The Best Cookbooks for Learning How to BBQ and Grill Like A Pro
Learning how to BBQ like a pro can be rather intimidating if you’re not used to cooking on a grill. Truth be told, after years of tossing chicken on the grill, I’ve recently realized that I have been doing a lot of things wrong.
After watching a ton of YouTube videos on how to get my grill on, I realized I needed to take a more comprehensive approach — more like grilling for dummies. If you’re like me, and want to raise your grilling IQ, I’ve put together a list of cookbooks that offer tips and tricks for both the beginner and the seasoned pro.
Steven Raichlen’s Barbecue Bible is the next best thing to having him hold your hand and walk you through the grilling process. It doesn’t matter whether you are a grill master or a grill newbie, you’ll learn:
- How to grill with gas
- How to grill with charcoal
- Cooking on other grills
- Techniques on mastering heat control
- Prep before you grill
- How to bounce back from cooking mistakes
- What utensils, accessories and tools you’ll (really) need
This BBQ bible has over 1,000 color photographs that illustrate 100 valuable grilling techniques. It covers everything from building/starting the fire, smoking, making pizza, grilling fruit and how to infuse flavor.
With a name like Meathead Goldwyn, how can you possibly go wrong when it comes to cooking on the grill? This book is the ultimate guide to the art and science of BBQ and grilling technique.
Goldwyn teams up with food scientist Greg Blonder to explain how smoke sticks to food and works like a seasoning, just like salt. He also busts myths like:
- The more smoke, the better
- If you rest meat, it will be juicier
- Oiling the grill grates will prevent sticking
- Marinades penetrate deep into the meat
In addition to tons of easy to follow recipes, this guide to masterful grilling is stuffed full of beautiful illustrations, graphs and photography.
If you’re from Texas like I am, you know about Franklin Barbecue in Austin. It is legendary. Franklin’s meat-smoking cookbook manifesto reads like a novel, presenting his backstory, cooking philosophy, and passion for grilling.
Aaron Franklin knows Texas BBQ and gets down to the nitty-gritty of its diversity. He explains that BBQ in the Lone Star State is as diverse as the state’s terrain:
🥩Classic West Texas or ‘cowboy style’ BBQ involves slow-cooking meat directly over mesquite.
🥩South Texas BBQ is influenced by the Mexican barbacoa style of cooking which involves wrapping meat in leaves and cooking it in the ground.
🥩East Texas cuisine tends to lean toward more pork dishes cooked over hickory and pecan due to the proximity to Louisiana and Arkansas.
🥩Central Texas BBQ is about slow cooking in offset smokers over post oak. Meats are mostly brisket and ribs. Sausages are added to the mix due to the Germans and Czechs who settled in the area long ago.
Think of “Franklin Barbecue” as a definitive resource for pitmaster technique. You will learn how to:
- Build and customize your smoker
- Where to find and cure wood for smoking/grilling
- How to create and maintain the perfect fire
- Source top quality meats
If you’ve ever wanted to cook like a championship pitmaster in your own backyard then this may be the cookbook for you. Myron Mixon, the ‘‘winningest man in barbecue’, has packed this book full of great recipes and valuable tips.
Myron believes in simplicity and thinks most people ruin things by trying to overthink or complicate the grilling process. He says the last thing you need is another BBQ cookbook, so he wrote this book to share what he has learned on the competitive cooking circuit. He wants you to be able to cook award-winning BBQ for your friends and family.
In “Smokin’ with Myron Mixon” you will learn things like:
- How to smoke on a kettle grill
- Essential ingredients to have in your pantry
- What woods have the most impurities and flavor
- What barbecue is really supposed to taste like
- Why you have to take cooking seriously
Oh, and there are some great recipes in there too!
As a fan of Weber grills, I couldn’t resist adding this guide to the mix. Think of it as a master class on every aspect of outdoor grilling. Author Jamie Pruviance has pulled together a nice variety of easy to follow recipes designed to boost your confidence. The recipes are well illustrated and are presented as step-by-step instructions and photos to guide you through each phase of the cooking process. It is easy to follow and understand, especially for the novice.
Want to master the art of grilling burgers? Indent them in the middle and flip only once. The ideal thickness is ¾ inch. If you go thinner and it will dry out; fatter and the crust may turn black before the center is done. Fat makes burgers juicy that’s why ground chuck (shoulder) makes better burgers. Want more flavor? Use grated onions, hot sauce or Worcestershire sauce.
Other tips and techniques include:
- How to grill with charcoal
- How to grill with propane
- The best way to grill seafood
- How to coax great results from your smoker
Korean BBQ is the bomb! When I think of it, my mouth starts to water and I instinctively start to lick my fingers. This cookbook teaches you how to coax amazing Korean flavors from chicken, steaks, ribs, and sides.
Chef and author Bill Kim adapts his recipes to appeal to the American palate. These recipes are perfect for when you have a few friends over and want to impress them with your mastery of Korean-American style grilling. As I said, this cookbook focuses on the fundamentals of flavor profiles. You will learn:
- Korean BBQ basics
- How to master sauces and spice mixes
- Create side dishes like Kimchi salsa and Hoisin baked beans
- Get creative with leftovers
- Create flavorful snacks and drinks