Summer barbecues are about as traditional as the apple pies, with grills across the country puffing out clouds of fragrant smoke to rival the summer heat. Hosting a party or get-together with friends or family is a great way to spend summer evenings, so we’ve compiled our favorite summer barbeque ideas to help you plan for this special day.
Swap Grilled for Smoked Meats
Whether it’s pork ribs, beef brisket, turkey breast, whole chicken, or wild trout, there’s no meat, fish, or veggie you can’t toss into a smoker and enjoy a flavorful result. For this summer, buy or borrow a smoker to prepare your main dish. You can even turn your grill into a smoker by adding chips in a foil pan while cooking your food on low heat.
Every BBQ cook has their favorite spice rub and perfect wood chip pairing for a cut of meat, so do some research before you start. Once you smoke your meat, slather it with barbecue sauce or leave it plain for guests to decorate themselves. Smoking takes plenty of time, so start your food preparation hours before the party begins.
Start With Themed Snacks
Greet your guests with fun snack options that are sure to liven up the party. Go beyond the chip and dip staples with ideas like a make-your-own popcorn mix station with marshmallows, red and blue chocolate candies, dried cranberries, and yogurt-covered raisins. Slice some melons with star cut-outs and slide them onto sticks for a festive treat. Make your lemonade stand out by adding sliced strawberries and rock-candy swizzle stick to each glass. Or drizzle pretzel logs with white chocolate and sprinkle them with multi-colored sprinkles.
Offer a Barbecue Toppings Bar
Take your barbecue sandwiches to another level of flavor with tasty toppings. Set a spread next to the meat and let guests pile on their choices. Sliced onions, pickles, coleslaw, and peppers make great additions to smoked meats. Go Southern with pimiento cheese, or add Tex-Mex flavors with spicy jalapeno rings. The options are only limited to your tastebuds and imagination. Extra sauce is a must. Make your own classic sweet and tangy barbecue sauce, offer a spicy option for guests who love heat, and mix it up with a taste of mayo-based Alabama-style sauce.
Grill Your Fruits and Veggies
Grilling fruits and veggies will change the flavor of classic sides. Adding fruits to your grill brings out the syrupy sweetness of ripe stone varieties and hearty tropical favorites. Veggies caramelize, and the kiss of flames adds a depth of flavor to crisp skins. Mix your traditional barbecue with tasty veggie kabobs or halved and whole veggies tossed right onto the grill. Fruits and veggies that are perfect for grilling include peaches, pineapple, corn, onions, zucchini, eggplant, and tomatoes.
Make a Flag Cake
Image via Flickr by joyosity
End your Fourth of July meal with a fresh and easy patriotic dessert. Ripe summer strawberries (or raspberries) and blueberries atop a heap of whipped cream make the stars and stripes of the American flag. Use white or yellow cake mix for the base baked into a square pan.
Next, slice strawberries in half to prep the stripes. Once the cake is cooled, spread a layer of whipped cream or white frosting on top. Finally, make a square of blueberries in the top left corner of the cake, followed by a few rows of strawberry or raspberry stripes. Chill the cake until you’re ready to serve and enjoy a sweet taste of America.
Dress Up Your Table
Image via Flickr by Anders Ruff Custom Designs
Depending on the theme of your party, create centerpieces like classic Americana or maybe something more tropical. Set a bandana underneath the jar or wrap it around the glass. Tin containers, mason jars, or straw hats can add to the overall look you’re going for. Save cans and wrap ribbons around them. Make the plastic cutlery match your party’s theme by finding the right colors. Wrapping the cutlery in twine or a colorful cord is another nifty way to add to your party’s detailing.
Set Up A Glorious Feast
Keep food prep simple yet enticing with a spread of burgers, hotdogs, and fixings. Offer plenty of toppings for these American favorites like relish, sauerkraut, and chili for the hotdogs and lettuce, tomato, cheese, red onions, bacon, and pickles for the burgers. Set out some unique additions like french fried onion chips, pineapple rings, or chipotle mayo. Upgrade your feast with an additional fry bar with french fries, onion rings, and tater tots. Make sure you have plenty of ketchup and mustard on the table too. Don’t be afraid to add some non-traditional condiments, appetizers, and toppings to your menu. Adding pico de gallo, flan, kimchi, or even dumplings can be a surprisingly great addition to a cookout.
Let Kids Get Crafty
Popsicle sticks, straws, string, and some paint may be all you need to help kids unleash their creativity. Prep crafts with a theme, like popsicle stick flags or red, white, and blue straw bead necklaces. Cut out fabric stars and let kids make bunting. Print out coloring pages and let kids fill in each state with colored pencils, or set up a table with all the supplies and let the children have fun.
Re-Imagine Party Favors
Make a memorable ending to the night with simple party favors. Popular goodies include old-fashioned candy classics piled into a brown bag or s’mores supplies tucked into a mason jar. Non-edibles like wrapped boxes of sparklers and poppers also make a fun parting gift. Pass out seeds for victory gardens or small potted red geraniums.
We hope you like our list of summer barbecue ideas. Do you have more suggestions for throwing the perfect party? Let us know so we can add it to our blog.