Tips for summer BBQ-inspired menus

Creating a summer menu inspired by BBQ can be a delightful way to offer your guests the flavours of outdoor grilling in a more refined or creative setting. Here are our top tips for chefs looking to create BBQ inspired menus for the summer.

1. Embrace seasonal ingredients

  • 1. Embrace seasonal ingredients

1. Embrace seasonal ingredients

  • Vegetables

    Use fresh, seasonal vegetables like fennel, tomatoes, courgettes, tenderstem broccoli and beetroot. Grilled vegetables can be a highlight of your menu, offering smoky flavours and vibrant colours.
  • Fruits

    Incorporate grilled fruits like peaches, pineapples, or watermelon into salads, desserts, or even main dishes for a sweet and smoky touch. Why not check out our feta and pickled melon salad with a honey chilli and sesame dressing?
  • Seafood

    Fresh seafood like hake, monkfish, or bream can be grilled to perfection and paired with summery sauces or salsas. Check out our summer recipes that feature some of these ingredients.

2. Play with marinades and rubs

Experiment with different marinades and rubs to infuse meats, poultry, or vegetables with unique flavours. Think about using ingredients like citrus, herbs, spices, and even teas or coffees to create unexpected but delightful combinations.

We asked our team of Culinary Development Chefs what rubs or marinades are their favourites for summer menus!


    Chef Paul

    ‘The Street Food Mexican Chilli Orange marinade is a warm refreshing balanced marinade that can be used for salad dressings and meats’


    Chef Damon

    ‘I’ve got a few I like to use, the Cajun seasoning is great as a salmon rub for blackened cajun salmon. A fajita seasoning is perfect for rubbing onto chicken, fish and king prawns! The Street Food Punjab tikka masala is perfect mixed with yogurt to marinade lamb or chicken for kebabs. Tamarind I like to glaze onto fish, chicken, pork or even hot dogs. Miso, I mix with maple, garlic, soy, sweet wine or marin, garlic and turmeric and brush onto vegetables towards the end of cooking to glaze and Bullseye is great on most meats. Brush on at the end of cooking or add into mix for pulled BBQ meats. ‘


    Chef John

    ‘The Street Food range of marinades as there is such a variety to choose from, especially if you want to marinade raw meats and fish, moving away from the traditional BBQ, southern fried type flavours. Dishes like warm potato salad with sweet tamarind, coriander, spring onion, crispy onions and fresh chilli are perfect for the BBQ and summer season. Also the nut free satay powder is really good, it’s amazing with cauliflower roasted over coals and married up with the green valley frozen salad and roasted mixed sesame seeds’


    Chef Martin

    ‘There is so much to choose from but these are my favourites; blackened Cajun with oil, lime juice, orange juice and fresh herbs for grilling chicken or fish, lime leaf & lemongrass from the Street Food Company mixed with butter as a basting glaze for meat and fish, great with ribs too. Miso with ginger and soy for fish. Bulgogi from Street Food is great for beef, Korean BBQ sauce mixed with a touch of oil or water for basting and grilling. The Major Keralan Pan Asian base mix paste mixed with coconut cream to marinade fish or meat and the peanut-free satay style seasoning for chicken.’

3. Offer a variety of grilled meats

While traditional BBQ might focus on beef, pork, or chicken, consider expanding your offerings to include fish, lamb, duck, or even game meats. This can cater to a wider range of tastes and preferences.

Provide options for both meat eaters, vegetarians and vegans, ensuring that everyone can enjoy the BBQ-inspired experience. Skewered, marinated and charred vegetable kebabs are perfect for this. Or skewered charred halloumi for vegetarians.

Meat skewers

Vegetarian skewers

4. Sauces and condiments

Create a selection of BBQ-inspired sauces and condiments to accompany your dishes.

From tangy tomato-based BBQ sauces to spicy salsas or creamy aiolis, these additions can elevate your dishes and offer guests the opportunity to customise their meals.

5. Incorporate grilled breads and flatbreads

Grilled breads or flatbreads can serve as a versatile base

Perfect for appetisers, sandwiches, or even as a side to accompany grilled dishes. Consider offering a variety of toppings and spreads to create a unique and interactive dining experience.

6. Think beyond the grill

While grilling is central to BBQ-inspired menus, don't forget about other cooking techniques.

Incorporate dishes that are smoked, roasted, or braised to add depth and complexity to your menu.
Utilise the grill for more than just mains – think about grilling appetisers, sides, and even desserts for a cohesive and immersive BBQ experience.

7. Consider beverage pairings

Create a selection of refreshing beverages that complement your BBQ-inspired dishes

From craft beers and ciders to summer cocktails and mocktails, offering thoughtfully curated drink pairings can enhance the overall dining experience.

Unity Wines & Spirits

Our Unity team are specialists in helping our customers curate specialist drinks menus that perfectly work with your menus. So if you would like a helping hand, get in touch with your local Unity rep.

Find out more

8. Presentation and plating

Pay attention to the presentation and plating of your dishes. Use vibrant colours, varied textures, and creative garnishes such as micro herbs and edible flowers, to make your BBQ-inspired menu visually appealing and Instagram-worthy.

9. Offer lighter options

While BBQ-inspired dishes can be hearty and indulgent, consider offering lighter, healthier options as well. Grilled fish or chicken salads, vegetable-forward dishes, and fruit-based desserts can provide a refreshing contrast and cater to health-conscious guests.

  • Offer lighter options

Offer lighter options

10. Get creative with desserts


By incorporating these tips and ideas into your summer menu, you can create a BBQ-inspired dining experience that delights your guests and showcases your creativity as a chef.

Think outside the box when it comes to desserts.

Grilled fruits, smoked chocolates, or desserts featuring traditional BBQ flavours like bourbon, caramel, or honey can offer a sweet and satisfying end to the meal.

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