When the weather outside is looking perfect for a barbecue, you don’t need to worry about being overly prepared beforehand because there are lots of easy party foods that you can cook outdoors.
Think of the barbecue grill as your best friend in this case because you can cook almost anything on it. Once you’ve chosen your easy menu, run down to the nearest store and pick up all the ingredients that you need.
Then, create the party foods and let your grill work its magic to help you throw the best last minute backyard party.
Below are 15 ideas for some of the easiest party foods that you can cook outdoors to turn your spontaneous gathering into a barbecuing dream.
Easy Party Foods – Main Dishes
You should start with some main dishes for your barbecue, which typically involve some kind of meat. Be sure to have some vegetarian main dishes available too so that all your guests have something to eat.
Ribs and Watermelon
One of the best meat and fruit combinations is definitely ribs with a slice of watermelon, and you can whip that up easily enough on a grill.
Grilled ribs need a lot of attention, though, because you’ll need to hover over them a lot with your tongs to make sure that they cook just right and don’t get done on one side more than the other.
For a stronger taste, place your ribs inside a tight aluminum foil package with some apple juice and allow it to soak in. The watermelon is, luckily, easier to manage and takes a lot less time to grill.
It should feel softer and have slight grill marks on it when it’s ready. The two go well together as a party food, especially when grilled.
Lemon and Herb Chicken
Grilled chicken is also a barbecue staple that all meat eaters will enjoy, but adding some extra flavor with a squeeze of lemon juice and an herb of your choice will make it even more enjoyable.
Some of the best herbs to pair with lemon chicken are garlic, paprika, oregano, parsley, sage, and thyme. You can choose one or add a few.
When serving lemon and herb chicken, you could slice it up small for people to pick up with sides, or you could leave the chicken breasts uncut and present them with a colorful accompaniment of chopped tomatoes and lettuce.
Pop a lemon slice on the top for extra decoration and the chance for people to squeeze on more flavor.
Grilled sausages are an absolute staple for any outdoor party involving a barbecue, but you can jazz this dish up and make it into an appealing quick party food.
Mix up some honey with chilli flakes and soy sauce, then glaze the sausages and put them on the grill. You should grill them as you would plain sausages, turning them to brown both sides.
When your sausages are done, they should look noticeably barbecued and have a shiny honey glaze on them. Serve them on a bed of lettuce leaves for decoration and allow your guests to help themselves.
You can also use this honey glaze method on chicken wings as well, should you need another quick dish.
One great and flexible option for your vegetarian guests is to grill some delicious non-meat burgers. These won’t take too long at all to cook, and you can serve a variety of tasty toppings for guests to add themselves.
The barbecue grill will give your vegetarian burgers the ultimate smoky flavor and a great texture.
Some toppings that you can have available are cheese, lettuce, tomato, red onions, pickles, and coleslaw.
Giving guests the freedom to construct their own burgers allows them to eat what they like and also takes the pressure off you a bit more, so you can spend more time enjoying the party and cooking other foods.
This is another non-meat option that is easy to barbecue and tasty to enjoy.
Season the salmon with some salt and pepper and then grill it over high heat, turning the pieces over regularly enough for them to be thoroughly grilled on both sides.
The grilled salmon should be soft and slightly charred, enough to give some extra flavor.
Grilled salmon is best served as an easy party food with a bit of garnish, such as a slice of lemon and some grilled vegetables or a side salad.
Though grilled salmon isn’t an option for vegetarians, it is good for those who don’t enjoy meat, or just those who would like a break from the meat options on the menu.
Asparagus and Halloumi Skewers
Another delicious vegetarian main option for party food are asparagus and halloumi skewers. All you need to do is grill some asparagus spears and thick slices of halloumi.
Put them on the barbecue already on the skewers together so that you pack in all the flavor together and grill it all the same way.
Once you can see grill marks on the asparagus and halloumi, remove the skewers from the grill and organize them neatly on plates.
Then, squeeze a little bit of lemon juice over them and add a tiny sprinkling of mint garnish for a final burst of flavor. Then you’re ready to serve them to your guests, making sure that the skewers have cooled down before people touch them.
You can grill potatoes if you choose, but baking large potatoes allows you to accompany them with a range of toppings and sides.
Butter is always a good choice, but you can also provide baked beans, salsa, chopped onions, cheese, tuna mayonnaise, and bacon. Wrap the potatoes up in foil, then place them on the grill.
They should take approximately 50 minutes to bake and be piping hot, especially with the foil insulating them. Serve the baked potatoes on one platter and have the sides as options in bowls nearby.
You could leave the potatoes wrapped in foil after taking them off the barbecue to keep them warm for your guests, which will avoid you having to heat them up again later on.
Easy Party Foods – Side Dishes & Accompaniments
With all your main dishes decided, it’s time to turn to side dishes. These can be eaten with the main dishes, or they can be other party food options for people to sample if they fancy trying a bit of everything.
This is one of the most common accompaniments for barbecued dishes and it is super easy to make. You can choose to leave the skins on or off the potatoes for this.
First, chop and boil the potatoes, making sure to drain off all the water when they’re done to prevent the potato salad from becoming soggy.
If you want a little extra flavor, sprinkle some salt into the water while the potatoes boil.
To assemble the salad, you’ll need eggs, mayo, and onion, though you can add extra ingredients for flavor, such as bacon, celery, parsley, spring onions, and pickles.
The potatoes should be tossed with some vinegar in a pan before you mix up your chosen ingredients.
For a stronger taste, go with apple cider vinegar. Then, mix all the ingredients up, ensuring a creamy texture, and your potato salad is ready to be served.
A barbecue grill works excellently with vegetables as well as meat, so grilled vegetables are something that you can easily spruce up and serve elegantly on a platter for your party guests.
Some of the best vegetables for grilling are eggplant, mushrooms, zucchini, bell peppers, and red onion. Sprinkle a little salt and pepper over them and grill until you can see that they’re charred.
For some bonus creativity, display your grilled vegetables on skewers. These will look colorful, fun, and showcase all the different vegetables.
You’ll also be able to grill other vegetables on a barbecue, such as potatoes, carrots, parsnips, and broccoli, all of which can also be enjoyed as side dishes with grilled meat.
This side dish takes little time and effort to prepare. Plus, it’s one that almost everyone will enjoy after they’ve finished their other dishes.
And even better, you can slice up any fruit you like into the salad and organize it by color or type to improve your presentation. Some common fruits that you can use include apples, oranges, strawberries, raspberries, bananas, grapes, blueberries, kiwis, and peaches.
To preserve your fruit salad throughout the party, pour a little fresh fruit juice or sugar syrup onto the fruit to keep it moist and tasty.
You’ll secure the summery vibe that every good backyard party has with a delicious fruit salad, and it’ll give everyone a nice, light option to turn to after tucking into various grilled meats and other side dishes.
Grilled Corn On The Cob
Another simple yet tasty accompaniment that you can whip up fairly easily using a barbecue grill outside is grilled corn on the cob.
You can choose to wrap the corn up in aluminum foil and turn them on the grill while wrapped until they are tender and slightly charred, or you can grill them bare.
Some people choose to season these with butter, another type of dressing, or some herbs, but they work just as well plain with that slightly char-grilled taste that makes them distinctly barbecued.
If you’re unsure about whether or not to season your cobs, have some dressings and herbs available for your guests to add themselves if they choose.
Garlic and Herb Mushrooms
As with the grilled vegetables, some garlic and herb mushrooms, grilled to perfection, will look great as a party food option when served on skewers for guests.
Season the mushrooms with some garlic and then some herbs of your choice (some good matching options are parsley, thyme, and rosemary), barbecuing them until you can see grill marks.
The mushrooms will be softened and tender, perfect for skewering. Serving your party food on skewers allows guests to try a lot of one side dish and boosts your presentation.
If you’ve perfectly seasoned the mushrooms then they’ll stand up as an excellent dish all on their own.
Desserts – For Your Last-Minute Backyard Party
For dessert, you can relax a bit more because everyone will likely be easier to please. Having some sweet options available is a nice way to end the party after everyone has enjoyed your mains and sides.
You might not think that your barbeque grill will work well for making dessert, but grilled bananas are something that you can get cooked in no time.
Simply buy a bunch of bananas, slit them open, and lay them flesh-side down on the grill. You want firm bananas for this because overripe bananas will turn to mush.
Use some butter to avoid them sticking to the grill. Once your bananas are looking suitably grilled, you can choose what you want to serve them with.
Some people tuck chocolate into the grilled banana flesh to melt it, but other choose to enjoy this grilled treat with a scoop of ice cream or some whipped cream.
You can have plenty of options fresh in your fridge to bring out.
You won’t need to use your barbecue grill to make these, but they can be whipped up prior to the party’s beginning and then be left the cook as the party goes on and you serve your mains and sides.
To make brownies, you’ll need to whisk up a mixture of flour, sugar, butter, chocolate, cocoa powder, and egg.
Leave the mixture to cook in your oven for around 25-35 minutes, checking on them occasionally. By the time you’re ready to start serving dessert, your homemade brownies will be ready for people to eat.
Provide some ice cream and fresh fruit to go with them for the ultimate dessert.
Much like grilled bananas, grilled pineapple is an easy sweet party food to whip up on the barbecue in no time at all. You can choose to either grill a whole long slice of pineapple, or to chop the slices up into thick chunks.
Season the pineapple with some cinnamon and brown sugar before you put them on the barbecue. Grill until pineapple starts turning slightly brown and the brown sugar and cinnamon caramelizing into a glaze.
You want to be able to see grill marks on the fruit, but don’t leave it to grill for too long because you risk losing some of the sweet, juicy flavor.
This grilled pineapple can be served alone, or it can be paired with some ice cream or whipped cream.
Enjoy Your Party
With those 15 party food ideas on the menu, your spontaneous backyard barbecue will run smoothly and allow you to spend time having fun without worrying about feeding your guests.
Last minute party prepping doesn’t have to be difficult, especially when it’s so easy to make typical grilled dishes even more flavorful.
With a party of happy guests, you’ll be a more relaxed host, and you’ll definitely be tempted to throw another last-minute party to showcase your delicious dishes.