What’s On Hand :: Aaron Franklin

By Kelly Colchin

Aaron Franklin’s name is synonymous with great BBQ. This fact was most recently illustrated by the (hilarious) national attention given to Franklin Barbecue by Jon Stewart while filming the Daily Show in Austin. And even while being applauded on Comedy Central, and lauded as the King of smoked meat by BBQ elite, Aaron remains level-headed and keeps his nose to the grill.

The story of Austin’s most beloved smoked meat is a favorite talking point among locals (we featured his Thanksgiving table here) and has become the stuff of BBQ legends. Aaron and his wife, Stacy, debuted Franklin Barbecue in late 2009 in a travel trailer turned brisket stand on the East Side. Talk of the mouthwatering BBQ spread around Austin, around Texas and to BBQ lovers across the country. The press caught on and in the summer of 2010 Bon Appetit named Franklin Barbecue the best in America. With an obvious need for more space and more fire, in 2011, Aaron and Stacy moved their operation to the brick and mortar location on East 11th St. where they remain today. About the day-to-day at the restaurant, Aaron says he does it all. “I build fires and I put fires out. I do some light welding, some restaurant maintenance, I work some rib shifts and cut some lunches.” And even though they have increased production in their new space and their fires burn around the clock from Monday ‘til Sunday, the line to eat at Franklin still wraps around the block and they sell out of brisket every day. Running such a successful restaurant takes a lot of time. “I wish I had time to cook at home but I don’t,” says Aaron. “It’s rare for me to be home long enough to both cook and eat something.” That being said, Stacy keeps the Franklin home pantry well stocked. They get basics from Austin grocery stores like HEB and the flagship Whole Foods, and specialty items from favorite local butcher shop, Salt & Time. If you don’t live in Texas, and have never had the pleasure of dining at Franklin, you can channel a little of Aaron’s BBQ magic by stocking some of these items he always has on hand.


1. Smoked Tallow — I get this from work and use it for cooking. It’s also really good for removing labels from jars!

2. Oils — I always have walnut oil, I use it to rub down beef before I cook it. I like olive oil for it’s flavor and grape seed oil because it’s cheap– I use it for everything else. I keep them all in 12oz squeeze bottles.

3. 12″ Wax Paper Squares — I use them all the time for everything: as spoon rests, to season meats on, to hold prepped stuff that I’m about to cook…

4. Salt & Pepper — Morton’s kosher salt and 16-mesh black pepper are pretty much the only seasonings I use.

5. Triscuits — I go through different flavor phases, sometimes I’m into the Dill & Olive Oil ones, sometimes I’m all about the Black Pepper ones, sometimes Original, but I always have some on hand.

6. Cheese — I especially like sharp aged cheddar. To go with the Triscuits, of course!

7. Garlic, Onions & Shallots and Lemons.

8. Beer — There is always a large quantity and variety of local, craft beers in my beer fridge. Hops and Grains is a favorite local brewery.

9. Salsa — I especially like the really dark charred type.

10. Baby Food Nuggets — The latest addition to my freezer is for the latest addition to my family. My wife is always making purees of fruits and veggies for baby food for our daughter. She freezes the purees into little nuggets in silicone molds.

11. 16oz & 32 oz poly cups and lids  — Our kitchen is stocked like a restaurant, I use these constantly for everything.

aaron_franklinphoto of Aaron: Wyatt McSpadden