Best BBQ Cookbooks


We’ve covered plenty of famous BBQ pitmasters who obviously know a thing or two about cooking amazing barbecue, but when it comes to who wrote the defining book on BBQ mastery, we want to provide only the best. Understandably, not everyone is on the same page (pardon the pun), but it’s totally true! Here are some essential BBQ cookbook recommendations for all levels.

Best BBQ Cookbooks for Beginners

As the saying goes, you have to start somewhere when it comes to learning how to barbecue. And who better to recommend than a couple of lucky folks who learned their craft through admiration and careful observation. You might find that their dedication to learning BBQ is just from some fancy cooking school. Some of the better BBQ chefs actually started out becoming inspired to learn by practical methods and trial and error.

Aaron Franklin: A Meat Smoking Manifest

Aaron Franklin cookbook

You might have heard of Aaron Franklin on many occasions, and has quite a knack for defining Texas barbecue. He’s not your average southern pitmaster and learned some of the best tricks from BBQ legend John Mueller who was dubbed the Dark Prince of Barbecue’. Aaron not only started out as a kitchen prep for Mueller, but he eventually learned secrets to smoking meats using the same smoker he eventually purchased from Mueller.

His tell-all book- A Meat Smoking Manifest covers 224 pages of how he learned his craft. Mind you, this is not a specific cookbook by definition- it’s an introduction to the reasons why smoking and meat preparation is achieved. Aaron is a master at cooking large portions of meat, but to be honest, will translate for any Big Green Egg or Kettle Grill owner easily enough. If you’re looking for peace of mind, Aaron provides you with just the right amount of info to help you get your feet wet.

Bludso’s BBQ Cookbook: A Family Affair

Bludso’s BBQ Cookbook

Kevin Bludso has recently been praised for his Tough Guy’ attitude when it comes to Texas-style BBQ but his cookbook- A Family Affair tells a touching story of how this Compton-raised kid learned the southern style of BBQ from his tough-as-nails Granny. He might have stolen the spotlight on many TV appearances such as The American BBQ Showdown on Netflix and has some influential restaurants with his name slapped on them, but he does know a thing or two on how to BBQ like a champ!

Bludso’s book covers 288 pages with plenty of BBQ recipes, grilling and smoking methods, and plenty of side dishes. He keeps it real from start to finish and shares his story along the way. He also shares great info for beginners who are looking to make home BBQ for themselves and doesn’t waste time telling how it should be done in simple words. It’s a must for beginners as an introduction to learning the basics of BBQ smoking and grilling.

Best Technical BBQ guides

Perhaps you are looking for info that will give you a better understanding of how BBQ cookbook instruction is best served. That can be a tough journey if you don’t know the right authors who have paved the way for any aspiring pitmaster. Here are two more influential masters you don’t want to miss.

Meathead: The Science of Great Barbecue Grilling

Meathead The Science of Great Barbecue Grilling cookbook

If there was ever a Dr. Phil of Barbecue, Meathead Goldwyn would be the obvious answer. He uses both science and history to point out what makes barbecue even better and corrects the myths that have been passed down each generation for way too long. His book spans 400 pages and includes 100 recipes along the way. Even if you aren’t quite ready for the BBQ cook-off competition, Meathead’s book will tell you directly what works and doesn’t work.

He’s also very entertaining to read and you’ll get a sense of why BBQ is a technique and follows a very simple process. Understanding this process is just a matter of debunking the stories and BBQ methods that have been circulated over the last century. We don’t think Meathead is anti-vegan, but his book dispels much of the disinformation that would turn meat lovers away from great-tasting and healthy barbecued food.

Shawn Baker: The Carnivore Diet

Shawn Baker The Carnivore Diet cookbook

If you haven’t seen Dr. Baker’s interview on the Joe Rogan podcast, you’ll learn that many of the lifestyle choices that are directly linked to the Vegan lifestyle are terrifying and life-threatening. Baker’s book provides more than a reason to eat meat, but a complete nutritional breakdown of what meat does for your body. And since BBQ cookbooks are often all about meat, this book is your official 411 on learning why these benefits will be helpful.

Once again, it’s not specifically a book on cooking meat, but it details the viable meats that are cooked using charts and scientific data throughout its 224 pages. It’s also a ‘case and point’ argument for self-healing for those who are experienced chefs and want to improve their immune system by switching to a carnivore-based diet. This cookbook is the best example of meat nutrition and how it can be used to assist your BBQ hobby even further.

Best Competition BBQ Cookbooks

Here our favorite books that cover the technical aspect of smoking meat and great tasting competition BBQ. Remember, cooking at home is much different than cooking at a cookoff for judges. Nonetheless, these books include techniques that you can apply to your home BBQ but their intention is to help you get insider tips for winning competitions. Check out our list of tools and accessories that you’ll want to have for cookoffs.

Operation BBQ: 200 Smokin’ Recipes from Competition Grand Champions

Operation BBQ cookbook

What more proof do you need when it comes to a book that contains more than 70 of the top BBQ champs who have shared their winning BBQ recipes! The authors include Stan Hays, Cindi Mitchell, and Tim O’Keefe who spent enough time gathering these recipes in addition to being part of the judging for many of these recipes.

Wicked Good Barbecue: Fearless Recipes from Two Damn Yankees Who Have Won the Biggest, Baddest BBQ Competition in the World

Wicked Good Barbecue Fearless Recipes cookbook

Yes, it’s a long title for a book, but certainly the most technical and mind-blowing BBQ book you’ll ever want to get your hands on. It features Andy Husbands and Chris Hart who are two competition pitmasters that defy the law of physics, gravity, and negative comments from salty critics. Within this 224-page book, you’ll find these award-winning recipes are profoundly and defiantly based on technical perfection.

If you want to geek out on how involved the competition barbecue process turns the tables on competitors, this book is for you. It’s not a book for beginners by far, but will likely make your mind start to smoke from the level of comprehension detailed within these pages. It’s a must-have for BBQ gurus of all levels.

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