7 Best Lump Charcoals For Less Ash, More Flavor

Tara Williams

Food Writer & Editor For KitchenSanity

Tara Williams is a seasoned food writer and editor who's been with KitchenSanity since its beginning. With a knack for experimenting with food and creating delicious recipes, she's your go-to for straightforward kitchen advice and practical tips from personal experiences. As a mom of two, Tara understands the value of time. She crafts articles that enhance your cooking skills and free up time for what matters most—like family moments.

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Have you tried getting that authentic smoky flavor in your grilled dishes but can’t quite nail it?

That’s where lump charcoal comes into play. It’s the secret many grill masters swear by to achieve that genuine wood-fired taste.

Like home cooks, I used to ask, “Isn’t all charcoal the same?” Nope! Lump charcoal is the real deal, made from pure hardwood without additives or binders.

Of course, not all lump charcoals are crafted the same.

In this guide, you’ll get the lowdown on my picks of the best lump charcoals on the market and how to choose them to elevate your grilling game.

Best Charcoal For Kamado Joe

Kamado Joe Big Block XL Lump Charcoal

Kamado Joe KJ-CHAR30LB Big Block XL Lump Charcoal, 30-Pound, Black

Reasons To Buy:

  • 100% Natural Hardwood
  • Ideal For Both Quick Grilling And Slow Cooking
  • Reusable
  • Made From Guayacan, Guayaibi, Mistal, And White Quebracho Woods
  • Large Lump Size

Reasons To Avoid:

  • Potential Inconsistent Lump Size
  • Packaging Issues

The last thing you want is any artificial stuff messing with your food’s flavor. The Kamado Joe Big Block XL Lump Charcoal is made from 100% natural hardwood. The mix of Guayacan, Guayaibi, Mistal, and White Quebracho woods brings unique flavor.

Whether you’re in the mood for a quick seared steak or a slow-cooked brisket, this charcoal can tackle it. You don’t need different charcoals for different dishes. It’s sort of a jack-of-all-trades charcoal.

Once you’re done grilling, just close your grill vents if there’s charcoal left. The charcoal snuffs out and is ready for round two or three the next time you’re up for some BBQ action.

But, before you get to the good stuff inside, there’s the packaging. You might find the inner plastic bag a bit tricky to handle. It might tear too easily or be a bit stubborn to open.

So, when you’re gearing up for a BBQ, maybe have a container on hand to store any leftover charcoal, just to sidestep any potential packaging snafus.

Overall, the Kamado Joe Big Block XL Lump Charcoal is my favorite lump charcoal for grilling and smoking.

Best Charcoal For Big Green Egg

Big Green Egg Natural Lump Charcoal

BIG CP 20-pound bag of natural lump charcoal

Reasons To Buy:

  • Made From 100% Natural American Oak And Hickory Lump Charcoal
  • Specifically Designed For Your BGE
  • Large Bag Is Good Value
  • Consistent Temperature Control For Both Grilling And Smoking.

Reasons To Avoid:

  • Small Chunks Of Charcoal

Big Green Egg lump charcoal is 100% natural American oak and hickory. That means no unwanted stuff like fillers or chemicals. Just pure, hardwood goodness. When you’re grilling, this makes a world of difference.

Now, if you’re into smoking meats (and who isn’t?), this charcoal’s got your back. It burns consistently, allowing you to maintain that perfect temperature for hours.

And speaking of burning, it lights up pretty quickly without a chimney starter, usually ready in about 10 minutes.

However, it seems bags contain a lot of small chunks. These tiny pieces of lump charcoal can sometimes block airflow, especially when used with other types of grills. So, you might want to keep an eye on that and sort broken pieces before you dump them in your BGE or similar type of charcoal grill.

With current Big Green Egg prices, you’ll want charcoal that is budget-friendly, easy to use and gives a great flavor to your food.

So, if you own a BGE or are considering buying one, I think this charcoal is worth considering to help avoid wasting time and money with any other brand.

Best Low Spark

Springbok Braai Lump Charcoal For Grilling

Springbok Braai Premium Quality Lump Charcoal for Grilling - Hardwood Lump Charcoal for Smoker, Outdoor BBQ Grill - BBQ, Grilling, Outdoor, Natural, High Heat, Long Lasting Acacia Wood - 1x8.8 lb Box

Reasons To Buy:

  • Produces Significantly Fewer Heat Sparks
  • Fast Ignition & Low Ash
  • Made From 100% Pure African Hardwood
  • Packaging Is Designed To Protect The Charcoal From Breakage

Reasons To Avoid:

  • Price

Springbok Braai Lump Charcoal is made from high-density African hardwood, which means it burns hotter and lasts longer than your average charcoal. Plus, the reduced spark generation ensures you can grill safely.

The charcoal lights up quickly, and the minimal ash means easier cleanup.

And let’s not forget the packaging. The box design is not only to protect the charcoal from breaking but also super convenient with its easy pour spout.

However, it’s expensive compared to my other picks for what you get in a box. This only comes with 8.8 pounds of lump charcoal.

Still, I think Springbok Braai is worth considering if you’re looking for a new brand to test out.

Best Overall

Royal Oak Lump Charcoal

Royal Oak 195228021 15.4# NAT Lump Charcoal, 15.4 lb

Reasons To Buy:

  • All Types Of Grills And Smokers
  • Made From Renewable Oak, Maple, Walnut, And Hickory Hardwood
  • Quick Readiness
  • Long Burn Time

Reasons To Avoid:

  • Size Of Charcoal
  • Price

Royal Oak Lump Charcoal is made from a blend of renewable hardwoods like Oak, hickory, maple, and walnut. This means you’re getting a 100% natural product that’s free from any nasty chemicals or additives.

And the best part? It’s suitable for all types of grills and smokers. So, this charcoal can be used if you’ve got a kamado, ceramic grill, or a classic BBQ pit.

Plus, it’s ready to go in just about 15 minutes. No more endless waiting around for the charcoal to heat up. And if you’re planning a long BBQ session, a bag can burn for up to 18 hours, giving you plenty of time to grill to your heart’s content.

However, no product is without its flaws. Some reports mention that the charcoal pieces are a bit on the smaller side, causing them to burn faster.

I think Royal Oak Hardwood Lump Charcoal is a solid choice, but make sure to compare prices before making a purchase.

Best Binchotan Charcoal

Ippinka Binchotan Lump Charcoals

IPPINKA Binchotan BBQ Charcoal from Kishu, Japan - 3lb of Lump Charcoal

Reasons To Buy:

  • Made from Japanese Oak
  • All Natural
  • Long Burning
  • Very Clean Aroma

Reasons To Avoid:

  • Pieces Can Be Small And Narrow
  • Expensive Price

This charcoal is made from Japanese Oak, which is renowned for its top-notch quality. When you’re using this, you’re ensuring that no nasty chemicals are coming in contact with your food.

Plus, it burns for an impressively long time, so you won’t be constantly refilling your grill.

One of the standout features is its clean aroma. Do you know how some charcoals can overpower the taste of your food? Binchotan charcoal like this does not do that, which is one of the reasons it’s used across Japan.

And if you’re the type who hates waste (who doesn’t?), you’ll appreciate that you can reuse this charcoal if you store it right.

Aside from the price, another important factor to consider is the size of the charcoal pieces.

Japan’s grills are usually very shallow and narrow, unlike big backyard grills in the US. So these charcoals are usually a bit on the smaller side, which might not be ideal for all grills.

Best For Heat

Cowboy Southern Style Hardwood Lump Charcoal

Cowboy 13518 Southern Style Hardwood Lump Charcoal, 18 lb

Reasons To Buy:

  • Kiln-Dried Southern Hardwood
  • Higher Carbon Content
  • Natural Flavor
  • Produces Less Ash

Reasons To Avoid:

  • Availability

When you’re gearing up for a BBQ, the last thing you want is a charcoal that’s more fuss than fun. Cowboy Southern Style Hardwood Lump Charcoal is a natural heat source, so you’re not introducing any unwanted chemicals to your food.

However, it’s essential to manage your expectations. While it lights up quickly, even in cold conditions, it might not be the marathon runner of charcoals. So, if you’re grilling or barbecuing something that requires sustained high heat, you might need to keep an eye on it.

Remember, the smokiness primarily comes from the wood you use for smoking, like cherry or Oak. This charcoal is more about providing heat than flavor.

It’s a decent choice for quick grilling sessions, but for longer cooks, or if you’re after a strong smoky flavor, you might want to explore my other top picks. On the other hand, if you’re into smoking meats, this charcoal seems to be a favorite among the pros.

Best Sized Pieces

Fire & Flavor All-Natural Hardwood Lump Charcoal

Fire & Flavor Premium All Natural Hardwood Lump Charcoal - Lump Charcoal for Grilling - Lump Charcoal for Smoker - Clean Burning Oak and Mesquite Charcoal Blend - 20lbs

Reasons To Buy:

  • Blend Of Oak And Mesquite
  • Hand-Picked Between 2″ and 4″
  • 100% Natural Hardwood
  • Ideal For Both Grilling And Smoking

Reasons To Avoid:

  • Reports Of Inconsistent Quality

This isn’t your average charcoal. Made from a blend of Oak and mesquite, it promises a clean and flavorful burn.

One of the standout features is the size of the charcoal pieces. They’ve been hand-picked to ensure you’re getting larger chunks between 2″ to 4″, so you shouldn’t be sifting through a bag of dust and tiny chips.

However, keep in mind that there are some reports where users found inconsistencies in the quality, with bits of tree bark and charcoal dust in the mix. I chalk it up to humans making mistakes, and if you find a bag like that, return it.

When it comes to grilling, this charcoal lights up quickly and burns for a good while, giving you that consistent heat you need for perfect grilling.

And if you’re worried about overpowering your food with that smoky flavor, don’t be. This charcoal enhances the taste without taking over, so you get to enjoy the flavors of your dishes.

What To Look For When Buying Lump Charcoal

Quality of Wood:

When you’re on a budget, it’s tempting to go for the cheapest option, but the quality of wood in your lump charcoal plays an important role in the outcome of your grilling.

burning lump charcoal in starter

The type of wood not only affects the burn time and heat but also imparts a distinct flavor to your food. Always opt for hardwoods like Oak, hickory, or mesquite. They burn hotter, last longer, and give your dishes that rich, smoky flavor you’re after.

You should steer clear of lump charcoals made from recycled wood or old pallets. These might be cheaper, but they can contain harmful chemicals or paints that can taint your food’s flavor and could be harmful when ingested.

It’s always better to spend a little more for quality lump charcoal than to compromise on the safety and taste of your grilled meals.

Size Consistency:

You don’t want a bag full of dust and tiny pieces. Look for lump charcoal that has a consistent size, preferably medium to larger pieces. Consistent sizes ensure even burning and better temperature control.

Additive-Free:

Even if you’re trying to save a few bucks, avoid charcoals with additives or fillers. These can affect the taste of your food and might not be the healthiest choice.

Pure, all-natural lump charcoal is always the way to go.

Burn Time:

Longer burn time means you’ll use less charcoal in the long run, saving you money.

Since every brand markets its products differently, check reviews to see if the charcoal has a reputation for burning longer.

Ease of Lighting:

You don’t want to spend ages trying to light your grill or BBQ. Charcoals that light up quickly save you time, mean fewer failed BBQ attempts, and require less lighting fluids.

Minimal Ash Production:

Less ash means less cleanup. And let’s be honest. You’d rather relax than spend ages cleaning up. Charcoals that produce minimal ash will be your best friend.

Oh, if it’s windy, you won’t have to worry as much about ash blowing everywhere.

Remember, investing a bit more upfront in quality lump charcoal can save you money in the long run. It’ll burn longer, taste better, and give you a more enjoyable grilling experience.

Lump Charcoal FAQs

How long does lump charcoal burn?

Lump charcoal typically burns hotter and faster than briquettes. Depending on the quality and type of wood, it can last anywhere from 45 minutes to over an hour.

Why does lump charcoal pop?

Lump charcoal can pop due to the moisture and sap present in the wood. When these elements are heated rapidly, they turn to steam, causing the wood to crack or pop.

What is hardwood lump charcoal?

Hardwood lump charcoal is made from dense woods like Oak, hickory, or mesquite. It’s favored for its ability to burn hotter and impart a rich, smoky flavor to your food.

How do these brands make bags of lump charcoal?

Lump charcoal is created by burning wood without oxygen, a process called pyrolysis. This removes most moisture, sap, and other volatile compounds, leaving behind pure carbon-rich charcoal.

How do I store lump charcoal?

You should store lump charcoal in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. Ensure it’s in a tightly sealed container or bag to prevent moisture absorption and prolong its shelf life.

Written By Tara Williams

Tara Williams is a seasoned food writer and editor who's been with KitchenSanity since its beginning. With a knack for experimenting with food and creating delicious recipes, she's your go-to for straightforward kitchen advice and practical tips from personal experiences. As a mom of two, Tara understands the value of time. She crafts articles that enhance your cooking skills and free up time for what matters most—like family moments.

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