BBQ Central

Your source for all things Sonny's.

We don't just serve BBQ. We are BBQ.


We love everything about BBQ. The food. The culture. The camaraderie. The way it brings people together to have a good time. And the good it does when it’s shared with the community. That’s why we take such pride in making our BBQ the best it can be. And why we spread the spirit of BBQ every chance we get.

The art of BBQ.


From types of wood and cuts of meat to seasoning and saucing, find out exactly what makes our BBQ so delicious.

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Founded by a Pitmaster in '68.
Led by Pitmasters today.


At the heart of every Sonny’s is a certified Pitmaster who’s constantly perfecting their craft. These seasoned BBQ veterans are as good as they get. Meats. Smokers. Sauces. You name it, they know it. You ask them, they’ll share it. Because they like talkin’ about BBQ almost as much as they like cookin’ and eatin’ it.

P.I.T. Academy


Our Pitmaster In Training (P.I.T.) Academy, is an intense education and training program all Pitmaster hopefuls must pass before becoming a Certified Sonny’s Pitmaster. The program consists of hands-on learning, written and practical exams, head-to-head competitions and more.

  • BBQ KNOWLEDGE
  • CUTS OF MEAT
  • TYPES OF WOOD
  • RUBS & SAUCES
  • TRIMMING TECHNIQUES
  • COOK TIMES & TEMPERATURES
  • TESTS & COMPETITIONS
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BBQ KNOWLEDGE

Beyond making great BBQ, our Pitmasters must possess an in-depth knowledge of BBQ in general—where it began, how it evolved and all of the cultural differences and geographic variations. Basically, our Pitmasters must be walking and talking BBQ encyclopedias. 

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CUTS OF MEAT

Being able to recognize a particular cut of meat—which animal and where on the animal it came from—is a fundamental BBQ skill. Recognizing the quality, or grade, of meat is key as well. Our Pitmasters must truly be meat masters if they expect to make the cut.

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TYPES OF WOOD

At Sonny’s, we’ve always smoked with oak. It burns slow and gives our BBQ its signature smokey flavor. But other woods have different burn rates and taste profiles that affect the flavors of food differently. And since our Pitmasters are smokin’ experts, these are things they need to know.

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RUBS & SAUCES

Our Pitmasters must learn how to make their own rubs and sauces. Which starts with knowing how certain ingredients and flavors enhance the tastes of different meats. While BBQ is most definitely an art, there is a bit of science to gettin’ sauces and rubs just right.

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TRIMMING TECHNIQUES

Do you trim fat off before smokin’? And if so, how much and from where? Do you cut with the grain or against? With a sawing motion or in smooth, single slices? The answers affect the outcome of your BBQ. Which is why our Pitmasters must be skilled with their blades and brains.

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COOK TIMES & TEMPERATURES

Knowing how long to smoke various meats and at what temperatures is critical to mastering the art of BBQ. Safety, desired doneness and heat management all have to be factored into the equation. And all have to come second nature to our Pitmasters.

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TESTS & COMPETITIONS

Learning skills and techniques is one thing. Putting them into practice is another. Which is why all Pitmaster hopefuls must complete monitored practical exams, head-to-head cook-offs against fellow hopefuls, and local and regional BBQ competitions to see how their smokin’ skills stack up.

Become A Pitmaster

Think you've got the smokin' chops to be a Sonny's Pitmaster? We're always lookin' for passionate BBQ enthusiasts who know their way around the smoker.


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The Ultimate BBQ Battle

Every year we host an epic two-day BBQ battle in Central Florida, where the nation's top Pitmasters compete for a $68,000 prize bounty. Live music. Cookin' demos. Family fun. It's a must-attend event for any BBQ lover.


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Sonny's Competition Teams


BBQ competitions are a great way for our Pitmasters to sharpen their skills and put their talents to the test.

View our team

We spread the spirit of BBQ every chance we get. One way we do this is by throwin’ surprise BBQ feasts for people who make a difference.

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From The Smoker

Pitmaster tricks and tips. Secret recipes. General Ramblings.
Find all this and more in our BBQ blog, From the Smoker.

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From The Smoker

Happy 88th Birthday, Sonny Tillman!

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Sonny’s BBQ Voted #1 BBQ Chain in America

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From The Smoker

Backyard Brisket

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Our Recipe For Success


Learn more about who we are, what we stand for and how we became one of America’s favorite BBQ joints.

About Us