The Best Grilling Cookbooks to Impress at the Next Barbecue

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The Spruce Eats / Lecia Landis

The Spruce Eats Top Picks

"The Thrill of the Grill" is our top pick because it includes a hefty amount of recipes (and a range of them, at that) plus grill setup instructions, accessories, and more. For beginners, we recommend "How to Grill: The Complete Illustrated Book of Barbecue Techniques."

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, we've got you covered.

Here are the best grilling cookbooks.

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

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


What We Like
  • Includes 190 recipes

  • Discusses grill setup and accessories

  • Wide variety of recipes

What We Don't Like
  • Some outdated content

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." 

Price at time of publish: $36

Recipes: 190 | Pages: 395 | Published: 2002

Best for Beginners: How to Grill: The Complete Illustrated Book of Barbecue Techniques, A Barbecue Bible! Cookbook

How to Grill: The Complete Illustrated Book of Barbecue Techniques, A Barbecue Bible! Cookbook


What We Like
  • Step-by-step instructions

  • Full-color photos

What We Don't Like
  • Geared mostly toward charcoal grills

  • Only 100 recipes

"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.

Price at time of publish: $15

Recipes: 100 plus 100 techniques | Pages: 512 | Published: 2001

Best for Charcoal Grilling: Weber's Greatest Hits: 125 Classic Recipes for Every Grill

Weber's Greatest Hits: 125 Classic Recipes for Every Grill


What We Like
  • Caters to beginners and intermediate grillers

  • Contains 125 recipes

  • Useful grilling charts

What We Don't Like
  • Repeat recipes from other Weber cookbooks

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.

Price at time of publish: $16

Recipes: 125 | Pages: 320 | Published: 2017

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

How To Grill Everything: Simple Recipes for Great Flame-Cooked Food


What We Like
  • More than 250 recipes

  • Tips on grill setup and maintenance

  • Discusses multiple types of grills

What We Don't Like
  • Not all recipes are beginner-friendly

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.

Price at time of publish: $17

Recipes: 250+ | Pages: 583 | Published: 2018

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

Charred: The Complete Guide to Vegetarian Grilling and Barbecue


What We Like
  • Great recipes for vegetarians

  • Quality photographs

  • Recipes can be cooked in oven, too

What We Don't Like
  • Only about 70 recipes

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. 

Price at time of publish: $12

Recipes: 70+ recipes | Pages: 160 pages | Published: 2020

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

Rob Rainford's Born to Grill: Over 100 Recipes from My Backyard to Yours


What We Like
  • Organized into menus

  • Suitable for gas and charcoal grills

  • Unique flavors

What We Don't Like
  • Only 100 recipes

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. 

Price at time of publish: $19

Recipes: 100+ recipes | Pages: 288 pages | Published: 2012

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

Franklin Steak: Dry-Aged. Live-Fired. Pure Beef.


What We Like
  • Packed with useful information about steak

  • Includes side dishes and sauce recipes

What We Don't
  • Doesn't discuss all steak cuts

  • Lacks value for more experienced cooks

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. 

Price at time of publish: $20

Pages: 224 | Published: 2019

Best Chef-Driven: Charcoal: New Ways to Cook with Fire

Charcoal: New Ways to Cook with Fire


What We Like
  • Both meat and vegetable-focused recipes

  • Creative techniques

  • Easy-to-follow recipes

What We Don't
  • Only 100 recipes

  • Uses obscure ingredients

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, including 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. 

Price at time of publish: $18

Recipes: 100 | Pages: 256 | Published: 2019

Best Recipe Variety: Big Green Egg Cookbook: Celebrating the Ultimate Cooking Experience

Big Green Egg Cookbook: Celebrating the Ultimate Cooking Experience


What We Like
  • More than 160 recipes

  • Great recipes for entertaining

  • Recipes can be made on most grills

What We Don't Like
  • Lacks classic recipes

  • Doesn't provide tips on using a Green Egg

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, such as 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." With a kamado-style grill, you pretty much can. 

Price at time of publish: $28

Recipes: 160+ | Pages: 320 | Published: 2010

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

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


What We Like
  • Simple recipes and techniques

  • Includes full menus

  • Doubles as a coffee table book

What We Don't Like
  • Only 100 recipes

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.

Price at time of publish: $23

Recipes: 100 | Pages: 320 | Published: 2014

Best New Release: Grilling with Golic and Hays: Operation BBQ Relief Cookbook

Grilling with Golic and Hays: Operation BBQ Relief Cookbook


What We Like
  • Quality photographs

  • Bios on recipe contributors

  • Inspiring stories on the work of Operation BBQ Relief

What We Don't Like
  • Only 80 recipes

“Grilling with Golic and Hayes” champions grilling, community service, and sports. It’s written by Stan Hays, champion pitmaster and CEO and cofounder of Operation BBQ Relief, and Mike Golic, a respected NFL veteran and former ESPN Radio host. With contributions from sports stars, pitmasters, and chefs, there’s a great variety of recipes, including mezcal-marinated steak asada by Chef Ariel Fox and lobster pasta salad by star quarterback Kurt Warner and his wife Brenda Warner.

Aside from plenty of recipes from apps to ribs to drinks to sauces, there are also inspiring stories about the work of Operation BBQ Relief, a nonprofit that travels with a caravan of cooks, mobile pits, kitchens, and volunteers to places affected by natural disasters and other dire situations. Since 2011, they have provided over nine million meals, so  these recipes are sure to inspire and comfort.

Price at time of publish: $21

Recipes: 80+ | Pages: 208 | Published: 2022

Final Verdict

For a classic cookbook that provides timeless grilling insights, you can't go wrong with "The Thrill of the Grill" by Chris Schlesinger. Or, if you're new to grilling, check out "How to Grill: The Complete Illustrated Book of Barbecue Techniques," which offers step-by-step instructions detailing core grilling skills.

What to Look for When Buying a Grilling Cookbook

Experience level

Someone who just purchased their first grill is going to need a different cookbook than a grillmaster who's been barbecuing for decades. You'll definitely want to take your experience level into account as you shop, as a beginner book will bore experienced cooks but an advanced manual may be confusing for a novice.


Assuming you already own a grill, you'll want to make sure the cookbook you're purchasing aligns with the type of equipment you own. Certain grilling cookbooks talk solely about cooking with charcoal, while others address gas grills, kamado grills, or smokers.


When shopping for cookbooks, it's always a good idea to see how many recipes they contain—there's nothing worse than spending $50 on a beautiful cookbook, just to find it only has a few dozen recipes. If the cookbook's index is available online, you may also want to browse through to see if its recipes interest you.


What foods can you grill?

You can grill any meat, poultry, fish, seafood, tofu, seitan, tempeh, vegetable, or fruit. You can also grill some baked goods, such as pizza, bread, and certain cakes, pies, and cookies with the right equipment.  You can also grill dumplings, pasta, and eggs with the right technique.

How long does it take to grill something?

The length of time to grill something depends on the heat of the grill, if you are using direct or indirect heat, what food you are cooking, and how thick the cut is if it’s meat. The higher the heat, the shorter the grill time, but you want to ensure the center is cooked through. For example, chicken breasts usually take about five to six minutes per side on medium-high heat, while a whole butterflied chicken takes about 50 minutes. A digital meat thermometer will help determine when your meat is cooked through.

Do all grills have the ability to smoke?

Charcoal and gas grills can easily be set up to smoke. If you want to smoke with an electric grill, you will need to use a smoker box with it.

What are must-have accessories for grilling?

The main accessories you need for grilling are sturdy, metal, long-handled tongs, a spatula, and a fork that can withstand high heat. If you plan to grill kebabs, you’ll want long skewers, and a grill basket can be helpful for smaller items, like vegetable chunks. A meat thermometer will come in handy, 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 new 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.

Additional reporting by
Devorah Lev-Tov
Freelance food and travel writer, author, and cookbook editor. She has 15 years of experience in writing for major publications.
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