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Plan the perfect BBQ menu with help from Big K

An illustration of a chicken leg and skewer lie over a perfect BBQ menu grilling in the background

How are you adapting to these difficult times?  We hope that you have established safe, rewarding and most importantly, positive ways to get through the day. Are you searching for a little mental escape from the daily grind?  Perhaps you’re looking to the summer BBQ season with optimism, dreaming of throwing a massive Freedom Feast?  However you’re feeling, and whatever the situation outside, knowledge is always power. The more you know, the further you go as they say.  Well we’re here to enhance your expertise with some thoughts and tips on how to plan the right BBQ menu.  No point beating around the bush, let’s blitz some BBQ menu mechanics.

What is the right way to kick off your BBQ menu?

As we are all about positive vibes and visualisation at Big K, please indulge us. Let’s say that things are back to normal and it’s a gorgeous sunny day. You are going about your business, when you look out the window. A pleasant and peaceful view meets your eye, triggering a grill-related epiphany – it’s BBQ time. In a surge of enthusiasm and excitement, you pop out, grab a few bits and pieces, make a few calls and fire up the grill. There’s nothing wrong with a relaxed and freestyle approach to your BBQ menu, however it’s not always the most economical or efficient way to do things. Why settle for mediocre when you could have marvellous?

Did you think about the number of vegetarians versus meat-eaters in your crowd? Is there enough food to begin with? Are you doing starters? Have you created a complimentary menu of flavours and textures?  We’re not raising these questions to cause panic. All we’re saying is that it’s easy to get swept up in the joy of a BBQ. So slow down, take a moment and do some BBQ menu planning first. It’s a simple step that will avoid complications later on.

delicious food from a great BBQ menu sizzle and cook on a hot grill

What makes a good BBQ menu? A little thought and calculation.

We know everyone is different. Some like calculating down to the minutia. Others prefer some basic steps. As we’re talking to broad range of people here we’re going for simplicity above all else. Before creating your BBQ menu here are a few things to think about.

  • The approximate number of guests
  • General ratio of carnivores to vegetarians
  • Ratio of drinkers to non-drinkers
  • Any food-related allergies or massive dislikes amongst guests
  • Number of children at the BBQ. If so will you cater for them or keep one menu?
  • Budget 

The answers to these questions will start to give some rough ‘shape’ to your BBQ menu by creating some parameters of choice – a framework within which you can start narrowing down to the specifics. For example, now you should have a general idea of the balance between meat and vegetables dishes, the quality of meat possibly relating to budget and numbers plus any special culinary considerations or ingredients to avoid.

Breakdown your BBQ menu into simple categories

So the cogs are turning and the ideas for your BBQ menu are beginning to form in your mind. What’s next?  Just to let you know, we’re not going to sit here and tell you what menu you should do. There are literally infinite options and combinations out there. It’s the old ‘how long is a piece of string?’ syndrome.  Of course we’d never leave you hanging, so you can get stuck into all kinds of recipes here. But don’t do that just yet. We have more BBQ menu wisdom to share. Any BBQ menu can broken down into categories.

  • Appetiser/snack
  • Main meat
  • Veggie side
  • Starchy carb side
  • Dessert
  • Special drink

This breakdown is ideal if you’re the majority of your guests are meat eaters. However if it’s more of a vegetarian affair, you just flip the meat mains and veggie sides.

  • Appetiser/snack
  • Main veggie
  • Meat side
  • Starchy carb side
  • Dessert
  • Special drink

A perfectly grilled salmon fillet from a BBQ menu lies on a plate

It’s like building a house really. First you have your foundation (number of guests, budget and so on) then you have your structure (the rough menu outline above) now all that’s left is the design (the recipes and ingredients for your actual menu). Much like a constructing a house each element of your BBQ menu plan must compliment the other for a successful outcome.  For example, there’s no point planning to seduce people with a load of expensive Kobe beef if you are on a shoestring budget. Don’t put on a lavish surf and turf spread for a load of vegetarians. Once more we are aware that this is all the most basic of basics. However we also know how easy it is to make your BBQ menu all about you. Your vision. Your skills. Your spread. We guess what we’re trying to say here is that although passion is great, your menu is ultimately for others, so try to take yourself out of the equation and focus that energy on some common sense strategising. There will be plenty of time for some self-love and back patting when your guests leave.

The forgotten heroes supporting your BBQ menu

We get it. The glitz and glamour of your grilled goodies will always be the focus. And rightly so. But we need to say a word about the unsung saucy soldiers, the quiet condiments, the diligent dips and terrific toppings and marinades that often fly under the radar. These guys are key to any BBQ menu. They act in a supporting role, always there to offer that final touch of flavour or complimentary brilliance in each bite. Ok we’re getting a little carried away here but you really need to have these guys on deck for a flawless BBQ menu. Let’s take a quick look.

BBQ sauce. The godfather of all sauces. Sweet, tangy with many flavour variations to compliment all kinds if dishes. You can buy premade or create your own. Check out these BBQ sauce recipes and get hands on now.

Marinades. The hidden secret that gives so much taste. Again there are many marinades, with each complimenting a particular type of meat or fish. Meet magnificent marinades up close.

  • Ketchup
  • Mustard.
  • Mayonnaise
  • Hot Sauce


  • Tomatoes
  • Cheese
  • Lettuce
  • Mushrooms
  • Onions
  • Bacon
  • Hamburger or Hot Dog Buns

Dips and additional condiments

  • Salsa
  • Tandoori Masala
  • Hummus
  • Tzatziki
  • Tahini
  • Chimicurri
  • French onion dip
  • Ranch dip

Refreshments and beverages complete any BBQ menu

Finally a quick word on food’s partner in crime – drink. Of course you can just grab the usual staples and make things work. That’s fine but there are levels in the BBQ menu world, so why not try and kick things up a notch? Having a diverse and steady supply of drinks will not only keep everyone refreshed, they can compliment a variety of flavours and add a little OMG into your festivities too.

Before wading into the particulars, makes sure you have the broad spectrum covered. This means offering a range of both alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks. Obviously if it is very hot day, water is essential as it will keep everyone cool and hydrated.  The basic soft drinks are pretty self-explanatory. However you can raise the bar with a variety of non-alcoholic fruit punches or mocktails, keeping things interesting for your guests. Cold-pressed juices and smoothies are ideal for a healthy interlude before the main eating event.

Moving into the arena of tipples, fizz and fun, there are countless beverages to explore. Naturally the usual BBQ suspects such as beer are a given. But you don’t need to just pop to the shop for a crate of the usual. Beers, stouts, ales; the list goes on. Plus they come in all flavours with different taste characteristics to compliment your food. 

The wonderful world of wine is also waiting for you. Here you can really get into the science of things, discovering the right grape, aroma, bouquet, texture and taste to perfectly match any dish. You can share your wine journey with your guests, showing the care you have put into picking the perfect partners for your BBQ masterpiece.

A selection of meat from a BBQ menu lie grilling to perfection in a barbecue

This is just the tip of the nice-berg. We really could go on for days about the intricacies and nuances of BBQ menu planning. And we will return for something more recipe-centric. However for now you have all the elementals to get your BBQ menu cracking. We just hope you get the chance soon.