Smoking and grilling is big business in the USA. From big barbecue competitions to the humble everyday cookout, there’s something magical about firing up a grill or smoker outdoors. In this article, we’re looking at the best lump charcoal for Big Green Egg for the best, easiest and cleanest cook.
|Big Green Egg 100% Natural Lump Charcoal||$|
|Jealous Devil All Natural Hardwood Lump Charcoal||$|
|Royal Oak All-Natural Hardwood Lump Charcoal||$|
|KamadoJoe Natural Big Block XL Lump Charcoal||$|
These cookers are exceptional quality, but putting the wrong fuel in them can be to the detriment of your cooking.
Risks of The Wrong Fuel
Natural charcoal is absolutely essential for a cooker like this. Big Green Eggs aren’t cheap, and they deserve only the best in terms of the charcoal you are using.
The fact is that a lot of the ‘easy light’ and fire lighting charcoals out there, while easy to get started with, are full of nasty chemicals that can taint the flavor.
What is the point in spending lots of money on the cooker, filling it with great meat and then introducing a product that is likely to leave a nasty chemical taint in the final product.
Not only are low quality charcoals and ‘convenience’ products like these bad for taste, they can leave a more difficult clean up afterwards and therefore in drastic cases they can even affect the lifespan of your Egg.
Big Green Egg 100% Natural Lump Charcoal
We couldn’t write this article without at least mentioning the charcoal recommended by the manufacturer. Though this is not one of the ‘best’ in our opinion, it is a useful frame of reference.
The charcoal is well sourced, with good quality hickory and oak wood. There are no artificial ingredients at all and the manufacturers have ensured that there is no limestone or treated wood which works its way into the product. This is very clean charcoal.
Of course, it is a big upgrade on charcoal briquettes, which is more or less true of any lump charcoal. It burns cleanly and doesn’t contain much wastage, unusable lumps or excess ash.
So why is it not one of our favorite woods? More than anything it is down to the price. There are plenty of other lump charcoals which are as good, or even better, available at a much smaller price than the official Big Green Egg charcoal.
There is no reason at all why you should have to use the ‘branded’ charcoal. Other brands will not void any warranties or have any negative effects. Just be sure you’re going for one of the best, all-natural lump charcoals as listed below.
Jealous Devil All Natural Hardwood Lump Charcoal
Jealous devil is slightly unusual in the wood that it uses. Many of the top charcoals out there use hickory or oak, but the Jealous devil brand, sourcing its wood from Paraguay, use a wood called “Quebracho Blanco”.
This wood has a reputation of being incredibly dense wood, which allow it to provide higher heats than a lot of the other lump charcoals. As well as this, it is unlikely to give off unwanted sparks and pops.
Although you may not need this to burn as hot as it is able to, the fact that this wood is so robust may mean you can use less charcoal.
The manufacturers have said on their product listing that you can use ¼ less than usual and get the same amount of heat.
As is our minimum criteria for all charcoals, it is made naturally, and doesn’t have any chemicals or firelighters which can work their way into the flavor.
When opening your bag of Jealous devil you will probably notice the large size of the charcoal lumps, meaning they can last a long time and burn nice and hot.
- You may be able to use less lump charcoal than other brands, with the same results.
- Less unwanted sparks than other brands.
- Totally natural with no chemicals or firelighters to ruin the flavor.
- Not made from the traditional woods such as Hickory or Maple.
- Can be difficult to light such dense charcoal naturally.
Royal Oak All-Natural Hardwood Lump Charcoal – Value Lump Charcoal
Royal oak is one of the most popular brands you’re likely to come across when it comes to lump charcoal. It is affordable and available all over the US.
The wood used to make this charcoal is good quality and uses traditional barbecue hardwoods such as hickory and maple.
These woods are wonderful for imparting their flavor on meat and other items you grill in your Big Green Egg.
This charcoal is very versatile. It has an even mix of sizes among the lumps including small, medium and large.
What this means is that the charcoal will do a pretty good job whether you are grilling or smoking in your Big Green Egg, whereas some of the larger charcoals may be more suitable just for smoking.
This is a responsibly sourced and made product. There are absolutely no additives or unwanted flavorings in this charcoal, and you can rest assured that the wood used is from 100% renewable sources.
Another big plus point, and one of the reasons this is such a popular lump charcoal is the price. This is a very affordable charcoal and can be found in some supermarkets and home stores as well as online.
- Renewably sourced wood.
- Next to no dust and waste. You get the amount you pay for.
- Burns quite hot for a blend of woods.
- Great flavor using traditional hickory and maple.
- Inconsistent sizes of charcoal lumps, not ideal for every type of cooking.
KamadoJoe Natural Big Block XL Lump Charcoal
Since the Big Green Egg is technically a Kamado style cooker, what better recommendation than a Kamado designed lump charcoal!
KamadoJoe is a brand which offer their own cookers, a rival to the BGE in many ways, but though the cooker itself might not be quite as good, the charcoal they make is exceptional, and superior to the Big Green Egg’s charcoal offering.
The lumps within are absolutely huge, hence it being called XL. This is particularly great for smoking, but is also a good option for grilling and other methods of cooking. With the KamadoJoe lumps, you can leave them burning for ages.
In fact, the burn time of this charcoal is 16-18 hours. Even a really long smoke can be done with no problems at all and not having to constantly add fuel.
One of the other big benefits is the fact that it can be reused. You can use this charcoal up to three times, so there’s no need to waste any even if you’re not doing a long cook, you can simply use it again next time.
This charcoal is made from an Argentinian wood. The lumps are hand selected for size, to ensure they meet the “XL” standard. This is a pure wood, with no artificial products or chemicals within which can ruin the flavor.
- The world’s biggest charcoal, great for smoking.
- Burns for 16-18 hours and can be reused.
- Natural and responsibly sourced.
- Can be hard to light due to its size.
Lump Charcoal vs Briquettes
Many people go through their whole lives thinking these are the same thing. They’re absolutely not, and if you’re going to master your Big Green Egg, only lump charcoal will do.
Lump charcoal is superior due to the process used to create it. It is made by burning wood with no oxygen, which removes moisture within the wood including unwanted chemicals.
This is the closest charcoal gets to pure carbon, and this means that the flavor is not affected by anything that can be absorbed by the wood, just the wood itself.
Lump charcoal also affects the way we cook and smoke using Big Green Eggs. You can control the air flow and oxygen coming into your BGE, and lump charcoal is far more reactive to this than briquettes.
This extra control of the process can lead to a better cook in the long run.
Lump charcoal is often more expensive, so if you don’t understand the difference it is easy to see why people opt for the briquettes, but this extra expense is worth it for ensuring your BGE has the best fuel possible.
The Big Green Egg Lighting Challenge
Because of the policy you should adopt of only using the most natural ingredients and lump charcoal with no additives, lighting your BGE can be a little bit of a challenge at times.
By this, we mean that it is very unlikely you can light it using just a match or a match with kindling or wood chips.
Avoid easy light lumpwood charcoals at all costs, as we have already briefly mentioned, these will contain the chemicals we are trying to avoid and can leave your beautiful brisket or ribs tasting like petrol.
Fortunately, natural firelighters are available to ease the process along, and we recommend combining these with your lump charcoal to ensure that it lights properly.
Big Green Egg offer their own range of natural firelighters too. These are absolutely fine for the purpose, but you don’t have to use the brand specific ones, as long as you ensure that they are naturally produced.
Kindling style fire lighters including Better Wood Products Fatwood Firestarter Box are a more traditional way of starting your fire if you aren’t a fan of using fire starters.
Temperature and Lump Charcoal
Many charcoal brands will try and sell their product with the fact it can burn at high temperatures.
While this usually means that you can use less of the charcoal, which is a big plus point, the temperatures reached in your Big Green Egg are unlikely to exceed anything that needs specifically robust charcoal.
Some charcoals can reach temperatures of up to 750 degrees fahrenheit, which is overkill. This is not something you are going to need in your cooker, as BGE’s will usually only need to go up to around 400 degrees, no matter what you are cooking.
Any of the charcoals listed should be fine for sitting between 225 and 400 degrees F, which is precisely the range you should be looking at whether smoking or grilling.
The Jealous devil has become a much loved brand of lump charcoal in recent years, and there is so much to like about this product.
You can often use less of it to reach the same overall temperatures, it is incredibly robust hardwood and is 100% natural.
It will last for long grills and smokes and is hard to look beyond when you’re searching for the best lump charcoal for the Big Green Egg.
If you are looking for the traditional flavors offered by woods such as hickory and maple then you can opt for different hardwood charcoals, but this taste can still be achieved using the Jealous devil brand.
Many people mix their lump charcoal with natural wood chips, which give off a really strong smoky taste and can add a huge amount of flavor to meat and other items cooked in your BGE.
Whichever charcoal you choose, ensuring it is from a hardwood and has no additives or chemicals is absolutely essential.
All of the products on this list have a lot to offer in this regard, and fit the bill of being natural and high quality.