5 Must-Have Grilling Cookbooks for All BBQ Lovers

There are thousands of barbecue and grilling cookbooks to choose from. Many of them have plenty of great recipes and tips, but there are 5 that are our clear favorites to form the foundation of your personal collection.

These titles have helped many improve their grilling game, and continue to be a timeless inspiration for many. The selection itself is a melding of cultures, infusing bold and exciting flavors into each meal.

Barbecuing should not just be for the dedicated meat-eater. These cookbooks will refine your approach to grilling, revealing new ways to use fish and vegetables, as well as cocktails and dessert.

Whether you prefer grilling, smoking, or slow-cooking, most books begin with tips on making the most of your barbecue., whether you cook with charcoal, gas, or wood chips. You can head straight for the recipes if you know your way around the grill.

The following books feature gentle instructions, excellent photography, and ingredients anyone can source easily. You can trust the recipes in each book to work well under fire. So, these are the best grilling cookbooks to give your guests a treat anytime.

Fire & Smoke

  • Author: Rich Harris
  • Publisher: Kyle Books
  • Year: 2016

Rich Harris has traveled widely and has great experience working with some of the world’s foremost chefs on countless television shows. The front even sports a quote from Heston Blumenthal.

Rich begins the book with a chapter on crowd-pleasers featuring the mouthwatering dry-rubbed sirloin of brunt onions and beef. The hand-held section treats us to chili beef burgers, lamb sheesh kebabs with pickled red cabbage, pork banh mi, chipotle steak tacos, and everything possible in-between.

You’ll love the fact that although every recipe is aimed at a BBQ, recipes are truly global. They don’t merely focus simple slabs of meat; instead, recipes come with instructions for every component of the meal. Such components include dipping sauces, marinades, and any required accompanying vegetables.

“From The Sea” is a fascinating chapter. It includes treats such as Galician octopus, lobster rolls, and tandoori sea bream.

The entire photography is beautiful throughout, and each chapter ends with cocktails, desserts, and brunch dishes, including smoked pork beans on toast – our favorite.

Meathead, The Science of Great Barbecue & Grilling

  • Author: Greg Blonder and Craig “Meathead” Goldwyn
  • Publisher: Rux Martin/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Year: 2016
A man willingly bearing the name “Meathead” and writing about meat leaves you with plenty of assurance that whatever he writes about meat is reliable. This cookbook is a readers’ delight as much as Craig is a fan favorite.

Meathead runs the website AmazingRibs.com, and as a longtime BBQ judge, he is fanatical about his love for properly smoked and cooked cuts. His website reveals that within one glance.

Combining elements of science, many years of research for his award-winning website, and his unmistakable wit to expose, Meathead is putting a stop to some of the world’s most common myths about outdoor cooking.

The book dissects these myths, taking everything apart, and collating the best methods for barbecue and grilling. This book is one you definitely want to have on your shelf. Yes, there are more than enough recipes within the pages to keep your palate warm.

He delves into weeds showing his profound grasp of the technicalities of barbecue. Yet, he writes like he was talking to a friend without practical knowledge of the subject. This book is a highly popular meat myth-busting, so rib boilin’, salt rubbin’ heads are in for a wild ride in Meathead.

Around the Fire

  • Author: Greg Denton and Gabrielle Quiñónez Denton
  • Publisher: Penguin Books
  • Year: 2016
Greg and Gabi are the chefs behind Ox, a Portland, Oregon restaurant famous for its flame-kissed fare. The couple was the 2017 winners of the James Beard Award. They offer one lesson: that you consider the fire to be as relaxing as it’s enchanting, an element to “intrigue and mesmerize.”

Their grilling strategy proceeds directly from first-hand studies of Mallmann’s Argentinian techniques, ultimately blended in smoked cocktails and grilled desserts. Some of the book’s recipes are undoubtedly high-brow, especially considering the grills you’d need could be high-end models too. However, the main focus is to resound the Ox ethos of using seasonal ingredients. Vegetarians would love this!

The most enriching revelation – black gold – is for meat-eaters. Greg and Gabi advise collecting grilled meat drippings, flavoring them with herbs and other aromatics to devise an outstanding experience, despite the simple dressing or sauce.

Seven Fires

  • Author: Francis Mallmann
  • Publisher: Workman Publishing
  • Year: 2009
You’re certainly not planning to pass up on a book by South America’s best-known chef. Quite aptly, he’s called the “godfather of the open flame.”

Mallmann has showcased his culinary aptitude in the world’s most excellent restaurants. Still, the bulk of his career has been about shattering the barrier between food and the kitchen. The entire idea is to bring cooking back to its basic form.

Mallmann’s book is deliberate to discuss the seven literal types of fire techniques. These include the traditional parilla to the equivalent of a cauldron.

Speaking of recipes, Mallmann introduces everything from simple to basically super-ambitious. Take a lamb al asador, with time itinerary spanning many hours of the day. You feel originality while flipping through the pages full of photographs of splayed rib cages and the insides of fish open to a spit. Indeed, the very essence of grilling should arouse our deep connections with ingredients and measures to guarantee a tasty meal.

The Food Lab, Better Home Cooking Through Science

  • Author: J. Kenji López-Alt
  • Publisher: W.W. Norton & Company
  • Year: 2015
Our final pick is a book with pretty little about grilling or barbecue. However, the concepts you’ll learn can easily translate from your kitchen to the backyard. It was published in 2015 and easily bests several others in many collections.

Kenji attended MIT and worked in the kitchens of top restaurant. He’s also worked in Cooks Illustrated magazine and television’s test kitchens. Kenji is the most famous contributor to the extremely popular contributor to SeriousEats.com, a highly popular website.

The Food Lab is a New York Times Seller that’s much like his SeriousEats articles. They are creative, engaging, funny, informative, and precise. Kenji’s understanding of food science and culinary arts definitely shines through.

Since this author is a self-proclaimed nerd, you’ll want to have a digital thermometer on hand, with a digital scale and sous vide machine to boot.

He begins your tour by explaining energy and heat transfer, before running through pans, pots, and knives (all essential tools of the trade). By the time you complete the chapter on frying, you’ll be soaring. His recipes are dainty American classics, where he improves on many traditional methods. Keep an eye for his 2-minute Hollandaise sauce.


Grilled meat and BBQ obviously require more than picking up ideas from peers. You can engage with the pros, who live and breathe steak, lamb, and everything in-between. These books from these authors, seasoned in culinary arts and writing, will help you up the ante on your grilling prowess.

It’s time to put the oomph back in your BBQ, and for the serious-minded, these books are the first ones you should own.