10 Best BBQ Cookbooks For Any Pitmaster

People often gain a sense of pride when they finally master the art of grilling. However, turning out delicious smoked dinners is no easy feat! In fact, many aspiring grill-masters struggle to truly understand the art form behind barbecuing meat (or vegetables).

Luckily for you, we’ve done our fair share of research to bring you these 10 best barbecue cookbooks. With one (or more) of these on your shelf and in your arsenal, your next holiday barbecue event will have everyone talking.

Here’s our list of the 10 best bbq cookbooks: 

Smoke & Spiceby Cheryl and Bill Jamison

Best For: Both barbecue beginners & amateur cooks. Purchase via: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Target

If you’re just learning to barbecue, this is the best book to get you started! Bill and Cheryl Jamison’s Smoke and Spice was the first of its kind cookbook about barbecuing the “real way” for home cooks. It includes 450 recipes that span each region of the US and nearly anything you’d ever consider throwing in a smoker. This cookbook makes barbecue an attainable skill for nearly all, and includes details about backyard smoking with tried-and-true recipes to boot.

With over half a million copies sold (and counting), this authoritative book on genuine smoke-cooked barbecue is a must-have for all. If you don’t believe me, ask Bobby Flay, who said, “When the Jamisons light their fires, mouths all around America will be salivating for smoke, spice, and everything nice.”


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Big Bob Gibson’s BBQ Bookby Chris Lilly

Best For: Anyone looking for the best broad-spectrum barbecue cookbook.Purchase via: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Google Play Books

Big Bob Gibson’s in Decatur, Alabama has been in the barbecue business for over 85 years. Now, executive chef Chris Lilly brings the tastes of Big Bob Gibson’s straight to our backyard in this best barbecue cookbook. Hailed as the best broad-spectrum barbecue cookbook on the market, Big Bob Gibson’s BBQ Book covers it all: equipment, technique, barbecue, and sides. One of the best parts of this book is the science of live fire cooking that it includes, meaning this is great for anyone who loves to know the method behind the madness.

This book also doesn’t hold back when it comes to recipes! Sure, it includes Southern barbecue classics like ribs and brisket, but it also dives into Caribbean Jerk Pork, bacon-wrapped shrimp, and more. If you’re looking to really get to the meat and potatoes of barbecue plus try out some more adventurous options, Big Bob Gibson’s BBQ Book is the catch all you’ve been looking for!


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Korean BBQ: Master Your Grill in Seven Saucesby Bill Kim

Best For: Someone looking to explore the art of Korean barbecue.Purchase via: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Google Play Books

Bill Kim dives into chef-style barbecue and his Korean roots with this delightful cookbook. In Korean BBQ: Master Your Grill in Seven Sauces, Kim teaches the fundamentals of Korean grilling through flavor profiles, then gives an array of knockout recipes. He further explores the evolution of barbecue, but also adds in unfamiliar flairs with unique sauces and rubs.

If you’re looking for a fun, delicious time around the grill with a Far East flair, this is definitely the barbecue cookbook for you!


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Franklin Barbecue: A Meat-Smoking Manifesto

by Aaron Franklin and Jordan Mackay

Best For: Anyone wanting to master Texas-style barbecuePurchase via: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Google Play Books

Aaron Franklin’s restaurant in Austin, Texas is one of the most famous barbecue joints in all of the United States, so it’s no surprise that his own cookbook would make our list of best bbq cookbooks. Many consider this book as a complete meat-and-brisket-cooking education. Rather than merely preaching about one true way to prepare barbecue, Franklin guides readers through the smoke so they can find their own cooking style.

If you want a behind-the-scenes, real-deal breakdown on braising and simmering meat the way they do it in Texas, then this is the book for you. Franklin Barbecue is by far one of the most definitive resources for backyard barbecue, and the pages include everything from building your own smoker to finding the right wood and creating perfect fires. Of course, it also helps you understand how to get the best quality meat and turn it into insanely delicious barbecue.


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Cool Smoke: The Art of Great Barbecueby Tuffy Stone

Best For: Someone who likes clear instructions to get great results.Purchase via: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Google Play Books

Creating the perfect barbecued meat may sound far-fetched, but if anyone can do it, five-time World Champion Pitmaster Tuffy Stone can! Though he explores grilling mainstays, competition winners, and highbrow touches in Cool Smoke, one thing Stone keeps consistent are the instructions. From fire management to the recipes, he ensures every level of pitmaster can keep up. Stone captures the true art of barbecue in this fun and tasty tale, and it’s sure to be a welcome addition to your cookbook collection.


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VBQ―The Ultimate Vegan Barbecue Cookbookby Nadine Horn

Best For: Any vegetarians or vegans looking to whip up some flame-grilled goodness!Purchase via: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Google Play Books

While smoked, saucy meats are all fine and dandy, what about those who fancy plant-based fare? Thankfully, Nadine Horn transformed grilling into a vegetarian pastime, too, with her best barbecue cookbook VBQ―The Ultimate Vegan Barbecue Cookbook. This delightful book takes everything people love about barbecue and adds color, creativity, and flavor that can only come from food from the soil. VBQ includes recipes for Grilled Bok Choy, Peppered Tofu Steak, and nearly anything else you can imagine.

So whether you’re looking to perfectly char your asparagus or dive into the pork-alternative Pulled Mushroom sandwiches, Horn’s got you covered. Add this bbq cookbook to your collection, and you’ll be a vegan pitmaster in no time!


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Smokin’ in the Boys’ Roomby Melissa Cookston

Best For: Anyone wanting to master Memphis-style barbecue.Purchase via: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Google Play Books

Known as “the winningest woman in barbecue,” Melissa Cookston shares the best of the Southern Delta with her delightful barbecue cookbook Smokin’ in the Boys’ Room. Though this book contains many delicious barbecue recipes full of smoke, spice, and everything nice, it also provides readers with other Southern sides and decadent desserts. She explores nearly every meat imaginable, and provides us with a whole gamut of sauces and seasoning blends.

It doesn’t matter how many times you’ve smoked up some meat, Cookston provides something for everyone in this one. Besides, who doesn’t want to grab a slice of Southern flair from a woman who’s proven to know more about barbecue than most men?


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Meathead: The Science of Great Barbecue and Grillingby Meathead Goldwyn with Greg Blonder

Best For: Someone wanting to master all outdoor cooking.Purchase via: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million

Craig “Meathead” Goldwyn combines years of research, a healthy dose of science, and his sharp wit to provide us all with expert knowledge in his cookbook Meathead: The Science of Great Barbecue and Grilling. Since 2005, when he created AmazingRibs.com, Meathead has obsessed over mastering barbecue and grilling techniques. Now he’s combined all the tricks of the trade into this novel of a cookbook. Don’t worry though, there are also over 100 delicious barbecue and grilling recipes inside.

Fire Food: The Ultimate BBQ Cookbookby Christian Stevenson, AKA DJ BBQ

Best For: Someone looking for an exciting barbecue adventure!Purchase via: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Google Play Books

Crazy YouTube sensation DJ BBQ brings a mixture of attitude and sensibility along for a ride in this best barbecue cookbook, Fire Food: The Ultimate BBQ Cookbook. He covers the basics of both coals and wood, but also dives into “dirt” cooking (embers). Other surprises include an entire section on barbecue breakfast foods and a delicious bourbon-spiked gravy. DJ BBQ pulls inspiration from around the world as well as other notable American barbecue chefs. With Fire Food, you’ll ace the art of live fire cooking and turn out delicious smoked meats, fish, and vegetables in no time.


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The Japanese Grill: From Classic Yakitori to Steak, Seafood, and Vegetablesby Tadashi Ono and Harris Salat

Best For: Anyone ready to explore the art of Japanese grilling.Purchase via: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Google Play Books

Renowned Japanese chef and author of Japanese Soul Cooking Tadashi Ono brings something new to the culinary world: an entire cookbook on Japanese grilling and barbecue. Although yakitori (Japanese skewered chicken) doesn’t traditionally cook on a charcoal outdoor grill, Ono guides us all through ways to prepare skewered and grilled meats on any type of grill. This cookbook also includes great ways to prepare Japanese-style grilled vegetables and more. Most people say that this cookbook is worth it for the marinade and sauce recipes alone. Packed with many fast-and-easy recipes and step-by-step techniques, The Japanese Grill will help you grill up amazing steaks and traditional Japanese favorites in no time at all!


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What’s the best bbq cookbook for you?

From inexperienced chefs to expert pit masters, everyone can find at least one new and exciting barbecue cookbook on this list. There are catch-all books as well as more specialized books for people interested in a single style of barbecue. No matter which you choose, one thing is for sure: you’re in for a tasty adventure when you fire up the grill!

Finally, if you’re looking for great meat to barbecue, be sure to read our review of ButcherBox, a service that delivers grass fed beef, heritage port, and free-range organic chicken right to your door.

Feature Image by Emerson Vieira on Unsplash