Perfect Cookout Essentials

Summer’s growing up, I was pretty lucky. Pool, backyard, neighborhood friends and most importantly, my father’s cooking. Grilling was basically a staple in my home. Still is! And with Father’s Day in our rear-view, it’s safe to say we have crossed the starting line to a summer of cookouts.

But, as we turn into adults (bore! I know!) we must take this backyard tradition into our own hands. Unfortunately, I’m not blessed with a backyard in my Boston bungalow. But, all you need is a grill, a strip of driveway and some helpful friends to turn any weekend afternoon into an outdoor party.

How to Plan – What Type of Barbecue Are You?

Do you have tons of space in your backyard? Well, good for you! It’s going to be your biggest asset for your event. Especially if it’s a beautiful day, you’re going to want to take advantage and host all of your guests in this area. Set-up your space with tables, chairs and outdoor games for entertainment. As for the food, keep a couple tables aside to set up your spread buffet styled. This will keep the entire experience outdoors and keep your kitchen mess-free!

If you’re city bound like me, you may at least have a driveway! Because you’re working with way less space, keep the outdoors for two key components – the BBQ and your guests.  The grill of course needs to be outside but throw some chairs around, keep a cooler stocked with fresh ice and encourage your guests to mingle and enjoy the sun. Two essential details to your planning will be reserving enough space in your kitchen for your spread of food (keep with the buffet theme, much easier!)  Also, buy sturdy plastic/paper plates. Because you don’t have enough space for everyone to sit and enjoy, you’ll need to keep in mind some will be standing with their food!

Patio Only?  Still enough for room for a BBQ! Open all of the windows in your space, get a great outdoor themed playlist streaming and encourage your guests to bring a BBQ side dish! Because everyone will essentially be inside, you’ll want to keep the cooking to a minimum, offer to buy and take care of all the meats and veggie burgers on the grill! The less commotion in the kitchen the better.  Set up buffet styled, once again, and you have yourself a BBQ styled potluck for you and your friends.

What’s on the Menu

Fool Proof Pork Sandwiches

Everyone knows a BBQ requires hamburgers and hot dogs, but when you want to get a little bit more fancy, I’d turn to the simple yet always amazes pork sandwich.


raw pork cutlets (my FAVORITE are from Trader Joe’s meat section), Safron, Cayenne pepper, salt & pepper, minced garlic (or garlic powder), Portuguese Rolls (or soft medium sized rolls)

Prepare & Serve:

In a large bowl or large ziplock bag, combine all ingredients. No measurements needed here, it’s all based on preference.  However, be mindful of the cayenne (two pinches) and the salt & pepper (pinch of each) to avoid a too spicy or too salty dish.  Mix (or shake) ingredients together and let sit in the fridge for two hours. Ready to grill? Throw’m on, get those grill marks and toast the rolls a little. Put two cutlets in each roll.

Fancy Burgers

Put a twist on a classic by offering options for one dish. Stuffed burgers, themed burgers and maybe some vegetarian burgers for friends you don’t quite understand! (jk, maybe) Here are a few leads:

Barbecue Cheddar-Bacon Stuffed Burgers

Teriyaki Burgers with Grilled Pineapple

Ultimate Veggie Burger

Skewers of Types

The savory route, is a great way to use anything you have in your fridge. Last minute party call? Chicken, Peppers, Onions, Broccoli, you name it, put it all on a set of skewers and brush with olive oil before grilling. Simple and easy to feed a group with.

Skewers can also be a good dessert idea. It’ll be easy to prep ahead of time as well. Take your favorite fruits that are easy to spear, think berries, pineapple, melon or grapes!

Perfect Cookout Essentials

Photo Credit: Hostess with the Mostess 

Meet your New Best Friend. Her Name is Prep.

The best thing you can do for any party is prep. BBQs come with an extra need because it’s hot out, you have people everywhere and most importantly, you don’t want to spend the whole party in the kitchen! Two items that are the best to prep the night before/morning of are cocktails and sides. The more you do before the less you need to take care of when the food comes off the grill. Plus, you can participate more in drinking the fabulous cocktails rather then making them. Which is a major plus.

Rosé Sangria with White Peaches and Cucumber by Food52

Blood Orange Margarita by Punch

Dead Simple Slaw by Smitten Kitchen

Perfect Cookout Essentials

Photo Credit: PUNCH, Amazon


For more ideas, check out this free downloadable cookbook on TASTE. It’s everything.

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