Figuring out what to bring to your first barbecue of the season can be a major source of concern. The key to keeping your cool under pressure is making a dish that can be prepared in advance. Whether you’re thinking summer crock pot recipes or cold salads that taste better the next day, giving yourself plenty of time before the party will make you feel way more at ease. Whatever you choose to make, you know it has to be delicious, and we’ve got you covered with savory side dishes to pair with grilled skewer recipes, drool-worthy desserts and icy beverages that are sure to cool you off. Check out these 17 make-ahead dishes to keep your first barbecue fun and stress-free.


1. Avocado, Jalapeño and Bacon Deviled Eggs: Gone are the days when deviled eggs were nothing but mustard, mayo and relish. Avocado makes these extra creamy, while jalapeño and bacon give an extra kick. Use a piping bag to keep the process mess-free. (via Cooks With Cocktails)

Baked Beans

2. Homemade Bacon Baked Beans: Baked beans are a staple at every barbecue. Typically, they’re heated up from a can and no one is the wiser… until everyone tries your homemade baked beans, that is. You’ll never go back to the pre-made stuff again. (via The Gracious Wife)


3. Maple Mustard Roasted Green Beans With Toasted Almonds: These green beans could not be easier to make. Plus, it’s easy to double or triple the recipe depending on how many guests will be at the barbecue. Reserve some marinade to drizzle over your green beans after they’re done roasting for an extra dose of yum. (via Queen of My Kitchen)


4. Buffalo Wing Pinwheels: Even if spicy food isn’t your thing, you will love these pinwheels. There’s a subtle kick at first bite, but creamy blue cheese is there to cool things down. Bonus: These are actually vegetarian. What?! (via Strawberry Blondie Kitchen)

cookie icebaox cake

5. Chocolate Chip Cookie Icebox Cake: Once the weather starts to get warmer, no one wants to turn on the oven. This icebox cake requires no cooking whatsoever — only strategic assembly. Whip it up the night before your barbecue and let it chill in the freezer until right before you leave. (via Sweetest Menu)


6. Jalapeño-Cilantro Cucumber Salad: A big green salad is a much-needed remedy to heavy barbecue fare. Load this one up with cucumbers and cilantro for a refreshing side. Dress the salad early so the flavors have plenty of time to blend together. (via Eat Well 101)


7. Farro Caprese Salad: Fresh ingredients that are both light and flavorful are a warm-weather must. Juicy cherry tomatoes, arugula and basil bring out all the flavors of summer. You could serve this cold as a salad or warm for a simple side. (via A Nerd Cooks)


8. Lemon Cupcakes With Blueberry Frosting: By the time everyone has eaten their meal, dessert is usually an over-stuffed afterthought. But when you bring out these citrusy cupcakes, everyone will pay attention and make room for a little something sweet. Better yet? They’re gluten free. (via Gluten Free With L.B.)


9. Mango Madness Guacamole: If you’re ever looking for someone at a barbecue, you’ll probably find them hanging out by the dip. This guacamole is sweet, spicy and totally addictive. Make sure you try a scoop while you’re making it, because it’ll be gone in a flash. (via Get Inspired Everyday)


10. Mango Shrimp Salsa: Preparing this salsa the night before your cookout gives the flavors plenty of time to permeate the shrimp and mango. Serve with homemade tortilla chips if you’re feeling extra fancy. (via Homemade Hooplah)


11. Mixed Berry Sangria: It’s just not a party until someone busts out the sangria. White wine, ginger ale and mixed berries are all you need to create this simple cocktail sure to be the hit of the party. Try using frozen berries to add flavor while keeping the drinks nice and frosty. (via Gal on a Mission)


12. Peach and Citrus Iced Tea: For those who prefer a non-alcoholic beverage, iced tea is where it’s at. Double down on flavor by using peach tea bags and fresh peaches. Let the fruit steep overnight for optimal saturation. (via The Peach Kitchen)


13. Loaded Ranch Potato Salad: While you can’t really make loaded baked potatoes for 30 people (well, you CAN, but why would you?!), you can make a big batch of potato salad that tastes *just* like the real thing. (via Spicy Southern Kitchen)


14. Prosciutto and Melon Skewers: Let’s say you forgot about the barbecue until the night before. Grab some prosciutto, fresh mozzarella and cantaloupe, and get to work. Scooping the melon is the hardest part (if you can call that hard), and the rest is assembly. Tackle this ahead of time and the next day you can grab and go. (via Garnish With Lemon)


15. Raspberry S’mores Bars: You don’t need a bonfire to enjoy the nostalgic taste of s’mores. These bars tick all the same boxes, but with the sophisticated addition of raspberry compote. (via Cake ‘N Knife)


16. Crunchy Sesame Chicken Slaw: Rotisserie chicken works perfectly for this Asian-inspired slaw, which means no cooking. Raw cabbage and almonds give this side dish a fresh crunch, while sesame oil lends an incredible nuttiness. This slaw only gets better with time, so try and sneak any leftovers you can. (via The Honour System)


17. Spicy Baked Macaroni and Cheese: Smoked mozzarella and pepper jack give this mac and cheese its signature smokey and spicy essence. Assemble the whole casserole the evening prior, and in the morning, you can top with extra cheese and breadcrumbs and bake away. Everyone will think that you slaved away in the kitchen all day making this epic dish. (via The Country Contessa)

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