Hardwood Lump Charcoal – Our Top 7 Picks

Hardwood lump charcoal is being talked about a lot and many people have been asking about it. So we decided to do a little research to help people learn more. This article lays out the interesting details we found during our research.

It probably comes as no surprise to you that the barbecue industry in the United States continues to increase and with the recent COVID pandemic, it made a considerable increase and is slated to continue into the near future. One source we found, reports that the charcoal market in North America will reach $466.6 million by the year 2030.

Hardwood Lump Charcoal

What is Hardwood Lump Charcoal?

Hardwood lump charcoal is hardwood like oak, hickory, maple, walnut or pecan that has been baked, cooked, fired and kiln dried in an extremely hot, oxygen tight environment. As a matter of fact, it is a process that is hot enough to char the wood but not so hot that it burns the wood into ashes. All the moisture, sap, tar, hydrogen and other compounds are removed from the wood during this process.

Hardwood lump charcoal is the fuel source for the heat in your grill or smoker. However, because lump charcoal is still wood in a charred form, you can still get some of the wood flavor in the food.

We prefer using lump charcoal over briquette in our Masterbuilt Gravity Grill because it is cleaner, contains no additives and burns hotter.

Most of the lump charcoal listed below are made of renewable hardwoods which means that trees are not harvested to produce the lump charcoal. Rather, they are made from scraps left from timber milling.

Our Top 7 Picks of Hardwood Lump Charcoal 

1. Jealous Devil All Natural Hardwood Lump Charcoal

The charcoal comes from South American hardwoods and contains no fillers or chemicals. The smoky flavor it adds to food is very smooth and mild. The best part is it keeps the natural taste of the food intact and adds a mild flavor and aroma to it. The charcoal does not spark much and is safe for cooking in any grill, smoker or kamado that can use charcoal. Once started, it burns really hot and really long.

The lump charcoal sizes in this bag is very consistent, with very few small pieces. This has become a best-seller with many chefs recently. It comes in a waterproof, re-sealable package and can be purchased in 8, 20 and 35 pound bags. We like to use this brand in our Masterbuilt Gravity Grill as well as our Kamado Joe grill.

Jealous Devil All Natural Hardwood Lump Charcoal
Has become a best-seller with many chefs and comes in a waterproof, re-sealable package.

Last update on 2021-07-10 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

2. Kamado Joe Big Block XL Lump Charcoal

Too many small pieces of lump charcoal can burn too quickly. This charcoal comes in an ideal mix of fairly consistent sizes, from large to medium chunks with hardly any small pieces. It is appropriately named big block for one reason and that is because most of the chunks are big chunks. It gives you the ability to use it for shorter or longer cooking sessions, with the larger chunks helping especially with longer periods of cooking. It lights easily and does not spark, pop or crack when being lit.

It is made from a blend of Argentina hardwoods. So what does that mean to you? Nothing except that it provides a cleaner, hotter burn for a longer period of time. The charcoal adds a unique woodfire flavor to the food and is available in 20 and 30 pound bags. This is one of the brands we use in our Kamado Joe grill.

Kamado Joe Big Block XL Lump Charcoal
Provides a cleaner, hotter burn for a longer period of time and adds a unique wood-fire flavor to the food.

Last update on 2021-07-10 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

3. CHARBLOX Dragon Fire Bamboo Charcoal Logs

The CHARBLOX Dragon Fire Bamboo Charcoal Logs are made from recycled hardwood sawdust, including bamboo, and are a more eco-friendly option. Each log has a unique block shape that allows it to burn hotter than the other charcoals for periods up to six hours.

This charcoal comes in an 11 pound box with 18-22 logs in each box.

There is a classic option as well and that offers logs that are made from recycled fruitwood sawdust and is also available in an 11 pound box. To see the types of meat that fruitwoods pair best with, you can check out our article on selecting wood chips.

CHARBLOX Dragon Fire Bamboo Charcoal Logs
Has a unique block shape and provides a more eco-friendly option.

Last update on 2021-07-10 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

4. Cowboy All Natural Hardwood Lump Charcoal

It is made in Mexico from various types of hardwoods like hickory, walnut, maple and oak. It is made from a renewable resources and is eco-friendly. It contains no additives and is suitable for most grills and smokers that use charcoal. The charcoal burns cleaner, lights quicker and burns for a more extended period of time.

The lump charcoal sizes found in each bag vary from large to small pieces. It is commonly used and is available in 8, 14, 18 and 20 pound bags.

Sale
Cowboy All Natural Hardwood Lump Charcoal
Made from renewable resources and offers another eco-friendly option.

Last update on 2021-07-10 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

5. Royal Oak All Natural Hardwood Lump Charcoal

The charcoal is 100% all natural and comes from renewable oak and hickory hardwood. It is more of a bargain brand and is best for new chefs who have just started grilling food. It is easy to light and produces a hotter, more consistent heat for a longer period. There are no chemicals or additives to be concerned about and it can be used in most grills and smokers that use charcoal for fuel.

Most of the lump charcoal in each bag are consistently larger in size with fewer small pieces. It comes in bags of 8 and 15 pounds and can also be purchased in 2 or 3 packs for greater savings.

Sale
Royal Oak All Natural Hardwood Lump Charcoal
Made from renewable resources and is considered a bargain brand for new chefs who are just getting started.

Last update on 2021-07-10 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

6. FOGO Premium Hardwood Lump Charcoal

This charcoal is made from hardwood oak with no extra ingredients added. It is natural in its form and adds a pleasant oak flavor to the food. It lights up easily and typically is better for higher heat cooking in shorter periods of time. You may notice some sparking and crackling if you use a high heat lighter when lighting this charcoal, but it burns well once it is lit.

It comes in two different sizes, some are two to three inches in length, and some are one to two inches in size. There does seem to be a considerable amount of smaller size pieces in this bag.

The charcoal comes in 17 and 35 pound bags and can be used in grilling or smoking.

For longer smoking sessions, you’ll want to consider the FOGO Super Premium Hardwood Lump Charcoal. It comes in larger pieces of charcoal that are usually four inches or more in size that burn longer. This charcoal also burns really well once it is lit, but you may notice some sparking and crackling if you are using high heat to light this charcoal.

It can be purchased in 17 and 35 pound bags too.

FOGO Premium Hardwood Lump Charcoal
Made from hardwood oak with no extra ingredients and is also available in a Super Premium option for longer smoking sessions.

Last update on 2021-07-10 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

7. Rockwood All Natural Hardwood Lump Charcoal

It is charcoal made from a blend of hickory, oak and maple hardwoods grown in Missouri. It is an all-natural charcoal that contains absolutely no fillers or additives. It lights quickly, burns cleaner and hotter, but doesn’t create a lot of ash. It also seems to burn more quickly than some of the other charcoals. While this charcoal burns well after it is started, you may notice some popping and sparking when lighting this charcoal with a high heat lighter.

The lump charcoal in each bag are uniquely imperfect and mostly large to medium in size with fewer small pieces. It can be used in any charcoal grill, smoker or kamado and is sold in 20 pound bags. There is also an organic option that is available in a 10 pound size.

Rockwood All Natural Hardwood Lump Charcoal
Made from a blend of hickory, oak and maple hardwoods and is also available in an organic option.

Last update on 2021-07-10 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Why is Lump Charcoal Expensive?

Lump charcoal is generally more expensive because it is more costly to produce. Because it is kiln dried and made using hardwoods, the labor and raw material costs are more costly. Therefore, the manufacturers have to charge a higher price. Sometimes this can be a drawback to consumers.

Even with a higher price, there is a tremendous upside to using lump charcoal. We believe lump charcoal is the better option for the grills, smokers and ceramic grills because it lights quickly, it is a cleaner burn because it is made from 100% natural wood, it lasts longer, and it produces less ash.

Which is Better – Lump Charcoal or Briquettes?

While both natural lump charcoal and briquettes have their advantages and disadvantages, we prefer the lump charcoal.

The better lump charcoal is made from natural hardwood. It is not made with any additives, and because of this it burns much hotter and much longer than charcoal briquettes.

You will find some lump charcoal made from softwood, but it generally contains more sap that causes it to create more smoke. It will also produce more ash and will not last as long.

In contrast, briquettes are made from the ground up lump charcoal and have additives, binders and fillers mixed with it. All of these ingredients are blended together then pressed into uniform pillow-type shapes to create the briquettes. Briquettes take longer to light than the lump charcoal.

On the other hand, the lump charcoal burns hotter, letting the person use it in a smaller quantity. Some estimate that you will use 25-50% less with lump charcoal as compared to briquettes. Because there are no additives, lump charcoal creates less ash and gives a pure, woodfire flavor that is pleasing to most any chef.

How to Store the Lump Charcoal?

This is one of the most critical parts of the grilling process because it your lump charcoal gets wet, it will not light. So once you’ve bought your lump charcoal, it’s important to keep the bag sealed tightly and stored in a dry place.

While some charcoal comes packaged in a waterproof, re-sealable bag, it’s still a good idea to store it in some type of airtight container. You can place it in a storage bin or an empty can, but be sure that the container has a lid that closes properly so that it does not absorb any moisture. Always remember that humidity can cause major problems with charcoal.

If lump charcoal does get damp or wet, you may or may not be able to dry it out. You can try to dry it by leaving it in the sun for a several days.

Once you think the charcoal has dried out, you can attempt to use it by mixing it with some fresh, new, dry charcoal so that it gets hot enough for grilling or smoking. Be sure to put the fresh, new, dry charcoal on the bottom and the once damp charcoal on top, then light the charcoal on the bottom.

You will know if the charcoal is still damp as it won’t get as hot and will probably smoke more than usual.

Sale
Kingsford Kaddy Charcoal Storage Dispenser
Holds up to 55 lbs of charcoal, lump charcoal and pellets and comes with an air-tight, waterproof lid to keep things dry.

Last update on 2021-07-10 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Conclusion

We believe the secret to selecting the right hardwood lump charcoal is in finding a consistent mix of large to medium size chunks of lump charcoal, with a minimal amount of small pieces mixed in. Small pieces light faster but burn quicker while larger pieces take a little longer to light but burn longer. Some companies offer too many of the smaller pieces and not enough of the larger chunks.

Hardwood lump charcoal is easy to light and burns hotter and longer than charcoal briquettes. However, because of the irregular sizes with lump charcoal, briquettes may tend to burn more consistent.

We are not sure there is a right or wrong answer to your selection of hardwood lump charcoal or even your choice to use briquettes. Instead, it is more about what you prefer and like. You may want to experiment with several different options and you may even find that briquettes work better for you in certain situations.

It is most important to reach the safe minimum internal temperature with your food anytime you are grilling, smoking or cooking. To achieve this, we have found that having a reliable food thermometer is critical and you can find out more about that here in this article.