There is a heated debate (pun intended) amongst those who BBQ about whether lump charcoal or briquettes are better. They both have their pros and cons and we will discuss those here.
Benefits of Using Briquettes
Briquettes are manufactured charcoal products made from sawdust and left over wood scraps that are burnt without oxygen and pressed together with certain additives to get a uniform charcoal briquette.
The uniformity of the briquette allows for maintaining a steady temperature over longer periods of time.
Briquettes are cheaper than lump charcoal and they last longer as well.
They also require less attention to maintain than lump charcoal does
Cons of Using Briquettes
One of the drawbacks of using briquettes is that they have additives other than the wood added. Most of these additives are for filler, but some may produce a chemical smell when burning. Making sure to burn them until they are covered with a white or gray ash will prevent any chemical smells or taste from transferring to your food.
Briquettes also take longer to light than lump charcoal does and they tend to produce a larger amount of ash.
Benefits of using Lump Charcoal
Lump charcoal is made by burning wood without the presence of oxygen in much the same briquettes are with the exception that it is done with pure wood with no additives.
It burns hotter and more thoroughly than briquettes, leaving behind less ash.
Adjusting the heat is also easier with lump charcoal due it reacting to oxygen more so than its manufactured counterpart.
Lump charcoal also light faster and easier than briquettes.
Cons of Using Lump Charcoal
One of the side effects of burning hotter, is that lump charcoal burns faster than briquettes causing it to not last as long.
Bags of lump charcoal tend to be more expensive than briquettes and the pieces are not as uniform.
Ultimately It’s Up to You
In the end, it’s really a matter of personal preference as to which one is better. There are those who will only use lump charcoal, and yet others who only use briquettes.
Personally, I find it depends on a few factors which I will use.
I tend to prefer briquettes when smoking due to them lasting longer and burning more consistently. Those features make for an easier time when cooking low and slow.
If I am grilling on the other hand, lump charcoal makes for a better fuel. Lighting quicker and burning faster, it gets my food cooked and on my plate much faster.
Feel free to join the discussion and add your thoughts on the debate in the conversation>