Choosing the Right Charcoal

Aside from wood chunks or wood chips, used primarily during smoking or to infuse a particular flavor like hickory or apple, the charcoal you use in your charcoal grill does matter. In this blog post, we offer some quick facts about each to help you make the decision.

Lump Hardwood Charcoal

Lump hardwood charcoal is made of actual chunks of hardwood. It burns down cleanly and offers intense heat. Since it is all wood, you have the option to switch up flavors.

Folks prefer this option because it’s natural and contains no additives. It also lights very quickly and responds well to oxygen, so it can be easily controlled with dampers.

As a result, some drawbacks are that it burns much faster which may compromise temperature control and is more expensive than briquettes.

If you’re using lump charcoal to cook something you mainly want a sear on, their high heat capacity is perfect, however if you’re using them for something that needs a thorough cook, you’ll want to bring the temperature of your fire down so they don’t burn out too quickly or the outside of your food doesn’t cook too fast.

Charcoal Briquettes

Charcoal briquettes are made from wood and fragmented materials and additives to keep their form. They are cheaper and more readily available than lump charcoal.

Since they don’t burn as fast or as hot as lump hardwood, they also burn for a longer period of time. We recommend using the Char-Griller charcoal chimney to light these rather than lighter fluid. Lighter fluid can cause your food to taste bad and could cause severe injury if used incorrectly.

Drawbacks tp briquettes are the additives and the fact that they become very ashy as they burn, causing a more demanding clean up process. Instant charcoal briquettes are briquettes that have been pre-soaked in lighter fluid. We don’t recommend using these unless you’re in a pinch or it’s the ONLY option available.

The fluid imparts a very chemical taste on food. We recommend using charcoal briquettes for meals that you know will take longer because their burn time is much longer than that of lump charcoal, allowing you to cook your food at a much more consistent temperature throughout.