Smoking is a great way to add a smoky flavor to meats, poultry, and fish by cooking them in lower heat for longer periods of time. The process breaks down the collagen in meat, making it tender and flavorful. In fact, the best types of meat to smoke are those that have lots of fat, like beef brisket, pork shoulder, and ribs because the high fat content won’t dry them out, making them meltingly tender.
Skilled grill cooks can easily modify gas and charcoal grills to smoke meats but for beginners, it’s always best to use smokers because they produce low and consistent heat, and of course, lots of smoke. Some of the popular brands have their own smoker cookbooks to provide recipes that make optimal use of their product.
When choosing a smoker cookbook, it’s best to pick one that offers a wide range of recipes and teaches you the basics of smoking regardless of what kind of cooking appliance you have.
Some books are heavy on technique which will benefit expert smokers. Other books offer beginner-level instructions that newbies will find useful on their grilling journey.
There are also smoker cookbooks that focus on a diverse selection of recipes. While beef and pork are already popular ingredient staples, there are cookbooks that will also focus on seafood, lamb, and venison. These are uncommon ingredients that deserve to have their own culinary spotlight when it comes to barbecue smoking.
In this list, I’ve compiled the best of them that will answer every need a home cook may have when it comes to smoking food. Here are my top 10 picks for the best Smoker Cookbooks on Amazon.
Best Smoker Cookbooks
- Franklin Barbecue: A Meat-Smoking Manifesto [A Cookbook] Hardcover
- Project Smoke (Steven Raichlen Barbecue Bible Cookbooks) Paperback
- Smoking Meat 101: The Ultimate Beginner's Guide Paperback
- Smokehouse Handbook: Comprehensive Techniques & Specialty Recipes for Smoking Meat, Fish & Vegetables Hardcover
- Serious Barbecue: Smoke, Char, Baste & Brush Your Way to Great Outdoor Cooking. Hardcover
- Real BBQ: The Ultimate Step-By-Step Smoker Cookbook Paperback
- Cool Smoke: The Art of Great Barbecue Hardcover
- Pitmaster: Recipes, Techniques, and Barbecue Wisdom Hardcover – Illustrated
- Smoking Meat and Fish: Ultimate Smoker Cookbook for Real Pitmasters, Irresistible Recipes for Unique BBQ
- The Wood Pellet Smoker and Grill Cookbook: Recipes and Techniques for the Most Flavorful and Delicious Barbecue
1. Franklin Barbecue: A Meat-Smoking Manifesto [A Cookbook] Hardcover
There are only a few recipes here in this book but this is a comprehensive brisket and meat smoking guide, Texas-style. It explains how to smoke meat in very simple terms with chapters on choosing the right wood, building a smoker, what temperature to aim for, when to pull the meat off, etc.
There are four meat recipes here, with a small selection on sides and sauce recipes. They’re written in a straightforward manner and are designed to complement the lessons and techniques presented in the first part of the book. Those who’ve tried the recipes found them easy to follow. One particularly liked its collection of barbecue sauces.
Recommended for home cooks looking for a reference guide on central Texas-style barbecuing or anyone looking to build up their smoking/grilling skills.
2. Project Smoke (Steven Raichlen Barbecue Bible Cookbooks) Paperback
Equal parts technical guide and recipe book, this cookbook offers a step-by-step guide to mastering essential smoking techniques like hot smoking, cold-smoking, & stovetop smoking and gives its readers a wide selection of recipes to choose from.
There are 100 recipes here with full-color photos of the dishes. They range from starters to beef, pork, and lamb; from burgers and sausages, to poultry and seafood, to vegetables and meatless smoking. Desserts and cocktails recipes are also included. Samples include Smoked Nachos, Chinatown Spareribs, Smoked Salmon, and Smoked Bacon-Bourbon Apple Crisp.
Readers who’ve tried the recipes said that they’re easy to follow than other smoker cookbooks. One said that there are lots of useful tips and advice on smoking meat. Most said that the recipes turned out to be successful.
Recommended for beginners and expert home cooks.
3. Smoking Meat 101: The Ultimate Beginner's Guide Paperback
This cookbook presents the fundamentals of smoking for anyone who owns a smoker or a grill. It has a quick reference for cooking meat that shows the ideal smoking and internal temperatures, cooking times and which wood to use. There are also five “First Smoke” basic recipes that introduce the beginner to essential smoking techniques.
There are 75 recipes in the main selection which include dishes like Smoked Turkey Legs, Foolproof Baby Back Ribs, Maple-Smoked Wild Alaskan Salmon. Food photos are minimal but each recipe comes with detailed information that includes serving size, brining time, prep time, smoke time, temperature, and wood choice. Directions are step-by-step and are easy to follow.
Those who’ve tried the recipes found them to be beginner-friendly and delicious. One liked its large selection of rubs and sauces that allow one to make a lot of mix-and-match combinations. Another liked how the recipes use common ingredients that are easy to source.
Recommended for anyone looking for entry-level cookbook on smoking meats.
4. Smokehouse Handbook: Comprehensive Techniques & Specialty Recipes for Smoking Meat, Fish & Vegetables Hardcover
This cookbook will teach you how to build your smoker in a DIY manner and includes step-by-step photos for various essential techniques like cold-smoking, hot-smoking, and pit roasting. There’s also a troubleshooting section, as well as safety guidelines for operating a smoker.
The recipe selection covers all classic cuts of meat, fish, and vegetables. There are also recipes for specialty brines and rubs that will appeal to anyone looking for new ways to flavor meat. Most of them will take a while, but much of the prep work can be easily done ahead of time. There are also lots of photos of the dishes.
Those who’ve tried the recipes found them easy to follow. One found the book well researched and informative. One liked that the book didn’t overwhelm the reader with technical instruction.
Recommended for casual smokers and anyone looking for instruction on how to build a smokehouse.
5. Serious Barbecue: Smoke, Char, Baste & Brush Your Way to Great Outdoor Cooking – Hardcover
This cookbook breaks down the fundamentals of barbecuing so that readers will learn how to make delicious outdoor meals. It includes step-by-step seasoning instructions as well as a guide to flip-by-flip grilling and smoking meats.
Recipes are delicious and outstanding but will require extra prepping time. For instance, a typical recipe will include a brine, a dry run, and a glaze.
Readers liked how the book zeroes in on fat and collagen as the two essential aspects to making flavorful barbecue meats. Another liked the book’s innovative approach to bringing flavor to the meat.
Recommended for expert smokers and anyone serious about learning new tricks to barbecuing and smoking meats.
6. Real BBQ: The Ultimate Step-By-Step Smoker Cookbook Paperback
Not only does this smoker cookbook provides step-by-step directions and plenty of useful barbecue tips, insider advice, and shopping recommendations, but it also dives into the regional styles of barbecuing in America. There are over 95 recipes in the selection; most use ingredient staples like brisket pulled pork, and ribs but also uncommon items like cheese, duck, and salmon.
Recipes are labeled beginner, intermediate, and advanced for the reader’s convenience. There are also recipes for side dishes. Lots of color photos accompany the selection. Samples of the recipes include Beer Can Chicken, Hickory-Smoked Pork Belly, “All Day Long” Smoked Beef Brisket, Beach Barbecue Lobster Tails, and Coffee-Rubbed Buffalo Steak.
Readers found this book very useful for first-time smoker owners. It goes into the basics comprehensively and offers guidelines on how to optimize the smoking experience. Those who have tried the recipes have raved about how delicious they turned out to be.
Recommended for smoker beginners and those looking for an overview of American barbecuing styles.
7. Cool Smoke: The Art of Great Barbecue Hardcover
Written by a five-time world barbecue champion, this cookbook offers a lot of expert advice based on the author’s experience in barbecuing meats. It also features tips and tricks to help anyone succeed on the barbecue competition circuit, as well as an insider’s look behind the scenes.
There are over 100 recipes here that include classic barbecue favorites that have been updated. These include dishes like Smoked Ribs with Cherry Barbecue Sauce, Dove Breasts with Crispy Bacon and Chipotle White Sauce, and even a Whole Hog. There’s also a selection of side dishes and desserts like Corn Pudding with Poblano Pepper, Collard Greens with Pepper Relish, Pineapple Hot Pot, and Frozen Coconut Lime Pie.
The directions are very clear and specific. There are lots of color photos to complement the writing. Those who’ve tried the recipes found them to be moderately prep-intensive but they always turn out delicious. Another liked its easy recipes for rubs, gravies, barbeque sauces, and brines.
Recommended for experienced grill cooks and anyone interested into joining the barbecue competition circuit.
8. Pitmaster: Recipes, Techniques, and Barbecue Wisdom Hardcover – Illustrated
This cookbook offers useful tips and techniques for proper smoker operation using the Kamado, Offset, Weber, and other classic smoker styles. It also highlights regional barbecue styles like Texas, Kansas City, and the Carolinas, and explores new styles of barbecuing in the North. But, what sets this apart from the rest of the smoker cookbooks is that it features a guest pitmaster who’s an expert in a specific barbecue style for each chapter. Steve Raichlen, Elizabeth Karmel, Tuffy Stone, and the rest of the experts take turns in guiding the reader to becoming a successful barbecue cook.
Recipes are well-curated based on regional style. Most use common ingredients but there are also those that use unique meat items. There are also recipes for side dishes and desserts.
Readers like the book’s collection of barbecue competition recipes. Another liked its research on regional barbecue history. Those who tried the regular recipes found them doable and delicious.
Recommended for casual cooks, beginners, and barbecue smoking enthusiasts.
9. Smoking Meat and Fish: Ultimate Smoker Cookbook for Real Pitmasters, Irresistible Recipes for Unique BBQ
This is an entry-level smoker cookbook that also highlights the use of uncommon barbecue ingredients like seafood and lamb. It includes temperature charts and lots of tips and tricks for making barbecue and smoking meat.
Recipes are simply laid out, easy to follow, and are accompanied by black and white photos of the featured dish. Samples of the selection include Cinnamon Peach-Glazed Sweet Smoked Beef Brisket, Maple Mustard Glazed Smoked Pork Shoulder, Juicy Smoked Lamb Ribs with Apricot BBQ, Minty Cherry Smoked Chicken Wings, Smoked Tuna with Orange Lemon Marinade, Beer and Lemon Smoked Scallops, and Tea-Smoked Sea Bass with Simple Sweet Sauce.
Readers liked the book for its everyday meal ideas. One liked it because the recipes are simple with short ingredient lists. Another liked the diversity of the flavor profiles in the recipe selection.
Recommended for beginners and anyone looking for more smoker recipes that use seafood and lamb.
10. The Wood Pellet Smoker and Grill Cookbook: Recipes and Techniques for the Most Flavorful and Delicious Barbecue
This is a cookbook for anyone that owns a wood pellet smoker. It explains in detail the components of the smoker grill and provides detailed charts for cooking times and ideal wood types for various types of food. It’s also more a naked barbecue-style book than a collection of BBQ sauces, as it highlights the meat more than the sauces.
Recipes come with step-by-step directions and color photos. Samples of the selection include Cajun Spatchcock Chicken, Teriyaki Smoked Drumsticks, Alder Wood–Smoked Trout, Cured Turkey Drumsticks, Bacon Cordon Bleu, Applewood-Smoked Cheese, and Peach Blueberry Cobbler.
Readers liked that the recipes cover the basics well; ribs, butts, brisket, chicken. Another found its section on brines and sauces as one of the best among all the smoking cookbooks. One found its troubleshooting tips for pellet smokers very useful.
Recommended fo all grill cooks and anyone who just wants to get the best out of their wood pellet smoker.
PROJECT SMOKE: SEVEN STEPS TO SMOKED FOOD NIRVANA, PLUS 100 IRRESISTIBLE RECIPES FROM CLASSIC (SLAM-DUNK BRISKET) TO ADVENTUROUS (SMOKED BACON-BOURBON APPLE CRISP) by Steven Raichlen
This cookbook provides in-depth information about the many styles of smoking meat which should satisfy anyone looking for a complete resource book on this cooking technique. The recipe selection is diverse and creative enough to also satisfy anyone looking for variety in their smoked foods.
There are charts for identifying the types of wood used for specific regional techniques as well as a comprehensive description of the many types of smokers, and the essential brines, rubs, marinades, and barbecue sauces.
Recipes, meanwhile, are in a user-friendly format. There are sidebars to indicate the recipe’s yield, method of smoking, prep time, brining and marinating times, smoking/grilling and resting times, chilling time and drying time, fuel, gear, shopping tips, and whatnot.
Overall, an indispensable and practical book about the art and craft of smoking food.