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Why The Right Charcoal is Vital to Keeping your BBQ Party Going All Day

Group of friends enjoying a BBQ

The typical BBQ party is a happy scene. Cool drinks and conversation, a variety of delights on the grill, al fresco eating – there’s nothing quite like it. However, there is a method behind the merriment. To keep the happy vibes and fantastic food coming all day, preparation, organisation and focus are essential.

A BBQ party should be fun to attend and fun to host, but we know that balancing everything can be a challenge. From making sure your guests have drinks while managing the cooking to worrying about everybody getting along, there’s a lot to keep track of. Luckily, one thing that doesn’t need to keep you up at night is your charcoal choice. Choosing the right charcoal is vital to keeping your BBQ party going all day, and Big K is here to help.

This is our guide to help you choose the right charcoal for your BBQ party. It’s always important to have the ideal charcoal to achieve your perfect BBQ. It is the versatile fuel that can meet so many different cooking and grilling needs depending on the situation. If you’re going to be running a barbecue for an extended period of time, it’s vital that you choose the right charcoal. Read on to find out how to choose the perfect charcoal for your all day BBQ party.

Cooking time

With most charcoal challenges, the first decision is whether to use lumpwood charcoal or briquettes. There’s lots of general advice out there on the lumpwood vs briquettes debate, but when you’re cooking all day, there are some specific things to bear in mind.

Firstly, you’ll definitely want charcoal that lasts. When you’re cooking all day, you need dependable charcoal that can go the distance. Generally, briquettes tend to last longer than lumpwood – so perhaps they could be more suitable for an all day event. Big K’s briquette range all approach the 3 hour cooking time mark, with Au Natural and our new Cocoshell Briquette giving you seriously long cook times.

However, there are also lumpwood charcoals that’ll last for similar times. If you’re set on lumpwood, try Dura or El Cubano. They’ll both give you cook times around the 3 hour mark, which makes it easier to keep your grill going all day long.

You’ll want to match the cooking times of your charcoal with the type of food that you’re going to be cooking. For example, when smoking a joint of meat for an extended period of time, you need to keep the temperature of your grill consistent for a good few hours. To do this, you’ll want dependable charcoal with an extremely long cook time. However, if your BBQ party is about serving up burgers and sausages cooked over direct heat all day, you can use a charcoal with a shorter cook time. You’ll just need to keep lighting and replacing it.

Ease of lighting

BBQ cooking at a bbq partyTo keep your BBQ party in full swing, you’re usually going to need to use at least a couple of barbecues worth of charcoal. To make this easy, many people use a second barbecue or tray to heat extra loads of charcoal ready for use. When this next load is up to temperature, all it takes is a simple transfer to their main barbecue.

For an even easier and quicker way to get charcoal up to temperature, use a chimney starter. These vertical starters make it easy to measure out your charcoal. Also, the design aids airflow, meaning your charcoal will light even quicker.

When lighting new barbecues full of charcoal, the lighting time of your charcoal is going to be more important. If you’re just lighting a single barbecue for an evening grill session, a long lighting time is less of an issue. But, if you’re lighting charcoal several times during your all day BBQ party, you don’t want to be waiting around. While chimney starters are a great way to get charcoal going, you’ll still want to think about your cook timings for the day. Make sure you’ve got new loads of charcoal planned in while accounting for the lighting time.

The other vital element to consider when lighting charcoal is the amount of smoke produced. Charcoal tends to smoke slightly more as it lights. When you’re lighting several loads during the day, you may find that the smoke becomes annoying for your guests. If your barbecue will be close to where your guests are sitting, it’s worth considering the amount of smoke that might be produced. For peace of mind, consider a charcoal that’s authorised for use in smoke control areas, like Big K’s Dura restaurant grade charcoal.

The right charcoal will complement your food’s flavour profiles

When you’re choosing charcoal for your BBQ, many BBQ pros will match the charcoal they use to the food they’re cooking. But, this can be tricky when you’re running an all day BBQ party and you’re cooking many different types of food. In general, this means that you’ll want to choose a neutral charcoal that’ll impart a delicious natural smoky flavour to your grilled foods, like our Chilla-Grilla restaurant grade lumpwood.

However, if you’re feeling more adventurous, you could try our Au Natural Applewood restaurant grade briquettes. These compressed briquettes are made from applewood trees. They offer a more daring flavour without affecting the natural smokey taste of the food on the grill.


With some planning and a bit of preparation, it’s easy to choose the perfect charcoal to keep your BBQ party going all day. Here’s a quick recap – arrange your menu to plan out your cooking times, think about the amount of charcoal you’ll need to relight, and then choose a charcoal to complement the flavours of your food. Make sure your BBQ party goes off without a hitch, with Big K’s range of premium charcoals.

What’s your go-to charcoal for an all day BBQ party? Let us know on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.