How to Start Competing In BBQ

You have perfecting your BBQ skills for years. It started as an interest, then grew into a hobby, and now your friends are requesting you “do up” some ribs, pork butt and a brisket for their daughter’s wedding. So you decide … why not try some competitions and see how good you really are?

To help you out, here are few tips to help you through the competition process. Before you begin, maybe try judging a few competitions. Contests won’t let you judge unless you are certified, but don’t worry, you  can usually get certified by attending a one day class.

To become a competition BBQ judge, go to a BBQ network web site of your choice (see list below) and sign-up for their judging class. Judging will allow you to see what other people are turning in, what judges expect, and get you really familiar with all the rules.

Now for the Competition! First, find an event. Check out you local BBQ Network and search for events. KCBS (Kansas City Barbecue Society), is the largest but IBCA (International Barbeque Cookers Association), FBA (Florida BBQ Association) and MBN (Memphis BBQ Network) are also very popular. You may want to start at the “backyard” or “patio” section if the competition offers it.

Second, submit your application.

Third, make sure you read and understand the rules and the judging criteria. Every competition is different.

Fourth, start planning. It takes more planning than you might expect and it’s always a good idea to do a few practice runs. Try to do all of your meat trimmings at home (this is allowed in most sanctioned contests). Trimming your meat beforehand saves you valuable time plus you can concentrate more on your cooking. Be sure to make a supply list. It is very easy to over pack or forget something.

As for flavors, don’t deviate a lot from what you normally do. Keep things simple and aim for that perfect cook.

Finally, have a great time and enjoy yourself. It’s in the judge’s hands once you get everything turned in on time.

Certified BBQ Judge Training Class Resources

Canadian Southern BBQ Association>

Caribbean BBQ Association

Florida BBQ Association

Georgia BBQ Association

Kansas City Barbeque Society

Memphis Barbecue Network

North Carolina Barbecue Society

Pacific Northwest BBQ Association

Southern BBQ Network

South Carolina Barbecue Association

St Louis BBQ Society!calendar/vstc4=judging-overview

BBQ Associations by State

Alabama BBQ Association

Alaska BBQ Association


California BBQ Association

Rocky Mountain BBQ Association

Florida BBQ Association
Florida Panhandle BBQ Society

Georgia Barbecue Association

Iowa BBQ Society

Kansas City Barbeque Society

Louisiana BBQ Cookers Association

Minnesota BBQ Society

St. Louis Barbecue Society

Greater Omaha BBQ Society (GOBS)

North Carolina
North Carolina Barbecue Society

South Carolina
South Carolina Barbeque association

Lonestar Barbecue Society
Texas Gulf Coast BBQ Cookers Association

Utah BBQ Organization


New England Barbecue Society

Mid Atlantic

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