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How to Master Backyard Cookouts

There are so many occasions that call for a backyard cookout; Labor Day, July 4th, or birthdays just to name a few. So, it's important to have a game plan ready when the opportunity to host a backyard cookout arises. Cookouts are fun and relaxing when you're a guest, but when it comes to hosting, it can be very stressful. Here are a few easy steps to help you master the art of backyard cookouts; we know throwing an event can feel difficult, but Char-Grillers got you covered!  



Before you do anything, you'll want to choose a time for your event. Are you throwing a lunch or dinner cookout? Having a set time well in advance will ensure your guests are available and arrive on time. Next, it's time to make the guest list. Depending on the event, you may want a lot of friends, or maybe you'll want to keep the gathering more intimate. Once the guest list is set, send invites, and be sure to follow up a few days after to ensure you have an accurate headcount. You don't want to have too much or too little food.   

Now that you know who's coming, you can begin to set the menu. Typically, the host will handle any grilling and main menu items. We recommend our All-American Burger recipe, Hot and Fast Pork Shoulder recipe, or Smoked Chili Dog recipe. Because hosting a cookout can be a lot of work, it's totally okay to ask your guest to bring a side or dessert. If you do want guests to pitch in, make sure you ask them at least a few days before, so they have time to prepare. Also, you don't want guests to bring too much of the same thing, so it's best to ask them to bring a dessert item or side item.   

The day before your cookout is the right time to buy food and drinks, so you're not hassling the day of. Because you know how many people are showing up, buying the right amount should be easy. Remember is always best to have too much than too little; who doesn't love leftovers? Gather any other supplies you may need like condiments, decorations, games, or cups. If you don't have one already, you may want to invest in a cooler for drinks or a fold-up table to place food on. That way, the food is easily accessible, and the drinks stay cold in the summer sun.  

In Summary: 

  • Send invites early  
  • Ask guests to bring a specific food item 
  • Prep food the day before 
  • Set up games to keep people entertained  
  • Don’t forget essentials like cups, silverware and condiments  


The Day of the Cookout:  

It's the day of the cookout, and there's not too much to do since you planned everything out. Be sure to give yourself plenty of time to set up your backyard and get the food and drinks ready. *Remember ice for the cooler of drinks* Also, set up trash and recycling around your backyard to make clean up easier. Once your guests are here, you'll want to hang out with them instead of running around your house. It's important to remember that sometimes things don't go according to plan, but don't stress, you've thrown a great cookout, it's time to enjoy it! 

How do you keep food hot/cold when it’s outside? 

At any cookout, people want their drinks cold and their burgers hot. But because you cannot control the weather outside, it’s important to invest in items to keep your food and drinks at its desired temperature. For drinks, we recommend a cooler and insulated cup. For hot food, placing a layer of tinfoil around the food will keep it insulated and warm. For anything, keeping the lid to the container on tightly will help keep the temperature regulated.   

How do you create a good self-service food station? 

The placement of the food and drinks at a cookout is very important. For starters, we recommend keeping snacks and beverages away from the cooking station. That way, the griller has room to work without being crowded. Secondly, to improve the flow of traffic at your cookout, its best to have multiple food/drink stations. Perhaps dessert at one table and side dishes at another. Doing this will eliminate crowding and will help people locate what they want faster.