What Do You Serve At A BBQ?

Are you ready to fire up the grill and gather your friends and family for a delicious backyard BBQ? As the aroma of sizzling meat fills the air, you may find yourself wondering, “What do you serve at a BBQ?” From mouthwatering burgers and hot dogs to tangy barbecue chicken and smoky ribs, the possibilities are endless. Join us as we explore the delectable world of BBQ foods, offering you a range of options to satisfy every palate and make your next outdoor gathering a memorable one.

What Do You Serve At A BBQ?

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Barbecue Basics

When it comes to hosting a barbecue, the key is to have a variety of options to cater to everyone’s taste buds. Whether you’re a meat lover or a vegetarian, it’s important to offer a range of choices so that no one feels left out. In addition to the main dishes, side dishes, condiments, and bread and buns are essential to complete the barbecue experience. Let’s explore each of these categories and discover the delicious options you can include at your next barbecue gathering.

Meat Options

When it comes to meat options, there is an abundance of choices that are sure to satisfy every carnivorous craving. From classic favorites to more gourmet selections, here are some delicious meat options you can consider for your barbecue:


No barbecue is complete without juicy burgers sizzling on the grill. You can opt for traditional beef patties, or mix things up with options like turkey burgers, chicken burgers, or even veggie burgers for those who prefer a plant-based alternative.

Hot dogs

Hot dogs are a nostalgic summer staple that appeals to people of all ages. Whether you choose classic beef franks or opt for a gourmet selection like bratwurst or chorizo, make sure to have a variety of toppings available to customize each delicious dog.


Sausages are another versatile and flavorful option to consider. From Italian sausages to spicy chorizo or traditional bratwurst, grilling sausages brings out their smoky and delicious flavors. Serve them on buns with your favorite condiments for a complete meal.


For those looking for a premium grilling experience, steaks are an excellent choice. Whether you prefer ribeye, New York strip, or filet mignon, nothing beats a perfectly grilled steak. Remember to marinate your steaks beforehand to enhance their flavor and tenderness.


Tender, fall-off-the-bone ribs are a barbecue favorite. Whether you choose baby back ribs, spare ribs, or beef ribs, slow-cooked on the grill with your favorite barbecue sauce, they’re sure to be a hit.


grilled chicken is a healthier alternative that doesn’t compromise on taste. Whether you choose chicken breasts, drumsticks, or wings, marinating them beforehand will infuse them with flavors and keep them juicy on the grill.


Don’t forget about seafood lovers! Grilled shrimp, fish fillets, or even whole fish can make a fantastic addition to your barbecue spread. Marinating them with herbs and spices and grilling them to perfection will create a delightful and nutritious option.

Vegetarian Options

It’s important to cater to all dietary preferences, including those who prefer vegetarian options. Vegetarian options are not only delicious but also capture the essence of a barbecue. Here are some mouthwatering vegetarian options you can incorporate into your menu:

Veggie burgers

Vegetarian or vegan patties made with black beans, lentils, quinoa, or other plant-based ingredients have come a long way and can rival traditional meat patties. Offer a variety of toppings and buns, and your guests won’t miss meat at all.

Grilled vegetables

Grilling vegetables brings out their natural sweetness and adds a smoky flavor. You can brush them with a marinade or simply season with salt and pepper. Popular choices include peppers, zucchini, eggplant, asparagus, and corn on the cob. Skewering them makes them easy to handle and adds a fun touch to the presentation.

Portobello mushrooms

Portobello mushrooms have a meaty texture that makes them a great substitute in dishes that traditionally use meat. Marinate them before grilling to enhance their savory flavors, and serve them as a standalone option or as a burger alternative.

Tofu skewers

Tofu is an excellent source of protein for vegetarians and vegans, and grilling it turns it into a delicious barbecue treat. Cut tofu into cubes, marinate it in your favorite sauce, and skewer it with vegetables for a satisfying and flavorful option.

Side Dishes

Side dishes complement the main attractions and provide a range of flavors and textures that enhance the overall barbecue experience. Here are some classic and crowd-pleasing side dish options to consider:


Crunchy and refreshing, coleslaw is a popular side dish that pairs well with grilled meats. Whether you like it creamy or tangy with vinegar, coleslaw adds a pleasant contrast to the richness of grilled flavors.

Potato salad

Potato salad is a classic barbecue side dish loved by many. Mix it up with your choice of mayonnaise or dress it with a tangy vinaigrette. Add in some diced pickles, hard-boiled eggs, and herbs for extra flavor and texture.

Baked beans

Sweet, smoky, and slightly tangy, baked beans are a must-have at any barbecue. Slow-cooked with bacon, onions, and a touch of molasses, they add a comforting and hearty element to your spread.

Corn on the cob

Grilled corn on the cob is a summer favorite that can be enjoyed by both meat lovers and vegetarians. Slathered with butter and sprinkled with salt, it’s a simple yet delicious side dish that perfectly complements any barbecue menu.

Grilled vegetables

In addition to being a vegetarian option, grilled vegetables also make a fantastic side dish. As mentioned earlier, grilling vegetables brings out their natural flavors and caramelizes their sugars, creating a delightful combination of smoky and sweet.

Macaroni and cheese

Who can resist the creamy and cheesy goodness of macaroni and cheese? This beloved comfort food can be baked to perfection, topped with breadcrumbs, and served as a hearty side dish that kids and adults alike will enjoy.

Green salad

For a lighter option, consider serving a fresh green salad alongside the grilled meats and other side dishes. Tossed with your favorite dressing and topped with a variety of vegetables, it adds a refreshing element and balance to the meal.

What Do You Serve At A BBQ?

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Condiments are the finishing touch that adds an extra burst of flavor to your grilled creations. From classics to more unique options, here are some condiments you can include in your barbecue spread:


A staple in every kitchen, ketchup is a must-have for burgers, hot dogs, and sausages. Its tangy and slightly sweet flavor complements the grilled meats perfectly.


Whether you prefer classic yellow mustard, spicy Dijon, or grainy mustard, it adds a tangy and slightly pungent kick that pairs well with all kinds of grilled meats.


Creamy and rich, mayonnaise is an essential condiment for burgers, sandwiches, and salads alike. You can also mix it with herbs or spices to create unique flavored aiolis to elevate your dishes.

BBQ sauce

No barbecue is complete without a delicious barbecue sauce. From sweet and smoky to spicy and tangy, there are endless varieties to choose from or even create your own signature sauce.

Hot sauce

For those who like a bit of heat, hot sauce is a must. Whether it’s a classic Tabasco, a mild Sriracha, or a complex chili paste, hot sauce adds a fiery kick that can take your grilled dishes to the next level.


Sweet or dill, relish adds a burst of flavor and a tangy crunch. It’s perfect for hot dogs or sausages and can even be used to elevate sandwiches or salads.


Fresh and vibrant, salsa is a versatile condiment that goes beyond just accompanying tortilla chips. Whether you prefer a mild tomato-based salsa or a spicy fruit salsa, it can add a refreshing and zesty element to your barbecue dishes.


Crunchy and sour, pickles add a delightful tang to your grilled creations. Whether you go for classic dill pickles, bread and butter pickles, or even pickled jalapenos, they all bring a unique flavor to your barbecue experience.


Cheese is not only a topping option but also a condiment in its own right. Whether melted on top of burgers or sprinkled on hot dogs, the ooey-gooey goodness of cheese adds a rich and savory touch.


Sliced onions can be grilled to perfection, transforming them into a delicious topping or condiment for your barbecue dishes. They add a sweet and caramelized flavor that complements the smoky taste of the grilled meats.

Bread and Buns

Last, but certainly not least, the bread and buns are an essential component of any barbecue spread. They are not only the vessels that hold your delicious grilled creations but also serve as a vehicle for the condiments and flavors to meld together. Here are some bread and bun options to consider:

Hamburger buns

Soft and slightly sweet, hamburger buns are the classic choice for burgers. Opt for traditional white buns or try whole wheat or brioche buns for added flavor and texture.

Hot dog buns

Hot dog buns come in a variety of shapes and sizes. From the classic split-top buns to pretzel buns or even baguette-style buns, choose the one that suits your personal preference and complements the hot dogs you’re serving.

French bread

French bread can be sliced and toasted on the grill to serve as the base for sandwiches or as an accompaniment to your barbecued meats. Its crusty exterior and soft interior are perfect for holding all the flavorful ingredients together.

Garlic bread

Adding a garlicky twist to your bread options, garlic bread pairs well with grilled meats and adds a delicious aroma to your barbecue spread. Simply spread butter mixed with garlic and herbs onto slices of bread and toast them on the grill until golden and fragrant.


Cornbread is a classic Southern side that is both savory and slightly sweet. It can be baked in a cast-iron skillet or muffin tin and served as individual portions alongside your grilled dishes.


Soft rolls, such as dinner rolls or slider buns, make a great alternative to the larger buns. They’re perfect for serving mini burgers or pulled pork sliders, allowing your guests to enjoy a variety of flavors without feeling too full.

What Do You Serve At A BBQ?

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To quench your guests’ thirst, it’s important to have a selection of refreshing beverages available. From non-alcoholic options to adult beverages, here are some beverage choices to consider:

Soft drinks

Stock up on a variety of soft drinks, such as cola, lemon-lime soda, or ginger ale, to cater to different tastes. Providing both regular and diet options ensures that everyone can find something they enjoy.

Iced tea

A classic choice for warm weather, iced tea can be served sweetened or unsweetened, with or without lemon. Offering flavored tea options, such as peach or mint, can add an extra refreshing twist.


Cool and tangy, lemonade is a crowd-pleasing beverage that can be made with fresh lemons for a homemade touch. You can also experiment with different fruit flavors like strawberry or raspberry lemonade for added variety.


Beer is a quintessential barbecue beverage that pairs well with grilled foods. Offer a selection of light and refreshing beers, as well as craft or local brews, for your guests to choose from.


For those who prefer wine, having a variety of reds, whites, and rosés available ensures that everyone can find a wine they enjoy. Opt for lighter, chilled wines for a refreshing experience.


Sangria is a fruity and refreshing option that adds a touch of elegance to your barbecue gathering. Serve a red or white sangria with a variety of fresh fruits to create a beautiful and flavorful drink.


If you want to kick things up a notch, consider serving some cocktails at your barbecue. Classic options like margaritas, mojitos, or even a signature barbecue cocktail can add a fun and festive element to the event.


No meal is complete without something sweet to end on a high note. From light and refreshing to rich and decadent, here are some dessert options that will satisfy everyone’s sweet tooth:

Fruit salad

A refreshing and healthy option, fruit salad is a light and colorful way to end your barbecue. Choose a variety of seasonal fruits and consider adding a twist with a drizzle of honey or a sprinkle of mint.

Ice cream

A classic and indulgent treat, ice cream is loved by many. Serve a variety of flavors and provide an array of toppings to create customizable sundaes. Consider making it more interesting by offering unique flavors like lavender or salted caramel.


Pies are a crowd-pleasing dessert option that can be made with a variety of fillings. From traditional fruit pies like apple or cherry to custard pies like key lime or chocolate, there’s a pie for everyone’s taste.


Cookies are a portable and versatile dessert option that can be easily enjoyed at a barbecue. Choose from classics like chocolate chip or peanut butter, or get creative with unique flavors like lemon lavender or salted caramel.


Rich and fudgy brownies are a chocolate lover’s dream. Serve them plain or add a twist with toppings like nuts, caramel, or even a scoop of ice cream.


If you’re looking to add a nostalgic touch to your barbecue, consider setting up a s’mores station. Provide graham crackers, chocolate bars, and marshmallows for your guests to build their own gooey and delicious treats.

What Do You Serve At A BBQ?

Grilling Tips

To ensure that your barbecue is a success, here are some essential grilling tips to keep in mind:

Preheating the grill

Preheating the grill is crucial to ensure even cooking and prevent sticking. Heat the grill to the desired temperature before placing any food on it.

Marinating the meat

Marinating meat not only adds flavor but also helps tenderize it. Plan ahead and marinate your meat for at least 30 minutes to several hours, depending on the recipe, to achieve optimal results.

Using the right heat

Different foods require different levels of heat. Use direct heat for quick-cooking items like burgers or hot dogs, and indirect heat for slower-cooking items like ribs or whole chickens.

Grilling times

Timing is key when it comes to grilling. Use a meat thermometer to ensure that your meats are cooked to the desired doneness. It’s better to slightly undercook them and let them rest, as they will continue to cook from the residual heat.

Grilling safety

Safety should always be a priority when grilling. Keep a safe distance from the hot grill, use long-handled tools to prevent burns, and never leave the grill unattended. Also, have a fire extinguisher or a bucket of sand nearby in case of emergencies.

Variations by Region

Barbecue styles vary across different regions, each with their own unique flavors and techniques. Here are some popular barbecue styles from across the United States:

Texas-style BBQ

Texas-style barbecue is known for its emphasis on beef and the slow smoking process. Brisket, ribs, and sausages are the stars of the show, seasoned with a dry rub and smoked for hours over a mix of mesquite and oak wood.

Kansas City-style BBQ

Kansas City-style barbecue is known for its sweet and tangy flavors. It features a variety of meats, including ribs, chicken, and burnt ends, all slathered with a thick and tomato-based barbecue sauce.

Carolina-style BBQ

Carolina-style barbecue is all about the pork. It is often slow-cooked over wood, typically hickory, and served pulled or chopped. Two distinct styles exist in the region: Eastern-style, which is vinegar and pepper-based, and Western-style, which adds a tomato-based sauce to the mix.

Memphis-style BBQ

Memphis-style barbecue is characterized by its focus on pork ribs and pulled pork. The ribs are typically dry-rubbed with a mix of spices before being slow-cooked over charcoal or wood, and the pulled pork is served with a tangy and slightly sweet barbecue sauce.

Hawaiian-style BBQ

Hawaiian-style barbecue, also known as “Huli Huli,” features a combination of Asian and Hawaiian flavors. It often includes marinated teriyaki chicken or pork, grilled pineapples, and a variety of tropical sauces.

No matter what style you choose, incorporating these regional variations can add excitement and diversity to your barbecue menu.

In conclusion, hosting a successful barbecue involves catering to various preferences and dietary choices. By offering a wide range of meat and vegetarian options, as well as delicious side dishes, condiments, and desserts, you can create a memorable experience for all your guests. Remember to follow grilling tips to ensure perfectly cooked meats, and consider adding regional flavors to make your barbecue unique. So fire up the grill, gather your friends and family, and enjoy the delicious feast of flavors that is a quintessential barbecue.

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