Briquette vs Lump charcoal is a very popular topic that is very often brought up among the BBQ enthusiasts. Most beginners have problems choosing and don’t really know what is actually better. Today I will try to explain the upsides and downsides of both types of charcoal so that you can be sure which of them will be the best for you.
So don’t waste any more time and find out below about when the lump charcoal is better and when it is briquette. What’s the difference between them ? The place of origin, the price etc which you’ll learn all about in this guide. After reading it all you will certainly be able to make your own decision about what type of charcoal suits you the best.
Your Charcoal is of the best quality ?
Before I move on to describing the upsides and downsides of a particular type of charcoal I’d like to emphasize that no matter what you choose, you should always put the quality first. There are many websites where you will find info on particular products which will make you confident in your purchase, I really recommend visiting the Naked Whiz website where you will find a large database of ratings and reviews for type of charcoal.The quality and type of charcoal influence the speed of lighting up, price, speed of burning down and obviously the natural content which is presence or absence of chemical additives
Lump Charcoal vs Briquette Comparison
For those who have no time for or interest in reading the whole article, I have prepared a table where I briefly summarized all the upsides and downsides of both types of charcoal. If you wish to learn more about a particular upside or downside, on the other hand, then read about it below.
Lump Charcoal – upsides and downsides
This type of charcoal is preferred by many mostly for being more natural than any other type of charcoal. Lump charcoal is manufactured out of leftover wood from many places, like manufacturers of furniture, floorboards, construction materials etc. It is manufactured by burning wood without oxygen present, there’s plenty of methods that you can read about here.
It lights up much faster and reaches much higher temperatures, the downside of faster burning is the necessity of adding more charcoal. Try to buy lump charcoal from manufacturers who offer bigger chunks which will make the burning process slightly longer.
It is natural ( doesn’t contain any additives ) which means it produces much less ash. ( A very important advantage for kamado owners ).
Reaching high temperatures is an upside whereas frequent temperature fluctuations require experience and in many cases make it impossible to cook.
This type of fuel works very well for quick grilling ( like with steaks or hamburgers ) where high temperature is very important. It is not a good choice, on the other hand, for grilling a whole chicken or turkey. High temperature and its fluctuations require adequate experience and cooking techniques ( it is a good idea to experiment with different cooking zones ).
When it comes to fire configuration, it is definitely less versatile, it is hard to make use of it to cook using the snake method for example. Of course it is possible if you properly prepare charcoal pieces although it will be less effective than when using briquette.
A large downside of lump charcoal to many is its price, compared to briquette it is significantly higher.
Personally, I highly recommend it for quick grilling on a regular charcoal grill and for cooking on a kamado grill mostly due to producing very little ash. Still, if you’re planning to cook thicker slabs of meat or simply smoke meat then it is not the right type of charcoal.
Briquette – Upsides and Downsides
It is made of mix of sawdust / shavings and leftover wood from different facilities, and then pressed into a single form. In most cases, briquettes used to have traditional additives added that helped shape their form, influenced the speed of lighting up and controlled the speed of burning down.
Today it’s easy to buy briquette that is fully natural and free from negative additives. If it’s important to you then for a slightly higher price you can buy a bag of briquette made of full natural wood.
It takes much longer to light up and reaches lower temperatures but once it gets burning its time to burn down is significantly longer and it can maintain a close temperature for many hours. Briquette is recommended when you know that you’re going to be cooking for many hours and need to easily maintain a fixed temperature for many hours without having to add more charcoal all the time.
Its shape and consistency allow to distribute heat evenly inside the grill. It is great for creating different cooking zones by using the direct or indirect cooking methods ( very good for smoking ).
There are many self-igniting bags of briquettes coated with a special substance (lighter fluids or other chemicals ), such solution encourages clients by claiming that the briquettes lights up fast and easily. I definitely advise against such solutions because all the chemical substances added to such briquette can be smelled for a long time. There are much better methods to light up natural briquettes just as fast and easily without any toxic chemical additives.
The last huge upside to many people is significantly lower price compared to lump charcoal. For those who cook a lot, it might make a huge difference.
Does the type of grill make a difference to charcoal ?
In most cases it doesn’t, but there are kamado grills that don’t have much space for ash, a bigger amount of ash can clog the lower air vents which has a huge impact on the whole cooking process ( less oxygen = temperature drops ). That’s why all manufacturers of kamado grills recommend using high quality lump charcoal that produces definitely much less ash. You can also use briquette, but make sure that it is 100% natural because it is all those additives that cause much more ash to be produced in briquette.
Other than that, both types of charcoal work great in majority of grills and smokers without any problems.
So in conclusion, for quick grilling I recommend lump charcoal which is what I use most often, but in many cases briquette is better when I plan to cook meat for longer time and to create temperature zones ( like when using the snake method or simple two/three zone method ). Briquette also allows me to distribute the heat evenly and gives me a better temperature control.
But when we’re talking about briquette, I’d like to remind to only choose the top quality briquette. Plenty of cheap offers contain different additives in the briquette’s composition so if it’s a problem to you then you need to know that there is briquette that is free from any additives.