The best Big Green Egg cookouts always begin with the best BBQ lump charcoal fuel. Buy a bag or two of high-quality charcoal and you will enjoy a fire that starts easily, burns hot and clean, and lasts as long as you need it to with a nice smoky flavor.
Good lump charcoal will be dense hardwood that burns longer for sustained high temperatures with minimal ash deposits. Bad lump charcoal can hinder your air flow and prove costlier in the long run. Experiment with different brands and different flavors, but stick with bags that always lead you to delicious dishes and easy grill cleanups.
Some Charcoal Mistakes to Avoid
Before we get to the 10 picks for best lump charcoal products to start your backyard BBQ, here are a couple of things to avoid so you don’t get a lump of charcoal in your stocking this year:
- No briquettes for a Big Green Egg, even if they’re cheaper and omnipresent like Kingsford. They are composite products with sketchy binding materials that hold them together in their unique pillow shape. The filler leads to ash and airflow issues, a no-go for low and slow. Briquettes are fine for many other settings like a park or a kettle grill, and they wouldn’t be a catastrophe if you’re in a pinch. But why be in a pinch if you’re an Egghead?
- No lighter fluid whatsoever. That would give your food an awful fuel taste and will seep into the ceramics and be a long-term problem. Besides, starting is easy with SpeediLight or other charcoal starters.
- No starting over. Once those coals cool, you’ll have a nice supply of lumps for your next cookout and you can just supplement those after you shake out the ash.
- Avoid storing a pallet full of stacked bags, unless you are planning a major BBQ extravaganza with several grills or a BBQ competition or special event entry. Buy a bag or two. Long-term storage could invite humidity and like anything else, fresher is better.
10 Sure-Fire Lump Charcoal Bags to Buy
Fortunately there is an almost limitless supply of choices for quality lump charcoal to make the best BBQ recipes for your family. Based on user reviews, pitmaster preferences and some personal experiences, here are 10 of the best kamado cooker and smoker lump charcoal products that are always good bets for a terrific cookout:
If you’re smoking pork shoulders or a cattleman’s porterhouse monster cut, it pays to have a proven BBQ competition staple under the hood of your ceramic cooker. They say “a little goes a long way” and that’s the grill gospel. I bought the Hickory bag at my local Vision Ace Hardware dealer in St. Petersburg, Florida, so it’s easy to find. Will go for the mesquite next.
Always put big lumps on the bottom of your pile, and just keep going with these whoppers if you want. Crafted from one of the densest “axe-breaker” hardwoods anywhere in South America, this gets rave reviews in the BBQ industry and on Amazon. Even better, it’s affordable at a little over a buck a bag, which is a great deal for a prized lump charcoal solution. You can get a 35-pound bag for 40 dollars on Amazon as of this writing. Hot, long and clean burns, and the package is resealable with a convenient carry handle.
This is the first bag I bought when I scored a Large Big Green Egg recently. You can use it on any charcoal grill, even though it is produced by the Big Green Egg smoker brand. Big Green Egg says it “painstakingly sources our natural charcoal to ensure that it contains no fillers, nitrates, chemicals, treated wood or petroleum products.” I mainly like the shape of the lumps in varying shapes and sizes so it facilitates optimal air flow and high heat in the EGG.
For the best value, this 16-pound bag may be your best bet. In fact, you can get a two-pack ($35.98 on the company site) for almost the same cost of one similarly sized Big Green Egg charcoal bag ($31.99 at Ace Hardware). Masterbuilt charcoal has good food prep reviews on Amazon and is available at Home Depot among other places.
This 20-pound bag is a relative splurge at $37.99, but kamado ceramic cooker users are no strangers to splurging. Low-and-slow cooks will especially love Rockwood lump charcoal’s blend of hickory, oak and maple for a pleasant scent with ease of use and minimal ash buildup.
This is the brand’s nod to Brazil’s best steakhouses, which use this eucalyptus wood charcoal for a neutral profile and its claim to ignite fast and burn longer and hotter than most other hardwoods. Chefs like it hot and clean. The manufacturer says it is only sustainably grown wood that is taken from mills, with a process including soil and water preservation efforts and no deforestation.
You might encounter a little snap, crackle and pop when you light it, but few other lump charcoal can match the low-ash contents when you use the Cowboy brand’s long-lasting smoker charcoal. That makes for easier cleanup.
Many people think the best charcoal BBQ bag in the business is The Good Charcoal Company’s Acacia Hardwood Lump Charcoal, both for its actual fuel and its mission. The acacia is denser than oak and hickory and is sourced from Africa’s Namibian bush, one of the world’s hottest places. It burns hot, clean and evenly, and every bag you buy helps feed underserved Americans.
Speaking of social impact and sustainability, this charcoal lump maker is kind of special. It brings more jobs to rural South Africans and harvests invasive wood species. It’s not a large container ($21.99 for 8.8 pounds), but it hits all the standards Big Green Egg cooks expect to turn their BBQ into what locals call a “braii.” Maybe one to mix in as a foodie of the world.
Natural Canadian Maple lump charcoal has the mildest flavor profile of all Big Green Egg charcoal types. It is sourced from Canada hardwood forests and brings a subtle and sweet aroma to dishes like seafood, pork, vegetables and poultry.
Shop Around And Start Stacking
There are plenty more great choices, like my local Fresh Market lump charcoal or Royal Oak or the Big Green Egg’s rival at Kamado Joe. Whatever charcoal BBQ lumps you go with, just remember to close the vents after you cook and then your cooker will self-extinguish and a large quantity of those lumps will still be there and ready to rumble the next time you’re ready to fire up the grill.