10 Best Pellet Smoker Cookbooks

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Best pellet smoker cookbooks such as Pitmaster, The Barbecue Bible, Meathead, and Smokin' Hot in the South.

If you’re looking to elevate your barbecue game, having the best pellet smoker cookbook could be the secret.

Sure, the internet is full of barbecue recipes from 1,000’s of home chefs. Perhaps maybe there are too many recipes! It can be like finding a needle in a needle stack trying to find the right recipe.

Having a good old fashion barbecue cookbook can save you all the time searching through never-ending recipe lists. In our house, we find physical barbecue cookbooks are best for saving, skimming, and note taking for our favorite recipes.

Want to save a recipe? Easy – bookmark it with a post-it note or fold the corner.

Need to make a note? Simple – just write it right in the cookbook.

Looking for awesome meal ideas with creative spins? Us too – The smoking and barbecue cookbooks we use are written by legendary pitmasters.

Plus cookbooks make great gifts to your friends and family that have a pellet smoker, grill, or just love barbecue.

There are many considerations to when choosing a cookbook, whether it’s a gift or just for you. We cover all the aspects that make a barbecue cookbook great.

Below we review our favorite pellet smoker cookbooks. These apply to anyone with a smoker, pellet smoker (as known as a pellet grill), charcoal grill, gas grill, or vertical smokers.

Our Top Picks

For those that can’t get enough barbecue food, we recommend considering buying all three of the top picks. Together these barbecue cookbooks cover every corner of the barbecue recipe world. Each author has a different perceptive on barbecue making each cookbook unique from each other with almost no repeat recipes.

Top 10 Smoking Cookbooks

Here are the top 10 smoking cookbooks that will take your pellet smoker skills to the next level.

Our team considered the 6 key factors: Organization, Clear Instruction, Visual Aids, Uniqueness, Expertise, and Recipe Value. While not every book contains each element in equal measure, they each excel in their own way.

1) “Pitmaster”

Pros
  • Detailed, well organized recipes
  • Easy to skim recipes
  • Tons of photos & visuals
  • Competition BBQ recipes
Cons
  • Recipes are more "traditional"

4.8out of 5

Organization5
Clear & Detailed Instruction4.5
Visuals5
Uniqueness4.8
Wealth of Knowledge Factor4.3
Recipes - How Many & Value4.9
  • Author: Andy Husbands and Chris Hart
  • Quick Bio: BBQ champions and cookbook authors.
  • Number of recipes: x
  • Top recipe pick: Butterfly Pork Butt Burnt Ends
  • Description: A comprehensive guide with over 200 recipes covering everything from meat selection to advanced smoking techniques. In terms of BBQ cookbooks, this one really covers a wide range. I personally love that this book offers basic recipes, like cooking Memphis-style ribs, all then follows on by showing you how to smoke whole hogs, North Carolina style. Incredible! In terms of education, there are very specific tips on proper smoker operation, the basics of backyard cooking, and then regional specific styles like Kansas City and the Carolinas.
Example of recipe from Pitmaster smoker cookbook review

2) “Meathead: The Science of Great Barbecue and Grilling”

Pros
  • Wealth of knowledge from a barbecue legend
  • Very detailed recipes with tips throughout
  • Tons of photos & visuals
  • Includes a lamb and seafood section
Cons
  • Recipes spill over onto multiple pages - can be difficult to skim
  • Organized OK but will need table of content or index to navigate quickly.

4.5out of 5

Organization4
Clear & Detailed Instruction5
Visuals4.5
Uniqueness4.2
Wealth of Knowledge Factor5
Recipes - How Many & Value4.2

As a foodie, I love that this book includes information about the relationship between heat, food, fire, and smoke. This makes for a super interesting read beyond the recipes.

There are a couple of great myth busters in this book that will be of particular interest to you if you already know your way around a barbecue; as an example – Myth: You should sear first, then cook. 

Example of recipe from Meathead smoker cookbook review

3) “The BBQ Bible”

3
The Barbecue Bible
Most Unique Recipes

The Barbecue Bible

Pros
  • Unique recipes from around the world
  • Organized by protein is easy to follow
  • A ton of recipes
  • Bonus section of drink and bread recipes
Cons
  • Has a few less photos than others
  • Skips some of the more "traditional" barbecue recipes

4.5out of 5

Organization4.2
Clear & Detailed Instruction4
Visuals4
Uniqueness5
Wealth of Knowledge Factor4.8
Recipes - How Many & Value4.8
  • Author: Steven Raichlen
  • Quick Bio: Renowned BBQ authority.
  • Number of recipes: 500
  • Description: Explore global grilling and smoking traditions with 500 recipes, including exotic flavors and techniques.

It’s got everything you need and is the perfect choice if you are interested in global flavors –  Jamaica, Senegal, Brazil, India, Thailand, Uruguay.

Example of recipe from The Barbecue Bible smoker cookbook review

4) “Project Smoke”

Pros
  • Easy to skim recipes
  • Plenty of photos
  • Includes seafood, lamb, & drinks
  • Awesome desserts section
Cons
  • Not as many recipes as others
  • Somewhat lacking on details

4.2out of 5

Organization4.5
Clear & Detailed Instruction4.3
Visuals4.2
Uniqueness4
Wealth of Knowledge Factor4
Recipes - How Many & Value3.9
  • Author: Steven Raichlen
  • Quick Bio: Barbecue expert and TV host.
  • Number of recipes: 100
  • Top recipe pick: Smokes Bacon-Bourbon Apple Crisp
  • Description: This book features 100 innovative recipes and explores global smoking traditions. I love the description they use to describe it “ for smoked food that roars off your plate with flavor.” That really sums this book up in a nutshell. Think hot-smoking, cold-smoking, rotisserie-smoking, and everything in between.
Example of recipe from Project Smoke smoker cookbook review

5) “Smoke: New Firewood Cooking”

  • Author: Tim Byres
  • Quick Bio: Chef and James Beard Award winner.
  • Number of recipes: x
  • Description: With 256 pages and a focus on unconventional ingredients and methods, this book pushes the boundaries of smoking. This meaty book boasts lots of amazing ways to use smoke in your everyday cooking. There are tons of delicious recipe ideas, like how to make relishes and salsas. As a chef, I love that everything in the book is made from scratch. From sauces to pickles and homemade jams, there is just so much on offer. If scratch made sides and condiments sound exciting to you, then consider this book. For all of these reasons, this is one of the best smoker cookbooks for good reason.

6) “Smokin’ with Myron Mixon”

  • Author: Myron Mixon
  • Quick Bio: Award-winning pitmaster.
  • Number of recipes: 75+
  • Description: The highly accomplished barbecue king – Myron Mixon, shares his secrets with 75 recipes. This man grew up around a barbecue, and this book is a testament to his generational knowledge. In the book, he says “People always try to overthink barbecue and make it complicated. Don’t do it!” Basically, the bones of the book is about keeping it simple as a winning formula. Fittingly, the book includes the basics, the best formulas (for marinades, rubs, etc.), and the perfect methods for cooking hog, ribs, chickens, and the rest.

7) “BBQ USA”

  • Author: Steven Raichlen
  • Quick Bio: Renowned BBQ authority.
  • Number of recipes: 425
  • Description: Explore America’s diverse barbecue traditions with this book’s recipes and stories. In terms of volume and value, this is right up there in terms of the best pellet smoker cookbooks. This book is laden with incredible USA heritage from a pitmaster’s perspective. Think maple syrup flavors from Vermont to grill-crazy California. That’s just the start….

8) Smokin’ Hot in the South: New Grilling Recipes from the Winningest Woman in Barbecue”

This cookbook showcases Melissa's Southern-inspired approach to grilling and smoking. It features over 85 recipes that highlight her unique take on barbecue, including appetizers, mains, sides, and desserts. The book also dives into her competition barbecue secrets and provides insights into her journey as a female pitmaster.

Pros
  • Easy to Skim Recipes
  • Large Seafood Section
  • Good Mix of Easy & Complex Recipes
Cons
  • Lacking in Visuals
  • Shorter than other cookbooks

3.9out of 5

Organization4.9
Clear & Detailed Instruction4
Visuals3
Uniqueness4
Wealth of Knowledge Factor4
Recipes - How Many & Value3.5
  • Author: Melissa Cookston
  • Quick Bio: Melissa Cookston is a world-champion pitmaster, known as the “winningest woman in barbecue.” She’s also a restaurateur and cookbook author.
  • Number of recipes: 85+
  • Description: This cookbook showcases Melissa’s Southern-inspired approach to grilling and smoking. It features over 85 recipes that highlight her unique take on barbecue, including appetizers, mains, sides, and desserts. The book also dives into her competition barbecue secrets and provides insights into her journey as a female pitmaster. In this book, Melissa covers a lot about the traditions in the South. Her recipes include fragrant herbs, tasty spices, and other seasonings. I really recommend this book for anyone wanting good recipes, in addition to information about tools, techniques, and delicious ingredients.
Example of recipe from Smokin' Hot in the South smoker cookbook review

9) “Franklin Barbecue: A Meat-Smoking Manifesto”

Pros
  • Great resource to learn BBQ
  • Unbelievable level of knowledge
  • Step-by-Step guide to select dishes
Cons
  • Very few recipes
  • More of a "learn BBQ" than a cookbook

3.4out of 5

Organization3.5
Clear & Detailed Instruction5
Visuals4
Uniqueness2
Wealth of Knowledge Factor5
Recipes - How Many & Value1
  • Author: Aaron Franklin
  • Quick Bio: Renowned pitmaster and owner of Franklin Barbecue in Austin, Texas.
  • Number of recipes: x
  • Description: This book offers a world of information within its 224 pages. It includes detailed instructions and insights into the science of smoking. I love that this book includes secrets based on years of hard work involved in owning his own barbecue trailer in Texas. It is filled with incredible knowledge and information related to customizing a smoker, curing your wood, and creating the perfect fire. If I had to pick one book, this is probably it.
Example of recipe from Franklin Barbecue smoker cookbook review

10)  “Southern Living Ultimate Book of BBQ”

  • Author: The Editors of Southern Living
  • Quick Bio: Experts in Southern cuisine.
  • Number of recipes: 200+
  • Description: This book showcases 200 recipes, including the art of slow-smoked classics from the South. I love the wisdom you get from this range of recipes. It’s basically a complication of all the Southern Living magazine’s BBQ recipes packed into one. There are the most incredible recipes for delicious barbecued meats and sides. There are also helpful tips and tricks to perfect grilling, smoking, and barbecuing methods. This book is particularly good-looking – full of colorful pictures and helpful process photos.

What Makes a Great Cookbook

Collection of the best pellet smoker cookbooks

A top notch cookbook is more than just a bunch of recipes. It is like a delicious adventure that not only results in you making more delicious dishes but also helps you learn more about cooking.

In the world of smoked food, where mixing flavors is as important as how you cook, an outstanding cookbook should contain certain or specific features to make it really great. If you’re anything like me, you might have shelves of books at home already. Personally, I find it a real challenge to find space each month for my new additions!

Here are the key qualities to look out for when choosing a new cookbook. Remember, you may find only a few qualities in one book, and that’s okay. These tips are specific to smoking cookbooks but are also relevant to other cookbook niches.

Expertise

A hallmark of a great cookbook is the author’s understanding of smoking techniques and an unwavering passion for the art of barbecue. These authors are not just casual, fly-by-night enthusiasts; they are seasoned pitmasters dedicated to perfecting the craft.

Their expertise shines through as they dissect the nuances of smoking, sharing insights gained through years of trial, error, and triumph. Personally, I like to look for authors who have previously (or currently) owned a barbecue business themselves. As a chef, I feel these authors really understand the real challenges and solutions.

When you dive into their pages, you are not just getting recipes; you are learning from a seasoned mentor. This may seem like a bit of a dramatic statement, but it’s true! Spending your hard earned cash on a smoking cookbook should result in your own personal growth as a barbecue enthusiast!

Crystal-Clear Instructions

The heart of any cookbook lies in its recipes. Exceptional cookbooks offer recipes that are not just a list of ingredients and instructions but an immersive experience.

They provide step-by-step guidance that even novice smokers can follow with ease. At the same time, they offer insightful tips and techniques that seasoned smokers can appreciate.

The language is clear, concise, and encourages experimentation while ensuring a successful outcome. For me personally, there is nothing worse than confusing instructions and methodology in a cookbook.

The steps should be super simple to follow. I also always look for cookbooks that include both Imperial (US system of measurement) and the Metric System (what most of the rest of the world uses.) That is just me and is not necessarily important to everyone.

Variety

Great smoking cookbooks should be loaded with tons of different recipes. They should present a wide spectrum of recipes that encompass different meats, rubs, sauces, and smoking methods.

From classic pulled pork to innovative smoked desserts, these cookbooks leave no stone unturned, ensuring that there is something for every palate and every occasion.

Beyond the actual recipes they offer, I prefer them to include a variety of techniques as well. The last thing you want is a recipe book filled with only meat recipes or just repeating the same steps and processes. You want cookbooks that are full of ideas across courses and ingredients.

The Aesthetic

As the saying goes, “we eat with our eyes first,” and exceptional smoking cookbooks understand the importance of visual appeal. High-quality photographs and illustrations grace their pages, turning each dish into a work of art.

Generally speaking, images of BBQ and smoked dishes nowadays are dark, moody, and smoky. There are plenty of textures, like wood and metal, to reflect the mood of the smoking environment.

The images not only showcase the final product but also capture the process, immersing you in the world of smoke and fire. These visuals make your mouth water and inspire you to fire up your smoker.

Beyond the art of images, they also provide a fair amount of guidance. It is super helpful to have a picture of what the dish should look like at different stages of the process. At the very least, there should be a great end dish shot per recipe. This is very helpful for novices, especially.

Knowledge

A truly outstanding smoking cookbook goes beyond recipes; it educates and empowers. It dedicates space to smoker types, dives into the nuances of wood selection, demystifies temperature control, and offers troubleshooting guidance for common smoking challenges. It transforms readers into confident pitmasters.

Wrapping It Up

Each of these cookbooks offers a unique perspective on smoking, from traditional Southern BBQ to innovative recipes and scientific insights. Whether you are a barbecue beginner or a seasoned pitmaster, these books will help you master the art of smoking and create unforgettable meals for your friends and family.