Charcoal isn’t just a fuel. But, I bet you already know that!
With all the effort you put into finding the best barbecue, quality meat, and, the right rubs, simply using whatever charcoal happens to be on sale might be selling yourself short in the results department.
There’s a tonne of different brands and types of charcoal on the market. So, instead of relying on trial and error, we’ve done the research for you.
In this best lump charcoal guide, we dive into what’s in a bag of this type of fuel, how it’ll burn, and, what kind of flavor it’s going to give to help you decide.
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Table of Contents
Jealous Devil All Natural Hardwood Lump Charcoal
When it comes to quality, pure lump charcoal, Jealous Devil is the real deal!
Sourced from Quebracho Blanco trees in Paraguay, this hardwood is hand-cut and hand-fired using a natural carbonization process that leaves you with 100% pure charcoal.
The wood is denser than oak and hickory, giving 30% more burn time with a mild flavor that adds a smooth undertone without overpowering your meat. And, because of it’s high density, Jealous Devil is also one of the hottest burning fuels on the market. Reaching temperatures of up to 1172°F (633°C), it’s ideal for grilling, while the low ash profile makes it great for smoking too.
In terms of dust and residue, Jealous Devil use a waterproof, dust-proof and resealable, UV-resistant bag so it’s better protected in shipping but also easy to store at home.
- Hotter and longer burn
- Fewer sparks
- Low ash
Fogo Premium Hardwood Lump Charcoal
For anyone who likes to keep it simple, Fogo’s pure oak hardwood lump charcoal does precisely that. Specifically designed for low and slow smoking in ceramic kamados like the Big Green Egg, Kamado Joe and Primo, in our experience, this is one of the longest lasting brands out there.
Hand-selected for restaurant-quality pieces, it’s fast to light and the mild flavor complements literally everything.
And, in case you’re wondering, Fogo can be used for grilling to. It gets nice and hot so it’s definitely not just restricted to low and slow temps.
- Pure oak charcoal gives mild flavor that compliments any meat or vegetable
- One of the longest burning charcoal’s on the market
- Doesn’t spark
Rockwood All-Natural Hardwood Lump Charcoal
For lump charcoal with a conscious, the Rockwood All-Natural Hardwood lump charcoal steals the show.
Not one tree is cut down to make this 100% natural fuel. Instead, Rockwood have simply used leftover wood from timber milling to create a slow-burning, low-ash, boldly flavored charcoal.
Made from a mix of oak, hickory, maple and pecan, it’s got all your most-popular barbecue flavors in one bag that gives grilled or smoked meats an added layer of flavor.
To top off Rockwood’s sustainability, their packaging is fully recyclable paper with soy based inks making it as good for the environment as it is for your food.
- Popular types of wood
- Slow burn and good heat for minimal ash
- Inconsistent quality issues
Harder Charcoal 100 Percent Natural XL Restaurant Style Lump Charcoal
Like Jealous Devil, Harder Charcoal is handmade from 100% Quebracho wood, known as the ‘axe breaker’ in South America. And, because of it’s hardness, Harder Charcoal is one of the hottest burning lump charcoal’s on the market.
With a mild flavor, low smoke and not a lot of ash, it’s perfect for really any smoking or grilling application where you want the flavor of your food to shine through.
So, why buy Harder Charcoal over Jealous Devil? One, it’s priced a little cheaper, and two, it’s sustainably sourced without cutting a single tree down.
In terms of piece size, we found XL was accurate. And, if you were using a smaller smoker like the 14″ Weber Smokey Mountain, you might even need a hammer to break it down. But, there was a good mix of different sized pieces and minimal dust making the price of this one worth it for us!
- Burns hotter
- Low sparks, smoke and ash
- Sustainably produced
- Some users did report smaller sized pieces
Kamado Joe Big Block XL Lump Charcoal
This raved about Kamado Joe XL lump charcoal is another top natural hardwood fuel choice. Similar to the Jealous Devil, the Kamado Joe Big Block is sourced from South American Quebracho trees mixed in with Guayacan, Guayaibi and Mistal, which together, create a mild flavor with high heat, minimal smoke and long-lasting burn.
While you can totally use the Kamado Joe XL Lump Charcoal on any grill, it’s specifically designed for long, low and slow cooks on kamado-style grills like the Big Green Egg or, of course, the Kamado Joe itself.
What’s also cool is that if you don’t use up the whole 18-hour burn time, the Kamado Joe Big Block can be reused up to 3 times when stored properly. So, although it is more pricey than most, you’re definitely getting your money’s worth.
- One of the highest heat choices available
- Minimal sparking
- Reusable up to 3 times
- Some pieces are a bit smaller than you’d expect for ‘XL’ lump charcoal
Cowboy Lump Charcoal
Cowboy Lump Charcoal is one of the best value for money lump charcoals on the market. It’s not the cheapest, and, it’s not the most premium, restaurant-quality. But, there’s no arguing that this simple blend of the tried and true oak, hickory and maple hardwoods does a great job of high heat searing while still having the longevity it needs to smoke low and slow.
Great for anyone who wants an additive-free, 100% natural charcoal for regular use, it’s easy enough to light and won’t overpower your rubs.
- Good mix of price and quality
- Contains 3 of the most popular hardwoods
- Mild flavor
- Known to have smaller broken pieces in bag
B&B Oak Lump Charcoal
If FOGO’s out of stock, B&B is a great alternative that’s still a 100% pure oak hardwood lump charcoal. The price is on par, the flavor is again, great with everything, and it’s a Texas-family owned business.
We’ve always had good batches of B&B’s Oak Lump Charcoal. There’s been plenty of large chunks with minimal dust, it’s been easy to light and has produced great heat. And, while there’s plenty of reviewers who agree with us, there’s also been a few who’ve complained about inconsistent quality.
We still rate it!
- Nice mild flavor that works with everything
- Burns hot
- Family-owned Texas business
- Some reports of inconsistent quality
Original Natural Charcoal
Fruit woods are great for smoking. And, one of the few brands of lump charcoal that use them is this, the Original Natural Charcoal. Sourced sustainably from pruned or downed trees, this all-natural fuel contains apple, cherry and oak, giving your food a warm and sweet flavor without overpowering it.
It’s easy to light, chef grade, and low ash, producing no smoke or sparks.
We were happy with the mix of chunk sizes. But, if you’re not, it does come with a 100% ‘sizzling’ guarantee for a full refund.
- Sustainably sourced
- Unique wood profile
- Money back guarantee
- Again, reports of some inconsistent quality in terms of chunk size