Explore the grate outdoors with grilling cookbooks

Just in time for the season, a fresh batch of cookbooks devoted to cooking outdoors over wood, charcoal or gas has us all fired up.

One piece of advice: Don't look through these books hungry. Their full-color photos and delicious-sounding recipes will have you salivating.

They all cover grilling basics: indirect vs. direct grilling, gas vs. charcoal and the proper tools. Some go further and provide step-by-step instructions and how-tos on things like stocking a grilling pantry and special techniques for preparing foods.

These nine grilling cookbooks are $25 or less apiece and offer lots of options for pushing the grilling envelope.

What: "Grill It! Secrets to Delicious Flame-Kissed Food," by Better Homes and Gardens (Wiley, $24.95).

On the grate: More than 250 recipes from steaks and chops to fish, shellfish and desserts. The highlight is step-by-step, full-color instructions with most of the recipes, which range from how to seed a jalapeno to boning, stuffing and trussing a turkey breast to grinding meat for burgers.

Recipe to try: Tequila-Marinated Chicken Thighs.

Best tip: How to prepare various brines.

Also worth noting: "Cookouts Veggie Style!" by Jolinda Hackett (Adamsmedia, $17.95). If you want to go meatless, this 225-recipe book has all kinds of veggie options with lots of flavor profiles. There are vegan selections and offerings on grilling tofu and seitan.

What: "The Deen Bros. Get Fired Up: Grilling, Tailgating, Picnicking, and More," by Jamie and Bobby Deen and Melissa Clark (Ballantine, $25).

On the grate: This is a book about cooking outdoors y'all with more than 125 recipes for meat, poultry, burgers and "dawgs," plus sandwiches, salads, sides and snacks. The brothers and sons of the famous Paula Deen provide recipes and tips for down-home cooking in scenarios that include a simple backyard barbecue, tailgating and foods for the beach. There is a good mix of recipes for grilling big hunks of meat like Smoky Pork Butt and making salads that travel.

Recipe to try: Good Doggies.

Best tip: Use metal skewers instead of wood; they're easy to clean and reusable.

Also worth noting: "Good Housekeeping Grilling: More than 275 Perfect Year-Round Recipes" (Hearst, $24.95). This is chock-full of recipes with great flavor profiles. Many have full-color photos. This book is entree-heavy, so there are lots of options, but there are sections on side dishes, rubs, sauces, glazes and desserts.

What: "Weber's Time to Grill: Get In. Get Out. Get Grilling," by Jamie Purviance (Sunset, $24.95).

On the grate: More than 200 recipes, full-color photos of recipes and step-by-step instructions from the company that makes Weber grills and its grilling expert, Jamie Purviance. Each chapter, from appetizers to red meat to pork and poultry, takes one food and offers an easy way to prepare it plus a more adventurous way. For example, you can make Lemon-Marinated Chicken and Olive Skewers or take it a step beyond and make Chicken Thighs and Olive-Fennel Salad. There are more than 100 easy recipes with prep times of 15 minutes or less and more than 100 that require a bit more time.

Recipe to try: Rib Eye Steaks with Ancho Chili Sauce.

Best tip: Full-color photos on how to check for doneness with steaks, poultry and fish.

Also worth noting: "Smokin' With Myron Mixon: Recipes Made Simple, From the Winningest Man in Barbecue" (Ballantine, $22). From the Learning Channel's "BBQ Pitmasters," Myron Mixon shares 70 award-winning recipes and advice about formulas for marinades, rubs and sauces and choosing the right wood. And "Latin Grilling," by Lourdes Castro (Ten Speed Press, $22) has more than 90 recipes for Latin feasts from Peruvian grilling to a Chilean seafood cookout.

What: "Sam the Cooking Guy: Just Grill This!" by Sam Zien (Wiley, $19.95).

On the grate: More than 120 recipes nestled in 272 pages with grilling guidance from the self-taught cook and television cooking show host. There's fun stuff and witty chatter throughout on dos, don'ts and whys of grilling. Zien likes to try new things on the grill, like pizza and hearts of palm. The book is casual but with interesting-sounding recipes like Sticky Sweet Ribs, which calls for doctoring up plain barbecue sauce.

Recipe to try: Mexican Grilled Corn. Zien inserts individual chopsticks in the end of each ear after grilling so they are easy to handle.

Best tip: Think of a "grill as merely an oven and stove that's outdoors. That's all it is."

Also worth noting: "Everyday Grilling: 50 recipes From Appetizers to Desserts" from Sur la Table (Andrews McMeel Publishing, $15.) From classics such as Baby Back Ribs to trendy Grilled Romaine, the concept centers on grilling your entire meal.

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