Our Top Picks
Best Overall: IPPINKA Kishu Binchotan BBQ Charcoal at Amazon
"Made from Japanese oak and is said to burn longer and hotter."
"Great for new users who are just getting used to the fuel."
Best Value: Rockwood Lump Charcoal at Amazon
"A great value for those who will be doing a lot of grilling or barbecuing."
Best for Smoking: Jealous Devil All Natural Hardwood Lump Charcoal at Amazon
"Has larger pieces with less dust and residue."
Best for Spark-Free Fire: Fogo Super Premium Hardwood Lump Charcoal at acehardware.com
"Made from wood trimmings, so it’s also good for the environment."
Best Multi-Sized Chunks: KamadoJoe Hardwood Charcoal Box at Amazon
"Users say the box includes a variety of sizes from medium to large."
Best for Low Smoke: Pok Pok Thaan Thai Style Charcoal Logs at Amazon
"It’s low-smoking charcoal, which is great for balcony cooking."
01 of 07
Best Overall: IPPINKA Kishu Binchotan BBQ Charcoal
Many users say that Binchotan lump charcoal is the finest to be found, and it’s worth its premium price. Made from binchotan wood (Japanese oak) grown in Kishu, Japan, this is said to burn longer and hotter than other types of charcoal. This is due not only to the type of wood, but also the processing, which burns the wood at an extremely high temperature followed by very fast cooling.
This wood can spark, so a spark arrestor or screen should be used when lighting it when using a charcoal chimney, and the area around the chimney and grill should be free of combustible materials.
02 of 07
Best Budget: Royal Oak All Natural Hardwood Lump Charcoal
Royal Oak Lump Charcoal is affordable and is great for new users who are just getting used to the fuel, and it’s also popular with experienced grillers who like the smoky flavor. This is made from oak, hickory, maple, and walnut.
This offers more smoke than some other brands, can be easier to light, but it also can burn slightly faster. Some users have found that the quality can be inconsistent with bits of rock or metal appearing in the bottom of the bag, although many other users have had no issues at all.
03 of 07
Best Value: Rockwood Lump Charcoal
While not the least expensive lump charcoal you can buy, this is highly rated by users, and the three-pack of 20-pound bags reduces the price significantly, so it’s a great value for those who will be doing a lot of grilling or barbecuing. It has consistently been voted the best by websites and chefs, and it’s often used by competitive barbecue teams.
This charcoal is made from hardwoods harvested in Missouri and includes oak and hickory as the majority of the product, along with some maple and pecan wood. This boasts a rich aroma from woods that offer a desirable flavor in the smoke, adding a pleasant flavor to the food. The wood is not purposely cut for charcoal. Instead, it is leftover wood that was cut for other uses, so it’s good for the environment as well as for your grill.
04 of 07
Best for Smoking: Jealous Devil All Natural Hardwood Lump Charcoal
One of the top selling points for this charcoal is the re-designed bag that protects the charcoal better in shipping, so there are larger pieces and less dust and residue. It’s a small thing, but it makes a difference when fire hits the coal.
The coal itself is made from South American hardwoods that users say is similar to oak, but lacking the unpleasant bitterness that sometimes creeps in. The flavor is smooth and mild, so it won’t overpower the flavor of your food, even with long, slow cooking. The wood is purposely selected for coal making and is hand-cut and hand-fired in brick kilns built onsite for that purpose. The largest and most intact lumps are chosen, for a consistent product in each bag.
This wood also sparks less than some other types, so it’s a bit safer and less dramatic to light and use.Continue to 5 of 7 below.
05 of 07
Best for Spark-Free Fire: Fogo Super Premium Hardwood Lump Charcoal
Made from Central American hardwood, this is made from wood trimmings, so it’s good for the environment. The pieces are hand-selected, with the best chunks going into each bag for consistent performance.
Using Fogo’s lighting method, with a paper towel soaked with vegetable oil at the bottom of the chimney, this can be ready in as fast as 15 minutes, but it might take longer to get to maximum cooking temperature. Users have noted that Fogo’s pieces are larger than what they get from other brands, and in some cases, they’ve broken large chunks with a hammer for cooking. These large chunks are great for long cooking, and like other brands, the leftover wood can be lit and used again.
06 of 07
Best Multi-Sized Chunks: KamadoJoe Big Block Natural Lump Hardwood Charcoal Box
Made from Guayacan, Guayaibi, Mistal and White Quebracho hardwoods from Argentina, known as “axe breakers” because of their hardness, this wood is roasted in outdoor ovens to create the lump charcoal. The result is clean-burning wood with flavorful smoke.
Packed in a box rather than a bag to protect the charcoal during shipping, according to users, this includes pieces in a variety of sizes, with large pieces filling the box, and medium and small pieces as well. While some users prefer to use all large pieces for long cooking sessions, the smaller pieces light faster and are good for quicker cooking foods like steaks and burgers, since there’s no need to extinguish large pieces to save them for later cooking.
07 of 07
Best for Low Smoke: Pok Pok Thaan Thai Style Charcoal Logs
Made from sustainable orchard-grown rambutan fruitwood, this is marketed as an alternative to binchotan charcoal. This is low-smoking charcoal, so it’s great for balcony cooking when you don’t want to send smoke wafting into the neighbor’s space.
The formed logs are more consistently sized than what you’d find with more traditional lump charcoal, so they’re ideal for hibachi cooking or small grills since you won’t need to break larger pieces to fit.
Because of the low smoke and low odor, users have had success with these in indoor grills as well as for outdoor use, and the light flavor makes them good for mild-flavored foods where excess smoke would be overwhelming.