Summer BBQs are my favorite way to entertain throughout the season. Adults can mingle, drink in hand, while the kids can run around burning off energy before dinner. Plus, barbecuing feels more effortless — no need to stress over a super-clean house or real napkins when you’re grilling out. The menu is also up for grabs, although you can’t go wrong with the classics. Who doesn’t love burgers paired with creamy coleslaw?

From sweet and tangy barbecue sauce to buttermilk ranch potato salad to finger-lickin’ grilled chicken, here are 35 essential BBQ dishes for all your backyard soirées.

Sauces and Marinades

Whether you use one for marinating a flank steak or you serve it up in squeeze bottles for sandwiches, your BBQ needs at least one sauce.

  • Korean BBQ Marinade
  • Basic Sweet & Tangy BBQ Sauce

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Remember what I said about drink in hand? Pitcher drinks and cocktails are the easiest way to satiate guests while you grill.

  • How To Make Southern Sweet Tea
  • Sweet Tea and Bourbon Pitcher Cocktail
  • How To Make Lemonade from Scratch
  • Iced Green Tea with Mint & Ginger

Classic Side Dishes

All the all-stars are here: baked beans, coleslaw, pasta salad, and potato salad. The best part is that almost all of these can be made ahead!

  • How To Make Potato Salad
  • Classic Potluck Three Bean Salad
  • Slow-Cooked Cider Beans
  • How To Make Classic Creamy Coleslaw
  • How To Make the Best Pasta Salad without Mayo
  • Antipasto Pasta Salad
  • Buttermilk Ranch Potato Salad
  • Pesto Tortellini Pasta Salad

Grilled Vegetables

Throwing vegetables on the side doesn’t just need to feel obligatory. These dishes bring a ton of flavor, can help fill up vegetarians, and make for welcome side dishes alongside the classic side salads.

  • Grilled Chipotle Lime Cauliflower Steaks
  • How To Grill Watermelon
  • Grilled Okra with Spicy Chipotle Dipping Sauce
  • Grilled Cabbage Wedges with Spicy Lime Dressing

Classic Kebabs

Almost anything is more fun to eat from a stick. Let guests build their own kebabs for even more fun.

  • Easy Balsamic Glazed Grilled Veggie Kebabs
  • Grilled Potato, Onion, and Bacon Skewers
  • Bryant Terry’s Grilled Vegetable and Tofu Kebabs
  • Chimichurri Adds Zip and Tang to Easy Shrimp Skewers

Finger-Lickin’-Good Chicken

Chicken is one of those iconic BBQ foods. Serve with plenty of sauce and paper towels.

  • How To Cook a Crispy, Juicy Rotisserie Chicken on the Grill
  • Recipe: Spicy Korean Grilled Chicken
  • Master Juicy Grilled Chicken Breast with This Cooking Lesson
  • Grilled Chicken Breast with Blackberry-Corn Salsa

Juicy Burgers

BBQ burgers are a really easy way to please a crowd. Don’t be afraid to divert from the beef burger to something juicier or even meat-free.

  • How To Grill Really Juicy Burgers
  • Chicken Guacamole Burgers
  • Hawaiian Burgers with Grilled Pineapple
  • Never Make a Dry Turkey Burger Again: Here’s How to Do It
  • Grilled Eggplant Burgers with Halloumi Cheese


My BBQ dessert go-to is ice cream sandwiches or Popsicles — they are fun and easy. But if you’re feeling fancy, these are easy and can be eaten with one hand while chasing down a 5-year-old with a water gun.

  • Banana Pudding Bars
  • How To Make Better-than-the-Box Rice Krispies Treats
  • S’mores Brownies
  • Frozen Yogurt Pie with Boozy Blueberries
  • No-Bake Strawberry Icebox Cake

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