Equipment,  Tips & Tricks

9 Essentials for a Barbecue Competition

Smokin J's BarbequeWe have been competing in the Georgia Barbecue Association for five years.

When we started, we knew nothing about professional barbecue except what every one has seen on television.

TV glamorizes the competition, which is a blast – but it is very challenging and hard work.

Every team that has won a trophy or money in competition has truly worked for it.

Experience has taught us a lot – as well as our fellow GBA family members.

However, prior to our first competition, we didn’t know about disposable cutting boards or heat resistant gloves?

We have absorbed knowledge by talking with our fellow competitors and devising unorthodox uses for some common household items.

BBQ competition essentials checklist promo

We keep a checklist of our most used items, in our barbecue camper.

Each season, we double-check this list and verify we have plenty on hand of things we might need throughout the year.

The list is ever-evolving and we are constantly devising new ideas to help us.

I created a downloadable PDF of the checklist, in case you are interested.


Obviously, there are items you must have – a smoker you are comfortable with; aluminum pans; disposable gloves, etc.

These are needed just to be able to function at a competition.

This article focuses on those “extras” which are not necessary but make cooking so much easier.

I have included affiliate links for these items.

In no particular order…

G & F 1689M Dupont Nomex & Kevlar Heat Resistant Oven Gloves, BBQ Gloves, Fireplace Gloves, Gloves for Cooking and Grill, Commercial Grade, Medium, Sold by 1 Pieceplaced over your disposable gloves, these make it easier to handle hot pans and smoker racks but still have the dexterity to hold shakers full of rub.

Although made from Nomex, these gloves can be washed in your home washing machine, just do not use bleach and make sure they are completely dry before using.


New Star Foodservice 26177 Squeeze Bottles, Plastic, Wide Mouth, 16 oz, Clear, Pack of 6

Invaluable for applying barbecue sauce precisely where you want it and as much as you want.   Strongly suggest getting the wide-mouth bottles to make it easier to pour in your prepared sauce.

These do not contain spout caps, however, I just use plastic wrap and a rubber band.

beach towels is an essential bbq competition toolBeach towels – yes, large beach towels.  Place them under your cutting boards to prevent slippage.  Also, they can be washed in your washing machine for easy clean up of all that sticky barbecue sauce.

We also place beach towels under our cutting boards when we rub our product. Just shake them out, to avoid mixing any rub – then flip them inside out – then you are ready for the next product.

Kaufman Sales 4 Pc Pack Stripe Beach Towel by Ben Kaufman Sales

We use one beach towel under our cutting board for trimming and immediately discard this towel, until we get home and it can be washed.

We use a catfish skinner to remove the silver skin from our ribs.  This tool is superior to the spoon handle and paper towel method.

Maybrun Commercial Catfish Skinner

A Washable warming tray can keep a variety of sauces warm, so as to not apply cold barbecue sauce to warm meat.

Recently discounted: Elite Platinum EWM-6171 Maxi-Matic 2.5 Quart 3 Tray Buffet Server, Brushed Stainless Steel

Keep the tray at its lowest setting because it will get very hot and barbecue sauce should not be boiling when you apply it to your entry.  The buffet trays and lids can be placed in the dishwasher.  After the warming platform has cooled, clean with sanitizing wipes.

Disposable cutting mats are a game-changer and we like these made by BBQ Guru.

BBQ Fans Single-Use Disposable Cutting Boards 30 Pack

They are 18″x24″ and include a ruler on the side for measuring slices or cubes.  Also, the middle is a 9″x 9″ square for proportioning your turn in box.

There are other suppliers out there with food-grade cutting mats, the point is…they are a must for a competition cook team.


A reliable temperature control for your smoker is crucial for consistency during a competition.

Smokin J’s Barbeque proudly uses the CyperQ Cloud by BBQ Guru. 

It not only regulates your cooker’s internal temperature but also, monitors up to 3 food temperatures.  Package includes 1 six-foot pit probe and 1 six-foot food probe, but additional food probes are available to purchase.

BBQ CyberQ
BBQ Guru is a sponsor of Smokin J’s Barbeque, however, we will not receive compensation for your purchase.

A key feature of the CyberQ Cloud is its WiFi capability. You can monitor AND control your CyberQ Cloud remotely from any web-based device such as your smartphone, tablet, desktop, or laptop.

poly-carbonate shakersA set of poly-carbonate shakers with various lids.

There are many types of shakers and after experimenting with various brands, sizes and textures…we have concluded the poly-carbonate shakers are the best.

We bought a set that contains several different lids with various sized holes.

Most restaurant supply stores will have these on hand.

If you want to order online, here is a reliable Food Equipment Supply Company. 

Various lids are available at their website.

We keep many on hand so we can prepare all the rubs at once.

No fumbling around later when time is of the essence.

Finally, a valuable tool but not really necessary if you have plenty of sanitizing wipes on hand, are disposable, fitted tablecloths.

Rather expensive at $3.10 each, these “kwik” covers are made for 6-foot long, fold-able tables. 

They fit over the 2″ edge of the table, much like a fitted sheet on a mattress.

They can be wiped down and reused, but by the end of a competition, we are ready to just throw away everything and rest.

These are our 9 barbecue competition essential tools.

Do you have any ESSENTIAL TOOLS you pack in your barbecue trailer?  Please share….

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