The best barbecue books

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There is no getting around that. Barbecuing is a time-consuming hobby. But, as long as your temperature is under control and your thermometers are set up, you may as well take advantage of the downtime.

And what better way to pass the time while waiting for your brisket to complete than by reading about barbecue? We’ve compiled a list of the greatest barbeque books to keep your bookshelves stocked.

Whether you’re just getting started and need to brush up on the fundamentals, want to discover new recipes, or just like learning about BBQ culture, there’s plenty for you to read below.

Project Smoke by Steven Raichlen

If you’re searching for a general-purpose book that’s perfect for getting started or learning new skills, this is the one.

All of the recipes are great and simple to execute on a range of different kinds of smokers.

As an extra benefit, you’ll learn a lot about various sorts of smokers and which types of wood work best with certain meats.

Project Smoke, like Steve, has a lot to offer, including:

  • Seven steps to smoking Nirvana
  • Description of smokers
  • Insights to brines, rubs, sauces and marinades
  • Cooking fuels
  • How different woods provide unique flavors
  • 100 recipes with full-color photos
  • Bacon-Crab Poppers
  • Cherry-Glazed Baby Back Rib
  • Slam-Dunk Brisket
  • Jamaican Jerk Chicken and
  • Smoked Chocolate Bread Pudding

If there is one criticism of this book, it is that the recipes stray too far from conventional smoking. While we think this makes the book more intriguing, if you’re looking for the flawless traditional recipes, we recommend the next book on our list.

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Franklin Barbecue: A Meat-Smoking Manifesto by Aaron Franklin

Aaron, a Texas native, and his wife, Stacy, set up a little roadside trailer in Austin, Texas in 2009, and the rest is history.

Franklin Barbecue has become the most popular restaurant in the nation, winning almost every accolade imaginable. Aaron goes through the following in this New York Times best seller:

  • How to cook like Franklin BBQ
  • Instructions for building and customizing your own smoker
  • Learn why the meat cooks the way it does and acquire more control over the final result.
  • The right wood to use, dry, too dry or green
  • How to build the perfect fire
  • Where to find the best meat
  • Balancing filthy smoke with the distinct taste it provides
  • And cooking crazy, tasty barbecue

Unlike many other smoking books, this one focuses on the technique of making superb barbeque. While you will discover some recipes, if that is all you desire, you may be disappointed.

The book also discusses Aaron’s upbringing and how he grew to be such a successful businessman and restaurant owner. The book is a lot of fun to read, and both writers have a terrific sense of humor.

If you can’t make it to Texas (or don’t want to wait in line for hours), this is the next best thing. Jordan Mackay, the wine critic for San Francisco magazine, co-wrote this invaluable book.

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Secrets to Smoking on the Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker by Bill Gillespie

The Smokey Mountain cooker is a favorite of ours. And if you’ve just acquired one, we strongly suggest picking up a copy of this book.

Because the recipes are specifically designed for the WSM, they reduce a lot of the guesswork and adaptations required when following other recipes.

Bill is the winner of the country’s two most coveted smoking competitions, and this book reveals his secrets.

In the book you will find recipes for the best:

  • Ribs
  • Award winning pulled pork recipes
  • Barbeque chicken
  • And the brisket recipe that took first place with a flawless score in the American Royal barbecue competition.
  • Pulled Pork with Root Beer Barbecue Sauce
  • Maple Glazed Salmon
  • Stuffed Sausages with Prosciutto and Cream Cheese

Excellent for novices, including advice to seasoning the smoker and a wealth of information on making the most of your BBQ.

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Meathead: The Science of Great Barbecue and Grilling by Meathead Goldwyn and Greg Blonder

If you’ve read any of our previous articles, you’ll know that we like Meathead (Craig Goldwyn) and his website

The 65-year-old created the blog on a whim over ten years ago, and it is now the world’s most popular BBQ and grilling website.

Dr. Greg Blonder (physicist) served as an adviser to amazingribs and co-wrote this book, which includes the following.

  • More than 400 colorful photos
  • New recipes, not yet disclosed on the website
  • Sciences of heat, smoke and food
  • Dry versus wet brines
  • Rubs: Salt v No salt
  • Grilling and barbecue concepts, techniques, marinades, equipment, and accessories

The book also debunks four popular smoking fallacies, including:

  • Soaking wood before use,
  • Bone-in steaks are better, or are they?
  • Bring meat to room temperature before cooking,
  • Sear before you cook, or do you?

If you want to learn more about BBQ, this is the book for you. It’s a quick read, and Meathead takes a no-nonsense approach, using science to dispel popular barbeque fallacies.

If you follow conventional wisdom, you may find this book irritating since it debunks several falsehoods. Much of the content is already available on his website, but having a tangible copy to look over is definitely worth the minor price.

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Smoke & Spice: Cooking with Smoke, the Real Way to Barbecue by Cheryl Jamison & Bill Jamison

When it comes to BBQ recipe books, this is unquestionably one of the classics. This is an upgrade to the original, which was released in 1994.

Cheryl and Bill are both culinary specialists who are eager to share their award-winning expertise with every griller, from pit masters to backyard grillers.

In this publication, you get:

  • Authentic southern barbecue techniques
  • Over 50 new recipes from each regional BBQ location, for a total of 450.
  • Molasses-Brined Pork Butt
  • Lemon-Coriander Chicken
  • Brisket Frito Pie
  • How to use any smoker
  • Rubs, sauces, sides, sweets, drinks, marinades, and mops are all examples of condiments.

Those who grumble that most books lack recipes will be spoilt with choice here. All of the major grilling areas are covered. There’s also an excellent part for new pit masters that provides a lot of information and background knowledge.

Get the latest price on Amazon.

The Border Cookbook: Authentic Home Cooking of the American Southwest and Northern Mexico by Cheryl Jamison & Bill Jamison

Experts Cheryl and Bill are back, this time bringing us an award-winning cookbook with delicious southern and Mexican recipes to our kitchens.

You’re probably wondering why we included a book like this in our BBQ cookbook recommendations.

Although it is not as focused on BBQ as Smoke & Spice, broadening out is an important aspect of becoming a great chef.

This is a terrific option if you want to be creative and quit making the same monotonous foods to go with your BBQ.

  • 300+ easy to follow recipes
  • Discuss regional culinary variances and the accompanying factors.

Cheryl and her husband Bill were originally travel writers before accepting the project that resulted in The Rancho de Chimay Cookbook.

They accumulated over 400,000 frequent-flyer points and spent three blissful months traversing the globe in search of wonderful meals.

Get the latest price from Amazon.

Smoking Meat: The Essential Guide to Real Barbecue by Jeff Phillips

Jeff, a North Carolina native, runs a highly popular website,, where he has amassed a wealth of knowledge.

This book bills itself as the definitive how-to handbook, and we found it to be true.

This informative book offers ideas for:

  • Slow cooking at low temperatures
  • Getting more flavor from smoke
  • Smoking needs patience, which Jeff demonstrates with simple ways.
  • Create your own smoker (gas, charcoal, or electric).
  • Before buying a smoker, try out your outdoor barbecue.

This is an excellent book for beginners; it includes easy recipes as well as the reasoning behind each of his suggestions. These approaches also enable you to add your own flavor to each meal.

This is clearly better suitable to folks who are new to smoking. The first two instructional chapters should be essential reading for all new cigarette owners.

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Low & Slow: Master the Art of Barbecue in 5 Easy Lessons by Gary Wiviott

Gary began with a fantastic online training, which propelled him into an unbelievable career as a BBQ god.

This is yet another book for novices. If you start at the beginning, it will take you from a novice who has never touched a cigarette to a competent pit master.

In this book youll find:

  • What equipment you do or dont need
  • Use your intuition, not a temperature, to treat a proper fire.
  • Everything there is to know about rubs, marinades, and brines.
  • Over 150 recipes

This is also a terrific resource to have on hand, and you’ll find yourself returning to it often since it concentrates on the process of making superb barbecue.

Get the latest price on Amazon.

BBQ Rules by Myron Mixon with Kelly Alexander

Myron is a best-selling author who means business when he speaks old-school.

You may have seen him on series such as America’s BBQ Rules and BBQ Pit Wars.

The book is divided into four parts:

  • Meat helpers
  • The Hog
  • The Cow
  • Birds

As far as recipes goes, you can expect to learn:

  • Smoked baby back ribs
  • Prize-winning brisket
  • Thick and smoked T-bones
  • Pulled port with that pit smoked flavor
  • And true southern yella mustard BBQ sauce
  • 50 sweet, hot recipes

Myron walks viewers through a series of step-by-step tutorials intended towards backyard pit masters. This guy does have a big ego, and if his TV persona irritates you, you’ll probably find this book obnoxious as well.

Get the latest price on Amazon.

Smoke It Like a Pit Master with Your Electric Smoker by Wendy O’Neal

While we like charcoal smokers around here, we know there are several electric smokers out there as well.

Because an electric smoker requires less expertise, this book focuses more on the recipes.

This book will have you preparing family and friends amazing BBQ in no time.

Some highlights from this book include:

  • Guidelines for temperatures and finishing
  • How temperatures can change your meal
  • Pro tips to become a pitmaster
  • 70 recipes, with 100 color photos
  • Sweet and tangy baby back ribs
  • Stuffed potato skins to die for
  • Homemade pastrami
  • Cast iron baked beans
  • Cumin-lime shrimp skewers

Wendy, a Phoenix, Arizona native, is well-known for her Around My Family Table blog, which she started in 2009. She’s also competed in the World Food Championship.

Get the latest price on Amazon.

Wrapping it up

Fortunately for us, BBQ has seen a remarkable growth in popularity in recent years. It wasn’t long ago that mastering the art of low and slow would require years of trial and error. It seems like a new book is released every week these days.

We are definitely spoilt for choice, with both old school folks like Steven Raichlen churning out fresh stuff and new kids on the block like Aaron Franklin and his superb meat smoking credo.

This smoking book roundup should have given you some ideas for your next book buy. While all of these books are available for Kindle or buy, we recommend getting a paper copy to appreciate the photographs. Just be careful not to get any flesh on the papers.

If you’re reading this, I’m assuming you already have a smoker, but if you’re just starting started and need some assistance picking a decent smoker, check out our guide to the best beginner smokers.

Happy reading!


The best barbecue books

What is the best BBQ book?

Jamie Purviance’s Weber’s Complete BBQ Book.
Genevieve Taylor’s Seared: The Ultimate Guide to Barbecuing Meat.
Christian Stevenson’s (DJ BBQ) Fire Food: The Ultimate BBQ Cookbook…
Gill Meller’s Outside: Recipes for a Wilder Way of Eating.
Rich Harris’s Fire + Smoke.
Dan Toombs’ Curry Guy BBQ.

Who does the best BBQ in the world?

The world’s best barbecue restaurants have been unveiled.
Franklin Barbecue is located in Texas.
Casa Julian is located in San Sebastian, Spain.
Vento Haragano is located in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Mzoli’s is a restaurant in Cape Town, South Africa.
La Brigada is located in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Wooraeok is a neighborhood in Seoul, South Korea.
Edley’s is located in Tennessee, USA.
Smokestak, London, United Kingdom.

What should I learn to grill?

The Five Most Important Things You Should Know Grilled Chicken is Better Because It’s Brined.
Timing Is Everything When It Comes to Grilled Shrimp.
Pork Tenderloin is faster, fancier, and easier to prepare than burgers.
Grilled Asparagus: The Power of Flame-Cooked Food.
The One We’ve Been Waiting For: Grilled Corn on the Cob.

How do you barbecue books?

Cookbooks for the BBQ, Grill, and Outdoor Cooking
David Rose Cooks on the Big Green Egg 4 (Big Green Egg 4)…
Hang Fire Cookbook: American BBQ Recipes and Adventures.
Pitt Cue Co. – Franklin Smoke: Wood.
Outdoor Cooking by Tom Kerridge: The best contemporary barbeque guidebook.
The Complete Guide to Barbecuing Meat.

What state is number 1 in BBQ?

Texas is the finest BBQ state. It is home to three of America’s top twelve finest BBQ cities: San Antonio, Austin, and Dallas.

What is the number 1 rated grill?

Gas Grill Weber Spirit II E-310

This is the greatest grill available. It includes everything you need for a backyard cookout with the family. It features a huge cooking surface, is simple to set up and operate, and most importantly, it provided the most delicious food on the test. It does all of this and more at a very cheap cost.

What city is known for the best BBQ?

Missouri’s capital city is Kansas City.

This well-known barbecue destination is known for its sweet tomato-and-molasses-based sauce, which is put over everything from pulled pork sandwiches to beef and pig ribs to smoked chicken and turkey. Restaurants in this area will smoke almost anything, generally over hickory wood.

Where is the best BBQ in the US?


What is the most popular BBQ food in America?

Brisket. Brisket is the mother of all barbecue meats, whether chopped or sliced, heaped high on a bun or served plain on a plate.

What are 3 rules for using the grill?

What You Should Know
Separate it from the rest of the meal.
Before grilling, chill it.
Hands should be washed before and after handling it.
Ensure that its fluids do not come into contact with other foods, utensils, or surfaces.
To verify that it is cooked to a safe internal temperature, use a food thermometer.


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