The 10 Best Lump Charcoals

Updated June 13, 2018 by Quincy Miller

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We spent 43 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top selections for this wiki. If you want to really show off at your next barbecue, consider switching to one of these lump charcoals. Made from pre-burned wood, it is the purest form of the fuel you'll find anywhere — no chemicals, additives, or lighter fluid added. That means you get nothing but delicious, wood-fired meat, which is sure to make you the go-to burger flipper on the block. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best lump charcoal on Amazon.

10. Char-Broil Center Cut

If you don't like struggling with a mixture of giant blocks and tiny little pebbles, Char-Broil Center Cut is made of relatively uniform briquettes, all about 3 inches or so. It's a great way to mimic the ease of regular charcoal while still getting the wood-smoked flavor.
  • makes cleanup easy
  • have to keep dry during storage
  • burns extremely quickly
Brand Char-Broil
Model 8696514
Weight 12.6 pounds
Rating 3.8 / 5.0

9. Mangrove Hardwood

The makers of Mangrove Hardwood only prune their trees to create their charcoal, rather than chopping them down, thereby limiting the environmental impact of the fuel. It can maintain heat for up to four hours, so you can spend all afternoon flipping burgers.
  • gets extremely hot
  • need to keep rearranging briquettes
  • very difficult to light
Model pending
Weight 20.2 pounds
Rating 3.7 / 5.0

8. Big Green Egg CP

Since it's made by one of the leading manufacturers of kamado-style grills, you can expect Big Green Egg CP to work well in ceramic containers and urns. It's not your best bet for other models, though, so if you have a barrel- or kettle-style grill, keep looking.
  • a little goes a long way
  • doesn't need other wood for flavor
  • expensive for what you get
Brand Big Green Egg
Model 390011
Weight 21.7 pounds
Rating 3.6 / 5.0

7. Royal Oak

Royal Oak can be red-hot and ready to cook in just 15 minutes, so you won't have to waste your entire afternoon waiting around for the grill to heat up. It gets that hot without the use of any chemicals or additives, ensuring your dinner doesn't kill you.
  • can be lit with newspaper
  • maintains excellent temperature
  • not the most long-lasting option
Brand Royal Oak
Model 195228021
Weight 20.7 pounds
Rating 4.8 / 5.0

6. Cowboy 24220

You learn a thing or two about cooking over an open flame when you're riding the range, which is why Cowboy 24220 can help you make such delicious barbecue. Made from a mix of oak, hickory, and maple, this will give a little extra zing to your next sirloin.
  • no lighter fluid required
  • good value for the price
  • lots of smaller pieces and dust
Brand Cowboy
Model 24220
Weight 20.5 pounds
Rating 4.3 / 5.0

5. Grill Dome CCL-20 Choice

The American-made Grill Dome CCL-20 Choice is a good choice for the grill that is often used but seldom cleaned out. These dense hardwood lumps can be partially burned and later reused, allowing for two or three cooking sessions using the same charcoal.
  • hot and clean burn
  • heat grills to hundreds of degrees
  • lumps too big for smaller grills
Brand Grill Dome
Model CCL-20
Weight 21.1 pounds
Rating 4.1 / 5.0

4. Fogo All-Natural Premium

The restaurant-quality Fogo All-Natural Premium infuses foods with a savory smoked flavor, thanks to its natural hardwood sourcing. It is expensive, but worth it, so you might want to save it for special occasions — or find something else to cut out of your budget.
  • smell isn't overpowering
  • makes delicious veggies
  • good for low-and-slow cooking
Brand Fogo
Model FP35
Weight 35.3 pounds
Rating 4.7 / 5.0

3. Rockwood Premium

Made from Missouri oak and hickory, Rockwood Premium emits a rich aroma that enhances the flavor of beef, chicken, fish, or just about anything else you feel like tossing on the grill. Even better, no trees were felled to make it, as it comes from discarded wood.
  • smoke burns off quickly
  • three 20 lb bags
  • ideal for use in smokers
Brand Rockwood
Model pending
Weight 60 pounds
Rating 4.5 / 5.0

2. Jealous Devil

Jealous Devil is made using one of the densest hardwoods available, which the manufacturers then carbonize in custom-built kilns. The end result produces plenty of heat but almost no sparks and minimal smoke, leading to one of the easiest cooking processes imaginable.
  • leaves little ash behind
  • creates long-lasting heat
  • extremely easy to light
Brand Jealous Devil
Model JD-35-LBS
Weight 33.7 pounds
Rating 4.8 / 5.0

1. Kamado Joe

If you like your briquettes to come in larger chunks, then you'll love this selection from Kamado Joe. It ships in a big box that helps protect it during transport, so it's less likely to get to you in small pieces — giving you better control over your burn.
  • box also makes storage easy
  • made from argentinian trees
  • ideal for ceramic grills
Brand Kamado Joe
Model pending
Weight pending
Rating 5.0 / 5.0

A Brief History Of Charcoal

Charcoal, a form of half-burnt wood that burns hotter and more slowly than regular logs, has been in use since at least 4000 B.C.E. Originating in Asia, early versions were made by covering wood with moist dirt and lighting the whole thing on fire.

These charred blocks soon became extremely important parts of everyday life. They were used for cooking in huts and homes, as they produced less smoke than other forms of fuel. In addition, blacksmiths used them to melt copper and tin in order to create bronze.

As a result, the creation of charcoal became a full-time job for thousands of people, known as colliers. Their product was so in-demand that entire forests in central Europe were decimated to provide colliers with the raw materials needed to do their jobs, and even today deforestation due to charcoal production is a major environmental concern.

Both the creation and use of charcoal would remain largely unchanged until the 1920s, when an American businessman by the name of Henry Ford found himself with an unusual dilemma. Ford's Model T's were sweeping the nation, and each car required about 100 board feet of hardwood to make. Cutting and shaping all that wood meant that there was plenty of scrap left over — and to Ford, that meant that he was wasting lots of money.

Ford commissioned a chemist from the University of Oregon to devise a way to turn that lumber into dense lumps of charcoal. He then tapped his cousin — a Michigan real estate agent named Edward Kingsford — to run a factory devoted to turning Ford's scrap into flammable gold.

By the 1930s, Ford dealerships were also selling portable grills and bags of charcoal. Unfortunately, the Great Depression put a damper on sales, and barbecuing took a backseat to survival. After WWII, however, there was plenty of disposable income and leisure time to go around, and the charcoal grill became a hit.

Today, over one million tons of wood scrap gets converted to charcoal every year, and it's used in everything from art and medicine to metallurgy and horticulture. Grilling is still its most famous use, however, and charcoal smoke can lend rich flavors to meat that propane could never hope to match.

The Best Way To Light A Charcoal Grill

Telling someone how to operate their grill is a sensitive subject, and may even be illegal in Texas. However, there are a few common mistakes people make when lighting their fires — some of which can completely defeat the purpose of using charcoal.

The most egregious party foul is going crazy with the lighter fluid. If you absolutely soak your briquettes, that will affect the taste of the meat — and very few people enjoy burgers that taste like gasoline. Some brands come pre-soaked, and if you use those you shouldn't have to add any extra fluid. You should note, however, that you don't even need to use lighter fluid. You can start a great fire with just a few crumpled-up newspapers and a chimney starter.

Don't start grilling until your coals are good and hot, either. You want them glowing red and covered with a thin layer of ash. Once they've gotten to that point, you can take them out of the starter and arrange them inside the grill.

If you expect that it will take a few hours to grill your meat, you should have some additional coals ready, as your original ones will likely burn out after sixty minutes or so. This is another reason to invest in a chimney starter, as you can have your second-string briquettes smoldering while you wait.

In fact, once your guests see you adding more coals to the fire, they may just elect you Grillmaster-for-Life (it's the highest elected office in Texas).

More Charcoal Grilling Tips

Getting your fire started is only the first step to a successful barbecue, of course. Once you add some meat to the equation, the risk of screwing something up increases exponentially. Luckily, I'm here to prevent that from happening.

It may not seem like much, but the manner in which you arrange your coals can make-or-break your cookout. Some meats, like hamburgers, can stand higher heat, and so you'll want to build a charcoal pyramid that brings the fire close to the grill.

Other foods, like brisket, benefit from a low-and-slow approach. This means cooking them over indirect heat, which requires you to arrange your coals so that the meat isn't being constantly assaulted by the fire. Figure out how much heat your food can handle before you begin, and set up your coals accordingly.

Learn how to use the vents on your grill, as well. These are usually located on the cover and/or the bottom of the grill, and regulate how much air flow the coals receive. If you keep them completely open, your coals will burn extremely hot — but they also won't last long. Conversely, if you close them, you'll trap a lot of smoke inside (until the fire dies from lack of oxygen, that is).

Likewise, don't lift the lid any more than is absolutely necessary. Yes, the fear of burning the food is powerful, but lifting the lid actually increases the likelihood of that happening, as you're just feeding the fire. Only take the cover off to flip the food, and to occasionally check how done the meat is (using a thermometer, of course).

Once you're done cooking, pour some water on the coals and stir them gently. Let them sit for a day or so, then place them in a non-flammable container and throw them in the trash. Or, if you use a natural lump charcoal, you can feed it to your plants, as it makes an excellent fertilizer.

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Last updated on June 13, 2018 by Quincy Miller

Quincy is a writer who was born in Texas, but moved to Los Angeles to pursue his life-long dream of someday writing a second page to one of his screenplays.

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