Best Outdoor Cooking Books

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Best Outdoor Cooking Books

Best Outdoor Cooking Books

It’s a shame that there’s a huge range of fantastic foods that are somewhat neglected due to the ease of cooking on a gas or electric stove. We believe that there’s a real satisfaction of going back to basics and cooking using an open flame. Whether that’s smoking a brisket, cooking a pizza in a wood fired oven or trying your hand at a range of campfire recipes. So we’ve put together a list of some of the best outdoor cooking books out there to give you all the information, best recipes and interesting tips and tricks to make the most out of outdoor cooking.




Franklin Barbecue: A Meat-Smoking Manifesto Franklin Barbecue A Meat-Smoking Manifesto Cover

by Aaron Franklin and Jordan Mackay

Franklin Barbecue is a book written by Aaron Franklin, the owner of a small BBQ trailer in Austin, Texas, that quickly became one of the most popular and critically acclaimed barbecue joints in the country. He and co-author Jordan Mackay, the wine critic for San Francisco magazine, have put together a definite guide to BBQ. Whilst light on conventional recipes the book goes into a lot of detail about the process of great barbecue and smoking, Aaron’s backstory and his victories and defeats and the knowledge he gained throughout the years of trying. There is a lot of interesting detail to do with how the science of BBQ works, for example how and why you want the internal temperature of your brisket to be a certain value before even thinking about touching it. Other interesting points in the book include:

  • Building and customzing your own smoker.
  • Finding and curing the right wood.
  • Creating and tending perfect fires.
  • Sourcing the best quality meat.
  • Some interesting history and facts about Texas BBQ.
  • And of course, how to cook BBQ like Franklin Barbecue.

This is one of the most refreshing and interesting books to come out in recent years and we all absolutely loved it. It isn’t a strict how to of defined steps, it gives you a detailed overview of what BBQ is and how you can use that knowledge to find out what works best for you.

Check the latest price on Amazon.


Southern Living Ultimate Book of BBQ: The Complete Year-Round Guide to Grilling and Smoking The Ultimate Book of BBQ Cover

by The Editors of Southern Living and Chris Prieto.

Another great book brought to you by the team at Southern Living Magazine. This time they go into a lot of detail about the entire array of BBQ and the best way to produce it at home. This isn’t about finding the perfect smoke ring or combination of wood but it’s more about being able to produce a huge range of fantastic BBQ to wow your friends and family. Included are:

  • Stunning full color, step by step photos for mouth-watering recipes on all the usual BBQ meats and more.
  • Expert advice from award winning pit masters.
  • A rainy day BBQ chapter for cooking on the stove top or in the oven.
  • Extras including slow cooker recipes.
  • A range of smoked vegetable recipes to mix things up a bit.

If you’re looking for a complete home cooking BBQ book with some of the best looking photographs and simplest recipes then this is the book for you.

Check the latest price on Amazon.


Project Smoke Project Smoke Cover

by Steven Raichlen

Steven Raichlen does it again with another fantastic book on BBQ. This time he focuses on smoking with Project Smoke. Every detail you could ever want to know about smoking is included in this book. There’s a huge range of recipes, including recipes for smoking desserts and is perfect for the first time smoker or the seasoned veteran looking for something new.

Included is a range of information to make your smoking easier. For example, there are complete smoking temperature charts and time charts to make sure you get the meat perfect every time. Other highlights include:

  • In depth description of various smokers.
  • Essential brines, rubs, marinades, and barbecue sauces.
  • A complete guide to fuel, including how each type of wood subtly seasons a dish.
  • 100 enticing, succulent, boldly-flavored smoked dishes, including Bacon-Crab Poppers, Cherry-Glazed Baby Back Ribs, Slam-Dunk Brisket, Jamaican Jerk Chicken and even Smoked Chocolate Bread Pudding.

If you’re looking for a complete book on BBQ smokers and smoking in general then this is the one for you.

Get the latest price on Amazon.


Meathead: The Science of Great Barbecue and Grilling Meathead: The Science of Great Barbecue and Grilling Cover

by Meathead Goldwyn and Greg Blonder

Meathead Goldwyn and physicist and food scientist Prof. Greg Blonder, PhD, are both parts of the hugely popular website,, which has a huge range of information on everything to do with BBQ. And now there’s a book to go with it. This is widely considered the ‘bible’ of BBQ. There is pretty much everything you need to know about BBQ in one book, including the science behind:

  • Why dry brining is better than wet brining.
  • How marinades actually work.
  • Why rubs shouldn’t have salt in them.
  • The importance of digital thermometers.
  • Why searing doesn’t seal in juices.

Between the two authors their BBQ knowledge is second to none and there is even a section dedicated to debunking common BBQ myths, such as:

  • Bring meat to room temperature before cooking.
  • Soak wood before using it.
  • Bone-in steaks taste better.
  • You should sear first, then cook.

Not only is there all the chemistry, physics and meat science behind the perfect BBQ but there is a huge range of recipes from all the traditional American BBQ favourites and many more outside-the-box creations such as:

Last Meal Ribs; Simon & Garfunkel Chicken; Schmancy Smoked Salmon; The Ultimate Turkey; Texas Brisket; Perfect Pulled Pork; Sweet & Sour Pork with Mumbo Sauce; Whole Hog; Steakhouse Steaks; Diner Burgers; Prime Rib; Brazilian Short Ribs; Rack of Lamb Lollipops; Huli-Huli Chicken; Smoked Trout Florida Mullet -Style; Baja Fish Tacos; Grilled Lobster, and many more.

If you’re looking for a complete BBQ book that has a huge range of outdoor cooking information, lovingly wrapped up in fantastic color photos and a great sense of humor you can’t go wrong with this book.

Check the latest price on Amazon.


Big Bob Gibson’s BBQ Book: Recipes from a Legendary Barbecue Joint Big Bob Gibson's BBQ Book Cover

by Chris Lilly

Big Bob Gibson’s Bar-B-Q in Decatur, Alabama is run by the great grandson-in-law of Big Bob Gibson himself and author of this book, Chris Lilly. Being part of the winning team of the World Championship BBQ Cook-Off for six years in a row with hundreds of other ribbons to their name, Chris Lilly knows what he’s talking about when it comes to outdoor cooking and BBQ.

In Big Bob Gibson’s BBQ Book Chris Lilly cover’s everything you need to know to recreate fantastically tasty BBQ in the same Alabama style as what he’s famous for. The book also goes into the history of Big Bob Gibson BBQ, from the start of the restaurant to the award winning restaurant and competition winning team they are now.

Of course there are plenty of recipes for you to follow which are accompanied by masterful tips and tricks to help you become a true pit master. Other interesting inclusions are:

  • Complete run down on rubs and glazes.
  • Award winning seasonings and combinations.
  • How different woods produce different heats and which is used when.
  • Pulled pork, smoked beef brisket, pit-fired poultry, and of course, ribs.
  • Complete the BBQ with sides like red-skin potato salad and desserts, such as Big Mama’s Pound Cake.
  • Hundreds of quality photos and easy to follow instructions.

If you’re looking to take your BBQ game to the next level, then this is the book we recommend. There’s a lot of very in depth information that you can learn and use in your own way, and before you know it you’ll be cooking the perfect brisket or smoking a turkey for the first time.

Check the latest price on Amazon.


Smoke It Like a Pit Master with Your Electric Smoker: Recipes and Techniques for Easy and Delicious BBQ Smoke it Like a Pit Master with your Electric Smoker Cover

by Wendy O’Neal

Electric smokers are all the rage now a days because of their ease of use and flexibility. If you’re looking for one we covered the best electric smokers available today. If you already have one then this book is the perfect companion to your electric smoker.

As electric smokers are so easy to use and require a lot less technique that charcoal smokers, for example, Wendy O’Neal has gone into a lot more detail with the recipes and simple tips and tricks to get a beginner smoking as fast as possible. For example, she covers:

  • Wood chip pairings.
  • Temperature guidelines.
  • The importance of using thermometers.
  • Finishing techniques.
  • Cast-iron Baked Beans.
  • Sweet and Tangy Baby Back Ribs.
  • Stuffed Jalapenos.
  • Classic Texas Brisket.
  • And many more recipes with over 70 color photos and detailed guidelines.

Wendy is an experienced cook and has had a lot of success with her blog Around My Family Table.

If you’re looking for a good beginners guide to electric smokers then this is the perfect book for you.

Check the latest price on Amazon.


Outdoor Wood Fired Ovens

Wood-Fired Oven Cookbook Wood Fired Oven Cookbook Cover

by Holly and David Jones

If you fancy a break from BBQ then one of our favourite things to do is to fire up our brick pizza oven and try some different outdoor cooking recipes. Wood-Fire Oven Cookbook by Holly and David Jones is one of the best cookbooks for new and experienced users of wood-fired ovens. Not only is there the usual stone baked pizza recipes but a range of over 70 recipes that include breads, roasts, cakes and deserts. The authors also go into the history of the wood fired oven and other important factors to consider when using a brick pizza oven, such as:

  • Lighting and maintaining the fire.
  • Timing Guides.
  • What to do with lower temperatures.
  • Inspiration and ideas for a huge variety of recipes able to be cooked on a wood fired oven.
  • Over 400 stunning photographs.

This is a great introduction for anyone looking to get into wood fired oven cooking. There are a lot of very easy recipes that give great results every time. The little extras, such as timing guides and help with lighting and maintaining the fire are just the cherry on a very tasty cake.

Check the latest price on Amazon.


From the Wood-Fired Oven: New and Traditional Techniques for Cooking and Baking with Fire From the Wood Fired Oven Cover

by Richard Miscovich

Wood-fired ovens and brick pizza ovens have been rising in popularity dramatically over the last few years and yet people tend to never make the most out of their wood fired oven. From the Wood-Fired Oven by Richard Miscovich is there to fix that problem. It’s a complete guide to traditional and modern techniques and methods for cooking and baking in wood-fired ovens and utilizing the correct temperature windows. There are in depth recipes on making several types of bread and other chapters including:

  • Making pizza and other live-fire flatbreads.
  • Roasting fish and meats.
  • Grilling, steaming, braising, and frying.
  • Baking pastry and other recipes beyond breads.
  • Rendering animal fats and clarifying butter.
  • Food dehydration and infusing oils.
  • A myriad of other ways to use the oven’s residual heat.
  • Appendices in oven design and temperature logs.

This is probably the most complete book on wood-fired oven cooking and outdoor cooking available today. There are the usual recipes, tips and tricks and run down of equipment and pizza oven accessories, but it’s a lot more than that. It reminds the reader how wood-fired ovens and outdoor cooking can draw people together and bestow a sense of fellowship and comradery that is still so important today.

We would recommend this for the recipes alone but the additional extras make it almost a no-brainer. It’s a little more expensive than the other books on the list but there is so much value in the book that we still buy it again if it were twice the price.

Check the latest price on Amazon.

If you’re looking for your own wood-fired oven we’ve looked at the best wood-fired ovens available today.

General Outdoor Cooking

Cooking with Fire Cooking with Fire Cover

by Paula Marcoux

It’s obvious from the first few pages of Cooking with Fire that Paula Marcoux has researched this subject extensively. There is so much knowledge seeping from the pages that you can’t help but keep reading. This book is from a food historian and archaeologist and includes over 100 campfire recipes, from simple introductions to the craft, such as roasting a marshmallow to complex legs of lamb in homemade brick ovens. Some highlights from the book include:

  • Straightforward instructions on all forms of campfire cooking, from cheese on a stick to home made naan bread and roasted rabbit.
  • Mouthwatering photographs helping to detail the entire process from raw materials to delicious meal.
  • Complete instructions on how to build your own bread ovens, roasting hearths and spits.
  • Ingenious ways of cooking such as plank-roast fish with nothing more than fire, a piece of wood, and a hammer and nails. Also, brick oven pizzas, inverted steel wok flatbreads and campfire stews.

Even if you never actually manage to make any of the recipes from this book reading it is enough to justify the relatively low price. This is probably the best value book on the list and we would recommend it to anyone with an interest in outdoor or campfire cooking.

Check the latest price on Amazon.


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

by Francis Mallmann and Peter Kaminsky

Francis Mallmann is one of the most popular chefs in the Spanish speaking world and in the book Mallmann on Fire he travels the world grilling in magical places. He goes from snow topped mountains to the beach, to the crowed streets of Manhattan, to a deserted island in Patagonia. There’s over 100 recipes, both small, intimate recipes anyone can do to typically Mallmann oversized extravaganzas. Some of our favourite parts were:

  • Rustic desserts cooked on the chapa (or plancha)
  • Coal-roasted delicata squash
  • Mallmann’s take on wood fired ovens
  • Fantastically beautiful pictures from the travels

The books is as much of a travel log as it is cook book. It’s a fascinating journey throughout the world and a compelling look at the simplicity of cooking with campfires and open flames. There is something interesting at every stop and a lesson to be learned about slowing down and enjoying the process, not just the result.

There is an episode of Chef’s Table on Netflix that is dedicated to Francis Mallmann and takes you through some of the adventures featured in this book. We highly recommend both.

Check the latest price on Amazon.


Final Thoughts

Well that’s our list of best outdoor cooking books but there are so many more fantastic books out there than just the ones we mentioned. Some of the best BBQ books aren’t featured because of the sheer amount. A quick look on Amazon and you’ll find you’re spoilt for choice. Likewise, there are several more books dedicated to wood fired ovens and outdoor cooking that cover so much more than just brick oven pizzas and campfire recipes.

We hope you’ve found something interesting and if you have any recommendations then let us know in the comments.

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