Top 5 Dishes To Serve At An Outdoor Event

Top 5 Dishes To Serve At An Outdoor Event

Choosing Food For Your Guests

When it comes to planning an outdoor event, selecting the right dishes to serve is crucial. Whether you’re hosting a backyard BBQ, a picnic, or a wedding reception, the food you serve can make or break the success of your event. Here are the top 5 dishes to serve at an outdoor event that are sure to impress your guests.

(Featured Image by Jenni Hecht Foto Co.)

5 Dishes To Serve At An Outdoor Event

1. Grilled Chicken

Grilled chicken is a classic dish that is perfect for outdoor events. It’s easy to prepare, versatile, and always a crowd-pleaser. Whether you marinate it in a simple lemon and herb mixture or go for a spicy jerk seasoning, grilled chicken is a great choice for any occasion. It pairs well with a variety of sides, such as grilled vegetables, potato salad, and coleslaw.

A long grill cooking chicken for an event in northern Michigan.

Yakitori Grill by Joby Elliott

2. Pulled Pork

Pulled pork is a delicious and hearty dish that is perfect for feeding a large crowd. It’s easy to make in large batches, and can be served as a main dish or in sandwiches. The key to making great pulled pork is to cook it low and slow until it’s tender and juicy. You can serve it with classic BBQ sides such as baked beans, corn on the cob, and mac and cheese.

Pulled Pork Sandwich by Ginny

3. Grilled Vegetables

Grilled vegetables are a healthy and delicious option that can be served as a side dish or a vegetarian main course. You can grill a variety of vegetables such as zucchini, eggplant, bell peppers, and onions. Simply toss them in olive oil, salt, and pepper, and grill until they’re charred and tender. Grilled vegetables pair well with grilled meats, and can also be served as a topping for sandwiches and salads.

Grilled Vegetalbes by Woodley

4. Fruit Salad

A refreshing fruit salad is a perfect dish to serve on a hot summer day. It’s a healthy and easy option that requires minimal prep work. Simply chop up a variety of fresh fruits such as strawberries, watermelon, grapes, and pineapple, and mix them together in a large bowl. You can also add a drizzle of honey or a splash of lime juice for extra flavor.

Want to add some local flair to your fruit salad? Challenge yourself to make a locally grown Michigan fruit salad. Toss in some home-grown blueberries, fresh local apples, and a handful of Traverse City’s famous cherries!

A fruit salad with melon and berries.

Fruit Salad by Didriks

5. S’mores

No outdoor event is complete without a classic s’mores station. Whether you’re roasting marshmallows over a campfire or using a tabletop s’mores maker, this beloved treat is sure to be a hit with your guests. Simply set out graham crackers, chocolate bars, and marshmallows, and let your guests create their own delicious s’mores.

S’mores by H. Katsoulis

BONUS: Signature Cocktails/Non-alcoholic Beverages

In addition to the top 5 dishes, consider serving signature cocktails that complement your menu and add a festive touch to your event. For example, if you’re serving grilled chicken, consider a refreshing cucumber and mint gin and tonic. If you’re serving pulled pork, a classic bourbon-based cocktail such as a mint julep or a whiskey sour would be a great choice. You can also serve non-alcoholic drinks such as iced tea, lemonade, or a fruit-infused water.

Two summer cocktails side by side at an outdoor event.

Summer Cocktail by Heather Hammond

Don’t Forget About The Theme!

Whether you’re planning a low-key party for a handful of friends in your backyard, or an elegant bridal shower for a glowing bride-to-be, following a theme or idea with your outdoor event can add a fun vibe! Some examples of outdoor party themes might include:

  • Floral themed bridal shower
  • Hawaiian luau birthday party
  • Bumble bee themed baby shower
  • Golf themed retirement party

Party themes can be as in-depth or as loose as you would like. You can incorporate the theme into everything from the invitations to the dessert, or just add a touch of flair with some fun decor. Regardless of what you choose, your event is sure to impress!

Plan Your Outdoor Event

These top 5 dishes are a great starting point for planning your outdoor event menu. They’re easy to prepare, crowd-pleasing, and versatile enough to cater to a variety of tastes and dietary restrictions. Remember to consider the season, your guests’ preferences, and any dietary restrictions when planning your menu, and don’t forget to add your own personal touch to make your event truly memorable.

Are you planning an event in Northern Michigan? Consider Bright Lane Gardens for a one-of-a-kind outdoor event venue. Featuring a waterfall terrace, landscaped gardens, koi pond, and a covered pavilion with seating for up to 40 guests – this is a venue your guests are likely to remember. Interested in learning more? Check out our venue page for more information!