7 Ways to Instantly Elevate Your Next Cookout
Nothing compares to the relaxed atmosphere of a summer cookout. Good food, good weather and good people combine to create the perfect community get-together. But if you host all the time, you may be looking for ways to spice up your backyard barbecues this year.
Here are seven ways to instantly elevate your next cookout and keep everyone coming back for more.
Find a Fitting Theme
Adding a party theme is the simplest way to instantly improve your cookout. Instead of hosting a regular barbecue, make the event more memorable with new music, decorations and menu options. Summertime has many popular seasonal themes, including beach parties, island luaus, classic camping and Fourth of July.
The best theme for your cookout depends on your guests' demographics and behaviors. If you’re hosting some friends in the neighborhood, you should have a solid understanding of what themes they would like to see. A large gathering with strangers and acquaintances mixed in should have a basic theme that will resonate with a diverse audience.
Grill Something Unique
Instead of grilling burgers and hot dogs again, try something different this time and take advantage of your grill’s versatility. Don’t be afraid to add unorthodox foods to the mix that you usually don’t cook, such as lamb chops, kebabs, seafood or vegetarian options. You could even host a grilled pizza night and have everyone select their favorite toppings.
Just remember to match the entrees with the cookout’s theme. Seafood might be fitting for a beach theme, but it will feel out of place with a camping theme. Every detail must work together to have a cohesive event.
Make Your Own Summer Punch
Every cookout needs light drinks that won't be too filling before the entrees are finished. You should introduce a summer punch recipe. Punch is perfect for barbecues because you can easily serve many people and make more if needed. You can also create alcoholic and nonalcoholic versions of the recipe.
Experiment with different citrus and tropical flavors until you find a satisfying combination. You might find an idea from an unlikely source. Try an early Mint Julep recipe from a bestselling Boston cookbook that combines strawberry juice, orange juice, lemons and mint leaves to create an exotic and cool alcoholic beverage. Or, you can try these delicious beverage recipes from the pitmasters at Grill Masters Club:
- Palisade Peach Palomas
- Old Fashioned with Bacon Bourbon
- Smoked Bourbon Lemonade
- Mint & Basil Lime Cocktail with Smoked Ice
- Crimson Michelada
- The Perfect Margarita
Upgrade Your Toppings
You should also upgrade your toppings to accompany your new grilling recipes and beverages. Ketchup, mustard, onions, lettuce, tomatoes and pickles are the bare essentials. Take things up a notch with toppings like bacon, eggs, jalapeños, chili peppers, cabbage slaw and rare types of cheese.
If you’re confident in your grilling abilities, you should have no issue pushing the boundaries and providing toppings nobody has heard of before. A wide variety will allow your guests to customize their entrees to their liking. Preparing the food might be more challenging, but it will leave everyone fully satisfied and make your gathering more memorable.
Get Creative With Side Dishes
The entrees might be the main attractions, but you should also pay close attention to the side dishes. They play a key role in giving meals balanced nutrients and adding variety to the cookout’s food spread. You can add personal twists to classic sides like baked potatoes and mac n’ cheese, or you can do something new like grilled watermelon.
However, you should also provide basic side dishes for picky eaters, such as french fries and potato chips. Cookouts leave a lot of room for creativity and trying new things, but it’s still important to accommodate guests with particular tastes.
Keep Bugs Away in Style
Bugs are the sworn enemies of backyard barbecues everywhere. Keeping them away from people’s plates and drinks can be a real hassle, but not anymore. You no longer need to smoke out the bugs with a huge bonfire or a bunch of tiki torches. Instead, you can use stylish outdoor scent diffusers such as citronella candles or garden reeds.
You can cover up the food entirely with outdoor food tents. Your freshly cooked meals will be able to sit peacefully on the table without any disturbance from flies, bees, mosquitoes and other annoying insects.
Stay Cool With Frozen Desserts
Summertime cookouts are already warm enough. You don’t want to go overboard with too many baked goods like cookies and brownies. Instead, help your guests cool off at the end of the day by prioritizing frozen desserts. Stock up on popular ice cream and popsicle flavors. Go back to the basics with classic recipes such as milkshakes and root beer floats.
Frozen desserts also allow you to incorporate more healthy ingredients. For example, berries are popular toppings for parfaits, sundaes and ice cream cakes. You can add another layer of sweet flavors while making the dishes more nutritious.
Make Your Next Cookout the Best One Yet
Grilling enthusiasts are always upping the ante and adding new twists to their cookouts to make a strong impression on guests. Focus on upgrading the decor, entrees, beverages, side dishes, desserts and overall atmosphere to make your gathering stand out.
Put these ideas into action and make your next cookout the best yet so everyone will look forward to the next.