The best barbecue books

Jason Webster
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When the weather is warm, there’s nothing more satisfying than a home-cooked meal out on the grill. Cooking outdoors can be a simple pleasure or a complex one — it’s all up to you.

Below are some of the best books about grilling that will not only teach you how to build a better barbecue, but how to grill practically anything you can think of.

The only thing that’s left to do is put the steaks on the grill — that is, if you haven’t already.

NameCategoryProduct
Project SmokeBest OverallProject Smoke
Myron Mixon's BBQ Rules: The Old-School Guide to Smoking MeatBudget PickMyron Mixon's BBQ Rules: The Old-School Guide to Smoking Meat
The Border Cookbook: Authentic Home Cooking of the American Southwest and Northern MexicoUpgrade PickThe Border Cookbook: Authentic Home Cooking of the American Southwest and Northern Mexico

1. Project Smoke

Our rating: 9 / 10

Project Smoke

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Pros:

  • The book is packed with short, simple steps that make it easy to follow
  • The author, Joshua Charles, is a well-known BBQ cooking expert
  • Simple and clear recipes
  • Good for beginners as well as experienced BBQ chefs

Cons:

  • A few of the recipes are not that exciting if you’ve been smoking for a while
  • Some of the recipes are difficult to deduce the amounts

7 Steps to Smoking Food Like a Pro

Rating: 4.4/5

Smoking is perhaps the most enjoyable part of cooking, in our opinion.

2. Meathead: The Science of Great Barbecue and Grilling

Our rating: 7 / 10

Meathead: The Science of Great Barbecue and Grilling

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3. Secrets to Smoking on the Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker and Other Smokers: An Independent Guide

Our rating: 7 / 10

Secrets to Smoking on the Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker and Other Smokers: An Independent Guide

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Pros:

  • Detailed content
  • Covers how to cook on anything from gas grills to charcoal
  • Includes step-by-step guides
  • Author: Stu Sheppard

Cons:

  • Recipes are designed to cater larger groups
  • Time-consuming

Secrets to Smoking on the Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker and Other Smokers is a great guide to have on hand when you’re looking to improve your barbecue skills. Written by Stu Sheppard, the book will teach you how to smoke on the Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker and other types of smokers.

When you smoke meat, you must do it at a slow temperature over a long period of time. This is done to slowly break down the meat and season it in a way that will keep your guests coming back for more. This book will teach you how to smoke meat and give you recipes to create meals for large groups.

4. Franklin Barbecue: A Meat-Smoking Manifesto

Our rating: 7 / 10

Franklin Barbecue: A Meat-Smoking Manifesto

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By Aaron Franklin, Jordan Mackay and Benjy Egel.

With so many newbies entering the BBQ world and some veterans who feel they’re falling on hard times, Aaron Franklin wrote this barbecue book specifically to show his secrets of barbecue mastery. You may not even know what they are, but he does, and here he is laying them out for you.

His book details not only his methodology but his lineage of old BBQ standards, and the primal techniques behind it all. His writing is refreshingly honest and straightforward “ as straightforward as BBQ can be … and it covers not only his methods but goes into detail about the proper meat, wood, technique, timeline, and how you need to execute each of these plays and might miss an opportunity or two if you don’t follow all the instructions in Franklin’s book. If you intend to get huge accolades in the BBQ world, this is your ticket to that goal.

5. The Border Cookbook: Authentic Home Cooking of the American Southwest and Northern Mexico

Our rating: 6 / 10

The Border Cookbook: Authentic Home Cooking of the American Southwest and Northern Mexico

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Pros:

  • Fun, friendly, and well-written
  • A great introduction to Mexican/Tex Mex cooking
  • Recipes are simple to follow
  • Comes with a great list of ingredients, equipment and techniques
  • Makes Mexican/TexMex look approachable
  • Filled with useful tips and cooking shortcuts for those who are just starting to cook at home
  • Informative sections like a history of Mexican/TexMex cooking in the US and a primer on regional ingredients
  • Basic list of items necessary for Mexican/TexMex cooking

The Border Cookbook: Authentic Home Cooking of the American Southwest and Northern Mexico by Dina Falconi is the perfect introduction to Mexican and TexMex cooking. It was originally published in 1995, but the recipes still work today.

The book features over 80 Mexican and TexMex recipes. Dina lives in Aurora and has been cooking Mexican and Tex Mex since she was a kid, and opening up restaurants with her family when she was a teenager. She has a lot of experience cooking this style of food.

The book covers both classic dishes Americans love such as tacos, enchiladas and flan and more authentic Mexican and Tex Mex dishes.

6. Smoke & Spice: Cooking

Our rating: 6 / 10

Smoke & Spice: Cooking

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Pros:

  • Available at 4 different sizes
  • Award-winning design
  • Easy to clean
  • Well written
  • Tons of recipes
  • Decent price

(Steven Raichlen)

Smoke & Spice is probably one of the most popular barbecue books around. This comprehensive bible of BBQ has everything you need to know about grilling, smoking, and cooking over the fire. It also has a ton of recipes and techniques provided by kebab to briskets and everything in between.

It covers everything from buying the right grills, smoking and brining to rubs, marinades, salads, side dishes, sauces, BBQ, holiday favorites, holocausts (yes, that’s spelled right), and even desserts.

7. Smoking Meat: The Essential Guide to Real Barbecue

Our rating: 6 / 10

Smoking Meat: The Essential Guide to Real Barbecue

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With over 250 recipes, expert advice, and photos and illustrations, this book is an in-depth guide to everything you need to know about the art of slow-smoking meat.

The book includes fourteen custom recipes for sauces, rubs, mops, and marinades, as well as tips on the best wood for smoking and smoking over charcoal.

If you want to learn the techniques that the pros have mastered, this book will be your ultimate guide.

8. Myron Mixon's BBQ Rules: The Old-School Guide to Smoking Meat

Our rating: 6 / 10

Myron Mixon's BBQ Rules: The Old-School Guide to Smoking Meat

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Pros:

  • Contains 225 recipes
  • Easy-to-follow instructions and great photography
  • Includes a basic overview on both cooking and smoking
  • By a famous BBQing champion
  • Learn how to make recipes in less than an hour
  • Get a ton of information about smokers, grills and cold smoking
  • Written by a 3 time World Food Championships Grand Champion

Cons:

  • Some "braising" process recipes are confusing
  • Not for the inexperienced grill master
  • Not a book for cold smoking

With More Than 225 Fabulous Recipes.

Myron Mixon is a legend in BBQ …. He is an award-winning champion and the man behind "the best damn brisket in texas". He's made an incredible name for himself, and now he's brought it down to the basics of his detailed BBQ knowledge for you in the form of his new book: Myron Mixon's BBQ Rules: The Old-School Guide to Smoking Meat, with More Than 225 Fabulous Recipes.

It is filled with 225 recipes and basic information to help get you started with everything you need to know about grilling, smoking, dry-rubbing, and everything else between.

9. Low & Slow: Master the Art of Barbecue in 5 Easy Lessons

Our rating: 6 / 10

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

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Pros:

  • Beautiful full-color photos for each recipe
  • Short, easy to follow steps
  • The steak rub recipe makes the best steak sandwiches you’ll ever eat
  • Front and back of the book also houses a recipe for ribs
  • Covers everything from meats to rubs and sauces

Cons:

  • Cost of the book
  • Doesn’t include lots of recipes
  • Doesn’t go into detail about some ingredients or wines

As a barbecue enthusiast I can say that this is the best barbecue book I’ve ever purchased. It’s not about recipes for your next backyard barbecue or the science behind it all. It’s more about mastering the art behind the barbecue.

If you’re planning to build a barbecue pit, or simply love barbecue, this is the book for you.

10. Smoke It Like a Pit Master

Our rating: 6 / 10

Smoke It Like a Pit Master

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The 200 recipes in the book have been tested and proven to be very delicious with precise instructions from start to finish. It shows you how, with detailed instructions, how to combine smokiness and tenderness.

The book includes recipes such as Hickory Smoked Prime Rib, Whole Rotisserie Chicken, Beef Back Rib, Hickory Smoked Pulled Pork, and Barbecue Mac & Cheese. The book also takes you back to the barbecue basics and shows you how to smoke, grill, and bake.

It will give you step-by-step instructions on how to set up your smoker with insightful information about smoking fuel and how flavors marry to smoke better. This is a must-have book for any electric smoker owner.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is the best wood to use for BBQ?

The wood type used for this purpose is dependent on the taste of the user. However, the type of wood you choose should preferably be one that burns slowly over a period of time giving out enough heat.

Cherry, peach, and apple woods give off a sweet, mild flavor and may enhance the flavor of some dishes. Beech, maple, hickory, and oak woods tend to be a bit more assertive and may be best for red meat dishes. Pecan, walnut, and mesquite woods are quite spicy and may be good for smoking and barbecuing poultry and seafood.

You should also keep in mind how much smoke flavor you want in order to determine which wood to use. Some may like a strong flavor while others may want it quite mild.

What is the best smoker cookbook?

While there are many to choose from, if you are just starting out and don’t want to spend a fortune on a pit or a range, this is the book for you. It will save you money on buying a new smoker and it will make your BBQ experience a lot more fun. (It also makes a great gift for the newbie or everyone else who loves barbecue.)

This book has it all – everything from grilling to smoking, including slow cooking. It has all the tips and tricks that you need to know when it comes to smoking meat and other types of cooking. It is also written in a way that combines vivid images and simple instructions. This makes the book ideal for anyone who is looking for a guide on how to get started in the barbecue industry.

What is the best cookbook to buy?

It helps to have a good barbecue cookbook which is a great resource for learning some innovative ways to barbecue without breaking the bank. Some of the best books are:

Favorite Barbecue New Year’s Eve: 35 recipes for grilled entr?es, sides, and drinks for your party

Homo Eats: Recipes for Cooking with Fire

The Art of Living According to Joe Beef: Recipes from the Celebrated Montreal Restaurant

Smoky, Sassy, and Sweet Barbecue.

What is the healthiest grill to use?

A grilling surface made of porcelain canister metal is one of the healthiest grilling surfaces you can use because it’s non-stick and easy to clean. However it’s harder to cook over a gas or charcoal fire.

Conclusion

And richly illustrated book, this book is a treasure that will serve as a great resource for all barbecuers.

It's also a great conversation piece, as its artful layout is both fun and visually stimulating. The book includes the following chapters:

  • Tools of the trade
  • The basics
  • Brisket
  • Chicken
  • Pork
  • Lamb
  • Poultry
  • Fish
  • Sausages
  • Vegetarian
  • Alternative proteins
  • Wet & dry rubs

Our Recommendation

NameCategoryProduct
Project SmokeBest OverallProject Smoke
Myron Mixon's BBQ Rules: The Old-School Guide to Smoking MeatBudget PickMyron Mixon's BBQ Rules: The Old-School Guide to Smoking Meat
The Border Cookbook: Authentic Home Cooking of the American Southwest and Northern MexicoUpgrade PickThe Border Cookbook: Authentic Home Cooking of the American Southwest and Northern Mexico