Competition BBQ

Competition BBQ

If you are planning your first Competition BBQ Contest, there are a few tips that will make your life a little easier. This article and all these resources and competition recipes will give you a starting point – and help you get started in Competition BBQ.

If you are looking for a competition BBQ contest, you can check out your local BBQ Network and search for events. The largest is KCBS (Kansas City Barbecue Society). But a few of the other popular BBQ networks are IBCAFBA and MBN. These associations will allow you to search for local competition BBQ contests, get dates and discover the costs of entering a contest.

If the competition BBQ contest offers a “backyard” or a “patio” section, I always suggest entering that division to start. It usually costs less, typically doesn’t require as much as the professional division and it will let you get a feel for competing.

Competition BBQ contests

Once you find a Competition BBQ contest and submit your application, it’s time to start planning… It takes more planning than you would expect. Regardless how long you have been cooking BBQ, it’s always a good idea to do a few practice runs so you will be in-sync with the turn-in times of the cooking contest.

If you want to judge a Competition BBQ Contest before you cook in one (which I highly recommend), you need to become a certified judge.

Most Competition BBQ Cooking Contests won’t let you judge unless you are a certified judge (and you can get certified typically by attending a 1-day judging class). So if you want to become a Competition BBQ judge, go to the BBQ network website and sign-up for one of their judging classes. These classes typically fill-up quick… so if you’re interested you need to get on it.

Judging will allow you to see what other people turn in, what judges expect and get you really familiar with all the rules. Plus, you get to eat some really great BBQ.

Competition BBQ

A Few Words To The Wise about Competing in Competition BBQ…

I don’t care how amazing your grandpa’s BBQ sauce is… or how mouth-watering everyone told you your ribs are… the guys in the professional division have spent years perfecting everything – all the way down to how to place the meat in the turn-in box. They know what the judges like and they cook 20, 30 some of them cook 40 weekends out of the year.

Competition BBQ

That is why I always suggest entering the “patio” division and then making friends with guys in the professional division and ask them questions so you can get a feel for what the contest is all about.

Believe me, it’s cheaper to make your mistakes and work out your kinks in the amateur division than it is in the professional division.

A Few Things To Remember about Competition BBQ:

When it comes to competition BBQ, preparation is the key. It will make the entire experience more enjoyable if you are prepared for whatever comes your way. You need to set down and make a timeline – and then try your best to stick to it. It can be a huge challenge, trust me I get side tracked sometime.

If you have the time, do all of your meat trimming at home. This is allow in most sanctioned contests – including KCBS – but make sure your Competition BBQ contest allowed you to trim at home before. Not having to trim your meat 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.

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.

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. 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.

Never take it so seriously that you forget why your out there in the first place… The main goal of your first Competition BBQ 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. Most importantly have a Good Time!

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  1. Any preference on fuel source? Briquettes vs Hardwood (Using a Backwoods Smoker). Have you tried OAK charcoal on it? (thinking of adding a few fruit wood chunks in there to balance it out).

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      For a backwoods I use briquettes as the fuel source and a few chunks of hickory and fruit woods. But you can use lump charcoal too – it jsut seems to burn hotter. A little Oak goes a long way – it’s a harsher smoke.

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  2. What up Malcolm, as far as the taste of Comp. Bbq are you just over seasoning for that one bite compared to seasoning to eat the entire dish?

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  3. When I grill ribeyes, I like to also grill sausage; but it will split before I can get it to brown up. What am I doing wrong? I guess I can’t do both at the same temp?

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  4. Hey I am wanting to hoast a smaller BBQ event near Kc Mo at our fairgrounds. Any pointers or advice on this or anyone I could talk to? Any info would be awesome. Thanks

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  5. Good day I live in MD and want to enter a barbecue competition but there aren’t any in my area how can I get started on that ?

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  6. Hey Malcom,

    My son, he’s 17, will be doing his second BBQ Comp next weekend, May 11th and 12th. He finished 8th out of 9 his first comp, this was not a backyard division. He uses a home built 120 gallon reverse flow smoker that he and I built. He hopes to get better scores at the next one and is looking for a few tips on injections. Any tips you can share? Thank You

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  7. Great info my man looking to enter a competition someday I have what it takes just need to see what the world like

  8. Malcom, love your work, your YouTube videos are a big help. I was wondering what type of smoker do most competition teams use? Any particular brand that seems most popular?

  9. My bestfriend and i do done weekend bbq catering, but are thinking about expanding and turning it in to a more serious business. With that said, we are looking to start getting involved in some competitions or festivals to get our name and bbq out there a little more. We are in St. Louis, Mo, so local competitions would probably be a good start?

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  10. Hey Malcom. Thanks for all the tips on bbq. Do you recommend one big pit for competitions or multiple pits?

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      You could go either way. A lot of guys use the large Jambo pits for everything. We use our Ole Hickory for everything and a UDS for chicken. But there are guys out there that use multiple Drum Smokers that win all the time.

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