Charcoal Briquettes vs Lump Charcoal (Which is Better?)

Are you a grill master looking to perfect your craft? Well, you’re in luck because today we’re talking about the age-old debate of charcoal briquettes vs. lump charcoal. Just like the age-old debate of cats vs. dogs or pizza toppings, this is a topic that can spark some heated discussions (pun intended). So, sit back, grab a cold one, and let’s dive in!

Lump Charcoal vs Briquettes

One of the most highly debated topics in the world of outdoor grilling is whether you should be using lump charcoal or briquettes in your charcoal grill. While some people strongly believe that if you are going to grill with charcoal, the lump variety is the best, many others believe briquettes are a much better option.

When it comes to the two of these types of charcoal, the choice comes down to a few factors one of which is personal preferences. Other factors include how lump charcoal and briquettes are created and whether additives can make a difference in your cooking style

While both lump charcoal and briquettes will do the job of providing heat to cook your favorite outdoor meals, you may want to take a closer look at each of them. This is so that you can make the best decision for yourself and everyone else you may be cooking for.

Overall, both lump charcoal and briquettes will allow you to cook your favorite foods, you will need to understand what they each bring to the table. Only then can you make the best decision for both yourself and your outdoor cooking needs.

Are you looking to learn more about the differences between lump charcoal and briquettes? Read on to discover more!

Lump Charcoal vs Briquettes at a Glance

Before taking a look at the specific differences between lump charcoal and briquettes, it is important to know what they are. While understanding the differences may be vital to determining which one you should use, it is equally essential to know what they are made of. 

Lump charcoal is made from actual wood scraps that come from all over the world and may be different in wood type. Once these wood scraps are collected, they are burned in a closed environment that allows very little oxygen in. 

The result of this process is burnt wood pieces, or charcoal, that can then be used in grills to provide a unique smoky flavor to food. Since the process allows very little oxygen to come in, it allows the wood to not burn completely through to ash.

Briquettes, on the other hand, are made from sawdust and other particles that are then combined and placed into molds to form the shape. Since these materials do not naturally adhere to each other, various additives are also commonly used. 

Some of the ingredients used to make briquettes include limestone, borax, paraffin, starch, and various other solvents. The purpose of these additives is to ensure that the briquettes ignite properly and burn to provide heat for cooking.

Whichever you choose to use for your grilling needs, keep in mind that they both are designed to create heat to cook your favorite foods. You will need to be aware of how to use them, however, since they do not function in the same way.

Lump Charcoal vs Briquettes: Pros and Cons

When it comes to lump charcoal and briquettes, it is important to understand not only how they are made, but what the advantages and disadvantages of each are.

Before you learn about the specific comparisons of each, let’s take a look at the pros and cons of both.

Lump Charcoal

Pros:

  • All-natural
  • Easy to light
  • Produces less ash
  • Works well with vent adjustments

Cons:

  • More expensive than briquettes
  • Pieces are not the same sizes

Overall, even though lump charcoal is more expensive, the pros are worth the consideration of at least trying it out.

Briquettes

Pros:

  • More affordable than lump charcoal
  • Consistent size and shape
  • Burns for longer periods of time

Cons:

  • Made with various additives
  • Takes longer to ignite
  • Produces much more ash than lump charcoal

At the end of the day, while briquettes are more affordable and can last longer than lump charcoal, you will also want to consider the disadvantages. 

Lump Charcoal vs Briquettes Comparison

Before you make the decision of whether you should use lump charcoal or briquettes, it is important to do some research and experimentation on each of them. This is because you may find that you like one or the other better, or that you do not have a preference at all. 

Many factors should be considered when choosing between lump charcoal and briquettes. While some of the differences may not be as important, there are other factors that should be considered more carefully.

To learn more about the specific differences between lump charcoal and briquettes, keep reading below.

Price Comparison

One of the main factors that people consider when deciding between lump charcoal and briquettes is how much each of them cost. You will want to ensure that whichever you choose, depending on how much time you spend grilling, is affordable.

Lump charcoal is typically much more expensive than briquettes since they are larger pieces of wood. Briquettes, on the other hand, can be purchased by the bag at a pretty affordable price.

Because of this, briquettes are truly the winner when it comes to affordability.

Availability

Another factor to consider is whether or not your chosen type is available at a moment’s notice in case you run out. The worst thing that can happen is that you are in the middle of a cookout and discover that you are out of your charcoal.

Lump charcoal, in addition to being more expensive than briquettes, are also not as easy to find in a pinch. This is because most local markets do not sell enough of it to keep it in stock. Because of this, if you use lump charcoal, you likely have to order it online.

Briquettes, on the other hand, are found in local grocery stores and hardware stores around the world. This makes it convenient for those who discover they are out of charcoal and need some in a hurry.

For this factor, briquettes are again the winner since they are more readily available.

Cooking Time

Most people say that if you are wanting to cook using the low and slow method, you will want to use briquettes. This is typically because briquettes, once they are ignited, will burn for hours before losing any temperature.

Lump charcoal, on the other hand, is designed to burn hot and fast, which is great if you are in a hurry or are looking to grill or sear your meats. Keep in mind that when you use lump charcoal, you will likely have to add more along the way to control the temperature.

For this category, there is no real winner since it depends on your personal preferences and which method you prefer. If you are looking for a better smoky flavor in your food, briquettes tend to provide that since you will cook the food for a longer period of time.

Type of Grill

Many grilling enthusiasts say that the type of grill should be factored into your decision to use lump charcoal or briquettes. This is because of the ash that it produces and how much capacity your grill has for it.

Briquettes tend to produce much more ash residue than lump charcoal does, which means that if you have a smaller grill, you will have to clean it out more often. This is why it is recommended that if you have a small grill, you should consider using lump charcoal.

The bottom line, however, is that if you do not mind cleaning your grill out often, you can use either type of charcoal you prefer. 

Arrangement of the Coals

When it comes to determining which type of charcoal you should use for your grilling experience, you should consider the fire arrangement. While some grillers say that this is not a determining factor, others tend to disagree.

Remember that briquettes are much easier to manipulate than lump charcoal since they are typically smaller pieces. There are more limitations when it comes to arranging lump charcoal in your grill, so the hot spots may be less easy to control.

Because of this, most people who use lump charcoal, tend to use a chimney which will allow the heat to be better distributed. This means that no matter where you put your food on the grill, it will heat all the same.

Lump Charcoal vs Briquettes: The Winner

The bottom line when it comes to determining which type of charcoal you should use comes down to personal preference. However, the clear winner and most grill enthusiasts recommend lump charcoal hands down.

The main factors used to determine that lump charcoal is superior to briquettes come down to the fact that there are no additives when they are created. This means that although you may have to add more lump charcoal along the way, you will have a cleaner experience overall.

Keep in mind, however, that there are many brands of briquettes that don’t use chemicals in their formation (see our list before!) these can be a great alternative if you want to use briquettes but worry about the chemical content! 

Our Recommendations for Lump Charcoal

Of course, besides just picking between lump charcoal and briquettes, you also need to pick the best brands. Below are the Lump Charcoal types we recommend for easy cooking. 

Masterbuilt MB20091621 Lump Charcoal 16 Pound, Black
$19.79
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04/12/2024 03:43 am GMT

1. Masterbuilt Lump Charcoal

Masterbuilt lump charcoal is made from 100% premium hardwood and is one of our favorite brands of lump charcoal. We love it because it is so versatile and easy to use.

It works for all temperatures and has been optimized for performance, ensuring you can cook the best meats no matter what recipe you are following. It’s also sold at a reasonable price which is a plus! 

Rockwood All-Natural Hardwood Lump Charcoal 20 Lbs
$37.99
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04/12/2024 04:17 am GMT

2. Rockwood Lump Charcoal

Charcoal without fillers is always best because it lasts the longest and burns more evenly. We especially love Rockwood products because they are 100% made in the USA.

When you buy a bag of Rockwood lump charcoal you are buying a bag of product made in none other than Missouri. While this charcoal is a bit expensive, it is worth the price! 

Jealous Devil All Natural Hardwood Lump Charcoal – 35LB
$47.99 $38.77
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04/11/2024 04:52 pm GMT

3. Jealous Devil’s Lump Charcoal

Jealous Devil’s Lump charcoal is made from hickory wood, giving it a different flavor than other charcoals on this list. They are made with a special recipe that keeps them from sparking, popping, and producing a large amount of ash.

This means an easier cleanup for you! We also love how easily these charcoals can be blended with wood to create a superior flavor when smoking meats. 

Kamado Joe KJ-CHAR Big Block XL Lump Charcoal, 20 pound
£30.85
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04/12/2024 07:24 am GMT

4. Kamado Joe Charcoal

If you have a Kamado Joe, then picking the Kamado Joe lump charcoal is an easy choice. Designed specifically for use with a Kamado Joe, these charcoals can burn for up to 18 hours.

We also love that they are reusable for up to three grilling sessions, so you aren’t having to constantly purchase more. This charcoal is made from a blend of hardwood trees found in South America. 

Related >> Best Lump Charcoal for Smoking

Our Recommendations for Briquettes

If you prefer to use Briquettes, that’s okay too! Below are our recommendations for the best brands of Briquettes. 

Billy Buckskin Co. Oak & Apple Charcoal Briquettes
$35.50
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04/12/2024 05:03 am GMT

1. Applewood Charcoal Briquettes

These Applewood Charcoal Briquettes are not only our number one pick, but these briquettes have won contests–meaning they are everyone’s top pick. Made from oak and applewood, cooking with these briquettes will infuse delicious flavor into your food.

We also love that these are sustainably harvested–as they are made from trees in tree orchids that no longer produce fruit. This means choosing Applewood is good for your smoking and the planet! 

Olivette Organic Charcoal Briquettes for Grilling BBQ, USDA Organic Certified | 100% Recycled Olive Tree Byproducts
$22.70
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04/12/2024 04:23 am GMT

2. Olivette Organic Charcoal

Many people are worried about using charcoal because of the chemicals that can be added to them, which end up in your food. With Olivette Organic, this isn’t the case as their briquettes aren’t made with any chemicals.

Not only that, but they are made from recycled olive trees and pulp from orchards, meaning you can enjoy these briquettes without having to worry about your impact on Amazon deforestation. They are also easy to use, making them an excellent choice for a beginner smoker. 

Kingsford Professional Competition Briquettes 2 Pack of 18 lb Bags
$46.5022
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04/12/2024 04:28 am GMT

3. Kingsford Briquettes

If you’ve been smoking for a while, you are likely familiar with Kingsford briquettes. They are sold at most stores and are known for their ease of use and ability to hold temperature well.

They’ve been around for decades, so we aren’t the only ones to think so! They can be one of the most expensive brands on the list, however, so it might be a good idea to branch out and try something new like the two brands mentioned above!

Photo of author

Hope Davis

Born in Denver, Colorado as the oldest of 5 children, I learned at a young age that the grill was one of the best ways to prepare food for a crowd. And during the winter storm months, when the snow was likely to knock out the power to our house, the propane grill was a lifesaver! You wouldn’t believe the number of things you can cook on a grill when necessary. With parents who couldn’t tell salt from pepper unless you told them, I spent my late teen years making my own seasoning mixes and marinades to dress the meat before barbecues. It wasn’t long before I developed a secret marinade that people still beg me to make for them today! When I was 21 years old I bought my first smoker. Picked up some cedar chips for making a cedar plank salmon...and well, the rest they say is history! I’ve been grilling and smoking all kinds of creations ever since and I’m always excited to share my passion with others through my favorite medium--writing!

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