8 things we can learn from these top pitmasters [+ best BBQ YouTube channels!]

by Joost Nusselder | Last Updated:  January 14, 2022

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Pitmasters started out as a class amateur barbeque entrepreneurs and went on to become the masters of their craft which is grilling food.

These expert grillers or pitmasters as they are more commonly known, have huge responsibilities on their shoulders as they try to make the tastiest barbecue delicacies to satisfy their customers on a daily basis.

You won’t believe how much time and enormous effort they put into their work, not to mention the resources they allocate to their grilling business.

So, yes, they deserve a lot of respect for all the hard work they do just to give us a plate of a delicious grilled recipe.

What do you call a person who smokes meat?

A person who smokes meat is called the Pitmaster, or also often “Pit Boss”. These terms of endearment come from the long hours of hard work and the skill it takes to smoke meat to perfection. It is the person in control and completely deserves the title master or boss.

There’s always something new you can learn from them.

How to buy a bbq smoker video
How to buy a bbq smoker video

Let’s look at the recommendations of some of the top pitmasters in the industry and see their top tips.

bbq pitmasters

Grilling can be super fun with the right tools:

Read our post on the best bbq grilling accessories

The pitmaster’s dedication

The best BBQ is always associated with the South. Textas-style or Southern-style barbecue is known for amazing smoky flavors like hickory and mesquite flavored meats.

Pitmasters from all over the Southern United States were interviewed on this YouTube video and it was amazing to find out just how dedicated they were at doing their job/business.

These pitmasters are some of the most talented and knowledgeable grill experts so follow their advice if you want to cook the tastiest food.

If you’ve never tried hickory-smoked whole hog, well you’re really missing out and you gotta watch the pros cook it.

Most of the pitmasters said during the interview that they’ve inherited their business or learned all the expertise on grilling meat from their parents or relatives:

They wake up very early in the morning around 2 – 3 am and prepare everything, then by 8 or 9 am the smoked meat is ready to be served to customers when they open their establishments.

Even though their business closes at 5 or 6 pm they would still stay up until 10 pm or so to once again prepare the several tons of meat to be grilled for the next day.

The profit they make may go as high as 6-figures, but the amount of work they do on a daily basis is hardly worth it.

Had it not been for the love of doing what they do, we wouldn’t have a great bar and grill restaurants that we’ve come to love so much today.

Check out my list of the best BBQ restaurants in New Hampshire that you have to visit

Pitmasters’ top 8 tips for those who want to grill like a pro

For those of you who have a flair for starting your own bar and grill restaurant, we have some interesting tips for you that we’ve got from certified pitmasters.

Representatives from GQue BBQ YouTube Channel and AmazingRibs.com agreed to sit down with us and talk about grilling and other important stuff related to it.

Jason Ganahl from GQue BBQ

Whether you’re a complete novice in this business or you’re already an amateur grilling enthusiast, you can capitalize on these tips and use them as a business guide to launching your own bar and grill restaurant.

Keep reading to find out more!

  1. Hickory – Hickory wood is the best fuel to bring out the best tasting grilled meat that you can ever cook! According to Jason Ganahl, a representative of the GQue BBQ YouTube channel, compared to charcoal or any other type of fuel Hickory wood doesn’t interfere with the taste of the meat you grill. This means that the meat and the marinade will mix well under the heat and will appeal to your tastebuds very much with every bite. Meanwhile, AmazingRibs gave a broader and more comprehensive answer when asked what was their favorite fuel for grilling through this article.
  2. Thermapen – Make sure to always have this handy tool with you whenever you’re grilling or smoking meat because it will determine how good the meat will be once it’s done. Thermapen is produced by Thermoworks but there are other hand-held thermometers out there that you can purchase that works like it. The second most important grilling tool should be FireBoard, then other tools you must have for grilling include tongs, Weber Grill Pan, frogmats, Weber Chimney, Lodge Logic Pro Cast Iron Griddle, Rapala Fileting Knife, Grandma’s Secret Spot Remover, leather BBQ gloves, chargon and grill brushes.
  3. Preferred meat choice – Jason Ganahl also said that his favorite meat to smoke is ribs and, in fact, 70% of bar and grill restaurant customers prefer this type of meat too over other meat types. So it may be good to note to make ribs as part of your primary dishes when you start a bar and grill restaurant business someday. Interestingly, AmazingRibs echoed Mr. Ganahl’s comments.
  4. Preferred grilling method – Both pitmasters said that they prefer to grill meat directly on the rack as it is easier for the heat to get to the meat and cook it thoroughly.
  5. Signs to look for to know when the meat is cooked – On the outside, you may want to look for the burnt and brownish parts all over the meat, but you may still need to cut through the meat and or something that is nice and soft with good bark and smoke flavor. Using a Thermapen is also very helpful in determining if the meat is cooked as you can know what the temperature inside of the meat is without cutting it.
  6. Best go-to marinade ingredients – It’s surprising to know that both pitmasters said that marinades don’t work and simple rubs will do the trick.
  7. Food grilling arrangement – The larger and thicker meat should go first in order for you to take advantage of the heat and cook them efficiently, but there’s more to grilling than just meat sizes and thickness. So you may have to dig deeper with what influences cook time for grilling foods.
  8. Advice for beginners – Both pitmasters say that you shouldn’t be worried about getting it right the first time because failure is part of the learning process. By being consistent and always being eager to learn and improve on your cooking, then eventually you will make some great BBQ.

Read more on the top brands expert smokers use.

Barbecue styles

Since barbecue has become a national tradition in the United States most of the styles we will mention here are from this country.

Of course, this does not take the kebab and the shawarma into account, which although not exactly a type of barbecue, are nevertheless cooked in a similar fashion and mixed with vegetables for food and taste variety.

The central and southern United States originally adopted barbecue as a regional dish from the Caribbean natives due to the large number of wild boars that they could easily catch.

Pigs were a low-maintenance food source that could be released to forage in woodlands during the 19th century. The people would then hunt them down for food later on when seasons weren’t favorable for crops to grow.

The styles began in the Cajun culture in New Orleans when wild hogs and pig slaughtering became a time for celebration for whatever the occasion may be.

Then barbecue evolved through the unique styles of the sauces that came along with the grilled meat.

Soon there came the North and South Carolina styles, the Lexington style barbecue also rose to fame as was Memphis, Alabama, Georgia, and Tennessee.

Kansas City-style barbecue was the first style of grilling that used a variety of meat types, which included smoked sausage, pork ribs, smoked turkey, smoked/grilled chicken, beef brisket, pulled pork, burnt ends, beef ribs, fish, and other seafood.

Maryland preferred to roast large bulls outdoors while the Kentucky-style barbecue preferred sheep meat and mutton.

Meanwhile, the kebab and shawarma barbecue originated in Turkey during the Ottoman Empire and have recently become popular in western countries as well as Asia and Oceana.

Korean, Mongolian, and Japanese styles of barbecue are also now known due to the exotic flavoring they add to their sauces, which is very popular in most parts of the world.

There’s a lot you can do with a grill, so where to start? Check out the Top 10 BBQ Smoker Recipes Out There

Barbecue cooking techniques

There are various barbecue cooking techniques that have been developed over the course of 500+ years since the Spaniards discovered it in the Caribbean.

The natives in the Caribbean islands grilled their meat slowly over firewood for hours with temperatures reaching 115 –145 °C.

In modern times, grilling has evolved since the Caribbean indigenous started the tradition and there’s even been a significant amount of technology and ingenuity added to the latest grill models.

The science of grilling has also been deeply explored and as a result, we’re now able to grill food better, make it taste better, and reduce the cooking time to nearly half of what it used to take.

Here are some of the best-known grilling techniques:

Smoking

The process of preserving food through cooking and flavoring by allowing it to bathe in hot smoke from smoldering or burning material such as wood, charcoal, and other heat sources is called smoking.

Commonly smoked foods are meat and fish; however, cheeses, vegetables, nuts, and ingredients that are needed to create beverages like beer or smoked beer also go through this food preservation process.

Now, you can do this by using a vertical position for your meat as well as a horizontal one lying down.

These are the best smokers for beginners to get you started

Roasting

Roasting, on the other hand, is not a method to preserve food compared to smoking, but rather it uses a masonry oven to cook or roast the meat thoroughly under intense direct heat or heat from convection.

You can also do barbecue-baking in a masonry oven as well as traditional stove ovens and even bake casseroles, desserts, bread, and other starches.

Roasting can enhance flavor through caramelization and Maillard browning on the surface of the food.

Braising

Since braising uses convection heating, it can be done either on the charcoal grill or stove.

Braising is a semi-complicated cooking process of meat as the first stage of the cooking involves sauteeing or searing the meat in vegetable oil.

braising meat

The second stage is cooking the vegetables in the same oil until they are tender, then the final stage is to simmer the sauteed meat and vegetables together in 1 cup of red wine and then add another 4 – 6 cups of water for over an hour.

Adding the aromatics and other herbs will be the final touches, but you can only stop cooking it once the meat is tender enough for a fork to pierce through it.

Grilling

Grilling could also be considered as radiation cooking as the food being grilled on the grate does not necessarily come into direct contact with the fire from the wood, gas, electrical heat induction, or charcoal fuel below it.

Grilling is a great way to cook meat or vegetables quickly as the heat source is more than sufficient for the foods being cooked at one time.

Plus you’ll also be able to control the temperature on the grill and cooking at certain temperatures can determine how fast the food can be cooked.

Some of them like the reverse flow smoker best as it enables you to control all this even more.

Interestingly enough since the words “barbecue” and “grilling” have been widely proliferated all over the world people use them interchangeably.

However, chefs and food experts would beg to differ as they have formally classified grilling as the matriarchal progenitor of barbecue because this cooking process involves high temperatures to sear the food.

While barbecue, on the other hand, is just a type of grilling that uses low heat and generally involves a slow process of cooking food.

Be sure to check out our bbq gift guide if your special someone is really into smoking as well.

Best BBQ pitmasters on YouTube: learn from the pros

The advantage of having the internet at your fingertips is that you can count on YouTube for all the info you need about grilling and smoking food.

Many of the best BBQ restaurants and world-famous pitmasters have their own Youtube channels where they share recipes as well as tips and tricks for the tastiest barbeque ever.

Chef Tom Jackson – allthingsbbq channel

This channel has over 500K subscribers and they also run the successful blog “All Things Barbecue” a leading BBQ-related blog since 2009.

They share the best and latest grilling and smoking recipes, tricks, and equipment.

Kansas native pitmaster Tom Jackson shares his top recipes and cooks on film to teach you how to BBQ.

On this channel, you can find tons of classic BBQ recipes but also a lot of side dishes and other types of smoked foods including dips, sauces, soups, tacos, and even crepes!

Check out Chef Tom Jackson’s Foil Boat Pork Butt recipe and cooking method:

Pitmaster Malcom Reed – HowToBBQRight

Malcom Reed has competed in many BBQ competitions as well as the World Steak Cookoff content with his team Killer Hogs.

On his popular Youtube channel, he shows you exactly how to grill and smoke all kinds of meat with step-by-step instructions.

He is best known for delicious slow-smoked recipes.

You can also visit Malcom Reed’s website for more information and links to his favorite products.

Check out how Malcom does maple-glazed smoked ham right on his Traeger pellet grill:

BBQ Pit Boys 

The BBQ Pit Boys are probably the authority when it comes to the best American BBQ recipes. Their YouTube channel is extremely popular with over 2.1 million subscribers!

You’ve probably seen their brand of spice rubs around or maybe even seen commercials for them – they are the key to enhancing the meat’s flavors.

They also host the internet’s most-watched BBQ show and there’s nothing grill and smoking-related they don’t cover.

This group is made up of 3 BBQ-loving men who will cook anything on the grill or smoker and teach you all the tricks to ensure your BBQ turns out perfect every time.

Here’s one of their famous spare ribs recipes with a delicious Alabama White Sauce:

Pitmaster Aaron Franklin – BBQwithFranklin

Aaron Franklin is one of the most popular pitmasters and best known for cooking with offset grills. If Texas-style barbecue is your thing, Aaron is a pitmaster to follow.

On the BBQwithFranlklin YouTube channel (500k+ subscribers), you can see how Franklin makes BBQ classics like sausage, ribs, and brisket. He uses traditional cooking methods with his own twist for more flavorful meat.

His restaurant has won various awards including the best BBQ restaurant in Texas. So, you can definitely trust his recipes and methods.

Check out Aaron’s smoked sausage recipe and smoking process:

Did you know you can also smoke hot dogs? It really ups the game of your next cookout that’s for sure!

BallisticBBQ

Greg is the owner of BallisticBBQ, a great Youtube channel, and blog known for a wide selection of outdoor cooking recipes.

He uses the low and slow smoking and grilling method but also likes to experiment with all kinds of tasty meats and recipes.

Located in San Diego, California, this pitmaster’s delicacies are recreated all over the world because they’re that good! If you like to cook outdoors, don’t skip out on these recipes.

Check out the BallisticBBQ smoky grilled chicken recipe here:

Love BBQ chicken? Then you will also love this mouthwatering pellet smoker beer can chicken recipe

T-ROY COOKS

Pitmaster Troy, originally from Baton Rouge Louisianna has been living in Texas for decades but hasn’t forgotten his roots.

His famous BBQ recipes always include some cajun, creole, and Southwestern influences and flavors.

This Youtube channel is a must-follow, especially if you like Cajun-style cooking and want lots of seafood recipes too.

Here’s a Blackened Fish recipe to try on your Weber grill:

Pitmaster Harry Soo

You might know Harry Soo as the guy from SlapYoDaddyBBQ.com and TLC’s BBQ Pitmasters Head Cook.

Harry is a well-respected pitmaster and often competes in all kinds of barbecue competitions. He is the award-winning BBQ Grand Champion with many unique recipes and grilling techniques.

Harry Soo’s Youtube channel has 170k+ subscribers so be sure to check out all of his popular videos because he cooks traditional American recipes as well as international ones.

Here, Harry tells us about his best smoke ring techniques:

Learn more on how to get a good smoke ring going here

Pitmaster Roel Westra – Pitmaster X

Roel Westra, who goes by the name Pitmaster X has one of the biggest BBQ communities on Youtube.

He is Europe’s leading BBQ pitmaster and has lots of American viewers too. He currently lives in the Netherlands.

On his channel, you can find all kinds of amazing recipes from Hungarian goulash, to caveman-style steak, burgers, porchetta, and more!

If you’re interested, you can also visit the official website for more recipes, trips, and merch.

Learn how to grill a steak on a pellet smoker by watching this video:

Pitmaster Dean Schumann – Schueys BBQ

Australian pitmaster Dean Schumann is the man behind the popular Youtube barbecue channel Schueys BBQ.

Dean was a star on a popular Australian BBQ-themed television show and he shares all his knowledge, tips, and top recipes on his channel.

Schumann proudly shows off his Weber grills and it’s his main cooker so if you want to learn how to use your Weber grill properly, follow his advice.

Watch Dean make smoked jalapeno poppers in this video – it looks mouthwatering:

Want to try this recipe? These are the best woods to use when smoking jalapeno hot peppers

Pitmaster Kent Rollins aka Cowboy Kent Rollins

If you love barbecue you probably already know Cowboy Kent Rollins. He has a popular Youtube channel with over 1.9 million followers.

He is known for amazing outdoor cooking recipes, grilling tips, and how-to smoking videos.

Kent is an Oklahoma native with a love for barbecue passed down to him from his parents and grandparents. He has gathered all his knowledge and shares it with you in his videos.

His fun cowboy gentleman appearance and charismatic attitude make him one of the most popular pitmasters of our time.

Watch Kent as he makes the juiciest grilled pork chops right here:

Takeaway

If you want to progress with your grilling and smoking journey and learn to make various recipes, you should look to the top pitmasters for guidance.

These people are dedicating their lives to making and serving the most delicious food for customers and fans and trust me, they know what they’re talking about.

You can find all types of instructional videos, step-by-step instructions for grilling and smoking food and even Q & A’s for your most common inquiries on Youtube, so don’t forget to give your favorite pitmasters a follow.

Next, make sure you avoid these 16 Most Common Smoking Mistakes

Joost Nusselder, the founder of Lakeside Smokers is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with BBQ Smoking (& Japanese food!) at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.