Whether you’re a beginner getting started, a seasoned pro looking for some inspo or just love looking at pictures of barbecue, there’s something here for you!
We’ve done the work and put together a list of the 11 best smoker cookbooks to up your smoking game. There’s everything from easy and quick smoker recipes to restaurant-famous meals and competition-winning ribs. By one or add them all to your collection – just please remember to purchase through our links as a way to say thanks – it won’t cost you any extra!
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The 11 Best Smoker Cookbooks of 2020
Project Smoke - Best Innovative
Smokin' with Myron Mixon - Best Simple
Pitmaster - Best Expert Collection
Meathead - Best Smoking and Grilling
The Brisket Chronicles - In-Depth
Smoke and Spice - Best Original
Smoking Meat 101 - Best Beginner
Slow Fire - Best Technique
The Wood Pellet Smoker and Grill Cookbook - Best Pellet
The Complete Electric Smoker Cookbook - Best Electric
New York Times Bestseller Smoker Cookbook:
Franklin Barbecue: A Meat Smoking Manifesto
Franklin Barbecue, located in Austin, Texas, is one of the most famous BBQ joints in all of America. And, 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 his New York Times Bestseller (and his barbecue for that matter) so darn good! He emphasizes that there’s no magic recipe in barbecue and that being equipped with general knowledge and tips and tricks is the best thing he can give each and every one of you.
And, the ratings back up his work! With an average score of 4.8/5 from over 3,000 readers, Franklin Barbecue can take your brisket to the next level.
Just keep in mind, this book is more focused on helping you to master the variables of your smoker, wood, fire, meat, rub and time, instead of just blindly following a recipe. But, if you want a great reference book with just a few recipes to really master, Franklin Barbecue is for you.
Best Innovative Smoker Cookbook:
Steven Raichlen steps away from the norm in Project Smoke to bring you a tonne of innovative and all smoker-based recipes that are still backed with his many years of solid experience and expert knowledge.
From traditional brisket to seafood, smoked cocktails and desserts, Project Smoke covers it all. Starting with the basics like which type of wood to use, Steven breaks down barbecue technique into 7 easy to follow steps that’ll take you from novice to tried and true, encouraging you to have fun while you’re at it.
There’s 100 bbq recipes that, unlike a lot of cookbooks, are all done on a smoker. And, they’re not all just beef with a side of pork. Project Barbecue will have you smoking things you wouldn’t have even dreamt of!
Oh, and did we mention the smoked cheesecake?
Best Keep It Simple Smoker Cookbook:
Smokin' with Myron Mixon
If you’re looking for proof that the author of any best smoker cookbooks has the expertise to have written it, then Smokin’ with Myron Mixon is it.
Before writing this book, author Myron Mixon had won 3 world championships, more than 180 grand championships and took the title of breakout star in the TV series, BBQ Pitmasters.
And, his advice might surprise you! Throughout this top rated smoker cookbook, you’ll find his ‘keep it simple’ mantra applied to the whole barbecue process as he guides you through the basics, setup, techniques and more than 75 recipes.
But, what really makes Smokin’ with Myron Mixon stand out to us is that Myron doesn’t just talk about large quantity or competition-based cooking. Instead, he tells you how he does barbecue in his own backyard so that you can take what he’s said and apply it to your own smoking right away, whether that’s to impress your friends, or, to win you next barbecue competition.
Whether you’re cooking on an offset, kamado, electric, or even a gas grill, Myron shows you how to adapt his recipes for success without the anxiety of stressing out about exact quantities, temperatures and cook times.
We like it when simple means best!
Best Expert Collection Smoker Cookbook:
In the top rated smoker cookbook, Pitmaster, you’re not only getting access to the knowledge of one expert, you’re getting tips and actual recipes from more than 10 well-known competition winners, restaurateurs and barbecue professionals.
With a spotlight on different regional barbecue styles, Pitmaster starts with the basics and moves you through to more advanced cooks like the North Carolina whole hog. But, the backyard is definitely not forgotten with a whole chapter dedicated to the solid foundation of cooking for friends and family.
Their recipes can be used on a range of different smokers so you won’t need to upgrade your gear. But, if you’re new to ‘cue they go into detail on their favorite smokers including the Weber Smokey Mountain (read our full review of the WSM here).
Most of all, we love that Pitmaster respects all styles of barbecue and encourages you to find your own with what you’ve got and what you enjoy. And, for people like us who like it all, it’s right on point to be able to follow the lead from Lewis Barbecue one day and Hometown Bar-B-Que the next
Best Smoke and Grill Cookbook:
Meathead: The Science of Great Barbecue and Grilling
Meathead covers just about everything barbecue including both smoking and grilling in a science-based approach that shatters myths so that you can cook better food.
This book is thorough, meticulous and just what you called for if you want a great generalist book that’ll actually teach you the how, why, when and where of barbecue instead of just being able to follow a few recipes.
Written by the well-respected Meathead Goldwyn, founder of AmazingRibs.com, this best BBQ cookbook is as much designed for the beginner as it is the experienced pitmaster. Meathead takes the ‘magic’ out of cooking by teaching you the core concepts that will 100% make your food taste better.
But, if you’re worried about too much theory and not enough practical advice, you can kiss that goodbye. There’s more than 100 recipes ranging from the basics to more creative inventions that deliver flavor you weren’t expecting.
Meathead is a must-have on any outdoor cooks shelf that will become a reference book for helping you create outstanding dishes of your own.
Best In-Depth Smoker Cookbook:
The Brisket Chronicles: How to Barbecue, Braise, Smoke, and Cure the World's Most Epic Cut of Meat
When it comes to barbecue, brisket is king! And, this whole book is dedicated to brisket, brisket and more brisket. It’s pretty much our dream come true…
In The Brisket Chronicles, Texas-style smoked brisket is just the beginning. There’s more than 60 different recipes covering brisket that’s barbecued, cured, braised, boiled, fried, and, brisket even for breakfast. Whether you want to learn how to make Old School Pastrami or more trendy takes on this versatile cut of meat, The Brisket Chronicles covers it.
But, recipes aren’t all that’s in it. There’s plenty of time spent on theory and helping you master the technique with tips scattered throughout the book.
Basically, Steven Raichlen really knows what he’s talking about and this book will help you do brisket everything beautifully!
Best Original Smoker Cookbook:
Smoke and Spice
Smoke and Spice was the first smoking cookbook that we added to our collection. And, since then, it’s become one of our most well-used barbecue tools.
Originally written back in 1994, this revised edition recognizes that most people are well-versed at what they term “introductory barbecue”. But, it’s time to move beyond grilling to “real, honest-to-goodness ‘Q'”. And, it can totally be done in anyone’s backyard!
Although Smoke and Spice does address technique throughout the book, you won’t find pages and pages just focused on technique in here.
Instead, it’s pretty much cover to cover with a tonne of recipes including regional barbecue favorites and more modern takes on this versatile method of cooking. You’ll also find added tips, serving suggestions and information on how to make your own variations of their recipes. Cheryl and Bill really make sure you’re not jumping in blind.
There’s also plenty of sides, salads and desserts to round out your meal too.
Best Beginner Smoker Cookbook:
Smoking Meat 101: The Ultimate Beginners Guide
You may be fresh but Bill West, my friend, isn’t! This respected barbecue master has spent more than 30 years working with prolific pit masters in South Carolina, and, the past 20 or so years, teaching backyard barbecue through his blog, BarbecueTricks.com, and his BarbecueTricks.com YouTube channel.
Smoking Meat 101: The Ultimate Beginners Guide, is an amalgamation of all of his teachings, coupled with a few extras and more than 75 recipes.
Unlike a lot of best smoker cookbooks, Smoking Meat 101 starts at the very beginning. It’ll help you select the right type of smoker, know which accessories are essentials versus extras, and, understand how different woods affect the flavor of your meat.
It’s straight-forward. It doesn’t distract with too many stories of the competitive barbecue circuit. And, it doesn’t assume you might want to run your own barbecue restaurant one day (although there’s nothing wrong with using this book as your foundation if you do!).
What Smoking Meat 101 does do is provide you with an excellent foundation from which you can experiment with both it’s traditional recipes and it’s more exotic creations.
Best Technique-Focused Smoker Cookbook:
Slow Fire: The Beginners Guide to Barbecue
Slow Fire is another beginner barbecue book. But, with it’s simple yet thorough focus on technique, this one’s really just great for anyone beginner up.
If you’re not already familiar with him, Ray “Dr. BBQ” Lampie is one of the most well-liked and well-known experts in the barbecue world. Starting as an award-winning competitor, Dr. BBQ has taught his own barbecue school, started the Dr BBQ restaurant, and, written another award-winning cookbook, Dr. BBQ’s Big-Time Barbecue Cookbook.
With plenty of recipes to get you going, Slow Fire is well-written and straight forward without limiting you to beginner-level meals. It’s also designed for anyone from stove-top smokers to vertical, offset, electric, pellet and ceramic.
Best Pellet Smoker Cookbook:
The Wood Pellet Smoker and Grill Cookbook: Recipes and Techniques for the Most Flavorful and Delicious Barbecue
If you’ve got a pellet smoker and want a barbecue cookbook that focuses solely on that, The Wood Pellet Smoker and Grill Cookbook is an excellent choice.
Written by Peter Jautaikis, self-proclaimed wood pellet smoker-grill aficionado, this book dives straight in to the hows, whats and whys or this specific type of smoking. This means that you get all the extras more general barbecue books may have missed including learning about every part of a pellet smoker, the different types of heat controllers, how to select and store pellets, and, testing for hot spots on your grill.
Once your well-versed in the theory and technique, The Wood Pellet Smoker and Grill Cookbook has an appealing range of recipes. Covering appetizers, poultry, red meat, pork, seafood and a few extras, you’ll without a doubt benefit from Peter’s extensive and specialized experience or pellet smoking.
Best Electric Smoker Cookbook:
The Complete Electric Smoker Cookbook
Using an electric heating element plus wood to smoke meat is really different to using a pure log fire. So, if you’re weapon of choice is an electric smoker, The Complete Electric Smoker Cookbook gives you precisely the right focused advice you need to master this unique method.
Written by self-proclaimed barbecue master and teacher, Bill West, The Complete Electric Smoker Cookbook covers everything from the fundamentals of electric smoking to advanced more creative recipes with a spin.
Just like electric smoking itself, this top rated smoker cookbook keeps things pretty simple. We love the fact that Bill focuses on using pantry essentials, minimizing the number of ingredients you need to buy.
And, because electric smokers often mean bulk smoking, there’s even some notes on how to store and freeze different types of smoked meats without losing too much moisture.