The smell of barbecue in the air is often synonymous with a warm summer day, but as those long days roll into the crisp temperatures of autumn, that does not mean you have to pack up your grill. In fact, throwing an autumn barbecue is often even better than a summer one.
Autumn barbecues have a lot of positives: the air is cooler, making everyone more comfortable outside. There are limitless possibilities for decorating for your party, and the food options are fun and flavorful.
While a barbecue centers around the food, the surrounding ingredients are important as well. Here are 7 genius tips to make your autumn barbecue the toast of the town.
1. Use your barbecue as a cozy conversational place
The cool air is a natural invitation to huddle around a warm fireplace and carry on deep discussions about nothing and everything. But many times the cook is left out of these conversations because they need to be where the really important stuff is going on – at the grill.
Instead of a fire, though, set your grill up in a way that it is the center of your seating arrangement. This ensures that you get to participate in conversations with your guests and still take care of the meal. It’s also a natural ice-breaking opportunity, since everyone will be interested in what you are cooking and will likely have something to add to the discussion.
2. Spice up your menu to make it fall-oriented
This is the time to try new things. Autumn seems to be the season of spices, so go with it and bring some of that flavor into your grilling. Grilled pumpkin, turkey, sweet potatoes, and more are common fall barbecue fares, but don’t stop there. Use your imagination to serve up sweets and meats to please the crowd.
Don’t forget the extras in your meal, either. Fall menus are the perfect opportunity to throw in some pumpkin beer as a finishing touch, and sweet potato or pumpkin pie.
3. Expand your grilling expertise
Steaks, chicken and hot dogs fall solidly in the area of summer barbecue favorites, but they aren’t special if you cook them all year. Instead, move into meats and veggies that you might not normally have tried on the grill.
Try meats that go well with fall spices, such as lamb or goat. If your guests are not ready for quite that level of experimenting, go with lean cut pork chops.
4. Go wild with your decorations
Autumn is the time that everything is possible. Cinnamon broomsticks, Halloween decorations, Thanksgiving cornucopias – nothing is off limits. The scents and colors are fun and varied, and you can involve all of them into your barbecue preparation.
Think about the areas your guests will be seeing the most of, and decorate those areas by throwing in a candle or a broomstick in the corner. Garnish your seating table with little pumpkins. Incorporate reds, oranges, yellows, and browns as much as possible.
Be sure you don’t forget the sensation of smell. Your grill will create a delicious fragrance outside, but anywhere your guests will be in the house should also get a spicy aromatic touch.
5. Fall brings out the festive in people
Your guests will most likely be feeling the invigorated energy of the cooler temperatures. Use that energy to make your party fun and exciting.
Let your friends and family be part of the menu creation by serving up items they can assemble and cook over the grill, like kebabs or campfire sandwiches. It takes the stress off of you and lets them enjoy themselves and their creations.
If you are determined to cook for everyone, plan a dessert for after the meal that can be cooked over the grill by your guests. S'mores are a popular fireside option that everyone loves, but there are many more choices.
6. Location, location, location
Who says a barbecue has to be at your house? Now that the temperatures are winding down, consider hosting your party somewhere unique. Use someone’s barnyard open spaces and set up a hayride, hit the beach for a bonfire and grill combination, or come up with somewhere just as fun.
Barbecues don’t have to be in your backyard. With the right grill, your party location can be flexible. In fact, natural gas grills are easy to use and transport, so if you choose these when BBQing, you have almost endless possibilities.
7. Genius Idea: Throw an Autumn Barbecue
When was the last time someone you knew hosted an autumn barbecue? Summer, yes, these types of parties are quite common, but with the coming of fall, the grill often gets forgotten about until the lazy days of summer roll around again.
Instead of leaving your grill to get lonely and dusty, keep it out and plan an autumn barbecue. Your friends will love the novelty of it, and the possibilities that you get to create for your menu will be fun and exciting.
For new ideas for your outdoor fall fests, join The Chopping Block for a hands-on grilling class this month in Lincoln Square. It's the last month we'll be offering outdoor classes so don't miss your chance to brush up your skills and learn new dishes!