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With the Fourth of July quickly approaching, you may already be thinking about the big gathering of family and friends that you are planning and what you are going to be cooking. Chances are, most of that cooking will be done outside on the grill.

When it comes to outdoor cooking for a large gathering, Americans aren’t the only ones who have mastered it, cherish it, and love to do it as much as possible. South Africans are another culture that knows a thing or two about cooking big feasts over a large wood fire.

If you have spent any time around a South African, there’s probably a good chance that you’ve heard them mention doing a “braai” (pronounced “bry”). This often weekly tradition, which is much more than a simple BBQ, is a huge part of South African culture and something that has been growing in popularity throughout the U.S. And there’s no surprise that this is happening. Americans and South Africans clearly have a shared love–delicious grilled food.

In this article, we’ve broken down exactly what a braai is, what it involves, and why you should try it today.


What is a Braai Exactly?

To put it simply, a braai is the South African equivalent of an American barbecue. A common (and very frequent) practice in any South African household, a braai is a fundamental part of South African culture and is a gathering of friends and family around a wood-fire grill in celebration. 

Even through South Africa’s turbulent past, braaing is a tradition that continues to tie the nation together. It is one of the few things that are not specific to one cultural or ethnic group in South Africa–everyone braais. (There are 4 ethnic groups and 11 different languages in South Africa.) For South Africans, the simple act of cooking food over a fire is something that everyone feels connected to—no matter who they are and what language they speak. It’s a social gathering where friends are always welcomed as family.

Compared to the American BBQ that you are used to, South Africans take the gathering/cooking at a much slower pace. A braai is a special “meat-fest” that can often last for hours on end.

Also, a traditional braai is cooked over local hardwood, like kameeldoring wood, which gives the meat and other sides a distinct flavor. Apple wood is another wood species that is good for braaing and is more available in the U.S. 

One important point to note is that a braai will never be cooked on a gas grill. Traditionally, the grill itself will be an open grill that has a diamond-patterned metal grill grate (aka grid) or regular grill grates and a large, flat fire pit. (Like these Kudu grills.) If you don’t have a braai-specific grill or plan on getting one, you’ll need at least a kettle grill or fire pit that can accommodate a wood fire, like a Weber Grill, Big Green Egg, or Char-Broil charcoal grill


what is a braai | how to braai | South African braai


When Do You Have a Braai?

South Africans rarely need an excuse to have a braai. In many cases, families will host a once-weekly smaller braai (even a breakfast braai) and do a bigger braai on special occasions. No matter the time of day, the day of the week, before or after work, rain or shine, braais can and will happen. So, if you are going to have a braai, do it whenever you feel like it!

Officially, September 24th is Heritage Day in South Africa but it is also unofficially known as “braai day”. Pretty much every South African will be having a or attending a braai that day.


What is Served at a Braai?

South Africa’s diverse history is quite evidently reflected in what you’ll usually find on a braai grill. Indonesian slaves, brought to the country in the 1650’s by Dutch settlers, brought spices with them such as cardamom, ginger, and curry pastes. They are also the source of common items such as sweet and spicy chutneys and sosaties (aka kebabs). The Dutch also brought their own spices and dried fruit (used for chutneys). 

Meanwhile, the indigenous South African people offered a wide variety of meats (including what we consider game meats), local fish from around the Cape, and goat and mutton from further inland. The traditional spicy Peri-Peri sauce is thanks to Portuguese traders who brought the bird’s eye chili to South Africa.

Due to all these influences, a traditional South African braai is usually a delicious global adventure. The meat is the center of attention for any braai. But there will also usually be a variety of snacks and sides to go along with the main dishes. Some of the things you’ll find on offer at a braai will usually include:


Biltong and Droëwors - Both of these are cured, air-dried meat snacks that are specially seasoned with spices, mainly coriander. Droëwors are thin round sausages based on the popular boerewors, while biltong is usually cut into small thin slices from slabs of beef.


Chips ‘n Dip - The dips will usually include smoked snoek pate and hummus (which usually has garlic and tahini). Snoek is a fish native to South Africa and is a species of snake mackerel.


Main Items:

Boerewors - Meaning “Farmer’s Sausage” in Afrikaans, this traditional fresh sausage is either made from entirely beef or a combination of beef and pork and usually comes in a large coil. This sausage is abundantly spiced with ingredients such as coriander, cloves, black pepper, allspice, and nutmeg.


Boerewors | South African braai | what is a braai


Lamb chops - Another popular braai item, the lamb chops are usually seasoned with garlic, rosemary, and thyme.


Steak -  For a braai, you will often find a variety of beef steak cuts including ribeye, T-bone, filet mignon, sirloin, and rump. In South Africa, ostrich steaks are also a favorite.


Chicken - Chicken kebabs are a popular option as well as beer-can chicken, where a whole chicken is cooked over the grill with an open beer in the body cavity.


Seafood - Seafood is also a very popular item. This will usually include things like South African crayfish tails (rock lobster), tuna, or yellowtail.

Other common meat items for a traditional braai include ostrich burgers and wild boar sausages.



Braaibroodjie (South African grilled cheese sandwich) - This traditional sandwich combines slices of white bread, cheddar cheese, tomato, onions, and chutney and is cooked directly on the grill.


Pap (pronounced Pup) -  Similar to what many Americans know as grits, this is a maize porridge that is made with chicken stock, butter, and maize meal. It can be made to be runny, soft, or stiff.


Potato bake - This favorite braai side dish usually combines sliced potato, cream, as well as ingredients like caramelized onion and Parmesan cheese and is baked in the oven ahead of time.


Roosterkoek - These are balls of bread dough that are cooked on the grill and served as an accompaniment to the Braai meat.


Salad - You’ll usually find different versions of cold potato salad and/or coleslaw at traditional braais. 


No braai is complete without an abundance of sauces and South Africa has no shortage of incredible sauces. These include peri-peri sauce, fresh chimichurri, and sweet chutneys. Don’t be afraid to use these generously. There should also be an abundance of cheese as a side to eat with the meats as well.



Of course, no braai is complete without some delicious wine, cold beer, or mixed drink. South African Sauvignon Blanc pairs great with chicken and seafood, while Shiraz or Cabernet will be your best bet with red meats and sausage. Pilsner and IPA beers all pair very well with traditional braai food. Another popular braai drink is brandy and coke.


Sauvignon blanc for a braai | South African braai | how to braai


The Rules/Etiquette of a Braai

There absolutely is braai etiquette and it’s usually taken pretty seriously. The host of the braai and the one who is in charge of the fire and meat is known as the “braai master”. Every braai master usually has their own process of doing things, preference of wood, and preference of meats. When going to a braai, keep in mind that, backseat braaing is heavily frowned upon. So, don’t try to start suggesting “better” ways that the braai master could be doing things. 

There are two types of braais in regards to what people should bring. For a “chop ‘n dop” braai, guests are expected to bring their own meat and wine/beer and the host will provide the rest. For a “bring ‘n braai,” the only thing the host is providing is a fire, so guests should bring their own food and drinks. Unless it is a breakfast braai, the braaing will usually begin in the afternoon (around 3 p.m.) and go well into the evening. It is a process that is never rushed.

As we mentioned above, if you are wanting to host a braai, gas grills are a big no-no. Only hardwood should be used. Although charcoal can be used as a last resort.


Embrace South African Tradition and Cook Your First Braai Today!

When it comes to the tradition of South African braaing, it is just as much about the intense sense of inclusivity and human connection as it is about the delicious food itself. After reading this guide, you should now have a good idea of how you can do something different, gather your friends and family together, and recreate a braai in your backyard.

So, If you are looking for a new outdoor cooking experience with some different tastes than your normal American BBQ, cook a South African braai today!

Have you been to a South African braai? Do you plan on hosting your own braai soon? If so, leave a comment below and tell us about it. We want to hear all about it!


Want to learn some more new recipes and pro tips to elevate your backyard cooking skills? If so, join us in our Championship Backyard Cooking Classes here at BBQ Champs Academy! These step-by-step outdoor cooking classes are taught by Champion Pitmasters and Grillmasters and you’ll learn exactly how to cook 20 delicious smoked or grilled recipes.

And if you want to dive into competition-caliber smoking and grilling, get your All-Access pass today! In these tell-all online BBQ classes, the Champion Grillmasters and Pitmasters will show you exactly how to master cooking several different cuts of meat in your smoker or grill, provide all the in-depth pro cooking secrets, and more. You’ll be cooking competition-level barbecue in no time!

Don’t forget to also Subscribe to the BBQ Champs Academy YouTube channel to get all of the latest competition BBQ news and insider info straight from the barbecue pros!

One true thing—almost everyone loves pizza. With so many varieties and combinations of toppings, sauces, and crusts that you can do, a delicious pizza can be made to satisfy anyone’s tastes. What you may not know is that pizza is not relegated to just being cooked in the oven. Yes, you can cook pizza on a grill! 

Grilled pizza is absolutely fantastic and gives the crust and toppings a whole new level of flavor that you won’t get from cooking it in the oven, thanks to that great wood-fire smoke. Plus, it’s super easy to do! But, to get the best results, there are a couple of things to know.

In this article, we’ve put together all the pro tips you need to know on how to cook pizza on a grill to perfection every time:


Make Sure the Dough is Ready First

Whether you make your pizza dough from scratch or you use a pre-made dough, you need to make sure it’s ready before you start prepping it for the grill. This means that if it’s a homemade dough, you want to make it the day before you want to grill it to ensure it has enough time to properly rise. 

Also, no matter if you use homemade dough or store-bought premade dough, you always want to let it come to room temperature for an hour before you start stretching it out and forming it.

Bonus Tip: If you are going to use premade dough, the higher quality doughs are your best bet for cooking pizza on a grill. These doughs will have less chance of burning too quickly on the high heat of the grill.


Set the Grill Up for High Heat Cooking

Unlike when barbecuing and smoking anything, where you rely on low indirect heat and longer cooking times, with grilled pizza you will be cooking quickly using high heat.

For the best results for grilled pizza, you want to set up your grill for two-zone cooking. This will help you get a nice crispy crust while also preventing it from burning before the cheese has melted. The direct heat side will be used first to grill the crust and get the charred grill marks. Then you’ll top the pizza and put it on the indirect heat side and let it finish cooking there. 


hot grill for grilled pizza | how to cook pizza on a grill | pizza on grill
Source: CDN


You want to get your grill to a consistent temperature between 400 and 500℉. You could go slightly higher but anything over 550℉ could overly char and burn the crust.

Bonus Tip: If there is not a built-in temperature gauge on your grill (or it’s not working accurately), you can carefully use your hand to gauge when it hits the correct temperature to start cooking the pizza. The grill is ready when you can hold your hand about 5 inches above the grill grates for one second before it becomes uncomfortable. Of course, exercise caution and use your best judgment with this!


Practice Mise En Place

“Mise en place” is the French term for having all of your ingredients ready to go before you start cooking. Cooking a pizza on a grill is one of those situations where this technique is very important to use. 

Because grilled pizza cooks so quickly, you’ll need to be ready to add ingredients right when you need them. You’ll be topping the pizza directly on the grill so you need to have the sauce, cheese, and other toppings all prepped and ready to go. So, chop everything up and place your toppings in small bowls ahead of time.


Make Sure You’ve Got the Oil Ready

Olive oil is crucial in helping ensure that the pizza crust doesn’t overly char or stick to the grill grates, so make sure you have it handy before you start your grilled pizza. First, use long-handled tongs to hold a paper towel dipped in a little bit of oil and lightly coat the grill grates as well.

Then, brush a little bit of olive oil on the one side of the crust that will be placed on the grill first. Then brush oil on the other side facing up while the crust is on the grill (before you get to any toppings).


Grill the Crust First

Before adding any toppings to your pizza dough/crust, you want to grill one side of it first. This will prevent your pizza from getting soggy, ensure that both sides of your crust have a nice char, and ensure that the crust will be fully cooked through. So, as mentioned above, brush one side of the crust with olive oil and place it on the grill. Cook it until it is lightly browned and has char marks. 

Then, use tongs to flip the crust and start building your pizza. The side with the grill marks is the side that your toppings should go on.


grilled pizza crust | how to cook pizza on a grill | pizza on grill
Source: Food Network


Go Light on the Sauce & Easy on the Toppings

The key to remember when building your grilled pizza–you can’t overdo it. The last thing you want is a soggy pizza or toppings so heavy that the slice can’t hold them. So, cover the crust with only 1 ladle of sauce and go light on the toppings. You don’t need a ton to still get delicious flavors. 

Grilled pizza is not going to have a thick layer of bubbling cheese like oven-cooked pizza. So use a soft cheese (like mozzarella) that can be sliced and spread lightly and evenly on your pizza to be grilled.


Precook Certain Toppings

Already tender or ready-to-eat toppings work best since the pizza won’t be on the grill nearly as long as it would be in an oven. Because the pizza cooks so quickly, it won’t be enough time to properly cook things like raw sausage or to fully caramelize onions. So pre-cook any raw ingredients that you want and make sure to thinly slice any toppings that you will eat fairly raw on the pizza.


Make Sure to Keep an Eye on the Pizza

As we’ve mentioned a couple of times above, the pizza will cook fast on the grill. So, unless you want to chance burning it, you need to keep a close eye on it while it’s cooking. This will also enable you to be prepared to move it more towards the indirect heat side if the cheese is melting faster than the crust is cooking.


The Cheese is Your Indicator of When It Is Done

The pizza will cook pretty quickly. Unlike when cooking meat, you are not cooking pizza to a desired internal temperature and relying on a meat thermometer to determine if it’s done. So, keep an eye on the cheese. When the cheese is melted your pizza is done and ready to be pulled off the grill. 

This is when you would add any final fresh toppings like arugula, basil, chopped herbs, etc. Balsamic glaze or other infused oils are another great topping option to finish your pizza off with.


grilled pizza | how to cook pizza on a grill | pizza on grill
Source: The New York Times


Let It Rest before Cutting It 

It’s understandable to be anxious to dive right into the pizza after it comes off the grill. But let it rest for just a couple of minutes before you start cutting it. This will make it easier to cut and easier to handle (you don’t want to burn your fingers on hot cheese!).


Try a Pizza on the Grill Today!

As you can see, it’s pretty easy to make hot and crispy pizza on a grill. If you follow the tips we covered above, you’ll end up with a delicious grilled pizza every time. Don’t be afraid to get creative with types of dough, different sauces, and toppings combinations to find your new favorites.

Make sure to take a look at our other blog articles for plenty more ideas for unusual grilled foods you can try, grilled breakfast options, ideas for your vegetarian family and friends, and even desserts you can grill!

Have you cooked pizza on a grill recently? Do you have a favorite combination of toppings for your grilled pizza? Tell us about it in the comment box below. We want to hear all about it!


If you want to kick your backyard cooking skills up to a whole new level, get started with our Championship Backyard Cooking Classes here at BBQ Champs Academy. In these step-by-step classes taught by Champion Pitmasters and Grillmasters, you’ll learn exactly how to cook 20 delicious grilled or smoked recipes!

And if you’re ready to really dive into competition-caliber smoking and grilling, grab your All-Access pass today! These tell-all online BBQ classes with the Champion Grillmasters and Pitmasters will show you how to master cooking several different cuts of meat in your smoker or grill, give you all the in-depth insider cooking secrets, and more.

Make sure to also check out the BBQ Champs YouTube channel and hit Subscribe to stay on top of all the latest competition BBQ news and insider info straight from the barbecue pros!

As we’ve mentioned before, starting with a good cut of meat is a critical part of ensuring a delicious final result. Knowing exactly how to pick out your meat is just as important as knowing how to properly cook it. Now when we say “good”, that can mean a variety of things (good quality, good marbling, etc.), especially depending on the specific type of meat.

So, if you are going to smoke a pork butt, there are some specific things you should look for when it comes to pork butt selection. We’ve put them all together in this handy article that breaks down exactly how to pick a good pork butt cut.


First, What is the Pork Butt Cut Exactly?

Before you start looking at selecting your pork butt, it’s important to understand exactly what a pork butt cut is. Contrary to what its name implies, pork butt actually does not come from the hog’s rear—it is one of the two sub-primal cuts from the shoulder. The pork butt is taken from the upper portion of the hog’s front shoulder and sits above the pork shoulder cut.

The word “butt” in “pork butt” refers to the containers that cheap pork cuts were packed in for shipment or storage in the 1700s.

A whole pork butt weighs between 6 and 10 pounds and is a rectangular-shaped roast cut. It is available bone-in (with the shoulder joint bone) or boneless. When sold boneless, the whole pork butt roast is often cut into half portions.

Pork butt does have several alternate names that you may hear, including:

  • Boston butt
  • Boston roast
  • Boston shoulder roast
  • Shoulder butt
  • Shoulder blade roast

When buying a pork butt from a big box store, you may even see a combination of several of the above names on the label.

Check out our article on the differences between a pork butt and pork shoulder for more information on this particular cut and how it differs from the pork shoulder cut.

Now that you know where exactly on the hog a pork butt comes from, let’s dive into tips on how to pick a good pork butt to ensure you buy a good one for your cooking session.


pork butt | How to pick a good pork butt cut | Pork butt selection


Pork Butt Selection - What to Look For: 


Appearance (Specifically the Fat Marbling)

When picking out a pork butt, you want to make sure that the meat is bright red-pink and has a coarse grain. It should also have a firm, smooth, and bright white fat cap on the exterior. Avoid meat that has a pale color and/or dark spots in the fat. This indicates not-so-fresh meat.

A good pork butt will also have a good balance between muscle fibers and fat throughout the meat (aka “marbling”). You ideally want to get a pork butt that has a good amount of fat marbling in the muscle area farthest from the bone (known as “the money muscle” in this cut). But, steer clear of ones that have a ton of extra fat that will need to be trimmed off.

Also, if the pork butt has come sealed in Cryovac wrapping, it should be nice and tight on the meat. If it is loose and/or has air pockets, that means the meat has been sitting there for a while, has been exposed to air, and will not have as good a flavor.


Avoid Enhanced Pork Butt

Lots of supermarket pork butts are injected with an artificial solution of water, salt, sodium phosphate, and other ingredients to make the meat more moist. This is called enhanced meat. Enhanced meat can be identified by reading the fine print on the product label. Look for a phrase that tells the percentage of solution added to the meat and the what the solution ingredients are.

For a better flavor of the meat, you want to get non-enhanced pork. The label will sometimes say “all-natural” and/or “no added ingredients”. Keep in mind that some non-enhanced pork won’t say that on the label. But, if the meat IS enhanced, pork suppliers are required to state that on the label. 

If you want the best pork flavor, go for all-natural pork from smaller farms. This meat will usually be found at smaller, specialty grocery stores, your local butcher shop, or a high-quality online meat supplier.

If you have no choice but to buy enhanced meat, because the meat has been injected with a fair amount of salt, reduce the amount of salt that is in your rub so you don’t end up with an overly salty pork butt.


The Fresher the Better

This may be obvious, but fresher is always better when it comes to meat selection. So, you want to avoid a pork butt that’s been frozen for a while. You’ll get the best results from pork that has been recently cut. (Another reason to opt for your local butcher shop!)


Determine How Big a Pork Butt You Need

Whole, untrimmed pork butts can range from 6 to 10 pounds in size. The 6 to 8-pound range is usually what you’ll find pre-packaged in the store. But, there’s nothing wrong with going for a 10-pound butt if that is what you need based on the number of people you’ll be feeding. A 10-pound one will cook just as fine as a 6-pound one as long as it’s done properly and you are cooking to desired internal temperature.

When trying to determine how much pork butt per person you are feeding, generally speaking, for one serving you’ll need ⅔ lb of raw pork per adult and ½ lb per child. (FYI: Cooked pork weighs half as much as raw.)


How much pork butt per person | How to pick a good pork butt cut | Pork butt selection


Bone-In vs Boneless

You can smoke a good pork butt both ways, but if you can, you ideally want to get a pork butt that still has the shoulder bone in it. This may be harder to find unless you go to your local butcher’s shop. 

Leaving the bone in the pork chop will help hold the meat together nicely. Plus, the bone acts as a built-in meat thermometer. With a slight twist, the bone will easily slide out of the meat when it is done. You should still use a digital meat thermometer to monitor the internal temperature of the meat though. 

Of course, you can still cook a delicious pork butt without the bone but, depending on the size, it may need to be tied with butcher’s twine to hold it together.


Where to Buy a Good Pork Butt

Short answer: Opt for your local butcher versus a big box store for better quality meat with more fat marbling.

In most cases, you can find pork butt (frequently labeled as Boston Butt) in your local grocery store or large wholesale/warehouse store. At the grocery store, it will usually be packaged as half of a whole pork butt and already come pre-trimmed with the entire fat cap removed. If you don’t want to bother with trimming the fat cap, then this is fine. But, when smoking a pork butt, you’ll usually get the best results if the fat cap is not totally removed but trimmed down to just ¼”.

At the warehouse stores, you’ll usually find pork butts vacuum sealed and sold two to a pack (with one slightly smaller than the other). They’ll also often have the fat cap still intact so you can trim it as desired at home.

But, with the grocery store and warehouse store pork butts that are Cryovac-wrapped, you don’t have a lot of opportunity to be selective in how fresh a cut you are getting, the level of marbling, etc. 

That is just one of the reasons that the best place to buy a great pork butt cut is from your local butcher shop. There, you’ll have the opportunity to talk to the butcher and find out exactly how long ago the pork was cut, where it came from, and more. The pork available at the butcher shop will also usually be more humanely raised and have a higher fat content, which equals more flavor. 

Don’t be afraid to ask the butcher for help. They’ll be happy to help ensure you get the best cut that fits your needs and budget.


pork butt selection at the butcher | how to pick a good pork butt cut


Start With a Good Pork Butt Cut to Get the Best Results Today!

As you can see, when it comes to how to pick a good pork butt, there are some specific things to keep in mind to ensure you have a head start on ending up with a delicious final result. It’s important to know exactly what to look for in pork butt selection so you walk out of the store with good-quality, fresh pork meat. The quality of the meat will make a huge difference in the taste of your smoked pork butt. 

With the information we covered above, you’ll be able to buy the best pork butt to cook today. And remember, don’t be afraid to talk to your local butcher. They’ll be happy to help and can point you to the best quality pork that meets all the criteria above.

Do you know of something else to look for when it comes to pork butt selection that we left out? Plan on smoking a pork butt this week? Leave a comment below and tell us about it. We want to hear from you!


Want to learn everything you need to know about how to smoke pork butt perfectly just like the professional competition pitmasters? In the online classes here at BBQ Champs Academy, you’ll learn the techniques step-by-step, along with the Pitmasters’ insider secrets, all in stunning high-def video.

Check out the individual pork butt class from your favorite Pitmaster or grab your All-Access Pass to learn how to cook four different cuts of meat (brisket, chicken, pork butt, and ribs)!

Also, make sure to check out the BBQ Champs Academy YouTube channel for the latest barbecue news, insider info, and more. Hit that “Subscribe” button to stay on top of all the latest!

When it comes to grilled food, two things that have long gone hand-in-hand are summertime and grilled corn. The high heat and wood smoke elevate sweet corn to a whole new, delicious level. Plus, it’s super simple and easy to cook. 

Grilled corn makes for a perfect side for grilled steaks, BBQ chicken, burgers, tacos, and more! Of course, just classic grilled corn with salt and butter is always a favorite. But, why not get adventurous and try out a new variation for your next backyard cooking session?

In this article, we’ve put together 6 varieties of grilled corn recipes you can try out. Who knows, maybe you’ll discover a new favorite today!


Mexican Street Corn on the Cob (aka Elote)


mexican street corn | grilled corn on the cob | grilled corn recipes
Source: SpendWithPennies


If you’ve never tried grilled Mexican street corn, technically known as Elote, then you are missing out! Elote is a unique and tasty spin on fresh sweet summer corn. In this recipe, the corn on the cob is grilled and then coated in spicy and savory ingredients that include chile powder, cumin, and cotija cheese. A splash of lime juice and a pinch of cilantro make this grilled corn a delicious option for your next backyard barbecue! Pair this corn with pork carnitas, ribs, or grilled chicken.


Grilled Corn on the Cob with Garlic & Parmesan


garlic parmesan grilled corn | grilled corn on the cob | grilled corn recipes
Source: Traeger Grills


Everyone loves a combo of garlic and parmesan. Combine this with the delicious flavor of sweet grilled corn and you’ve got a winning combination. In this recipe from Traeger Grills, fresh corn on the cob is coated in a garlic butter mix, grilled till tender and charred, and then finished with a melt-in-your-mouth garnish or parmesan and parsley. Mesquite makes for the perfect choice of wood type to help balance the flavors of the sweet corn. 


Grilled Corn on the Cob with Lemon Dill Butter


lemon dill butter grilled corn | grilled corn on the cob | grilled corn recipes
Source: Natasha’s Kitchen


For the perfect side for grilled seafood, check out this grilled corn recipe. The flavors of lemon and dill go perfectly with the light flavor profile of fish/shellfish. This recipe uses the method of wrapping the corn in foil and grilling it, sealing in the moisture, and steaming the corn. (Alternatively, you could grill the corn directly on the grill if you want to get a more charred finish.) 


Grilled Corn with Spicy Buffalo Butter


grilled corn with spicy buffalo butter | grilled corn on the cob | grilled corn recipes
Source: Foodie Crush


If you are looking for something with a little more kick, this one is a great choice. This recipe takes buttered corn to a whole new level by using a flavored compound butter. Combining butter, hot sauce, blue cheese, and scallions makes this corn recipe one that will have your family and friends coming back for more.


BBQ Glazed Grilled Corn


BBQ glazed grilled corn | grilled corn on the cob | grilled corn recipes
Source: Food Network


Chances are you might be putting barbecue sauce or glaze on the meat you are grilling (or serving it on the side). Why not put a delicious barbecue glaze on the corn too? This recipe calls for slathering the corn in a sweet and spicy glaze before it goes on the grill. With a delicious balance of ingredients, including cayenne pepper and brown sugar, you’ll end up with mouth-watering grilled corn on the cob.


Delicious Classic Grilled Corn on the Cob


classic grilled corn | grilled corn on the cob | grilled corn recipes
Source: delish


If you’re still leaning towards just the traditional grilled corn on the cob, this simple recipe uses kosher salt and butter to help emphasize the sweet flavor of fresh grilled corn. With your grill on high heat (550°F), this corn is grilled to perfection in 10 to 15 minutes.


Add Juicy Grilled Corn to Your BBQ Menu Today!

With this list of recipes, you’ve got plenty of creative grilled corn options to choose from to help complete your summertime barbecue meal. In our opinion, grilled corn is delicious any time of the year though! Don’t be afraid to get creative and tweak any of the recipes above to put your own twist on them.

Make sure to take a look at our other blog articles for plenty more ideas for side dishes you can smoke or grill. We’ve also got grilled options for breakfast, for your vegetarian family and friends, and even unusual grilled foods you can try!

Do you have a favorite way to grill corn on the cob? Have another idea for a grilled corn recipe? Leave a comment below and tell us about it. We want to hear from you!


Do you want to level up your backyard cooking skills like never before? If so, get started with the Championship Backyard Cooking Classes here at BBQ Champs Academy. With these, you’ll learn step-by-step exactly how to cook a wide variety of delicious grilled or smoked recipes, straight from the pros!

And if you’re ready to master competition-level smoking and grilling techniques, get your All-Access pass today! You can join Champion Grillmasters and Pitmasters in tell-all, first-of-their-kind online BBQ classes! Master cooking several different cuts of meat in your smoker or grill, get all the in-depth insider cooking secrets, and more.

Make sure to also subscribe to the BBQ Champs YouTube channel to get all of the latest competition BBQ news and insider info straight from the barbecue pros!

To many, beef brisket is the ultimate choice when it comes to cuts of meat to smoke. But, it can take some strategy and technique to do it properly. Using a brisket injection before smoking the meat is one of the easiest and most effective ways to keep the beef moist and tender and enhance the flavor.

Of course, you could use a pre-made brisket injection marinade mix (like Butcher BBQ's Prime Brisket Injection from David Bouska, one of the Champion Pitmasters here at BBQ Champs Academy). But, it can be fun to experiment with different flavor combinations by making your own homemade beef brisket injection. 

In this article, we’ve outlined why you should be using an injection to begin with, some tips on making a homemade beef brisket injection, and a brisket injection recipe you can start with.


Why You Should Use a Brisket Injection

The key to good smoked meat is adequate moisture retention. But, with it being smoked slowly at warm temperatures, it can be especially vulnerable to drying out. This is especially true for a super lean cut of meat like beef brisket. 

When smoking a brisket, the meat can quickly start to lose moisture. Injecting the meat can help compensate for this. Using a brisket injection helps get extra moisture and flavor deep into the inner layers of the meat quickly. It is actually a very easy process that won’t leave much cleanup at all.

Check out our article on how to inject brisket to learn more about the benefits of using a brisket injection and exactly how to do it the right way.


injecting brisket | brisket injection | homemade brisket injection
Source: Derrick Riches


Tips for Making a Homemade Brisket Injection

Brisket injections can range from a very thin, water-like mixture to a thicker, heavier almost sauce-like consistency. No matter what kind of injection you are using, the most important thing to keep in mind is to keep things simple.

You don’t want to lose the delicious natural taste of the beef. So, you only want to use ingredients and flavors that will complement the brisket. Some of the most commonly used ingredients in homemade beef brisket injections include things like:

  • Beef stock/broth/base
  • Olive oil
  • Brine (saltwater)
  • Alcohol (like bourbon or beer)
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Vinegar

Some brisket injection recipes also start to work in more creative ingredients like:

  • Apple juice
  • Pineapple juice
  • Brown sugar
  • Black pepper
  • Garlic
  • Herbs (Rosemary, Thyme, etc.)


Along with keeping the ingredients simple, there are some additional tips to keep in mind when it comes to making a good homemade brisket injection that will yield good results. Here are a few things to remember:


You don’t want to clog up your injector! - 

Remember, your injection is going to have to pass through some small holes at the end of the needle of your meat injector. So, keep the injection thin enough to easily pass through without clogging things up.


Don’t go too salty - 

Try and keep your injection between 1% and 2% salt content. Then it will still help tenderize the meat without being overly salty.


Avoid using liquid smoke -

If you are going to smoke the brisket using wood as a fuel source (whether as the main fuel source or a flavoring source), DO NOT use liquid smoke in your brisket injection mixture. Doing so will result in an overly smoky, bitter flavor that could ruin your whole brisket. If you are using an electric or gas smoker and not heating up any wood chips in it, you may be able to get away with just a little bit of liquid smoke to add that flavor.


The injection should complement the rub (and vice versa) -

If you are also using a dry rub on the exterior of the brisket, make an injection that either has the same flavor profile or a complementary flavor profile of your rub. You don’t want to create a situation where there are too many flavors competing with each other in/on your brisket.


brisket injection recipe | brisket injection | homemade brisket injection


Grind any solid ingredients - 

If you decide to use any solids as ingredients in your mixture, try and grind them as much as possible (ideally, into a fine powder) to reduce the chances of your injector clogging.


Heat the liquid, but don’t boil it - 

Heat your water or both (usually 2 cups of liquid is plenty) in a small saucepan over medium heat. But it’s very important not to let it boil, or even simmer. You just want it warm enough to easily dissolve the other ingredients. Allowing your injection mixture to boil can significantly change the flavor profile of certain ingredients.


Let the injection stand before using - 

After heating the liquid and mixing the ingredients, transfer it to a mixing bowl or tall glass. Then, put it in the fridge for several hours before you are ready to use it. Make sure to give it one last good stir right before you start injecting. Letting the injection stand before using it will ensure all of the ingredients are dissolved properly and thoroughly mixed.


Make sure all the ingredients are fully dissolved -

Be patient and make sure any powdered or paste-like ingredients are fully dissolved into the liquid before you start trying to inject your brisket. The last thing you want to do is clog your injector or shoot a chunk of concentrated flavor into just one spot of the meat.


You won’t need a ton of injection -

As a gauge for how much brisket injection you’ll need, you should have 1 ounce of liquid per 1 pound of meat. Remember, the meat/muscle is already close to 85% water, so it won’t take a lot of liquid injection.


Be careful with acidic injections - 

If you are using a brisket injection that contains apple juice, pineapple juice, vinegar, or another ingredient that has high acidity, do not let your brisket sit for longer than 3 hours after it is injected before you cook it. Doing so can over-tenderize the meat and you’ll end up with a soggy, mushy hunk of meat.


apple juice for brisket injection | brisket injection recipe


Simple Beef Brisket Injection Recipe

If you are looking for a place to start when it comes to how to make a brisket injection,  check out this simple, easy-to-make brisket injection recipe that perfectly complements the natural flavor of the meat with delicious umami:

  • 2 Cups Water
  • 1 Tsp Beef Base
  • 1 Tbsp Soy Sauce
  • 1 Tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1 Tsp Kosher Salt

Once you’ve tried a simple recipe like this, then you can make adjustments and additions of new flavors based on your taste. For example, adding ground thyme, rosemary, and bay leaf for an elevated savory profile. Or add brown sugar for a sweet and savory combo.


Use a Good Injection to Elevate Your Brisket Today!

Now that you’ve got a good idea on how to make a homemade brisket injection you can use, go ahead and grab your meat injector and get going. Using an injection will help you achieve that juicy, tender, and deliciously-flavored slow-smoked brisket that you are after.

Don’t be afraid to experiment with different recipes and combinations of ingredients to find your favorite.

Do you have some more tips when it comes to making a homemade brisket injection? Did you recently try injecting a brisket for the first time? If so, leave a comment below and tell us about it. We want to hear from you!


Do you want to learn valuable insider tips and techniques, including how to make a great homemade brisket injection, straight from Champion Pitmasters and master meat-smoking? Then check out the tell-all online barbecue classes here at BBQ Champs Academy. To get the full inside look, grab your All-Access pass today!

Make sure to also subscribe to the BBQ Champs Academy YouTube channel for the latest videos packed full of insider info, tips, and barbecue competition news straight from the pros!

There’s no doubt about it, beef roasts make some of the best cuts of meat to smoke low and slow. If you’re somewhat familiar with BBQ and smoking meat, the first beef cut that probably comes to mind is a brisket. This is one of the most popular beef cuts to smoke, especially when it comes to competition barbecue. Another popular option for holiday meals is prime rib. But, there are quite a few other delicious types of beef roasts as well. And some are much more affordable than you may think. 

With so many different beef roast cuts, it can be easy to get confused with the different options and where they’re cut from, etc. Plus, some cuts can go by several different names, making it even more confusing. But, we’ve got you covered!

In this article, we break down everything you need to know about the different kinds of beef roasts that are available, going from the front of the steer to the back. Plus, where the best place is to buy different types of beef roasts.


Beef Roast Cuts 101:

In general, roasts are cut from the steer's shoulder (aka chuck), chest, rib and loin areas, and butt and back leg (aka round).

Starting from the front of the steer and going to the rear, here is a breakdown of 12 of the different beef roast cuts you can find:


Clod Roast

(aka Arm Roast or Pot Roast) 

The clod roast (also commonly referred to as the arm roast) is cut from the front arm of the steer. It is leaner and usually a little less expensive than the more commonly known chuck roast. Because it is a tougher cut that comes from a more exercised part of the steer, this cut is best when slow-braised/smoked.


clod roast | types of beef roasts | beef roast cuts


Chuck Roast 

(aka Pot Roast or Chuck Roll) 

This affordable cut is taken from the shoulder, above the clod roast. Between those two cuts, the chuck roast will have a higher amount of fat marbling throughout it. This cut is often the ideal choice for cooking pot roast, whether that is in a slow-cooker or on your grill. (Yes, pot roast can be cooked on the grill!)



(“Whole Packer Brisket” = The Whole Cut, Including the Flat & Point)

One of the most widely-known beef cuts, the brisket is a favorite for meat-smoking enthusiasts and those wanting to splurge on holidays for the family. The whole brisket is a primal cut, taken from the breast or lower chest of the steer, and includes the fatty point (aka the deckle) and the lean flat. As another heavily-exercised part of the animal, the brisket is best cooked slowly at lower temperatures.

When buying a brisket, make sure you specify if you want the whole packer. If you don’t, you may just end up with the flat.


Rib Roast 

(aka Prime Rib or Standing Rib Roast) 

More commonly referred to as the prime rib, the beef rib roast is arguably one of the kings of beef cuts. This cut is made up of the middle seven rib section of the steer and includes a delicious amount of fat marbling, making it a more tender option for beef roasts. 

The large end of the rib roast, which sits closer to the chuck is fattier, while the end of the rib roast closer to the steer’s back end (which connects to the strip loin) is leaner. Usually, one rib for every two people is enough meat, so when buying your rib roast, let your butcher know how many people you are wanting to feed and which end of the roast you prefer.


Strip Loin Roast

(aka Top Loin Roast)

Not to be confused with a top sirloin roast, the strip loin roast is the leaner cut taken from the same muscle as the rib roast but toward the steer’s rear end. Sometimes referred to as a top loin roast (hence the confusion), this is where bone-in Kansas City strip steaks and boneless New York strip steaks are cut from. But, when the strip loin roast is left whole, some argue it is the next best thing to a standing rib roast.



Consisting of parts of the filet mignon, chateaubriand, porterhouse steaks, and T-bone steaks, the whole tenderloin is the most tender beef roast available. Cut from under the spine, along the animal's ribcage, it is tapered in shape with the middle being referred to as the "center cut." This roast, consisting of little-worked muscle, produces mild and extremely tender flavors. The labor that goes into trimming and tying a tenderloin, as well as the waste produced, is what also makes it one of the most expensive types of beef roasts.


tenderloin roast | types of beef roasts | different beef roast cuts
Source: Taste of Artisan


Top Sirloin Roast

(aka Top Butt) 

The top sirloin roast is a lean but flavorful cut taken from the hip bone. With a fair amount of fat marbling, it would not be considered an “economical” cut but is still more affordable than a tenderloin. This roast is extremely versatile and can be slow-roasted whole, cut into steaks and grilled, cooked in a stew, or stir-fried.


Tri-Tip Roast 

(aka Triangle Roast or Bottom Sirloin Roast)

This small triangular roast is taken from the bottom of the sirloin subprimal cut. With hearty beef flavor and a good amount of tender marbling, this roast started as a popular cut in the West and is growing in broader popularity. This cut is great for smoking, grilling, or roasting.


Top Round Roast

(aka Inside Round)

An economical cut that is taken from the inside of the animal's back leg, the top round roast is similar in fat and flavor to the top sirloin. This cut is what's typically used for deli roast beef, sliced thin against the grain. It is also a good option for braising in a slow cooker as a pot roast.


Bottom Round Roast

(aka Rolled Rump Roast)

The bottom round roast, another economical cut compared to other options, is cut from the outside muscles of the back leg (aka the “rump” area). This roast will have quite a bit more marbling compared to the top round. It is another good option to cook in a slow-cooker or as a pot roast on the grill. The bottom round can also be roasted, but if roasted for too long it can become chewy and tough.


bottom round roast | types of beef roasts | kinds of beef roast cuts
Source: ButcherBox


Eye of Round Roast

The eye of round is a circular, very lean roast cut from the elongated muscle located in the center of the bottom round section. Like other rump roast options, this cut offers the best results when roasted and thinly sliced.


Sirloin Tip Roast

(aka Round Tip Roast or Knuckle)

A budget cut that is taken from the steer’s front end of the rear leg, adjacent to the sirloin, the sirloin tip roast is very similar to the top sirloin roast. This roast is lean but flavorful. Like most lean beef cuts, it should be braised, stewed, or slowly roasted to break down any toughness of the meat. The sirloin tip roast can also be a great option for kebabs on the grill.

For reference in general, the more fat-marbled roasts will come from the parts of the steer that move the least (think tenderloin and rib roast). While the tougher roasts that take best to braising and slow-roasting will come from the areas that get the most exercise (like the round). These tougher cuts may not normally be considered “special-occasion” cuts but they can still be very delicious, while also being much more affordable.


Best Place to Find a Good Variety of Beef Roasts

You’ll usually be able to find several of the above beef roast cuts at your local supermarket, especially specialty markets. But, for the largest variety of options and the highest quality meat, head to your local butcher shop. Any good butcher shop will happily cut meat to order. Then you can specify exactly what roast you want, how big you want it, etc. And just by asking the butcher questions, you may even discover other options you never knew existed.

Keep in mind that you should bring your roast(s) home no more than 3-4 days before you plan on cooking it.

Do you have a favorite beef roast cut? Plan on cooking one of these cuts soon? Leave a comment below and tell us all about it. We want to hear from you!


Want to take your smoking and grilling skills (including with a beef brisket) to a whole new level? If so, join the Champion Pitmasters and Grillmasters here at BBQ Champs Academy in their in-depth, step-by-step virtual barbecue cooking classes like you won’t find anywhere else! These first-of-their-kind classes will teach you competition-level barbecue cooking methods, give you insider tips, and much more. Grab your All-Access pass today and perfect your barbecue cooking in no time!

Make sure to also Subscribe to the BBQ Champs Academy YouTube channel today so that you don’t miss any of the latest insider info and competition BBQ news straight from barbecue pros!

Usually, when you think of a beef pot roast, you think of one slow-cooking for hours in the oven or Crockpot. But, things don’t always have to be done the same way. This is one of those examples. Why not get some delicious wood smoke flavor on a roast? Your grill or smoker actually offers another great way to cook a delicious pot roast.

In this article, we’ve put together 8 tips on how to cook pot roast on a BBQ grill straight from Champion pitmasters:


Pick Out a Good Beef Roast to Start With

We’ve said it plenty of times before but it is so critical: your final result is only as good as the meat you start with. For a good roast cooked on the grill, your best options for the type of a cut are going to be a chuck roast, which is a very affordable and delicious option, or a rump roast. 

As far as the appearance of the meat, a good roast will be a deep red color with bright, white fat marbling running throughout the meat. It will also be dry to the touch and have a slightly sweet smell. Your best bet for the freshest roast is going to be from your local butcher shop.

In regards to the size of the roast you’ll need, a good rule of thumb is a half-pound of boneless meat per adult.


Tie Up Your Chuck Roast

If you decide to go with a chuck roast cut, before it goes on the grill, you should tie it up with butcher’s twine. By wrapping/tying the twine around the meat every couple of inches down the length of the roast, it will help keep it together while it is cooking.

prepping a pot roast | cooking pot roast on a grill | pot roast on the BBQ


Let It Sit at Room Temperature

Don’t be in a hurry to throw a refrigerator-cold roast onto the grill. For the best results, you want to let the roast sit out at room temperature for a little bit first. Taking the chill off of the meat will produce juicier and more evenly cooked meat. If you take the time to properly tie up the meat (if it’s a chuck roast) and season it with a dry rub (and marinade if you want) it will give it time to come closer to room temperature.

Just let the meat sit out of the refrigerator for 15-20 minutes covered with foil or butcher paper. Keep in mind that for safety reasons, meat should never sit out at room temperature for longer than 2 hours (1 hour on hot, summer days).

Bonus tip: After it has set out, make sure to also pat the roast dry before you season it.


Use a Two-Zone Cooking Setup

No matter if you are using a grill or smoker, to properly cook a pot roast on the grill, you need to make sure you have a two-zone cooking setup. You need one side that is direct high heat and one side that is indirect heat and a lower temperature. The direct side will enable you to sear it (see more on this below) and the indirect side will enable you to slow cook it until it is done.


Give It a Good Sear First

One of the best things about cooking meat on a grill is the delicious caramelization you can achieve on the exterior of it. So, before you start slow-cooking the roast, use the high heat side of the grill to get a good exterior crust on all sides of it first. This will not only impart some good wood-smoke flavor onto it but also help lock in the moisture inside the meat.

But, you only want to sear it long enough to get the exterior crust. Remember, you are NOT going to cook this roast over high heat the whole time.


chuck roast on the grill | cooking pot roast on a grill | pot roast on the BBQ
Source: Spruce Eats


Bonus tip: Hickory or pecan wood are going to be your best flavors/types of wood when it comes to grilling a beef roast.


Wrap It Up!

One of the things that makes pot roast so good is the fall-apart tenderness that comes from it slow cooking and braising in its own juices. To do this on the grill you need to wrap it up. 

So, after it has been seared, wrap it in a layer of aluminum foil and leave the top part open just slightly. Once it is wrapped, place it on the grates on the indirect heat side of the grill, as far away from the heat source as possible, and let it slowly roast. The ideal cooking temperature to slow-cook your roast will be about 300°F - 325°F. 

You want to let it cook until it reaches a minimum internal temperature of 145ºF. So, make sure you’ve got your digital meat thermometer on hand as well. For fall apart tenderness you want to cook it until it reaches 190°- 205°F internal temperature.


Let It Rest Before Serving

Once your roast is cooked to temperature, let it rest before you serve it. Letting it rest for about 10-15 minutes gives the interior juices time to be reabsorbed back into the meat’s fibers. This will give you a more tender and juicy final result.


Store Leftover Roast Beef Properly

If your delicious grilled roast doesn’t end up getting totally devoured when you first serve it, the leftovers can make great roast beef sandwiches. If you do have leftover roast beef, make sure you store it properly. When stored in an airtight container, it can safely last in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. When vacuum sealed, it can be refrigerated for up to 7 days or frozen for up to 6 months.


storing grilled pot roast | cooking pot roast on a grill | pot roast on the BBQ
Source: Momsdish


Try a Pot Roast on the Grill Today!

Go ahead and add pot roast to one of the delicious but somewhat unusual options that you may not initially think to grill. Cooking a pot roast on the grill is easy to do and by following the tips we covered above, you can end up with a tasty, juicy, and fall apart roast that will have everyone’s mouths watering.

Pair your roast with some grilled potatoes and grilled vegetables (grilled tomato halves are perfect!) and you’ve got yourself a delicious and hearty outdoor-cooked meal. 

Have you cooked a pot roast on your BBQ grill? Going to try it soon? If so, leave a comment below. We want to hear all about it!


Do you want to elevate your smoking and grilling skills like never before? If so, join the Champion Pitmasters and Grillmasters in the first-of-their-kind step-by-step virtual barbecue cooking classes here at BBQ Champs Academy! In these great classes, you’ll learn competition-level BBQ cooking methods, insider tips, and much more. Grab your All-Access pass today and start showing off your delicious barbecue cooking in no time!

Don’t miss any of the latest insider info and competition BBQ news straight from barbecue pros. Make sure to also subscribe to the BBQ Champs Academy YouTube channel today!


It’s not a surprise that a long-time, popular favorite to pair with hearty barbecue is mac n’ cheese. But, if you have been taking the time to level up your BBQ cooking skills, why not do that with your cheesy sides as well? 

There are a lot of creative options when it comes to side dishes with cheese. So don’t be afraid to step outside of the box. If you are craving some savory, cheesy goodness to go with your outdoor cooking, you’ve come to the right place! 

Here are some delicious options of cheesy sides that we’ve put together into one handy list for you:


Traeger Smoked Chili Con Queso

Why not start the list with a delicious, cheese-packed queso that you can serve as an appetizer for your barbecue gathering. (This one is great for tailgate parties!) This recipe, from Traeger Grills, uses hickory smoke to infuse a perfectly savory flavor with the two kinds of cheeses, spicy pork sausage, and chilies. (This queso can be smoked in a cast iron dutch oven on any smoker or pellet grill that can maintain 350°F.) 


Hot Grilled Lobster Dip with Brie Cheese

lobster brie cheese dip | cheesy sides with BBQ | side dishes with cheese


Lobster doesn’t always have to be a luxury item. With this delicious, grilled dip, you can enjoy a delectable combination of rich lobster meat and savory brie cheese without breaking the bank. After grilling the lobster tails, this dip cooks directly on your grill to take on the great wood-fire flavor you love in just 15 to 20 minutes.  


Cheesy Zucchini Casserole

This cheese-packed casserole combines layers of fresh zucchini, a creamy cheese sauce, and a crunchy panko topping. It offers the perfect amount of decadence without being too heavy for a side dish, especially for a summer barbecue. This casserole makes a perfect side to serve alongside smoked brisket, grilled steak, burgers, and more.


Grilled Cheesy Loaded Potatoes

cheesy loaded potatoes | cheesy sides with BBQ | cheesy side dishes that go with barbecue


This recipe satisfies any cravings for a fully loaded baked potato packed with cheese and all the fixings but is cooked entirely on the grill. So while you’re grilling or smoking your meat, this can be cooking alongside it in a cast-iron skillet. This recipe will serve 6 people and only takes about 35 minutes to cook.


Jalapeño Popper Grilled Corn Salad

Summertime and grilled corn seem to go hand in hand quite well. This recipe takes advantage of that fact and brings several great flavors together into one fantastically cheesy side dish! Enjoy fresh grilled corn, rich cheddar cheese, bacon, and jalapeño in this creamy summer salad.


Roasted Tomato Macaroni & Cheese

macaroni and cheese | cheesy sides with BBQ | side dishes with cheese
Source: Victor Protasio


If you still want to do a delicious mac n’ cheese, why not try this elevated version that takes it from a “kid’s” side to the adult table. This macaroni and cheese combines four different deliciously savory cheeses with roasted tomatoes and perfectly-paired spices. Plus, it’s only 411 calories per serving!


Smoked Pulled Pork Mac & Cheese

Got some extra pulled pork to use? Why not bring mac n’ cheese, pulled pork, and wood-fire flavor all into one delicious combination? That’s exactly what this great recipe from Traeger Grills does. This easy, smoked mac n’ cheese uses both Gruyere and extra-sharp Cheddar cheese and cooks in your smoker for 30 to 35 minutes. You could even go crazy and throw some bacon in this hearty side.


Complement Your BBQ with a New Cheesy Side Dish Today!

With the recipes we listed above, you’ve got some great options to choose from for cheesy sides to serve with your barbecue. Feel free to tweak any of the above options to make them your own. Don’t be afraid to get creative and enjoy some cheesy deliciousness!

Make sure to check out our other blog articles for tons of ideas on other side dishes you can cook on the grill or in the smoker, as well as ideas for dessert, breakfast, or even for your vegetarian friends and family.

Do you have a favorite cheesy side to cook on the grill? Have another idea for a barbecue side dish with cheese? Are you going to try one of these recipes? If so, leave a comment below. We want to hear all about it!


If you want to really elevate your backyard cooking skills, check out the Championship Backyard Cooking Classes here at BBQ Champs Academy. You’ll learn step-by-step how to cook a wide variety of delicious recipes, straight from the pros!

Ready to master competition smoking and grilling techniques? Get your All-Access pass today and join Champion Pitmasters and Grillmasters in first-of-their-kind tell-all online BBQ classes! You can master cooking several different kinds of meats in your smoker or grill, get all the in-depth insider secrets, and more.

Also, make sure to subscribe to the BBQ Champs YouTube channel today to stay on top of all of the latest competition BBQ news and insider info straight from the pros!


** Feature image from Traeger Grills

One great thing about having a smoker is that you can cook a huge variety of things. From appetizers to a huge whole packer brisket to feed an army and everything in between. You can even make some delicious snacks to have on hand when you’re feeling “munchy”.

One great snack, especially if you’re looking for something protein-packed, is smoked jerky. Drying and curing meat is a method that’s been used for centuries to preserve it for long periods. What we know as jerky actually came from the Quechua, a South American tribe from the ancient Inca Empire who referred to it as "ch'arki".

And when it comes to how to make jerky in a smoker at home, it’s a lot easier than you may think!

We went straight to the Champion BBQ Pitmasters to find out everything you need to know to make jerky. In this article, we’ve put together 13 pro tips on smoking jerky yourself. Let’s take a look:


#1 - Starting with Lean Meat is Key

When smoking jerky, you should always start with a lean, economical cut of meat. The meat needs to be lean because fat does not dry out properly and can’t be stored for long. So, some good options of cuts for jerky include a beef eye of round roast or sirloin tip roast. 

Traditionally jerky is made from beef. But don’t be afraid to experiment with different types and cuts of meat. Turkey, pork, lamb, and even game meats like venison and moose can make good jerky. Just make sure the cut is as lean as possible.


#2 - Always Slice Against the Grain

When prepping the meat for jerky, it is very important to slice against the grain in the meat. If you go with the grain, you’ll end up with tough, stringy, and extremely chewy jerky. So, going against the grain will ensure that your jerky has a nice bite-through without being really tough. Jerky that is done right will actually be a tiny bit soft and have some give when you bite into it. You shouldn’t have to tug at it with your teeth. 


slicing meat for jerky | how to make jerky | smoking jerky
Source: JerkyHolic


#3- Cut It Thinly and Evenly

Just as important as cutting against the grain is to make sure you are cutting the meat into thin even strips. Your best bet is to use a very sharp knife to slice it into strips that are about 1/4” thick. This will ensure the meat dries out properly. It is also important to remove any excess exterior fat as you are slicing the meat.

One trick to help make it easier to slice the meat at a consistent width is to wrap it in plastic wrap and put it in the freezer for 1 to 2 hours to partially freeze it first. 


#4 - Marinate / Season the Meat Properly

It is not a requirement to marinate the meat before it goes in the smoker (versus using a dry rub), but it does often result in better jerky. So, after you’ve sliced it, place the meat in your marinade of choice and make sure all of the pieces are covered evenly. You’ll get the best results if the meat is allowed to marinate in the refrigerator for 6-24 hours. 

A marinade that uses salt, pepper, and garlic (SPG) as the base ingredients will give a nice, balanced, flavor. This jerky marinade from Charbroil is a good place to start:

Homemade Jerky Marinade:

  • 1/2 cup soy sauce 
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce 
  • 2 tablespoons honey 
  • 1 tablespoon red pepper flakes 
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder 
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder 
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper


#5 - Remove Excess Liquid Before the Strips of Meat Go in the Smoker

Remember, the goal of smoking jerky is to dry the meat out. So, if you have marinated the strips, before you put them in your smoker it is important to lay them out on paper towels to remove any excess marinade. Then, the strips will be ready to either lay directly on the metal racks/grates or hang.


#6 - Hang the Strips If You Can

If your smoker has plenty of room below the metal racks/grates and the bottom (and the heat source), like in a vertical smoker, hanging the strips of meat is a very good method to use. There’s nothing wrong with laying the strips across the grates, but hanging the meat seems to allow the strips to properly dry out evenly, sometimes even in less time.

To hang the strips, just slide one toothpick through one of the ends of each strip. Or you can space apart several pieces on a long wood skewer. The toothpick/skewer can then rest on the grate while the strips hang below it. Just make sure to soak the toothpicks or skewers in water first so they don’t catch fire.


how to make jerky in a smoker | how to make jerky | homemade smoked jerky
Source: My Plastic-Free Life


#7 - Don’t Overlap the Strips

To ensure that all of the strips of meat dry out properly, make sure not to overlap any of them when placing them. Use multiple grates/racks to allow for enough space between the slices.


#8 - When & When Not To Put Liquid in the Water Pan

If you have already soaked the strips of meat in a “wet” marinade, do not put water in the water pan when smoking the jerky. You don’t want to add more moisture to the exterior of the meat. But, if you used a dry rub to season the strips of meat without any liquid, put a little bit of water or other liquid of choice in the pan during the first 1 to 2 hours of smoking.


#9 - Don’t Overpower the Meat’s Flavor with a Strong Type of Wood

The flavor/type of wood you use will be very evident in the taste of the jerky. So, you don’t want to overpower the meat by using a strong flavored wood, like Mesquite. Unless that’s the flavor you are going for. Hickory, Apple, Oak, and Pecan wood infuse the best flavor for jerky.


#10 - Maintain a Low, Consistent Temperature

Remember, you’re not cooking the meat like normal. For this smoking process, the goal is to dehydrate it and remove all the moisture. The ideal temperature to smoke jerky at is usually between 150°F and 170°F. These lower temperatures allow the meat to dehydrate, without being traditionally cooked. You could go up to 200°F and probably be OK but any hotter and you run the risk of overly charring your jerky.


#11 - Keep the Smoke Thin and Blue

If your smoker’s burning at the right temperature, you’ll see a thin, blue smoke coming out. If the smoke is thick, billowing, white smoke, open the vents more and increase the temperature of the smoker. Thick white smoke can impart a bitter taste to the meat and ruin your jerky. 


how to make jerky in a smoker | making jerky in a smoker | smoking jerky
Source: Kamado Guru


#12 - Wondering How Long to Smoke Jerky?

The answer to this question can vary widely. The important thing will be to keep an eye on it. It should take between 3 and 10 hours depending on the thickness of your jerky and the type of smoker you have. For example, at 200°F in a pellet smoker, jerky usually finishes in 3 to 5 hours. But in a Masterbuilt electric smoker, it will usually take 6 to 8 hours

So, check for doneness at the 3-hour mark. Then check every hour and even more frequently as it gets closer to done. Remove any slices as they are done to prevent overcooking.


#13 - Smoke Until the Jerky Bends and Cracks

Once you’re 3 hours or so into the smoking time, periodically pull a strip out of the smoker and let it cool for 5 to 10 minutes. Then check to see if it is done by bending it AFTER it has cooled down. You want to smoke the strips until your jerky is firm and bends and cracks but does not break in half. Small white fibers within the meat are also a good indication that the jerky is finished smoking.


Try Your Hand at Homemade Smoked Jerky Today!

As you can see, the answer to how to make jerky in a smoker is not overly complicated. If you follow the tips above, you’ll be well on your way to enjoying some delicious jerky that you can snack on for weeks. (Plus it’s WAY cheaper than store-bought jerky!)

You can expect your homemade jerky to last 1-2 months when stored in an airtight container. If you store it in ziplock-type bags in a dark pantry, the jerky will last about 1 week. When stored in a refrigerator, your jerky will last 1-2 weeks.

Have you tried making jerky in a smoker? Know of any other important tips? Leave a comment below and let us know. We want to hear all about it!


Ready to really elevate your meat smoking and grilling skills like never before? Join the Champion Pitmasters and Grillmasters in our first-of-their-kind in-depth virtual BBQ classes here at BBQ Champs Academy! In these classes, you’ll learn competition-level BBQ cooking techniques, insider secrets, and more. Get your All-Access pass today and start showing off your high-caliber cooking in no time!

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Warmer weather is approaching and backyard cooking is ramping up even more. One thing this means is that the deliciousness of a nice cold, refreshing drink while you’re cooking and eating gets even better. As you may have seen from some of our previous articles, there are plenty of ways to get creative with your smoker or grill when it comes to different foods and cuts of meat.

What about when it comes to drinks to go with your outdoor cooking? Sure, there are some great beers, wines, and bourbons to pair with barbecue. But, why not include some mixed drinks (with alcohol and non-alcoholic) in your smoking efforts? 

Yes, it is possible to start some great drinks on the grill and impress your friends and family even more! Grilling or smoking some of the ingredients included can add delicious complexity to the drinks. You can add a savory wood-fire flavor that perfectly balances the sweetness of the other parts of the drink.

In this article, we’ve put together 10 options of delicious and refreshing grilled cocktails you can try out today:


Grilled Grapefruit Paloma

This is a delicious wood-fired twist on the traditional Mexican tequila-based cocktail known as a Paloma, making for a refreshing drink that's perfect for warm weather and outdoor cooking. For this grilled fruit cocktail, the grapefruit and lime are cooked directly on the grates of your grill or smoker to caramelize the fruit and give it a subtle smoky bite. This cocktail is a mix of the juice from the smoked citrus, tequila or mezcal (if you want an even smokier flavor), and club soda.


Smoked Grape Lime Rickey


grilled cocktails | drinks on the grill | grilled mocktails
Source: Traeger


For a delicious non-alcoholic option, check out this smoked grape lime rickey. This recipe from Traeger Grills starts by smoking the red grapes low and slow until they’re tender, then grilling slices of fresh limes directly on the hot grill grates. Mix the smoked fruit syrup/juice with lemon-lime soda for a unique and refreshing wood-fired drink.

If you do want to add alcohol to this, gin or vodka works well with these flavors.


Grilled Summer Smash

The perfect cocktail is about balancing multiple flavors that all enhance and complement each other. That’s exactly what this grilled summer smash does. This cocktail uses grilled nectarines and cherries, giving the fruit a deeper, richer taste. This flavor goes perfectly with the muddle thyme and aged cachaça, a Brazilian spirit distilled from sugar cane juice.


Grilled Lemonade

Another delicious non-alcoholic option, this smoky twist on a classic is perfect for a refreshing beverage option for your barbecue gathering. For this drink, lemons are cut in half and dipped in sugar, then grilled directly on the grates cut side down until nicely browned. The juice is squeezed from that halves and mixed with rosemary and honey to create a delightfully intriguing flavor profile.


Grilled Pineapple Margarita


grilled pineapple margarita | grilled cocktails | drinks on the grill
Source: Saveur /
Eric Medsker


The margarita is undoubtedly an essential summertime drink. This margarita kicks it up a notch with a smoky/sweet element that makes it even more delicious. The grilled pineapple adds a rich layer of fruitiness while the mezcal gives the drink a veil of smokiness and spice. To increase the smoke and spice flavors even more, coat the rim of the glass with salt mixed with a dash of chile powder and coriander.


Jewel of Oaxaca

Creamy, yellow-skinned Champagne mangoes (also called Ataulfo or honey mangoes) are even more delicious when they are grilled and allowed to caramelize. In this cocktail recipe, the grilled mango is combined with two sources of smoky flavor: earthy mezcal and ancho chili peppers. This vibrant drink is then brightened with fresh lime. The flavors of the sweet mango, chili, and lime help to balance the flavor of the mezcal perfectly.


Grilled Peach Whiskey Sour

Some people will argue that whiskey is only a cold-weather drink. Personally, we think they’re missing out. Bourbon whiskey, with its touch of sweetness and hint of vanilla, actually pairs fantastically with summer fruit. For this grilled whiskey sour, peach halves are grilled to sweet and juicy perfection and combined with bourbon tart Jarritos tamarind soda.


Grilled Pineapple-Hibiscus Mocktail


grilled cocktails | drinks on the grill | grilled mocktail
Source: Photography by Maggie Shannon


This fun drink is another great mocktail that is great for both kids and adults. The complex flavors of grilled pineapple and hibiscus tea create a perfect flavor combination that is then mixed with pineapple soda. The lime and sugar-coated rim finishes off this deliciously refreshing drink. If you do want to add alcohol to this drink, tequila is going to be the best option to complement these flavors.


Grilled Tomato and Toasted Chili Cocktail

If you like Bloody Mary’s, check out this lighter, tomato-based cocktail with more elevated flavors. In this recipe, the deep, savory flavor of mezcal is boosted by the smoked Guajillo peppers, grilled tomatoes, and Worcestershire sauce. Grilling the tomatoes helps to enhance their subtle sweetness. This drink goes great with steaks, brisket, burgers, and even a seafood boil.


Traeger Tiki Grilled Cocktail

If you’re looking for a drink that will make you think of sitting on the beach of a tropical island, check out this recipe. This Tiki Cocktail from Traeger Grills combines brandy, rum, peach liquor, lemon syrup, grilled pineapple, and grilled peaches. With this combination of flavors, touched with a hint of smoke, you’ll create a crazy good drink that’ll have you feeling like in you’re in paradise.


Smoked Ingredients Add a Delicious Twist for Grilled Cocktails / Drinks

These are just a few of the different grilled cocktail and mocktail options out there. As you can see, there is a wide variety of flavors and ingredients, giving you plenty of choices when it comes to pairing drinks with the food you are cooking.

Don’t be afraid to get creative and change up ingredients in some of the drinks we’ve covered or even create your own entirely new concoctions.

Have you tried any of the cocktails in this article? Recently created your own grilled cocktail or mocktail? Leave a comment below and tell us about it!



Want to pair your grilled cocktails with the best barbecue you’ve ever cooked?  Learn how to straight from Champion Pitmasters and Grillmasters in our first-of-their-kind virtual barbecue classes here at BBQ Champs Academy. 

You’ll learn competition-caliber smoking or grilling techniques step-by-step as well as pro tips, all in stunning high-def video. Grab your All-Access passes today to get the full inside scoop on how to cook multiple types of meat. (You can also buy the Pitmasters or Grillmasters’ classes individually ). We also offer our virtual Championship Backyard BBQ classes where you can learn how to cook 20 different recipes to impress your family and friends (for only $99!).

Make sure to also click Subscribe on our BBQ Champs Academy YouTube channel so you don’t miss the latest insider info and BBQ news straight from the pros!


**Feature image from allrecipes.com

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