Review by

Big Bob Gibson's BBQ Book - recipes and secrets from a legendary barbecue joint
(Clarkson Potter) ISBN 978-0307408112 0307408116

World champion pitmaster, Chris Lilly, shows you how to barbecue with a charcoal grill, gas BBQ, stove and underground pit oven, what wood to use in a barbecue, how to make rubs, marinades, injections, slathers, glazes and barbecue sauces, how to season meat, how long to cook meat on the grill and how to know when it is done.

Secret recipes from Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q in Decatur, Alabama, have won hundreds of BBQ contests using the low and slow method of cooking and Big Bob's seasoning combinations. The BBQ cookbook recipes range from chicken thighs and ribs to how to barbecue a whole pig. Big Bob Gibson's BBQ Book also provides recipes for salads, vegetables and desserts to accompany barbecued meats.

Barbecue tips

You will find everything that you ever wanted to know about barbecuing in this informative, 256-page cookbook. Each chapter of Bob Gibson's book begins with an historical introduction about the ingredients and the Big Bob Gibson story.

In his introduction to each easy-to-follow recipe, Chris Lilly describes the meat, such as the different cuts of pork shoulder (picnic, which is the lower shoulder and leg bone, and butt, which is the upper shoulder and blade bone). He also describes what makes the BBQ recipes special. For example, he explains that the dry rub, apple juice injection and Bob Gibson Vinegar Sop Mop sauce made his pork shoulder recipe an eight-time world champion.

Each barbecue recipe specifies serving size, cooking method (e.g., direct or indirect heat), suggested wood and cooking time. Pitmaster's Tips include how to french a rack of lamb to expose the rib bone and how to cook a whole pig with an apple in its mouth. (Pry open the mouth with a stick, the diameter of the apple, until the hog is roasted, then replace the stick with an apple.)

Other tips explain the differences between a whole dressed pig (Hawaiian pig), which has the breast bone cut, and the pocket-cut whole dressed hog (cowboy pig) with an uncut breast bone, so the pig stays on the spit. A butterflied pig (North Carolina, Memphis or Cuban pig) can be laid flat.

Answers to BBQ problems

Questions and answers address common BBQ problems. For example, boiling ribs cuts grilling time in half, but reduces flavor.

Images include historic black and white photos of barbecues at Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q in Alabama. Color images, by Ben Fink, illustrate BBQ techniques, such as using foil to protect the ears and nose of a roast pig and mouthwatering recipes like pineapple sweet ribs and caramelized soy and blackberry glaze.

Wood for barbecues

Chris Lilly offers pitmaster tips to convey his insider experience. (He married the great granddaughter of Big Bob Gibson.) For example, beginners should not barbecue with all wood fires because too much smoke creates a bitter taste. Instead, he recommends mixing wood with charcoal.

A chart in Big Bob Gibson's BBQ Book describes the flavors of different woods and explains which wood is best for barbecuing different foods. For example, apple wood provides dense fruity flavor to pork, poultry and game birds. Cherry wood adds mild fruit flavor to pork, poultry and game birds. Maple wood creates a mild sweet smoky taste in vegetables, pork, poultry and game birds. Mesquite wood gives strong pungent earthy flavors to beef, steak and vegetables. Oak wood infuses medium heavy smoky flavors into beef and poultry.

Regional BBQ styles

Another chart explains the different regional barbecue styles in the USA, based on types of meat, wood and sauce. For example, Memphis BBQ uses hickory wood to barbecue pork ribs, pork butt and shoulders with tomato and sweet, tangy sauces. Texas BBQ cooks beef brisket, pork and beef ribs and sausage on mesquite and oak wood, and flavors them with spicy tomato sauce.

In another pitmaster tip, Chris Lilly recommends cooking whole chickens with the legs pointed toward an indirect fire to ensure the dark meat is fully cooked before the white meat is overdone. He also explains how to make a smoker box for a gas grill, by putting soaked wood chips into an aluminum foil pouch with slits, beside a hot burner.

A resources chapter provides contact information and websites for places where you can buy smokers, custom cookers, grills and wood for barbecuing.

Sample barbecue recipes

Grilled chops with apple cranberry maple glaze. Pecan crusted pork tenderloin pinwheels with Carolina mustard sauce. Big Mama's apple nut cake. Pepper and herb crusted flank steak. Beef kebabs with mustard horseradish sauce. Peach bread pudding with vanilla peach sauce. Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q chicken with white sauce. Barbecue goat. Smoked Thanksgiving turkey. Grilled fruit skewers with spicy maple cumin glaze. Barbecue bacon wrapped shrimp. Slow smoked brisket. Big Mama's pound cake. Braised barbecue beef back ribs. Apple bourbon BBQ sauce. Caribbean mojo sauce.

Big Bob Gibson's BBQ Book


  • Introduction
    1. Getting Ready
    2. Ode to Pork
    3. Beef: Big and Bold
    4. Pit-Fired Poultry
    5. Four Hooves and a Fire
    6. Rack of Ribs
    7. Sauces and Slathers
  • Resources
  • Index


Chris Lilly is VP, executive chef and partner of the World BBQ Championships award-winning Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q competition cooking team.

Return to Food & Drink Index