Best Lump Charcoal for Smoking

If you’re on the hunt for the best lump charcoal for smoking, one of the most important factors to consider is the wood type. To help you shop, I’ve rounded up some of the top lump charcoal products on the market, as rated by smokers and grillers.

Best Lump Charcoal for Smoking featured photo

I know you can’t wait to smell that delicious, smoky flavor in your backyard. But it’s hard to get that irresistible smoky flavor without the help of good lump charcoal, which enhances the taste of your steak, fish, or poultry.

If you’re a pitmaster, you know that not all charcoals are the same. The kind of charcoal, as well as the wood from which it was made, can make a difference in the flavor and the amount of time you spend smoking. You should consider lump charcoal to be a crucial ingredient in your smoking.

Each lump charcoal transmits different flavors. They infuse your meat with the rich smokiness and rich scent that is inherent to barbecue—a particularly deep, woody, smoky flavor that nothing else can truly match.

In this article, I’ll go over some of the best lump charcoal for smoking, as well as the different flavor profiles they can impart to your meat. And if you want to look at other options, I’ll also walk you through finding the best charcoal products on the market. So, without further ado, let’s take a look at my top picks!

My Top Picks

ImageProductKey FeaturesPrice
Best OverallJealous Devil All Natural Hardwood Lump CharcoalJealous Devil All Natural Hardwood Lump Charcoal– Comes in a 35-lb bag
– Made from pure, ultra-dense South American hardwood
– Mild flavor-enhancing aroma
Check price
Best ValueRockwood All-Natural Hardwood Lump CharcoalRockwood All-Natural Hardwood Lump Charcoal– Comes in (3) 20-lb bags
– Made from premium Missouri oak, hickory, maple, and pecan
– Rich wood aroma
– Packed in eco-friendly paper bag
Check price
Best for BeginnersFogo Super Premium Oak Lump CharcoalFogo Super Premium Oak Lump Charcoal– Comes in a 35-lb bag
– Made from a​​ll-natural hardwood
– Imparts a delicious oaky hardwood smoked flavor
Check price
Best for Big Green EggBig Green Egg Natural Oak and Hickory Lump CharcoalBig Green Egg Natural Oak and Hickory Lump Charcoal– Comes in a 20-lb bag
– Made from natural American oak and hickory
– Imparts a rich wood flavor
Check price
Budget PickKamado Joe XL Lump CharcoalKamado Joe XL Lump Charcoal– Comes in a 20-lb bag
– Made from a blend of hardwood
– Imparts a robust wood-fire flavor
Check price

The Best Lump Charcoals for Smoking

With so many lump charcoal products that promise to encourage a clean and flavorful smoking session, it can be challenging to tell which one is better than the other. Other brands are made from recycled or treated wood, which defeats the purpose of smoking with charcoal.

So I did the hunt for you and spent time reading through different reviews. From there, I discovered some of the fieriest truths about the best lump charcoal for smoking. Let’s get into the reviews and see what all the hypes are about!

Jealous Devil All Natural Hardwood Lump Charcoal – Best Overall

Jealous Devil All Natural Hardwood Lump Charcoal

First on my list is the Jealous Devil All Natural Hardwood Lump Charcoal. It’s one of the best lump charcoals out there due to its long burning period and high-temperature range. This hardwood charcoal can heat up to 1100 degrees Fahrenheit. But other users claim it reaches up to 1170 degrees Fahrenheit and can burn for up to 12 hours.

But, I think that one of the best things about this product is the redesigned bag. The packaging protects the natural charcoal during shipping, resulting in larger chunks and less residue. The brand prides itself on using packaging that is also waterproof (hello, outdoor cooks!), dust-proof, UV-protected, and resealable.

Made from South American hardwood using an all-natural carbonization process, this charcoal is sure to be pure. It comes in large chunks and the lumps are hand-cut from actual hunks of wood. The wood is carefully picked for coal production and hand-fired in brick kilns constructed on-site. They are also easy to place on your smoker or charcoal grill.

Since it is made from pure and natural resources, this hardwood lump charcoal is sure to burn longer and hotter than hell, even on open grills. Aside from longer smoking time, it also produces very little to no sparking. As well as minimal ash that is easy to clean afterward.

On the flavor profile, this hardwood lump charcoal imparts a subtle smoky flavor to your food, which lends delightful undertones to meaty cuts like brisket. The flavor also does not overpower lighter food like fish and poultry.

One of the complaints I see from customers who have tried cooking with this natural charcoal is the resealable bag is poorly designed as some claim the sealer breaks off easily. Others also get inconsistent sizes ranging from very small lumps to large ones.

Pros:
• All natural and hand-picked woods
• Burns longer, hot and clean
• Imparts a subtle smoky flavor but not overpowering
• Comes in large lumps
• Protective packaging
Cons:
• Very inconsistent lumps (but this is common with many coal products)
• Flawed design on packaging

Rockwood All-Natural Hardwood Lump Charcoal – Best Value

Rockwood All-Natural Hardwood Lump Charcoal

While the Rockwood All-Natural Hardwood Lump Charcoal is not the cheapest option, with three 20-lb bags of charcoal, I think it’s the best deal if you want to get the most bang for your buck.

This charcoal is made from premium quality Missouri oak, hickory, pecan, and maple woods acquired from excess timber milling. Which makes the product a great option for saving the environment since no trees are intentionally cut down to produce charcoal. It contains no chemicals, additives, or binders.

And, in case you didn’t know, Missouri is the leading producer of charcoal in the US. So, you’re getting one of the best lump charcoal for smoking from the Heartland. Added to its eco-friendliness is that the packages and soy-based inks used for the coal are reusable, landfill-safe, and will not emit toxic gasses when burned.

Much like any good lump charcoal, it burns hot and clean for low and slow cooking. The deep wood aroma of the lump charcoal enhances the inherent flavors of meat, poultry, and fish. Its combination of hardwoods gives a superb base layer of taste that isn’t skewed to any certain flavor profile.

Each piece of lump coal in the bags might vary in size and quality, though. Some customers even find lots of little pieces that just slip through their firebox grate or block it on long low-temperature cooking. These small pieces can burn fast too, requiring you to add more charcoal over longer cooking.

It’s also a bit harder to light than other charcoal brands. But, for the price, I think it’s a great budget and eco-friendly choice for firing up your smoker or charcoal grill. After all, it is still made of high-quality wood.

Pros:
• Made from all-natural hardwood
• Eco-friendly
• Buns hot, slow, and clean
• Improves the natural flavor of food
• Offers great value for money
Cons:
• Inconsistent sizes and quality
• Harder to light than other charcoal brands

Fogo Super Premium Oak Lump Charcoal – Best for Beginners

Fogo Super Premium Oak Lump Charcoal

One of the hottest and longest burning (some users I’ve come across say it burns for 20 hours) charcoal on the market, the Fogo Super Premium Oak Lump Charcoal could be a nice option if you’re new to smoking. It comes in a 35-lb bag of large natural lump charcoal that is made from all-natural hardwood.

It’s primarily made of oak combined with other woods to make charcoal that is easy to light. This natural hardwood lump charcoal can also burn for a longer period of time. These charcoal will perform well in ceramic grills such as a Kamado Joe or a Big Green Egg, larger kettle-style cookers, as well as smokers.

The brand is well-known for including huge pieces of charcoal in its bags. This will eliminate the need to purchase a bag of coal chips. Many users appreciate the consistency and the size of Fogo lump charcoal. Which makes it easier to achieve a steady temperature while cooking.

However, some smokers and grillers also have complaints about the inconsistency in each piece. It’s probably from bad batches but this is very common in almost all charcoal products available. Another critical review I’ve read was that it sparks so much and can put out a lot of smoke.

In terms of flavoring, this natural hardwood lump charcoal imparts that mild wood flavor that is not too overwhelming, even on light meats like poultry or fish.

Pros:
• Premium, restaurant-quality
• Beginner-friendly
• Works well with various grills and smokers
• Consistent quality and large size
• Long burning period
• Imparts a mild wood flavor that isn’t overpowering
Cons:
• Some users find inconsistency in sizes
• Sparks so much
• Can put out excessive amount of smoke

Big Green Egg Natural Oak and Hickory Lump Charcoal – Best for Big Green Egg

Big Green Egg Natural Oak and Hickory Lump Charcoal

If you’ve ever used a Kamado grill, then you’ve probably come across the Big Green Egg brand. The brand specializes in smoking and long-cooking. And its natural hardwood lump charcoal like the Big Green Egg Natural Oak and Hickory Lump Charcoal stands true to its name.

This heavy-duty and double sealed bag contains 20 lbs of high-quality, eco-friendly lump charcoal. The charcoal is made from American oak and hickory, with oak being the dominant wood. It’s free from filler, chemicals, and treated wood so you know it’s pure.

Since it contains hickory, you can expect the flavor to be strong and a little bitter. I can imagine the aroma will be intense as well. Depending on your preferences and cooking expertise, it can survive more than 25 hours of smoking.

It comes in fairly large pieces, but inconsistency in size seems to be a concern for some users. According to one of the reviews I’ve read, the disparity in size makes it difficult to ignite and takes a long time to get going before you could even close the lid to begin maintaining temperature.

On the brighter side, it has a low spark and is overall of good quality. Many chefs regard it as a key ingredient that provides exceptional flavor.

Pros:
• High-quality and all-natural
• Works well with many smokers and grills
• Long burning period
• Low spark
• Eco-friendly
• Imparts a rich wood flavor
Cons:
• Inconsistency in size

Kamado Joe XL Lump Charcoal – Budget Pick

Kamado Joe XL Lump Charcoal

If you’re looking for a slightly more budget-friendly option, then you may check out the Kamado Joe XL Lump Charcoal. It’s made by one of the most popular grill makers for grillers and smokers.

This all-natural lump charcoal has a mix of different Argentinian hardwood trees including Guayacan, Guayaibi, Mistal, and White Quebracho. These are incredibly dense wood that the locals call ‘ax breakers.’ And the best part about all these is that the charcoal is ecologically processed.

This lump charcoal comes in a 20-lb bag of large chunks, making it ideal for long cooking for up to 18 hours. The maximum temperature that this natural hardwood lump charcoal can burn is roughly 1100 degrees Fahrenheit.

It adds a rich wood taste to your food, which indicates that it contains some oak, despite being a blend of Argentinian hardwood. The flavor is not overpowering, but it offers a little something more to the flavor profile of your meat.

In the bag, you’ll find small to medium-sized pieces. It’s a common complaint among users but Kamado Joe suggests using the smaller chunks for better ignition. But most of the lump charcoal are fairly large.

Pros:
• Made from a mix of naturally sourced Argentinian woods
• Long burning hours
• Imparts a rich flavor but it’s not too overpowering
• Cheaper than other charcoal brands
Cons:
• Comes with small pieces

What Makes Lump Charcoal the Best Choice for Smoking?

Lump charcoal is simply burnt or charred wood that goes through carbonization. It is made from sawmill wood or unprocessed limbs and branches. Barbecue fans and serious smokers prefer lump charcoal over regular charcoal because they have a more natural flavor.

Lump charcoal allows you to shift temperatures quicker and more efficiently than natural briquettes. You can easily up or reduce the temperature by paying attention to where they are and the quantity of charcoal you’re burning.

Sure, it will all burn up eventually. But the most crucial consideration here is how the charcoal burns.

Briquettes

This type of charcoal is carbonized, but it is produced from sawdust and scrap wood. This isn’t necessarily a negative thing, but it requires a lot of additives to get the pieces clumped together. You may even smell some of the additives instead of a strong smoky aroma while you grill.

Lump Charcoal

Lump charcoal comes from burning chunks of wood. It basically goes through the same carbonization process as charcoal briquettes. The woods are burned in an oxygen-deficient setting (usually vacuum-sealed). They are burned until there’s nothing more than pure carbon pieces.

What makes it different from briquettes is that it’s made of actual chunks of untreated wood.

Briquettes vs Lump Charcoal

While they seem to look the same, briquettes and lump charcoal are actually different in various ways. Switching to lump charcoal provides you with faster lighting and hotter temperature ranges. It also allows you to easily adjust the temperature.

Lump charcoal is ideal for high-heat searing and grilling, as well as adding the richest flavor. Briquettes are preferable for regulated, low, and slow smoking. But if you’re using a Kamado-style station, lump charcoal will be your partner.

Briquettes contain additives, which is why the purity of lump charcoal makes it so popular among dedicated smokers and grillers. I also think that using lump charcoal is an integral part of the organic trend.

Things To Consider in Finding the Best Lump Charcoal for Smoking

Before getting that bag of flavor-rich lump charcoal, there are a few things you must look into. Consider the type of food, size, and burning temperature of your preferred charcoal product. It’s also great to look into customer reviews. Doing so gives you insights into what to expect from a particular product.

In the meantime, let me talk you through the different key factors you must keep in mind to find the best lump charcoal for smoking.

Wood Type and Flavor

The overall quality of charcoal comes down to one factor: its purity.

You don’t want anything that has lighter fuel, or else, your food will taste more like propane, instead of the rich, smoky flavors of the wood used.

Lump charcoal gives a delectably mild flavor. The beauty of smoking with charcoal is that you can experiment with a range of nuances and distinct flavors depending on the type of wood it’s been made of.

Fruit Woods

Some of the most common types of fruit woods used in lump charcoal are apple and cherry. These fruit woods generate a steady flame, but not one that is particularly hot or long-lasting.

But if you want a sweet and delightful flavor that penetrates your meat, apple and cherry are a wonderful option. Apple and cherry lump charcoal also impart a little richer flavor.

Standard Hardwoods

Oak, maple, and hickory are three of the most common hardwoods in the production of lump charcoal. Hickory and maple are so commonly used in the curing of bacon. So, a combination of these woods produces a mildly sweet but very intense and rich bacon-y flavor

Oak, on the other hand, provides less when it comes to flavor. It is more like the mainstay of the trio, allowing for a long burn time as the other woods infuse your meat with lovely rich flavor.

Combining the three kinds of wood is occasionally a touch of pecan. But you need to be careful when you use it as it can lend a bitter taste.

Quebracho

Quebracho is a South American wood that translates basically to “ax breaker” due to its density. Since this wood is essentially a working man transformed into charcoal, many high-quality lump charcoals like the Kamado Joe XL Lump Charcoal are packs of partly or entirely quebracho woods.

It’s a popular wood for barbecuing not just in South America, but all throughout the world. Charcoal made from quebracho burns for a long time. It creates adequate smoke without being overpowering or greasy. And, it offers superb long-lasting heat, which makes it ideal for all types of barbecue.

The sole downside is that it lacks flavor alone. This is why you’ll see products from quebracho mixed with other woods.

Binchotan

Binchotan doesn’t offer a unique flavor. But the wood’s raw performing prowess makes up for the lack of unique flavor that you’d want in your meat. Charcoal made of binchotan is typically hard to find, but it’s definitely worth splurging if you can buy it for a reasonable price.

If you’re looking for charcoal that burns long and hot, this wood is another option you can count on. It also has extremely high carbon content and superior heat retention.

Mesquite

Mesquite charcoal is a common approach to grilling steaks since they burn hotter and longer than regular charcoal. It’s a wonderful choice for meat, but the flavor might be too overpowering for fish and poultry as it can fully overpower their inherent milder flavors.

This wood can exist alone but also works well in bunches. It offers a fantastic flavor and is best coupled with meats that can bear such a robust flavor.

You can compare it to hickory, but it is stronger. Overall, it tastes good, delivers excellent burns, and is a staple of the Southwest barbecue tradition.

Sources and Quality

When you shop for lump charcoal, make sure you do so mindfully. You must verify whether or not the product is made from responsibly sourced hardwoods. The best lump charcoal for smoking is made of hardwood and has no fillers, additions, or binders. And, it doesn’t spark a lot while you smoke.

Burning Temperature

The temperature at which each type of hardwood lump charcoal burns varies. Apple, for example, burns at 1190 degrees Fahrenheit, while maple burns at 1200 degrees Fahrenheit. WIth varying burning temperatures, consider vetting your fire differently. And this will depend on the type of wood used.

Size

The best smoking lump charcoal comes in bags with mostly large, consistent wood-shaped chunks. Keep in mind that the larger the pieces, the longer and hotter they will burn.

Some bags also have charcoal dust at the bottom, which is not an indication of good charcoal since they can put out a lot of sparks while you cook.

Packaging

Lump charcoal is often sold in large, eco-friendly paper bags. These bags are mostly safe to burn, making it easy for you to dispose of once you’ve used up your supply.

Certain brands, like Jealous Devil All Natural Hardwood Lump Charcoal, offer resealable and waterproof bags. This is to provide an added layer of protection for outdoor cooking. This factor seems unimportant, but it makes all the difference in the environment and preserves your charcoal.

Best Lump Charcoal for Smoking FAQs

Is lump charcoal better for smoking?

Smoking your meat using lump charcoal adds a much more authentic and flavorful smoke to your meat. Since lump charcoal burns longer, you’ll only be useless. And although it is more pricey up front, it is cost-efficient in the long run since you’ll use less charcoal.

What’s the best charcoal to smoke with?

When it comes to smoking, it is best to use lump charcoal. This type of charcoal burns a lot slower than briquettes, and is ideal for long hours of smoking. Lump charcoal is often made from all-natural woods, which makes them perfect for charcoal grilling and smoking since they impart a more subtle flavor to your food.

Does lump charcoal make more smoke?

Lump charcoal is made entirely of natural hardwood wood. It is the closest you can come to smoking with hardwood without chopping logs. It burns hotter but quicker and has an uneven shape that might result in inconsistent burns. Hardwood lump that has been fully carbonized produces little or no smoke.

Which lump charcoal burns the longest?

The Big Green Egg Natural Oak and Hickory Lump Charcoal offers one of the longest burning periods of any charcoal on the market. Some reviews praise it for burning for as long as 25 hours. It appears to burn endlessly and leaves very minimal ash.

Many chefs love this lump charcoal due to its strong, woody flavor. It works very well with Big Green Egg and Kamado grills.

What burns hotter lump charcoal or briquettes?

Lump charcoal burns way hotter than briquettes. A briquette burning temperature may reach up to 800 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit. And a lump can reach temperatures of 1400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Which charcoal produces the least smoke?

Hardwood lump charcoal produces the least smoke. It is made from real pieces of burned wood and contains absolutely no additives, unlike briquettes. Lump charcoal is often twice as expensive as briquettes. The difference is that lump charcoal lights easier and creates a clean burn (less smoke and ash).

Does lump charcoal give smoke flavor?

Lump charcoal is made from hardwoods like elm, oak, and maple. It’s an excellent way to add a smoky flavor to steak, ribs, and poultry.

How do you break lump charcoal?

A hammer is an ideal tool for breaking apart huge chunks of lump charcoal.

Can you use lump charcoal in an offset smoker?

Yes, you can. Just add a decent amount of lump charcoal to the firebox to gear up an offset smoker. You can also use high-quality cooking wood or smoking pieces, but you’ll get better results if you start your offset smoker with only lump charcoal.

Final Verdict

So what’s the best lump charcoal for smoking?

My favorite is the Jealous Devil All Natural Hardwood Lump Charcoal. It’s easily the best for smoking due to its great smoky flavor and purity. It comes in large chunks that are easy to arrange in the grill. And I appreciate that it comes in very protective and eco-friendly packaging.

But if you want to get the best bang for your back, you may want to go for the Rockwood All-Natural Hardwood Lump Charcoal. It’s not the cheapest. But you get three packs of good charcoal, which is a great steal. This charcoal is made from all-natural hardwood, is eco-friendly, and improves the natural flavor of food.

For both seasoned chefs and beginners, the Fogo Super Premium Oak Lump Charcoal could be a wonderful choice. It boasts premium, restaurant-quality and works well with various grills and smokers. The pieces also come in consistent qualities and sizes. It works well in lending a mild wood flavor to meat but isn’t overpowering.

If you have a Big Green Egg grill, why not pair it with charcoal from the same brand? The Big Green Egg Natural Oak and Hickory Lump Charcoal is made from high-quality and all-natural wood and works well with many smokers and grills. It’s another eco-friendly lump charcoal option that imparts a rich wood flavor to food.

The Kamado Joe XL Lump Charcoal, on the other hand, is excellent for Kamado-style grills and it’s one of the most budget-friendly on the list. I love this lump charcoal because it’s made of a mix of naturally sourced Argentinian woods that imparts a nice smoky flavor but it’s not too overpowering.

I hope you’ve found the best products from my recommendations, and as always, good luck!

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