If you’ve never stressed out about what to bring to a BBQ well then you must be Martha Stewart. I, however, immediately start concerning myself with what I can contribute that will be the kind of crowd pleasing dish that causes people to ask “yum, who brought this?” If you know what I’m talking about you’re in luck. Here we will let you in on some of the best eats you can take to your family or neighborhood BBQ, and also the items you should NOT bring.
As the weather heats up so does the grilling season. Your BBQ host, aka “the grill master” usually takes care of the yummy main dish to include the ever traditional hot dog or hamburger, drool worthy ribs, sausage, steak, chicken, seafood, or whatever they decide to throw over the charcoal. Commonly BBQs are potluck style and if not it is courteous to bring something anyway to show your appreciation to the host. This summer make sure your side dish contributions are spot on. Our experience has led us to discover what items are lame-o on the scoring scale and which ones will earn you brownie points (pun intended).
Do not bring: watermelon.
Watermelon is one of the easiest and most popular choices to bring to a potluck. The rationale is that everyone likes watermelon and it’s great on a summer day, until there are six bowls of it on the buffet table and guests are feeling “waterlogged” instead of the watermelon.
Instead bring: a simple yet original fruit medley.
This Honey Lime Rainbow Fruit Salad from Cooking Classy is a fun option. Still a fruit side dish but much more satisfying, and look how pretty it is (pictured above).
Do not bring: Pasta.
You’ve seen them. The traditional potluck style pastas that show up at every. Single. BBQ. The Italian pasta. The ham, cheese, and pea pasta. Mac and cheese. Ok, maybe we’ll make an exception for Mac and cheese. We are from the Midwest, after all, where cheese is a food group all its own. But we’ll only allow it if you have a bomb homemade recipe like this one.
Instead bring: Quinoa Salad or baked beans.
Let’s just say that quinoa is the new pasta. We love it because it’s filling like pasta but packs a better nutritional punch. Go ahead, give this favorite quinoa salad recipe a try from Cookie and Kate.
Baked beans are sort of a common BBQ staple so why are we including it on our list? Because it’s a classic side dish that most guests won’t go to the trouble of preparing and transporting. So if you have a killer baked bean recipe, then go the extra mile and make a batch, or try this one. It is sure to be the talk of the table. Just be sure your host or hostess isn’t already serving them up.
Do not bring: Rolls.
There is already plenty of bread in the form of hot dog and hamburger buns at a BBQ so leave the dinner rolls on the shelf and opt for something else that is simple yet satisfying.
Instead bring: Cornbread.
Still a lovable carb but not your regular roll. You can bake the traditional cornbread or spice it up with cheddar jalapeño cornbread from Baked by an Introvert.
Bonus tip: make them in mini muffin form for easy serving.
Do not bring: Chips.
Everyone and their brother will be bringing a bag or two of this sinful addiction, don’t add to the chaos. There will be plenty of chips, and dip to go with them, trust us. However, if you must bring an easy snacking item go off the beaten path.
Instead bring: Popcorn or trail mix.
The best kind of popcorn are the kernels you pop at home. However, if it’s grab and go at the grocery store that you want, this Skinny Pop popcorn is a great option.
Trail mix is also an easy item to pick up at the store. Try Walmart, Costco, or sam’s club for the best prices. Or pick a diy mix. This trail mix from Mom Spotted even has popcorn in it!
Do not bring: Cookies.
Whether they are store bought or homemade, cookies are another item that shows up in multitudes at BBQs. When it comes to dessert be a little more original and pick another choice.
Instead bring: Snicker Salad.
This is always a crowd pleaser and it’s super easy to make. Just chop up snickers, apples, and grapes. Mix in some whipped cream (store bought or our favorite recipe) and wallah!! It’s actually a dessert I prepare after every Halloween and use my kids’ leftover candy. I’ll use snickers, milky ways, baby Ruth’s, or what they have in their bags. You can also try this caramel apple salad from Chef in Training.
Or, if snicker salad isn’t your thing, how cute are these Strawberry brownie skewers! Totally BBQ themed!
Do not bring: Capri Suns or Kool Aid.
Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not one of those parents who freaks out if my kid comes within 5 feet of something that’s not organic but I feel like our kids get their fill of the juice in a silver bag. Plus those straws seem to end up all over!
Instead bring: Something fun to sip on.
Think Shirley temple self serve bar or this peach strawberry lemonade, because summer and lemonade just go together. You could also skip the kids drinks all together and bring something for the adults 😉 you can’t go wrong with anything off of our summer sips to try list.
Now go out, enjoy the weather and rock your next family BBQ with one of our recommended side dishes. Happy summer!