Looking for the best books on smoking meat? I have a few to share.
In the past couple of years, I’ve started buying cookbooks or, as I like to think of them, “cooking” books. Cookbooks seem more like recipe books, but when you buy a cooking book, it tells you about the art and science of cooking, in addition to having recipes.
These books do more than share recipes. They also discuss fundamental concepts, as well as advanced ones, of the art and science of cooking. Following a recipe is one thing; understanding how everything fits together helps you take your cooking and smoking to the next level.
Below are two of the best cooking books I’ve come across. I own them; they are dog-eared and well-used.
Salt, fat, acid, heat – Samin Nosrat
Hands down, my #1 choice for anybody interested in any cooking, not just smoking meat.
If you cook eggs for breakfast, this will help you make your eggs taste better. If you cook Turducken Consommé with Béarnaise sauce (is that even a thing??), it’ll make that better too.
It teaches the why and how of salt, fat, acid, and heat, as you may have expected. And how those four elements affect every aspect of your cooking, from taste to texture to smell. The author shares her experiences of years in restaurants worldwide, working for and with real masters of kitchens.
“Readers learn the nitty-gritty science behind best practices, like how to correctly layer salt and how heat affects texture. Enhance your cooking while learning why it’s improving.”― Popular Science
This is the ultimate ‘cooking’ book, meaning you will learn everything you need to know about cooking, making you a better meat smoker. It also has a healthy number of recipes!
If you look on Amazon, this book has (at the time of this writing) 21,424 reviews and averages five stars (out of 5). I don’t know of any other book or really any other item on Amazon with that volume of sales and that kind of rating. I like to say that however many ratings you see, multiply that by 50 or more to see how many have been actually sold. In this case, that falls short, as the blurb says over 1 million copies sold.
With very good reason.
This is an extremely popular, well-reviewed, and universally loved book. If you are a cook or thinking about cooking or want to up your game a bit, buy it, read it, read it again, practice, and then read it again.
“An exhaustively researched treatise on the four pillars of successful cooking.”― New York Times Book Review
It’s a looong book at almost 500 pages. It’s not fluff, it’s not large type, and it’s not crammed with pictures. It is crammed with fantastic information and lightly populated with wonderful sketches to accentuate the discussions.
This brings me to my next point – it is a beautiful book. One of those you’ll put on a stand in the kitchen so others can see it.
I cannot recommend this book enough, although re-reading what I’ve written here feels like I have tried. 🙂
With over 9,000 reviews averaging 4.5 stars on Amazon, this book would be the first of my overall choices for strictly smoking. It falls to #2 only because Salt, Fat, Acid, and Heat is my favorite overall book.
Make no mistake; you can buy just this book and learn a ton about smoking. And not just meat, how about “Smoked bacon bourbon apple crisp” (page 228) or “Bacon crab poppers” (page 55)?
There are even recipes and explanations for smoked drinks! “Smoked Manhatten,” anybody? Look on page 246.
Nothin’ but great techniques and recipes. I am especially excited about the Smoked Cheesecake recipe.–Aaron Franklin, author and chef/owner Franklin Barbecue
Aside from the recipes, there is a wealth of information about the concepts of smoking, tools, the different types of smokers, the different parts of your smoker, how to care for your smoker, etc. This book covers it all.
If you are a beginner and want to learn ALL the basics and some very advanced info, this is a one-stop book.
I’m a fan of Myron Mixon and everything he has done, but I have to put Steven’s book above Myron’s if you want an overall rating of the best books on smoking meat.
Even Myron appreciates this book!
Steven Raichlen really nails everything you need to know. As someone who has been smoking meat his whole life, even I found new ground covered in this smart, accessible book.–Myron Mixon, author and host of BBQ Pitmasters, Smoked, and BBQ Rules
Franklin Barbecue: A Meat-Smoking Manifesto – Aaron Franklin
Franklin Barbecue: A Meat-Smoking Manifesto by Aaron Franklin is a detailed guide to the craft of smoking meat for both beginners and experienced pitmasters alike.
If you’ve spent five minutes reading up on smoking meat, you’ve come across Aaron Franklin. He’s smoking royalty, and listening to him will make you better at your craft. I’ve gotten a ton out of his Master Class (Aaron Franklin teaches Texas-style BBQ) so if you have access, check it out.
It covers the history of smoking, types of smokers and tools, seasoning, marinades, and other techniques.
The book includes step-by-step instructions for creating Texas-style barbecue dishes such as brisket, pork ribs, sausages, and more, including everything from selecting the right wood and controlling the temperature to troubleshooting techniques.
In addition to recipes, the book contains helpful tips from professionals on creating tender and flavorful smoked meats.
The author also shares his expertise by interviewing pitmasters from all over the country who have mastered their craft of high-quality BBQ. This comprehensive guide is invaluable for anyone looking to improve their barbecue skills.
Aaron shares his expertise in traditional BBQ techniques such as curing, flavoring, and cooking, as well as modern methods such as sous vide and reverse searing. Packed full of delicious recipes for brisket, pork shoulder, beef ribs, smoked chicken, and more, this guide has something for everyone. Each recipe includes clear instructions that explain how to achieve that unique smoky flavor in a variety of ways.
Franklin Barbecue: A Meat-Smoking Manifesto is an indispensable resource for anyone looking to become a master of the smoker. Tying in anecdotes about his experiences as a pitmaster and practical advice throughout, this book will help you impress your guests with mouthwatering dishes every time!
Smoking Meat 101: The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide – Bill West
Smoking Meat 101: The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide is essential to mastering the art of smoking meat. Written by Bill West, a meat smoker and barbecue enthusiast, this book provides all the tips, tricks, and recipes for perfect smoked meat.
It covers foundational concepts such as the history of smoking, types of smokers and tools, seasoning and marinades, different woods, flavor profiles, and cooking methods.
The book also contains over 50 mouthwatering recipes for brisket, pork ribs, beef short ribs, pulled pork, wings, and more.
Each recipe includes step-by-step instructions on how to prepare and smoke each dish perfectly.
Additionally, Bill offers helpful advice on temperature control, generating smoke rings in food, and troubleshooting common problems when smoking meat.
With easy-to-follow instructions suitable for beginners and seasoned pitmasters alike, Smoking Meat 101: The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide is an invaluable resource for anyone who enjoys smoking and BBQ.
Smoking Meat: The Essential Guide to Real Barbecue – Jeff Phillips
Smoking Meat: The Essential Guide to Real Barbecue by Jeff Phillips is the perfect guide for anyone looking to master the art of smoking meat. With helpful tips, detailed step-by-step instructions, and practical advice on which smoker works best for a particular dish, this book has something for everyone, from beginners to seasoned pitmasters alike.
Jeff dives deep into traditional BBQ techniques such as brining, dry rubs, and basting and also covers modern techniques like sous vide and reverse searing. Each recipe includes easy-to-follow directions and interesting anecdotes from the author, making this book informative yet entertaining.
For novice pitmasters and experienced BBQ aficionados alike, Smoking Meat: The Essential Guide to Real Barbecue is an invaluable resource full of mouthwatering recipes that will help you create your own BBQ masterpiece in no time! With clear instructions and plenty of useful tips, this book will become a staple in any home chef’s library.
Smokin’ with Myron Mixon: Recipes Made Simple, from the Winningest Man in Barbecue by Myron Mixon, aside from being the longest-titled book in history, is also an essential guide for barbecue lovers everywhere.
I’m a huge fan of BBQ Pit Masters, a show where you watch and learn from the best in the business. Myron is center stage for every episode. I actually take notes, and there are damn few shows on TV where I do that. They stopped filming several years ago, but the concepts are still as valid today as they were then.
Because BBQ and Smoking meat never get old!
Written with helpful tips and detailed step-by-step instructions, this is one of the books on smoking meat and covers everything from selecting the right wood and controlling the temperature to troubleshooting techniques.
Myron Mixon, the three-time world barbecue champion, shares his expertise on traditional BBQ techniques such as curing, flavoring, and cooking, as well as modern methods such as sous vide and reverse searing.
Packed full of delicious recipes for brisket, pork shoulder, beef ribs, smoked chicken, and more, this guide has something for everyone.
Each recipe includes clear instructions explaining how to achieve that unique smoky flavor in various ways.
Smokin’ with Myron Mixon: Recipes Made Simple is an invaluable resource for anyone looking to become a master of the smoker. Filled with personal anecdotes throughout, explaining his own experiences as a pitmaster along with practical advice on smoking meat successfully each time you fire up your grill or smoker.
Whether you’re a novice backyard griller or an experienced competition cook, this book will help you impress your guests with mouthwatering dishes every time!
Well, there you have it – a rundown on the best books on smoking meat. Getting your hands on a couple of these will undoubtedly up your smoking game and make your next meal the talk of the town.