The best brand is the Kamado Joe Big Block XL lump charcoal. The large pieces ensure a longer and more consistent burn, the smoky flavor is absolutely delicious, and the solid pieces maintain their shape and size in the bag!
As an inexperienced cook, I wasn't too concerned with the kind of lump charcoal I used. However, the longer that I hung out with grill masters, the more I realized that quality and flavor really do matter. Luckily for me, I was able to reach out to the best in the business to get their recommendations.
In this post, I will reveal the best lump charcoal brand as well as give you suggestions for runner up options. I have also included a buyer's guide!
Here are the top lump charcoal options for you to choose from for your charcoal grill:
As a fan of briskets and other large cuts of meat, I often need to grill or smoke foods for a long period of time, sometimes overnight. So, I need lump charcoal that can handle such long smoking sessions.
After putting this natural hardwood lump charcoal to the test, I found my winner. According to the company, this charcoal can last up to 18 hours. And, I discovered that the coals stay lit for this duration, ensuring that I don't have to keep topping up the grill throughout!
The only thing to keep in mind here is that these lump charcoals are pretty large. As a result, they only work for large grills not small ones.
Of course, a long burn is only half the battle, you also need to make sure that the lump charcoal produces the same level of heat throughout the cook. I used a thermometer to keep a close eye on the cooking temperature and was pleased to see that it is very consistent, making it easy to cook your food at a reliable rate.
One of the things that I appreciate about the Kamado charcoal is that it is made from all natural hardwood lump charcoal. Yes, it comes from a mix of woods but each of them are high quality. I can tell by the fact that the smoke is clean and infuses the food with a lovely flavor.
This lump charcoal isn't exactly cheap so I was happy to see that each piece was solidly constructed. And, as I worked my way through the bag, I noticed that there was almost no breakage or crumbling. Instead, they all held their shape and size well.
One of the main perks of the Jealous Devil all natural hardwood lump charcoal is that each bag consists of large chunks. As a result, they are able to burn for an extended period of time. Not only did this charcoal last for an entire cook when smoking brisket, but it continued to stay heated for several hours more!
I also like the fact that the lump charcoal produces minimal ash. I really don't like cleaning up after a cook but this coal does make this easier.
One of the main advantages of such large chunks of lump charcoal is that the coal burns evenly. This means a more consistent temperature throughout the cook, regardless of whether you are grilling or smoking.
What I like about this consistent rate is that I can better predict when my food will be done. This is handy when cooking for a large crowd.
The large size of the lump charcoal does come with a downside. If you have a smaller grill, these pieces may not fit.
I love that this lump charcoal produces just the right amount of hickory smoky flavor. On the one hand, the taste is just enough to infuse the food with a hint of the hickory hardwood. At the same time, it isn't strong enough to overpower whatever it is your cooking, even with milder meats.
This is my personal favorite for brisket.
Right now, this hardwood lump charcoal costs a little over a dollar for a pound of charcoal - this isn't too bad at all! This is especially since this is some of the best charcoal I have tried in a long time.
Best Budget Lump Charcoal
There is no denying that when you look for the best charcoal that you often end up paying a pretty price. If you are looking for a good quality lump charcoal that will not break the bank, then Masterbuilt is the brand for you!
It offers up a great grilling and low and slow cooking experience, just at a lower cost.
One of my favorite things about this brand is that it is a quick to light lump charcoal without the need for lighter fluid. The fire gets going within a very short period of time and this means that your cook gets going faster too.
Unfortunately, this does come with a small problem - the fire also goes out a little faster too. Due to this, you may need to top up your grill a bit sooner than you like for longer cooks.
When you taste what this lump charcoal is able to cook up, you won't be able to tell that you are cooking with a cheaper brand. It has a clean, smoky taste and it is versatile enough to work for everything from chicken to brisket.
Best for Ceramic Grills
Considering that the Big Green Egg is one of the best known ceramic grills, it isn't too surprising to discover that this natural hardwood lump charcoal is just right for this kind of grill.
So, if you want to get the most out of what your Big Green Egg has to offer, I would advise with sticking to this brand.
That being said, this is easily the most expensive brand on the list. So, if you are on a budget you may need to look elsewhere.
This natural hardwood lump charcoal does consist of larger lumps. Due to this, it is able to burn for a longer period of time. When I put this lump charcoal to the test, I found that it was able to last the entire length of a slow cooking process for pork butt without needing to refill the grill.
I also appreciated the fact that the pieces were of similar sizes. Due to this, they all burned at a similar rate, keeping both the heat as well as the cooking rate consistent. This makes it especially great for more delicate meats like chicken and turkey.
I love the flavor of this hardwood lump charcoal. The hickory and oak lump charcoal balance each out perfectly and gives the food a robust flavor without going overboard.
One of my favorite things about this lump charcoal is that it is able to produce really high heat. As a result, it is great for searing meat, especially steaks. I didn't really find another lump charcoal that gave me the same kind of burn.
The only issue is that the consistency is a little off as there are differently sized lumps in the bag. So, you do have to pick, choose, and match the lumps if you want a consistent burn.
Despite the inconsistency, there are enough of large chunks of charcoal to keep your grill burning for quite a while. I tried this charcoal out with everything from chicken to pork butts and found that it lasted for most of the cook.
I really love the flavor of this lump charcoal. It is strong enough to work well with beef but still mild enough to not overpower more delicate meats like chicken. So, it is a good option for a versatile lump charcoal.
As with all the other lump charcoals on this list, I made sure to put this brand through its paces. So, I fired up a pork butt to see if a full grill could get me to the end of the cook without an refills. And, I am happy to report that this lump charcoal made it across the finish line without any trouble at all!
Now, I do need to start off with the downside here. The charcoal does come in irregular sizes. Due to this, you will get an inconsistent cook if you simply dump the coal into the grill without sorting them out.
However, if you do make the effort to separate them by size, then you will be able to get a nice and consistent cook time and time again.
As far as flavors go, I have to say that this Cowboy hardwood lump charcoal does produce the best flavorful smoke. I love that the sweetness of the maple balanced out the slight bitterness of the hickory. This also makes this lump charcoal an excellent option for all kinds of meat!
A lot of charcoal brands are hesitant to provide much information about how their wood is sourced and how the charcoal is produced. This isn't the case with Rockwood charcoal, however.
Their hardwood is sourced from Missouri and comes from high quality trees. In turn, this produces clean and durable charcoal lumps that burn well. I was personally impressed at how well this lump charcoal burns.
The only issue with this coal is that it is largely made up of smaller pieces. Due to this, the burn time isn't as long and you may need to top up your grill more often.
Even though this charcoal does consist of smaller pieces, the burn rate is quite consistent. Due to this, the temperature remains constant throughout the cook. In turn, your food cooks at a predictable rate and it is easier to tell when it will be done.
The flavor with this charcoal is absolutely delicious. One of the reasons for this is because the coal is of a higher quality, producing a cleaner smoke. The other reason is that there is a beautiful blend of hickory, maple, and oak.
Due to this, you do get a nice robust smoke but it softened by the oak. And, the maple adds a nice bit of sweetness into the mix as well. As a result, you can use this lump charcoal for any kind of meat and get a great taste!
If you are looking for a lump charcoal that is better for the environment, then this is a good pick. Not only is the charcoal made from the leftovers from timber milling, but the coal is carefully burned as well. Even the bags that the col come in are sustainably produced.
Here are some tips on choosing the best brand and type for you:
I know that this advice can seem a little redundant considering that I just provided you with a list of the best charcoal brands. However, this statement is worth repeating.
The top lump charcoal brands can be a bit on the pricey side, I know. What you have to keep in mind, though, is that you are paying for quality.
The top brands use the best wood, fire the charcoal just right, and often only include good sized lumps of charcoal in the bag.
As a result of this, you get a longer burn time, more consistent temperatures, and a better flavor to boot.
The good news is that if you do choose a quality lump charcoal, the burn times tend to be pretty good. Apart from this, however, it isn't easy to always know just how long a particular brand will burn for.
In general, brands with larger chunks will burn for longer but, once again, you will need to buy and open up that bag to find this out.
Reading reviews should help you to figure out how long a particular brand can burn for.
In general, larger lump charcoal pieces are better. This is because they tend to burn longer and more evenly. Not to mention, they tend to be more durable as well which means that they won't break into smaller pieces in the bag.
That being said, these larger pieces aren't suitable for every type of grill. This is why you need to examine or measure your grill before you purchase the charcoal.
If you have a smaller grill, then smaller chunks would be a better option for you. It is only if the grill has the capacity that you should consider large pieces.
It can also be a good idea to think about the flavor that you want to cook with.
If you tend to cook with more delicate meats like chicken, turkey, or pork, then fruitwoods are a good option. This includes maple, although oak can be a good option as well.
If you want something more neutral, then you should consider natural flavored charcoal.
In case you are cooking meatier cuts like beef, then hickory is a good option.
Don't want to settle for just one flavor? The blended options are a good idea. I like maple and hickory, or oak, maple, and hickory. This allows all the flavors to be balanced out, creating a mix that is both smoky and sweet at the same time.
So, there you go - the Kamado Joe lump charcoal is the best option for your grill. Thanks to the large pieces, this charcoal burns for longer and at a more consistent temperature. It also offers up a gorgeous smoky flavor and the larger pieces don't break easily.
Of course, everyone has their own idea of what makes the best charcoal. Due to this, I would advise you to check out all of the brands on this list so that you can decide what the best option for you is!