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Stepping Up Your Cookout Game

Ah, the cookout. It remains a great American tradition. There’s nothing quite like an outdoor party full of delicious food. Hosting your own cookout can be fun and rewarding, but it’s also something that can be stressful. You want to throw the best cookout ever, but do you feel up to it?

Relax. You can do this. We’re here to help with this list of ways to step up your cooking game and make yours the best party possible.

What you cook on matters

Cookouts are called cookouts because the most important part of the equation is the outdoor cooking and eating. So you had better have the right food and the right ways to cook it!

Let’s start with the latter. You need to invest in a decent grill, barbeque, or outdoor kitchen. A cookout can be fun with a basic charcoal grill, sure — but if you want a next-level party, then you need a next-level grill. Find one in your budget, and get ready to make the most of it!

Making the most of your grill means caring for it properly. You need to know how to clean your grill between uses, and how to safely protect it from the elements. Read that manual, too, so that you know what every knob and dial does.

Also, be sure to get help from a professional for barbecue repair work if anything is amiss. Big appliance repairs like these are not DIY projects. Work with a professional and keep your grill maintained properly so that you can enjoy a more reliable appliance and more delicious food.

Becoming the grillmaster you were alway meant to be

Speaking of the food, you’ll need a few basic cooking skills to please the crowds.

Things like hot dogs may not be tough, but you’ll want to brush up on your barbecue sauces and marinades, your steak and hamburger seasoning tips, and other little details that will make or break your cookout meats. And don’t just do meat! Get some good vegetarian options on the grill, too, so that everyone feels included.

One more thing. You need to practice, practice, practice. So get out there and grill, even when guests aren’t around to impress. What you do in the “off-season” will determine how well you grill on the big day, champ!

Creating the ideal outdoor setting

Cookouts have outdoor cooking. They also have outdoor dining. So you had better set up an outdoor area that is attractive and comfortable for your guests to congregate in and eat in.

Keep that lawn mowed and make sure your landscaping is on point. Put sufficient seating in flat outdoor areas, and maybe set up a lawn game or two — away from all of the dishes and the people trying to eat and talk.

If you really want to take things to the next level, you could also consider outdoor improvements. We’re talking patios, decks, and even entire outdoor kitchens. Building a better outdoor environment will create a better cookout experience.

Planning your party

Are you ready? It’s time to throw your cookout.

Pick the date first. Choose a time of year that is known for good weather, and pick a date on which your guests are likely to be available.

Then, build that guest list. Follow best practices for party planning, please — everyone should know someone else at the party.

Prepare ahead of time. Clean your house early and start preparing food ahead of time. It will reduce your stress levels and give you more time to actually socialize at your own party.

And then? Well, then you just enjoy your party, grillmaster! You’ve done everything that you can to create the best possible cookout.