The 10 Best Grilling Cookbooks to Read in 2020

Get the best techniques and recipes for backyard grilling

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Our Top Picks

Best Overall: "The Thrill of the Grill: Techniques, Recipes, & Down-Home Barbecue"
"First published in 1990, this book showed Americans they could—and should—do more with their grills."

Best for Beginners: "How to Grill: The Complete Illustrated Book of Barbecue Techniques"
"Every recipe features full-color, step-by-step photographs to make grilling foolproof for newbies."

Best for Charcoal Grilling: "Weber’s Greatest Hits: 125 Recipes for Every Grill"
"A collection of 125 adventurous yet approachable recipes from the makers of the ubiquitous kettle-style grill."

Best for Gas Grilling: "How to Grill Everything: Simple Recipes for Great Flame-Cooked Food"
"Food writer Mark Bittman gives equal attention to both charcoal and gas with every easy-to-follow recipe."

Best Vegetarian: "Charred: The Complete Guide to Vegetarian Grilling and Barbecue"
"A collection of 70 inventive recipes for beautifully grilled vegetarian dishes."

Best for Entertaining: "Rob Rainford's Born to Grill: Over 100 Recipes From My Backyard to Yours"
"More than 100 grilling recipes inspired by flavors from around the world, organized by menus meant for hosting a crowd."

Best Specialized: "Franklin Steak: Dry-Aged. Live-Fired. Pure Beef."
"A love letter to steak from Austin pitmaster Aaron Franklin that’s more textbook than cookbook." 

Best Chef-Driven: "Charcoal: New Ways to Cook With Fire"
"A Michelin-starred chef pushes the bounds of what one can do with charcoal."

Best Recipe Variety: "Big Green Egg Cookbook: Celebrating the Ultimate Cooking Experience" (Volume 1)
"The best grilling book for someone who would love to cook every single meal outside."

Best Gift: "Mallmann on Fire: 100 Inspired Recipes to Grill Anytime, Anywhere"
"A stunningly beautiful book about cooking with fire that just might end up on the coffee table."

Grilling—not to be confused with barbecuing—is all about cooking food quickly over a fire. What that food is, however, is up to you, as is what style of grill you use and whether you choose to cook with charcoal or gas. Luckily, no matter what you want to grill and how you prefer to do it, there’s a book for that. Whether you want to learn the basics of grilling, up your grilling game, cook for a crowd, or discover completely new ways to use your grill, here are our top picks for the best grilling books to buy this year. 

Best Overall: "The Thrill of the Grill: Techniques, Recipes, & Down-Home Barbecue"

First published in 1990, this title from outdoor cooking experts Chris Schlesinger and John Willoughby showed Americans they could—and should—do more with their grills than just burgers, brats, and steaks. While some of the recipe titles could definitely use an update (see: "exotic Caribbean root and tuber soup with curried scallion butter"), the flavors and methods have stood the test of time (grilled chorizo soup with kale and sweet potatoes, grilled shrimp with pineapple-ancho chile salsa and tortillas), and the grilling tips and tricks are as invaluable as ever. It’s no wonder this book is now billed as "the granddaddy of all grilling cookbooks." 

Best for Beginners: "How to Grill: The Complete Illustrated Book of Barbecue Techniques"

"The Barbecue! Bible" may be grilling expert Steven Raichlen’s most well-known book, but for beginners, his 2001 follow-up, "How to Grill: The Complete Illustrated Book of Barbecue Techniques," is the best place to start. Each of the 100 recipes—from small and simple like garlic bread to time-consuming and complex like a whole lamb—include full-color, step-by-step photographs that can be referenced time and time again. This means that even total newbies can grill just about anything and get it right on the first try.

Best for Charcoal Grilling: "Weber’s Greatest Hits"

It’s safe to say the folks at Weber know a thing or two about grilling, and this sturdy paperback cookbook showcases what you can do with the ubiquitous black kettle-style grill (or any grill, really). Written by the brand’s master griller Jamie Purviance, the book's “greatest hits” go beyond basic burgers with recipes like black pepper New York strip steaks with horseradish sauce; Italian sausages with peppers, onions, and provolone; ancho-chile chicken thighs with tomato chutney; and grilled broccoli with toasted breadcrumbs and Parmesan.

There are also plenty of grilled appetizer and dessert recipes (think smoked nuts and grilled peaches). A handy series of charts at the end cover grilling times and zones for different sizes and cuts of meat and produce as well as metric equivalents, food-safe temperatures, and more.

Best for Gas Grilling: "How to Grill Everything: Simple Recipes for Great Flame-Cooked Food"

Food writer Mark Bittman is known for making recipes approachable and accessible. And while his grilling guide isn’t technically a gas-grilling cookbook, he makes a point of giving equal attention to both charcoal and gas from the get-go. Throughout the more than 500 pages, Bittman truly lays out the basics of grilling just about everything, from burgers to nectarines to smoky guacamole. Each item or dish gets the Grilling 101 treatment, with flavor variations, sauces, and toppings suggested at the end. Bittman also spends quite a bit of time on grill setup, cleanup, maintenance, and tips and tools for gas-grilling success.

Best Vegetarian: "Charred: The Complete Guide to Vegetarian Grilling and Barbecue"

Vegetables are usually an afterthought in the grilling world (char some peppers for steak, grill onions for a burger), and vegetarians are too often stuck with mystery meat patties or overdone portobello burgers when they gather for a backyard barbecue. In "Charred: The Complete Guide to Vegetarian Grilling and Barbecue," barbecue expert Genevieve Taylor finally gives grilled vegetables the attention they deserve. Throughout 70 inventive recipes, including barbecued carrot with ricotta and toasted pecans and minted pea and paneer fritters, she opens up a whole new world for vegetarians and grillmasters alike. 

Best for Entertaining: "Rob Rainford's Born to Grill: Over 100 Recipes From My Backyard to Yours"

While firing up a grill doesn’t always involve a crowd, it’s hard to disassociate the act of grilling from the quintessential backyard barbecue. For Canadian chef and television personality Rob Rainford, the two are inseparable. For his 2012 grilling cookbook, Born to Grill, the 100-plus worldly recipes are organized by menus, not chapters. For example, Menu 1: A Taste of North Africa includes Egyptian lamb koftas and cinnamon-scented tomato jasmine rice, while subsequent menus feature Chinese five-spiced quail, rotisserie butter-and-sage Cornish hen, and Spanish paella with grilled seafood. Most of the recipes are for serving eight people, but Rainford makes it fairly easy to halve (or double) them if need be. 

Best Specialized: "Franklin Steak: Dry-Aged. Live-Fired. Pure Beef."

Although he’s best known for the brisket he serves at his eponymous Austin barbecue joint, Aaron Franklin proves he can master any meat with this love letter to steak. Like his first book, the New York Times-bestselling "Franklin Barbecue," "Franklin Steak" is part textbook and part cookbook, packed with tips, charts, and cheat sheets on cuts, aging, and how to order from a butcher. In fact, there’s so much that goes into picking, preparing, and planning for the perfect steak, that he doesn’t even get to “the main event: putting meat to fire” until chapter 7. But the payoff is worth it, and Franklin even includes recipes for sides and sauces as well as pairing suggestions. 

Best Chef-Driven: "Charcoal: New Ways to Cook With Fire"

Los Angeles chef Josiah Citrin has two Michelin stars and five highly acclaimed restaurants, including a "casual" concept Charcoal Venice. Born of that restaurant, this gorgeous new cookbook pushes the bounds of what one can do with charcoal. Sure, you can grill over the coals, but Citrin likes to cook inside them, too, as well as find inventive ways to sear and smoke different foods. The result is nearly 100 restaurant-worthy dishes like J1-marinated skirt steak and salt-baked whole Maine lobster. The beautifully charred carrots on the cover are no accident, either, as vegetables and meat get equal billing in this book. 

Best Recipe Variety: "Big Green Egg Cookbook: Celebrating the Ultimate Cooking Experience" (Volume 1)

For many, a ceramic kamado-style grill is the best way to achieve the low-and-slow conditions required for good barbecue, but first and foremost kamado grills are, well, grills. And this hefty recipe collection from the makers of the most coveted kamado grill, The Big Green Egg, showcases the amazing versatility of these cookers.

If you’re looking for better ways to do basic burgers and brats, you won’t find too much of that on these pages. What you will find are more inventive recipes like cedar-wrapped scallops with orange beurre blanc and Dutch oven succotash as well as breakfasts, desserts, baked goods, and more. This book is for you if you’ve ever thought, I wish I could cook everything outside. Because with a kamado-style grill, you pretty much can. 

Best Gift: "Mallmann on Fire: 100 Inspired Recipes to Grill Anytime, Anywhere"

Francis Mallmann may be best known for his fire-roasted whole cow and goat recipes that appeared in his 2009 "Seven Fires" cookbook, but the lauded Argentinian chef does so much more than over-the-top nose-to-tail cooking. For his second book, "Mallmann on Fire," he shared more approachable recipes like grilled short ribs with vinegar-glazed charred endive alongside gorgeous full-page photos and tales of his travels from Brooklyn to Uruguay.

Even the more ambitious projects seem somewhat manageable, including the seven-course suggested menu for 18 people for which he includes a timeline for making everything happen (talk to your butcher a week out, prepare the basting liquid at 10 a.m., turn the large cuts of meat at 1 p.m., etc.). While it may not be the most practical grilling guide, it’s a stunningly beautiful book that pushes boundaries and shows how home cooks can use fire to cook a wide variety of foods.

Why Trust The Spruce Eats?

Emily Farris is a food and lifestyle writer as well as a recipe developer, who has written about grilling for Bon Appétit. She obsesses over kitchen design and is married to a four-seasons griller. She’s also embarrassingly good at buying expensive things online and can see straight through a fake review.

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