What Is The Best Charcoal? (Lump Charcoal Vs Charcoal Briquettes) [September 2023]

In the barbecue world, there is a war going on.

It’s not about rub to use, your smoker or even what meat cuts you use !

It’s all about the style of charcoal that you are using. There is a lot of chatter if briquettes or lump charcoal are the better option.

Are you loyal to the lump or are you bonkers for the briquettes? We have put each through their paces and given a honest review on each.

So let’s go: Lump Charcoal Vs Briquettes.

should you use Lump Charcoal or Charcoal Briquettes

Lump Charcoal vs Briquettes (Let’s Settle This Fuel Debate!)

Briquettes ​​are reliable & cheap you can be found pretty much everywhere.

Briquettes are ​man made by-products compressed with additives and wood that help them light and burn consistently. A type of briquette is heats beads, they are made of similar products as briquettes.

Whereas lump is charcoal ​still in it’s natural form. You will find most old school pit masters ​ will almost always ​have a tendency to use it. ​It burns hotter, lights faster and leaves very little ​residue or ash compared to briquettes.

I find it hard to pick a favorite in this epic lump charcoal vs. briquettes battle!

They both come in handy at different times!

So, how will we settle this debate?

First we will look at the charcoal briquettes I use and recommend. Them we will look at the lump charcoal that I use. At the end your will find all my information about the two!

The Best Charcoal Briquettes Comparison Table

Lump Charcoal Name
(clickable link)
ImageCharlies Rating
Royal Oak Charcoal Briquettes Royal Oak Ridge Charcoal Briquettes4.9 / 5
Kingsford Matchlight Charcoal BriquettesKingsford Matchlight Charcoal Briquettes4.8 / 5
Stubb’s Charcoal BriquetsStubbs Charcoal Briquets4.7 / 5

The Best Charcoal Briquettes on The Market

If you’re looking for a tested way to get your charcoal burning to try the charcoal snake method, this helps ensure you have consistent heat from your charcoal for longer. Perfect if you have a grill and want to do a smoked beef roast.

Royal Oak Ridge Charcoal Briquettes

Royal Oak Ridge Charcoal Briquettes

The Royal Oak Ridge briquettes provide an incredibly consistent burn.

This is because they have a very uniform shape. They are also a little larger than most other briquettes, which means that you won’t use as much per cook.

Although they are larger than most, they still come to heat fast, in just over 15 minutes.

Even when cooking white fish these briquettes did not taint the flavor at all

Kingsford Matchlight Charcoal Briquettes

Stubb's Charcoal Briquets

Kingsford is the maker of the best-selling briquette ‘The Originals’.

In my eyes, the Match Lights are even better.

The Match Lights burn much hotter than any other Kingsford products and are ready to cook within a little over 10 minutes.

They are also made with natural ingredients and are shaped with more edges making them a real breeze to light initially.

Unlike a lot of other charcoal briquettes, they are not doused in lighter fluid so they do not taint the taste of lighter meats, like chicken or fish.

Frontier Jack Daniels Charcoal Briquettes

These is without a doubt the best smelling charcoal briquettes on the market.

As soon as you open the bag, you will be tempted to go buy more!

These little masterpieces are partnered with real pieces of authentic Jack Daniels oak whiskey barrels, so you know there is going to be an amazing flavor in these briquettes.

Stubb’s Charcoal Briquets

Stubb's Charcoal Briquets

Stubbs are my favorite charcoal briquettes. They are full of that classic southern BBQ flavor.

Another reason why I love these briquettes so much is that they are all-natural.

They are made up of 95% hardwood charcoal and 5% corn starch binder. This combination is environmentally friendly and chemical-free!

You really couldn’t ask for any better from a charcoal briquette.

The Best Lump Charcoals You Can Buy for Your Grill

Alright, now we looked at briquettes, lets jump into Lump charcoal. First, you will see a quick summary of the lump charcoal I like to use, then go in-depth on each one.

The Best Lump Charcoal Comparison Table

Lump Charcoal Name
(clickable link)
ImageCharlies Rating
Jealous Devil Lump CharcoalJealous Devil Lump Charcoal4.8 / 5
Fogo Premium Lump CharcoalFogo Premium Lump Charcoal4.6 / 5
Grill Dome CCL-20 Lump CharcoalGrill Dome CCL-20 Lump Charcoal4.4 / 5

Fogo Premium Lump Charcoal

Are you looking for a full-on deep smoke flavor?

Look no further than the Fogo. These little bad boys are brilliant.

They are guaranteed to burn hotter for longer. The chunks are very decently sized and that contributes to the fantastic smoke time.

They are a more premium product and I would recommend these for the serious cook!

Jealous Devil Lump Charcoal

Jealous Devil Lump Charcoal

Although Jealous Devil All Natural Lump Charcoal sounds like it came from the depths of hell, they definitely give off a flavor that tastes as they fell straight from heaven.

This charcoal is one of the longest burning charcoals around.

They are also 100% natural. You will be creating restaurant-quality BBQ with this stuff!

Grill Dome CCL-20 Lump Charcoal

Grill Dome CCL-20 Lump Charcoal

The Grill Done CCL-20 lump charcoal is perfect for those of you who are into your low and slow cooking, I like to use it in my charcoal smoker grill

It holds great heat, for a long time. They are a decent size and you can even reuse them!

They are a little bit pricey, although for the performance I feel this is appropriate.

And you can never go wrong with a 100% American-made product!

What Are Charcoal Briquettes? (Plus Learn They are Made)

Charcoal briquettes are made very similar to lump charcoal. However, there are some differences.

Briquettes are made from leftover wood and sawdust. Leftovers are mixed together with additives to create the briquettes. This process makes briquettes not pure wood.

The reason that the briquettes are mixed with the additives is primarily to help the materials bind together and create a uniform shape. 

This makes them easier to stack, store and package. There is a type of briquette called heats beads, they are popular in Australia.

In some brands, chemicals are added to the briquettes. This is to help light the briquettes.

Depending on the brand you can faintly taste a not so natural flavor in your meat. This is not so much the case for stronger meats such as duck or brisket but found to happen in white fish, or chicken.

Charcoal briquettes burn for longer than lump charcoal, however, they do not burn as hot. This is great for those who are planning on a low and slow cook.

You can find all-natural charcoal briquettes, these are fantastic, however they do cost a little more than the more traditional briquette.

Pros and Cons of Charcoal Briquettes

Charcoal Briquettes Pros

  1. Longer burn time.
  2. Cheaper than lump.
  3. Easier to light.
  4. Holds a steady temperature for longer periods of time.

Charcoal Briquettes Cons

  1. Produces more ash.
  2. Does take longer to light.
  3. Contains additives and chemicals.

What is Lump Charcoal? (Plus See What it is Made of)

Lump is charcoal that is still in it’s natural form. It is favored by BBQ purists. It burns hot and fast and is easy to lit.

What is Charcoal Made Of?

Charcoal is wood burned with little oxygen so that all that’s left is essentially carbon.

The product that you are left with is a charcoal lump that is far less harmful and left in a state that is far better for burning.

Due to the construction, lump charcoal also leaves very little ash behind. This is something that I really like. Plus it helps to keep your charcoal grill hot.

In general, it lights easier, faster, and hotter than briquettes. This is partly because lump charcoal is all-natural. It contains no fillers, additives, or nasty chemicals.

Another really good property of lump charcoal is that it responds really well to oxygen. This basically means that you can adjust and maintain the temperature of your grill much easier by simply adjusting the air vents.

Wondering exactly how it made? Well, lump charcoal is made up by slowly burning wood without oxygen, until the natural chemicals, moisture, and sap have disappeared from the wood.

Pros and Cons of Lump Charcoal

Lump Charcoal Pros

  • 100% natural product.
  • Burns very hot.
  • Easier to light.
  • Very little ash left over After cooking.

Lump Charcoal Cons

  • Faster burning – this means you go through more.
  • More pricey than briquettes.

What Is The Difference Between Coal and Charcoal?

Basically the difference between coal and charcoal is that coal is a natural mineral and charcoal is a man made substance.

A Breakdown of The Difference Between Charcoal and Coal (Charcoal vs Coal).

Coal: Coal is a natural mineral found in the earth. It is created from decaying plants and animals under the earth’s crust. This is a long process but is basically made by lots and lots of pressure and heat.

Charcoal: On the other hand charcoal is a man made substance produced by slowly heating wood or their similar substances.

What Are Some Charcoal Alternatives?

It is possible to get away with not even using traditional charcoal. There are several different kinds of charcoal alternatives out there. These alternative methods are all more environmentally friendly than traditional charcoal.

However, I have never tried any of these myself so I can not comment on how they perform. If anyone has any experience with these alternative methods please let me know down below!

Charcoal Made From Organic Waste

In the African country of Cameroon, local students have created an ingenious way of turning the city of Douala’s organic waste into charcoal. They collect organic waste from the cities overwhelmingly rubbish filled streets, shred it, then dry it in an oven to create charcoal.

This way of creating charcoal is a fantastic idea and something that I think should be thought about more here in the United States.

Charcoal Made From Coffee

In Ethiopia waste, the water part of the coffee bean from the coffee-making process is pressed into briquettes perfect for burning. These briquettes are used locally and also shipped abroad.

Charcoal Made From Poop

This may sound a little strange, but bare with me here. It is true that these briquettes are made form human excrement, however between coming out and being burnt they go through quite a transformation. This style of briquette production is mainly happening in Kenya, however could be implemented worldwide.

First off the human.. waste is left to dry out completely for 3 weeks. It is them bought up to a temperature of 1292°F which starts the process of carbonization. Sawdust and banana leftovers are then added to the mix along with fragrance and binders then pressed into circle briquettes. These briquettes are 100% safe and can be used for cooking.

Charcoal Made From Coconut Shell

There are several really good pros to coconut shell briquettes. Unfortunately they don’t give your meat a coconut flavor though.

Coconut shell briquettes actually burn hotter and longer than your standard charcoal briquette. They also have less carbon emissions than regular briquettes and the ash can be used as a natural fertilizer. What a win, win, win situation.

Wrapping it Up

I hope that this has helped you figure out your side on the lump charcoal Vs charcoal briquettes debate.

I find that both different styles have a place. Nowadays it’s great that you can find each style of ​charcoal additive and chemical-free. I feel much better using charcoal knowing I am not harming myself or my family.

If you have decided on a fuel, then you have to check out my charcoal smoking tips. This ​will allow you can impress your family and friends with ​your BBQ skills!


Author: Charlie Reeves
Hi, I’m Charlie, I am head taste tester at Simply Meat Smoking! I love it grilling, smoking, and getting out in the yard with the kids! The family also love to test all my recipes (especially my EXTRA CRISPY pulled pork, smoky pork loin, and ANY SEAFOOD I grill)

You will usually find me playing with the kids, perfecting my brisket bark, or sipping beers with boys around the fire. Can’t wait to share all my delicious smoking and grilling adventures with you!

You can read more on our About Us page.

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8 thoughts on “What Is The Best Charcoal? (Lump Charcoal Vs Charcoal Briquettes) [September 2023]”

  1. Charlie,
    I didn’t see the B&B product in your comparison. I saw them in our local grocery store. are they any good?


    1. Hey Prescott,

      Awesome question, I had only recently seen it myself! I told myself I was definitly going to give this lump charcoal a try and review it this summer (not much time left thought!!) I had a friend use it, he gave me the following info; he said it was a good long burn, gave a nice smoke flavor and produced a normal amount of ash. Did you end up trying it? I would love to know how this brand of charcoal went!

      Have an awesome weekend!!


  2. Hi there Charlie!!

    I fine some charcoals a bit heavy on the flavour, do you think that Jealous Devils is the best charcoal for a traditional charcoal taste? I am trying to find a cleaner grilling charcoal with traditional taste.


    1. Hey Pauline,

      Jealous Devils is one best types of charcoal if you’re looking for high quality and good clean bur. I also like that it has minimal sparks and great flavor!


  3. Charlie, have you tried the new harder charcoal? I tested it last week, bigger lumps and cleaner as the jealous devil but from the same quebracho wood and a better price.

    1. Heeeey Henry! I haven’t tried it yet! I’m planning on a big cookout with weekend so i’ll give it a try. Do you recommend any brand in particular? I love hearing what you guys are using at the moment


    2. Henry, saw your comment and bought two bags of the Harder Charcoal.
      Definitely bigger pieces as Jealous Devil and NO small pieces at a better price if you buy directly from them online, just the bags are not as nice as JD but they said would have new once soon

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