Oh, for the love of barbecue season! Grilling and outdoor dining are the highlight of our summers on the ranch in Montana. Barbecues are just always a good idea and a really flexible, stress-free and crowd-pleasing type of meal with friends.
Whether you’re grilling up juicy burgers (keep reading for more on my faves) or cooking up a veggie dish, there’s something special about enjoying a meal outside in the sunshine.
Just make sure you check people’s dietary preferences before you start designing your menu – believe me, I’ve made the mistake of grilling fish only to find out one of my diners is allergic!
So get ready to fire up the grill, and let’s get cooking!
First up, let’s talk about grilling techniques for outdoor dining
One of the most important things to keep in mind when grilling is to start with a clean grill. Make sure to clean the grates thoroughly before cooking to prevent sticking and ensure even cooking.
If possible, don’t wait to clean the grill before you’re ready to cook. It’s so much easier to clean the grill the day after you use it so it’s ready for an impromptu BBQ.
Another essential technique is to preheat the grill for at least 10-15 minutes before cooking. I like to spray the grill before I turn it on so it’s greased and ready.
Now, let’s get to the good stuff – the recipes!
If you’re looking for something a bit more indulgent, try making homemade burgers. My delicious handmade, veggie-filled beef burgers are always a big hit. And for an extra-special touch, serve with Sriracha Mayo, sliced red onion, sliced tomatoes, butter lettuce, pickles and, yup, ketchup, if you like.
We often forget about the non-meat eaters when planning a BBQ so it’s nice to offer a fish dish for the pescatarians in your group. I love this super delicious sesame-crusted tuna salad. This seared dish offers an upscale tuna salad that looks elegant but takes only a few minutes to sear and set the tuna. No mess, no fuss!
The dressing has a kick with the combination of cilantro, jalapeno, lime juice and soy sauce which pairs really well with the tuna. Plus the sesame seeds add a nice fancy crunch to the meal.
Have vegetarians coming? Don’t worry – I’ve got you covered!
My crispy BBQ cauliflower wings can be cooked in the oven or air fryer (I like to keep the meat preparation completely separate from the vegetarian options).
While the grill is firing for your meat and fish, making a dish indoors speeds up the cook time and even more importantly, the indoor cooking can happen in advance so all you have to do is heat up those veggie dishes.
And I have a whole ton of other delicious vegetarian and outdoor dining menu options on the blog, including Crispy Coconut Crusted Tofu with Stir Fry Vegetables and salads that will have you (and the meat eaters!) craving greens.
Don’t forget the iconic fallbacks like chicken wings, grilled steaks, hot dogs (yeah I’ve even made an exception and serve these as an indulgent treat).
No barbeque is complete without a green salad, but my salads are never boring! Go here for inspiration.
And salad you see above has a drizzle of the best kid-friendly salad dressing which is always a favorite with the younger crowd thanks to its mild acidity and a touch of sweetness.
Craving more inspiration?
For more ideas, check out my bestselling cookbook: Food You Want For The Life You Crave.
So, my lovely, this National Barbecue Month and beyond, let’s get outside and start cooking up some delicious outdoor meals. Whether you’re grilling chicken, vegetables, or burgers, or serving up a salad, there’s no better way to celebrate than with a delicious outdoor feast. So fire up the grill, invite some friends, and get cooking!
Have you tried these recipes?
I love to see your flexible creations! If you’ve made the recipes featured here—or any of my easily adaptable dishes—share a photo on Instagram and tag me @TheFlexibleChef.