps. On the other hand, if you’re smoking you’ll want something that burns for a longer amount of time. Also keep in mind you can control burn rate with most charcoal grills by adjusting the dampers.


Summary

The main purpose of this post was to share my choice for best lump charcoal, FOGO, but I hoped you learned a lot more! If you have any more wisdom relating to charcoal or want to weigh in on the ongoing lump vs. briquette battle, please leave a comment below!

Last update on 2021-04-15 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*