There's plenty that goes into great BBQ food. Excellent ingredients and skill with the tongs are both vital, but experienced grill cooks know that the charcoal you burn can make all the difference. The smoky flavor it adds brings the essence of outdoor cooking to your meal.
But charcoal isn't just charcoal. High-quality charcoal lights easily and burns well, while lesser coals can make the whole cooking experience frustrating. Learn more about the options available so you can choose which charcoal works best for your needs.
Charcoal briquettes make a convenient and reliable choice. They're inexpensive and easy to get burning evenly, especially if you use a charcoal starter.
Briquettes are made from raw charcoal that's mixed with binding materials to make the familiar bricks. The ingredients often include sawdust, chippings and other timber waste, making this an economical and eco-friendly product.
While they can leave behind significant ash, charcoal briquettes burn well, with consistent heat over an extended period. This makes them ideal for long, slow cooking of larger cuts of meat or for busy BBQs that go on for a long period of time.
Lump charcoal is a purer, more natural form of charcoal than briquettes. It's made by burning hardwood without any oxygen and has no other additions or binders.
Fans of lump charcoal say it adds a distinctive flavor and aroma to your grilled food – this is strongly influenced by the kind of hardwood the charcoal is made from. Popular choices include:
- Cherrywood charcoal: Adds a light, fruity and slightly sweet aroma and flavor.
- Oak charcoal: Adds a strong smoky flavor and burns at a high heat.
- Mesquite charcoal: Adds an authentic southwestern BBQ aroma to your grill.
- Hickory charcoal: Adds a distinctive woody, smoky flavor that suits all meats.
Lump charcoal costs a little more than briquettes and, since it naturally comes in different sizes, it can often burn less evenly. However, it's quicker to light and it burns hot and fast, making it great for quick cooking methods such as flash-searing steak.
This quick burning also means it's easier to control temperature by managing the airflow, making lump charcoal extremely flexible and good for BBQs where lots of different food is being cooked at the same time.
Both briquettes and lump charcoal have their own benefits and you can find room for both on your grill depending on the occasion.
Charcoal Bag Sizes
Whether you choose lump charcoal or briquettes, we have it in bag sizes from 4 pounds to 30 pounds – enough to suit any occasion from a quick family grill to a full neighborhood party.
Frequent grillers will also appreciate our handy charcoal storage boxes and dispensers, which will help keep your BBQ area clean and tidy while making it convenient to refill your grill.
A great BBQ is one of the joys of outdoor entertaining, and a large part of its success depends on the charcoal you use. If you need any information or advice, please contact us online or head for your local Ace store where our expert staff will be happy to help.