Whether you’re smoking a full chicken, or grilling succulent sirloin steaks, cooking on a Kamado style cooker is a glorious experience. When you’re dealing with a top quality cooker, you want to be sure you’re using the right fuel.
Lump charcoal for Kamado cookers should be all natural hardwood, for clean smoke and to help keep the durability of the cooker. It should burn well at high and low temperatures, be long-lasting, and of course, decently affordable. The quality of charcoal can vary a lot, so let’s look at what makes the best lump charcoal for Kamado cooking.
What Makes A Good Lump Charcoal
Natural Ingredients & Hardwood
Avoid using charcoals with any additives or chemicals. These are sometimes supposed to help it burn more easily or quickly. Unfortunately, the taste just doesn’t compare to 100% natural hardwood lump charcoal. The additives or chemicals in the smoke can also wear and stain the cooker.
Lights Fast & Burns Hot
Different woods and charcoals naturally have different burning properties. A good lump charcoal should be able to light and heat up quickly (within 15 minutes).
Quality natural hardwood lump charcoal should be able to burn for at least 4 hours at high, grilling temperatures, or 14 hours+ for lower, smoking temperatures.
Often enough, cheaper charcoals break down more easily. This is often why you can get a lot of useless charcoal dust at the end of the bag. Ideally you want medium size pieces, with no more than 25% difference in size from each other. Some charcoal is in larger pieces, so it’s a good idea to break these down a bit before use to help it burn well and evenly.
What Is The Best Lump Charcoal For Kamado?
Overall Best: Jealous Devil All Natural Hardwood Lump Charcoal
- 100% natural, and 100% pure dense South American hardwoods
- Superior burn, max temperature 1170°F
- Very long lasting, 4+ hours on open grills and 20+ hours in smokers
- Lighter smokey taste
A high quality lump charcoal that burns hot, is long lasting, and is a great for any size Kamado. Jealous Devils burns easily and evenly, and produces minimal ash which makes for an easy cleanup. Other charcoals can produce a stronger smokey taste, but overall jealous devil is still the best lump charcoal for Kamado cooker.
Runner-Up: Kamado Joe Hardwood Lump Charcoal
- Durable and slow burning (up to 18 hours and reusable up to three times)
- Blended 100% natural hardwood
- Quality charcoal burns easily
- Better for smoking than grilling
Very long lasting, being both slow burning and reusable making it an easy option. Still can burn hot, but the blended hardwood makes it more suitable for lower temperatures. Very high quality, and from a grilling brand their stuff about Kamado style cookers. This high quality hardwood also provides a great flavorful smoke. Definitely a solid contender.
Most Affordable: Fogo Super Premium Hardwood Lump Charcoal
- Very affordable fuel
- Extra hardwood smoked flavour
- Lights quickly and easily
- Comes with a few larger pieces that are more awkward to use unless you are using a larger Kamado unit.
Lights easily, and heats within 15 minutes ready for use. Burns well at higher and lower temperatures, and imparts a solid smokey flavour. Some of the larger pieces may have to be broken down before use to ensure it burns evenly. A much more inexpensive option, which definitely makes it the best affordable lump charcoal for Kamado cookers.
How Much Charcoal Should You Use For Kamado?
If using direct heat, i.e. grilling, you will want to half-fill the firebox, which will allow you several hours of high heat, with a good distance between the flames and the grill grate.
When using indirect heat, i.e. smoking, you will want to completely fill the firebox, which, depending on which charcoal you’re using, should last from 14-18 hours of low and slow heating.
If you’re using the extra large or small Kamado cookers, you may want to use this as a guide and make changes according to how well it burns and how successful the cook is.