Ultimate Summer BBQ: Recipes, Sides, Ideas, and Activities

Ultimate Summer BBQ: Recipes, Sides, Ideas, and Activities with family enjoying bbq in background

There’s something magical about the tangy, sweet flavor of BBQ sauce. It doesn’t matter if my yard is blanketed in a foot of snow or if my kids are shrieking as they dart between the droplets of a sprinkler. There’s no “wrong time” to have a BBQ. Okay, so when there’s snow on the ground, maybe we’ll be having a BBQ oven bake rather than using the grill, but still.

Even so, it’s summer. So let’s take a break from all of our home and garden projects (or give ourselves a deadline to be done with the latest project, right?) and enjoy some summer BBQ recipes.

Summer BBQ Recipes: Main Dishes

BBQ season is always here (even when our deck could use some new paint) so let’s make sure we’ve got a huge list of BBQ recipes, side dishes, ideas, and activities so that yours is the best BBQ in the neighborhood.

Let’s start with the main dish, shall we? Because this is going to set the tone for the whole meal, so let’s go over some great main dish recipes. Will you be hosting a BBQ with meat? Or are you going for the tofu burger option?


If you’re serving meat, why not spice things up? Perhaps you could try alternating some of these:

I wish I could try that last recipe, but sadly, I’m allergic to pork. Which is sad on so many levels, because my husband loves pork. He’s a good sport, though, and says that pulled chicken is just as tasty.

In any case, let’s make sure you’ve got a few more-traditional BBQ ideas, too, shall we?

And if you’re wanting to go meatless at your BBQ, props. I found this very-promising looking recipe! That way, you can enjoy the sweet smells of summer BBQ, too.

Phew! That’s a handful BBQ recipes so far, and all we’ve covered is the main dish. And we’ve still got the rest of the event to plan. But first, I’ve got some other ideas for you.

Prepare-ahead BBQ Recipes and Meal Ideas

Didn’t see what you wanted in the above ideas? No problem. Here’s a few of my other favorite mega-BBQ lists. That way, you’re sure to find the exact idea you want for your BBQ party.

The idea of a make-ahead freezer BBQ meal is especially awesome. I mean, who wouldn’t want a pre-assembled BBQ? Those are some of my favorite ideas for Sundays when we’re hungry, hangry, and ready to eat already.

Clean-eating Recipes

Need something a little healthier for your shindig? Here’s some ways to BBQ healthier – for both main and side dishes.

Clean eating doesn’t have to be gross, y’all. In fact, it’s supposed to be delicious.

Perfect BBQ Side Dishes

Okay, so you’ve got the main dish (or dishes) planned. Now, let’s make sure you’ve got some tasty sides to enhance the event. Bonus points if you know how to compliment and/or offset flavors, tastes, and textures for a meal that would make a chef smile.

When we plan an event, we try to have a good range of dishes. That way, there’s something every one of our picky eaters will enjoy. In any case, here’s some great ideas to use as sides.

And remember how I mentioned those picky eaters? It’s totally cool to use after-school snack ideas as a side dish.

For a more traditional BBQ side dish, don’t forget the beans.

This last side dish is not a traditional side dish by any means. But, we served it at one family event and it was a huge hit. It even paired surprisingly well with the BBQ sandwiches.

Drinks and Desserts

Because why not, right? There’s something about a BBQ that seems to say you need to add more sugar to the event. Or maybe it’s just me… In any case, we like to have a treat at the end. Sometimes, it’s just a popsicle. Other times, it’s brownies from a mix. But sometimes? It’s something absolutely amazing. So here’s a few “something amazings” for your BBQ.

Other Great Resources for your shindig

Okay, so now that we’re all in BBQ preparation overload, it would be easy to forget what we’ve got planned. So be sure to bookmark this page so that you don’t lose any of your ideas. Then, here’s a couple of last resources for you.


Get Ready for Your Backyard BBQ:

Kimberly C. Starr

I'm a ginger who loves reading, eating, being a nurse, spending time with my family, and writing about it all. I believe humor is the best medicine, followed very closely by chocolate and tacos. To read more about me, click here.

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