The Top Barbecue Menu Items

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The list of foods that can be cooked on a barbecue is endless. Just fire up the grill and cook up a quick hamburger meal for a fun Friday night. Steaks, pork loins, salmon and ribs pull together a Saturday afternoon party. Treat your friends to a weeknight beer and bratwurst get-together. And, top off any meal with flavorful grilled fruits and vegetables.

Before you put any food on the grill, keep these essential grilling rules in mind:

  • Keep the grill hot. You should not be able to hold your hand 3 inches over the grate for more than a couple of seconds.
  • Keep the grill clean. Brush the hot grate with a wire brush before cooking.
  • Grease the grill. Dip a folded paper towel in oil and rub over the cooking surface of the grate.

Hamburgers, Hotdogs and the Fixin’s

Hamburgers and hotdogs are a favorite food for the grill. No only are these easy to make foods, but most everyone is sure to enjoy this barbecue staple. When getting the burgers and hotdogs ready for the grill, don’t forget the fixings:

  • Basic condiments that everyone will ask for include catsup, mustard, relish, sauerkraut and onions.
  • To give hamburgers an extra lift, slice tomatoes and pickles, set out some lettuce leaves and spice things up with some sliced jalapeño peppers. Slice vegetables thin to make the burger easy to handle.
  • There’s a great debate about cheese and hamburgers. Some people want the cheese melted on the burger while it’s on the grill. Others would rather put the cheese on the burger with the other fixings.

The Top Barbecue Menu Items

Steaks and Ribs

Steaks and ribs are some of the easiest foods to cook on the barbecue. Just pick out a good cut of meat, pat it down with your favorite dry rub and put it on the grill. Steaks are cooked between 3 to 5 minutes on a side depending on the thickness of the steak and the desired doneness. Ribs are cooked for 2 hours at 225 degrees, wrapped in foil and put back on the grill for 2 hours, uncover and put on the grill for another hour, and the barbecue sauce should be spread on the ribs for the last few minutes on the grill.

There are myriad barbecue sauce and barbecue rub recipes available for any taste and any occasion. Here’s a simple recipe for a dry jerk seasoning:

  • 3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons each of salt, black pepper, ground coriander, garlic powder, onion powder, thyme, allspice and cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon (more or less depending on taste) chili powder or cayenne pepper.

Smoked Sausages

A favorite sausage for the barbecue is the bratwurst. To give bratwurst a tailgate flavor, make a beer bath while the sausages are grilling. Here’s how:

  • In a large, grill-proof pan, mix two bottles of beer, 4 tablespoons butter and a grilled onion. Set on the side of the grill to keep warm.
  • Put the bratwurst over an indirect medium temperature grill. Use wood chips to give the sausages a smoky flavor. Cover and cook for 30 to 40 minutes.
  • When the bratwurst is done, put in the beer mixture. Keep on the grill until ready to serve.

Beer Can Chicken

Beer can chicken is an easy way to barbecue a whole chicken that turns out moist and tasty. Here’s how:

  • Clean and pat dry a whole chicken. Rub lightly with oil then season with salt and pepper or a favorite dry rub.
  • Open a can of beer and pour out half the beer. Place the can on a flat surface and set the bird cavity over the can.
  • Barbecue on the center of the grate over medium-high indirect heat.
  • Cook for 1 hour 15 minutes. The internal meat temperature should be 165 degrees in the breast and 180 degrees in the thigh.

Shrimp Kabobs

Grilling small foods can be made easier when the foods are arranged on a skewer. Shrimp is just the right size to easily fit on a skewer and it pairs well with cherry tomatoes, onions, bell peppers and pineapple. Here’s a simple method to make shrimp kabobs:

  • Marinate the shrimp and vegetables in a favorite dressing, vinaigrette or teriyaki sauce for an hour in the refrigerator. Do not reuse the marinade.
  • Thread the shrimp and vegetables on the skewers. Remember to soak wooden skewers.
  • Grill for 4 to 7 minutes.

Barbecue Salmon

The best way to barbecue salmon and other types of fish is with a grilling basket. With a grilling basket, put the salmon inside the basket, close it and start grilling.

Baked Beans, Coleslaw and Potato Salad

Every barbecue needs a few side dishes. Dishes such as baked beans, coleslaw and potato salad can be made the day before, packed in the cooler and carried to the barbecue. Keep coleslaw and potato salad in the cooler until it’s time to eat. Baked beans can be put on the grill and re-heated.

Grilled Fruits and Vegetables

Fruits and vegetables are a part of a healthy meal. Explore your creativity and grill the fresh, locally grown foods that are available at your neighborhood produce market. Here are a few ideas:

  • Grill peaches, nectarines or apricots and drizzle with an olive oil and citrus juice dressing. Add a dash of hot sauce for a little spice.
  • Make kabobs for vegetarian friends with cubes of tofu, mushrooms, red onions and other favorite vegetables.
  • Toss eggplant slices in a mixture of olive oil and minced garlic. Grill and drizzle with balsamic vinegar.
  • Brush whole Portobello mushrooms with olive oil and grill. Can be fixed like a hamburger.
  • Fill the cavity of half an acorn squash with a mixture of apples and peanuts. Wrap in foil to grill.

Cornbread and Dinner Rolls

If your barbecue doesn’t include hamburger or hotdog buns, consider adding some type of bread to the menu. Dinner rolls are an easy choice. Place on the grill for a few seconds to quickly warm the rolls and give them a few decorative grill marks. If you want to up your game, mix up a favorite cornbread recipe, pour it in a cast iron skillet and put over indirect heat on the grill and cover.

Hand-churned Ice Cream

No meal is complete without a dessert. Keep the kids busy by freezing up a batch of hand-churned ice cream. Armed with a good ice cream recipe, lots of ice and rock salt, you can keep the kids busy for quite some time.

Last Updated: June 14, 2012
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About Coletta Teske Coletta Teske has 25 years' experience in tech journalism, as well as home and gardening topics. She has freelanced for Fortune 500 companies such as Boeing and Microsoft, published more than two dozen computer books for Prima Publishing and Macmillan, and worked as a freelance correspondent for West Hawaii Today. Coletta has been an avid gardener since she was 2 years old. While living in Hawaii, she achieved a lifelong dream of becoming a certified master gardener.

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