How To Choose Charcoal

BBQ 101

How To Choose Charcoal

Your Guide to Charcoal for Grilling

The type of charcoal you use for grilling matters significantly as it directly influences the flavor, heat output, and cooking duration of your food.

When it comes to grilling, charcoal is a popular choice because it imparts a unique and delicious smoky flavor to food.

Overview of the Different Types of Charcoal

The type of charcoal you use can have a big impact on the smoky flavor your food.

Starting with briquettes, these are the most common type of charcoal. They are easy to find at most stores, and they're affordable. They also come in a consistent size and shape, which makes them easy to use in a variety of grills and smokers. Briquettes are great when you're aiming for consistent heat and real wood-fired flavor.

Another type of charcoal is lump charcoal. Lump charcoal is known to burn hotter, which means you can reach higher temperatures. The inconsistent sizing of the charcoal means it is easier to move your grill from a low temperature to a high temperature or back down quickly. It also leaves less ash when you're done cooking.

Considerations for choosing between lump and briquette charcoal

1. Temperature Control:

  • Lump Charcoal: Lump charcoal burns hotter and faster than briquettes, making it ideal for high-heat grilling, searing, and quick cooking.
  • Briquette Charcoal: Briquettes provide more consistent and prolonged heat, making them suitable for slow and low cooking, such as smoking or barbecuing. They are easier to control for extended cooking sessions.

2. Burn Time:

  • Lump Charcoal: Lump charcoal burns relatively quickly, which is great for shorter grilling sessions. You may need to add more charcoal during longer cooks.
  • Briquette Charcoal: Briquettes tend to burn for a longer duration, making them suitable for extended cooking times without frequent refueling.

3. Cost:

  • Lump Charcoal: Lump charcoal is often more expensive per pound compared to briquettes due to its natural composition.
  • Briquette Charcoal: Briquettes are generally more cost-effective, and you'll often get more cooking time per bag.

4. Ease of Use:

  • Lump Charcoal: It can be a bit trickier to light and maintain lump charcoal because of its irregular shapes and varying sizes. However, it can be worth the effort for the flavor it imparts.
  • Briquette Charcoal: Briquettes are uniform in size and shape, making them easier to light and control, especially for beginners.

There are a ton of options on the market, so knowing what you're going to be cooking, what you're going to be cooking on, and your budget will really help you make the best decision in the type of charcoal that is going to work best for you in your backyard.

About the BBQ 101 Series

Susie Bulloch founded Hey Grill Hey in 2015 with one desire: to help people make better BBQ. Char-Griller and Kingsford partnered with Susie and Todd to bring you this series of content, BBQ 101, to help you become a better backyard bbq pro.

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