You’ve got the grill. You’ve got the gadgets. You’ve even studied BBQ tips from a pitmaster and researched the best meat delivery services so your free-range, grass-fed, kosher proteins are set to arrive at the door any minute (ICYMI, check out the best Labor Day meat deals too). Patio-proof, unbreakable dinnerware? Check. Slushy cocktails to go in those sturdy glasses? Double check. What else is there?
From sauce-slathered short ribs to miraculously moist grilled chicken, homemade seasonings, and even a few seafood surprises, we’ve gathered Chowhound’s 13 most popular and clicked-on BBQ recipes from last summer to give you a head start on this season’s outdoor cookin’. Bust out the charcoal and lighter fluid cuz it’s gonna be a hot one!
Check out even more recipes and cooking tips our Chowhound community loves.
This popular ribs recipe is easy, technically speaking, but does require some prep and planning. A lot of it can be done ahead of time if you have the luxury, and finished on the grill when guests start to arrive. Serve with some crisp summer slaw and baked potatoes. Get our Easy BBQ Baby Back Pork Ribs recipe.
Related Reading: The Ultimate Guide to Ribs
For something, a little unexpected try grilled fish tacos next time you break out the BBQ. Marinate the white fish—something semi-firm like snapper, cod, or mahi-mahi—and serve with pickled onions, lime wedges, and sliced avocado. Get our Easy Fish Tacos recipe.
Related Reading: 9 Interesting Sides for Summer Grilling and BBQ
This is a classic beef seasoning that you can buy in the store but it’s much more fun to say you made your own, right? If you’re hosting a socially distant BBQ, you can always package it up and give it out to guests for a fun take-home. Get our Montreal Steak Seasoning recipe.
Fun fact about country style pork ribs: They’re not actually ribs but rather a boneless cut from the loin. Let a rub sit on the meat overnight for best results and then grill until a nice crust appears. Get our Grilled Country-style Pork Ribs recipe.
Related Reading: The Best Rubs You Can Buy
Have a bunch of this Cajun seasoning on hand all summer and you’ll never have a boring piece of grilled chicken or burger again. Don’t go crazy on the heat as you can always kick it up with a little extra pepper or cayenne to order. Get our Cajun Seasoning recipe.
So you don’t technically make this one on the grill either but sometimes a good sauce to slather onto meats after they come off the coals (or gas) can make the difference between a good and great backyard BBQ. Get our Argentine Chimichurri Sauce recipe.
This recipe requires some special equipment. If you don’t have a smoker, like our favorite below, then you can always turn your grill into a smoker rather easily. Smoking anything imparts a deep, sometimes all-consuming flavor, that balances nicely with the sweetness of BBQ sauce. Get our Smoked Barbecue Baby Back Ribs recipe.
*Special equipment alert: If you don’t have a smoker and have to hack it, you’ll need a charcoal grill to turn into a smoker. You will also need long heatproof tongs, matches or a lighter, newspaper, 1 disposable aluminum 9-by-5-inch loaf pan, 1 disposable aluminum 8-inch square pan, a baking sheet, 2 oven mitts, 2 buckets of water (one to soak the wood chips and the other to refill the aluminum loaf pan), and an oven thermometer.
Weber 14-inch Smokey Mountain Cooker Charcoal Smoker, $219 from Amazon
As you’ll read there is some serious drama as to what midwest bar this juicy burger originated in. We’re just glad it’s part of our summer arsenal. Worcestershire sauce is one of summer grilling’s best-kept secrets and the umami flavor is key in this grilled burger recipe. Get our Juicy Lucy Burger recipe.
These fabulous BBQ short ribs technically get their start in the oven but are finished on the grill. Short ribs prove less intimidating than a full-size rack of ribs, but make sure you follow the cooking times and temps as closely as possible for best results. Get our Smoky-Sweet BBQ Beef Short Ribs recipe.
You can’t go wrong with grilled chicken at a summer BBQ but give it a formidable injection of flavor as in this very popular balsamic and rosemary marinade. Get our Grilled Chicken Breasts with Balsamic Rosemary Marinade recipe.
Related Reading: 9 Easy Chicken Marinades That Make It Good to the Last Bite
11. Grilled Paella
Paella is to Spain as BBQ ribs are to the U.S. The perfect dish to serve a large group (or, since social distancing is still important, one or two with tons of leftovers for the week!), and eat outside in the sunshine with a cold beverage in hand. Use any type of seafood you’d like but remember some hold up to grilling better than others. Get our Grilled Paella recipe.
Lodge 15-Inch Carbon Steel Paella Pan, $49.90 from Walmart
12. Carne Asada
There is a ton you can do with a good carne asada. Tacos or fajitas (obviously), top a salad, or pile it high on some good ciabatta for a sliced steak sandwich. Feel free to crank up the heat if you’ve got Scoville junkies in tow. Get our Carne Asada recipe.
Related Reading: 7 Things to Grill Now and Eat Later for Easy Summer Meals
Salmon and summer grillin’ go together like PB&J. A nice firm fish that holds its form, this maple, and mustard marinated fish dish will be a hit with BBQ guests, and is an easy/exciting alternative for those trying to avoid red meat or pork. Get our Maple Mustard Grilled Salmon recipe, and read up on the best fish to grill according to a chef.
Related Reading on CNET: The Best Places to Buy Seafood Online
Everything Else You Need to Know
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