The Best Barbecue Shows on Streaming

Monk: This holiday while we’re all stuck at home bunkering down until the COVID-19 vaccine is widely distributed, why not watch some barbecue-focused TV shows to take your mind off things?

This will be our last post of the year, so we will see you in 2021!

Suggested Order of Viewing

  1. The American Barbecue Showdown (Netflix)
  2. BBQuest (Hulu)
  3. Chef’s Table: BBQ (Netflix)
  4. The Chef Show S1V1E8, S1V1E9 (Netflix)
  5. Cooked S1E1 (Netflix)

This post is updated as of December 2020

Netflix

New: The American Barbecue Showdown (8 episodes)

The American BBQ Showdown is more “Great British Bakeoff” than “Chopped” or “Top Chef,” with 8 amateur or competition barbecue pitmaster competing against each other in different meat competitions. Filmed outside of Atlanta in pre-pandemic times, it provided a welcome distraction for barbecue fans this past fall.

The Chef Show Season 1 – Volume 1 Episode 7 – “Franklin”; S1V1E8 – “Hot Luck”

Hollywood mega writer/director/producer/actor Jon Favreau and LA Food Truck godfather Roy Choi spend two episodes with Aaron Franklin at Franklin Barbecue, first learning about his approach to brisket (S1E7) before participating in Franklin’s inaugural Hot Luck Festival in 2017 (S1E8). Check out our AV Club recap here and here)

New: Chef’s Table: BBQ (4 episodes)

This barbecue and live-fire cooking edition of the Chef’s Table series profiles 4 pitmasters or live-fire cooking chefs, with the Tootsie Tomanetz of Snow’s Barbecue and Rodney Scott episodes being the highlight for American barbecue fans.

Cooked S1E1 – “Fire” (52 mins)

In this first episode of the miniseries on food, food author Michael Pollan goes in search of primordial cooking and finds it in eastern North Carolina and Ed Mitchell. The episode follows Ed and his son Ryan as they pick out a pig from the butcher shop, get the coals started, and then proceed to smoke a whole hog for a small gathering at the end of the episode. Michael and a couple of buddies even try to emulate it on their own in a small, backyard pit in California. Ed also tells a story of how he learned to cook pigs from his grandfather, a former slave. The barbecue section starts at approximately 26:00.

Queer Eye S3E3 – “Jones Bar-B-Q” (47 mins)

This episode of Queer Eye helped make the Jones Bar-B-Q sisters – Little and Shorty – international barbecue celebrities when it aired earlier in 2019, but they have been doing barbecue in Kansas City for decades. Their sauce with the redesigned label courtesy of the Queer Eye crew is now a huge seller, with the website prominently displaying a banner reading “Please allow a 7-10 day delay in shipping as we have been overwhelmed at the response and will send your order as soon as we can.” From the looks of the episode, it appears that the newly found fame is well-deserved.

Street Food: Asia S1E9 – “Cebu, Philippines” (31 mins)

In the Philippines lechon, or whole roasted pig, is the preferred form of barbecue in this nation of over 7,000 islands. In this food custom, a smaller suckling pig is tied around a pole and rotated over a live fire for hours. This episode covers lechon in addition to a few other food customs from the city of Cebu in southern Philippines.

Taco Chronicles S1E5 – “Barbacoa” (31 mins)

The Taco Chronicles is a Spanish-language food series where each episode focuses on a different type of taco. The “Barbacoa” episode focuses on the lamb/goat form of barbecue primarily located in Mexico and the southern border of Texas, which I’ve never tasted myself but is described on the episode as being “softer than the tortilla it is served on.”

Ugly Delicious S1E5 – “BBQ” (47 mins)

In episode 5 of season one of Chef David Chang’s Netflix series, he covered barbecue as well as other live fire customs across the world. Check out our AV club recap here.

Hulu

BBQuest (2 seasons)

Across two four-episode seasons of the travel show co-produced by the Texas Beef Council, host and native Texan Kelsey Pribilski criss-crosses Texas to meet with some of the best pitmasters in the state. She’s in search of the state’s best barbecue as well as secret barbecue menu items. The first season gets the large cities (Austin, Houston, San Antonio, Dallas-Fort Worth) out of the way, while season two is able to tackle more remote locales. Texas Monthly Barbecue Editor Daniel Vaughn even makes an appearance as Kelsey’s guide for the Big Bend episode (S2E1).

Eat, Sleep, BBQ (4 episodes)

Official Description: “Rashad Jones embarks on a road trip to meet people who share his
passion for barbecue.”

Prime Video

Bama-Q (3 seasons)

“Bama-Q” follows members of the Alabama Barbecue Association through competitions (similar to the first season of “BBQ Pitmasters”)

Faith, Hope and BBQ (57 mins)

Official Description: “Food for the belly, and food for the soul. A delightful, tasty and charming look at a small town, rural Florida, African American “Church built on BBQ”

Food Safari – Fire (10 episodes)

Host Maeve O’Meara dedicated an entire 10-episode season to exploring live-fire cooking traditions across the world

Primal Grill with Steve Raichlen S3 (13 episodes)

Grilling authority Steven Raichlen provides step-by-step instructions on a variety of barbecue dishes from across the world.

The Wood Whisperer Barbecue (4 episodes)

Official Description: “Renowed woodworker, Marc Spagnuolo uses his knowledge of wood to help him explore the world of barbecue and grilling. Spoiler, that knowledge doesn’t help at all”

Disney+

The World According to Jeff Goldblum S1E5 – “BBQ” (28 mins)

A rather superficial look into the world of barbecue from the ever-quirky Goldblum.

Barbecue Bros AV Club: The Chef Show S1E8 – “Hot Luck” (Netflix)

Watch Now (Netflix subscription required)

Monk: In the first of two episodes with Aaron Franklin, “The Chef Show” guys learned the basics of trimming, rubbing, and serving a brisket. Now, Favreau and Choi stick around to serve a variation of Choi’s famous short ribs at Franklin’s Hot Luck festival.

But before that, they are chatting over a ridiculous looking platter of meat at Franklin Barbecue and discussing the the “left vs right” theory of brisket. In short, the majority of cows are “rightys” (like humans) and get up from a lying position on their right side. So the theory goes, pitmasters always will want a left brisket from their distributors and thus they are harder to find. Franklin, however, doesn’t lend any credence to this theory and calls BS, even though he notes that he just so happens to have a lot of left briskets at his restaurant. Favreau jokes that he and the rest of the regular joes out there must get all the right briskets for their backyard then. They also discuss stick burners and Franklin’s approach to temperate versus feel. As with any of these conversations, its fascinating to get insight into Franklin’s mind.

Then, the conversation shifts to the Hot Luck Festival, which Aaron created to be the “anti-food-festival festival” for chefs and cooks. This was filmed ahead of the very first one in 2017, and Franklin explains his approach in inviting friends and cooks that he admires. Essentially, he wants each chef to cook what they would cook for their friends, “even if that’s just hot dogs.” Roy Choi is cooking his famous Kalbi short ribs with the tweak that he will be starting them off in the smoker, which isn’t normally the case for Korean short ribs (but which Franklin is very into). Then, Favreau joins Choi in the kitchen to begin prep.

Choi begins game planning what prep can be done today (sauce, kimchi) versus what would need to be done tomorrow (smoking and grilling of the ribs). With just one Vitamix blender (as opposed to a big immersion blender that could be submerged into the big pot), the process isn’t as efficient as it could be but you can see where Choi is adjusting the scaled-up recipe based on instinct and tasting along the way. I wonder if Favreau knew exactly what he signed up when he volunteered to assist Roy in the kitchen.

Texas Monthly Barbecue Editor Daniel Vaughn makes a brief cameo as Favreau and Choi are heading to the smokehouse to check out their smoker for the following day. He will make another appearance later in the episode.

The final piece of prep for the day is marinating the beef short ribs in the Kalbi sauce they just made; Favreau looks exhausted by the end of it.

After a quick diversion to a deconstructed s’more from Rebecca Masson of Fluff Bake Bar (and the custom-made flame apparatus create by Franklin for the festival), it’s finally the day of the festival and time to get down to business. Favreau is once again put to work loading the smoker with the short ribs and 5 hours later, they are done with the initial smoke part of the process. Choi serves a sample rib to fellow Angeleno Adam Perry Lang of APL, who is in town for the festival and approves.

Choi shows Favreau how to finish the ribs on the grill and then heads out to the festival to begin serving. Favreau sends platters of finished ribs out to Choi who slices them and puts them in a bowl with rice and the kimchi they prepared yesterday.

Hot Luck looks awesome, and you get a little sense of the other dishes and chefs/cooks there, including the aforementioned Daniel Vaughn’s smoked NY strip taco.

This episode was a little more process-oriented than the previous episode, mainly because of Choi’s participation in Hot Luck. I’ve gotta say, it was funny to see Favreau working so hard though I must sympathize because that looked to be extremely hot conditions at the festival considering it was May in Austin.

While these two episodes are my only exposure to “The Chef Show” to date, I may go back and check out the other, non-barbecue episodes. Favreau and Choi have an easy going camaraderie between them and the episodes are a good length at 30 minutes or less each. Season 1 was broken into two “volumes” that both premiered in 2019 so I will be curious to see how much more of this show (if any) there will be since Favreau is now helming “The Mandolorian” on Disney+ and Choi is surely busy with his own ventures. In any case, these two episodes are a welcome insight into the mind of Aaron Franklin that you wouldn’t be able to get by watching old episodes of “BBQ Pitmasters.”

Watch Now (Netflix subscription required)

Barbecue Bros AV Club: The Chef Show S1E7 – “Aaron Franklin” (Netflix)

Watch Now (Netflix subscription required)

Monk: Writer/director/producer Jon Favreau caught the food bug while filming his movie “Chef” (in which Aaron Franklin had a cameo) and has turned that into the travel/food docuseries “The Chef Show” where he explores the county with Los Angeles food truck godfather Roy Choi (who was a producer as well was the inspiration for the movie). In a couple of episodes from season 1, Jon and Roy stop in Austin to spend time with Aaron Franklin before checking out the Hot Luck Festival (which I’ll recap next week).

The episode starts with the three of them meeting up for breakfast tacos at the Pueblo Viejo taco truck. There, Favreau gets a brief history from Franklin on the start of Franklin Barbecue from the tiny first trailer in 2009 where he was on the forefront of the craft barbecue movement in Austin and ultimately the US. While Franklin’s briskets weren’t quite at the current level when they first opened, it was through the repetition of smoking briskets every day no matter the weather or greenness of the wood that Franklin got the briskets to be of a consistent quality. Roy and Aaron compared notes from the early days (and simpler times) of their respective food trucks, and how they eventually learned to embrace the hours-long lines of people and the possibility of disappointing them.

The middle segment focuses on Favreau prepping a brisket in the kitchen at Franklin Barbecue, getting tips along the way. Favreau also tells the brief story of smoking a brisket and flying with it cross-country to meet Bill Murray to convince him to do The Jungle Book. Then, Franklin shows Favreau how he would trim his brisket (14:54). For those without a Master Class subscription to watch Aaron Franklin run through his brisket process step by step, I would imagine they would want to study this segment very carefully.

Then, Favreau and Franklin season their briskets (18:59) with Franklin’s half and half rub of Morton’s Kosher salt and 16 mesh black pepper, which they age. Franklin is careful not to waste too much pepper, as he apparently accidentally throws away $200 per week (!!) in pepper from the side of the board. From there, the briskets are off to the smoker.

The final part of the episode is Favreau slicing for customers in line at Franklin (though no orders are being taken and it looks to be not during a regular service since each customer just gets a slice of brisket on white bread). Franklin is of course there to give him tips on his slicing, from using the thumb as a guide to making sure not to twist his wrist during the action of slicing.

In this episode of “The Chef Show”, Favreau brings a fan and backyard smoker’s perspective to Franklin Barbecue (albeit, a backyard smoker who happens to be a big Hollywood player and has Aaron Franklin on speed dial). Choi is less a part of the show and somewhat relegates himself to the background with not much from him after the initial segment on the humble beginnings of his food truck. Though he does get a little more run in the next episode where he is cooking his short ribs at the Hot Luck festival. Franklin himself is great on camera, and his personality shines through. All in all, the 26 minute episode breezes by very quickly and is worth checking out for any barbecue fan with a Netflix account.

Watch Now (Netflix subscription required)

Barbecue on Netflix Streaming (Updated August 2019)

NOTE: This is an updated version of a post that was last updated in October 2017.

Monk: By no means is this an exhaustive list but here are the barbecue shows and episodes that I’ve found on Netflix streaming. What have I missed? Feel free to comment below and I will update the post.

New(ish) to Netflix

Queer Eye S3E3 – “Jones Bar-B-Q” (47 mins)

This episode of Queer Eye helped make the Jones Bar-B-Q sisters – Little and Shorty – international barbecue celebrities when it aired earlier in 2019, but they have been doing barbecue in Kansas City for decades. Their sauce with the redesigned label courtesy of the Queer Eye crew is now a huge seller, with the website prominently displaying a banner reading “Please allow a 7-10 day delay in shipping as we have been overwhelmed at the response and will send your order as soon as we can.” From the looks of the episode, it appears that the newly found fame is well-deserved.

Ugly Delicious S1E5 – “BBQ” (47 mins)

Chef David Chang’s Netflix series will return for a second season soon but episode 5 in season one covered barbecue as well as other live fire customs across the world. I recapped it for the film club here.

Street Food S1E9 – “Cebu, Philippines” (31 mins)

In the Philippines lechon, or whole roasted pig, is the preferred form of barbecue in this nation of over 7,000 islands. In this food custom, a smaller suckling pig is tied around a pole and rotated over a live fire for hours. This episode covers lechon in addition to a few other food customs from the city of Cebu in southern Philippines.

Taco Chronicles S1E5 – “Barbacoa” (31 mins)

The Taco Chronicles is a Spanish-language food series where each episode focuses on a different type of taco. The “Barbacoa” episode focuses on the lamb/goat form of barbecue primarily located in Mexico and the southern border of Texas, which I’ve never tasted myself but is described on the episode as being “softer than the tortilla it is served on.”

Still on Netflix

Barbecue (101 mins)

I recapped this full-length film about live fire cooking across the world in our Barbecue Bros Film club series here.

Cooked S1E1 – “Fire” (52 mins)

In this first episode of the miniseries on food, food author Michael Pollan goes in search of primordial cooking and finds it in eastern North Carolina and Ed Mitchell. The episode follows Ed and his son Ryan as they pick out a pig from the butcher shop, get the coals started, and then proceed to smoke a whole hog for a small gathering at the end of the episode. Michael and a couple of buddies even try to emulate it on their own in a small, backyard pit in California. Ed also tells a story of how he learned to cook pigs from his grandfather, a former slave. The barbecue section starts at approximately 26:00.

The Mind of the Chef S1E15 – “Smoke” (23 mins)

This series’ first season follows chef David Chang and his culinary experiences around the globe. This particular episode deals with the idea of “smoke” and in addition to short segments on barbecue styles, this episode includes ones on Allen Benton’s bacon, as well as a visit by David Chang and Sean Brock to the Louisville Slugger factory to get personalized bats made.

The North Carolina barbecue segment visited Raleigh’s The Pit back when pit master Ed Mitchell was still there and showcases whole hog barbecue. The Texas segment interviews Joe Capello, the pitmaster from City Market in Luling while in Kansas City they talk with the Doug Worgul, the marketing director of Oklahoma Joe’s. Pretty basic stuff, but well shot and produced by ZPZ Productions (known for previous work with Anthony Bourdain).

The Mind of the Chef S2E7 – “Low Country BBQ” (23 mins)

Whereas season 1 followed David Chang on his culinary adventures (see above), season 2 of The Mind of a Chef follows noted Charleston Chef Sean Brock. In the seventh episode, he smokes a whole hog with friend Rodney Scott in South Carolina’s lowcountry for a small gathering despite less than optimal conditions. Sean also prepares a couple of lowcountry sides with guest chefs. Anthony Bourdain narrates.

Click through to see more episodes no longer available on Netflix