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A Guide to Planning the Ultimate Spring BBQ

A Guide to Planning the Ultimate Spring BBQ

Was that a bird singing? Could those be little green leaves starting to peek out on that tree? Oh, sweet! Your tax refund just hit. Yep, it looks like spring is finally around the corner, or even already here — and that’s great news for people who love to grill. Getting ready to wake up your grill from its long winter nap? Thinking about hosting a spring barbecue for your friends and family? The pitmasters at Grilla Grills have done it many a time, and we’re here to help! Up ahead, we’ve got a smorgasbord of key tips that will help you plan the perfect spring cookout.

When Should I Have a Spring BBQ?

Look, in our opinion, nobody actually needs an excuse to throw a barbecue. All the same, it can be fun to have your spring cookout as part of some kind of celebration or event! Some popular occasions include:

When Should I Have a Spring BBQ

  • Graduations: Way back when, somebody decided that most graduations should happen during prime cookout season — and, thus, we have the time-honored tradition of the graduation cookout. If you know somebody who’s graduating, ask them if they’d like a barbecue in their honor. We bet they won’t say no!
  • Memorial Day: Then, of course, there’s Memorial Day, king of grill holidays (rivaled only by the Fourth of July). In addition to an opportunity to honor the fallen heroes of the US Armed Services, Memorial Day is a classic time for family and friends to enjoy each other’s company at a cookout. 
  • First Day of Spring: The first official day of spring arrives some time between March 19th and 21st. If you’re the type who likes to feel connected to the natural world, throwing a barbecue can be the perfect way to celebrate. Just remember that early spring can still be pretty cold, so your guests might need to dress warmly!
  • Patio/Backyard Upgrades: Spring is also the time when lots of people refresh their backyard and/or patio with cool upgrades like new landscaping or an outdoor kitchen kit. If you’ve got an awesome new space, why not show it off and invite some friends and family to enjoy it with you?
  • Cinco de Mayo: This celebration of Mexican-American culture is also one of the holidays that most encourages cutting loose and enjoying the good times. (See: the truly crazy amount of beer sold.) If you want to throw a party, not just a cookout, Cinco de Mayo is a great opportunity. Plus, it’s a great reason to grill up some tacos.
  • The Kentucky Derby: Here’s one for anybody who loves to get a little old-school. The Derby is the perfect excuse to dress up fancy, sip some mint juleps and enjoy delicious BBQ creations. Watching the race itself is optional, but you might as well — it’s only two minutes long, after all! 

How Many Guests and How Much Food?

These are basic considerations for a barbecue in any season. First, think about how many guests you can comfortably accommodate in your space (and, equally important, how many you’re actually going to enjoy having). Some people like to have a more intimate gathering in the cooler days of spring, then go all-out on a larger party in the summer. (What — you weren’t just going to have one cookout, right?)

Deciding how much food you want can be trickier, so check out our BBQ food planner for some useful rules. Foods like burgers and hot dogs are popular because they’re easy to cook in big batches, so you can easily buy a little more than you think you’ll need to create some wiggle room. Alternatively, a pellet grill and smoker is a fantastic tool for cooking large amounts of delicious smoked meat. Throw on a pork butt or a couple of spatchcocked chickens, and you’ll have plenty to feed the crowd. 

What Meats Should I Cook for a Spring BBQ?

Most people serve at least one kind of meat as the centerpiece of their cookout. We’ll assume you already know about the time-honored cookout favorites like burgers and hot dogs, which are still great for keeping it simple. If you’d like something a little more substantial, try:

What Meats Should I Cook for a Spring BBQ

1. Pork

Pork can have a deliciously fresh vibe that’s perfect for spring. Flavors like vinegar, onion and garlic will bring out pork’s lighter side while maintaining the satisfying, savory richness that makes it a BBQ staple. It’s also one of the easier meats to smoke, and tons of different cuts are available, from the classic pork shoulder to the delectably tender pork belly.

  • Recipe Pick: Pork Belly Sliders
    • This southern classic combines melt-in-your-mouth pulled pork with the tangy snap of fresh coleslaw. 

2. Chicken

It’s hard to go wrong with chicken — it’s easy and delicious, and you can do it in tons of different ways. The mild flavor of chicken means it tastes great with a wide variety of seasonings, although we’re admittedly partial to the Grilla Grills What Da Cluck dry rub. Try it, and you’ll understand. 

  • Recipe Pick: Herb Buttered Spatchcock Chicken
    • Spatchcocking is an easy way to cook a whole chicken fast, and your guests will go crazy for the delicious results. 

3. Lamb

Lamb is a true spring classic that many people grew up seeing cooked in an oven for Easter dinner. However, if you’ve never had lamb from a wood-fired smoker, let’s just say you need to fix that right away! If you have access to a good butcher, ask if they have spring lamb — it’s known for its incredibly tender texture. 

  • Recipe Pick: Smoked Lamb Shank
    • Warning: Your guests may come to blows over the last of these delectably tender lamb shanks. 

4. Beef

Finally, if you want to go with something heartier for your spring entree, beef is always a reliable choice. Burgers are a classic, of course — but if you’re up for the challenge, something bigger and bolder like a brisket can be an incredible way to start the grilling season off right. Whatever cuts you’re cooking, remember that Grilla Beef Rub is a must!

  • Recipe Pick: Hot n Fast Brisket
    • This is a slightly quicker-cooking take on brisket that tastes amazing on sandwiches and doesn’t require your guests to wait around all day.

What Kind of Drinks Should I Serve at a Spring BBQ?

Naturally, any cookout also needs a good selection of beverages. Start with some non-alcoholic beverages that anybody can enjoy like water, sparkling water and lemon or limeade. If you’re planning to serve alcohol, here are some can’t-miss choices for adult beverages:

  • White Wine: A nice crisp white is a certified springtime classic, especially if the weather is on the warmer side. Sauvignon blanc is a good choice for those who like some acidity, while pinot grigio keeps it light and playful. For a lighter alternative to chardonnay, try Chablis, an unoaked wine made from the same grape.
  • Red Wine: Meanwhile, for chillier spring days, a lighter red will often go down just right. Pinot noir is probably the most popular spring red, but grenache and tempranillo can also offer that perfect balance of drinkability and depth. 
  • Beer: Logically enough, the best spring beers tend to fall somewhere between the dark maltiness of winter and the easy-breezy summer beers. Bocks, amber ales and red ales are good for malt enjoyers; on the hoppy side, meanwhile, spring is a great time for cracking an IPA.
  • Cocktails: Spring is also the perfect time for light and fresh cocktails like an Aperol spritz, mimosa or the aforementioned mint julep (which isn’t just for Derby parties). Hosting a lot of guests? Save yourself some hassle by pre-making cocktails and serving them on tap. 

Spring BBQ Tips

Spring BBQ Tips

1. Serve up fresh fruits and veggies.

It’s time to hit the farmer’s market! Spring is packed with amazing vegetables and fruit that make delicious and healthy sides, salads or even main courses. What’s fresh and local will vary by where you are and whether it’s early or late spring, but be on the lookout for produce like:

  • Asparagus: These babies are at their tenderest in spring, usually around April through June. Oh, and if you’ve never tried bacon-wrapped asparagus, it’s long past time you fixed that. 
  • Strawberries: Many strawberry plants will start to bear fruit in late spring. Some ripe, juicy berries will taste amazing in a fruit salad — or even in a regular salad when paired with the right ingredients. 
  • Spinach: Here’s the perfect leafy green base for a spring salad. Fresh spinach usually pops up almost as soon as spring begins, and it’s incredibly tender and sweet when harvested early. 
  • Radishes: Spring is all about that crispness and pop, and no vegetable brings it like the radish. These small-but-mighty veggies make a great complement to a spring salad. 
  • Pineapples: Most people associate these sweet and spiky fruits with summer, but their season begins in spring. Serve them in fruit salad or on their own — possibly with a little tajin or another spicy seasoning for a truly mouth-watering treat.
  • Peas: They’re crisp, they’re crunchy, and they’re early arrivals in the garden. Sounds like the perfect spring veggie to us! 

2. Watch out for the weather.

Spring is the angsty teenager of the seasons — pleasant one day, storming the next. Setting a rain date from the beginning is a good idea, as is making a plan for what you’ll do if it starts to rain during the cookout. 

Typically, the most important preparation is to have your grill in a covered area (or at least to have one accessible) if rain starts. You’re looking for a place with a roof where your grill will be protected from rain — a carport, porch or covered patio is ideal if you have one. What you definitely don’t want is an enclosed space (such as a garage), which can cause deadly carbon monoxide fumes to build up. 

While we’re talking weather, let’s touch on another spring favorite: wind. Any outdoor spring event should plan around it so you don’t end up with napkins and decorations blowing all over the place. Items like napkins and paper plates should ideally be in a heavier container that will keep them in place, and decorations should be tied down or otherwise secured. 

grilla grill

3. Prepare your grill for spring.

Before you fire up the grill, take a little time to make sure it’s in fighting form. Your must-do tasks will usually include:

  • Cleaning your grill’s body, grates, firebox and grease trap
  • Stocking up on wood pellets, lump charcoal, propane or any other fuel your grill uses
  • Gathering all of your grilling accessories and making them easy to access
  • Verifying that your grill’s WiFi connection is working (if using a WiFi pellet grill)

For a full spring maintenance checklist (plus cleaning tips), see our guide to getting your grill ready for spring!

4. Build a fire.

As we mentioned before, a spring cookout can still be on the chilly side, especially early in the year. That has one big upside, though: It’s perfect bonfire weather! Your guests will love having a cozy fire to warm themselves around, especially after dark, and you can make s’mores for a delicious dessert to follow up your BBQ.

You’ll want to make sure you’ve got a suitable fire pit for building the fire. For those who already have one, check that it’s in good condition and then get it going! If you don’t have a fire pit yet, spring is a great time to get one, since you can enjoy it all through the summer and fall. Alternatively, it’s not too hard to build your own if you’re the DIY type. 

Browse All of Our Delicious Recipes

By now, you’re probably thinking up all kinds of delicious ideas for your spring shindig! Now it’s time to go out and make them happen — with a little help from your Grilla grill, of course. If you haven’t stepped up to a Grilla yet, see our whole lineup of pellet grills and find one that will keep you cookin’ all year round. 

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