Lump Charcoal vs. Briquettes for Barbecue Lovers

Who doesn’t love barbecue? We all do. Grilled food is the main highlight of every gathering. Either you are organizing a pool party, hiking trip, or a friendly get-together. Bonfire and barbecue are the main …

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Who doesn’t love barbecue? We all do. Grilled food is the main highlight of every gathering. Either you are organizing a pool party, hiking trip, or a friendly get-together. Bonfire and barbecue are the main attraction of every event. When it comes to grilled food, the lump charcoal vs. briquettes debate is a common one. If you are not an expert yet and are wondering how to improve the taste of your grilled food and what could be the impact of lump charcoal or briquettes on the taste of your food, we have got you covered in this post. We will be discussing the properties of each option and tell you which one is better for you.

So let’s begin our smoking debate!

Lump Charcoal vs. Briquettes

What is Lump Charcoal?

Charcoal for barbecue

When wood is burned without oxygen, all the moisture, chemicals, and sap are evaporated; the resulting product is lump charcoal. The resulting charcoal is less harmful as compared to wood and has better heating properties. The lump charcoal has the ability to light faster and burns hotter as compared to briquettes. Lump charcoal is made without additives or fillers, making it the cleanest and safest way to grill food. Another amazing property of lump charcoal is that it leaves very little ash behind and ensures the grilled food’s exact taste.

With lump charcoal, you have greater freedom to control the heat as it quickly responds to oxygen in the surrounding. To do this, your griller must have adjustable air vents. If you are using lump charcoal, you need to be very cautious about the temperature control as it burns faster and hotter than briquettes. It is best for the naturalists and people desiring to eat meat with the taste of meat and marination.

The wood source also impacts the quality of the charcoal lump. If the wood is used for making charcoal lump is not tainted or sprayed with any chemical or paint, it would give better results. Look for charcoal lumps that are unprocessed and comes from limbs, branches, or scraps from a sawmill.

Lump charcoal is perfect when you need high temperatures, such as 1200-1500 F for cooking steaks, grilling chicken pieces. It is not suitable for long cooking, such as grilling pork butt at around 700-800 F.

Just a pro tip: Don’t use lighter fluids or any starters to light the lumps. It will impart smell to your food and disturb the “pure” experience.


  • It gives a natural taste and aroma to your food.
  • Lights quickly
  • Burns hotter
  • Produces very little ash
  • Allows you to adjust the temperature with the help of griller vents


  • Burns quickly
  • Expensive than briquettes
  • May come with small pieces of charcoal.
  • Produces inconsistent temperature, which impacts the cooking time
  • Consumed more than briquettes

What are Briquettes?

Wooden briquettes for barbecue

Briquettes are made in the same way as the charcoal lump. Instead, sawdust and leftover wood are used in the process, and additives are added. The additives are added to hold the brunt wood together and give them some circle-square shape. This shape helps in stacking in the grill. The common additives used are limestone (imparts the color), starch (helps in binding), borax, and sodium nitrate (helps in ignition).

The addition of additives makes them burn at less heat than charcoal lumps but for a longer time. You may get a smell and taste the additives in light foods such as chicken and fish. The additives will burn at high temperatures, and you may smell them while smoking meat. If you are looking for briquettes, make sure you buy a reputable and high-quality brand so that you don’t get to experience smells and flavors.

Briquettes can burn steadily at a maximum temperature of 800 F and may reach up to 1000 F. They will not give scorching temperatures like a charcoal lump. The steady temperature makes it perfect for long cooking sessions, while the low temperature is suitable for cooking soft meats such as fish.


  • Can maintain a steady temperature
  • It Burns for a longer time than a charcoal lump
  • Inexpensive as compared to charcoal lump


  • Impart taste and smell to the meat
  • It takes a long time to start burning.
  • Produces a lot of ash

Can you mix Charcoal Lump and Briquettes?

Yes, you can mix charcoal lump and briquettes. If you mix them, you will get some benefits of both, and you would have to face a couple of problems. By mixing, it does not mean you have to add them together before burning. There is a little trick in it. Let’s look at it.

First of all, set a layer of lit briquettes on your grill and then add a charcoal lump on top of it. In this way, you would not waste small charcoal lump pieces as they will not fall. It will give you the benefits like getting high heat; it will avoid all the flavors from briquettes and lumps. It will also improve the burn tome of the charcoal lump. If you have a grill with air vents, you can control the burning temperature of the lump. Since the temperature will go very high, there is a huge chance that little negligence will result in a burnt meet. The mixing is not ideal for slow and long cooks.

Which one is best for you?

The choice between charcoal lump and briquettes will always depend upon your personal preferences. For all the natural taste and aroma lovers, the charcoal lump is the best. If you want your grill to change temperature quickly, then go for lump charcoals. For tuna steaks or things where you want high heat to cook the outside fully and leave them inside a bit raw, the lump would be perfect for you. For meat, which must be cooked all the way, briquettes are the best at a slow constant temperature.

Final Word

We have explained all the properties, pros, and cons of both. The final decision would be based on your preferences and the type of meat you are grilling.

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