The Must-Have Summer Foods for Outdoor Entertaining

It’s summer. Go outdoors. Have some fun. Enjoy the weather. Invite some friends over to your place. Throw a party. Show off your backyard. Break in that new patio set and grill. And the best part of outdoor entertaining, it doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive – just relaxing and casual. Let us help with the menu. Here are 10 must-have foods for any summer outdoor entertaining event

Burgers, hot dogs and brats
You can never go wrong with the classics. These picnic favorites stretch your food budget while providing tasty options that are easy to prepare. Provide a wide variety of condiments and toppings and let your party-goers fix ‘em just the way they like.

Fried Chicken
What’s a summer cookout without fried chicken? Who knows? Try finding a picnic without it. No matter if you fry it at home or order it from your favorite restaurant, your friends will thank you and fill up on this crispy southern treat.

Pasta/Potato Salad
This popular pot-luck pass-around is a summer staple. And like snowflakes, no two are alike. Everybody had their idea or a family recipe of what they insist is the best cold salad every created. Macaroni or redskins? Mayo or salad dressing? Mustard or no mustard? There’s no wrong answer, only lots of delicious choices.

Lemonade
Let’s face it, lemonade tastes like summer. This perfect picnic sipper keeps everyone in attendance refreshed with its tarty sweetness. Lemonade also makes a great mixer, so make sure there’s a pitcher of it hanging out on the adult beverages table.

Chips
Whether they’re potato, corn or nacho, chips are a must have. With what seems like 100s of flavors and styles, this crowd pleaser provides something for everyone. Grab a few bags, open them up and watch them disappear.

Watermelon
See the first three sentences from Fried Chicken above. Then slice it up, serve it up and rave about how sweet it is.

Sandwiches
Varieties of bread, cold cuts and cheese allow your family and friends to build their own sandwiches with the perfect bread-to-meat-to-cheese ratios their taste buds crave. Throw in some lettuce, tomatoes, condiments and pickle spears and your outdoor deli is ready to go.

Fruit Salad
There has to be something healthy at a barbecue, right? OK … healthier. And fruit salad fills the bills with its assortments of in season favorites like grapes, strawberries, bananas, and blueberries. Watermelon often gets its second picnic appearance as well. Cut the fruit into bite size pieces, toss them all together, sprinkle with a little sugar and fruit salad has been getting finicky children to drop their “I-don’t-like-healthy-food” guard and grab their forks for years.

Deviled Eggs
This fantastic finger food brings the appetizer round to picnics. Mix up a batch, sprinkle on some crumbled bacon and paprika and they’re ready to go. But be warned, it seems there’s always a concerned mother telling revelers to eat the eggs quickly before they go bad in the sun. No worries there.

Ice
OK. Technically it’s not a food. But this must-have is the original just add water recipe! Ice up the drinks, ice down the perishables and keep the picnic going for hours (especially when it’s in our tumblers).

There you have it. These 10 ingredients make any outdoor party a success! Sure, there are more (Ribs and coleslaw come to mind) but these essentials always seem to be on hand, in hands and delighting everyone.

PJ Butland