BBQ Cooking Tips - Party Cooking Tips That Will Give You Time To Actually Enjoy Your Guests + A Printable Menu Planner

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Welcome to my BBQ cooking tips page! Are ya hungry for some party cooking tips that will maximize efficiency and give you more time with your guests?!

top BBQ cooking tips

We have BBQs on the regular now and just like my tattoo routine emerged, so did the backyard party routine. Here's how we stay organized so we can focus on our party goers and my top 5 BBQ cooking tips. Enjoy!

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Top 5 BBQ Cooking Tips That Will Make Your Backyard Parties Enjoyable & Impressive

It's important to say that our BBQs are eating marathons. We typically host a backyard party starting in the early afternoon around 2pm and go into the night...easily pretty late. Time flies when you're having fun. :)

What can I say? We love food, we love music, we love good company and we love to party! Therefore, we've got this party routine down and here are my top 5 BBQ cooking tips. Happy grillin!

BBQ Cooking Tips
1. Plan the menu.

A few weeks before a planned backyard BBQ, my husband and I will discuss what kinds of things we'd like to serve. We usually start with the meat and then fill in the rest with side dishes, vegetables, appetizers and desserts.

It usually goes something like this. First, we pick each course's main dish:

  • Ribs
  • Whole Chicken
  • Burgers
  • Shrimp

Then we add a veggie or a side dish or two to each main dish:

  • Ribs with roasted zucchini and potato salad
  • Whole chicken with smoked egg salad and honey-brie bread
  • Cheeseburgers with potato chips
  • Grilled shrimp with appetizer platter of cheese, pepperoni, hummus, crackers, olives and pickles
  • Cookies and donuts for dessert

Boom. We have a menu and can create our grocery list accordingly.

**By the way, here's a little bonus tip that may seem obvious but makes a huge difference: EVERY SINGLE RECIPE WE MAKE IS THE EASIEST ONE WE CAN FIND.**

BBQ Cooking Tips
2. Schedule the courses.

We used to just put the courses in order of how we'd like to serve them and let it flow naturally from there, but we ended up having a few parties in which the main course came out past 10pm.

It's very easy to get distracted talking to party guests, dancing to the music or perhaps getting sucked into a game of flip cup (because we have to show the guy who's never played it how it's done and relive our college years to make sure we still have 'it').

So...we started scheduling when each course will be served to make sure we stay on track and feed our party guests dinner at a reasonable hour.

This is what it looks like:

  • Upon arrival (2pm): Grilled shrimp with appetizer platter of cheese, pepperoni, hummus, crackers, olives and pickles
  • 2nd Course (3pm): Cheeseburgers with potato chips
  • 3rd Course (5pm): Whole chicken with smoked egg salad and honey-brie bread
  • 4th Course (7:30pm): Ribs with roasted zucchini and potato salad
  • 5th Course (9pm): Cookies and donuts for dessert

To make it even cooler, we created a menu and displayed it at the party. This way everyone could see what they were in for and pace themselves accordingly. You can get this menu printable for free below!

BBQ Cooking Tips
3. Cook the night before.

Like I said previously, every recipe we make is the simplest one we can find with the fewest ingredients possible (which also saves us money). However, we found that prepping and cooking everything the day of the BBQ took up too much time. Thus, one of my top BBQ cooking tips is to cook as much as you can the night before.

This is how we applied this tip to the menu above, and this is everything we did the night before:

  • set up appetizer platter: cut and arrange cheese, roll and arrange pepperoni, spoon hummus into small serving dish, cut and add olives and pickles, cover and refrigerate
  • cheeseburgers: form patties, arrange them on tray and stack them using wax paper as dividers, cover and refrigerate
  • roast whole chickens, let them cool, cut each into 8 pieces, put in aluminum tin, cover and refrigerate (QUICK NOTE: We use a disposable aluminum tin and then can put the whole thing on the grill the next day to heat up. It's so easy!)
  • make smoked egg salad, put in bowl, cover and refrigerate
  • marinate ribs in an aluminum tin, cover and refrigerate
  • make potato salad, put in bowl, cover and refrigerate

Getting all of those things done the night before, drastically lessens the amount of tasks to do during the BBQ and definitely gets a lot of the cleaning up out of the way.

Here's what was left for the day of (other than the obvious stuff like putting the potato chips in a serving bowl):

Lastly, when you spread out the day-of tasks to go with when each course is served, it really isn't that much time away from your guests.

BBQ Cooking Tips
4. Delegate and don't be afraid to ask for help.

Hey, you're hosting the dang thing so don't try to do EVERYTHING on your own. Delegate and ask for help. This is a party, and people don't mind lending a hand.

First, delegate tasks to those in your household. My husband and I split up the tasks involved in hosting a successful BBQ, and it's fantastic and so much fun when it's a real team effort.

He's the big picture guy, so he usually comes up with the main dishes and finds these really awesome recipes like the one for the smoked egg salad. He is also the grill master, so he mans the Traeger and the Weber at the same time on the day of the BBQ.

I am responsible for filling in by making the side dishes and cleaning up the kitchen.

We do the night-before cooking together and make a party out of it, so it's an absolute blast. We also do the grocery shopping together as well as setting up the backyard for a party and putting everything away.

Second, ask your guests to bring something. It doesn't have to be much. In fact, we like to keep the requests to a minimum but the little things really count.

We typically ask our guests to bring the following:

  • Drinks - We include in the Facebook event or Evite for our guests to bring whatever it is they want to drink. We provide a bunch of beer but since drink preferences vary between beers, wines, liquors and non-alcoholics, we encourage everyone to bring what they like.
  • Ice - There are the party guests that like to do a little more than bring their own drinks, so when they ask we request a bag of ice (which is always helpful because we don't have a large freezer and can't hold extra ice).
  • Dessert - Also for the guests who want to contribute more than their beverage choice, we ask that they bring a dessert. We focus on the savory foods and dessert is usually an after thought, so a box of cookies or donuts to put out at the end is convenient.

Third, ask for help during the party. Ain't no shame in that game! I usually ask the first guests to arrive (who show up right at the start time which I love because it means they're excited for the day's festivities) to help me set up the last bit of stuff in the backyard like standing up the folding table and bringing out the chairs.

Throughout the party, if I need help I ask for it. Trust me, all of your party guests are excited to lend a helping hand for little things that need to get done and it saves you time.

Here are some examples of things I ask for help with:

  • running food ready to be served down stairs to the backyard
  • bringing empty serving platters or anything else that is no longer of use to the kitchen 
  • taking a full garbage or recycling bag to the proper receptacle

BBQ Cooking Tips
5. Have fun with it.

Lastly, let's round out the BBQ cooking tips with something open-ended and up for interpretation. This is your party! Do whatever you want and have fun with it.

We like to create playlists of awesome music, we like to serve course after course of delectable food, we like to party into the night and give our guests a satisfying, vacation-like experience so that they leave with full stomachs, new friends and happy thoughts.

One of the things we recently did was create, print and post a menu that our guests could see. It was great because our party-goers had an idea of how much food was in their future and pace themselves accordingly.

This is the menu we printed out and you can get it for free by signing up for my newsletter using the form below.

bbq cooking tips & printable menu planner

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