Aaron Franklin MasterClass Review: Best for Texas-Style BBQ?

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For me, summertime is incomplete without a good barbecue party. Who doesn’t love the smoky aroma wafting through the air (cue wiggly cartoon smells) and then the backyard filled with laughter and friendly chatter over the vibrant sizzling of juicy meats? Even the thought of it waters my mouth. Barbecue is a symphony of deliciousness. 

But for most of us, this is just a dream. We are always the guests and never the barbecue whiz host. Barbecue is more about smoke in my eyes than coming off the grill, and the meat is drier than Texas in July. It is humbling for me to admit this. 

I am a good cook and an even better baker, but barbecue is something that has always evaded me. I have attempted pulled pork that resembled shoe leather, ribs that could double as weapons-grade jerky, and chicken so flavorless it could have been mistaken for cardboard. I wish this were an exaggeration, but it is my reality. 

My attempts at barbecue have been about as successful as a snowball’s chance at a beach. But the thing about me is that I never give up. I keep dreaming of perfectly smoked meats, glistening with sauce and infused with that magical smoky kiss.

To fulfill my barbecue dreams, I have spent hours scouring the internet to find tutorials that would make sense and help me understand what I am doing wrong. That is when I came across Aaron Franklin’s MasterClass. As a barbecue enthusiast, of course, I had heard of Aaron Franklin. He is a God in the world of barbecue and my true hero.

His MasterClass was a beacon of hope for me that promised to teach me the secrets of true Texas-style barbecue, the kind that makes grown men weep tears of joy (or maybe that was just heartburn from my last attempt). I really hoped this class was the key that transformed me from a backyard barbecue blunderer to a pitmaster worthy of a victory lap around the neighbourhood.

In this review, I will break down the content, the structure, my key takeaways, and, of course, whether Aaron Franklin’s wisdom finally turned this grill-fumbling flier into a barbecue champion (spoiler alert: the journey is more important than the destination, but let’s just say there’s hope for even the most smoke-challenged among us).

So, grab your virtual tongs, fire up the metaphorical smoker, and let’s smoke up this MasterClass. 

Summary of Aaron Franklin MasterClass Review:

In case you’re pressed for time, here’s a brief summary for your convenience.

You’ll learn how to:

  • Understand key aspects of barbecue
  • Use techniques to enhance the smokey flavours
  • Create perfectly cooked meat
  • Recognize the cooking time required for different meats and cuts
  • Perfectly time the grilling to get the flavours right

Time Duration 

This class is 4 hours and 36 minutes long.


  • Learn from a renowned barbecue expert 
  • Understand the science behind barbecue
  • Interactive teaching style and well-formatted lessons
  • Exceptional video and audio quality 


  • Difficult to keep with a professional and understand the terminologies 
  • More focused on Texan-style barbecue 

Alternatives to Aaron Franklin’s MasterClass

If you enjoy cooking or culinary science, you may also enjoy other courses on the MasterClass platform, like Thoma Keller Teaches Cooking Techniques II, Gordon Ramsay Teaches Cooking, Wolfgang Puck Teaches Cooking, and many more.

If you are interested in a specific genre of cooking, you may like Madhur Jaffrey Teaches Indian Cooking, Mashama Bailey Teaches Southern Cooking, and Gabriela Camara Teaches Mexican Cooking.


If you are a fan of barbecue, then this MasterClass is a goldmine for you. Anyone who has had the privilege of eating at Aaron Franklin’s restaurant will know what an amazing pitmaster he is, and this is as close to a personal one-to-one interaction as you will get. This MasterClass is perfect for people who want to know Aaron Franklin’s secret for getting perfectly charred and juicy meats every single time.

Aaron Franklin MasterClass Review

Who is Aaron Franklin?

If you have been around the culinary world, you have surely heard the name Aaron Franklin. His name itself evokes images of melt-in-your-mouth brisket and ribs so tender they practically fall off the bone. If you still can not guess what he specializes in, it is BARBECUE. 

Aaron Franklin is a pitmaster who has redefined the art of smoking meat. He has a flourishing restaurant called Franklin Barbecue in Austin, Texas. Bon Appétit has named it the “best BBQ in the country.” In 2015, Franklin became the first-ever barbecue chef to be awarded a James Beard Foundation Award for Best Chef: Southwest.  This prestigious recognition solidified his place among the culinary elite.

But his journey is not just about awards and accolades. Franklin has over twenty years of experience working with meats. He has perfected his craft through endless hours of experimentation and dedication. 

He is a self-proclaimed (and approved by thousands of people) “meat nerd” who is obsessed with understanding the science behind getting that perfect smoke at the perfect time and temperature. Franklin does not just grill meat; he transforms a simple slab of meat into a masterpiece.

So, why is Aaron Franklin the undisputed king to teach a MasterClass on barbecue?

Because he is more than just a grill master; he’s a pitmaster philosopher. He understands the science, the art, and the almost spiritual connection between fire, smoke, and meat. With his extensive experience, competition wins, and a restaurant that’s become a pilgrimage site for barbecue aficionados, Aaron Franklin is the ultimate authority to guide us on this smoky journey.

Who should Get Aaron Franklin MasterClass? 

Aaron Franklin’s MasterClass is not a one-size-fits-all approach to barbecue, but if you have a passion for smoked meats, there is a good chance you will find something to sizzle here. Let’s break down who can benefit the most from this MasterClass:

Barbecue Beginners: If you are like me and try grilling every now and then but get lost in a smoke-filled haze, Franklin explains the fundamentals of Texas-style barbecue in an easy and understandable way. You will learn how to manage fire techniques and tips to select meats. The most significant thing you will understand is how to achieve that coveted smoke ring (without having to endure countless hours of trial and error).

Backyard Grill Enthusiasts: Everyone dreams of hosting talk-of-the-town backyard barbecue parties. If you share that dream, Franklin will teach you advanced smoking techniques, covering basics like burgers and hot dogs and advanced concepts like brisket manipulation and achieving the ideal bark. His lessons are guaranteed to transform your next cookout into a neighbourhood legend.

Competition Smokers: Franklin offers insights from his journey and how he accomplished all his goals. His story is motivational for a budding pitmaster gearing up for a barbecue competition. He provides tips and tricks to achieve consistent and award-winning results. You will be able to sharpen your existing skills.

Flavour Fiends: Barbecue is an intriguing flavour, and it requires a little depth to understand its complexity. Franklin’s class will help you understand the history and culture behind Texas-style barbecue. He will break down different wood choices, their impact on flavour profiles, and the science behind the perfect smoke.

Those Seeking More Than Just Meat: Franklin’s MasterClass goes beyond just recipes. He delves into the philosophy behind the barbecue, the importance of sourcing high-quality ingredients, and the respect for the craft itself.  It is a well-rounded exploration for anyone who appreciates the artistry of barbecue.

Ultimately, anyone with a genuine interest in smoked meats, from curious newcomers to seasoned pitmasters, can learn valuable lessons from Aaron Franklin’s MasterClass. All you need to do is fire up your metaphorical smoker and grab your virtual tongs.

What does Aaron Franklin’s MasterClass cover?

Aaron Franklin’s MasterClass on Texas-style barbecue has a total runtime of 4 hours and 36 minutes, spread across 16 video lessons lasting about 20 minutes each. Throughout the course, Franklin shares his personal journey and breaks down complex barbecue techniques into easy-to-understand strategies.

The course has a 66-page supplementary workbook that summarizes the complex video lessons. It has information on beef cuts and recipes for Aaron’s secret sauces, which is a perk for me. It also breaks down the science behind smoking, which is particularly useful for barbecue beginners.

MasterClass offers a lively community where barbecue enthusiasts can connect, share achievements, and discuss their journey with people who share their interests. You can join discussions, showcase your progress, and engage with others who share your passion for smoking meat (no pun intended).

The lesson plan is as follows:

  1. Introduction
  2. Fire and Smoke
  3. Smoke: Pork Butt
  4. Smoke: Pork Ribs
  5. Wood
  6. Grill: Steak and Broccolini
  7. Beef Quality and Selection
  8. Prep: Brisket Trim
  9. Smoke: Brisket Part I
  10. Smoke: Brisket Part II
  11. Smoke: Brisket Part III
  12. Finish: Brisket Slice
  13. Prepare: Sauce
  14. Offset Smokers
  15. Aaron’s Journey to Pitmaster
  16. Bonus Chapter: How Brisket Became King: The History of Central Texas Barbecue

Summarizing Aaron Franklin’s Video Lessons

Aaron Franklin is a Central Texas barbecue legend. In his first lesson, the award-winning pitmaster will take you inside his famed restaurant, Franklin Barbecue, and explain the techniques and recipes you will learn moving forward in his class.

Smoke is to barbecue as sugar is to baking. There is no barbecue without fire and smoke. So, it makes sense that Aaron starts his class by explaining the fundamentals of barbecue. Building and managing fire is key to barbecue mastery. In this lesson, Aaron demonstrates his technique for constructing clean fires, discusses how to analyze smoke, and unpacks the anatomy and science of an offset cooker.

In the following two lessons, Franklin explains how to smoke two different cuts of meat: Pork butt and Pork ribs. Since it is a cooking class, you can not do much without getting your hands dirty.

For your first cook, Aaron takes you step-by-step through his recipe and technique for smoking tender, flavorful pork butt. You start with seasoning and wrapping and gradually understand the process of shredding into tender morsels of pulled pork.

Aaron is best known for his melt-in-your-mouth brisket. However, a lesser-known fact about him is that he is a stickler for ribs. In this intermediate-level cook, he will teach you his tried-and-true process for trimming, smoking, and slicing saucy, moist spare ribs.

Wood and the smoke it creates are the primary flavour agents in barbecue. In this chapter, Aaron takes you through a woodpile, explaining how to assess a piece of wood and how to choose the right pieces for different phases of your cook. Texan barbecue gets its flavour from a wood called post oak. This wood is what makes the Central region barbecue unique.

In this cook-along, Franklin shares his method of incorporating direct and indirect heat for seared steaks and charred broccolini in a meal quick enough to make any night of the week. When he is not cooking at his famous restaurant, he is at home making this meal, and it is simple yet elevated and makes for a perfect dinner.

When you go to any grocery store, you may have heard terms like grass-fed beef or grain-fed beef. There is also cruelty-free beef and organic beef. It can be overwhelming if you don’t know which meat is the best meat for your barbecue. Aaron discusses his tips for assessing beef quality and how to buy the best meat for your needs.

It cannot be an Aaron Franklin MasterClass without the mention of brisket. He is known for his tender and juicy brisket all over the country. Aaron shares his signature method for shaving and shaping briskets for an even and consistent cook.

Now, after you have trimmed your brisker, phase one of the brisket smoke involves building a fire, applying slather and rub, and cooking the meat undisturbed. You will learn Aaron’s technique for seasoning evenly and developing clean flavours in the critical first hours of your cook.

Smoking a brisket is a time-consuming process and requires a couple of steps. In the second phase of this 12-hour brisket smoke, Aaron talks about his techniques for spritzing, getting a derailed cook back on track, and pushing through the stall while maintaining a clean and steady fire.

In the final smoking phase, you will learn Aaron’s strategies for wrapping brisket, checking for tenderness, and assessing when to pull and rest your meat in the final phase of our brisket cook.

It is time to cut after you have successfully cooked and rested your brisket (to develop) flavours. Aaron walks you through his detailed, cut-by-cut process for slicing your brisket to minimize waste and maximize balance and flavour.

A true Texan-style barbecue only uses the flavours of smoke to enhance the overall taste of the barbecue and does not come with any side dishes or sauces. When it comes to cooking prime ribs, sauce is not a want but a need. In this lesson, Aaron teaches you his secret sauce recipe that uses only a handful of ingredients (like tallow, onions, garlic, brown sugar, and apple cider vinegar) but packs a punch full of flavour.

If you are a true barbecue lover, you should consider investing in an offset smoker. Aaron’s years of working exclusively on offset smokers have given him a sense of what to look for—and avoid—when buying and modifying cookers. Aaron breaks down his processes so your smoker functions at its peak.

Aaron reminisces about his past and recalls his humble beginnings in the final lesson. His journey began with a botched brisket cooked on a $99 smoker. This lesson will help you follow Aaron’s unlikely path to becoming a pitmaster and learn what sparked the birth of the most famous barbecue joint in the country.

You cannot understand the ending if you don’t know the beginning. In the bonus chapter, Aaron traces the roots of barbecue culture in Texas from European immigrants to World War II vets, highlighting how brisket—a tough, difficult-to-cook cut of beef—became the region’s signature smoked meat.

Key Points I am taking away from Aaron Franklin’s Class:

I love hosting backyard parties every now and then. Summer is fast approaching, and a poolside party with a barbecue buffet sounds inviting. For this reason, I decided to invest in a smoker but never figured out how to use it. Tried smoking meats, but all I got was pieces drier than wood barks. The smoker eventually started gathering dust. Thanks to Aaron, I will confidently host a perfect barbecue bash this year.

I struggled with choosing the wood to get that depth of flavour in my meats. Before taking this class, I did not really understand the significance wood plays in creating different flavours. Aaron taught me how to choose the wood for my barbecue to get that balance of smokiness and sweetness.

Steak dinner, for one, sounds intimidating and tedious. If I were by myself, I would cook boxed mac and cheese and never go anywhere near a steak. Aaron demystified the process of cooking and searing steak to get that juicy grill and flavourful bite. He also taught me how to use the meat flavour to cook your veggies (broccolini) to make them more palatable.

Brisket is a huge and complex part of beef cuts, and cooking such slabs of meat perfectly from all directions is daunting. Aaron broke it down into simple steps that were easy to follow. He also explained how to pack the barbecue flavour during the smoking phases and the significance of resting the meat to get that extra layer of complexity in taste.

Lastly, people all around the world aspire to become chefs and open their own restaurants. Aaron’s story of starting with cheap cuts of meat and constantly ruining them gives hope to people like me who get demotivated by one failed attempt. If a barbecue professional like him requires years of practice, then people like us can surely invest a few days of our lives to learn and appreciate the process of smoking meat and barbecue.

What did I Like about Aaron Franklin’s MasterClass?

Here’s what truly fired me up about Aaron Franklin’s MasterClass – it went way beyond the typical barbecue tips you find online. Sure, I learned invaluable techniques for achieving that coveted smoke ring and got a crash course in fire management (it turns out it’s more than just tossing random logs on the grill). But what really resonated with me were these unique aspects:

The Science Behind the Smoke: Franklin is a pitmaster and a barbecue alchemist. His MasterClass explains the science of smoking meats, the impact of different wood choices, the intricate relationship between temperature and time, and how to control the entire smoking process to achieve maximum flavour. I learned that tending the smoker was not just about keeping the fire going; it was about understanding the beautiful dance of physics and chemistry that transforms a simple brisket into a masterpiece.

From Backyard to Blockbuster: If you are Texan, I am sure you must have seen the lines snaking around the block at Aaron Franklin’s restaurant, Franklin Barbecue. His MasterClass offered me a glimpse into the philosophy behind his success. I had a fancy smoker but did not really understand how to use it completely. I had a newfound respect for the craft, the importance of using the right ingredients and the unwavering focus on consistency.

Beyond Brisket Bliss: We all know Franklin’s brisket is legendary, but his class also offered techniques and recipes for other things. He discussed the art of cooking the perfect seared steak, the secrets to juicy pulled pork, and the finer points of smoking other meats. It helped me realize there is more barbecue than just burgers and hotdogs (though they are the best parts). it expanded my barbecue repertoire beyond just the standard cuts.

A Community of Smoke Signals:  An unexpected perk of the MasterClass was the online community it fostered. There is a forum where students can share recipes, troubleshoot smoking woes, and swap barbecue triumphs (and inevitable disasters). It was like having a virtual smokehouse filled with passionate grillers, creating a supportive network that kept me motivated on my smoky journey.

Aaron Franklin’s MasterClass was not just about transforming my backyard into a smoke-filled haven (although the neighbours might have a different opinion). It was about understanding the science, dedication, and sheer passion that go into creating truly exceptional barbecues. 

Aaron Franklin MasterClass Review Conclusion

So, did Aaron Franklin’s MasterClass turn my backyard into a haven of competition-worthy barbecue overnight? Let’s face it: the journey from serving up a charcoal-flavoured disappointment to becoming a pitmaster legend likely involves more burnt offerings and late-night smoke alarm scares than this course offered.

But the beautiful thing is, that was not the point. This class was not about a shortcut to barbecue stardom; it was about igniting a passion, a belief that I could transform my grill from a searing machine into a smoke-infused temple of deliciousness with dedication and the right knowledge.

The MasterClass was not just about memorizing fancy rubs or mastering fire control (although, let’s be honest, those were pretty darn valuable lessons). It was about understanding the beautiful alchemy of smoke and time, the respect for quality ingredients, and the unwavering focus that separates backyard blunders from true barbecue bliss.

Suddenly, the idea of slow-cooking a brisket that could rival Franklin’s creations, of ribs that practically fall off the bone with a gentle tug, stopped being a fantasy; it was a path paved with practice and the guidance of a master.

Compared to other barbecue resources, Aaron Franklin’s MasterClass felt different. It was not just about grilling techniques or smoke flavour hacks. It was about the soul of barbecue, the way Franklin approached the smoker with a reverence for tradition and a relentless pursuit of perfection.

You can find recipes and tutorials anywhere, but learning the thought process behind a legend, his approach to selecting meats, and his unwavering dedication to quality – is a rare gem.

So, is Aaron Franklin’s MasterClass worth it?

In my opinion, it is absolutely worth it!

For aspiring backyard grill masters, for curious newcomers like myself, and even for hardcore barbecue aficionados, this MasterClass is a treasure trove of knowledge. It’s a masterclass in technique, respect for the craft, and the unwavering passion that separates edible charcoal from truly exceptional barbecue.  And who knows, maybe with enough practice, a touch of Franklin’s wisdom, and a whole lot of patience, those backyard gatherings will become legendary for something other than the smoke alarms (fingers crossed!).

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