On Your Grill

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On Your Grill - Your Online Grilling Resource


Grilling Charcoal

Know Which Charcoal to Choose for Grilling
By Kevin Purdy www.LifeHacker.com

With the grilling season coming up, many grills will be making their triumphant return to their rightful spots in yards and 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)


  • 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]

Send an email to Kevin Purdy, the author of this post, at kevin@lifehacker.com.