Lump charcoal is the fuel source that comes to mind when many seasoned grillers think about having a cookout with friends or even just making some flavorful and authentic tasting meat for the family.
Although there are many other fuel sources that you can use for your backyard smoking and grilling, finding the best lump charcoal should be a top priority if you prefer something highly efficient, easy to light.
But, with so many brands of lump charcoal to pick from, you can easily end up with something substandard if you do not know what to look for.
In this piece, we help reduce the likelihood of this happening by explaining how to pick the right lump charcoal for your cookouts. And we also review 10 top-rated lump charcoal options to make shopping even easier for you.
What to Check Before Buying Best Lump Charcoal?
There is no doubt that lump charcoal is one of the most efficient and flavorful fuel sources for barbecuing. However, there are many brands in the market, and to choose the best lump charcoal for smokers or grills, you will need to consider the following things.
Before you go out to buy lump charcoal, you will first need to decide the purpose or how you intend to use it. And this is because different brands will make their charcoal for different uses.
While some types of lump charcoal will be ideal for searing, others will be more appropriate for slow and low-temperature cooking.
Your preferred method of cooking will determine the lump charcoal that will offer you the best value for your money. Note that the best natural lump charcoal for grilling is not necessarily good for smoking.
2. Types of Wood
The raw material used to make the charcoal which is in this case natural wood is the greatest determinant of everything from its quality to its performance. And so it is important to consider the type of wood used before making up your mind on what to buy.
Some of the most commonly used types of woods for making lump charcoal are hickory, apple, cherry, oak, acacia, and alder.
Each of these woods will give the food a different flavor and will also burn at different temperatures hence making it ideal for cooking different type of food.
For example, maple is mildly sweet and smoky and it will add a subtle flavor to the food which makes it great for vegetables and certain types of meat like pork.
Some lump charcoal brands will mix different types of wood, and so it is important to know this beforehand to determine whether the mix will be ideal for your cooking.
3. Size of the Charcoal Pieces
The size of the charcoal pieces also matters a lot, and the good news is that most brands will indicate the size of the chunks in the package.
When it comes to charcoal piece sizes, you should go for something with larger pieces because the larger the charcoal the longer and hotter it will burn.
Also, avoid lump charcoal with a lot of dust as it is not useful for grilling and the overly small pieces will clog the air vents.
4. Burning Temperature
Different type of wood will burn at different temperatures, and so the temperature that you want to achieve should help you determine the wood type to buy.
For example, lump charcoal made from cherry will burn at 1099°F while maple will burn at 1200°F and apple at 1190°F.
Because some lump charcoals will mix different types of wood, the burning temperature might be different. It is also important to note that you still need to keep an eye on your vent settings to maintain the desired burning temperature regardless of the charcoal type you are using.
5. Burning Time
The burning time of the lump charcoal will determine how much of it you will need to grill or smoke your meats, and hence how much you will spend.
Most high-quality lump charcoals will have a burn time of up to 60 minutes when grilling at medium or high temperature and at least a couple of hours for slow and low-temperature cooking like smoking.
The longer the burn time the better the lump charcoal, but it is important to note that a long burn time often means that you need to make some compromise on the amount of heat you get.
6. Environmentally Friendly
Although lump charcoal combustion will not be 100% eco-friendly, you can still make sure that whatever you buy is more environmentally-friendly by buying from brands that source their wood from more sustainable sources.
Examples of sustainable sources include branches, twigs, tree prunes and wood scraps from sawmills. Brands that use sustainable sources will always indicate it on their package, and these are the companies to buy from if you are an environment conscious griller.
8 Best Lump Charcoals of 2021 Reviewed
|1. Jealous Devil All-Natural Hardwood (Best Overall)|
|2. KamadoJoe KJ-CHAR (Extra Large Size)|
|3. Rockwood Lump Charcoal (For Your All Grills & Smokers)|
|4. Royal Oak 195228071 (Perfect Blend of Hardwoods)|
|5. Big Green Egg 390011 (Perfect for the Big Green Egg)|
|6. Laredo Premium All Natural Hardwood (Perfectly Sized)|
|7. Original Natural Charcoal Hardwood (Super-Fast Lighting Up)|
|8. Texas Premium Natural (For an Unforgettable Smoky Flavor)|
1. Jealous Devil All-Natural Hardwood Lump Charcoal – Best Overall
- Types of wood: Hardwood
- Burning Temperature: 1170°F
- Burning Time: 4 hrs in grill/20 hrs in smokers
- Piece Size: Extra large
The larger ratio of extra large lumps is one of the key factors that will impress most grillers that buy the Jealous Devil because it means most of the charcoal will be useable.
Besides the large chunks, this lump charcoal will also provide temperatures of up to 1170°F which is higher than what you get from most others in our lump charcoal review. So this will be the perfect charcoal for searing meat and locking in all the nice flavors.
Also, this charcoal can burn for up to 4 hours in an open grill or up to an impressive 20 hours when smoking food which means a little of it goes a long way.
Like most other top-rated lump charcoals, it will also produce little ash and with no popping or sparking, and it does not contain any filler, chemicals or scrap materials.
The design of the bag means that it can be quite dirty to handle, but this is not a big deal because handling charcoal is always a dirty job. Although this is our priciest product, the price is for two 35-pound bags which means you will still get good value for money.
- Hotter temperature and longer burn time
- Mild flavor enhancement
- No popping or sparking
- Low ash production
- Does not contain chemicals, filler or scrap
- Bag can be quite dirty to handle
2. KamadoJoe KJ-CHAR – Extra Large
- Types of wood: Guyacan, Mistal, Guayaibi, and White Quebracho
- Burning Temperature: 750°F
- Burning Time: 18 hours
- Piece Size: Extra large
Lump charcoal with larger lumps is always the best as they will burn hotter and for longer than the smaller ones. But, the KamadoJoe takes things a notch high with its extra larger lumps that make it one of the best lump charcoals for Kamados out there.
The lumps will light up faster than many others and burn longer to ensure you do not use a lot of charcoal. And they are also reusable up to three times.
This lump charcoal is 100% natural with no additives, fillers, chemicals or scrap material, and this ensures that your food will always get an amazing wood-fire flavor.
Besides the larger and denser lumps, you will also get a good mix of smaller pieces that will be very useful for starting the fire.
Although the 750°F burning temperature is relatively lower when compared to what others in our list have to offer, it is still good enough for searing steak and for any type of cooking.
- Quick and easy lighting
- Burns long and cleaner
- Gives food an amazing flavor
- Extra large lumps
- Relatively lower burning temperature
- Some pieces are a little too large
3. Rockwood Lump Charcoal – Best for Your All Grills
- Types of wood: Oak, Hickory, Maple and Pecan
- Burning Temperature: 900°F
- Burning Time: 24+ hrs for smoking
- Piece Size: Medium
Rockwood makes this amazing charcoal with a blend of oak, hickory, maple, and pecan which is what gives it the top-notch quality. Also, the choice of wood will ensure that you always get more flavorful food.
With these lumps, you can get a burn time of more than 24 hours when smoking, and temperatures of up to 900°F that will be perfect for searing meat and sealing in all the juices.
This charcoal will burn cleaner and with little ash, and it is an all natural product that does not contain any fillers, additives or chemicals. And you can use it on all types of charcoal smokers and grills.
Given the relatively affordable price of the 20-pound bag, this is also our best lump charcoal for the money as it is hard to think of any other that offers better quality in the same price range.
This lump charcoal is still quite sparky, but you can be certain that it will not spark or pop nearly as much as others.
- Burns cleaner with less ash
- All natural with no filler, binders or chemicals
- Works for all grill and smoker types
- Rich wood aroma
- Long burn time
- Still quite sparky
4. Royal Oak 195228071 – Perfect Blend of Hardwoods
- Types of wood: Oak, Hickory, Maple and walnut
- Piece Size: Small to Medium
By blending Oak, Hickory, Maple, and walnut, Royal Oak creates a lump charcoal that will not only burn well and for longer than most others, but also leave food with a rich smoky flavor for a great taste.
This lump charcoal is clean burning and with little ash to make cleanups after grilling or barbecuing quick and easy.
These charcoal chunks will get to the desired cooking temperature fast, and so you will not need to wait for long before you start barbecuing.
The fact that it is also all natural with no fillers or additives helps to make it one of the best natural lump charcoals out there.
While the chunk size might not be as consistent as many grillers would wish, there is still a lot of usable charcoal in the bag. Also, it is a little pricey for an 8.8-pound bag, but you can still save a lot and get value for cash by buying more than one bag at a go.
- Clean burning with little ash
- Lights up quickly and easily
- Gets to cooking temperature fast
- Natural wood with no fillers or additives
- A little pricey for an 8.8-pound bag
- Chunk size not very consistent
5. Big Green Egg 390011 – Perfect for the Big Green Egg
- Types of wood: Oak and Hickory
- Burning Time: 24+ hrs for smoking
- Piece Size: Medium
If you have a Big Green Egg kamado grill or a similar one from any other brand, this is one of the best natural lump charcoals for you out there thanks to the longer burn time.
With this lump charcoal, you can get upwards of 24 hours of low and slow cooking which makes it perfect for smoking.
The lump charcoal is made from all natural oak and hickory wood, and with no fillers, additives or chemicals to ensure that your food will always have a rich smoky flavor and with no annoying chemical smells.
These chunks will burn hotter and more efficiently than most others and with no smoke, and they will not leave a lot of ash behind which makes cleanups easier.
Although the charcoal seems a little overpriced when compared to what other brands have to offer, you can be sure that you will never regret buying it thanks to the quality of cooking that you will get.
- Longer burn time
- No fillers or chemicals
- Burns hotter an more efficiently
- Easy to light and gets to cooking temperature fast
- Produces less ash for easy cleanup
- Seems a little overpriced
6. Laredo Premium All Natural Hardwood Lump Charcoal – Perfectly Sized
- Types of wood: Hardwood
- Piece Size: Large
Whether you are looking for the best lump charcoal for smokers or regular grills, this one by Laredo Premium will offer you top-notch service for both applications.
The lump charcoal is all natural hardwood that will light up quickly and burn hotter and longer to make smoking, grilling or barbecuing easier and faster for you.
This top-rated lump charcoal does not contain any fillers, additives and other annoying chemicals that can affect the taste and smell of your food.
Also, the charcoal comes in a dust-free paper bag that will ensure that grilling is not always a dirty job for you.
While a few small pieces would have been great to make lighting this charcoal easier, it will still light easily and quickly enough, and the little sparking should also not be a big concern.
- Bag contains large chunks only
- Provides a natural hardwood smoked flavor
- All natural with zero fillers or additives
- Dust-free paper bag
- Needs to have a few small pieces for easier lighting
- Still sparks a little
7. Original Natural Charcoal Hardwood Lump Charcoal – Super-Fast Lighting
- Types of wood: Apple, Cherry, and Oak
- Burning Temperature: 1115°F
- Piece Size: Small to medium
With the fast and easy light up of this lump charcoal, you can have your grill ready to start cooking in as little as 5 minutes which is just what every seasoned griller wants.
Also, it provides a burning temperature of 1115°F which is perfect for searing your meats and cooking different kinds of foods fast.
This charcoal is made from 100% hardwoods which are a blend of apple, cherry, and oak that will give foods a sweet and smoky flavor to ensure they are always delicious.
There are also no chemicals, additives or borax on this lump charcoal, and so you will never get any annoying smells, and it will be safer both for you and the environment. The charcoal will produce little ash and almost no smoke or sparks.
This charcoal seems to have lots of small pieces but most of them are still usable to ensure little waste.
- Higher burning temperature
- Lights up quickly
- Produces little ash
- No smoke or sparks
- Sweet, smoky flavor
- Lots of small pieces
- Not very ideal for smoking
8. Texas Premium Natural Lump Charcoal – For an Unforgettable Smoky Flavor
- Types of wood: Post-Oak
- Burning Time: 2+ hrs for grilling
- Piece Size: Large
You can always be confident of getting some amazing flavors when using oak lump charcoal. Hence, the fact the Texas Premium is 100% all natural post oak wood means that it will be a fantastic pick.
This charcoal will light easily, and it will burn hotter and for longer than most others out there, which makes it ideal for everything from open grilling to smoking.
Also, clean up after use will be a quick and easy process as it does not leave behind a lot of ash. However, the nice and smooth flavor that you get when using this charcoal is what makes it a good buy.
Some chunks on the bag might be a little too large for use, but they should be pretty easy to break into smaller pieces. The sparking should also not be an issue because it is not too much to make the charcoal hard to use.
- Nice and smooth post oak wood flavor
- Leaves less ash behind
- Hotter and longer burning
- Lights quickly and is ready for use in minutes
- Sparks a lot
- Some chunks are a little too large
Lump Charcoal vs Briquettes
One of the most common debates among grillers that will probably not go away anytime soon is whether to use lump charcoal or briquettes. If you are still on the fence on which one to use for your cookouts, understanding the pros and cons of each should make the decision easier for you.
1. Lump Charcoal
Lump charcoal is a product of slow burning of wood in the absence of oxygen. The wood is burnt until what is left is mostly carbon with no sap, moisture or chemicals.
What is great about lump charcoal is that it is all natural and with no chemicals, fillers or additives, it is easy to light and it will emit less ash and smoke to make cleanup easy.
Lump charcoal will also light up faster and burn hotter than most types of briquettes, and so it is vital to be keener with the temperature control.
However, lump charcoal is relatively pricier than briquettes, and the package will contain uneven size chunks which can make grilling a little harder.
- All natural with no additives
- Little ash and smoke
- Lights up quickly and will also burn hotter
- Easy temperature adjustment
- Relatively pricier
- Burns out faster
- Package will contain uneven pieces
Briquettes are a product of burning sawdust and many other kinds of leftover woods. These materials are burnt down in the same process as lump charcoal is created however additives are also added in the process to hold the different materials together.
With briquettes, you will get longer burn times than lump charcoal, but they will not burn as hot as the latter.
Also, the uniform size of briquettes makes them easy to use when grilling, and they will also burn more evenly than lump charcoal.
Generally, briquettes are also more affordable than lump charcoal, but they will produce more ash which can make cleaning hard, and the presence of additives means that they will produce a chemical smell when burning.
- Relatively longer burn time
- More affordable
- Burns more evenly
- Produces a lot of ash
- Chemical smell
Buying Advice: If you prefer a rich, smoky and natural flavor on your meats, lump charcoal is by far your best option. Also, lump charcoal will be best for cooking foods that require a lot of heat. Briquettes, on the other hand, are great if you are looking for more even burning when cooking thinner meats like burgers and steaks.
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Lump charcoal is one of the best fuel sources for grilling, barbecuing or smoking as it is easy to light, burns hotter and will also burn cleaner with little smoke and ash.
However, choosing the best lump charcoal from the many types and brands out there is the only way to ensure that you get these and many other benefits.
But, this should also be easy as you only need to consider factors like the wood type used, size of the chunks and both the burning temperature and time.
If you do not want to waste a lot of time shopping around and comparing what different brands have to offer, the Jealous Devil All-Natural Hardwood Lump Charcoal is our top overall recommendation.
In this post:
- What to Check Before Buying Best Lump Charcoal?
- 8 Best Lump Charcoals of 2021 Reviewed
- 1. Jealous Devil All-Natural Hardwood Lump Charcoal – Best Overall
- 2. KamadoJoe KJ-CHAR – Extra Large
- 3. Rockwood Lump Charcoal – Best for Your All Grills
- 4. Royal Oak 195228071 – Perfect Blend of Hardwoods
- 5. Big Green Egg 390011 – Perfect for the Big Green Egg
- 6. Laredo Premium All Natural Hardwood Lump Charcoal – Perfectly Sized
- 7. Original Natural Charcoal Hardwood Lump Charcoal – Super-Fast Lighting
- 8. Texas Premium Natural Lump Charcoal – For an Unforgettable Smoky Flavor
- Lump Charcoal vs Briquettes