Cooking food over fire is the earliest cooking method known to humanity, and that makes grilling something that every corner of the planet has in common. But there is also a world of flavors and techniques out there, which also makes grilling perhaps the most diverse cooking technique in the world. From the many sub-styles of American barbecue to Middle Eastern shish kebab to Japanese yakitori, there are an unbelievable number of fire-cooked foods out there for you to try.
And, of course, there are an unbelievable number of cookbooks out there that cover grilling's diversity. Pretty much no matter what you want to grill and how you want to do it, there’s a book for that. We researched all the options out there and picked some favorites. Whether you want to learn the basics, pick some more advanced skills, cook for a crowd, or discover completely new ways to use your grill, these are the best grilling cookbooks.
How To Grill Everything: Simple Recipes for Great Flame-Cooked Food
From the prolific food writer who also taught us "How to Cook Everything" and "How to Bake Everything," Mark Bittman's guide to grilling is thorough and accessible. In its more than 500 pages, Bittman truly lays out all the knowledge you need to grill, well, everything, from burgers to nectarines to smoky guacamole. Each item gets the full 101 treatment, with extensive directions plus flavor variations, sauces, and toppings suggested at the end. The book also spends quite a bit of time on grill setup, maintenance, and cleanup to keep your equipment in top form. We love that it devotes pretty much equal time to gas and charcoal grilling, with explanations of how they differ and what that means for your cooking.
Price at time of publish: $30 (hardcover), $17 (Kindle)
Recipes: 250+ | Pages: 583 | Published: 2018
Best for Beginners
How to Grill: The Complete Illustrated Book of Barbecue Techniques, A Barbecue Bible! Cookbook
"The Barbecue! Bible" may be grilling expert Steven Raichlen’s best-known book, but for beginners, this follow-up is a better place to start. Each of the 100 recipes—from small and simple garlic bread to time-consuming and complex whole lamb—includes full-color, step-by-step photographs explaining each and every technique 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.
Price at time of publish: $35 (hardcover), $25 (paperback), $13 (Kindle)
Recipes: 100 | Pages: 512 | Published: 2001
Best New Release
Bludso's BBQ Cookbook: A Family Affair in Smoke and Soul
Kevin Bludso grew up in Compton, California, but spent his summers in Texas working at his great-aunt's barbecue stand. With that grounding in classical technique, he opened his first restaurant serving authentic Lone Star State–style smoked meats back in Compton in 2008, and the Bludso's name has been a Los Angeles–area legend ever since.
This cookbook begins with "OG BBQ"—Texas-style brisket, ribs, sausage, chicken—but then goes way beyond that to incorporate Bludso's (and Los Angeles') many influences. It includes fusion barbecue dishes such as smoked tri-tip tacos and smoked pork pho, as well as lots of Southern and soul-food classics cooked in all different ways. Grilled shrimp and smoked crab legs sit alongside crawfish étouffée and fried catfish in the seafood section, while the entire chapter (!) of Thanksgiving recipes has turkey smoked or fried, plus cornbread dressing and candied yams. You can even grill in the morning, with a chorizo and smoked-potato breakfast burrito.
Price at time of publish: $30 (hardcover) $14 (Kindle)
Recipes: 75 | Pages: 288 | Published: 2022
Charred: The Complete Guide to Vegetarian Grilling and Barbecue
British chef Genevieve Taylor is an expert in live-fire cooking, with several books under her belt about wood ovens, bonfires, and barbecues that include both meat and vegetarian dishes. In "Charred," Taylor turns her attention entirely to meatless grilling. The dozens of recipes within are sophisticated and complex, including barbecued carrot with ricotta and toasted pecans, yakitori tofu kebabs, and Mexican-spiced butternut black-bean burgers. It'll open up a whole new world for vegetarians and grill masters alike.
Price at time of publish: $23 (hardcover), $9 (Kindle)
Recipes: 70+ | Pages: 160 | Published: 2020
Best for Steaks
Franklin Steak: Dry-Aged. Live-Fired. Pure Beef.
Aaron Franklin has a way with brisket. He's won a James Beard Award, and his eponymous Austin restaurant has been named the best barbecue spot in America multiple times, mostly for that single dish. His previous bestseller, "Franklin Barbecue," covered brisket and other smoked meats, but in this one, he turns to steak and steak alone.
"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. There's so much info about picking, preparing, and planning for the ideal steak that we don't even get to the actual cooking until Chapter 8. But if you've followed the previous seven sections, the payoff is well worth it. Afterward, Franklin also includes recipes for sides, sauces, and drinks to go with your perfectly prepared cut of beef.
Price at time of publish: $30 (hardcover), $15 (Kindle)
Pages: 224 | Published: 2019
Best Southeast Asian
Flavors of the Southeast Asian Grill: Classic Recipes for Seafood and Meats Cooked Over Charcoal
This examination of grilling techniques in just one small part of the globe reveals an astonishing variety of flavors. Bangkok-based author Leela Punyaratabandhu has written two other cookbooks covering just Thai food, and this one expands the focus to cover dishes from India, Indonesia, and everywhere between. You'll learn the right way to thread meat onto a skewer for satay, how to grill eggs in a banana-leaf "boat," and the secrets to homemade Thai- and Lao-style sausages.
Punyaratabandhu also introduces the Dhungar method, an Indian way to add richness and smoky flavor quickly by pouring ghee over a hot coal. You'll find yourself wanting to try it on any and every ingredient you can get your hands on. And don't forget dessert: The grilled bananas with coconut-palm sugar are over-the-top delicious.
Price at time of publish: $30 (hardcover) $9 (Kindle)
Recipes: 60 | Pages: 224 | Published: 2020
Best for Charcoal Grilling
Weber's Greatest Hits: 125 Classic Recipes for Every Grill
It’s safe to say that the folks at Weber know a thing or two about grilling, and this sturdy volume showcases what you can do with its ubiquitous kettle-style grill (or any charcoal grill). Created by the brand’s master griller, Jamie Purviance, the titular “greatest hits” go way 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 covers grilling times and zones for different sizes and cuts of meat and produce, as well as metric equivalents, food-safe temperatures, and more.
Price at time of publish: $25 (paperback), $16 (Kindle)
Recipes: 125 | Pages: 320 | Published: 2017
Serial Griller: Grillmaster Secrets for Flame-Cooked Perfection
Between this book and "The South's Best Butts," Matt Moore takes home the crown for best grill-related title puns. But the volume isn't just about wordplay: Moore selected a dozen top grill-based restaurants from around the country and interviewed their chefs for stories, recipes, and tips. You'll find authentic dishes from a variety of cuisines, with restaurants including Brasa Churrasqueria outside New Orleans, Death & Taxes in Raleigh, North Carolina, and Zahav in Philadelphia.
The recipes and procedures here are complex—you'll be making al pastor and gyros from scratch, and grilling soft-shell crabs and cremini mushroom skewers—but the results are amazing and rewarding. Along the way, you'll also get to meet some innovative chefs and learn a thing or two about how best to use your grill.
Price at time of publish: $27 (hardcover) $13 (Kindle)
Recipes: 125 | Pages: 320 | Published: 2020
Best for Entertaining
Rob Rainford's Born to Grill: Over 100 Recipes from My Backyard to Yours
While firing up the grill doesn’t have to involve a crowd, a backyard barbecue is a great excuse to throw a get-together. For Canadian chef and television personality Rob Rainford, grilling and entertaining are inseparable. Instead of chapters, this book's more than 100 recipes are organized into 20 full-course menus. The first, "A Taste of North Africa," includes lamb koftas and cinnamon-scented tomato jasmine rice with tomato salad, tahini, and yogurt dip. Subsequent menus feature everything from Chinese five-spiced quail to Southern barbecue ribs to Spanish paella with grilled seafood to a grilled-asparagus quiche cooked on the grill. Each menu is designed to serve eight, but it's easy to halve (or double) the recipes if need be.
Price at time of publish: $28 (paperback), $20 (Kindle)
Recipes: 100+ | Pages: 288 | Published: 2012
Best Coffee Table Book
Mallmann on Fire: 100 Inspired Recipes to Grill Anytime, Anywhere
If you've heard of Francis Mallmann before, it's likely for the whole cows and goats he's seen cooking around massive fires on TV shows like "Chef's Table." But the lauded Argentinian chef does so much more than over-the-top nose-to-tail cooking. "Mallmann on Fire" is the chef's second cookbook, featuring more approachable (but still fancy) recipes like grilled pears wrapped in ham, short ribs with vinegar-glazed charred endive, and whole fish stuffed with fennel.
The material around the recipes is what we really love here. The book is filled with gorgeous full-page photos of not only the dishes, but also the incredible settings where Mallmann makes them, like a bonfire in a vineyard with the snowy Andes in the background. Each chapter also ends with bits of memoir—tales of Mallman's travels from the mountains of Patagonia to hipster restaurants in Brooklyn.
If you do want to embark on a more ambitious project, this book has you covered: There's a seven-course suggested menu for 18 with a detailed timeline for making everything happen. (You should 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 simplest grilling guide, it’s a stunningly beautiful book that pushes boundaries and shows how home cooks can use fire to make a wide variety of foods. It can live on your coffee table or in your cookbook library.
Price at time of publish: $40 (hardcover) $5 (Kindle)
Recipes: 100 | Pages: 320 | Published: 2014
Best for Tailgaters
Grilling with Golic and Hays: Operation BBQ Relief Cookbook
Mike Golic is a former NFL player who spent a quarter-century as a football analyst on ESPN TV and radio broadcasts. Stan Hays is a champion barbecue pitmaster and co-founder of Operation BBQ Relief, a charity that brings caravans of volunteer cooks and mobile kitchens to feed people affected by hurricanes, tornadoes, wildfires, and other natural disasters. Together, they put together this cookbook of recipes from famous chefs and sports stars that'll give you inspiration for your next tailgate and support the non-profit's work.
There’s a great variety of recipes, including mezcal-marinated steak asada by "Hell's Kitchen" winner Ariel Fox, and lobster pasta salad by star quarterback Kurt Warner and his wife, Brenda. You'll find apps and mains like smoked jalapeño pimento cheese, Coca-Cola-marinated Korean barbecue short ribs, and a grilled Cajun seafood boil, plus clever desserts and drinks including grilled doughnut s'mores and a charred pineapple piña colada.
Price at time of publish: $25 (paperback) $12 (Kindle)
Recipes: more than 80 | Pages: 208 | Published: 2022
Our top pick is "How to Grill Everything," a cookbook from Mark Bittman whose title does not lie. For vegetarians who worry that the grill is all about meat, try "Charred" by Genevieve Taylor to change your mind.
What to Look for in a Grilling Cookbook
Someone who just purchased their first grill is going to need a different cookbook than a seasoned master of charcoal who's been barbecuing for decades. A novice might be intimidated by something like smoking a whole rack of lamb, while an experienced cook might be bored by a book that explains how to make basic burgers.
Grilling fans are always in eternal debate over whether gas, charcoal, or even electric grills are best. Your personal choice of grill comes down to whatever's best for you, but many grilling cookbooks focus on a specific fuel, and you probably don't want to buy a whole new grill just to use a cookbook. On the other hand, some cookbooks are fuel-agnostic and give directions for using gas or charcoal. There are also plenty of books designed explicitly for Kamado-style grills, pellet smokers, and other unique grill formats.
What foods can you grill?
What foods can't you grill? Meats like burgers, steaks, chicken, and fish are classics, but tofu, seitan, tempeh, and almost any vegetable or fruit can go on the grill, too. You can grill pizza, and there are techniques and equipment that let you grill cakes, pies, cookies, dumplings, eggs, pasta—the possibilities are basically endless.
What's the difference between grilling and barbecuing?
It mostly comes down to temperature and smoke. Grilling cooks foods at very high temperatures, very quickly, for results like charred steak with a perfectly medium-rare interior. It might use wood or charcoal as fuel, but it's too fast for a heck of a lot of smokiness to get into the food. Barbecue, on the other hand, is about low and slow—lots of wood smoke and lots of time are needed to break down, say, a pork butt into delicious pulled pork. In practice, however, there's no hard-and-fast line between grilling and barbecuing, and most of the books above include recipes that could be considered both.
Do all grills have the ability to smoke?
A dedicated smoker has separate compartments for the food and the burning wood or charcoal, which gives you greater control over the low temperatures needed for slow smoking. Though standard charcoal and gas grills are designed for fast cooking at high temperatures, they can be set up for slower smoking. It generally takes closer monitoring of the food and fire, but these machines can absolutely smoke food. There are also special smoker box accessories available that attach to a gas or electric grill and turn it into a standard smoker.
What are must-have accessories for grilling?
The main accessories you need for grilling are tools for flipping and moving foods: sturdy long-handled tongs, a spatula, and a fork that can withstand high heat. (Heat-proof silicone tools that can be used on the stovetop may not be able to handle the higher temperatures of the grill, so it's best to stick with metal.) If you plan to grill kebabs, you’ll want long skewers, and a grill basket can be helpful for small items that might fall through the grates like vegetable chunks. A meat thermometer is helpful for grilling whole poultry or large cuts of meat, and you’ll also want a grill brush for cleaning.
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.
Devorah Lev-Tov, who updated this roundup, has edited grilling cookbooks and written about grilling products, plus she loves grilling in her Brooklyn backyard. Her product and restaurant reviews, chef interviews, and other food and travel stories have appeared in a variety of publications, including Simply Recipes, Food & Wine, Bon Appetit, The New York Times, Vogue, Eater, Thrillist, and more.
The Spruce Eats commerce writer Jason Horn further updated this roundup. He's been writing about food and drinks for almost 20 years and grilling since his parents first let him flip hot dogs for a Fourth of July party when he was about eight years old. He's figured out a technique for good smoking results on a gas grill that he's keeping secret for now.