Sure, hot dogs and hamburgers are great, but the grill is capable of creating so much more than just the cookout basics — that is if you have the right grilling cookbook. Everyone loves backyard BBQs — they give you a chance to spend the afternoon outdoors, play lawn games that make you feel like a kid again, and drink ice cold beer fresh out of the cooler. But the most important part of a barbecue is, obviously, the food. While you've already locked down your buffet table with summer salads, chips and dips, and desserts, it's time to turn your attention to the grill.
Grilled and smoked foods have a unique and complex flavor thanks to not only what goes into them and how they are prepped, but also how they're cooked. Different temperatures and equipment — not to mention spices, marinades, and glazes — can transform a plain piece of chicken breast into a smoky, savory morsel of meat. Whether you're working with a simple gas or charcoal grill, a handmade fire pit, or a restaurant-style smoker, you can create an endless menu of grilled dishes from the comfort of your backyard.
If you need help finding your way around all those grill dials, or you just need inspirations for your vegetarian kebobs, here are seven essential grilling cookbooks to consult for your next BBQ:
The Barbecue! Bible by Steven Raichlen
If you're looking for a user-friendly, all-inclusive grilling cookbook, look no further than Steven Raichlen's The Barbecue! Bible. Including tips for preparing your food, grilling techniques, full color illustrations, and over 500 recipes, this easy-to- follow book will guide you from the grocery store to the grill and on your way to the best backyard barbecue.
Boy Meets Grill by Bobby Flay
The ultimate grill master and Food Network star shares his culinary secrets Boy Meets Grill , a cookbook featuring over 125 backyard grilling recipes. Bobby Flay shares his love for everything grilling and his unique recipes juicy burgers to craft beverages in this essential guide for both experienced and novice chefs.
Franklin Barbecue: A Meat-Smoking Manifesto by Aaron Franklin and Jordan Mackay
No one does barbecue better than Texas, and restaurant owner Aaron Franklin does it best. In his highly-anticipated cookbook Franklin Barbecue: A Meat-Smoking Manifesto , Franklin guides you as you create your own barbecue style based off of his tried-and-true tips and tricks. If your a meat and brisket lover, this new cookbook is a must.
Grilled Pizza The Right Way by John Delpha
Everybody loves pizza, but you haven't lived until you've tried it hot and fresh of the grill. Multi-time winner of the Jack Daniel's International BBQ Championship John Delpha shares his favorite pizza recipes and best practices for crunchy, melty pizza in Grilled Pizza The Right Way . From the classics like Pizza Margherita and Pepperoni Pizza to more unique flavors like Blueberry Ricotta and Thanksgiving Pizza, this specialized grill cookbook has something for everyone.
Flavorize: Great Marinades, Injections, Brines, Rubs, and Glazes by Ray "Dr. BBQ"Lampe
Learning how to operate the grill is only half the battle, but the real test of a good grill master is in the sauces, marinades, and rubs that add flavor and texture to your meals. Whether you're cooking fresh vegetables and fish or smoking meats, Flavorize has a more than enough recipes to chose from.
Peace, Love, & Barbecue: Recipes, Secrets, Tall Tales, And Outright Lies From the Legends of Barbecue by Mike Mills and Amy Mills Tunnicliffe
Recipes and stories collide in this unique barbecue cookbook-memoir. In Peace, Love & Barbecue , Mike Mills, one of America's most celebrated grill masters, shares his life story, travel adventures, and 100 recipes with unrivaled love and passion for the cuisine and it's traditions.
The New Vegetarian Frill: 250 Flame-Kissed Recipes for Fresh, Inspired Meals by Andrea Chesman
Despite the restrictions, grilled vegetarian recipes are diverse and delicious. In The New Vegetarian Grill, seasoned cookbook author Andrea Chesman shares a variety of recipes featuring not only fresh produce, but nuts, cheeses, and and finger-licking sauces and marinades that everyone will love.
Images: Greckor/Flickr; The Barbecue Bible;Food Network; Ten Speed Press; Page Street Publishing; Chronicle Books; Rodale Books; The Harvard Common Press