Choose Charcoal

Charcoal – a basic heat-source or key cooking ingredient.

When buying charcoal for barbecuing there are two main types to consider – Lump (wood) or Briquettes. Both have their advantages but this article is all about giving you the information to make your own valued decision, based on what you actually want to get out of your cooking experience. 

Lump v Briquettes

Lump charcoal is 100% natural (i.e. it is wood that has been carbonised), good lump is easier to light (than briquettes), burns at a higher temperature and gives off an authentic “wood” aroma. For “restaurant grade charcoal” lump charcoal is always the type that would be used.

Briquettes on the other hand have a more stable heat. They are also cheaper & a lot more readily available, but can contain ingredients other than wood when being compressed together to create the briquette. So as an actual heat source they’re fine, but they wont add any additional flavour and some cheaper offerings may have a detrimental effect on the taste of your food.

With regards to both type of charcoal it’s that old adage of “You get what you pay for”. Cheaper types of lump charcoal in the UK don’t give you the best quality and the same goes for briquettes, so try out different types, and when you are happy with a brand stick with it. 

In our opinion If you’re paying a decent amount of money on your cooking equipment, the food you’re cooking with and the drinks accompanying the meal, then sourcing a good quality charcoal should attract a similar amount of your time and not be left to a last minute decision.

David Hughes