Hosting a BBQ takes a lot of work and preparation, but when it goes well it certainly pays off. Having all of your family and friends in one place enjoying good food, good music and good company is a special occasion.
Knowing what to serve at a BBQ can be tricky as you want to make sure that you cater to everyone. You need plenty of appetizers and side dishes to go alongside the main courses.
We have put together this list of 25 of the best BBQ appetizers to give you inspiration for your next cookout.
There are vegetarian options, keto options, gluten free options, spicy options, mild options, and plenty of delicious meats to choose from. Using this list you will be able to put together the perfect BBQ menu for your special event.
These spicy starters are perfect for a summer party or a BBQ. The jalapenos are stuffed with melting cheese and crispy bacon, then cooked over a fire or on the BBQ for that wonderful smoky flavor.
They can easily be eaten with your fingers so your guests can snack on them while they mingle and wait for the main event!
This pineapple salsa can be served with salads, meat, or enjoyed with some tortilla chips. It’s versatile and it makes a nice change from the usual tomato salsa. You can make it as mild or as spicy as you like depending on your preferences.
To make it even more impressive, serve the salsa in a hollowed out pineapple on its side. This will look amazing and tells the guests what to expect when they eat it.
You can never have too much meat at a BBQ – right? Serving up these irresistible smoked beef cheeks is a great way to kick off the cookout with a taster of what is to come.
They have a crispy, charred edge but the middle is soft and tender. The succulent meat is super flavorsome and will wet your guests appetite ready for the rest of the dishes that you have prepared.
These BBQ meatballs with grape jelly are great for parties and BBQs. You can serve them on a tray with a cocktail stick in each meatball, in little pots with a fork, or in a big pot with a serving spoon for people to help themselves.
They don’t take long to make and only use 3 ingredients, which gives you more time to focus on the complicated dishes.
These tasty cubes of smoky, juicy meat will disappear quickly so make sure you save a few for yourself!
As soon as your guests get a taste of that pecan smoked flavor and the caramelized pork they won’t be able to get enough of your pork belly burnt ends.
This is a great appetizer for people to graze on along with salads and dips while the rest of the meat is being cooked.
6. Queso Dip
Chips and dip is a classic appetizer to serve at a BBQ or a party. This easy queso dip has only 4 ingredients and you can make it on the stovetop, in the microwave or in the slow cooker depending on what is most convenient for you.
Feel free to add some extra chillies if you like your queso dip with a big kick!
These little smoked sausages wrapped in crispy bacon caramelized with brown sugar make the perfect finger food.
You can serve them on cocktail sausages with a nice dip – zingy tomato, bourbon BBQ or even your Queso cheese dip!
Soft bread, punchy garlic and melted cheese – does it get any better than that? This sharing bread is easy to make and it is great to serve with dips, salads and meat.
As your guests pull apart the bread the smell of intoxicating garlic will fill the air and everyone will want to tuck in, so it might be a good idea to make several of these tasty treats.
Pork sliders are a big hit at any BBQ. They are really easy to eat with your hands and have a wonderful flavor.
The tender meat and the soft brioche bun are a great combination, and you can set up a toppings station for your guests to customize their slider.
Using a balsamic honey flavoring on the meat will contrast nicely with the strong BBQ flavors, providing a range of tastes for your guests to enjoy.
Pigs in a blanket are a super simple but tasty BBQ appetizer that your guests will love. Simply wrap hot dogs in a crescent roll with some cheese, cook them up and serve them with tomato sauce.
These snacks are perfect for all the family but will be especially popular with children. They are soft, easy to eat and the flavors aren’t too strong so it’s ideal for people who won’t eat the spicier meats.
These pork riblets can be smoked alongside your main piece of meat, so they don’t require much extra work. The meat is so soft that it will fall off the bone, yet they also have a crunchy edge which is very addictive.
Riblets tend to be cheaper than normal ribs so this is a great way to provide more food for your guests without spending too much money.
These Hawaiian chicken kebabs are a great option for people who prefer to avoid red meat. They are easy to eat as you can nibble the meat straight off the skewer without needing to use a plate.
Alongside the succulent meat, you have juicy pineapple and crunchy grilled peppers and onions. The flavors combine to create a colorful, tropical masterpiece.
These jalapeno popper pinwheels are an ideal finger food and they can be served hot or cold. This means that you can make them up in advance which gives you less to do when your guests arrive.
They have the perfect combination of creamy, tangy cheese, crispy bacon and spicy jalapeno, all wrapped up in flour tortilla. Feel free to use a corn tortilla instead if you need to cater to gluten free guests.
If you love chicken thighs that are juicy on the inside but perfectly crispy on the outside then this is the ideal recipe for you.
They can smoke alongside your other meat but they don’t take as long, which makes them the perfect appetizer to get your guests started.
Chicken thighs are good value as they aren’t expensive but they provide a good amount of meat.
15. Corn Dip
This delicious corn dip, also known as crack corn dip, always goes down well as a BBQ. The creamy sweetness cuts through the rich meaty flavors of the BBQ food, and the kick from the jalapenos is very addictive.
You can use whatever type of cheese you fancy, and you can even add extra ingredients like crispy bacon if you want to.
Korean BBQ is a very popular type of cuisine. By making these chicken wings you can introduce some of those exquisite flavors into your BBQ and surprise your guests with something a little different.
The BBQ glaze is the perfect balance between sweet and smoky, and the wings have an irresistible crunchy coating.
Make sure you use the green onion and sesame seed garnish as it makes a big difference to the flavor and to the presentation.
Everyone loves guacamole, and you can’t beat a fresh, homemade one. Whether you use it as a topping for your sliders or you serve it with chips, your guests are sure to love it.
This recipe only takes 10 minutes to make and it will definitely become your go-to appetizer. Make sure you choose the right avocados as this has a big impact on the flavor- follow the advice given in this recipe.
There is often a lot of heavy, rich food at a BBQ. You need to make sure you include some lighter appetizers and some vegetables for variety.
This recipe for parmesan zucchini fries is ideal. The zucchini is nice and tender but has a cheesy, crispy coating.
This is also a gluten free and keto friendly appetizer so it caters for different dietary requirements. To make them extra delicious, serve them with a sour cream dip.
19. Potato Skins
Potato skins are a classic appetizer that everyone loves. They are easy to eat and look very appealing with a good dollop of sour cream and a sprinkle of chives.
You can fill them with whatever you fancy, but the classic cream cheese and bacon combination is always a winner.
If you switch out the bacon for some diced bell pepper then this is an easy way to introduce a vegetarian appetizer to your BBQ.
20. Volcano Potatoes
If you love the idea of potato skins but you want to serve something a little different then why don’t you have a go at making these volcano potatoes?
The potatoes are filled with cream cheese, wrapped in bacon, topped with sour cream and served with a BBQ dip. They look like miniature volcanoes and will certainly catch the eye of your guests.
We know what you’re thinking – how many recipes for jalapeno poppers do you need? But these golden fried bites are a must have for your next BBQ.
They are stuffed full of melty, creamy cheese, crispy bacon and diced jalapenos, and covered in a crispy breadcrumb coating.
When you bite into them, the delicious filling oozes out and it is a moment of food heaven. Your guests will absolutely love these fried jalapeno popper bites, and you will want to tuck into them too!
If you are looking for something refreshing to serve your guests then these delicious watermelon skewers are ideal.
You might think that watermelon, fresh basil, mozzarella and blueberries are a strange combination, but it really works!
The flavors tie together so perfectly and create a fresh, uplifting mouthful that helps to cleanse your palate. You could even drizzle them with balsamic vinegar and honey.
Every great BBQ has a few seafood options. It provides a variety of flavors and also a lighter option for people who don’t like to eat too much meat.
These garlic grilled shrimp are succulent and packed full of flavor – enough to rival all of the smoked meats on offer.
The marinade uses fresh herbs and lemon juice along with tasty spices to create a deep and complex flavor that really comes to life when the shrimp go on the grill.
24. Smoked Chorizo
Nothing says summer like the spicy, rich flavor of chorizo. It is the perfect appetizer to serve at a BBQ and it complements the other dishes so well.
Serving up your own home smoked chorizo will certainly impress your guests. Whether you use it to top a salad, add it to your pork sliders, or serve it on cocktail sticks, it will go down a treat.
When a group of friends of family gather together it is the perfect setting to enjoy some loaded nachos. It is a social food that everyone can dig into, and it helps to create a party atmosphere.
These loaded nachos have spicy beef, jalapenos and plenty of cheese to make every mouthful super flavorsome.
You can also add your own toppings like bacon, queso cheese dip, or green onions. If you have a lot of guests then you might want to make several pans to ensure that there is enough to go around!
Frequently Asked Questions
How Much Food Should You Cook At A BBQ?
Planning how much food to cook at a BBQ can be tricky. Ideally, you want to make sure that each guest has at least one portion of each dish you are making.
Some people have larger appetites than others and not everyone will like everything that you are cooking.
If you are planning for the event to last for a whole afternoon then you will need plenty of food. It is better to cook too much than not enough as you can send people home with leftovers.
What Desserts Should You Serve At A BBQ?
Hosting a BBQ takes a lot of effort and preparation, so you should choose a dessert that is easy to make. Something refreshing to contrast the rich, heavy meat is a good idea.
You could serve fruit skewers, or make some homemade ice lollies in advance to hand out.
What Drinks Should You Serve At A BBQ?
Make sure there is plenty of water available as you don’t want your guests to get dehydrated – especially as BBQ food tends to be quite salty.
You should also provide soft drinks for people who don’t like to drink alcohol. You could create a custom cocktail, or set up a cocktail station with some recipe cards so that your guests can have a go at making their own.
It’s always a good idea to have a few bottles of wine as well, as it will pair well with the meat that you are serving.
How Should You Organize Your Outdoor Space For A BBQ?
Try to provide as much seating as possible. People can bring their own camping chairs or deck chairs, and you can set out some blankets and cushions for people who won’t have chairs.
Most of the seating should be close to the house so that people have easy access to the bathroom. Make sure that the BBQ or grill is far enough away from the guests that there is no risk of injury and people won’t get covered in smoke.
What Music Should You Play At A BBQ?
When you host a BBQ there are usually guests of varying ages. If you have friends or family with children then you need to make sure that the music is age appropriate.
Your neighbors will also be able to hear your music, so try to be respectful with your choices. Upbeat music is great to create a party atmosphere, or you might prefer some chilled out music to make people feel at ease.
It is important that you serve a variety of appetizers at your BBQ so that every guest is catered for.
There is something for everyone on this list, and you can customize the recipes as you need to in order to cater for different preferences and dietary requirements.
Once you have a go at these recipes you will want to keep hosting more and more BBQ events so that you have an excuse to cook and eat all of these delicious foods!