Born March 11 in Japan and raised in Baltimore, Maryland, Raichlen graduated in 1975 from Reed College with a Bachelor of Arts in French literature. He received a Thomas J. Watson Foundation Fellowship to study medieval cooking in Europe, and was offered a Fulbright Scholarship to study comparative literature. He trained at Le Cordon Bleu and La Varenne cooking schools in Paris.
Raichlen lives with his wife, Barbara, in Coconut Grove, Florida and Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts.
Since 1998, Raichlen's books have focused on the culture and practice of global grilling. His 28 books include The Barbecue Bible (1998, revised in 2008), How to Grill (2001), BBQ USA, Miami Spice, and Healthy Latin Cooking. His books have been translated into 15 languages. Raichlen is working on a book called Planet Barbecue, the story of his travels to more than 50 countries in search of the best barbecue, to be published by Workman Publishing in 2010. In 2009, he completed his first novel.
Raichlen currently hosts Primal Grill (PBS, 3 seasons, 2008...). According to the show's Web site, the new series focuses on the how-tos of live fire cooking. Raichlen, who holds a degree in French literature from Reed College, also hosts a French language TV show called Le Maitre du Grill on Zeste in Quebec. Raichlen also created the TV show Barbecue University (aka BBQ U, PBS, 4 Seasons, 2003—2006).
Raichlen is the founder of Barbecue University, which offers three-day intensive courses on live fire cooking at the Broadmoor Resort in Colorado Springs.
Steven Raichlen has won five James Beard awards for his cookbooks. High-Flavor, Low-Fat Cooking won the 1993 award for Best Light and Healthy Cookbook, and his follow-up, High-Flavor, Low-Fat Vegetarian Cooking, won the 1996 award for Best Vegetarian Cookbook. In 1999, Healthy Latin Cooking won the award for Healthy Focus. He also earned the 2001 James Beard Foundation/KitchenAid Book Award for his Healthy Jewish Cooking More recently his 780-page book, BBQ USA, won the 2004 award for Tools and Techniques
In 2003, Bon Appetit named Raichlen “Cooking Teacher of the Year". Also that year, The Barbecue Bible, based on his four years of research while traveling 150,000 miles through 25 countries on five continents, won an IACP Julia Child Award.
He battled and defeated Iron Chef Rokusaburo Michiba in a "Battle of the Barbecue Gods" on Japanese television.
Raichlen has written for The New York Times, National Geographic Traveler, Food and Wine, "Bon Appetit" and Hemispheres magazines. He has appeared on numerous television programs and networks including Good Morning America, The Today Show, CBS This Morning, Discovery Channel, Oprah, Regis & Kelly, The View and CNN.