Smoking with lump charcoal as a fuel really is at the pinnacle of real charcoal smoking performance. Compared to briquettes, lump charcoal burns much hotter, produces less ash, and naturally has no additives. If you’re going to use a top-of-the-line fuel for your charcoal smokers, it’s best to use top quality, 100% natural hardwood to help you get the best result possible. Let’s look at how the leading brands measure up as the best lump charcoal for smoking.
What Makes The Best Lump Charcoal For Smoking
No Additives & Natural Hardwood
Some lower quality charcoal may have included additives, such as lighter fluids, or chemicals. Although these are designed to burn more quickly or to add specific flavors, the additives impart unpleasant flavors in the meat, are bad for the environment, are unhealthy, and can also wear and stain the cooker
Top quality lump charcoal is 100% natural hardwood, with no additives at all. Add your favourite flavor of 100% natural dried wood chips or chunks to the charcoal while smoking. Be sure to check out the best flavors of wood for smoking chicken, ribs, turkey, or any of your favourites to get the best out of it.
Lights Easily & Burns Hot
Different woods, and therefore different charcoals, naturally have different burning and combustion properties. Top quality lump charcoal should be able to light and heat up within 15-20 minutes.
When cooking at low temperatures, you want the charcoal to burn consistently, and be long lasting enough to at least last for lengthy smoke sessions. Lower quality charcoals sometimes last around 8 hours, high quality 100% natural hardwood lump charcoals should last for 14-18 hours+.
Quite often you’ll find cheaper and lower quality charcoals breaking down more easily. Sometimes you’ll even find a lot of useless dust at the bottom of the charcoal bag. Usually top quality lump charcoals will come in medium size pieces, not varying too much in size. If you do find larger chunks, it’s best to break them down just to help them burn more evenly.
The Amount Of Ash
Nobody likes cleaning up after a feast. Different charcoals leave varying amounts of ash. Lump charcoal usually doesn’t produce the most excess ash, and tends to be easier to clean-up. However, we did consider how much ash these lump charcoals did leave, and took it into consideration for the reviews.
What Is The Best Lump Charcoal For Smoking?
Best Overall: Jealous Devil 100% Natural Hardwood Lump Charcoal
- Very long lasting, 18-20+ hours for low and slow smoking
- All natural and 100% pure South American Hardwood
- Can burn very hot, max temperatures of 1170°F
- The natural smokey taste is quite subtle
OverallJealous Devil’s lump charcoal really is leading the market for top quality lump charcoal. It’s naturally long lasting, which makes it great for both short and long smokes. It burns evenly and easily, and also produces minimal ash for an easy clean up. Although other lump charcoals have a slightly stronger smoky taste to them, the overall quality and performance of this lump charcoal is well worth it.
Runner-up: Rockwood All-Natural Hardwood Lump Charcoal
- 100% natural hardwood blend
- Burns clean and with very little ash
- Some reports that it can spark as it heats up
The all natural hardwood blend of Missouri oak, hickory, maple, and pecan gives it a nice natural smokey flavor. It burns clean and leaves very little ash to clean up. There are, however, a few reports of sparks when it’s first lighting. As this can potentially happen with most lump charcoals, it’s not overly concerning. The overall value and quality makes it a great lump charcoal for smoking.
Best Affordable Lump Charcoal: Fogo Super Premium Hardwood
- Great value for money, very affordable
- Great natural smoked flavor
- Light easily and consistently
- Some pieces are a bit larger, so it’s recommended to break these down before use for a consistent temperature and consistent smoke
OverallGreat quality at an affordable price. It burns well at lower temperatures, and has a nice natural smokey flavor. Burns reasonably long, around 16 hours consistently. Fogo Super Premium Hardwood bags do come with a few larger chunks that are recommended to be broken down just to help with a more even smoke.
Easy & Simple: Cowboy Hardwood Lump Charcoal
- Simple, natural hardwood
- Great charcoal flavor
- Lights easily
- More chips and dust in the bag than other options
Although Cowboy is all natural, burns clean and also easily, there tends to be a bit more chips and dust in the bag than other leading brands. You can still rely on Cowboy hardwood to burn well and produce a decent smoke, but it’s not outstanding quality. This lump charcoal standard, easy to use, and hot-burning lump charcoal great for any short, medium, or long smokes.
Best Lump Charcoal for Kamado CookersKamado style cookers are designed to be great at both grilling and smoking. Therefore, the best lump charcoal for Kamado cookers, should be versatile and designed for both high temperature grilling, and low and slow smoking. Make sure to look out for a high-quality natural hardwood that can burn well at both high and low temperatures, and doesn’t leave too much ash, such as Jealous Devil Natural Hardwood.
Storing Lump Charcoal
Lump charcoal is very vulnerable to the elements, and easily absorbs moisture. To ensure the charcoal burns easily, evenly, and consistently it’s best to store your lump charcoal in a dry location, ideally sealed in a container to not let any air in.