Know Which Charcoal To Choose For Grilling

With a long weekend never far away, grills and BBQs will always retain their rightful spots in yards and on decks. Before you choose your big bag of charcoal, read up on what distinguishes the lump variety from briquettes.

Photo by Robert S. Donovan.

Foodie blog Serious Eats asks hamburger fans which charcoal they grill their burgers with, though they leave off the even-more-hardcore option of wood entirely. We briefly visited the lump/briquette debate in our guide to Memorial Day grilling mastery, but an older reference piece linked to at Serious Eats adequately sums up the differences between the two main varieties of charcoal.

Lump generally burns hotter and is more easily adjustable for fast cooking or slowed-down roasting, writes Joshua Bosel. Briquettes, it is suggested, are the "fast food of charcoal": easy to obtain and start, but a bit disturbing when traced to their source. If you're more concerned with just the cooking, here's the pro/con breakdown:

Lump charcoal Pros: Lights quickly, burns hotter, little ash production, easier temperature adjustment, all natural Cons: Burns faster, more expensive, less consistent (bags can contain unusably small pieces of charcoal)


Briquettes Pros: Burns longer, easier to maintain consistent temperature, cheaper Cons: Longer to light, chemical smell, large ash production

What kind of grilling are you planning to do this weekend? What's the most reliable setup you've used, or what do you plan to upgrade to, some day when you're not so busy?

Grilling Smackdown: Lump Charcoal vs. Briquettes [Serious Eats]


    Webber Q FTW! Gas BBQs are the bomb, why wait for stuff to heat up and ash to go everywhere when you can turn it on and off like an oven? I still get a smoky flavor with my Webber :D

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