There’s no way around it. Barbecue is a very time consuming hobby. (At One Hot Mama’s it’s our vocation.) But so long as you’ve got your temperature under control and your thermometers set up, you might as well take advantage of that downtime.
And what better way to whittle away the hours waiting for your brisket to finish than reading about barbecue! We’ve pulled together the best barbecue books to help keep your bookshelf well stocked.
Whether you’re just starting out and need to learn the basics, a vet wanting to learn new recipes, or just love to learn about barbecue culture, you’ll find something great to read below.
Things to Consider Before Buying a Best BBQ Book
If you look around the market, you will most certainly come across dozens of BBQ books. Each one is unique and different in its own way and therefore you could be a bit confused as to which book to buy. Here are some useful tips which can help you to make the right choice.
- It should be able to guide you. A good BBQ book is informative, educational, and should even appeal to beginners. It should act as a guide instead of being overloaded with jargon and difficult topics.
- It should also share some useful information about the history of barbecue and the reasons why it continues to be popular even after many decades and even centuries. It must keep the reader engaged and share details that are interesting and pertinent.
- Finally, mere text alone will make a BBQ book drab and dull. There should be quality pictures and images and the information must be presented in a logical and easy to understand manner.
That said, we’ve taken all the worry about choosing a BBQ book by curating our list of the best books about BBQ (in no particular order). Let’s dig in!
Franklin Barbecue: A Meat Manifesto by Aaron Franklin and Jordan Mackay (2015)
Franklin Barbecue, located in Austin, Texas, is one of the most famous BBQ joints in all of America. This thorough book is filled with everything that Aaron, Franklin Barbecue’s proprietor, knows about this, what he terms, “loosey goosey” practice.
Unlike most recipe books, Franklin Barbecue isn’t filled with instructions cover to cover. In fact it’s not until chapter 6 that he gets into the actual ingredients and methods. But that’s what makes this New York Times bestseller (and his barbecue, for that matter) so good! He emphasizes that there’s no magic recipe in barbecue and that equipping his readers with general knowledge and tips and tricks is the best thing he can give each and every one of you.
Just keep in mind, this book is more focused on helping you to master the varieties of your smoker, wood fire, meat, rub, and smoke time, instead of blindly following a recipe. But if you want a great reference book with a few recipes to really master, Franklin Barbecue is for you.
Rodney Scott’s World of BBQ by Rodney Scott and Lolis Eric Elie (2021)
Rodney Scott is a James Beard award winner for barbecue, and was also featured on the Netflix’s Chef’s Table: BBQ series. Rodney takes a different approach from Aaron Franklin’s Texas approach. Rodney is known for Carolina-style whole hog barbecue and grew up cooking at his family’s barbecue spot: Scott’s Bar-B-Q.
In this book, Rodney shares his path to finding his own place in the barbecue world, in addition to teaching a Carolina approach to barbecue. The book includes:
- Instructions on how to build yourself a whole hog barbecue pit
- Recipes for everything from pit-smoked turkey to ribs to hush puppies
- A wide ranging collection of ribs, sauces, and side dish recipes
- Plus some delightfully delicious alcoholic and non-alcoholic drink recipes to complement barbecue food
This book presents a traditional approach to barbecue from someone who grew up in the pits. This is a great book to broaden your barbecue horizons.
Smokin’ with Myron Mixon: Recipes Made Simple, from the Winningest Man in Barbecue by Myron Mixon and Kelly Alexander (2011)
Myron Mixon is a barbecue world championship pitmaster on the competitive circuit. Learning the craft from his father, he took over the family business and became the leader of the winningest team in competitive barbecue. In the competitive BBQ world, pitmasters do NOT share recipes or techniques.
But after “Smoking” the competition for so long, Myron came out with his book on BBQ. He helps you learn what you need to get started and then sets you free with formulas for marinades and rubs. He even includes his famous recipe for cupcake BBQ chicken. Smokin’ with Myron Mixon is a great smoking cookbook for beginners with award winning recipes.
The Barbecue! Bible by Steven Raichlen (2008)
Steven Raichlen is an award winning culinary writer who has hosted plenty of barbecue shows over the years in addition to writing many books. His book The Barbecue! Bible is one of the most popular culinary books ever written. It has sold more than 1.3 million copies and been translated into more than 15 languages. And if that’s not enough, the book is the proud winner of the Julia Child Cookbook Award. In the book Raichlen shares plenty of barbecued secrets with different recipes from all around the world, including India, Jamaica, and Thailand. Not only that, but he also shares all there is to know about sauces, marinades, and grilling techniques.
The Barbecue! Bible contains a whopping 500 recipes, offering a mountain of grilled, smoked, and roasted meat ideas. If you are looking specifically for recipes, this is the book for you.
Republic of Barbecue: Stories Behind the Brisket by Elizabeth S.D. Engelhardt (2009)
“Some of the rowdiest food fights in the United States involve barbecue. Claims of territory, boundary drawing, and quasi-religious testifying break out over slow-cooked meats,” writes Elizabeth Engelhardt, who is the John Shelton Reed Distinguished Profession of Southern Studies at UNC Chapel Hill.
This isn’t so much a cookbook as it is a history of barbecue in the U.S. Republic of Barbecue relies on first person accounts from pitmasters, butchers, sausage makers, and forest managers to tell the deep history of the deep South’s beloved cuisine.
Cool Smoke: The Art of Great Barbecue by Tuffy Stone (2018)
This book is a treasure trove of grilling and smoking recipes: from mustard and rosemary crusted pork shoulder to caramelized apple sauce.
Champion pitmaster Tuffy Stone offers readers every tip and trick he’s learned from years on the barbecue competition circuit. Trained by a French chef before he found his way to open flames, Stone has precise recipes and a plethora of complimentary flavors.
Life of Fire: Mastering of the Arts of Pit-Cooked Barbecue, the Grill, and the Smokehouse: A Cookbook by Pat Martin and Nick Fauchald (2022)
Every barbecue book seems to begin with a similar, brief explanation of wood, charcoal, smokers, and grills, but they rarely get as in depth as Pat Martin does. He provides descriptions of wood types that are useful and a thorough explanation of the difference between green and seasonal wood. Martin also describes the varying stages of fire, from ignition to ash, and the book is organized around cooking in each of these stages (hence the title).
In addition to barbecue basics, you’ll learn how to cure and smoke meat. The heart of the book is whole hog barbecue, which is no surprise because Martin’s Bar-B-Que in Nashville, TN, carries on the legacy of West Tennessee Whole Hog. What Rodney Scott did for South Carolina with his whole hog cooking book, Martin does for Tennessee.
It’s a cookbook, but it will live on as an essential historical document of an American barbecue style.
Black Smoke: African Americans and the United States of Barbecue by Adrian Miller (2021)
This book centers around Black barbecuers and their historical and present contributions to the American food scene. Each chapter tells a different part of the African American connection to barbecue: from its historical roots, to the relationship between grilling and church culture, and everything in between..
Recipes are interspersed throughout so you can cook up some ribs to go along with your knowledge.
Smokin’ in the Boys Room: SOuthern Recipes from the Winningest Woman in Barbeque by Melissa Cookman (2014)
Known as “the winningest women in barbecue,” Melissa Cookman shares the best of the Southern Delta with her delightful barbecue cookbook. 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 a whole gamut of sauces and seasoning blends.
It doesn’t matter how many times you’ve smoked up some meat, Cookman provides something for everyone. 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?
Horn Barbecue: Recipes and Techniques from a Master of the Art of BBQ by Matt Horn (2022)
Chef Horn was honored as one of Food & Wine’s ten “Best New Chefs” for 2021 and is being called the most exciting new talent in American barbecue in years.
Master the art of genuine smoked-cooked barbecue with 70 mouthwatering recipes, smoking techniques, and BBQ wisdom.
This is not a regional barbecue cookbook, but a reflection of the author’s style. Pulling from traditional Texas and Carolina-style barbecue, Chef Horn puts his California spin into the mix resulting in an entirely new style of barbecue.
Meathead: The Science of Great Barbecue and Grilling by Meathead Goldwyn and Greg Blonder (2016)
Craig “Meathead” Goldwyn combines years of research, a healthy dose of science (Greg Blonder is a PhD from Boston University), and his sharp wit to provide us all with expert knowledge in his cookbook, Meathead: The Science of Great Barbecue and Grilling.
Meathead explores the science of great barbecue and grilling. He guides readers
through an understanding of food interactions when exposed to heat, fire, and smoke, and he also busts some myths. Knowing the science behind food interactions is crucial for those looking to take their skills to a new level.
Don’t worry though, it’s not all science. There are also over 100 delicious barbecue and grilling recipes inside.
What’s the Best BBQ book for you?
From weekend chefs, to barbecue enthusiasts, to veteran grill masters, everyone can find a new and exciting barbecue book on One Hot Mama’s list. There are catch-all books, history 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. And if you’re not in the mood to fire up the grill, you can always visit One Hot Mama’s and experience the best BBQ in the Lowcountry.