Backyard Barbecue Menu Ideas:
8 Fun Barbeque Menu Ideas by Theme
There's nothing in the world like a your standard cookout or barbeque menu: hamburgers, hotdogs, and all the fixin's. There's a reason why it's a classic! But another fun and creative way to come up with new backyard barbecue menu ideas is by using a theme.
When coming up with theme menus for a barbecue, you can choose a theme from just about anywhere! Your menu's theme could be based on:
- A special occasion (like July 4th or a birthday)
- A creative or special main dish (like great steaks)
- A special ingredient (like beer!)
- A flavor profile (Italian, Asian, Mexican, etc.)
Or whatever you want!
1. All-of-America Barbecue MenuThis backyard barbecue menu idea really celebrates the art of American barbecue! With this, you combine the BBQ flavors of different areas of the USA, including some of the following:
- Classic pulled pork with vinegar-based sauce from Virginia
- Spicy Texas BBQ
- Sweet-and-sticky Memphis-style BBQ
- Famous Alabama white barbecue
Or make your life easy and grill up some meat, and let people choose the BBQ sauce of their choice.
2. Crazy Kabob BBQ MenuThere are so many foods you can thread onto skewers-- enough to make a complete BBQ menu! Looking for some backyard barbecue menu ideas for this theme? Start off with:
- Ensalata caprese skewers
- Make a variety of chicken, beef, and shrimp skewers for the main event
- Serve with marinated vegetable skewers on the grill
- Finish up with these fruit skewers with margarita dip
3. Surf n' Turf Backyard Barbecue Menu IdeaThis is such a fun theme for a cookout! You could decorate your yard with some beach-style accessories. For the menu, begin with a tropical crab dip and plenty of dippers. Follow that with a succulent steak and a side of fish, shrimp, or lobster. For side dishes, definitely warm bread with dipping sauce and a tossed salad.
4. All-Beer Backyard Barbecue Menu IdeaOne of my favorite menus, because... well, everybody at a BBQ loves beer, right? For this cookout menu, serve plenty of your favorite brew with:
- Clams steamed with beer or beer-battered shrimp
- Beer can chicken
- Beer-marinated steaks, or meat with a beer-based BBQ sauce, or
- Pizza on the grill make a pizza with a beer dough!
5. Polynesian or Luau-themed PartyTo do this one, you could put together some skewers of cubed ham and pineapple with maraschino cherries. Instead of beef, try mango brined pork chops and a side of rice pilaf. For those who have never tried brining it brings a really amazing flavor to any meat or poultry. The key is letting the meat sit long enough to really get the benefit of the brine.
6. Cowboy Chuck Wagon CookoutWhen you think of a real BBQ, do you think about a bunch of guys crouched around a moon-lit fire in their cowboy hats? An old-fashioned cowboy menu is really fun. With this menu, you'll want to do:
- Grilled pork chops, hamburgers, chicken
- Classic ranch beans
- Baked potatoes
- Cole slaw
- Biscuits or Cornbread
7. East meets West Barbeque MenuThis is a really flexible backyard barbecue menu idea. With this one, you have lots of options and great flavor profiles from which to choose, including both sweet and savory. Start out with skewered vegetables tossed in soy sauce and a little rice vinegar. From there move on to sake marinated chicken with a teriyaki glaze. Spring rolls compliment this menu with a light, cool crunch.
8. Mexican Barbecue MenuTake everything you love to make on the grill, and make it Mexican. Instead of hamburgers or steaks, cook up meat for carne asada tacos, and serve with plenty of soft flour tortillas. Or rub chicken pieces in a blend of taco seasoning and brown sugar, and pop them on the grill. Plenty of Coronas and salsa and guacamole, and you have a perfect Mexican barbecue menu!
Other Classic BBQ Menu DishesOf course, most backyard barbecue menu ideas aren't going to revolve around a theme. Themes are fun... but a lot of people prefer to stick to the classics! Like:
One of the favorite backyard barbecue menu ideas is, of course, the tried n' true hamburgers, hotdogs and sausage. Somehow grilling these makes them taste so much yummier, and in some homes summer wouldn't be summer without at least one weenie roast! The summer classic menu is also inexpensive so you can feed a lot of people without breaking the bank.
Next to hotdogs and hamburgers, chicken is probably the most popular among backyard barbecue menu ideas. You can often buy chicken on sale, and the meat accepts flavor readily. And BBQ chicken, whether whole or in pieces, always is wonderful with a marinade.
My Favorite Chicken Marinade Recipe
One chicken marinade recipe that's unusual and really tasty is made with, of all things... strawberries!
If you're watching your calories, this bbq chicken marinade recipe is the perfect way to dress up skinless, boneless chicken breasts for the grill without adding a lot of extra calories.
2 C. fresh strawberries
1 tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1/4 C. balsamic vinegar
1/4 C. orange juice
1/2 tbsp fresh grated ginger (or 1/2 tsp dried)
1 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 C. honey
Instructions: 1. Slice up strawberries and sprinkle them with sugar and salt. Let them sit for about an hour.
2. Now add balsamic vinegar, orange juice, ginger, and garlic powder. Pour this over your chicken and let it sit overnight in the refrigerator (note: boneless, skinless breasts sliced thin are recommended).
3. Discard the marinade and brush with honey as you grill.
Fresh and Tangy Cookout Pasta Salad
3-4 cups cooked elbow, rotini, or bow-tie pasta
1 stalk celery, chopped
1/3 C. red onions, chopped
1/2 seedless cucumber, chopped large
1 C. baby grape tomatoes
1/4 C. sliced black olives
1 tsp. minced garlic
1 tbsp. each fresh minced oregano and basil
Bottled or homemade red wine vinaigrette (to taste)
Salt & pepper, to taste
Instructions: 1. Toss all your ingredients into a bowl and coat them evenly with the salad dressing and salt/pepper.
2. Put this in the refrigerator for 2 hours. Now check it again. The noodles absorb some of the dressing so you'll want to add more to keep it from being dry.
3. Serve cold.
Tip: you can make this salad using ravioli, spaghetti noodles, etc. and change up the flavor by adding cubes of your favorite cheese.
Planning your own Barbeque Menu. As you can see, backyard barbecue menu ideas are everywhere. The best thing to do? Think about your guests and what they might enjoy. Also try to find menus that let you enjoy your company rather than work through the whole meal-- after all, spending time with the people you care about is why you sent out all those cookout invitations in the first place!
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