BQQ Menu Ideas

Ultimate Backyard BBQ Guide


Welcome to the Ultimate Backyard BBQ Guide,

I love a good backyard BBQ.

  • Is it the weather?
  • Is it the collection of friends and family?
  • Is it the great food coming off the grill?

The truth is, it is the combination of everything put together.  So, don't blow it. Make sure your next backyard BBQ is praiseworthy.


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The Ultimate Backyard BBQ Guide helps you take your backyard BBQ game to the next level. Follow our backyard BBQ tips, and become a cookout superstar that knocks the socks off your friends and family. Get ready for the praise!


Table Of Contents



Tip 1: Get Out Of Your Comfort Zone



Everyone loves a backyard BBQ, and the classics are sure to please, even if unsurprising and unimaginative. But in order to have a cookout that keeps your friends and family talking for days to come, get out of your comfort zone. Create a flavorful menu using proven flavor profiles from around the world.

A “flavor profile” is the immediately identifiable combination of flavors that define a specific cuisine. It is how different regional ingredients are put together to create a unique and memorable dining experience.

For example, the idea of “Mexican food” conjures very different food images and produces the anticipation of very different flavors than if I say “Asian food” or “Cajun food”.


Don’t know where to get started?
Don’t worry… we’ve done all the heavy lifting for you.


Creating the ultimate backyard BBQ menu with food choices and flavors that compliment each other can be a daunting task. To simplify the process, we’ve created fictitious restaurants with flavor profiles famous the world over. Each “restaurant” has a collection of recipes and food choices that makes creating the perfect cookout menu a snap.

When you want to throw the ultimate backyard BBQ, just pick a “restaurant”, create a menu from the recipes provided and you are sure to have a memorable cookout with a comprehensive menu that pleases any crowd.

We’ve identified 22 flavor profiles that make for great barbecue parties. (To explore each flavor profile in more detail, click the links below).


Roadside BBQ Southern BBQ Missouri BBQ
Roadside BBQ Southern BBQ Missouri BBQ Steakhouse BBQ
tex mex bbq cajun bbq cuban bbq mexican bbq
Tex-Mex BBQ Cajun BBQ Cuban BBQ Mexican BBQ
caribbean bbq south american bbq turkish bbq middle eastern bbq
Caribbean BBQ South American BBQ Turkish BBQ Middle Eastern BBQ


moroccan bbq italian bbq greek bbq spanish bbq
Moroccan BBQ Italian BBQ Greek BBQ Spanish BBQ


chinese bbq asian bbq indian bbq hawaiian bbq
Chinese BBQ Asian BBQ Indian BBQ Hawaiian BBQ


south african bbq russian bbq
South African BBQ Russian BBQ

If you want to have a backyard BBQ that creates a unique and memorable dining experience… get out of your comfort zone by exploring internationally praised flavor profiles.


Tip 2: Plan, Plan, Plan


A GREAT backyard BBQ is not going to happen by accident. Take your cookout to the next level by planning for success. Visualize your cookout before it happens and create the perfect cookout for your guests, plan an amazing menu with flavors that work well together and cook the food perfectly without a hitch.

You could just call up some friends, open the refrigerator and throw what you have available on the grill… and you’ll probably have a good time. But imagine what you can accomplish if you put in just a little more effort.

We’ve made planning a memorable and delicious backyard BBQ a simple, step-by-step process.


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Planning a praiseworthy backyard BBQ is not all that hard. Just follow the step-by-step process.


Tip 3: Check Your Backyard BBQ Equipment


Preparing the perfect backyard BBQ requires using equipment you probably don’t use every day. Do you know where everything is? Do you have enough charcoal? Is your gas tank filled? Make sure to check your equipment well before the day of the big event.


Tip 4: Know Your Main Ingredients

You could just throw some meat on the grill and flip. But if you want to get perfectly cooked food you need to understand your main ingredients and how to cook them to perfection. Different types of beef, pork and chicken require different cooking methods to bring out the best of the food.

Here are some of the best cuts of beef, pork and chicken for the grill.


Beef: Rib Eye Steak, N.Y. Strip Steak, Hanger Steak, Flat Iron Steak, Flank Steak & Skirt Steak Pork: Pork Tenderloin, Pork Chops & Pork Ribs (Baby Back Ribs and Spare Ribs) Chicken: Chicken Breast & Chicken Pieces (Chicken Thighs and Drumsticks)


Extra Tip: As we’ve discussed above, getting out of your comfort zone is a great idea if you want to wow your guests. This is true with the flavor profiles you choose, as well as your beef, pork and chicken selections. Explore other cuts of meat for your backyard BBQ, and you just might find a new favorite.


Tip 5: Make Your Own


If you want your backyard BBQ to be unique and memorable, don’t use store bought spice mixes, salad dressings, marinades, BBQ sauces, condiments or table sauces. By making your own, you inject your personality and unique flavor into every dish and take ownership of the entire cookout experience.

It is specifically the combination of spice mixes, salad dressings, marinades, BBQ sauces, condiments and table sauces that bring together the unique flavor profile you seek. Making your own, instead of using store-bought, elevates the overall cookout experience and directs all the praise to you.

Lou M. Penn provides all the recipes you need, split up by flavor profile, so you can put together a comprehensive menu with world-renowned flavors that you create in your own backyard.


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Going the extra step, by making your own spice mixes, salad dressings, marinades, BBQ sauces, condiments and table sauces, is what puts you a step above other backyard BBQs.


Tip 6: Create A Backyard BBQ Recipe Binder

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As we’ve discussed earlier, it is a good idea to create a backyard BBQ around a specific flavor profile. This ensures your menu selections use ingredients and flavor combinations that make sense and are proven to be delicious.

When it comes time to decide on your final backyard BBQ menu, you don’t want your recipes all over the place. It makes deciding on a menu AND preparing the menu selections so much easier if all the recipes you need are in the same place.

Creating a recipe binder puts your favorite recipes at your fingertips. No more searching through cookbooks or online for that recipe you saw before… but can’t remember where you saw it.

So, what could be better than creating a recipe binder? Creating a recipe binder split up by flavor profiles!

If you organize your recipe binder according to flavor profiles, making the perfect backyard BBQ menu is a snap. Just pick what kind of cookout you want according to the recognizable flavors, and choose recipes only from that flavor profile. provides recipe binder kits for 22 distinct flavor profiles. PLUS, you get blank, editable and printable recipe cards for each of the flavor profiles so you can add your own family favorite recipes to your recipe binder.

So, you can use Lou M. Penn’s head noddin’ good recipes AND add your own.


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Once you put your recipe binder together, you’ll have all the recipes you need in one place. This is a big help when it comes time to actually prepare your backyard BBQ food.


Tip 7: Cook Your Food To Perfection


Most people don’t grill enough to be able to tell if the food is cooked perfectly just by sight or feel. Don’t take any chances with the expensive ingredients that make-or-break your backyard BBQ. Use an Instant Read Thermometer to cook your food to perfection using internal temperature.


According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, internal temperature is the only way to gauge whether food is sufficiently cooked. USDA research reveals that the “color test” can give consumers misleading information about the safety of the foods they are preparing, since cooked color varies considerably. For example, freezing and thawing may influence a meat’s tendency to brown prematurely.


In the end, perfectly grilled food requires paying attention to TEMPERATURE in two specific areas: Your grill temperature and your food internal temperature.


Grill Temperature

Use the Hand Test. Gauge how hot the fire is by how long you can hold your hand 5 inches over the coals.

  • High Heat Grill: 2-4 seconds
  • Medium Heat Grill: 5-7 seconds
  • Low heat Grill: 8-10 seconds


Food Internal Temperature

Foods are properly cooked only when they are heated at a high enough temperature to kill harmful bacteria that cause food-borne illnesses. For the most accurate doneness test, use an instant-read thermometer to get a temperature reading. Insert the thermometer into the center of the thickest part of the meat.


Use this chart to help gauge your desired meat doneness:



Doneness Final Internal Temp Description Pull Around
Rare 125F (52C) center is bright red, pinkish toward the exterior portion, and warm throughout 120F (49C)
Medium Rare 130F (54C) center is very pink, slightly brown toward the exterior portion, and slightly hot 125F (51C)
Medium 140F (60C) center is light pink, outer portion is brown, and hot throughout 135F (57C)
Medium Well 150F (65C) mostly gray-brown throughout with a hint of pink in the center 145F (62C)
Well Done 160F (71C) steak is uniformly brown or grey throughout 155F (68C)



Doneness/Cut Final Internal Temp Description Pull Around
Medium 140F to 145F
(60c to 63C)
slightly pink center 135F to 140F
(57C to 60C)
Well Done 160F
no pink and uniformly brown throughout 155F
Ribs 180F to 200F
(82C to 93C)
pale white to tan 175F to 195F
(79C to 90C)
Sausage 160F
no longer pink 155F



Pieces Final Internal Temp Description Pull Around
Breast, Thighs, Drumsticks and Wings

160F to 165F
(71C to 74C)

cooked through and juices run clear

155F to 160F
(68C to 71C)


If you want perfectly grilled food for your backyard BBQ (and who doesn’t), understand that temperature matters and pay close attention to your grill temperature and your food internal temperature.


Tip 8: Let Meat Rest


It might come as a shock to you, but most meats don’t taste their best “hot off the grill”. By letting meat rest, you allow the juices to redistribute and the meat to come to its final internal temperature. Planning to let the meat rest results in perfectly cooked meats that taste their best.

Residual Heat or Carry-Over Cooking: This is what happens when you pull the meat from the heat source and let it rest. Heat from the hotter exterior is transferred to the cooler center as the meat sits. This means the meat must be removed from the heat at an internal temperature lower than your desired final internal temperature, allowing the residual heat to finish the cooking.

Since we recommend resting your meat for 5-10 minutes after cooking, internal temperature will increase around 5 degrees Fahrenheit (3 degrees Celsius) as it sits.

In the Cooking Temperature charts above, you’ll notice a section called “Pull Around”. This is when you should take the beef, pork or chicken off the grill to get the correct, final internal temperature and keep from overcooking the meat. This temperature takes into account the residual heat or carry-over cooking process.

As you can see, letting your meat rest after you pull it off the grill is very important for presenting the desired FINAL product to your guests. Don’t skip this important step.

Tip 9: Cut Your Meat Correctly

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You bought the best cuts of meat. You’ve cooked them to perfection and let them rest so they are at the peak of tenderness and flavor. Don’t drop the ball at the final step by cutting the meat wrong. Make sure to cut meat across the grain to break up long fibers and add tenderness.


Cut Meat Across The Grain

If you cut the meat with the grain, the muscle fibers remain long. This means your teeth are going to have to cut through the tough muscle fibers in order to chew it. The result is a less tender bit of food that is hard to chew.

However, when you cut meat across the grain, you cut through long fibers and make them shorter. As a consequence, the meat is easier to chew because a lot of the hard work of breaking up the tough muscle fibers has already been done for you. This means the meat feels more tender as you chew it and is more enjoyable.


Thickness Also Matters

Cutting across the grain is essential for a tender bite of meat. But the thickness of the slice also matters, especially for cuts of meat that are less tender to begin with.

Since muscle fibers run parallel to each other, a thick slice of meat still has a significant amount of tough fibers to chew through. That means it will be less tender. For the tenderest bite of meat, make sure to cut the slices thin, especially for less tender cuts.

In order to have a backyard BBQ that stands head and shoulders above the rest, you need to pay attention to details. And one of the details you do not want to overlook is how you cut the meat for serving to your guests.


Tip 10: Be Safe

There are two areas of safety you need to pay close attention to: Personal Safety and Food Safety. Be prepared for accidents, burns and bug bites by having a fire extinguisher and first aid kit on hand. And make sure to handle your food properly to avoid cross contamination and food poisoning.


Backyard BBQ Personal Safety Tips

  • Bring sunscreen.
  • Bring bug repellent.
  • Prepare for fire: Have a fire extinguisher on hand.
  • Control flare-ups: Have a squirt bottle with water on hand.
  • Foresee small injuries: Have a First Aid Kit on hand.
  • Be ready for small burns: Soak small burns in water, ice and 1 TB baking soda to avoid blistering and scarring.
  • Prepare for bug bites: Mix 1 TB baking soda with enough water to make a paste. Apply to bug bite and leave for 10 minutes before washing off.
  • Wash your hands before and after handling food. If having your cookout at a place without running water, make sure to take a jug of water, soap and paper towels.



Backyard BBQ Food Safety Tips



Keep coolers out of direct sunlight and avoid opening them frequently. Use separate coolers for drinks and food items. When guests get drinks, they are not exposing the perishable food items. Keep perishable foods in the cooler until ready to eat.



Raw Meats: Store raw meats separate from each other, and separate from other foods to avoid cross contamination.

Fruits & Vegetables: Wash fruits and vegetables beforehand. (There might not be running water where you are having your cookout)

    • Don’t let food sit out for more than 2 hours. (If it does, throw it out)
    • Keep cold foods cold (Below 40 degrees)
    • Keep hot foods hot (Above 140 degrees)
    • If in doubt, throw it out!



  • Cutting Boards: Use separate cutting boards for fruits and vegetables, uncooked meats and cooked meats.
  • Serving Platters: Don’t use the same platter to transport uncooked meat as you do to serve cooked meat (unless it has been washed with hot soapy water).
  • Cooking/Serving Utensils: Don’t use utensils that have touched raw meat to serve unless they are thoroughly washed first.



  • Marinades: Don’t baste your meat with marinades that have touched raw meat.
  • Instant Read Thermometer: Cook foods to the proper temperature to ensure killing bacteria. Don’t trust color or touch… use a thermometer.


Tip 11: Don’t Forget The Ice

There never seems to be enough ice at a backyard BBQ. Ice is used for everything from keeping your beer and drinks cold (essential) and keeping your food at a safe temperature for serving (also essential). Make sure you have enough ice and get more than you think you’ll need.

You’ve been warned.


Backyard BBQ Conclusion

So, there you have it. When you want to throw a crowd pleasing backyard BBQ, just follow our tips. This ensures you will not only produce a unique and memorable cookout experience, but it will be prepared to perfection (while looking effortless) and safe as well.


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