There are many things that epitomize the carefree atmosphere of summer. Airy clothes, sunny days and, of course, barbecue season. We take our gatherings outdoors, moving from the dining room to our dedicated picnic tables. Friends drop by unannounced and are always welcomed with open arms. With the atmosphere high and turning your phone on (other than snapping a few photos) it doesn’t get in your way, there’s no better way to celebrate the start of summer than with dinner at his party. And, of course, there’s no better place to start than with some of the perfect barbecue appetizers.
The goal of our summer app is to incorporate seasonal, fresh flavors into every bite. That means it pairs well with herb-heavy dishes (green goddess dressing), dishes that emphasize fresh summer veggies (eggplant dip), and perfect margaritas (guacamole!). Get your taste buds ready and dive in.
Featured image by Michelle Nash.
13 BBQ Appetizers Every Summer Dinner Party Needs
Spring Crudité with Green Goddess Dressing
Why we love it: There’s a reason green goddess dressing has become fashionable. First, it’s great. A cup of mixed herbs of your choice, a few tablespoons of chives and fresh parsley make it a perfect pairing with your favorite crunchy vegetables. I like to put a big platter on the table and everyone can eat whatever they want. An eyeball and an appetizer in one? wonderful.
Hero Ingredients: When fresh summer herbs are involved, I always look for a little lemon juice/peel to brighten things up even more.
Simple potato salad with smoked chili aioli
Why we love it: Nothing epitomizes summer like potato salad. But folks, this isn’t your grandma’s classic gooey salad favorite (although we all have a special fondness for her recipe). Toss the fork-softened potatoes in an aioli-like dressing made with eggs, garlic, lemon and plenty of good olive oil. It’s easy and brings a beautiful, organic feel to your table.
Hero Ingredients: There are many standouts, but I love how the jammy eggs complement the creamy texture of the potatoes.
smoky eggplant dip
Why we love it: Eggplants are a summer staple for me. I love to roast it in the oven, enjoy it with ratatouille, or scoop a large baba ghanoush with toasted pita bread. This recipe is closer to his third, taking all the creamy goodness of traditional Levantine appetizers and adding a smoky, spicy edge.
Hero Ingredients: We used smoked paprika and freshly ground toasted cumin to appreciate the complex, addictive flavor of this dip.
Watermelon tomato caprese salad
Why we love it: Caprese is one of the most popular Italian dishes. This classic riff adds watermelon to the mix to bring out the sweetness of tomatoes. The result is a light, refreshing salad that’s perfect for amusing burgers and steaks.
Hero Ingredients: As summer approaches, I am definitely eating watermelon to lose weight. This salad is one of my favorite ways to feel full.
Grilled artichokes with lemon garlic aioli
Why we love it: Artichokes are my whole family’s favorite. (Both my sisters and I asked for birthday dinners, and my parents were happy to do so.) I used to steam artichokes, but when you grill artichokes on the grill, the outside becomes It will be charred and soft on the inside. Serve with bread for a light dinner or with steak for a serious barbecue appetizer. But what about mayonnaise? Not negotiable.
Hero Ingredients: This recipe has a very short ingredient list, so you have to choose for granted. Artichokes are a summer treat.
Plenty of sweet potato fries
Why we love it: In the world of BBQ appetizers, French fries always reign supreme. You can serve your standard chunky gold wedges, but the loaded French fries are even better. This recipe is based on our favorite frozen sweet potato fries (we used) Alexia). Just prepare according to the instructions on the package, add toppings, and enjoy to your heart’s content.
Hero Ingredients: I love the mediterranean vibe when laden with fries. Creamy chickpeas, salty feta, slightly tangy tzatziki and kalamata olives. A winning combo where every ingredient is the star.
Shrimp Skewers with Tzatziki
Why we love it: Could it really make a list of the best skewer-free barbecue appetizers? These are one of the easiest summer recipes and can be customized in endless ways. I love this combination of light, juicy shrimp and colorful, hearty vegetables. Everyone, please enjoy the rainbow.
Hero Ingredients: Please enjoy this homemade tzatziki on a skewer. you’re welcome.
classic easy bruschetta
Why we love it: Bruschetta is one of the easiest BBQ appetizers in the game and one I always go to when I need something to serve. Toast the sourdough (with a generous coat of EVOO, of course) and toss with the tomato, garlic, and herb mix. Lay the bruschetta and top with the slices. Bonus: The most beautiful (edible) thing on the plate.
Hero Ingredients: For a simple recipe like this, you want to make sure you’re using the best farm-picked tomatoes you can find. It’s the main part of the appetizer, so you want to make it stand out.
Why we love it: I know, I know You already have a classic guacamole that you’ve spent years perfecting. But… if there’s one recipe that makes me want to try something new, it’s this recipe. Personally, I love the guacamole with the addition of red onions, in this case red peppers for a bit of spiciness and letting the avocado shine. Add the zest of two limes, a few sweet tomatoes and a dash of olive oil to balance everything out. Everyone will ask you the secret.
Hero Ingredients: When it comes to guacamole, avocado is just ideal. No brown spots or underripe. Aiming for creamy, fruity perfection.
Italian salsa verde
Why we love it: Alison and Jay Carroll served this salsa verde at Joshua Tree’s house when we visited last month. And it’s no exaggeration to say that we were blown away by its complex flavors. Mexican salsa verde may be better known for its sweet tomatillo base, but this Italian salsa verde is more tart and packs a punch of flavor. With green olives, just the right amount of olive oil, and plenty of herbs, you can make your own.
Hero Ingredients: Ask for a really fruity olive oil here. Excellent compatibility with sour green olives.
Why we love it: Nachos are always welcome at summer gatherings, but if you’re looking for a lighter barbecue appetizer, make nachos. Your gluten-free friends will be delighted to have this classic summer snack. Vegan guests can also snack on it, though you might not expect it with a heaping amount of (plant-based) cheese on top.
Hero Ingredients: Nutritional yeast brings flavor and umami elements to cauliflower seasonings. Be sure to stock up on your (dairy-free) cheese needs.
Taco Salad Bites
Why we love it: I never turn down the opportunity to eat a few tacos and leave, but sometimes it’s nice to have all the Tex-Mex flavor in one bite-sized snack. Buy him a bag of his favorite chips dipper at the store and fill up on this simple taco his salad. A spicy cilantro vinaigrette is the finishing touch to these cute little tacos.
Hero Ingredients: When summer comes and vegetables are in season, I always default to corn.
Prosciutto and Melon Skewer
Why we love it: I was able to poetically talk about my love for skewers. They are simple, require few ingredients, and if someone asks you how you can help them, you can do it. Think of these skewers as a deconstruction of the classic Italian snack of melon wrapped in prosciutto. We love cramming these flavors into one bite, but it’s also a fun experience to taste salty prosciutto, sweet melon, and creamy bocconcini one at a time.
Hero Ingredients: If I say that bocconcini are small balls of mozzarella cheese, my preference would be obvious.