We definitely consider Memorial Day the much-awaited start to grilling season. From cookouts replete with loaded tables of side dishes and barbecue fixin’s to family gatherings and 4th of July festivities, outdoor hosting is one of our favorite ways to entertain, and also to eat. In honor of the (basically official) beginning of summer, we’re bringing you our favorite ways to embrace cookout fun with crowdpleasers that will hold up at room temperature, alongside tasty ways to serve them, and other delicious tips and tricks to help you celebrate the season in style.
When you’ve amassed a group of hungry diners brandishing (alcoholic) beverages (more on that later), make sure you’ve got some snacks for them to graze on while you grill. Crostini is always a fabulous appetizer for guests to munch on, as they can make their own or you can spread the bread beforehand (but not too far in advance to avoid sogginess).
These summer squash crostini are a seasonal fave and will be very well received. Guacamole and tortilla chips are all-stars, especially when the guac is extra spicy. Feel free to serve our super simple homemade tortilla chips with any dip of your choosing. (Try one these options that the Plated chefs love.)
If you’re feeling a really easy make-ahead vibe, can we suggest some very tasty trail mix? You’ll want to provide bowls on bowls, as it’s pretty addictive.
Lastly, we know that deviled eggs can be a bit of a….production, but they’re absolutely always worth it and our version is really easy. Celebrate the outdoors (and bring these out right as guests start to get peckish), and they’ll be highly impressed! Eggs + mayo + mustard = deviled eggs for days.
Here we’ve arrived at the meat (literally) of the event: the main courses. We’re assuming you’ll want to fire up the grill, so we’ve assembled some of our go-to cookout faves.3
Think outside the (pizza) box with this one, and trust us, you’ll fall in love this recipe. We love the added char on the crust, which gets topped with a crisp, refreshing chicken Caesar salad. That’s amore!
Grilled fish tacos
Tacos are always a great party idea because you can make the toppings ahead and everyone will be able to craft their own. These simple fish tacos are a total breeze—as are the toppings they’re served with!
We can never get enough of these summery steak kebabs sandwiched with bell pepper and zucchini, and you can make marinate them for up to 12 hours beforehand! Then, it’s as easy as skewer, grill, and eat.
12 skewers, soaked
4 cloves garlic, minced
5 sprigs rosemary, leaves only, chopped
5 sprigs thyme, leaves only, chopped
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
¼ teaspoon chili flake
½ cup olive oil, divided
1½ pounds sirloin, cut into 2 inch cubes
2 zucchini, cut into 1½ inch pieces
1 bell pepper, cut into 1½ inch pieces
1 Spanish onion, cut 4 wedges and each wedge cut crosswise into thirds
1. Soak the skewers in water.
2. Mince the garlic and chop the rosemary and thyme as finely as possible. Combine the minced garlic, chopped herbs, balsamic vinegar, chili flake, and ¼ cup olive oil in a reusable bag. Cut up the sirloin and add it to the bag. Let marinate for at least 20 minutes and up to 12 hours.
Meanwhile, cut up the vegetables. Drizzle them with remaining olive oil and season with kosher salt and pepper.
3. Preheat the grill to high.
4. Assemble kebabs with a mixture of steak and vegetables. Place on grill and cook until charred on the outside and medium-rare on the inside, about 3-4 minutes per side for a total of 12–16 minutes.
5. Remove from the grill and let rest, loosely covered in tin foil for 10 minutes. Serve with your favorite side dishes.
Yes, desserts can be grilled—and they’ll be all the tastier for it! The smoky-sweet combination of flavors is the perfect way to ring in summer.
We’re in love with these balsamic-grilled peaches—the heat from the grill caramelizes all the sugar in the fruit, and you won’t believe how easy they are to put together. Topped with a dollop of cooling vanilla ice cream, this grilled take on peaches and cream is over-the-top delish.
4 peaches, halved and pitted
½ cup honey
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
½ teaspoon vanilla bean paste
1 pint vanilla bean ice cream
1. Cut the peaches in half and remove the pits. In a small bowl combine honey, balsamic vinegar, and vanilla. Brush half of the glaze on the peaches and place on the grill. Grill for about 4-5 minutes, turning half way through.
2. Place the grilled peaches on a platter and drizzle with the remaining glaze. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream on top.
Grilled Pound Cake
Who doesn’t adore pound cake? It turns out, throwing it on the grill is a great idea. Feel free to use store-bought pound cake or make your own if you’re feeling DIY! For even more decadence, make a whipped cream bar with a few different flavored options so guests can dollop away.
Simply butter slices of pound cake before putting them on either an outdoor or indoor stovetop grill, and let them get a little char. It’s literally that simple.
1 pound cake, sliced into 1-inch thick pieces
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Preheat a grill or grill pan to medium-low. Brush the pound cake slices with melted butter. Grill until the cake is toasted, about 2 minutes on each side. Add ice cream or berries if your heart desires. Eat.
Refreshing, easy-to-sip drinks are always essential for a party of any kind. But why stick to just beer and rosé? Try one of these inspired, refreshing tipples:
Tequila Negroni Margarita
Yes, you read that right! This Plated original cocktail combines two of our favorite drinks—the negroni and the margarita—in one bold and bright beverage. Pro tip: make a pitcher in advance and add the seltzer and ice right before serving.
What about an OG Southern beverage? We love the bracing, herbal flavors of a mint julep.
Rosemary Thyme Vodka Lemonade
This slightly savory spiked lemonade is oh-so-refreshing. For younger or non-imbibing guests, whip up a batch sans lemon vodka.
Sangria is irresistible and easy-to-drink. This rosé version can be made without the booze for a fruity summer sipper.
Still feeling inspired by the grill? We’ve got even more ways to embrace it!
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