Summer may be coming to an end, but that summer feeling doesn’t have to! There’s still plenty of time to grill and spend time outdoors with family and friends. Blue Rhino is here to help you make the most of the rest of your summer! With a little prep work, you’ll be able to spend less time cooking and more time enjoying yourself. Here are some tips to help you plan a memorable cookout.
Creating the Perfect Cookout
Picture it. You’re outside with some of your favorite people. There’s laughter, conversation, and reminiscing about how some inside jokes got started. Everyone is relaxing and enjoying themselves. It’s the kind of get together you wish could go on forever.
The first step to creating a memorable backyard bash is envisioning it. What does it mean to you? Do you want to set up a big buffet? Grill a gourmet meal? Host a pool party under the stars and serve bite-sized appetizers with a signature cocktail? Whatever your perfect cookout looks like, visualize it, take some notes, and use it as a guide as you start to plan your gathering.
It All Starts with the Spread
Figuring out what type of food to serve at your party may be a little daunting. There are literally thousands of choices. If you’re struggling with what to serve, consider picking traditional items. But that doesn’t mean you have to serve the same boring old burgers with ketchup and mustard. There are ways you can spice up traditional choices to make them feel more gourmet.
Another win for traditional dishes? They’re usually family friendly. Even the pickiest eaters can’t resist an expertly grilled hotdog or burger. There are ways to amp up the flavor, though, that’ll please all foodies at your party, too.
Don’t forget about the side dishes! Serving a wide array of sides means everyone will find something they like, allowing your guests to customize their eating experience. Think of it like Thanksgiving. The turkey is the main star, but Grandma’s famous cornbread is always the first thing to go! Side dishes can be highlights of the meal, too.
Repeat after us. Never. Forget. Dessert. Got it? No matter how amazing your meal is, most people save room for something sweet. Have a few options on hand so guests can pick and choose or try a little of each dish.
Ways to Amp Up Your Meal
Playing with seasonings and sauces can introduce new flavor profiles to your traditional dishes. New taste combinations will keep guests coming back for more.
You can also switch up the way you normally cook your food. Rather than grilling those burgers, turn your grill into a faux smoker by adding some wood chips to a smoker box. Wood chips come in many flavors, including mesquite and applewood just to name a few. It may be the flavor boost you need to really set your food apart.
Don’t let your grill cool off, either. Keep the lid closed with the heat on in case you need to cook some more food. You won’t have to wait to preheat your grill again, so your feast can continue as the night carries on. The heat will also help burn off anything left from the previous cook, but It's a good practice to scrape the grill clean between courses as well.
Set the Scene
Food safety is incredibly important, especially when you’re cooking for a large group of people. Have you ever gone to a party and wondered, “How long has that been sitting out?” Your guests shouldn’t have to worry. Instead, they should feel confident eating your food, so it’s important to take food safety seriously. By taking the right steps, you can prepare many foods in advance. That way, you’re not stuck cooking while everyone else is hanging out and having a good time.
Make sure you have plenty of seating, table space, and blankets! Even though it’s still summer, the nights can get a little chilly. Fill up some baskets with blankets or sweatshirts and set them up around your yard. Encourage your guests to use them. If they’re comfortable rather than cold, they’re more likely to stay a little longer. You can also set up a propane-powered fire table or patio heater for some extra warmth. While you’re at it, don’t forget to pick up a fresh Blue Rhino for the grill!
Let’s talk about your party’s soundtrack. Music can make or break a get-together. It can fill in awkward silences when the conversation lulls, and it sets the tone for your gathering. Is your party loud and fun? Quiet and intimate? Does it have a theme? Music can help tie it all together. So, make a playlist of songs you think your guests will like, grab a portable speaker, and pretend you’re a DJ for the night. If you’re going with an upbeat playlist, consider setting up an area where guests can dance when the mood strikes.
You can also set up an outdoor movie screen and show one of the latest blockbusters. Or host a viewing party for the new hit streaming show. It’ll give your guests something to do, and who doesn’t love snuggling up with a blanket and watching the big screen under the stars?
Branch Out and Try Something New
If you’re still struggling to amp up your barbecue, say no more. Blue Rhino has some innovative recipes to share!
||Looking for new ways to prepare a baked potato? Why not make them on the grill! Not only will you end up with perfectly cooked potatoes, but you’ll also have the chance to impart some new, smokey flavor. Garlic powder adds a little punch to this recipe, too.
||These burgers are simple to make while still offering a savory bold flavor. Simple grill the patties as normal, but the fixings make all the difference here. Top your burger off with blue cheese for a rich and tangy taste when combined with the sweet smokiness of the grilled pineapple.
||Soda isn’t just for drinking. You can use it to cook with, too! Try our BBQ Cherry Cola Chicken Legs. The soda paired with the barbecue sauce in this recipe gives these chicken legs a sweet heat. Plus, the sugar in the soda allows you to caramelize the outside of the chicken legs, giving it an extra punch of flavor.
||Or, you can make Beef Bites with Peanut-Bourbon Sauce. This is a play on a traditional peanut sauce. Soy sauce, garlic, and crushed red pepper round out the flavors of these skewers. Make extra because your guests will keep coming back for more!
||If you want to try a fun new dessert, why not try Grilled Bananas! Brown sugar, butter, and cinnamon give this dish a nutty, earthy flavor that’s similar to Bananas Foster. The natural sugars in the bananas really bring out the flavor on the grill. Serve them warm with a little ice cream on the side, and you’ve got a hit!
||This recipe for White Chocolate Raspberry S’mores is a fresh twist on the classic summer treat. The creaminess of the white chocolate blends wonderfully with the tart and fruity raspberry flavor. Add a marshmallow roasted carefully over the fire pit, a couple of graham cracker squares, and be prepared for a gourmet experience!
Finally, don’t be afraid of spices! Swapping out just one ingredient can really impact your meal’s flavor. If you’re having trouble getting your spices to stick, consider adding a thin coat of olive oil to the food before coating it. You can also finish your food with a little more of the spice you started with. It really helps layer the flavor.
Whether your gathering will be big or small, Blue Rhino is honored to be a part of it! Thanks for spending your summer with us, and we hope you’ll continue making more backyard memories into the fall. Happy grilling!