There’s no better time than summer to host a backyard barbecue! Food and drink are the perfect complement to hours of splashing and swimming in the pool. Here is a menu that your guests will be talking about for years to come! 

The best barbecue food begins with the meat. Burgers and hotdogs are favorites with adults and kids alike. Add your signature burger seasoning and do not press down on the burgers while they are cooking. Let the juices remain inside. Make sure buns are fresh and lightly toasted on the grill to add the perfect touch to your hamburgers and hot dogs. 

For steak, bring the steaks to room temperature inside, then sprinkle them generously with salt on both sides before setting them on a smoking hot grill. High heat will cook the steak faster, which is essential for forming that flavorful brown crust on the outside of the steak. Its tenderness will also melt in your guests’ mouths. 

Chicken is another mouth-watering option for your barbecue. First, sprinkle salt generously on the chicken a day or two before the party. This helps the chicken retain its natural juices as it cooks. Pre-heat the grill, put the chicken on, let it sear, and turn it once. Take the chicken off before it gets rock hard and cover it for about 20 minutes to let the juices settle and rest. It will be tender—and juicy! For a backyard party twist, make skewers with marinated meat, pepper chunks, onion chunks, and mushrooms, then grill. Yum! 

Side dish options can be endless! If your guests ask what they can bring, this is the time to take them up on their offer so you can focus on the grill. There are so many salad and vegetable options to choose from—especially in the summer. Here are a few of my favorites. Properly made cole slaw—with hearty green cabbage drizzled with a creamy dressing—is an ideal accompaniment for grilled meats. And let’s not forget about potato salad. You can go with the classic American potato salad, or opt for German and even sweet potato salad. Cucumber salad is another summer delight. Even simple grilled corn on the cob is sure to please.

Round out your perfect party menu with an array of cold beverages. Make separate coolers for adult beverages and non-alcoholic drinks. Have plenty of cold water on hand. And don’t forget about dessert. Ice cream sandwiches and popsicles are perfect for the kids as they run around and enjoy the backyard. For adults, take advantage of the many fresh fruits available in the summertime, and serve with whipped cream.

Most important, relax and enjoy your time with friends and family. Delicious food and drink combined with good company is the ultimate recipe for the perfect summer barbecue. Summertime always seems to fly by, so it’s important to slow down and truly cherish making memories.