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Summer Party Food Ideas

The text summer party food ideas on a background of grilled food

The text summer party food ideas on a background of grilled food

Get the most out of the sunshine and blue skies with summer party food ideas that will help you serve up a BBQ feast all your neighbors and friends will remember. So invite everyone over to celebrate the great weather, swim in the pool and, of course, enjoy your famous burgers, hotdogs and barbecued chicken wings. 

We’ve asked Abt’s very own grill experts for their advice on how to make your party cuisine the talk of the town and they’ve come up with some great answers. Everything you need to know to prepare food for all your friends (and friends of friends) is right here. Ready…set…GRILL!

Main Course

Let’s talk about the all-important main course first. This is a summer party and that means taking the cooking outside and getting your grill on.

What to Grill:

When you’re brainstorming summer party food ideas, grill recipes are the perfect seasonally-appropriate place to start.  

Feel free to cook traditional (and delicious) classics like:

  • Hot dogs
  • Burgers
  • Brats
  • Ribs 
  • Corn on the cob

Or, easily experiment with less standard items like:

  • Portobello Mushrooms
  • Asparagus
  • Kebabs (with any meat you like)
  • Vegetable skewers (Add peppers, onions, zucchini and more)

How to do it: 


There are two ways to BBQ for a whole party. You can barbecue all your chicken, hot dogs and burgers in a couple of rounds on a large grill or you can keep the food coming in multiple  mini-rounds on a smaller grill. Either way, the most important aspect of grilling isn’t the cooking itself, but the preparation. This can’t be emphasized enough. You could have the best summer party food ideas ever, but if you don’t plan ahead, you could run into serious trouble executing your meal. 

Before your guests even arrive, take out your chicken, ribs and whatever else you’re planning to serve and start seasoning. If you’re planning to marinate chicken, you might want to start even earlier; it can take up to four hours for the flavor to really sink in. If you don’t have that amount of time, though, don’t worry. Marinating chicken for just thirty minutes is also acceptable.

Start Grilling Early

If you’re planning on serving something that takes a while to cook, like chicken, start up to two hours before your guests even arrive. This way, you won’t have a bunch of hungry people hanging around waiting to eat, and you can relax too knowing that you’ve got your party fully in hand.  

Keep Your Food Warm

Don’t let all this preparation go to waste by serving cold food. Keep every crispy chicken wing and piece of roasted corn toasty warm in chafing dishes. These disposable aluminum dishes have flames under them to keep all your carefully prepared BBQ warm as you work on the next round of grilling.  

Take Your Grill-Type into Account

  • Larger Grills

If you happen to have a large barbecue with multiple levels of grates or a large flat top cooker, this is a great option when cooking for a large group. Multi-level grills with grates and large flat top grills usually have more than one heating zone so you can cook different foods at the same time at separate temperatures. This means you can serve up multiple types of BBQ quickly.

  • Smaller Grills

If you have a smaller grill, or even a portable barbecue, you can still feed tons of guests. In this case though, preparation becomes even more important. Cook your food in rounds and keep it coming. If you start early and are methodical about planning each course, you should still be able to satisfy the crowd on your smaller grill. It might be a good idea to pass up the slower-cooking items like chicken and head straight for the hot dogs and burgers, though. 

Snacks and Sides

When you’re considering summer party food ideas, don’t stress about the snacks. This is just the lead-up to the main course, so keep it simple with:

  • A tray or two of freshly sliced watermelon
  • A bowl of raspberries or strawberries
  • A platter of cheese and crackers
  • A platter of veggies and hummus
  • Bowls of potato chips
  • Bowls of pretzels


Make your outdoor party truly special when you pull out your grandma’s cookbook and produce one or two homemade desserts. You can make these early in the morning before your party, or even the night before. Serve up thick slices of rhubarb or cherry pie in beautiful bakeware for a sugary and festive touch. Whatever dessert you choose to make (or buy!), as with all other summer party food ideas, planning is key. DON’T wait until the day of to decide what to bake. Have you pie or cake ready the day before so you can focus on BBQing the main meal on the day of your party.  



Our grill experts here at Abt can’t emphasize preparation enough. You can have one of the finest BBQs on the market, but when it comes to summer party food ideas, the key to success is planning ahead. Make sure to buy everything you need at least a day in advance (preferably two) so that the morning of your party, you just have to season your meats, not rush to the store. If possible, start grilling an hour or even two hours before your guests arrive. That way, when the party starts, you can stay relaxed and enjoy the summer sun, the great company and, of course, your delicious freshly grilled food! 

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