With summer nights getting longer and longer and the warm weather rolling through the country, it’s the perfect time to plan a backyard gathering where you get to see all of your favorite people in one spot.
It doesn’t have to be something grand to be nice, and today we decided to create a menu full of homemade outdoor grill ideas suitable for that fantastic backyard BBQ party.
Preparations the Night Before your BBQ Theme Party
Depending on the size of your gathering, (14-24 people), we recommend that you prepare a few things before the day of the party so you’re not swamped with work and you actually get to enjoy your event.
Great summer BBQ ideas require some preparation, especially if you plan grilling meat and veggies. It’s best to start with the preparation and portioning of meats like briskets and ribs.
The recipes we provided bellow require at least 24-hour preparation time so the meat can rest, the same goes for the proper preparation of delicious and succulent salmon filets and stakes.
This will make time management on the day of the party a lot more bearable. BBQ menu ideas involving meats and sauces should be taken care of the day before. Prepare your marinades and braise your meats 24 hours before the party.
Additional preparations before the party may include:
- Getting bug spray for your guests;
- Setting up backyard lighting;
- Making sure you have enough chairs for everyone;
- Getting ice and drinks from the store;
- Stocking up on last minute items – more charcoal/propane, etc.
To make the preparations easier on yourself, you can always ask your guests to bring food they prepared themselves. Sweets like cheesecake, muffins and other options like tortilla chips and the like will really lighten the load and make the entire evening seem like a community gathering.
1. Fresh Fruit and Dipping Veggies
Fresh fruit like cantaloupe and watermelon are a great summer snack, especially if you’ve chilled them before the guests arrive. Keep vegetables and other such under a damp cotton cloth – the evaporation of the water will keep the fruits and veggies cool, which is great during the summer heat.
Other fruit combinations might also be suitable for toppings on drinks, like citruses and more exotic variations. Depending on the dietary needs of your guests, we’d recommend checking in with them regarding food allergies – it’s better to be safe than sorry.
2. Different Dips for Meats and Veggies
Grilled veggies go along quite well with simple seasoning like salt and pepper, melted butter and a dry spicy rub. Vegetables like zucchini work fantastically with spicy sauces and dips especially if grilled with salt and pepper.
Their base taste notes make them a great taste carrier, provided you’ve grilled them properly (for a full guide on grilled vegetables check our recent blog posts).
Meats can also be dipped in cases where you’ve decided to make ribs which fall from the bone. Buffalo sauce, and generic BBQ sauce are a must, however, you can also create your own sauce by combining:
- High fat cream cheese;
- Feta cheese;
- Minced garlic or garlic powder;
- Lemon zest.
This will crate a fantastic dip which works fantastic with meats and vegetables, especially if their base taste notes are more forgiving and can act as a carrier for other flavors.
3. Tortillas and Pitas
Pitas and tortillas as a part of backyard BBQ menu ideas work great – they allow people to create their own food based on what you’ve provided.
Using the meats you’ve grilled, along with the vegetables, dipping sauces and additional sauces, your guests can create their own cuisine with the power of their creativity.
The best meats for homemade tortillas are pulled pork and beef brisket as they are already falling apart from the grilling you’ve done. Just make sure to supply napkins and a separate food station area where people can create their own burritos – it can get messy.
4. Salmon Filets and Steaks
Preparing the salmon filets and steaks for grilling 24 hours prior to the party makes it easy for you to actually get the delicious, high-protein meat into people’s plates quicker.
If all of your preparations are done beforehand, you only need 6 minutes in total to get a fresh cut salmon filet from the grill to a plate.
Salmon goes great with lemon zest and can be made into delicious fish tacos or other Mexican-fusion type of tasty treats. It’s advisable to choose a filet over a steak as they don’t have bones in them and will make it easier for your guests to enjoy fully without worrying about tiny bones.
5. Briskets and Pulled Pork
Grilling briskets and pulled pork are a challenge which is why we put both of them in the preliminary preparations part at the start of the list. Brisket requires more than 12 hours to fully cook properly, as does pulled pork.
Rely on your Smart Flip Grill to better control the temperature and keep an eye out for all those flavors escaping. At the end of the day, all of the effort you’ve put into grilling and BBQ-ing both meat varieties, will certainly pay off.
We recommend brazing both meats before cooking and preparing them 48 hours before the party as they require the most cooking time. You can use foil to reheat them if they are done too quickly.
6. Burgers and Hot Dog – Sweet and Sour Toppings
Burgers and hot dogs are a staple food for any BBQ party food list, so much so that chances are your guests already had some a few days ago. To make things more interesting we suggest you spice things up with different topping ideas.
Make sweet and sour toppings from produce you already have laying around – use the grill to sweat and caramelize some onions as the final touch to a classic backyard barbeque evening.
These go great with other types of meats like crispy bacon flakes and if you grill the buns for the hotdogs, you also add that smoky flavor for an extra level of amazingness. Honey glazes and honey dipped onions also provide that sweet note for a meaty base.
7. Smoked and Grilled Ribs (24-hour recipe)
Smoked and grilled ribs need at least 24 hours to properly prepare, from the portioning of the meat (if you want to make St. Louis style ribs), to the seasoning and cooking.
Of course, it’s always best to have the meat freshly cooked so people can enjoy its full flavors, but the preparation here is quite important.
For the best St. Louis style ribs as a part of your fantastic BBQ party menu ideas, we recommend following our detailed guide on grilling ribs.
Sweat the meat with salt for at least 24 hours to let the surface moisture act as a bonding agent between the spices, dry rubs and wet mixtures. This will also help tenderize the meat and make it more easily cut or pulled apart once cooked.
You can use the foil method to help the meat off the bones and don’t forget to remove the tough membrane between on the rib side of your rib rack.
8. Grilled Veggies for Dipping Sauces
We’ve already published a guide on how to best grill vegetables on a charcoal grill, but the end results are so delicious that we’ll give you a quick summary of the entire process.
You need to clean and portion your veggies – if cutting into larger pieces you can use a skewer or grill them as is.
For smaller veggie mixes we recommend using the foil method with butter or getting a grilling basket for vegetables – either way, use considerate amounts of high temp olive oil so the veggies don’t have a bitter taste once they are done.
The best vegetables for backyard barbeque menu ideas are:
- Portobello mushrooms;
- Bell peppers;
- Onions – spring onions work as well.
9. Potato Salads and Coleslaw
Potato salads and coleslaw are a must for grilling station ideas because they go great with pretty much anything.
Both can be prepared as a part of your 24-hour preparation window and can be chilled in the fridge – just remember to put them out 1-2 hours before your guests start to arrive to slowly bring them up to room temp.
10. Fresh Drinks, Cocktails and Mocktails
What are backyard BBQ ideas without fresh summer drinks, cocktails, mocktails and cold beers? Bring out your biggest tub and place ice in it – that’s the standard approach to keeping all of your beverages cooled.
You can create a drink station where you can provide everything needed for people to make what they’d like to drink. Most outdoor grill ideas on this list leave a little space for freedom so people can actually participate in their enjoyment.
We hope this list has been of help to you and that you actually find some inspiration from it.