Lump Charcoal Review + Other BBQ Thoughts
Whether it's brisket, ribs, pork shoulder, brisket...okay, mostly it is brisket; having tasty meat ready to eat is a win for me! It seems like every time my hubby smokes meat, it gets better and better. We've searched high and low for the best kind of charcoal, shying away from briquettes and seeking out lump charcoal. I never knew that purchasing and testing out lump charcoal would be a hobby of mine!!!
So, this was news to me, but did you know real charcoal is actually just wood? I know, it makes sense but I had no idea until I saw the giant lumps coming out of the bag and I was thinking to myself how much it just looked like wood. Honestly, I don't know what I thought it was, but I didn't realize it was essentially tempered wood, haha. In this post I'll share the various types of charcoal we've tried, which we're sure we'll buy again, and also some really handy bbq tools!
Lump Charcoal thoughts:
Thaan Thai Style Charcoal - It looks so unique! Made of rambutan wood, it burns hot and super cleanly with minimal ash, for several hours at a time. They also recently added a lump charcoal made of mesquite and oak, stay tuned for a review of that in the future!
Gaucho’s Choice 20 lbs. Bag of Super Premium 100% Natural and Sustainable Hardwood Lump Charcoal for Grilling - unfortunately, I was only able to find this in a 3-pack and it is my least favorite. The 'flavor' of the wood comes through way too much on this for me for some reason. It is fine, and the barbecue tastes much better using this than some I've had out...but I can always tell when he smokes with this one. The 3-pack was a great deal though!
Springbok Braai Premium Quality Lump Charcoal for Grilling - this hardwood lump charcoal is made from natural, long lasting acacia wood. I think this one maybe works better for grilling than smoking meats for barbecue, but it is a nice charcoal with a white ash, which means high carbon content, and no additives or fillers. It has minimal sparks when lighting, and very little smoke.
Campirano Premium All Natural Hardwood Bulk Black Lump Charcoal - this one is okay, although not my favorite. It's amazing how the different lump charcoals can taste from brand to brand. The smoke had a stronger flavor than others, not quite as sweet and woody as some other oak charcoals.
FOGO Charcoal (Brazilian eucalyptus) - This is such an interesting charcoal and the smell and taste is different, but in a good and exotic way! We'd definitely like to try this one again, but it is rarely in stock!
FOGO Charcoal (super premium lump) - this truly is a premium charcoal. It lights well and has big chunks and the flavor is great.
Kamado Joe XL - this is probably one of my favorites - it's good taste-wise, but more because of the size. It really has the largest lumps! (see cover picture)
Frontier 100% natural hardwood lump charcoal - Not as good as a smell when burning compared to cowboy charcoal, but it is a close second. It had a lot of really big pieces of the lump charcoal though which was nice and burned cleanly with not too much ash. It's also a great price point.
Cowboy Lump Charcoal - this is one of our favorite Costco buys! It has good sized chunks, smells good when lit, and imparts the perfect barbecue flavor. This is our main go-to.
Olivette briquettes - These are the only briquettes that made the list, as I mentioned we prefer lump. However, these were worth a try as they're actually organic and made with olive pits, pulp, and pruned branches! They smell good when burning and are a great alternative, especially for a small grilling area where lump just won't do.
Welding gloves - Doing work over fire, it's always good to have a nice, long pair of gloves. These work great for working with the chimney starter.
Chimney starter - As much as my papa had grilled growing up, I'd never seen one of these! It helps get the fire going safely and quickly. We have two - one that must be poured from the top and a new one, that has a bottom release which is definitely preferred. The latter is safer, especially in the small side smoker, it's easier to release the button than to dump over into a tiny space.
Bourbon barrel wood chips - These worked well, if you want to try and flavor the meat with different chips. Personally, I'm a fan of the cherry wood my uncle gave us and prefer that over other wood chips (but of course, we're still up for trying them out!).
Drip EZ XL BBQ Prep Tub - once I saw this and couldn't resist getting it - with a bowl-type surface to season meat in, it also includes a lid for easy storing in the fridge for marinating over night (which we rarely do, btw) and keeping bugs out. After a wash and once the meat is done, the barbecue can be transferred safely back into the tub inside, and the sides collapsed down for a flat, easy cutting surface.
Butcher Paper - See the pinkish paper wrapping up the meat. We like this much better than aluminum foil, and the wrap works well to keep the juices in. The texture of the paper holds the juices and fat drippings without letting it leak out, and it doesn't burn up in the high heat. It works wonderfully and we'll for sure buy it again. It came in a large roll which was nice! The only thing is we don't have a nice roll dispenser for it, but it works just fine tearing or cutting it.
BBQ seasoning - all our rubs are homemade and mostly hand ground as well. Our favorite spices include: fermented white pepper, black pepper, garlic, clove, + cayenne from this company! Also Icelandic Salt (affiliate code: SB10) and chili powder. A great nightshade-free version is making it more like a jerk spice blend, subbing in things like clove, cardamom, allspice, cumin, or nutmeg for ingredients like cayenne, red pepper flakes, chili powder, etc.
The process (behind the scenes):
Have you used lump charcoal? What's your favorite? Tell me your barbecue insights in the comments. Thanks for reading and as always, #GetSatiated!