From juicy grilled corn to perfectly charred slabs of meat, summertime eating just doesn’t get better than a good ol’ fashion BBQ. Now, with the news that a cheat day per week might actually be good for you, there’s no excuse to not indulge a little during, in our opinion, the best culinary season in America.

Girls Enjoying Barbeque On Beach Together

After exploring the best BBQ joints in the nation for inspiration, it’s time to woman up and host your own summertime barbecue. Not sure where to start? Here are 12 must-read cookbooks that’ll make you a master of every BBQ dish.

Pack on the Protein


1. Meathead: The Science of Great Barbecue and Grilling by Meathead Goldwyn and Greg Blonder ($21): This iconic guide to the grill reigns in the number-one bestselling spot in barbequing and grilling on Amazon (yes, that is a real category), and is perfect for all BBQ newbies. From busting BBQ myths to providing science-backed methods for cooking the perfect protein, it’s a sure-fire guide for making your BBQ main a success.

This book cover provided by Workman Publishing shows “Project Smoke” by Steven Raichlen, a culinary writer, cooking teacher and TV host who considers smoking as the new grilling. While previous books, including “The Barbecue! Bible” have touched on smoking, his latest venture focuses exclusively on smoke, from meats and seafood to smoked cocktails and desserts. (Workman Publishing via AP)

2. Project Smoke by Steven Raichlen ($14): Crafting the perfect BBQ is an art, and according to BBQ legend Steven Raichlen, it’s all about the smoke. Whichever technique you fancy, Raichlen’s guide is a great place to learn the basics and hone your BBQ skills.

Franklin Barbeque

3. Franklin Barbecue: A Meat-Smoking Manifesto by Aaron Franklin and Jordan Mackay ($18): If you follow BBQ culture at all, odds are you’ve heard of the pitmasters at popular Austin hotspot Franklin Barbecue. Covering just about every step of the process — from curating the right wood to sourcing top-quality meat — this dynamic duo shares all their hard-earned tips and tricks in this much-anticipated debut.

Sides and Slides

The Side Dish Handbook

4. The Side Dish Handbook by Tori Ritchie ($14): BBQ may be about the meat, but nothing ties the whole spread together like several impeccable side dishes. If this is your first large-scale BBQ, we suggest checking out this amazing sides guide. Covering a wide variety of classics, with a few more advanced dishes in there too, it’s the perfect collection of recipes to keep close by all year long.

My New Roots

5. My New Roots: Inspired Plant-Based Recipes for Every Season by Sarah Britton ($21): With more people practicing vegetarianism and veganism (or frankly just cutting back on the meat once in a while) than ever before, it’s important to have a few plant-based sides on your spread. But that doesn’t mean you should just whip together a garden salad. For anyone feeling a tad more adventurous with their greens, Sarah Britton’s cookbook is a great resource for decadent dishes.


6. Cravings: Recipes for All the Food You Want to Eat by Chrissy Teigen ($18): If you’re looking for that standout side that people aren’t going to stop talking about, this is the cookbook for you. From social media queen and model Chrissy Teigen, this debut cookbook has recipes for all the goodies that’ll leave your guests wanting more.

Sweet Treats

Homemade Decadence

7. Joy the Baker Homemade Decadence: Irresistibly Sweet, Salty, Gooey, Sticky, Fluffy, Creamy, Crunchy Treats by Joy Wilson ($20): “Joy Wilson believes that everything is better with pie. And caramel. And definitely ice cream,” proclaims the official description of this cookbook from famous food blogger Joy the Baker. With over 125 easy cakes and treats to choose from in this elaborate recipe book, it’s a wonder you’ll ever be able to select just one.

N'Ice Cream

8. N’ice Cream: 80+ Recipes for Healthy Homemade Vegan Ice Creams by Virpi Mikkonen and Tuulia Talvio ($15): After a carb-and-protein-packed meal, a lighter dessert is a great option to make sure your guests are able to re-button those jeans. Made entirely from vegan ingredients like fruits, nuts and plant-based milks, this massive recipe haul of vegan ice creams is tasty, good for you and totally hostess-approved.

People's Pops

9. People’s Pops: 55 Recipes for Ice Pops, Shave Ice and Boozy Pops from Brooklyn’s Coolest Pop Shop by Nathalie Jordi, David Carrell and Joel Horowitz ($12): Nothing screams summer quite like an ice pop. But instead of mixing up a classic fruity cocktail, try experimenting with People Pop’s weird but amazing flavors like raspberries and basil, peach and bourbon and cantaloupe and tarragon. Wowza, those combos sound delicious and adult-approved.

Bar Cart Show-Off

The New Cocktail Hour

10. The New Cocktail Hour: The Essential Guide to Hand-Crafted Drinks by André Darlington and Tenaya Darlington ($14): The dynamic Darlington siblings will take your summer drinks to a whole new level by giving you a complete history of cocktails from every era. From vintage classics to modern showstoppers, you’re sure to find your signature drink within its nearly 300 pages.

Tequila Mockingbird

11. Tequila Mockingbird: Cocktails With a Literary Twist by Tim Federle ($9): Elevate your BBQ with a delicious and punny literary cocktail. With such classics as Romeo and Julep and Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margarita, your guests are sure to LOL — just maybe not as hard as you will.


12. Spritz: Italy’s Most Iconic Aperitivo Cocktail, With Recipes by Talia Baiocchi and Leslie Pariseau ($11): In this complete guide to the classic Italian spritz, hosts will learn everything from the drink’s fascinating history to the right way to mix one up. Can you say best bartender ever?

Are you hosting a fab BBQ this summer? Share your pics with us on Instagram by mentioning @BritandCo.

(Photo via Getty)

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