Last week I had someone ask for advice because they were gearing up to do their first BBQ contest. And I’d thought I’d share my response here for anyone else who is looking to get started in this glorious thing we call competition BBQ…

collecting some trophies alongside Barry from Bayou Boogie Barbecue (one hell of a KCBS cook)

When it comes to competition BBQ, preparation is the key. It will make the entire experience more enjoyable of your prepared for whatever comes your way. You need to set down and make a timeline for each meat. Try your best to stick to it. It can be a huge challenge trust me I get side tracked sometime. And if your cooking a KCBS contest your first go-round… here is a timeline that will help you get an idea>>

Waylon and I getting our butts ready for the smoker and talking strategy

If you have the time, do all of your trimming at home. Not having to do this on contest day saves valuable time plus you can concentrate on cooking instead of being in a rush to get things ready for the smoker.

getting shoulders on the smoker at Memphis In May with a little help from Danny with Tuscumbia River Bottom Barbequer

Also it helps to have a supply list. When I started out I made a list of everything I needed at home to cook. Bring those supplies with you and nothing else. It’s easy to over pack for a contest and this creates that much more work. I share my supply list here, it will give you a good idea about where to start >>

some of the hardware

As far as flavors and cooking goes you probably have an idea as to what it takes. Don’t deviate from what you normally do. Judges aren’t looking for anything crazy just BBQ that taste good and is perfectly cooked (not over done). I see people all the time making last minute changes. It kills them most if the time. Keeping things simple works. That’s why there’s a lot if one man teams that do so well.

you never want to take it so seriously that you forget why your out there in the first place…

The main goal of your first contest contest should be to keep track of time and get every category turned in on time. At that point it’s in the judges hands. There’s nothing else you can do to change the outcome.

And most importantly Have a Good Time!

Malcom Reed
Killer Hogs BBQ Cooking Team
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About the Author

I am Malcom Reed and my brother, Waylon, and I are the Killer Hogs competition bbq team. Here at, I want to give you my secrets, methods and techniques you need to produce competition-quality BBQ. I want to give enough detail for BBQ novices, but still offer information that is useful for the professional BBQ cooks. I only focus on REAL bbq. And I take it seriously.

2 Comments on this article. Feel free to join this conversation.

  1. Gary Teston February 28, 2014 at 1:17 pm -

    Malcom, going to enter a backyard at a kcbs event. Question is who judges the BY contest? Is it the cert. kcbs judges?

  2. Administrator March 11, 2014 at 7:51 am -

    Because KCBS typically doesn’t sanction the backyard contests, anyone can judge them. It’s up to the organizers of that contest if they decide to get certified judges or not.

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