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Best Charcoal for Smoking: Choose Any of These Fav’s

Jealous Devil All Natural Hardwood Lump Charcoal
Jealous Devil
4.9/5
FOGO Premium Hardwood Lump Charcoal
FOGO
4.6/5
Rockwood All-Natural Hardwood Lump Charcoal
Rockwood
4.6/5
Kamado Joe Big Block XL Lump Charcoal
KJ Big Block
4.6/5
Cowboy Lump Charcoal
Cowboy
4.5/5
Jealous Devil Maxxx XL Charcoal Pillow Briquettes
Jealous Devil XL
4.7/5
Cowboy All Natural Hardwood Briquets
Cowboy
4.6/5
B&B Oak Charcoal Briquets
B&B
4.5/5

Apart from your smoker itself, the fire is the base of your barbecue. So, it’s important that you’re able to create a fire that’s got even heat, a stable temperature, and, delicious flavor.

But, with a huge number of different types and brands of charcoals out there, choosing a fuel for smoking can get confusing really fast!

Forget trial and error. This list of the best charcoal for smoking is designed to make your life easy. You can literally choose any of these options and be confident that they will perform just as they should, every time you light up.

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How We Tested the Best Charcoal for Smoking

We haven’t just picked these off of the shelf! Each and every one of the products recommended here has been carefully tested and selected.

These factors we’ve looked for and assessed each charcoal for:

Whether we’re feeding our family or you’re feeding yours, we simply can’t recommend a charcoal unless it’s additive free making it a healthier option. There’s no quick light, starter fluid filled options here either, just as pure as you can get charcoal.

When you’re smoking, you want to add charcoal as infrequently as possible so that you don’t disturb the heat levels in your smoker. So, the products you’ll find here have been tested and recommended based on their longevity.

When you’re smoking, you need slow and steady. All of these recommended charcoals have been tested numerous times at low and slow temperatures to make sure they’re the best for smoking.

Having good quality, thin smoke is even more important when you’re smoking than grilling. After all, your food is being doused in the stuff for hours on end so you want it to be as clean as possible.

The type of wood you use when you’re smoking plays a huge role in how your food turns out. Often people do forget that charcoal is just charred wood and the type of wood used to make the charcoal can have a huge impact on how the food tastes.

The brands of charcoal recommended here give off great flavor so that you’ve got the best possible start.

Here you’ll find a range of both lump charcoals and charcoal briquettes.

Although lump charcoal is often thought of as the premium option at the moment, both of these types of charcoals have their advantages and disadvantages. Try both and use whichever one you prefer.

If you want to read more on the lump charcoal vs briquettes debate, click here.

Or, for a full list of the best lump charcoals or best charcoal briquettes, follow those links to their exclusive reviews.

Table of Contents

The Best Charcoal for Smoking: Our Top Choices

Don’t start off on the wrong foot, grab one of these tested and approved specifically for smoking charcoals.

Jealous Devil All Natural Hardwood Lump Charcoal

4.9/5

When it comes to high quality, we simply love Jealous Devil! And, this is their best-selling, top-rated All Natural Hardwood Lump Charcoal.

Made from Paraguayan Quebracho Blanco trees, this wood is denser than oak or hickory, giving it a burn time that’s about 30% longer, ideal for smoking. But, it’s also one of the lowest ash producers which we particularly appreciate when smoking in a kamado or other charcoal smoker that can get clogged up with too much of the grey stuff.

While Quebrancho Blanco trees are known for their ability to burn really hot, we find that this charcoal also chokes down nicely, giving off a steady temperature for hours without having to monitor it too closely or adjust those vents.

In terms of flavor, we find the Jealous Devil Lump Charcoal to be quite a mild flavor. There’s still enough smokiness to leave a noticably charocal smoked taste. But, it’s not so strong that it’s going to overpower your meat and what you want to do with your spices.

Topping off it’s awesomeness, Jealous Devil Lump comes in a waterproof and UV resistant, resealable bag so it’s 100% okay to store as is at home.

Pros
Cons

Jealous Devil Maxxx XL All Natural Hardwood Charcoal Pillow Briquets

4.7/5

While lump charcoal is probably the more favored charcoal type at the moment, for anyone who appreciates the regularity of charcoal briquettes, Jealous Devil also make an excellent, additive-free briquette that’s one of our favorites any time we’re looking for a more regular burn.

Made from the same Quebracho Blanco wood as their Lump Charcoal, they burn so well choked down to a low and slow temperature for a really steady smoke. The XL size is bigger than anything else on the market which means less frequent refilling on those longer smokes.

As you might know, because briquettes are made from charcoal dust, they need an additive to help bind them. But, Jealous Devil have kept it natural by just adding a small amount of vegetable starch which doesn’t impact the flavor, keeps ash to a minimum, and, doesn’t pop or spark while you’re lighting it.

Packaged in a waterproof, resealable, UV-resistant bag, you can safely store the Jealous Devil Briquettes for as long as you want in the bag they come in.

Pros
Cons

FOGO Premium Hardwood Lump Charcoal

4.6/5

If you’re like us and enjoy keeping it simple, Fogo’s Super Premium Oak Lump Charcoal lets you do just that.

It’s specifically designed for low and slow smoking in ceramic kamados like the Big Green, Egg, Kamado Joe, and Primo. But, we’ve used it in a number of other charcoal smokers too and love it.

In our experience, it’s one of the longest lasting options out there. It’s easy to light and the mild flavor can literally be paired with absolutely anything you’re smoking.

There’s no thick plumes of smoke. Once it’s going, our FOGO produces some of the cleanest smoke. There’s almost no color coming from the smoke itself. But, you’re left with a really great smoke ring with a nice deep color.

The only thing we don’t like about FOGO is that we have had a fair amount of broken pieces and charcoal dust at the bottom of the bag. Use some smaller pieces as an easy way to light it with larger chunks to extend out that cook time.

Pros
Cons

Rockwood All-Natural Hardwood Lump Charcoal

4.6/5

Looking for an eco-conscious charcoal fuel?

Not a single tree is cut down to make a bag of Rockwood All-Natural Lump Charcoal. Instead, a mix of oak, hickory, maple and pecan is collected from timber milling leftovers to create this slow-burning, low-ash lump charcoal.

But, this stuff performs really great as well.

The flavor is one of the strongest recommended here. We love it for brisket and lamb but it can be used for a stronger, smoke profile on anything including pork, chicken, and fish too.

Compared to some of the other lump charcoals, we do find there’s a bit more wastage with small pieces and dust. But, with a clean burn and steady low and slow temperature, we still love and use Rockwood’s Lump.

The paper bag is also recyclable with soy based inks.

Pros
Cons

Cowboy Lump Charcoal

4.5/5

Coming in hot as one of the best value for money lump charcoals is this, the Cowboy All Natural Hardwood Lump Charcoal.

Made from a simple and effective blend of oak, hickory and maple, you get the best of both worlds with a slow and steady heat plus a deeper, richer flavor that gives off that typical Southern-style BBQ flavor.

We find Cowboy Lump easy to light and it doesn’t produce a lot of ash even over really long smokes.

The dust level in a bag of this stuff is usually pretty average for us. Of course some damage will happen during shipping but, we really trust Cowboy to deliver the good stuff.

Pros
Cons

Cowboy All Natural Hardwood Briquets

4.6/5

Another option for those who like a real wood flavor but want the steadiness of a briquette, the Cowboy All-Natural Hardwood Briquettes perform superbly.

Made from a mix of oak, hickory and mesquite hardwoods with a starch-based vegetable binder to hold them together, we absolutely love the slightly stronger flavor you get from using these.

We find Cowboy briquets easy enough to light in a charcoal chimney and their ash production is minimal thanks to the fact that they don’t use any fillers. We get a good, long burn time in a range of different types of charcoal smokers. And, the temperature stays steady with minimal intervention.

Pros
Cons

Kamado Joe Big Block XL Lump Charcoal

4.6/5

The KJ Big Block is one of the most raved about lump charcoals out there. And, rightly so.

In a single bag you get a tried and tested blend of South American hardwoods that have been carefully selected to produced a mild flavor with strong heat and clean smoke. The XL piece sizes really are very big, giving you a good long burn time without needing to add more fuel.

That’s why it’s perfect for using in kamados. But, we’ve tried it, and the Kamado Joe Big Block performs just as well in other types of charcoal smokers too.

But, our favorite thing about this KJ charcoal is that the extra large piece sizes are perfect for reusing. So, if you’ve got a smoker where you can fully choke off the fire by closing all the vents, you can save and reuse this charcoal up to three times.

The minimal wastage is great for the environment and can save you a good chunk of money in the long run.

Pros
Cons

B&B Oak Briquettes

4.5/5

Last but not least are the B&B Better Burning Oak Charcoal Briquets.

We love oak for smoking because it provides such a strong and stable heat with a nice, mild flavor. It’s also what a lot of pitmasters prefer. And, these briquettes are full of it.

They always take us a little longer to light than some other briquettes. But, once they’re going, the B&B briquets give you a good long low and slow time.

The ash output is low, proving that these things are the real deal and aren’t full of additives or fillers. Instead there’s vegetable starch used to bind the charred oak together to give it it’s shape.

Putting out a great quality, clear, thin smoke, the B&B briquets are such a great and versatile fuel for smoking really anything.

Pros
Cons

FAQs About the Best Charcoal for Smoking

If I had to pick one single very best charcoal for smoking I’d go with Jealous Devil’s Lump Charcoal.

I love that it has absolutely nothing added to it, the Quebrancho Blanco trees it’s made from give such a long cook time, and we find it very easy to control the temperature with this product.

But, we do actually use every single one of these products regularly or semi-regularly when cooking for our family or reviewing charcoal smokers.

We love the flavor of Rockwood’s hardwood mix, FOGO burns so nice and cleanly, and the Cowboy products are very reliable.

For a stronger, smoky flavor we just can’t go past Rockwood’s Lump Charcoal with a mix of oak, hickory, maple, and pecan hardwoods. We regularly use it to smoke beef and lamb. But, there’s no stopping you from using it on pork, chicken, and fish too if you like a stronger, wood smoked flavor.

Cowboy’s Lump Charcoal and Hardwood Briquets also have a great, and more distinctive flavor with a similar mix of oak, hickory, and maple. It’s also one of the more affordable but still great charcoal products out there.

If having the longest smoke time is important to you, try the Jealous Devil Lump Charcoal or the Kamado Joe Big Block. Both use South American hardwoods that have a very long burn time and our trials of both of these charcoals confirmed them to be some of the longest burning options out there.

If you do prefer a briquette, the Jealous Devil Maxxx Extra Large Briquets give a great burn time too.

As with everything that is smoking, there’s no single best product out there and different pitmasters prefer different charcoals.

While some swear by a specific variety of lump charcoal, others like the predictability that hardwood briquettes give you.

Check out the review above for a tried and tested list of the best charcoal for smoking. You’ll find both lump charcoal and charcoal briquette options that have all been specifically assessed for their suitability for smoking.

This is the golden question of charcoal smoking. And, like all hot topics, there’s people who are passionate about both sides of the mountain.

Lump charcoal and charcoal briquettes are different types of charcoal with their own advantages and disadvantages. Jump to our in-depth lump charcoal vs briquettes comparison. Or, simply buy a bag of both from our recommendations above, try them and decide which one you like best.

Jared Brown, an avid lover of all things meat has a fearless enthusiasm for experimenting with anything that's grilling, smoking or outdoor cooking. With a wealth of experience across a range different barbecue types, Jared's got a real knack for helping others make a decision they're happy with, ensuring they find the perfect fit regardless of conventional notions of the 'right' choice. This unique approach has made Jared a trusted guide in the world of barbecue.

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Burning Brisket is one of the leading, independent authorities on all things barbecue. Family-owned and run, it's our mission uncomplicate the art of smoking to help you enjoy making incredible food at home for your family and friends to create memories over.

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