Plan Your 4th of July Backyard BBQ Like a Pitmaster
Even though I know y’all don’t need an excuse to throw an epic backyard BBQ bash, the 4th of July is the perfect time to show off your grilling skills to family and friends. Celebrate with Red, White, and Blue, with some banging cocktails, melt in your mouth meats, and sweet desserts topped off with games and fun for the whole family.
LogisticsIf you want to throw the best backyard BBQ on the block, it will take planning to make sure everyone can attend. That means picking the right date and time and choosing an eye-catching invitation for the big day.
Picking the Right Day and TimeIf you're not hosting a fireworks display, your best bet is to go for a lunch or early afternoon party. Sticking to the afternoon plan will let your guests enjoy themselves without interfering with their fireworks plans.
InvitationsYour invitations will give your guests all the information they need for your party. But it's up to you if you want to go more presidential or really make a bang. You can easily use sites like Canva or Shutterfly to make and print your own invitations with numerous themed templates.
Backyard SetupTo make your 4th of July party successful, you need to consider how you will set up your backyard BBQ. Keep in mind who your guests are, and set up any kids' areas with safety in mind.
Seating and Eating PlanOnce you have an idea of the headcount, you'll need to ensure you have enough tables and chairs to accommodate everyone. This also means making sure you have enough space for all of your spread and drinks. Remember that you may not want to put all the food out at once as some will require extra refrigeration, so they don't spoil.
Fire PitEven if you use a state-of-the-art grill or smoker, no backyard BBQ is complete without a fire pit. While you could spend hundreds to install a new one before your party, we are all about saving some cash by building your own fire pit and putting the cash towards an extra keg or two.
Planning the MenuIf you’re really going to knock your 4th of July BBQ out of the park, you’ve got to plan a killer menu. You could stick to the traditional hot dogs, hamburgers, and potato salad, but where’s the fun in that? Here are some ideas to really take your party to the next level.
FoodWhen planning out the food for your backyard BBQ, there are a few things to consider: different taste preferences, heat levels, available space (your refrigerator, coolers, tables, storage, etc.), recipe complexity, and budget. Here are some of my favorite recipes to please the crowd and let your pitmaster skills shine.
Appetizers and Finger FoodsYou’ll need a few different appetizers and finger foods to keep everyone from getting hangry, and you can’t go wrong with a good queso. Grab a bag of tortilla chips, corn chips, or pita chips and serve my Smoked Chili Cheese Queso dip using my Heath Riles Beef Rub and Garlic Jalapeno Rub. While you could make this in the oven, I recommend using a pellet stove to add that extra taste of smokiness. My Jalapeno Popper Cheese Dip is another party favorite if you know your guests can handle a bit of heat.What appetizers to serve depends on the kind of meat you want to fix. I like to mix it up and serve something different from the main dish. A light option is to go with seafood such as Royal Red Shrimp. Just be sure to inform guests ahead of time if they have allergies. Other appetizers that are always a hit are Cheesy Bacon Meatball Sliders and Brisket Stuffed Peppers.
Side DishesWhen planning side dishes, you want to make sure their flavors go with your main dish. Classic side dishes like some good ol’ potato salad or jazz it up with a BLT pasta salad. If you really want to impress your guests, go for a side dish that comes straight from the pit, like some Sweet Heat Roasted Sweet Potatoes or Grilled Corn on the Cob.
Main CoursesYour main course is where your barbeque skills can really shine. To make sure you have a dish everyone enjoys, I recommend picking at least two different meats.Personally, as a BBQ fanatic, I prefer making a few good racks of ribs. These award-winning Memphis Style Dry Ribs and St Louis Ribs will get the neighborhood talking if you've got a smoker handy.Having a chicken option is always a good idea. You can always go with your basic barbeque chicken or a more complex flavor profile with some Sweet Hawaiian Chicken or Lime Chili Kabobs. Or, you could opt for the other white meat and go with Georgia Heat Boston Butt pulled pork sandwiches.DessertsWhile the barbeque is known for cooking mouthwatering meats, a true master can barbeque anything. Surprise your guests with a Grilled Peach Cobbler. Or opt for some more patriotic desserts like Apple Pie Snickerdoodles, a Red, White, and Blue Trifle, or some Patriotic Bark.
BeveragesYour BBQ may be melt off the bone delicious, but you can amplify your flavor profiles if you pair it with the right drink. You’ll want to have options for the drinkers, non-drinkers, and kids alike. Whether you choose to make a special alcoholic or virgin drink, you want to make sure it’s easy to serve and doesn’t require too much effort. Here are some of my favorites for a mid-summer barbecue.
Alcoholic OptionsIce cold beer and BBQ are basically synonymous with each other. Pairing the right combo together can elevate the taste of the entire meal, like IPAs and burgers or Brown Lagers and chicken. Check out this beer and BBQ pairing guide to help you choose, whether you prefer a common brand or a craft beer.Want something a bit fancier than your traditional keg, can, or bottle of beer? Give your guests a chance to heat things up with a spicy Michelada (Cocktail) Recipe. Or, go with this Mint & Basil Lime Cocktail + Smoked Ice Recipe for a more refreshing option.
Non-Alcoholic OptionsDon’t make your non-drinkers feel left out if you do a special alcoholic drink. They're stuck with soda, cheap punch, or water most of the time. Instead, grab a few clear pitchers and make these visually stunning versions of Sparkling Cherry Limeade and Classic Sweet Tea. This way, you can make sure all of your guests have a good time.
Entertainment IdeasEven though your finger-licking barbeque will be the star of the party, don't forget to put some thought into entertaining your guests too. With endless possibilities, here are a few to get you started.
MusicEveryone has their own taste in music, so it's good to have a bit of variety and a good Bluetooth speaker. That being said, there are some quintessential American songs to be on your playlist. Some of these songs include
- Sweet Home Alabama by Lynyrd Skynyrd
- Born in the USA by Bruce Springsteen
- Sweet Caroline by Neil Diamond
- Party in the USA by Miley Cyrus
- Fight for your right by Beastie Boys
GamesNot everyone is competitive or ready to be silly, but here are some fun backyard games for the whole family.
- Water Frisbee Fill
- Human Ring Toss
- Beach Ball Race