Summer is finally here and it is time to start planning an epic BBQ party. All winter and spring, we've been eagerly anticipating that first hot summer day when the smell of the barbecue mingles with the laughter of friends and family.
Hosting the perfect summer BBQ party doesn't have to be stressful. In fact, you can make sure that your next backyard BBQ goes off without a hitch just by planning ahead.
We put together this checklist so that you will be able to pull off your favorite BBQ party ideas without any drama. Plus, we are going to throw in a few of our own favorite barbecue ideas and recipes that might inspire you to try something different this summer.
Build Your Perfect Summer BBQ Menu
Burgers, hot dogs, a bowl of coleslaw, and maybe some corn on the cob certainly make for an easy, classic BBQ party – but sometimes, it's fun to do things a little differently.
Planning a menu will help you get ready and plan out your grilling timeline without panicking.
Trust us, you are not the only one that has felt the pressure of trying to get the chicken cooked all the way twenty minutes after the burgers came off the grill. It has happened to everyone at some point.
We'll show you how to plan a menu that will make it simple for you to pull off the most epic summer barbecue of all time and give you tips to keep it fun.
BBQ Food Ideas
Start the plan for your backyard barbecue party by deciding on what you want to cook. Burgers and dogs are classics, and there are lots of ways to dress them up and create something special. For example, you can make Black & Blue Burgers or Smoked Chili Dogs to amp up the flavors.
Burgers & Hot Dogs
If you really want to step up the basic burger and dog menu, you should try your hand at making your own ground beef and homemade hot dogs. You get the ultimate in control of flavors and the quality of ingredients which make for the best-tasting burgers and dogs.
If you are planning to make your own ground beef, you should do it at least 24 hours ahead of time. One of the tips we like to share is that you can place individual patties between pieces of parchment paper. Burger patties can be frozen and then thawed in the refrigerator the day before the party. This tip lets you make your burger patties as much as three weeks in advance and cuts down on the prep time on the day of the backyard barbecue party.
Making hot dogs does take a bit of time, but is also a process you can do several weeks in advance. Just remember to set a few packages of frozen wieners in the refrigerator before going to bed the night before the outdoor barbecue. They will thaw overnight and be ready for the grill the next day. Burgers and dogs take ten to fifteen minutes to cook.
Smoked pork is a popular choice for big summer BBQ party gatherings. Pork is affordable and goes a long way to feeding lots of people. Plus, it is delicious and it pairs perfectly with some of the most amazing BBQ side dishes.
Pork ribs smoke rather quickly, usually taking three to four hours to finish. A pork butt roast might take longer depending on the size and how you plan to serve it. Shredded pork for tacos or sandwiches smokes to an internal temperature of 203 degrees, while pork that is meant to be sliced and served can cook to as low as 145 degrees and be safe to eat. Plan on at least six hours to smoke a butt roast for your BBQ party.
Pork can benefit from a marinade to add flavor and enhance the juiciness, but you will want to plan ahead to make sure the roast gets at least six hours to marinate.
If you are using a frozen pork butt, plan on two to three days to thaw in the fridge. That means at least three days before the summer barbecue, you will need to start getting the recipe ready.
Some tips to save time on the day of your backyard party is to smoke the pork butt roast a few days ahead of time, then wrap it tightly in butcher paper and cling wrap or vacuum seal. You can smoke the roast to about 185 degrees, then wrap and refrigerate. On the day of the barbecue, the roast can come to room temperature on the counter, then go into the smoker unwrapped to finish. Leaving the butcher paper in place will retain juices, but can also soften the crispy bark.
Brisket is another very popular smoked meat at barbecues. The biggest downside to smoking brisket for a party is the excessive amount of time that the meat can take to finish. A full-size packer brisket can take 12 to 16 hours and requires quite a bit of work to get it done right, but it is hands-down the biggest show-stopper at an outdoor party when it comes out just right.
Cutting the brisket down into the flat and the point will speed up the smoking time, cutting it nearly in half. An even better shortcut is to smoke the whole brisket up to several weeks in advance, separate the point and the flat, then vacuum seal the cuts.
Smoked brisket freezes well when you use a vacuum sealer, but we don't really recommend doing it with cling wrap. The meat tends to oxidize and gets freezer burn easily. Slicing it also is not the best idea since the meat tends to dry out when reheating it when it is sliced and frozen. These BBQ tips will help make serving brisket more practical for your summer BBQ.
A smoked brisket can be frozen for up to six months, but it is a great idea to reheat it within six weeks. The brisket should be reheated to 165 degrees before serving. There is no reason to use the smoker for this since the flavor will already be in the meat. You can reheat the brisket with beef broth in a covered dish in the oven in about two hours.
Summer wouldn't be summer without barbecue chicken. Roasted, crackling BBQ chicken is one of the most delicious recipes around, and it's a perfect reason to order a bunch of Bearded Butcher Blend BBQ Sauce. We like let the chicken sit with a little Bearded Butchers Chipotle Seasoning for a few hours before grilling.
One of the tips we have for grilling chicken helps to prevent flare-ups. Instead of placing the chicken directly on the grill, use a piece of heavy-duty aluminum foil on the grill and place the chicken on top. Let the chicken cook part of the way, then remove the foil and baste in BBQ sauce. As the chicken finishes, the sauce will get the perfect amount of crispiness and you won't be battling a raging inferno the entire time.
Ask Guests to Bring Their Favorite Backyard Barbecue Recipe
Here is another great tip for making your party stress-free: get your guests involved. Ask them to bring their favorite side dishes while you prepare the main dish.
And keep in mind that not everyone likes to make food, so you can ask them to come up with fun yard games to play at your BBQ parties. You can also have people bring drinks, ice, or fresh fruit instead of cooking for the summer party.
Set-Up & Safety Essentials
Don't have too much fun planning your backyard BBQ and forget to have your equipment ready. If you are using a charcoal grill or a smoker, make sure to buy extra lump charcoal or pellets.
It never hurts to have an extra bag, but no one wants to have to leave the outdoor fun to run to the store for charcoal at the last minute. Avoid the stress and buy extra ahead of time.
Store charcoal in a dry, cool place, and it lasts practically forever.
Gas grilling means you will also need to make sure that your propane tanks are filled and working correctly. There is nothing more embarrassing than having people over to barbecue on your gas grill and finding out that the tanks are empty or the regulator is broken. Test everything the day before so that you are sure the burners are lighting correctly and there are no gas leaks at the tank or regulator attachments.
This is also an excellent time to make sure your grill is clean. Nothing kicks off BBQ season better than a clean-as-a-whistle grill. We have a guide that helps explain how to properly clean a grill, smoker, or griddle so that it is ready for your next backyard BBQ.
By the time summer BBQ party ideas start to happen, nature is well on its way through the cycle. That means you are going to want to make sure there are no weeds growing around your grill that could start a fire. Also, make sure that tree branches are trimmed so they don't hang over the grill. Taking the time to get your backyard ready will make it safer and more comfortable. It doesn't hurt to refresh by looking at safety tips for grilling, either.
Probably the most important tip you will ever get is to make sure that your grill is located somewhere that is safe. That means thinking about lawn games and other summer party garden games that could result in kids, pets, and even adults knocking the grill over or bumping into it.
Planning fun activities should always involve avoiding possible hazards like a hot grill and a shocking number of kids end up in the emergency room during the summer months from accidents involving barbecues.
Finally, one piece of equipment that not enough barbecue masters have on hand is a proper fire extinguisher. This one gets overlooked, but it is the best way to avoid accidentally starting a structure fire.
Planning out your next barbecue in advance will make it less stressful and way more fun. This way you have plenty of opportunities to spend time with the people you love without worrying about logistics.
You'll enjoy all the great food you make much more by getting a checklist together of what you are going to cook and when to start cooking it. That way, you aren't frantically trying to catch up all day and missing out on time with family.
Being prepared also means having a plan for sides, enough space on a nearby table to cook, and enough fuel so your cookout isn't ruined.