Are you wondering what the best lump charcoal for smoking meats is?
You’ve come to the right place!
In this TheGrillingDad.com guide, you will learn:
- Which are the top lump charcoal options for smoking
- Techniques for using lump charcoal effectively
- Lump vs Briquettes
- And much more!
Not so long ago, you had a simple choice to make when it came to grilling: gas or charcoal?
Gas guzzlers love the convenience it brings, but it’s hard to argue with the flavor you get from burning charcoal.
Today, charcoal is still as popular and tasty as ever, but the list of options can be overwhelming.
That’s why I’ve tested just about all of them on the market–to help you choose the right lump charcoal option without wasting time or money!
While you can still go and buy a bag of briquettes, most grill gurus and competition BBQ’ers will tell you that lump charcoal is where it’s at if you want to get serious about getting the most out of your grilling or smoking experience.
Read More >> Top 5 Best Smokers For Beginners (2022 Review)
Below is a quick list of all our top products. Keep scrolling to learn more about how to choose and use the best lump charcoal for smoking. Here we go!
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Top 5 Lump Charcoal for Smoking Options
In a hurry? Check out our top 5 lump charcoal options! Keep reading to discover more about our top picks.
Comparing the Best Lump Charcoal
|Lump Charcoal Brand
|Bag Size (lbs)
|Fogo Super Premium Lump Charcoal
|Oak, Hickory, Maple, and Pecan
|4 Wood Blend
Top 5 Lump Charcoal For Smoking Reviewed
You’ve got a ton of options when looking for the best lump charcoal for smoking.
I’ve narrowed them down to the 5 best lump charcoal options.
The first one we’ll look at is Fogo Super Premium Lump Charcoal.
This lump charcoal is specifically selected for its large-sized chunks.
These are going to give you a better result in ceramic grills, larger kettle-style cookers, and smokers.
Big chunks give you a longer burn time, which means you maintain your temperature longer and have to add more fuel less often.
Compare this to their ‘Black Bag’ option, the FOGO Premium Hardwood Lump Charcoal, which is more suitable for smaller and mid-size grills. This contains more consistently medium-sized pieces of lump charcoal.
2. Kamado Joe
If you’re doing a lot of smoking, or just planning on some ‘all-day’ grilling, you might need an even larger chunk. This brings us to the Kamado Joe Big Block Argentinian XL Premium Charcoal.
Right up front, you know what you’re getting. Kamado Joe states this is the “World’s Largest” lump charcoal product, and that you can use the chunks up to 3 times, burning for as long as 18 hours!
If you’re planning on any kind of long cook times, especially for smoking thick meats like brisket, you have to look at this one.
3. Jealous Devil
We can’t talk about lump charcoal without talking about Jealous Devil.
It’s hard to ignore the 100% all natural hardwood inside, as they claim it gets you temperatures of over 1170F, with a burn time of around 4 hours on open grills.
This just might back up the statement on the bag: “pure as heaven, hotter than hell.”
Speaking of the bag itself, it’s one of the few lump charcoal brands that offers a waterproof and resealable bag, which can be a boon to some outdoor cooking enthusiasts.
A new entry that is putting out consistently good reviews and results is Rockwood All Natural Lump Charcoal.
This lump charcoal is made using a “restaurant quality” blend of woods including maple, pecan, oak, and hickory.
While the chunks are a bit smaller in this brand, they make up for it with their even and long lasting burn. If you don’t believe us, just look at the reviews!
That comes with a price tag, but a lot of home BBQ’ers are willing to pay for the performance it delivers.
5. Royal Oak
Lastly, one of the oldest names in charcoal is Royal Oak.
Some pitmasters swear by this brand and claim it’s never done them wrong.
It’s also a good option if you’re on a budget and just starting your journey into lump charcoal.
Royal Oak puts a focus on using renewable oak, hickory, maple, and walnut wood in their lump charcoal, and is 100% all-natural with no chemicals or additives.
Just make sure you’re getting the lump charcoal, as they also make a line of ‘all natural’ briquettes too.
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Why is Lump Charcoal the Best Choice for Smoking?
First, just what is lump charcoal (also called hardwood lump charcoal or all-natural charcoal), and why should it matter?
Isn’t it all just going to burn away anyway??
Sure is, but the most important factor here is how it burns.
Think of briquettes as concentrated pucks of sawdust and other leftover wood scraps. That’s not inherently a bad thing, but it means they need a lot of additives to make them more effective.
Now compare that to how lump charcoal is made: by taking actual chunks of wood and sealing them in a vacuum until they’re completely dry, and you’re left with pure charcoal.
Read More >> 5 Best Woods For Smoking Brisket (2022 Review)
Briquettes Vs Lump Charcoal
Practically, what this means is that making the switch to hardwood lump charcoal gives you:
- Faster lighting time
- Hotter overall temperature
- Easier to adjust the temperature
What to Look For When Buying Lump Charcoal
Source and Quality
The last thing you want to do is introduce chemicals to the food you are going through such lengths to smoke by smoking your meats over poor-quality charcoal. Whenever possible, look for lump charcoal with no additives or chemicals.
You’ll also want to check that your charcoal comes from a source you trust. Why it might be tempting to choose the cheapest bag at the store, this won’t get you the best quality charcoal.
Always lift the bag of charcoal before you buy it, looking to ensure there isn’t too much dust and that the pieces of charcoal are at least golf to tennis ball size.
Charcoal, like wood chips, is made from different types of wood that can bring different flavors into your smoking. While charcoal is almost always hardwood, it can come from different species like oak, beech, and ash. The lighter the hardwood, the sweeter the flavor the charcoal will provide.
Consider experimenting with different types of charcoal with various meats until you find your favorite combination.
Charcoal is notoriously non-uniform, but you should look for a bag that has mostly uniform pieces and very little charcoal dust. This will ensure you know what to expect from your charcoal and not waste money on product you can’t use.
Also keep in mind that the larger the chunks of charcoal, the longer and hotter they will burn.
Is Lump Charcoal Better Than Regular Charcoal?
Remember how briquettes need all those additives to stay compressed and light easier and smoke more?
If you’ve ever used briquettes and thought you noticed a chemical smell, that’s why.
Lump charcoal is all-natural. That means it doesn’t need any of those additives to retain the great properties you want out of your fuel.
Additionally, you won’t get any of that chemical smell in your grill or in your food.
Briquettes take a long time to light and come up to the temperatures necessary for grilling most foods.
And when it’s all said and done, you’ll have a big pile of ash to clean up and get out of your grill.
Using all-natural lump charcoal eliminates both of these issues.
Related >> What to Do With Charcoal Ash
It’s remarkably easy to light, it gets your grill to the temperatures you need, and it does all this much faster than briquettes.
Also, while you’ll inevitably still have some cleanup to do afterward, the amount of ash created by natural lump charcoal is significantly less than the huge pile left by briquettes.
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One example of why lump charcoal is better than briquettes:
Let’s say you want to cook something that really benefits from using two different cooking temperatures.
A good example and popular option is the “reverse sear” method of cooking steaks.
Reverse searing is where you cook the meat at a low temperature until you reach the desired internal temperature, then turn the heat up to high to sear the outside locking in all that juicy goodness.
Lump charcoal is going to give you the ability to change those temperatures quickly and more efficiently than briquettes.
By focusing on where they lie and how much charcoal you’re using, you can raise or lower the temperature in a hurry.
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Lump Charcoal FAQ:
Is Lump Charcoal Good for Smokers?
Lump charcoal is ideal for both grilling and smoking. Charcoal burns hot, allowing you to get a good sear on your meat while grilling, but it can also be controlled to produce smoke for smoking meats.
Which Lump Charcoal Has Less Smoke Flavor?
Charcoal which has been fully carbonized won’t put off much smoke and is not recommended for smoking. But if you want smoke, but a less strong flavor, go with maple wood charcoal.
Does Lump Charcoal Give Smoke Flavor?
Lump charcoal will produce a nice smoke flavor capable of penetrating the meats you are smoking. This will add a nice smoke flavor to your meal.