Backyard Barbecue Essentials

Fire up the grill this weekend and host friends and family for a backyard barbecue! Unsure what you’ll need to have on hand to host your gathering successfully? I’ve got you covered with these Backyard Barbecue Essentials, which covers appliances and tools you’ll need, as well as easy decor items that make decorating a snap, too.

a rack of ribs on a white plate with the text backyard bbq essentials

Hosting a backyard barbecue this season, but unsure what you need to begin?

You’re in luck!

This handy dandy list of Backyard Barbecue Essentials is going to make sure you’re set up for success as you prepare to host your backyard barbecue.

Backyard BBQ Food Checklist

If you’re hosting people for a meal, let alone a barbecue, you’ve got to have food to serve them.

Here are some of our favorites for a crowd:

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    In addition to these recipes and dishes, you’re going to need other store-bought items to pair with them.

    For example, if you’re making hamburgers, be sure to grab buns, tomato, onions, lettuce, ketchup, mustard and the like at the store. You might even serve it with barbecue sauce.

    You can find a more extensive list on our Favorite Recipes for a BBQ Party post.

    You can also learn more about my favorite menus (and how to combine them) on How to Host a Backyard Barbecue.

    Backyard Barbecue Appliances and Tools

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    Hosting a barbecue means you’ve got to have a few tools to make it happen.

    Snap up your favorites at your local hardware store, big box store or order ’em online to make it simple as can be.

    Here are some BBQ essentials you might want to have before putting together a party:


    Most barbecues call for a grill! Whether you’re making traditional Southern barbecue or grilling hamburgers and hot dogs, you’re going to need a grill at some point!

    Bonus points: You can transform a grill into a smoker by adding a smoker box with wood chips to your grill.

    When it comes to grills, you’ve got so many options. Here are some things to ask yourself:

    • What is your budget?
    • How much space do you have to store your grill? (If you’re in an apartment, you might consider getting a mini grill instead of a full-sized one.)
    • How often will you be using the grill? (Bonus question: Will you be transporting the grill with you to events?)
    • Do you want a gas grill or a charcoal grill? Charcoal requires a little more work and prep in advance, so I lean toward gas.

    Consider these questions, then peruse your options before making a decision.

    Overhead shot of shredded apple cider pork in a slow cooker

    Electric pressure cooker or slow cooker

    Chances are, if you’re hosting a backyard barbecue, that you’re going to be cooking more than one item at a time. While a lot of your items will cook on the grill, you’ll have other dishes that might need different treatment.

    I love using a slow cooker or electric pressure cooker to make other dishes for a barbecue. Baked beans? Done a while lot quicker. Pulled pork? Cook it low ‘n slow in the slow cooker!

    Having one of these beauties on hand is suuuuuuuper helpful and allows you to have less hands-on work to do the day of your backyard barbecue. And that’s a win, if you ask me.

    You won’t just need appliances like a grill or a slow cooker. Oh, no. You’re going to need some more specialty items to cook with, as well, and you might need more than one of them, depending on what you’re making.

    Serving Platters and Servingware

    Overhead image of Greek Bruschetta, on a long white platter, surrounded with more bread slices, hummus and tzatziki.

    Traditionally, I like to go with white platters for serving barbecue dishes. That said, you can mix and match patterns and colors and make it work!

    Some of my favorite dishes to use for a backyard barbecue include:

    We like to serve our condiments in little jars or in their own containers with knives so people can spread them onto their places accordingly.

    Eco-Friendly Plates and Cutlery

    The older I get, the more conscious I am about my plastic usage. In the more recent past, we have decided to go with compostable plates, bowls, glasses and cutlery because I find this important.

    Also, going with compostable/biodegradable serving pieces means less clean up for you, which is a win!

    We are big fans of these compostable 9″ paper plates, clear cups and biodegradable cutlery, but obviously, you can use plastic or melamine reusable plates, cups and cutlery if that’s more your speed.

    Don’t forget paper towel, too, because these barbecue dishes can get messy.

    Easy Decor Ideas

    Since I’m a perpetual casual entertainer, I keep a lot of these things on hand because you just never know when you’re going to need them.

    Some of my favorite things to have on hand for decorating at a backyard barbecue include the following…

    • Mason jarsYou can serve drinks out of them! BBQ sauces are easily poured into them. You can also display flowers in them. Whatever you decide to do will add a little rustic flair to your gathering.
    • Roll of food-safe brown paper: Perfect for a “tablecloth” so you don’t have to worry about your actual tablecloth getting barbecue stains on it. (Been there, done that, earned the stain removing badge after the fact.)
    • String lights: Perfect for adding a little twinkle to your serving space, whether you’re indoors or outdoors! I always envision barbecue being eaten outside, of course, and string lights add a lovely ambiance to any setting.
    • Citronella candles: If you live anywhere close to me, chances are, mosquitos will try to eat y’all alive when you’re eating outdoors. Head off the bugs (and be sure to offer guests insect repellant, too)

    What do YOU consider essentials for a backyard barbecue?

    A woman with dark curly hair wearing a black tank top in front of a white wall

    About the Author:

    Erin Parker is a Southern gal living in Texas with her husband and two daughters. She started The Speckled Palate to share what she was cooking as a newlywed… and over the years, it’s evolved to capture her love for hosting. Specifically, the EASIEST, lowest key entertaining because everyone deserves to see their people and connect over good food. Learn more about her

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