Your barbecue is one of the most versatile cooking instruments you own, even if you don’t know it yet! It’s relatively simple, easy to set up, and allows you to cook in the comfort of your own backyard.
Whether you’re cooking for yourself or feeding a party, the grill can do almost anything as long as you have the right equipment, ingredients, and seasonings.
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If you’re inexperienced with the grill, it can be hard to choose from many of the amazing recipe combinations available. You may not even know the full extent of what you can cook. That’s where we come in.
Here we have many recipes and ideas that are sure to enhance your grilling performance, even if you’re a vegetarian or vegan.
Let’s start with what you’ll need when preparing for a barbecue.
- BBQ Checklist
- Meat Recipes
- Fish and Seafood Recipes
- Vegetarian and Vegan Recipes
- BBQ Side Recipes
- BBQ Condiments
- Summary: Get Grilling!
There’s nothing worse than turning the grill on and realizing that you haven’t got everything you need. It can ruin the experience, especially if you’re cooking for family and friends who are relying on you to fill their stomachs.
Use this section as a checklist and make sure that you get everything below before starting.
First, a list within a list! You’ll need a shopping list to make sure you’ve got everything when preparing for your barbecue.
How much you need will depend on what you’re cooking and who you are cooking for, but here are the ingredients that make a successful cookout.
- Burgers, which can be beef, lamb, chicken, or vegetarian-friendly.
- Buns for those burgers.
- Garnish for the burgers, like lettuce, onions, tomato, and other suitable vegetables.
- Burger relish, or ketchup, mayonnaise, and barbecue sauce (obviously).
- Sausages, whichever type you prefer.
- Hot dog rolls, to house those sausages.
- Cheese slices for the burgers and hot dogs. Halloumi cheese goes well with many grilled foods, too.
- Chicken, typically in the form of wings and thighs.
- Salmon, tuna, lobster, and shrimp for those who prefer seafood.
- Skewers to be used with chicken and seafood.
- Vegetables for sides, like potatoes (for baking or potato salad), red peppers, courgette, corn on the cob, and coleslaw mix.
- Portobello mushrooms, great when seasoned and grilled with cheese.
- Couscous, to serve with the salad.
- Fruits, if you want dessert. Bananas grill well and can be combined with strawberries, apple, and peach slices to make fruit skewers.
- Drinks – in the form of tea/coffee, lemonade, punch, or wine/beer.
You may not need everything on this list, maybe you prefer to ditch the salad or you won’t have room for dessert, but this covers the common foods that appear in our recipes below.
Pre-BBQ Food Preparation
Now that you have what you need, you need to prepare for the barbecue. You won’t have time to do everything once the grill gets hot, so you should do some pre-BBQ prep beforehand.
The most important preparation is for the meat, which is the star of the show, after all.
You’ll want to marinate those meats and leave them overnight so that it soaks in properly. Most cuts of meat can be marinated. If you’re new to the marination process, learn how it works.
If you’re making a salad, you’ll need to toss them and make sure you have all the dressings, which will be applied when they are served.
You’ll also need to prepare fruit and vegetables, like tomatoes, onions, and peppers, by chopping them and sorting them into bowls.
Cut the buns and rolls for burgers and hot dogs and make sure your skewers are ready to be used.
The traditional option is to use charcoal, either in briquette or lump form. Charcoal is thought to have the best taste, especially if you avoid using lighter fluid.
Briquette charcoal is designed to provide consistent heat while hardwood lump charcoal is better for slow, low-temperature cooking.
Then there is wood, which is a great all-natural fuel option for your barbecue. If you have access to wood, it can be quite cost-effective, too.
Wood is just charcoal before it’s been burned, so it packs a lot of the same taste, though you’ll need to keep it at a consistent temperature. Wood should be dried for at least a year before use and it can also be seasoned, for better taste.
If that sounds like too much effort, you can get wooden pellets that have a lot of the same benefits.
You can get them with different wood combinations, with hardwoods being better for beef and fruitwoods being better for chicken and pork. For fish, some softwoods and semi-hardwoods are better.
They should be stored in a sealed container before use, to protect them from moisture.
Then there are the intangible fuels – gas and propane.
Gas is great, especially if it’s already running through your home. Propane comes in tanks that are easily refilled and when it’s burning, it burns hot but clean. Neither has the same flavoring as charcoal or wood.
If you’re interested in using charcoal, you’ll need to have a chimney starter. Heating individual bricks of charcoal is very difficult, especially for beginners, so a chimney starter heats them before dumping them under the grill.
Using them is easy:
- Remove your cooking grate.
- Fill the starter with charcoal.
- Start a fire on the grate (lighter cubes are good for this).
- Place the starter over it and wait approximately 15 minutes, until the top coals start turning gray with ash.
- Pour the coals onto the charcoal grate and arrange them.
- Put the lid for a further 15 minutes until the grill reaches approximately 500 degrees Fahrenheit, or 260 degrees Celsius.
Once you’re done, don’t leave that hot charcoal starter lying around! Store it somewhere safe to cool and then get started.
Having mentioned chimney starters, let’s get into the supplies that you should have when managing your barbecue.
Here’s a list of the basic equipment that you’re going to need:
- An apron, to keep your clothes clean.
- Gloves, to keep your hands safe.
- A large enough barbecue or grill and its required fuel (more information on fuel below!)
- A chimney starter, if working with charcoal.
- A grill basket.
- An LED grill light (if cooking in the evening).
- Sharp knives.
- Plates, cups, and cutlery.
- A spatula.
- Long-handled tongs.
- A bottle opener.
- A basting brush.
- A meat thermometer.
- A grill brush for cleaning.
Any meat should be cooked to 160 degrees Fahrenheit, or about 70 degrees Celsius, for two minutes before being served.
Remember that utensils that touch raw meat cannot be used to handle cooked meat or anything else that’ll be eaten. This is called cross-contamination and it can be dangerous for you and your friends/family.
When buying up all those ingredients mentioned above, storing them all can be daunting. You’ll need to store them properly and safely, so they’re ready to cook and eat when needed.
Meat stored anywhere between 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit will go off. That’s 5 to 60 degrees Celsius. Buying cool bags and storing them with ice packs will keep your meat fresh for as long as possible.
For other items, you should stock up on kitchen foil and Tupperware containers and use them generously when storing unpackaged food.
Cleaning up after yourself is easier when you’ve prepared for it. By preparing beforehand, you can cut down cleaning time so that you enjoy the rest of your day.
So, what will you need?
- A stove/kettle to boil water.
- Water, obviously.
- A bowl.
- A picnic blanket.
- Sponges and cloth.
- Hand sanitizer.
- Dishwashing liquid.
- Anti-bacterial wipes.
- Towels for drying.
- Trash bags for garbage left behind.
If you use more disposable materials, you can simply bag them and cut down on washing up times. When you are washing, you should use hand sanitizer regularly and especially after cleaning things that have come into contact with raw meat.
So, you should now know everything you need to do when you’re barbecuing. Now it’s time for the recipes, starting with seven recipes that are sure to impress the meat lovers out there.
Beef Burger With Jalapenos and Cheddar Cheese
Let’s start with the classic, the beef burger. If you want to do these right, you need to stand out.
Do that by making a great cheeseburger with an extra kick, by throwing some jalapenos into the mix. If you’re not a fan of jalapenos, the recipe is still great without them, so consider them optional!
They’ll take approximately 15 minutes to prepare and another 15 to cook thoroughly. All you need to do is gather:
- Canola oil.
- Kosher salt.
- Black pepper.
- 1 to 2 pounds of ground beef.
- 2 ounces of cheddar cheese.
- ½ a jalapeno pepper.
- Any extra garnish and condiments you want.
Note that the quantities are best for four servings, a small family, or a gathering of friends, so you should increase the portions used for larger events.
As for how you turn this pile of ingredients into something edible, there are five easy steps!
- Set up your grill so it can cook both directly and indirectly at medium-high heat. Oil the grates with that canola oil.
- Once your beef is shaped into patties, you should indent the top of each one. The thickness of the patties is largely up to you but, for the best results of this recipe, try ¾ inch thick patties with an inch or an inch and a half of indentation in them. Season them with salt and pepper.
- Grill them with the indented sides up until browned, which should be 5 minutes. Flip them and cook for another 5 minutes and they should be done.
- Move to indirect heat and top with the cheese and the pepper. Cover the grill until the cheese is melted, which will be a minute or two.
- Serve them on the buns you’ve chosen, along with other garnish and condiments of your choosing.
Grilled Hot Dogs
Along with burgers, hot dogs are a staple of grilled food and a hit with many people. While relatively simple and easy to prepare, you can throw pretty much anything on top of them to create a taste that everybody will like.
First, let’s get the basic hot dog out of the way. You’ll need the sausages themselves along with buns, it’s that simple.
Cook those hot dog sausages on medium-high heat and turn them often, so they cook properly. When you see slight charring, which is typically within 5 minutes, then they should be done.
As for what goes on them, you have a few options. Any measurements given are designed to serve approximately 8 people, so halve them for a smaller gathering.
Here are some suggestions:
- Pickle and Onion Topping: Add 4 chopped pickles, ¼ chopped white onion, and 3 tablespoons of parsley into a bowl with 2 tablespoons of whole-grain mustard. Season further with salt and pepper.
- Chili Topping: Get 1 cup of white wine vinegar, 2 tablespoons of sugar, ¼ teaspoon of kosher salt, 1 teaspoon of coriander seeds, 1 sliced red onion, and 2 sliced chilis, preferably Fresno ones. Simmer the vinegar, sugar, seeds, and salt over medium heat, then add the chili and onion. Toss occasionally for at least half an hour.
- Horseradish Topping: Whisk together 3 tablespoons of prepared horseradish, two tablespoons of sour cream, a tablespoon of white wine vinegar and mayonnaise, and a teaspoon of sugar in a bowl. Throw in a chopped scallion, a grated carrot, 2 tablespoons of chopped dill, and 2 cups of shredded purple cabbage. Season with salt and pepper, let sit for 20 minutes, tossing periodically.
Marinated Chicken and Vegetable Kebabs
This is a simple, crowd-pleasing kebab recipe that combines chicken and your favorite vegetables.
To create the marinating sauce, you should combine:
- A tablespoon of grated ginger
- A teaspoon of garam masala
- A teaspoon of turmeric
- 2 tablespoons of lemon juice
- Plus salt and pepper.
Mix 2 cups of yogurt into the bowl and then add 1 or 2 chicken breasts, depending on how much you need, cut into inch pieces. Leave the chicken to marinate in that mixture for about 15 minutes.
While that’s happening, you should heat your grill grates and prepare any vegetables you’re adding to the kebab.
Onions, cherry tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants/squashes grill nicely. Sections of corn cob can also be cut up for threading on a skewer, as can small mushrooms or pieces of larger mushrooms.
Thread everything onto the skewer and grill until the meat is cooked through and the vegetables become tender.
BBQ Glazed Pork
For those who prefer pork chops, they taste great when grilled to perfection and glazed with your favorite flavors. While there are many marinades you can choose from, here we’ve covered a basic barbecue sauce that’s at home on the grill.
To make BBQ glazed pork, you should heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a pan with some garlic. It can be 2 pressed cloves or store-bought garlic pieces.
Watch the garlic until it sizzles. If it goes brown, you’ve gone too far.
Add in a tablespoon of chili powder and a very small amount of cayenne pepper, approximately ¼ teaspoonful. Stir it all together.
To make the rest of this marinade, you should combine a cup of ketchup, a quarter cup of cider vinegar, and molasses, along with 2 tablespoons of Dijon mustard and dark brown sugar.
Add salt, pepper, and a teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce, then simmer and stir for 15 minutes, until it gets thick.
On your medium-high grill, you should throw some salt and pepper onto your pork. You can use your favorite pork cuts but, for the quantities, we’re working with, you should have 3 pounds of bone-in pork chops.
During the last minutes of cooking, place most of the marinade onto the meat. Baste it again when done and then serve.
Like with pork chops, you can combine ribs with your favorite marinades and rubs to enhance the meat with different tastes. Here’s the process for some basic barbecue sauced ribs.
You’ll need two sets of ingredients, one for the ribs and then one for the barbecue flavoring.
|3 pounds of ribs.||3 minced garlic cloves.||1 diced yellow onion.|
|1 tablespoon of barbecue seasoning.||Another bouillon cube.||4 thyme sprigs.|
|2 tablespoons of salt.||3 tablespoons of soy sauce.||3 tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce.|
|3 tablespoons of brown sugar.||2 tablespoons of molasses.||A tablespoon of barbecue seasoning.|
|A bouillon cube.||A teaspoon of Dijon mustard.||2 teaspoons of tomato paste.|
|2 cups of water.||1 scotch bonnet.||½ a teaspoon of butter.|
|¼ cup of apple cider vinegar.||¼ cup of brown sugar.|
|A ¼ inch of ginger.|
Once you have all of this equipment, you should combine the barbecue seasoning, brown sugar, and salt from the rib section to make a dry rub.
After removing the membrane from the back of the ribs, season both sides of them with the rub, cutting them in half if that helps with access.
Preheat the grill to roughly 300 degrees Fahrenheit with both a direct and indirect heat section.
Place them in a tray (bones facing down) with the water and the first bouillon cube, wrap with foil and then place over indirect heat for about 90 minutes, or until 190 degrees Fahrenheit.
Melt butter over medium heat and cook the onions, garlic, thyme, ginger, and scotch bonnet in with them.
Cook for 3 minutes and then add the soy and Worcestershire sauces, barbecue seasoning, a bouillon cube, tomato paste, Dijon mustard, vinegar, molasses, and brown sugar.
Boil and then reduce to a simmer and blend until smooth, then simmer again for 50 minutes until it thickens.
Transfer the ribs directly to the hot side and increase the grill temperature to 370 degrees Fahrenheit. Brush with the sauce and cover for 5 minutes, then turn and baste the other side.
Cover and cook again for 5 minutes and repeat this cycle until the ribs are visibly cooked.
Grilled Spice Chicken
Another way to prepare chicken, both on and off the skewer, is to mix it with spices on the grill.
Heat your grill properly at medium-high heat and then cut 2 pounds of chicken tenders into thirds. Throw them into a bowl of 2 tablespoons of canola oil, 2 teaspoons of paprika and curry powder, salt, pepper, and a ¼ teaspoon of cayenne pepper.
That’s it for the chicken, you can cook and serve it as is or you can combine it with skewers and vegetables of your choice. Check out the marinated chicken kebab recipe above for vegetable ideas!
Grilled Chicken Souvlaki
Another thing you can do with chicken is souvlaki, a Greek dish that combines chicken thighs with seasoning on the grill.
For a whole helping of them, start with 12 skinless thighs and throw them into a large bowl with the following:
- 1 teaspoon of salt and pepper.
- 1 teaspoon of dried mint.
- 1 teaspoon of coriander.
- 1 teaspoon of ground cumin.
- 1 teaspoon of sweet paprika.
- 2 teaspoons of dried oregano.
- 4 tablespoons of olive oil.
- A half teaspoon of cinnamon.
- Juice from 1 lemon.
- 4 crushed garlic cloves.
Mix them well, chill for up to two days, though 3 hours will do if you’re in a hurry.
Skewer the chicken and put them in a roasting tin, inside your grill at high heat, and cook for about 20 minutes. Turn halfway through cooking.
Souvlaki is traditionally served with pitta bread and tzatziki.
Fish and Seafood Recipes
If you or your loved ones would prefer fish or other forms of seafood, here are three recipes that’ll please everybody.
Cajun Grilled Shrimp
Grilling shrimp Cajun-style is quite easy, so you won’t need a lot of preparation beforehand.
All you need is 1 pound of large shrimp with their tails still attached, a single tablespoon of olive oil, a tablespoon or two of Cajun seasoning. Keep a lemon around too, for juicing.
Thaw the shrimp if frozen and make sure they’re dry, then fire up the barbecue and marinate the shrimp in a bowl of olive oil and Cajun seasoning. After marination, put the shrimp on the grill and wait for a few minutes per side.
Remember that cooked shrimp bend into a C shape while overcooked shrimp will bend further into an O shape. Serve with some lemon juice squeezed on top.
Sweet and Smoky Salmon
Salmon is a great fish that is often associated with expensive tastes. It grills very well, especially if your grill is geared out to add smoky tastes to the food.
To make it taste both sweet and smoky at the same time, you’ll need:
- Black pepper
- Lemon juice
- Brown sugar
Cook your salmon with the meat facing down first, for 3 minutes, to make sure it cooks through. Then turn it over and cook for about 7 minutes, or a little less if the fish becomes solid-colored and crispy.
Lobster doesn’t just belong on a silver platter; it can also be a great grill food when done right. If you’re really fancy, you’re going to have to kill your lobster before you do anything with it.
Preheat the grill to medium-high heat and brush the lobster with olive oil. Then you can grill it, no extra preparation is required!
You’ll know it’s done when the shell turns red and its juices start to whiten. A one-pound lobster will take about 10 minutes while a two-pound lobster will take 12 to 14 minutes.
Let cool and shell the lobster for serving.
Vegetarian and Vegan Recipes
Many people, for health or ethical reasons, prefer to eat food that isn’t made from meat or other animal products. If you’re catering for somebody that follows those restrictions, here are four simple recipes that can satisfy.
This one is simple since we’ve already described how to make skewers above.
You can follow that recipe but remove the chicken, focusing instead on vegetables and other non-meat items like tomatoes, peppers, onions, mushrooms, potatoes, and squashes.
They’ll cook and soften in minutes, preferably after being splashed with olive oil, though soy sauce can add a lot of flavors while remaining vegan-friendly.
Grilled Cabbage Steak
Cabbage is versatile and packs a lot of taste, so it can act as a steak replacement when you’re grilling for vegans. It cooks very fast too since it’s just leaves.
Slice the cabbage up and throw it onto the grill until you see slight wilting and crisping on the leaves.
That’s technically all you need to do but the taste of cabbage alone isn’t enough. You can combine it with vegan-friendly cheese, dressings, or other flavorings like ginger or garlic.
Once again, soy sauce is your friend.
Black Bean Burger
You can make burgers vegan-friendly by following the usual steps but using suitable cheese and replacing the patty with black beans.
Here’s how that works.
First, you should roast the beans you use as this adds a lot of taste and texture to them. That’ll take about ten minutes. For four people, use a 15-ounce can of black beans.
Throw the beans in with salt, pepper, a teaspoon of ground cumin and chili powder, 2 teaspoons of smoked paprika, a sliced onion, a tablespoon of olive oil, a half-cup of oats.
Blend all of them and leave the mixture for 10 minutes. From there, form the patties and place them on a grill at 370 degrees Fahrenheit.
Like cabbage, eggplants are a great way to create a steak replacement food for vegans. Also, like cabbage, they’re very easy to prepare!
To serve 4 people, you’ll need 2 large eggplants and 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Cut the eggplants vertically into two and brush with olive oil, salt, pepper, and seasoning.
Cook for 3 minutes over medium-high heat until they turn soft but aren’t being reduced to sludge.
BBQ Side Recipes
Now that we’ve gone through most of the main recipes in our guide, take a look at some side recipes that you can serve alongside them.
When hosting a social gathering, it’s always a good idea to have sides so that everybody can get their fill.
Grilled Corn Salad
Grilling corn is very easy, you just need an oiled grate and medium-high heat. Char it over 3 to 5 minutes and it’s already done! Then you should consider what’s in the salad that comes with it.
Here are some suggestions:
Before grilling potatoes to make a trusty potato salad, you should prepare them first in a large saucepan with salted water.
Boil and simmer for about 15 minutes before letting cool and then tossing with 2 tablespoons of oil.
After preparing the other parts of the salad, which can include all of the above ingredients for corn salad along with dressings of your choice, you should grill the potatoes.
They’ll lightly char in 2 minutes, which is where they are done.
If some accompanying vegetables taste better when grilled, grill them too and then toss them together and season with salt and pepper.
Pasta Salad With Roasted Vegetables
Organize your grill for direct cooking under medium-high heat. Make sure the grill is clean and oil the grates with canola oil, as usual. Cook the pasta however it says on the packaging, typically by boiling in water for a certain number of minutes.
The roasted vegetables are up to you but, as always, it’s a good idea to stick with the classics like pepper, onion, tomato, eggplant, and zucchinis, all cut and prepared for grilling.
Toss them all together in a bowl with black pepper and salt. Grill for about 7 minutes. Add the pasta and drizzle with olive oil.
You can add grated cheese and herbs for more flavor.
Sweet Potato Fries With Garlic
If you can get your hands on some fresh sweet potato, you can make your own fries.
You decide the thickness, with some preferring thinner streaks like others prefer larger wedges. If you like them crispy, leave the skins on! Remember to wash any fresh ingredients you use.
When grilling sweet potatoes, you should use oils with high smoke points like canola, sunflower, or avocado oil.
Chop the sweet potato into fries and preheat the grill to medium heat. Place them on the grates and cook for 3 minutes per side.
You can also throw some rub or other seasonings on if that’s what you’d like.
While you can buy condiments easily at your local stores, some prefer to make their own.
If that’s you, check out these recipes for ketchup, mayonnaise, BBQ sauce, mustard, and burger relish.
Starting with ketchup, you should whisk together all of the following:
- ½ cup of tomato sauce.
- 2 tablespoons of brown sugar.
- A tablespoon of apple cider vinegar.
- A tablespoon of molasses.
- 2 teaspoons of hot sauce and Worcestershire sauce.
- 2 teaspoons of barbecue rub.
- A half teaspoon of mustard.
- A quarter teaspoon of both onion and garlic powder.
Try to use the mixture immediately, otherwise, you’ll need to store it in a refrigerated and airtight space.
Mayonnaise is just a combination of egg, oil, and vinegar.
You should use a food processor to mix a whole egg, Dijon mustard, white wine vinegar, and salt together. Slowly pour the oil in while the rest is processing.
You can add some acidic sweetness to it by squeezing a lemon or lime over it.
BBQ sauce is its own subcategory of sauces that cover several taste profiles.
Generally, these are described as tang, sweetness, and smokiness, typically with a bit of heat.
No matter which style of BBQ sauce you go for, you just have to mix it all in a saucepan and simmer on medium-high heat for 5 minutes, after reaching the boiling point.
For tangy BBQ sauce, you need to combine Worcestershire sauce and white wine vinegar.
For sweetness, you should combine tomato ketchup with honey, black treacle, and brown sugar. Smoky tastes are created by mixing mustard powder, black pepper, and paprika.
If you like mustard, you can’t beat making your own.
Here’s a recipe for a deep and rich Carolina gold mustard sauce:
- 2 tablespoons of ketchup.
- 2 tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce.
- 1 teaspoon of garlic.
- ½ teaspoon of salt.
- ½ teaspoon of cayenne, or paprika as a milder alternative.
- ¾ cup of yellow mustard.
- ½ cup of honey and/or ¼ cup of brown sugar.
- ½ cup of apple cider vinegar.
Making it is as easy as throwing the ingredients into a mixing bowl, whisking it all, then simmering for 10 minutes.
Once done, cover and refrigerate for a day to develop flavor.
Lastly, for relish sauce, you should gather 2 peppers, 2 apples, an onion, and approximately 900 grams of tomatoes. Core and chop them as needed.
Place tomatoes in a bowl of boiling water for 2 minutes to skin and chop them much easier.
Have sugar, sweetcorn, sultanas, mustard, tomato puree, and Worcestershire sauce on standby, along with salt and pepper.
Mix all of the ingredients plus vinegar and water, boil, then simmer. Stir occasionally until 20 minutes pass.
Reduce the heat and keep stirring if needed to fully dissolve the sugar. Bring the boil back for 40+ minutes until the relish turns thick.
Summary: Get Grilling!
If you came here for recipes and ideas to use when firing up your barbecue grill, you should now have plenty. No matter which meats your guests prefer or whether they’re vegan or not, there are plenty of options above that everybody can enjoy.
Of course, reading about recipes online is only half the battle. Now you need to get grilling, so you can learn with your hands and master the food preparation required for your favorite dishes.
By following our recipes above, you’re sure to find success!