Having an electric smoker always benefit you in many ways. Yes it’s an investment but the return is great. It’s our main objective while using a smoker to use best charcoal for smoking as we want the rich smoky flavor to have its roots deep into your food. When deciding which charcoal to use, it’s important to note your options. Remember, the charcoal you choose will affect the quality of meal. So, one should go for best lump charcoal or briquettes after noting all the factors.
Here, we will help you find the best charcoal for smoking available today. We will evaluate all the brands and present you with key aspects and features to make your purchase the best.
Best Charcoal for Smoking – Our Picks
Best Charcoal Overall
Kingsford Charcoal Briquettes
|1. 6 Packs x 2.8 lbs.
2. No lighter fluid needed.
3. Easy Lighting.
4. 100% authentic
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Kingsford Original Charcoal Briquettes
|1. 4 x 7.7 lbs. bags
2. Easy Lighting.
3. 25 % faster cooking.
4. North American Made
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Duraflame Cowboy Natural Hardwood Briquettes
|1. 1 x 14 lbs. pack
2. Hardwood Blend.
3. Even Heat.
4. Unique Shape.
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Wicked Good Charcoal Lump Bag
|1. 1 x 22 lbs. pack.
2. Hardwood Charcoal
3. All Natural Lump
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Jealous Devil All Natural Hardwood
|1. 1 x 20 lbs. pack
2. Waterproof Bag.
3. Pure Flavor
4. Superior Burn
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Best Lump Charcoal
Fogo Super Premium Hardwood Lump Charcoal
|1. Restaurant Quality
2. Lights Quickly.
3. Hardwood Flavor
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Kamado Joe KJ – Char Hardwood XL
|1. Robust Wood
2. Burns Clean
3. Extra Large Lump
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Best Charcoal for Smoking – Product Reviews
1. Kingsford Charcoal Briquettes – Best Charcoal Overall
Kingsford Briquettes comes in an easy light bag so no fluid is needed to lighten it up. You can light it simply with a match and start grilling. These briquettes are made 100% with natural ingredients. North American wood is used in these charcoal briquettes. The Kingsford Charcoal Briquettes burns for longer periods so not much needed even for long cooking.
Kingsford Charcoal Briquettes – Specifications
- Model: Kingsford Charcoal Briquettes
- Dimension: 18.5 x 10.5 x 7.38 inches
- Weight: 2.8 lbs.
- Manufacturer: Kingsford
Kingsford Charcoal Briquettes – Product Description
Kingsford charcoal briquettes are the best available in market overall. This Kingsford briquettes bag is known for steady temperature and easy handling. These are made from authentic North American wood to ensure authentic smoky flavors in food. It catches the fire quickly and keeps on for a long time. They are all natural and easy to use. You don’t need to spend extra bucks on lighter fluids for this wood charcoal.
The Kingsford Charcoal Briquettes are great at keeping your electric smoker consistent. These are also perfect for making your meat crispy. It doesn’t have any major problems but the directions can be tricky to some people if you call it a problem. It catches fire so quickly that the fire reach 12 inches in really quick time. You might feel some distinct odor while burning charcoal which can be unpleasant.
Users have found this bag of charcoal really helpful. These charcoal briquettes are very suitable for providing soothing smoky flavor to your meal. Whenever you have BBQ, you can rely on these Kingsford Charcoal Briquettes as they are very user friendly. They are particularly helpful for late night parties and events as they light rapidly and last longer.
Pros & Cons
- Long lasting
- Great for traveling
- No mess of any kind
- Highly affordable
- All Natural with no additives
- Consistent Heat
- High Flames
- Can have odor
It is an extraordinary product having multiple features. Not only that, the Kingsford Charcoal Briquettes is inexpensive and reliable. You don’t have to struggle at all for lighting it. The charcoal ensures the perfect heat to your food while grilling or smoking. Yes, the flames can get a bit high so a little care is needed. Overall, the Kingsford Charcoal Briquettes are the best available today.
2. Kingsford Original Charcoal Briquettes – Runner Up
For people who like fast and easy BBQ, this is the best choice for you. This Kingsford Original Charcoal Briquettes will never let you down. It is entirely US-made with no additives. It’s so pure that you’ll get the most authentic smoky flavor every time you use it. Kingsford claim that it’s the longest burning charcoal made in US so you are in luck.
Kingsford Original Charcoal Briquettes – Specification
- Model: Kingsford Original Charcoal Briquettes
- Dimension: 2.5 x 4 x 10.2 inches
- Weight: 8.2 lbs.
- Manufacturer: Kingsford
Kingsford Original Charcoal Briquettes – Product Description
This is again a great product from Kingsford. It attracts many customers with its great performance. It is the runner-up charcoal smoker in our list with just few margins. This Kingsford Original Charcoal Briquettes is also designed to fire-up quickly and incorporate organic ingredients to prevent the chemical flavoring. This is a US-made read wood charcoal which will be ready to cook in just 15 minutes after catching fire.
This wood charcoal made to easy light-up, have natural ingredients and produce smoky flavor. These pieces will be ready to cook in 15 minutes after lighting-up. The Kingsford Original Charcoal Briquettes are known for keeping it together rather falling apart. They don’t produce any mess for cleaning. For the best smoky flavor, it is advised to use lighter fluid. You are also required to stack the briquettes in a pyramid which will require some time.
If you don’t want to use lighter fluid, you can use a substitute like chimney starter for that. In this way the pure flavor will not be compromised and the charcoal would naturally give off. This wood charcoal comes at a reasonable price which is again great for budget conscious people. Since they produce less ash, they are suitable for those who do not want to spend much time cleaning up the smoker after a party.
Pros & Cons
- Smoky flavor
- Natural ingredients
- Ready to cook after 15 minutes.
- Evenly heats for a long time.
- Burns great.
- Used for odor removal.
- Have some powder.
- Lighter fluid needed.
Kingsford Original Charcoal Briquettes is your choice if you are looking for something budget friendly. Not only that, it is easy to light-up and cook. It also provide steady temperature for a longer time during cooking session. The other important thing is that it doesn’t require much time for cleaning after you have done cooking. However, it does require using lighter fluid for getting the coals to light.
3. Duraflame Cowboy Natural Hardwood Briquettes
Duraflame Cowboy Natural Hardwood Briquettes provide long-lasting, even heating with authenticity, and the best smoky flavored experience. This wood charcoal is all natural with no additives, chemicals or fillers. This is where other standard briquettes lack as they have coal and chemical ingredients. Some even have fillers like limestone. So, one can discover the all-natural Duraflame Cowboy Hardwood Briquettes.
Duraflame Cowboy Hardwood Briquettes – Specification
- Model: Duraflame Cowboy 26014
- Dimension: 11 x 5.5 x 22 inches
- Weight: 14 lbs.
- Manufacturer: Duraflame Cowboy
Duraflame Cowboy Hardwood Briquettes – Product Description
The Duraflame Cowboy lump charcoal 26014 has all the things one wish for in a charcoal briquette. Certainly the list of best charcoal briquettes is incomplete with this wood charcoal. You can light-up your grill within seconds with Cowboy 26014. It’s a unique pillow shape wood charcoal which distributes heat quickly and evenly. It’sGOo hardwood blend ensure that you get the most authentic flavors while having your meal.
These briquettes are naturally made of 95% hardwood coal and 5% vegetable binder. Other than that, there are no added fillers. This means you only need a little bit of Cowboy lump charcoal 26014 to start the proceedings as it will go a long way. You don’t have to face any hardships as this wood charcoal burns cleaner ultimately decreasing ash production.
Another plus point of this hardwood briquette is that it is very suitable for all outdoor cooking appliances. You can use it with kettle-style BBQ, barrel grills, and smokers. This hardwood lump charcoal comes in 14 lbs. packaging which means it is enough for multiple uses. It is recommended to use single packet for a lot of product so you’ll be disposing less wrapping waste.
Pros & Cons
- Quick ignition
- Even heat distribution
- Good smoky flavor
- Difficult to find in physical stores.
Duraflame Cowboy 26014 is a worthy Cowboy lump charcoal to get your hands on it. Many people loves it for different reasons. Some love its unmistakable smoky flavor while others are a fan of its even heat distribution. The smoky flavor produced by Cowboy 26014 is the need of every cook to bring out in all their dishes. Its pillow shape makes it an even better wood charcoal than most standard ones.
4. Wicked Good Charcoal Lump Bag
Wicked Good Charcoal is a perfect example of an all-round wood charcoal. It is a proven choice of many consumers for fast, hot grilling, or for long slow cooking. Wicked Good Charcoal is an excellent non-sparking charcoal for smoking and grilling and the chefs love it. It is easy to light and burn for long hours. It is a pleasant flavored charcoal which is enough to be noticeable giving the meal its aroma.
Wicked Good Charcoal Lump Bag – Specifications
- Model: Charcoal Lump Bag
- Dimension: 24 x 6 x 14 inches
- Weight: 22 lbs.
- Charcoal Type: Hardwood
- Manufacturer: Wicked Good Charcoal
Wicked Good Charcoal Lump Bag – Product Description
This wood charcoal has a lot to offer for your smoking and grilling needs. It is known for the long and hot burning capability. The Wicked Good Charcoal Lump Bag is made from 100% authentic and genuine products and hardwood so it catches fire without any issue. The wood charcoal makes smoking very easy along with giving the meals its distinct aroma which was missing previously. It is a hardwood lump charcoal which is hot burning and low ash.
Yes, most of the manufacturers use all natural ingredients, but this wood charcoal has the distinction that it is also eco-friendly. You can be absolutely sure that your money is well spent on this Wicked Good Charcoal Lump Bag. The amount of chips and dust is very low with this charcoal. It is a good reason why this wood charcoal lump is included in best charcoal for smoking list. There is a sense of smoked perfumed aroma which is why it is differentiated from other brands.
You can’t control the size of lumps which can be from small to very large. A drawback associated with this charcoal is that sometimes, it produces too much smoke while lighting the first time and there seems to be no other way of stopping it. It tends to take a little more time to get lit which means proper air flow is necessary for it. The biggest advantage of this wood charcoal is how well it maintain low temperatures without sparking and popping.
Pros & Cons
- Long-lasting and burning
- Quick spreading of charcoal
- Burns well with proper airflow.
- No dust and ash
- No sparking and popping
- Easily maintain low temperature
- Takes more time to light.
- Varying size and shapes of lumps
To conclude, this charcoal is good enough at maintaining low and consistent temperature throughout the grilling session. Made from hardwood, it produces immense smoke in order to provide smooth and crispy, smoky flavors. All in all, you won’t find any better option on the market to go with your smoker.
5. Jealous Devil All Natural Hardwood
The name fascinates, isn’t it? Jealous Devil All Natural Hardwood burns really hot and cooks faster. It gives the meal that subtle earth flavor which you want. It is prized treasure from South American soil. It has 100% natural sourcing and leaved the hardened charcoal resistant to pops and sparks. The ash and waster is also very limited so no cleaning fuss. Make it an accent to your dish without the worry of overpowering your carefully crafted recipes.
Jealous Devil All Natural Hardwood – Specification
- Model: Jealous Devil All Natural Hardwood Lump Charcoal – 20LB
- Dimension: 20 x 10 x 14 inches
- Size: 1 – 20LBS
- Manufacturer: Jealous Devil
Jealous Devil All Natural Hardwood – Product Description
With Jealous Devil All Natural Hardwood lump charcoal, you get large chunks and hotter burn i.e. twice as hot as a traditional charcoal. This is why Jealous Devil Charcoal review always come in handy. The burns are also thrice longer than traditional. These charcoal lumps are on the more dense side. Jealous Devil claims there wood charcoal lumps to be “Pure as Heaven”. Given its brand name, it can seem a bit contradictory but it isn’t.
There is no question regarding its heat production which is very high (almost a 1000°F). It is such hot because of ultra-dense 100% natural hardwood which burns 7000 cal/g energy to be exact. The name is Jealous but the charcoal definitely comes clean considering its qualities. There are no sparks, pops, snaps and flare-ups of any sort. It offers a pure consistent burn right through your smoking and grilling.
This wood charcoal doesn’t cause much ash and soot mess so cleaning isn’t an issue. It also means you can get the most fuel by burning even small amount of this charcoal lump. Now, considering the smoking flavor everybody wants, the Jealous Devil adds just perfect smoky flavor to your meal without overpowering its natural taste. This woody and smoky flavor is one of the main reason of popularity for this charcoal.
Pros & Cons
- Produces great heat
- No difficulty to light
- Easy temperature control
- Burns very clean without any mess
- Provide consistent heating
- Little small pieces according to some people
Jealous Devil All Natural is absolutely an amazing all natural smoking essential. There are a lot of promising features this wood charcoal offers. You get the high heat production in affordable price. It is also a great choice for outdoor cooks. There are no problems regarding its lighting which is very easy.
6. Fogo Super Premium Hardwood Lump Charcoal – Best Lump Charcoal
This hardwood lump charcoal is hand-picked, extra-large size charcoal for your smoke or grill. This large size ensures a very long and slow burn in your smoker. It is the foremost choice of users when they need the best lump charcoal for grilling and smoking. It is entirely made from natural ingredients and resist sparks during grilling. It also burns faster and last for longer period of time.
Fogo Super Premium Hardwood Lump Charcoal – Specifications
- Model: Super Premium Lump Charcoal
- Dimension: 20 x 9 x 14 inches
- Weight:6 lbs.
- Manufacturer: Fogo
Fogo Super Premium Hardwood Lump Charcoal – Product Description
This best lump charcoal stands out for its easy lighting and great burning efficiency. This charcoal is made from pure hardwood without any additives and chemicals. There are no problems regarding sparks and excessive smoke production so everything is good. It’s bit costly than others but definitely worth its cost. There are numerous reasons for this wood charcoal to be called as best lump charcoal.
This charcoal possess a delicious hardwood smoky flavor with best quality as each piece is handpicked. It lights quickly and burns hotter than other standard charcoals. You don’t need any lighter fluid to burn this charcoal. It is ideal for all meats as it has the quality of both slow and fast cooking. There will be no sparks when the charcoal is burnt and smoking will be negligible. Still the smoke will form steam the meat drips onto the lumps.
A drawback associated with this premium hardwood lump charcoal is that it will leave copious amounts of ash. The size of charcoal can also trouble some people as well. It is best at maintaining consistent temperatures and providing the required smoky touch to your meals. It is a highly recommended lump charcoal but if you are on a tight budget than don’t go for it.
Pros & Cons
- All natural
- No sparks
- Great consistent cooking
- Burns very hot
- Leaves some ash.
If you are searching for best lump charcoal, you have to consider the Fogo Super Premium. It will deal best with your grilling and smoking requirements. If you are willing to spend some extra money, than this product is definitely for you. Overall, this product is 100% natural and works best for your smoking needs.
7. Kamado Joe KJ – Char Hardwood XL
The last one but not the least in the list of best charcoal for smoking is the Kamado Joe KJ – Char Hardwood XL. Fire and smoke are the two defining characteristics of incredible kamado cooking. The Kamado Joe Big Block XL Lump Charcoal is crafted by Argentinian artisans to create charcoal that’s not only significantly larger, it’s noticeably better – better burn times, better flavor, and better smoke.
Kamado Joe KJ Char Hardwood XL – Specifications
- Model: KJ – Char Hardwood XL
- Dimension: 14 x 4 x 30 inches
- Weight: 20 lbs.
- Manufacturer: Kamado Joe
Kamado Joe KJ Char Hardwood XL – Product Description
Kamado Joe is a famous contender for Big Green Egg which is the leading smoker brand. This brand offers exceptional lump charcoal aside from the iconic red cookers. This lump charcoal labels itself as “world’s largest big block premium lump charcoal”. Perfected for reliability and consistent quality, the range of premium fuels and tools makes it easy to fire up and flavor your Kamado Joe.
Kamado Joe have a claim that they worked with Argentinian artisans to make a mixture of 3 hardwoods which they names as Axe-breakers. These 3 hardwoods are Guayacan, Guayaibi, and Mistal. The next step was to roast them in ovens to create the ultimate Kamado Joe KJ – Char Hardwood XL. This big block is made from a blend of dense lumps which burns together and smokes best. These lump charcoals can be used three times so really justifying the price.
Pros & Cons
- Lights rapidly
- Burns very hot
- Blend of great lump charcoals
- No sparking
- A bit expensive
Kamado Joe 100% Natural Lump Charcoal is made from real trees so it burns clean and gives you a robust wood-fire flavor. Some other brands are made from scrap furniture or processed wood. This means less wood-fire flavor. Burns hotter for moister meats! Because Kamado Joe 100% Natural Lump Charcoal is made from hardwood, it burns hotter. This allows you to achieve steak- searing temperatures. Used in conjunction with a ceramic grill which insulates well, you’ll use less total heat to cook your food which means moister meats. Burns longer for better slow cooking!
Best Charcoal for Smoking – Buying Guide
To get the best cooking experience using wood charcoal, one needs to have close eye on few things. These things determine which charcoals are the quality ones and preferable. Here are some factors which will help you on buying best charcoal for smoking needs.
The type of charcoal required is exclusively dependent on the time you want to spend on smoking meals. Some wood charcoals and briquettes lights-up faster than others. Some charcoals have the capability to cook meals in just 30 minutes. It shows you the importance of time factor before buying the wood charcoal. So, be sure about your time frame than go for a suitable wood charcoal and briquette.
It is a general rule that a denser charcoal will be of more quality. It is because the denser charcoal will have longer burn time and will reach high temperature due to biomass in it. You can check the density by particle size of wood charcoal. If the particle size is small, it means that the charcoal is more dense and compact.
A lot of woods are there to make charcoal. The best one is actually the one that suits you. I personally prefer Mangrove and Mallee root due to their toned-down smoke production when burnt. Some other popular woods are Dakama, Hardwood, Mesquite, Apple, and Hickory. The smoky flavor entirely depends on the type of wood you are using.
Ash is basically the mineral content of charcoal. Ash can have many residue compounds like clay, silica, and calcium. These compounds are naturally occurring present in soil and plants. Their contents can vary but their presence is certain. Usually a quality charcoal is one having 3% ash content.
It is said that a good charcoal have moisture content between 10% to 18%. If it does, it will catch the fire rapidly. A lot of moisture presence means hard time to burn charcoal. If the moisture is too small, the charcoal will break into small pieces. The moisture content in charcoal depends on the feedstock species.
6. Water Resistance
It is pertinent that the wood charcoal doesn’t have hygroscopic properties. It should be kept safe from water if it contains binders which are water soluble. 50% lignite and 50% bituminous coal is the perfect balance of water resistance and mechanical strength of briquettes.
Lump Charcoal vs. Briquettes – Which is better?
Charcoal exists in two types i.e. lump charcoal and briquettes. Lump charcoal is made by burning woods while the other consists of byproducts and remnants.
Sometimes, the lump charcoal is considered bit advanced than briquettes. It’s made with hardwood so all natural ingredients so you get more authentic taste and crisp meal. It burns longer than briquettes so less is more. If it reaches the maximum temperature, it will back down to medium heat. Lump charcoal burns cleaner than briquettes but burns hotter so you need to adjust your air vents.
Briquettes are also a great choice as they burn all right and maintain a steady hot temperature. Usually they are made from saw dust including ingredients like coal. They are consisted on fillers to hold their uniform shape so you may need lighter fluid to light them up. Briquettes are cheaper than lump charcoal. They usually create more ash and residue than lump charcoal.
Also Read: Best Small Electric Smoker Reviews 
Best Charcoal for Burning – FAQs
1. How long does charcoal burn?
When you cook food using charcoal, it requires low and steady heat for a long time to have the best meal prepared. Usually, if charcoal is sufficient, it will burn longer. The charcoal filled in smoker will last two hours when left unattended.
2. How to make lump charcoal?
When you burn wood without oxygen for a certain amount of time, you will eliminate all water and plant juices from the wood, now you have ended up with lump charcoal. This material is entirely pure as no ingredients are added in this process.
3. Is it possible to add charcoal while smoking or not?
There is nothing wrong in adding charcoal while smoking but it will stretch out your work time. In order to avoid any such thing, it is always preferable to add lit charcoal. Make sure the lighter fluid is completely burnt off before you start cooking the food.