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Food

19 Great Ideas For Big Summer Food Parties

Bring your friends. All of your friends.

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1. Shrimp Boil

A one (big) pot dinner party! Corn, shellfish, and potatoes means you cover all the food groups, too. Instructions here.
tastingtable.com

A one (big) pot dinner party! Corn, shellfish, and potatoes means you cover all the food groups, too. Instructions here.

Serve with:

Todd Coleman / saveur.com

Up the ante with hush puppies, Bloody Marys, and plenty of Old Bay.

2. Fish Fry

Fried anything is a crowd pleaser, and fish is quicker than chicken!
Iain Bagwell / myrecipes.com

Fried anything is a crowd pleaser, and fish is quicker than chicken!

Serve with:

Ree Drummond / thepioneerwoman.com
Quentin Bacon / foodandwine.com

Fries are obviously a must. Round things out with a summery tomato salad and an easy-drinking lager.

3. Smoked Brisket Sandwiches

Recipe here.

Serve with:

Jeanine Donofrio / loveandlemons.com
Christine Holmes / foodandwine.com

Brighten things up with homemade pickled vegetables and a veggie-packed potato salad, then finish with super simple brownies à la mode.

4. DIY Hot Dog Bar

Be as crazy (or as conservative) with the toppings as you'd like. Instructions here.
Jennifer Sbranti / blog.hwtm.com

Be as crazy (or as conservative) with the toppings as you'd like. Instructions here.

Serve with:

Todd Coleman / saveur.com
Anheuser-Busch InBev

Go All-American and serve baked beans on the side, ice cream sandwiches to finish, and Budweiser throughout.

5. Pulled Pork Sandwiches

Sure, you could make it in a slow-cooker. But, it's summer. Why not fire up the grill and get some of that delicious flavor? Recipe here.
sharedappetite.com

Sure, you could make it in a slow-cooker. But, it's summer. Why not fire up the grill and get some of that delicious flavor? Recipe here.

Serve with:

Faith Gorsky / anediblemosaic.com
Hector Sanchez / southernliving.com
Jessica Merchant / howsweeteats.com

Super classic pasta salad and coleslaw go perfectly with pulled pork without distracting from it. Blueberry mint juleps are sweet enough for day drinking but strong enough to really make it a party.

6. Build-Your-Own Burger Bar

Instructions here (and, a good, classic burger recipe here).
theseasidebaker.com

Instructions here (and, a good, classic burger recipe here).

Serve with:

Penny De Los Santos / saveur.com
Hirshheimer Hamilton / bonappetit.com

The grill's already going, so why not throw on some lettuce for a grilled romaine salad? And nothing goes with a burger like an ice cold Coca-Cola (spike if necessary). Blueberry hand pies to finish.

7. Paella

Recipe here.
Todd Coleman / saveur.com

Recipe here.

Serve with:

Deb Perelman / smittenkitchen.com
Leah Koenig / saveur.com

Set the Spanish theme and start with jamón-wrapped melon. Classic red sangria is a must, and grilled peaches with streusel are a perfect finish.

8. Whole Pig Roast

Yes, you can do it at home! Instructions here.
J. Kenji Alt-Lopez / seriouseats.com

Yes, you can do it at home! Instructions here.

Serve with:

Jennifer Farley / savorysimple.net
Anjali Prasertong / thekitchn.com

Your pig is obviously going to be the star of the show, so keep the accoutrements simple with Grilled corn and panzanella salad. To drink, a good IPA with a shot of Campari is delicious, and might become your go-to summer drink.

9. Rotisserie Leg of Lamb with Potatoes, Fennel, and Olives

If you don't want to go whole hog, this is another similar option. Recipe here.
chow.com

If you don't want to go whole hog, this is another similar option. Recipe here.

A simple mezze platter is on theme and perfect for tiding guests over until the main course is served, and a fresh, tangy Greek salad will perfectly compliment the lamb. For dessert, grilled pineapple is sweet without being too heavy.

10. Bo Ssam (Asian Slow-Cooked Pork Shoulder)

Instead of turning on your oven, cook your bo ssam in a 300°F grill. Recipe here.
kitchen72.com

Instead of turning on your oven, cook your bo ssam in a 300°F grill. Recipe here.

Serve with:

Christopher Testani / bonappetit.com
Joshua Bousel / seriouseats.com
Urvashi Roe/ / greatbritishchefs.com

Aside from the obligatory lettuce cups, rice and ssam sauce (recipe here, serve your bo ssam with some pickled red onions and ginger-miso grilled eggplant. To drink, spicy gin and tonics bring just enough heat.

11. Bourbon-Glazed Baby Back Ribs

A face full of barbecue sauce is the great equalizer. Recipe here.
honestlyyum.com

A face full of barbecue sauce is the great equalizer. Recipe here.

Serve with:

Martha Pesa / afamilyfeast.com
David Dial / spicedblog.com
Morgan Eisenberg / blog.hostthetoast.com

Sop up that extra barbecue sauce with cornbread, and creamy potato salad. Since the bourbon is already open, go ahead and make a big batch of bourbon peach sweet tea.

12. Clambake

Recipe and instructions here.
Jereme Liebman / bonappetit.com

Recipe and instructions here.

Serve with:

By THOR (Flickr: Sancerre Wine) [http://CC-BY-2.0 (creativecommons.org], via Wikimedia Commons

Grilled caprese skewers to start, and strawberry shortcakes to finish. Also, this is the perfect opportunity to give rosé a shot.

13. Tacos Al Pastor

The greatest taco of all takes time, but it's so worth it. Recipe here.
J. Kenji Alt-Lopez / seriouseats.com

The greatest taco of all takes time, but it's so worth it. Recipe here.

Serve with:

Individual seven-layer dips are party-perfect, and there's never a bad time to eat Mexican grilled corn. Don't even think about using bottled "sour mix," just go for real-deal margaritas.

14. Grilled Pizza

Large-format summer mains are generally pretty meat-centric—because, face it, throwing a big piece of meat on the grill is just so obvious. But, vegetarians and carnivores alike always appreciate a pizza party. Instructions here.
Faith Durand / thekitchn.com

Large-format summer mains are generally pretty meat-centric—because, face it, throwing a big piece of meat on the grill is just so obvious. But, vegetarians and carnivores alike always appreciate a pizza party. Instructions here.

Serve with:

Carrie Vasios / seriouseats.com

Grilled broccoli rabe and antipasto chopped salad fill the vegetable quotient without filling your whole afternoon with extra prep. And, when it comes to pizza, chianti is always the answer.

15. Grilled Steak Fajitas

Recipe here.
J. Kenji Lopez-Alt / seriouseats.com

Recipe here.

Serve with:

Jessica Merchant / howsweeteats.com

Take advantage of nature's summer bounty and make blueberry lime salsa and roasted corn guacamole to serve with chips. Then, blow everyone's minds by making the ultimate beer cocktail: a Michelada.

16. Steamed Mussels

Steam your mussels in a couple of batches (they only take a few minutes), and keep in mind that you'll need about a pound per person. Recipe here.
rasamalaysia.com

Steam your mussels in a couple of batches (they only take a few minutes), and keep in mind that you'll need about a pound per person. Recipe here.

Serve with:

Charles Masters / bonappetit.com

The best part of eating mussels is sopping up the juice, so grilled bread is a must, and a huge pile of grilled veggies will make everybody feel virtuous. White wine spritzers pair well with shellfish, and their lower alcohol content means you can drink all night.

17. New England Clam Chowder

Even people who "don't like shellfish" will love clam chowder. Recipe here.
Todd Coleman / saveur.com

Even people who "don't like shellfish" will love clam chowder. Recipe here.

Serve with:

If you're feeling ambitious, you can make your own oyster crackers. Balance the heavy chowder with grilled asparagus, and end on a super sweet note with a gorgeous peach pie.

18. Grilled Whole Arctic Char

Perfect for a more sophisticated dinner party. Recipe here.
marthastewart.com

Perfect for a more sophisticated dinner party. Recipe here.

Serve with:

Romulo Yanes / epicurious.com

Grilled fennel is way underrated, and it goes great with fatty fish, and grilled herb potatoes are simple and just flavorful enough. End your meal with boozy popsicles, the most fun after dinner "drink" there is.

19. Veggie Kebabs

A big hunk of meat won't feed every type of crowd. Recipe here.
Paige Green / foodrepublic.com

A big hunk of meat won't feed every type of crowd. Recipe here.

Serve with:

Helene Dujardin / foodandwine.com

Keep it strictly vegan with quinoa tabbouleh salad and vegan banana splits. To drink, nothing says "summer" like a Pimm's Cup.

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