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 & Spice
by Cheryl and Bill Jamison
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.”
Big Bob Gibson's BBQ Book
by Chris Lilly
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!
Korean BBQ: Master Your Grill in Seven Sauces
by Bill Kim
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!
Franklin Barbecue: A Meat-Smoking Manifesto
by Aaron Franklin and Jordan Mackay
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.
Cool Smoke: The Art of Great Barbecue
by Tuffy Stone
VBQ―The Ultimate Vegan Barbecue Cookbook
by Nadine Horn
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!
Smokin' in the Boys' Room
by Melissa Cookston
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?
Meathead: The Science of Great Barbecue and Grilling
by Meathead Goldwyn with Greg Blonder
Fire Food: The Ultimate BBQ Cookbook
by Christian Stevenson, AKA DJ BBQ
The Japanese Grill: From Classic Yakitori to Steak, Seafood, and Vegetables
by Tadashi Ono and Harris Salat
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.