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  • How to Plan a Summer Barbecue

  • The weather is finally warming up. You’ve decided to host a summer barbecue for family and friends. Good for you! Are you wondering just what you were thinking? Is hosting anxiety setting in? No need for panic. Here is a summer BBQ menu that is easy to execute with a level head and some thoughtful planning.

    I’ve also prepared your road-map for getting things done without stress. You don’t want to be frazzled when your guests arrive! This guide will help you to get organized and prepare for your party with a five-day schedule. You can even choose to use your oven instead of your grill for most of the cooking and still get the flavor you want for your BBQ.

    How to Plan a Fun, Stress-Free Summer BBQ

    Don’t be afraid to ask family members for help.  As the saying goes, “Many hands make light work.” Most people would love to bring a dish.   Just be sure to be specific when you ask someone to bring a dish.

    This menu and plan assume you will do all of the cooking, but you don’t have to.  However much you will do yourself, do as much as you can in advance.   That way you’ll have plenty of time the day of the party to enjoy your guests.

    Five Tips for Your Summer BBQ

    Keep these five things in mind and your BBQ will be a hit.

    • Keep your menu simple but delicious.
    • Ice, ice, and more ice.  Running out of ice is a bad thing.
    • Provide shade.  The hot summer sun can be too much for your guests.
    • Keep your playlist fun with summer favorites.
    • Provide games.  Frisbee, volleyball, lawn Twister (made with four colors of spray paint), croquet and badminton are fun ideas.


    Your Summer BBQ Menu

    Appetizers and Drinks

    Beer and barbecues go together like peanut butter and jelly.  So stock your coolers with plenty of beer and ice. In my opinion, every party needs one signature cocktail for a festive sip.  For a barbecue, you want to choose a drink that can easily be made in a big batch.  Rum punch and margaritas are two great drink options.  They can be made ahead of time and put in drink dispensers or pitchers so your guests can serve themselves. Another great drink option for a barbecue is sangria.

    Keep your appetizers simple.  Parmesan pigs-in-a-blanket and BBQ jalapeno poppers can be made ahead of time and frozen. Both recipes go straight from the freezer to the oven with ease. No defrosting required.  Salsa, guacamole, and chips are no brainers and BBQ favorites.  Friends and family may have favorite appetizers they would love to share with your guests. Go ahead and ask them to bring their favorites.  That way you’ll have one less course to think about.

    The BBQ Main Dishes

    Where you live will influence your definition of barbecue.  The menu I am suggesting is typical for my neck of the woods.  No matter where you live, for a stress-free barbecue, you want your menu to be delicious and easy to execute.  It’s no fun to spend all of your time standing over a grill or in the kitchen.

    That’s why I am suggesting chicken with chipotle BBQ sauce and pork ribs as the stars of your barbecue.  The chicken is baked completely in the oven and brushed with the barbecue sauce before serving.  The barbecued ribs can also be made completely in your oven.  The only part of this menu you’ll need the grill for is the grilled corn.

    Printer Friendly Dinner Recipes


    I like my summer BBQ desserts to be easy to serve and easy to eat.  Cookies and squares of all kinds fit that description. Pies are favorites in the summer because fresh fruit is abundant, but they can be messy to serve.

    Dessert is another course that friends and family can easily help with by bringing a favorite treat to share. Don’t forget about s’mores, especially if kids will be at your barbecue.

    Printer Friendly Dessert Recipes

    My Summer BBQ Planning Guide

    Here’s a timeline to help you plan your summer barbecue.  This schedule is meant to be a guide. This five-day planning schedule spreads the preparation out so you won’t feel overwhelmed.  The schedule assumes you have already invited your guests and that you have most of the basic necessities like a grill, seating, coolers, tablecloths, and plates and silverware.  The timeline is flexible, so adapt it to your life and have some fun with it.

    Day 5:

    • Print out the recipes.  Make your shopping list and complete your shopping.
    • Check your supplies for plates, silverware, glassware, etc.  Borrow or buy what you need.
    • Plan your tables, tablecloths, napkins, decorations.
    • Make room in your refrigerator.
    • Be sure you have gas or charcoal for the grill.

    Day 4

    Day 3

    Day 2- The Day Before the BBQ

    • Make the Coconut Tres-Leches Cake.  Stabilize the whipped cream with unflavored gelatin.
    • Buy the corn on the cob and remove the husks.
    • Prep pork ribs with rub.  Wrap in foil and refrigerate.
    • Make rum punch and margaritas. Refrigerate.
    • Marinate the chicken pieces in Italian salad dressing in your refrigerator overnight.
    • Clean the bathroom.

    Day 1-BBQ Day

    • Make the guacamole.
    • Make the tossed salad.
    • Make sure you have enough ice.  Fill coolers.
    • Set up your drink area.
    • Decorate and set the table
    • Thaw the cookies and brownies.
    • Plan for trash.
    • Cook the pork ribs.
    • Cook the chicken one hour before serving.
    • Heat chipotle BBQ sauce.
    • Cook the jalapeno poppers and pigs-in-a-blanket.
    • Cook chicken one hour before serving and top with chipotle BBQ sauce.
    • Fire up the grill, cook the corn on the cob, and top with chili-lime butter.

    There you have it, a menu and schedule for a stress-free summer BBQ.  Celebrate family, friends, and fun with a backyard BBQ!

    I’ve prepared a free barbecue planning guide for you.  It includes a menu preparation sheet and a barbecue planning checklist.  Click the link below to get the guide.