How to Start a BBQ Competition Team

How to Start a BBQ Competition Team

Wondering how to start a BBQ competition team like Ahh Townley? It’s not as hard as you might think, and the tips are inside.

First, let’s look at why you would want to, and then we look at the ins and outs.

Why Start a Team?

The first question that might pop into your head is “Why would I want to start a BBQ competition team?” We can help you answer that question. Here are a few reasons you might be interested:

  • You love to grill.
  • Your friends love to grill.
  • Everyone always tells you how good your barbecue tastes.

Now that you have some of the reasons, let’s look at how to get into competitive barbecuing.

Start Planning

First, you want to love to cook, and you should also be good at it. Next, talk to a few friends who also love the BBQ. See if they’d be interested in joining in the fun.

It’s important during this stage that you choose your competition team. You want them involved in all the researching and planning stages with you.

Do a little research, too. Talk to someone else who actually is on a BBQ team. Hint: you can always talk to us. We’re seasoned BBQ competitors, and we love it!

You can also visit a contest before ever entering one. This is a good idea so you can get a feel for the atmosphere and most importantly the pace of a competition. A BBQ competition is also another place you can meet current competitors and learn more about how things work.

Start a Recipe Book

Now it’s time to start compiling recipes. Talk to your team members. Put together a list of everyone’s favorites. This is also a good time to learn everyone’s strengths.

For example, one of you might be great at chicken while another is great at ribs. Grab your best recipes and put them together.

It’s also a great time to peruse BBQ forums and Facebook groups. See what recipes win and what recipes don’t.

In your notebook or binder, compile your recipes as well as any sauces, rubs, wood chips, or charcoal that catch your eye.

Start testing recipes, too. You don’t want to put just anything into your recipe book.

Join a BBQ Association

Check out different associations in your city or your state. Use Google to search for more info.

By joining associations, you’ll get monthly information that can help you build your team. You’ll also be able to learn about upcoming competitions. Some associations may even sponsor BBQ events and demonstrations you can go to.

bbq competition

These are winning ribs!

Plan Your Competitions

Next, grab your team and start picking events and competitions you plan to attend.

Designate one team member to take the responsibility of getting your team signed up.

Make a list of everything you’ll need. Here are some things to get you started:

  • How many competitions will you do? Make a calendar.
  • What will you use to fund your competitions. Remember you may have to purchase the meat, and you are responsible for everything else.
  • What equipment do you need? Does your team have the right grills? Big enough grills?
  • Who is going to cook what?
  • How will you get to the competitions?
  • Don’t forget to decide upfront how you’ll split entry fees, travel fees, and supplies.
  • Will you enter a backyard or tailgate contest to start small, or will you hit the big time immediately?

Go to a BBQ Class

Not sure your team is quite ready to compete?

Take a class or two as a group. A good idea is to take a class from the best BBQ chefs in your area. Most successful teams offer some classes.

They’ll help you learn more about competition meat and competition training. They’ll talk you through start to finish so you know just what to expect and what you can handle.

Get your whole team to attend so everyone learns the same things.

Choose Your Cooker

Yes, you need your own cooker. This is a personal preference, but it really matters on the competition circuit.

Come talk to use – we’d love to share what we’ve learned!


Just like any team sport, you need to practice.

You want to BBQ all the time. Consider grilling three meals a day each weekend to get extra practice. Get creative and think out of the box.

In addition, take notes on everything you cook. This might be in a section in your notebook. If you find a particularly delicious recipe – write it down.

Make sure you always record everything you used:

  • Sauces, rubs, and seasoning
  • Cook times
  • Internal temperatures
  • Outside temperatures
  • The weather conditions (humid, dry, etc.)
  • The outcome of your cook
  • How it tasted
  • What others thought

Finally, consider giving everything you cook a rating. It might be one to five stars. This helps you find winners at a glance.

Final Thoughts on Your BBQ Competition Team

Now that you’re ready to start your BBQ competition team, you need a name. For example, our competition team is Ahh Townley.

Choose a name that really speaks to your team members, and remember that this is how people will come to know you.

This is the fun part – get creative and make it interesting!

Finally, before you go to your first competition, you want to do a practice run.

Find a time for your team to get together and plan a cook just as you would during a competition. Set up a cook area, set your timer (competitions are timed) and do a run through. This might even mean cooking through the night and/or starting early in the morning.

This will help you get prepared with everything you need for the real deal. Enjoy the food at the end of your “mock contest.”

Doing this practice run is vital to future success. Remember to have fun and enjoy the camaraderie and of course, the good food!