Which Charcoal is Right For You?

You have dusted off your grill and are ready for your first cookout. But when you get to the store, you see many types of charcoal. All charcoal is made of wood, but each contains different types of wood and other additives. Different types of charcoal burn differently and produce different types of flavors. Before you grab the same bag you have always grabbed, it’s important to consider which charcoal is right for your next grill out.

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If you are on the go and in a hurry, the regular briquettes that you can find at local grocery stores are a great option. If you’re really in a hurry, you can use the Matchlight with lighter fluid built in. But this can add unwanted flavors and scents to your outdoor party. Often it is unclear what type of wood these briquettes are made from, which means that you can’t control the hardwood flavor. The benefit is that this charcoal is easy to find and provides even cooking on your grill. I suggest adding woodchips or actual pieces of hardwood on top of these briquettes to add the favors you want.

If you are slow-cooking over a long period of time with foods like pulled pork, beef brisket, or ribs, most chefs find success with a pressed briquette. They burn at a more even temperature due to the uniform shape and at a slower rate for a longer period of time. When you are shopping for this type of charcoal, look for the types that have smoking woods pressed into the bricks and use all-natural materials to bind them together. This avoids unwanted chemicals being added to your food while adding subtle hardwood flavors.

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If you are looking for hot, fast heat with lots of hardwood flavor for quick-cooking foods like steaks, burgers, and fish, you will want to go with lump charcoal. Generally, it is made from whole pieces of wood, not scraps pressed together, and it burns hotter, cleaner, and leaves less ash than traditional briquettes. This charcoal is available at specialty stores, like Friedman’s, and it works especially well in ceramic grills like Kamado Joe, who has created their own line of lump charcoal made from all-natural hardwoods roasted in traditional ovens.

Charcoal is the essence of all outdoor cooking, and it’s important to start there when planning your next grilling menu. If you want to experience lump charcoal and a Kamado Joe grill, then Friedman’s is the place to start. Summer is here; now get out there and enjoy it!

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