10 cheap BBQ ideas you should try this summer

As far as I’m concerned, let’s rename summertime: welcome to grilling season. It’s all about bringing friends and family together over amazing food and the beauty of the great outdoors. The backyard barbecue is one of my favorite traditions, but you don’t have to break the bank to do it! These cheap grilling ideas stretch your dollar further without sacrificing flavor.

Try all of our cheap BBQ recipes.

Ways to save money at your next barbecue
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Ways to save money at your next barbecue

Use Inexpensive Cuts of Meat

Backyard grilling doesn’t have to mean breaking the bank on beef tenderloin or ribeye steak. Check out lesser known cuts of beef (like chuck roast or sirloin flap) or swap in cheaper (and more flavorful) chicken thighs for the breasts. With a little marinade and some seasoning, no one will know you’re working on a budget!

This is the easiest way to grill chicken legs, wings or thighs.

Make Gourmet Hot Dogs

A package of hot dogs or brats certainly won’t break the bank, but that doesn’t mean you have to serve them up plain. Make ballpark-style hot dogs by dressing them up with Sriracha-spiked mayonnaise and pickled vegetables, guacamole and bacon, or barbecue sauce and cheddar cheese. The possibilities are endless!

Dress up Your Burgers

You won’t have to spend a lot of money to dress up your hamburgers. Stuff ’em with blue cheese, top them with a fried egg, glaze the patties with barbecue sauce, or dust them with blackening seasoning. With a little creativity, those burgers will be fancy in no time.

Try these unexpected burger toppings at your next cookout.

Get Creative with Sauces

You can transform a bunch of inexpensive carrots into a restaurant-quality side just by serving them with a good sauce. Whether it’s for meat or vegetables, prepare a sauce you can drizzle (like chimichurri or barbecue sauce) or one you can dip into (like tzatziki or a creamy cilantro sauce). They will elevate your meal without costing much at all.

Make Your Meat go Further

Making tacos is a great way to make your meat go further. People tend to take a large portion of pulled pork for a sandwich, but they can’t fit that much into a small tortilla! Let them pile up the toppings so you won’t have to buy as much meat. It won’t feel like you’re skimping, either.

Celebrate the Kebab

Kebabs are the perfect way to showcase a few different (and inexpensive) ingredients. Load up your kebabs with mushrooms, large pieces of onion and bell peppers, cherry tomatoes, and a few chunks of meat. You can even use inexpensive packages of stew meat and marinate them overnight. They’ll be filling and satisfying without costing too much.

Throw a Pizza Party

Grilled pizza is not only delicious, but it’s pretty inexpensive, too! You can buy a few packages of pre-made frozen or refrigerated dough (or, you can make your own if you’re ambitious). They’ll grill up in a flash and you can get pretty creative with the toppings to keep the cost down, too.

Go Meatless

Protein is definitely the most expensive part of your backyard barbecue, so put together a vegetarian grill instead. Grill up thick-cut cauliflower, sweet potato, or eggplant steaks and serve them alongside grilled tomatoes, zucchini, and peppers. If you season everything well and serve it up with a good dipping sauce, everything will be super fresh and flavorful. No one will miss the meat.

Skip the Deli

Deli-prepared salads cost more than you think – especially if you’re throwing a large party. You can easily whip up a batch of potato salad, pasta salad, or a three-bean for a fraction of the cost. Making it yourself also allows you to customize the flavors so they match the rest of the grilled food.

Make Filling Appetizers

Filling but delicious appetizers – like a grilled cheesy garlic bread or chips and guacamole – can help keep your barbecue costs down. These dishes are pretty inexpensive but they’re craveably tasty. Your guests will fill up on the apps and won’t overload their plates when it comes time for the spendier main dishes.


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