Best Dishes to Bring to a BBQ

My favorite part about summer?  Going to BBQ’s!  And even better?  When someone else hosts the barbeque and I can focus on creating one amazing dish to contribute to the fete.  But here’s my secret…I only make easy dishes that look like I was slaving away in the kitchen all day.  It fools them EVERY SINGLE TIME. And I figure if I keep bringing the best dishes to a BBQ, I won’t have to host a party any time soon. Want in on my secret? Here is my collection of the best dishes to bring to a BBQ.

Watermelon Pops

Slice watermelon at least two inches thick.  Use any type of cookie cutter you desire to make watermelon cut outs.  Place each piece of fruit on a stick, and pop into the freezer to harden a bit. Stars are a popular shape, or you can go the flower route as well. Either way, it is easy, simple and delicious.


Get ready for the best five minute salsa imaginable.  Seriously, it’s so easy and people will think that you spent hours slaving in the kitchen. Roughly chop 3 cloves of garlic and one jalapeno pepper (you can take out seeds if you want the salsa to be more mild).  Blend them together using a food processor, blender, or my favorite—the Magic Bullet.  Next, add one can of tomatoes, one handful of cilantro, salt and pepper, and the juice of one lime.  Puree again.  Grab some chips and enjoy!


One of my favorite things about this dish is that you can use what you have in your garden to make it–fresh herbs and tomatoes! Start with 1 cup halved cherry tomatoes if you want a sweeter bruschetta or diced vine ripened tomatoes if you want a more mild and juicy flavor. Add 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper, as well as a pinch of sugar and red pepper flakes. Drizzle with olive oil and mix well. Julianne 1/4 cup of fresh basil and mix into the tomatoes. Serve with crusty bread or crackers and use the leftovers to top fish, burgers, or chicken.


Cucumber Salad

If you ask me, it isn’t really summer until I have a vat of cucumber salad chilling in the fridge. It is the perfect side dish for anything and everything and will undoubtedly be a stand out at your next BBQ. To make this mouth watering classic, thinly slice three cucumbers and arrange them in a colander.  Heavily season the cucumbers with salt and try to get the water to drain out of the cucumbers by pressing down with a paper towel (the salt will dry them out) and letting them marinate for at least one hour.  While the cucumbers are brining, mix together the vinaigrette:

¼ cup vinegar

1/3 cup sugar

¼ cup water

1 tsp dill

½ tsp pepper

½ cup diced red onion

Coat the drained cucumbers in the vinaigrette and chill before serving. The flavors enhance the more the cucumbers marinate, so chill overnight if possible for the best flavor.

Grilled Potato Salad

You will see a ton of different types of potato salads at a BBQ, but I guarantee that my grilled potato salad will stand out. Why? Because it is simple and fresh without heavy cream or dressing that makes you feel guilty after eating. Simply slice up 1 pound of potatoes and coat with salt, pepper, and olive oil before grilling. While grilling, try your best to get beautiful grill marks on your potatoes (bonus points for criss cross grill marks!). Once cooked, add the potatoes into a shallow pan and season with fresh herbs (rosemary and thyme are a favorite), 1/4 cup minced garlic, and 1/2 cup of herb vinaigrette (just pick a favorite from your local grocery store) while the potatoes are still warm. Finally, finish off with freshly grated parmesan cheese.

Pistachio Cake

Ready for the easiest and most delicious cake ever? Mix together one package of yellow cake mix, 3 eggs, 4 packages of pistachio flavored pudding, 1 cup of water and 1 cup of vegetable oil.  Bake for 1 hour at 400 degrees in a well greased Bundt pan.  Decorate with powdered sugar and serve with fresh berries. While BBQs are typically filled with cookies and brownies, this unique and bright green pistachio cake will definitely stand out for all the right reasons.


There are so many different options out there, but for a summer BBQ, you can’t go wrong with my Peach & Basil Sangria. It is the perfect flavor combo that just SCREAMS summer! But if you are looking for something REALLY easy, all you have to do is pour some white wine and add some fruity popsicles to it. As the popsicle melts, your drink gets fruitier and fruitier.


Enjoy the barbecue and be sure to check out my other popular recipes for parties as well as easy weeknight meals.

Enjoy the party!


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  1. Robin (Masshole Mommy) says

    I love cucumber salads. They are light and simple for the summer. You have lots of great ideas here.

    • amandasimkin says

      By the end of the summer I am always afraid that I might turn into a cucumber after all of the ones that I have eaten!

  2. Jerusha ( says

    I’m in love with the Sangria recipe… And I’m not going to lie, I’m a bit obsessed with the tomato/basil/cheese combo. I discovered that one last year and I’m eating ridiculously unhealthy amounts of it. LoL! – Jerusha,

  3. Elizabeth O. says

    Love all these. I make the cucumber salad a lot. Sometimes I use lemon juice instead of vinegar.

  4. Beth says

    All of those look really good! Getting excited to check out all the awesome bbq festivals going on in Chicago these next few weeks.

  5. Kristen says

    I love the watermelon shaped as a star. that is super cute! I have seen people put those in sangria!

  6. Rosey says

    I’d like to serve some tomato and mozarella skewers for the weekend. Put on a bed of blueberries, that would be amazing for the holiday.

  7. Renee @ Gettin' Fit Fab says

    I LOVE the watermelon on a stick {I’m thinking of Jeff Dunham right now}, and also the cucumber salad my mom makes that! One of my family favorites that everyone requests, is Taco Salad! It’s easy mix.

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