Charcoal has been one of the most consistent forms of fuel. It has been on our planet for thousands of years and still doesn’t cease to impress us. The new favorite kind of charcoal for chefs and other grilling experts is lump charcoal. It is basically a number of irregular sized charcoal chunks packed in bags. We have made a list here of the most feasible of these products to help you find out the best lump charcoal.
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Table of Content
Best High-Performance Heat
Best for Low and Slow Cooking
2 sizes available
Best Wood Combination
Natural hardwood blend of oak, apple and cherry
Best Reusable Lump Charcoal
Exclusive combination of Argentinian hardwood
Best for Chocolate Smoking
100% premium Missouri hardwoods
Best Environment-Friendly Charcoal
Best Lightweight Lump Charcoal
Supports constant high temperatures
Best for Steady Burning
Easy to light up
Best Overall Lump Charcoal
Fast light-up and heating
Best for Authentic Smoky Flavor
Burns well up to 7-8 hours
**Below, you'll find our more detailed reviews, but you can also click the links above to see current prices or read customer reviews on Amazon.
What is Lump Charcoal?
Charcoal in general is prepared by burning wood without the presence of oxygen or in an environment of low oxygen.
Lump charcoal differs from all other coals since it is considered to be the purest result of this long process.
Large or small pieces of wood burn down to produce black carbon-based chunks we call charcoal. The quality of a good charcoal depends on how pure it is as a carbon.
Preparing good charcoal can take days of burning volatile compounds like methane, water and tar. The process ends just before it can turn into ash. It can result in some powder also which can take up 25% weight.
Why You Should Use Lump Charcoal For Grilling ?
In our modern busy lives, lump charcoal can prove to be a viable solution to make even the fun days productive. It can save you from spending hours on preparing the grills and making multiple attempts to ignite.
That is because it lights up much faster than other options. Within minutes, you will see the hot bright glow of burning charcoals.
Besides, it doesn’t leave much ash behind compared to other alternatives. It is also much easier to control the temperature of lump charcoal using the adjustable air vents on the grill. That is because these lumps react to oxygen more.
Grilling is mostly associated with foods like steak which demand the highest temperatures possible. Lump charcoal can reach those extremely high temperatures like 1200 degrees in Fahrenheit.
It can also assist in low and slow grilling which helps prepare delicious chicken or pork chops.
Pros and Cons of Lump Charcoal
There are good and bad sides to everything in the universe. Know about the pros and cons of lump charcoal before investing in one:
Types of charcoal for grilling and their flavor
There are many kinds of charcoal used for grilling purposes. The most popular four such charcoals are:
#1 - Hardwood Lump Charcoal
This is the most common kind of charcoal that grilling experts and chefs use. As the name suggests, it is made from hardwood and usually retains its natural elements all the way through.
Natural hardwood lump charcoal comes with no chemicals or additives and thus is in its purest form. It is manufactured by exposing the hardwood to exceptionally high temperatures until mostly carbon is left.
Use this charcoal for grilling red meats since it can reach high temperatures unlike briquettes. Prepare loin pork or steaks with it for reaching a natural smoky flavor.
#2 - Charcoal Briquettes
Briquettes are considered to be the biggest competitor of lump charcoals since they offer similar services to customers. These are basically the byproducts of wood combined with other additives and binders.
As a result, they are not natural like the hardwood lump charcoals. However they do have a distinct scent which reaches the food as well. The dishes don’t gain any new flavor from them though.
#3 - Flavored Charcoal
This is a variation of charcoal briquettes which are glued with wood shavings all over.
Manufacturers do so because the briquette itself does not have any flavor or scent of its own. As a result, those shavings help the food item achieve a more appealing smoky aroma.
The catch is that, these flavored charcoal pieces are not easy to control. The dish in process can easily reach higher temperatures than necessary and thus end up being too smoky. The resulting smell may also turn out to be overpowering.
#4 - Match Light Charcoal
This is also a variation of charcoal briquette which comes already soaked in lighter fluid. As a result, it is very flammable and lights up fast. This convenience is then countered by the strong undesirable taste it forces on the cooked item.
Characteristics of Good Quality Lump Charcoal
Wondering if the lump charcoal you invested in is good enough? Go through all these major factors of determining the quality of lump charcoal and see which of them fit your product:
#1 - Minimum ash production
Most of lump charcoals are made of 100% natural hardwood. It contains no fillers or additives. As a result, it does not produce much ash when you burn the lumps down.
#2 - Long and fast burning
An ideal charcoal lump will burn for a long time. It usually burns for 7 to 8 hours but there are some high-end ones as well which do so for as long as 18 hours! Compared to briquettes, they tend to burn 20 minutes more by weight.
A good charcoal lump also burns faster if you measure it through the chimney-full. The reason behind is the irregular shapes of these lumps. The asymmetrical shapes enhances the efficiency of packing in chimney and keeps burning for a long time.
#3 - Pleasant smoky flavor
This is one of the most prominent characteristics of a good quality lump charcoal. The resulting flavor in your food after grilling or smoking with these lumps will be mouth-watering. There should be no chemical or undesirable taste in it.
#4 - Absence of smoke
Along with the smoky flavor, notice if there is any smoke while cooking. Good lump charcoal made of entirely natural hardwood and contains no additives is basically pure carbon. So there will not be much smoke when you light it up.
Does charcoal size matter?
Yes it does.
Charcoal lumps of different sizes cater to various needs. There are many companies who sell large chunks of charcoal specifically to target the customers who want maximum fuel efficiency.
The larger lumps tend to burn hotter and longer. So you can get done with cooking a large batch using the bigger pieces. They are also useful to control temperatures faster.
Medium size charcoal lumps are ideal in most cases.
The tiny ones usually don’t serve much of a purpose. The smallest pieces actually tend to block the airflow and thus extend the cooking time unnecessarily.
What is the difference between lump charcoal, wood and charcoal briquettes?
Choosing between briquettes and lump charcoal is a common debate among grillers. Especially the beginners tend to be confused about which one will produce the best results. Wood itself is also a strong contender in this case.
Out of all these options, lump charcoal does burn the hottest. It can reach the highest temperatures and maintain them. But you will need more cooking or grilling skills to use it with the right techniques.
Briquette is the pulverized coal built with fillers like cornstarch. They burn more steadily than lump charcoal. For instance, 45 briquettes can give you an hour of consistent heat. However, it fails to provide the food a palatable taste.
Wood is very difficult to operate compared to both lump and briquette charcoals. It is hard to get the just the right amount of wood smoke into the food since wood smoke can easily overpower it.
Can you mix lump charcoal with briquettes?
Yes you can mix them up and it is recommended by many expert chefs.
They both have their highs and lows but together, they become a force to be reckoned with on the grills.
One way to go about this would be to put the briquettes on the lower portion since the lumps can fall through there easily. You can fill up the rest of space with lump charcoal. Alternatively, you can also place the briquettes at center and then fill up the periphery with lumps.
The advantage you get from this mixture is the consistent temperature of charcoal and the long slow burn of briquettes. Lumps tend to burn hotter and faster which allows the central thermal mass of your cooker reach the optimum temperature within short time.
How do you know when Lump charcoal is ready?
This is a common question for beginners and even some mid-level grillers.
An indication of the lump charcoal being ready for cooking is the flames growing upwards. When the fluid lighter burns off, the charcoal edges will look grayish. When the lumps are covered in gray ash, you will know that they are ready.
Lump charcoals usually don’t take much time to light up and get ready compared to other fire starters or fuels.
Things to Consider and What to Avoid Before Buying The Best Lump Charcoal
Before making your purchase of any lump charcoal, keep these factors in mind and see if your chosen brand does well in those areas:
#1 - Wood Type
Most of the lump charcoal brands offer all natural hardwood materials.
It will be wise to select a brand that combines the goodness of oak, mesquite, hickory and other such woods. Having such mixture of wood types will ensure better taste and smell for your food by balancing out the smoky traits.
Hickory wood specially works the best for cooking grilled pork.
#2 - Lump Sizes
Inconsistent sizes are a common scenario for lump charcoals. However, many brands also put out products which feature large chunks of charcoal.
The biggest ones will burn for a longer time and the medium ones are easy to place on the grills. Decide what kind of dish you will be grilling and gather some knowledge on its process. Then invest in the lump size it requires.
#3 - Debris Portion
Since lump charcoal comes from natural wood, a bag of this product will definitely come with some debris. What matters is how much of the bag this debris covers.
If you have come across a brand or heard of a review that exposes huge portion of debris in its bag, stay away from it. We have listed down the most beneficial brands of lump charcoal below which will not have much of debris.
How to store your Charcoal Properly
Since charcoal is a dry fuel, you surely need to keep it free from moisture. The best way to do is storing the unused portion of a charcoal bag into sealed container. If it does get wet somehow, spread the pieces on paper or tarp and leave them under the sun for two days.
Top Lump Charcoals for your BBQ Party
It is not an everyday scenario that the devil himself is bringing you coals directly from hell!
No need to get alarmed. We are just joking, of course. However, the high quality of all natural hardwood lump charcoal from Jealous Devil will make you believe so!
Aptly named, these “devil’s charcoals” come with the guarantee of reaching high temperatures. They can reach more than 1170 degrees in Fahrenheit which will definitely be hot enough for your barbeque parties. Kudos to their quality control team for selecting the biggest and most sturdy lumps available.
This, in turn, has made it possible for the users to get a long-lasting and consistent burn.The most attractive aspect of these charcoals is its pure structure made of 100% natural hardwood.
As we all charcoal lovers know, the meat burns better if the wood is harder. As a result, the Jealous Devils have erased any presence of additives which can hamper the hardness or purity of this wood.
You will not find any chemical, filler or scrap wood among these charcoal lumps. Their kiln masters have manually picked and cut these pieces before carbonizing them onsite. Such a natural approach makes it possible for customers to enjoy the cooked item’s taste instead of the fuel’s smoke.
These clean charcoal lumps do not initiate smoke or spark which helps to maintain a healthy atmosphere all around. They also help the environment by minimizing waste and clogging since their ash burn is exceptionally low.
Enjoy long hours of burning charcoal using Jealous Devils charcoal lumps. Compared to its contemporaries, only 70-75% of these lumps can trigger the same amount of heat. Keep the high-performance heat on for several hours without adding any fuel. It typically burns for over four hours on open grills and more than 20 hours on smokers.
Jealous Devil charcoal lumps are available in fresh new heavy-duty kraft paper bags which last longer than the previous model. It also brings in more XL lumps than before. They also provide double the cooking power of most with 7000 kcal per gram!
Use them anytime with charcoal grills, kamados or smokers to prepare the perfect dish you need. We would recommend having it on your next backyard barbeque party to share the mouth-watering taste with your family and friends.
The cooking experts like pitmasters and chefs have also used these charcoals in renowned restaurants for preparing the perfect steak.
Fogo is Spanish for “fire”. The company who adopted this title has gained recognition from many customers over the years because of the high-quality fire its charcoal produces.
Fogo Charcoal specializes in producing and delivering excellent charcoals to customers. Since its founders themselves are highly enthusiastic outdoor chefs, they understand the value of a good charcoal product as fuel.
This particular one belongs to their special Super Premium range which guarantees you the topmost quality from this brand.
The charcoal lumps in this bag are made of 100% natural oak hardwood trimmings. This dense hardwood belongs to trees of Central America which were free from additives. The authorities of its quality control department then handpick each piece of charcoal.
Although these bags usually have large chunks of pure hardwood charcoal lumps, due to packaging some of these chunks may break down into much smaller pieces. Be careful of using these tiny pieces since they tend to trigger sudden sparks while cooking.
You can rely on these lumps to light up fast using a chimney starter. An alternative way would be to soak kitchen paper towel in vegetable oil and then put that at the bottom of a pile or pyramid of charcoals.
However, the manufacturers suggest refraining from lighter fluid on these lumps.
After the quick light-up, you may start your grill-fest after a short waiting period of 15 minutes. The high amount of heat manages to sear the meat on grills and capture the juicy flavorful texture inside. That is why this is one of the most used charcoals in restaurants.
It suits best for dishes which require slow cooking and works best on Kamado style cookers. In fact, many consider it as the number one choice for Big Green Egg. These charcoal lumps are available in two sizes of 17.6 pounds and 35 pounds.
Original Natural Charcoal - the brand name itself tells you everything you need to know.
Similar to our first two options, this one also prepares its charcoal lumps using 100% natural hardwood. However, it does differ from most other lump charcoal products since this hardwood actually comes from a unique combination of apple, oak and cherry trees.
This lovely blend makes it possible for the charcoals to give out a sweet, pleasant and fruity flavor to the cooked item. As a result, it is pretty popular among the restaurants and chefs whose popular dishes are based on poultry, pork and beef.
The mild sweetness coupled with the locked juiciness of each piece of meat allows every guest to devour a mouthwatering taste.
Unfortunately, this delightful flavor may not persist for dishes which require slow cooking. Customers have opined that using these charcoals for slow cooking leave a somewhat chemical flavor instead. So if such cooking is not a frequent scenario in your backyard, you can rely on the Original Natural Charcoal.
It is fast and easy to light up these charcoal lumps. You will need only 1.5 paper sheets to begin cooking with them. There is no possibility of smoke or sparks. The produced ash is also minimal. Because of all these conveniences, you will be able to set up the barbeque within just five minutes!
Kamado Joe is built by people who are major lovers of the art of grilling!
Being disappointed by the quality of many grilling tools, these individuals took it upon themselves to deliver grills and charcoals of high standards. That is why this particular bag comes with ultra large blocks of charcoal.
However, due to packaging issues, your online order of these coals can come hampered with much smaller sizes. As a result, it may contain coals of inconsistent sizes.
These coal lumps are carved out of a unique blend of exclusive hardwood from Argentina. The local charcoal masters of that area help Kamado Joe to pick the best of four dense hardwoods named Guayaibi, Guayacan, White Quebracho and Mistal. Because of their high density, local people call these woods as “Axebreakers”.
After procuring these woods entirely in their natural form, the experts roast them up in conventional outdoor ovens to get rid of all impurities. This enables each block to be huge in size and exquisite in quality at the same time.
One of the best aspects of these pieces is that they can be re-used up to three times!
Because of their gigantic sizes, these charcoal lumps are able to stay burning for up to 18 hours. On the other hand, the usual smaller lumps can burn from 8 to 10 hours. So if you need to prepare a dish that needs to be cooked for a long time, this lump charcoal will be ideal for it.
Since the wood is natural, it also burns clean and keeps the environment safer. You can use it to prepare delicious juicy steaks which require high temperatures for landing the right texture.
We recommend using this charcoal with a ceramic grill that can insulate well for the best results. It is available at a very affordable price point and the reusable feature makes it even more worthy.
The main forces behind Rockwood are travelers who have been to many corners of the USA and tasted the best of barbeque dishes themselves.
As a result, they know the secrets of creating the perfect smoky tingle of a good BBQ dish. In an attempt to help others achieve the same joy, they provide lump charcoal which is at the center of preparing such dishes.
This particular lump charcoal comes from the premium quality hardwoods of Missouri. They form a great combination of oak, maple, pecan and hickory which result in a naturally rich woody fragrance.
This aroma definitely amplifies the happiness of both the cooks and the guests by spreading the sweet smell. However, no tree is harmed while making these woods. Instead, they are built with woods which would be discarded otherwise. So you will never need to feel guilty of harming the environment.
It is good for cooking fish, poultry and other kinds of meat. You can rely on it to lock in the juicy flavors inside. These lumps work the best with the kamado style cookers. They can burn pretty hot with just a little bit of ash left behind. Thus, you can invest in these for an easier cleanup routine after the dish is done.
Although it burns well, these charcoal lumps are not capable of holding the high temperatures for a long enough time. They do not contain enough density in structure to support the long cooking time.
As a result, we do not recommend this brand for preparing dishes which require slow cooking.
As the name implies, this brand of Big Green Egg is dedicated to making the planet healthier and more sustainable by introducing environment-friendly products.
This lump charcoal of the Premium Select line is one of them. It is made from 100% natural hardwood of “ultra-premium” quality. This wood comes from oak and hickory trees of America.
Like all other creations, Big Green Egg’s natural lump charcoal is certified by the European Union and is also compliant with the EPA environmental guidelines. It is free from all fillers and chemicals including anthracite coal, limestone and petroleum.
A frequent issue with this lump charcoal is that it is placed at a very high price point. So customers who are used to having similar products from elsewhere are not typically satisfied by it.
However, being recognized by two of the most esteemed regulatory organizations on the planet still keeps it on the favorites’ list of many consumers.
You can rely on it to light up fast and complete the setup process within five minutes. It can then burn for a long time and thus is one of the favorites for slow cooking. However, this lump charcoal produces more ash than others which may require you to spend some more time on cleanup.
Royal Oak is a pretty well-known name among all customers who are used to cooking with charcoal.
They have a variety of charcoal products catering to different user groups. One of them is this lump charcoal based on 100% natural hardwood.
The main components in its formation were renewable wood of oak, maple, walnut and hickory. Because of this distinct combination, it doesn’t take much time to light up and get ready for cooking.
This lump charcoal can also reach extremely high temperatures and stay there for a long time without flinching. You can rely on this to burn for 16 to 18 hours at a stretch. As a result, you can cook many kinds of dishes which require locking juicy texture inside like steaks.
It is very lightweight for a hardwood charcoal item but produces a minimal amount of ash after cooking. Thus, you can easily clean up the backyard after having a barbeque party using Royal Oak charcoal.
We recommend purchasing it from local stores instead of ecommerce platforms since they tend to be much more affordable for most customers.
Eco Charcoal LLC of New Jersey is another environmentally aware company that focuses on bringing green and clean products for its customers.
To avoid air pollution, deforestation and harmful emissions, their lump charcoal comes with the promise of being 100% natural and sustainable.
Similar to the lump charcoal of Rockwood, this one is also made from wood which was already cut. Hence, no trees were harmed in the process of making this charcoal.
The lump sizes here are not consistent. They can be from small to large which can be an advantage or drawback depending on what kind of dish you need to prepare.
It will not produce much ash which is always a relief. There is no need to stress yourself for ensuring a clean surface when there is not much waste left behind after the BBQ party.
A concerning downside of this product is that these lumps are highly prone to sparks. So you need to keep an eye on safety measures while using this charcoal.
Regardless of this safety issue, it does have a pretty decent fan following. The main reasons behind it are the eco-friendly approach and the delicious smoky flavor it instills in a dish. Besides, this is also one of the most affordable lump charcoals available in the market.
Grill Dome is one of those companies whose main purpose of existence lies in providing the best grilling equipments possible.
This brand began their journey long back in 1989 and they proudly claim to “spice up” your backyards since then. Their diverse collection includes grills, racks, covers, boards, sauces and charcoals among others.
This particular lump charcoal is one of their most well-received products so far. Customers have almost no complaints against this product. That is because it covers almost all the grounds an ideal lump charcoal should have.
Firstly, it is of course made from 100% natural hardwood like most other lump charcoals in market. There is no presence of any additive or filler in this product. You can use it for both smoking and grilling for marvelous results.
It lights up pretty fast and easily with just one lighter square as one customer shared. No matter how many times you want to light the lumps up, they will keep giving satisfactory results every time.
Such consistency is also perceived in the way it maintains temperatures. This lump charcoal can go from zero to 750 degrees within just half an hour! It also managed to hold that temperature like a pro. As a result, it is an ideal choice for people who love slow cooking dishes.
All these results in little to no ash which is very impressive. It also has no strong chemical or pungent odor. Most importantly, they are very affordable compared to all other options on this list and comes in a handy packet of 20 pounds. For now, it is available in only this weight or size.
Cowboy is one of the longest standing brands in this cookware industry. It focuses on items related to grilling and smoking.
They have been in business for over a century and is still going strong. One of their most popular products is this lump charcoal which promises to provide its users with an authentic smoky flavor.
The secret behind this promise is its natural hardwood which was prepared with years of experience. It successfully satisfies the barbeque enthusiasts with many features.
You will have no trouble to light it up fast and easy even without a lighter fluid. Let these burn bright and hot for up to 8 hours without any hiccup! However, beware of potential sparks which can ruin your BBQ party.
It does not produce much ash in the aftermath. This lump charcoal is available in two sizes of 8.8 lbs and 20 lbs. It can come at a very affordable price point if you are buying from local shops.
Get to know which brand of lump charcoal works the best for your taste and culinary skills.
We hope our picks for the best lump charcoal has helped you find the perfect one. Remember to store them at a dry place and be aware of sparks during grilling.