No Lie—These 30 BBQ Appetizers Are Your Recipe for Summer Fun

There’s so much that’s synonymous with the carefree ease of summer. Breezy clothes, sun-dappled days, and of course—BBQ season. It’s time to take your gatherings outdoors, transitioning from the dining room to a dedicated picnic table. Friends stop by unannounced and welcomed with open arms. With the vibes high and our phones on do not disturb (except to take a few pics), there’s no better way to kick off the summer than with a dinner party to celebrate. And of course, the perfect place to start is with a few foolproof BBQ appetizers up your sleeve.

30 BBQ Appetizers Your Summer Dinner Party Needs

When it comes to summertime apps, the goal is to incorporate the fresh flavors of the season into every bite. That means dishes that are heavy on the herbs (green goddess dressing), highlight summer-fresh veg (eggplant dip), and go with the perfect margarita (guacamole!). Get your tastebuds ready—and prepare to dive in.

Dips and Spreads

Spring Crudité with Green Goddess Dressing

Spring Crudité with Green Goddess Dressing

Why We Love It: There’s a reason green goddess dressing went viral. To start, it’s gorgeous. Thanks to a cup of mixed herbs of your choice, a few tablespoons of chives, and parsley’s fresh bite, it’s the perfect accompaniment to your favorite crunchy veg. I like arranging a big platter and setting it on the table for everyone to graze as they please. A centerpiece and appetizer all in one? Brilliant.

Hero Ingredient: When fresh summer herbs are involved, I’ll always look for a little lemon juice/zest to brighten things up all the more

Smokey eggplant dip

Smoky Eggplant Dip

Why We Love It: For me, eggplant is a summertime staple. I love roasting it in the oven, enjoying it in ratatouille, or scooping up big dollops of baba ganoush with toasted pita. This recipe is a close cousin of the third option, taking all the creamy deliciousness of the traditional Levantine appetizer and adding a smoky, spicy edge.

Hero Ingredient: We have smoked paprika and freshly-ground, toasted cumin to thank for this dip’s complex and addicting flavor.

Simple Guacamole Recipe


Why We Love It: I know, I know—you already have a go-to guacamole that you’ve been perfecting for years. But… if there’s one recipe to convince you to try something new, it’s this one. Personally, I love a guacamole that lets the avocados shine, introducing a little heat with red onion, and in this case, a red chile. Balance it all out with a little zest from two limes, a few sweet tomatoes, and a touch of olive oil. Everyone will be asking you for the secret.

Hero Ingredient: When it comes to guacamole, your avocados should be nothing short of ideal. No brown spots and nothing underripe. We’re going for creamy, fruity perfection.

Za’atar Spiced Citrus Yogurt Dip

Za’atar Spiced Citrus Yogurt Dip

Why We Love It: Chances are your guests may be looking to cool down at your summer BBQ, and a yogurt dip will help do exactly that. The citrus makes this especially bright and refreshing, while the Za’atar is the spice blend you didn’t know you needed.

Hero Ingredient: Za’atar! Za’atar is a mix of herbs, sesame seeds, salt and sumac. This traditional Middle Eastern spice blend is the secret to most Mediterranean dishes and is totally delicious.

Carrot turmeric hummus and crudite

Carrot Turmeric Hummus 

Why We Love It: If beans make you bloat, this legume-free hummus is a must-try. The carrot turmeric combo makes this hummus bright orange and when surrounded by crisp veggies, this will be a colorful standout on your BBQ appetizer table.

Hero Ingredient: Summer veg! Have plenty of farmers market finds handy for dipping into this gorgeous veggie-forward hummus.

Maman's kale, pea and ricotta spread

Kale Ricotta Spread

Why we love it: Not only is this dish light and tasty, it’s stunning. Wow your guests by bringing out this vibrant green spread in a bowl, or served in pretty individual glasses. It also couldn’t be easier to prepare—simply toss all your ingredients in a food processor. 

Hero Ingredient: Kale and peas may not be on anyone’s favorite food list, but full fat ricotta gives them a total makeover. Yum!

Indian Masala Street Corn Guacamole

Street Corn Guacamole

Why We Love It: I have very distinct summer memories of shucking corn on the back deck with my mom. Indulging in corn on the cob is a summer necessity, but adding it to guac? Sign me up! This Indian-inspired guacamole recipe flips the traditional recipe by seasoning it with chaat masala. Delish. 

Hero ingredient: All of the traditional guac ingredients are accounted for, but sweet corn and chaat masala really bump up the flavor.

Summer Crudités

Summer Crudités

Why We Love It: A veggie tray with ranch dressing may remind you of the prepared food section of the grocery store. But take it from me, a veggie board full of fresh summer produce and a homemade ranch elevates veggies and dip to summer crudités everyone will love.

Hero Ingredient: In season veg. Everything from cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, summer squash, and sweet peppers. They all win!

Finger Food

Spicy Marinated Olives

Spicy Marinated Olives

Why We Love It: Charcuterie is always a vibe, and these olives pack a punch. Put them on top of hummus, baba ganoush, or simply nosh on them by themselves. 

Hero Ingredient: Naturally, a good quality green olive. Might we suggest a Castelvetrano or Cerignola?

Ricotta and Plum Bruschetta

Ricotta and Plum Bruschetta

Why We Love It: A sweet and savory bruschetta? Be still my heart. This fun twist on traditional bruschetta is sure to be a crowd pleaser. What’s not to love about a plump juicy plum paired with rich, creamy ricotta?  

Hero ingredient: Plums aren’t in season very long, so be sure to indulge all summer. I know I will! 

Southern Cheese Rounds

Southern Cheese Rounds

Why We Love It: Ok, let’s be real. Who doesn’t love a cheesy cracker? These homemade cheese rounds are crunchy, savory and are perfect for the center of your appetizer table. Just be sure to have plenty on hand—they will go fast!

Hero Ingredient: These rounds are a combo of cheese, butter, flour and rice krispies. The cereal gives these rounds their crunch, and I’m a sucker for cereal.  

Easy tomato bruschetta

Classic Easy Bruschetta

Why We Love It: Bruschetta is one of the easiest BBQ appetizers in the game, and it’s the one I always turn to when I need to serve something up, stat. Toast up your sourdough (brushed with plenty of EVOO, of course) and toss together your mix of tomatoes, garlic, and herbs. Let the bruschetta sit and top up your slices. Bonus: it’s just about the prettiest (edible) thing you’ll find on a plate.

Hero Ingredient: With a simple recipe like this, you want to be sure you’re using the best farm-fresh tomatoes you can find. They’re the focal point of the appetizer, so you want to make sure they shine.

Loaded sweet potato fries

Loaded Sweet Potato Fries

Why We Love It: In the world of BBQ appetizers, fries will always reign supreme. You’re welcome to serve the standard thick-cut, gold wedges, but loaded fries are even better. This recipe leans on our favorite frozen sweet potato fries (we used Alexia). Simply prepare them according to the package instructions and top to your heart’s delight.

Hero Ingredient: I love a Mediterranean vibe when it comes to loading up my fries. Creamy chickpeas, salty feta, tzatziki for a little tang, and kalamata olives. It’s a winning combo where every ingredient is the hero.

Cauliflower Nachos

Cauliflower Nachos

Why We Love It: While nachos are always welcome at any summer gathering, if you’re after BBQ appetizers that lean on the lighter side, make these. Your gluten-free friends will rejoice, happy to indulge in this classic summer snack. And though you’d never guess from the heap of (plant-based) cheese on top, vegan guests get to their snacking on, too.

Hero Ingredient: Nutritional yeast introduces a savory, umami element to the cauliflower seasoning—be sure to stock up for all your (dairy-free) cheesy needs.

Taco Salad Bites

Taco Salad Bites

Why We Love It: While we never turn down the opportunity to toss back a few tacos, sometimes it’s nice to get all of that good Tex-Mex flavor in a bite-sized snack. Pick up a bag of your favorite chip dippers at the store and fill them to the brim with this simple taco salad. The spicy cilantro vinaigrette is the final touch on these cute little taco bites.

Hero Ingredient: When it’s summer and the veg is in season, I will always default to corn.

Grilled Artichoke with Lemon Garlic Aioli

Grilled Artichoke with Lemon Garlic Aioli

Why We Love It: Artichokes are a favorite among everyone in my family. (So much so, that my sisters and I would beg for them at our birthday dinners—and my parents would happily oblige.) While I’ve steamed them in the past, grilling your artichokes yields a charred exterior and tender heart. Serve alongside bread for a light dinner or a steak if you’re going for a true BBQ appetizer. But the mayo? Non-negotiable.

Hero Ingredient: This recipe comes with such a short ingredients list that I’ll have to pick the obvious: artichokes are a summertime delight.


Tomato salad with onion, being drizzled with lemon juice

Tomato Salad

Why We Love It: Summer isn’t summer without tomatoes. This salad couldn’t be simpler and is completely delicious. All you need are heirloom tomatoes, onions, garlic, oil, lemon juice and salt. This combo truly makes the tomatoes shine—though admittedly, you don’t need much to make a summer heirloom tomato even more delectable than it is on its own. 

Hero Ingredient: Ripe and juicy heirloom tomatoes, no doubt.

Simple Potato Salad with Smoked Chile Aioli

Simple Potato Salad with Smoked Chile Aioli

Why We Love It: Nothing says summer quite like potato salad. But friends, this is not the classic gloppy salad your grandmother favored (though we all have a special place in our hearts for her recipe). You toss fork-tender potatoes with an aioli-like dressing composed of eggs, garlic, lemon, and plenty of good olive oil. It’s easy and brings a beautiful, organic feel to your table.

Hero Ingredient: There are plenty of standouts to choose from, but I love how the jammy eggs play up the potatoes’ creamy texture.

Watermelon tomato caprese salad

Watermelon Tomato Caprese Salad

Why We Love It: Of all the many Italian dishes I can’t get enough of, Caprese has top billing. This riff on the classic adds watermelon to the mix, playing up the tomatoes’ sweetness. The result is a light and refreshing salad that’s the perfect amuse-bouche for a burger or steak.

Hero Ingredient: When summer rolls around, you can bet I’m eating my weight in watermelon. This salad is one of my favorite ways to get my fill.

Avocado caprese salad

Avocado Caprese Salad

Why We Love It: As if Caprese could get any better—adding avocado to tomato, basil and mozzarella just hits different. The added creaminess and buttery flavor the avocados add give this salad a fun and unexpected twist. 

Hero Ingredient: The avocado takes this classic to new heights!

Green salad with sesame dressing

Green Salad With Sesame Dressing

Why We Love It: Spoiler alert: salad doesn’t have to be boring. What sets this salad apart? Furikake, salted pistachios, parmesan and a creamy tahini dressing. Yum!

Hero Ingredient: It’s hard to pick a favorite, but pistachios in a salad always take it to the next level if you ask me. 

Mediterranean Kale Salad

Mediterranean Kale Salad

Why We Love It: I could easily eat Mediterranean food for the rest of my life and feel totally satisfied. Mediterranean ingredients are fresh and flavorful and hit the spot especially in the summer. This salad is no different! Be sure to massage your kale and grab your veggies from the farmers market for this BBQ appetizer.

Hero Ingredient: Crunchy chickpeas for the win. 

Strawberry caprese salad with burrata

Strawberry Caprese Salad

Why We Love It: Strawberries are at their peak in the summer. It’s a no-brainer to indulge in a strawberry salad this season, and this playful twist on caprese pairs the berry with creamy burrata. Serve with crusty bread and enjoy.

Hero ingredient: While the strawberries and burrata are the stars of the show, don’t skip the lemon zest. The citrus brightens everything up and ties it all together. 

White bean radicchio salad

White Bean Radicchio Salad

Why We Love It:  This savory salad is the perfect BBQ appetizer—it’s simple combo of bitter greens, beans and Parmigiano Reggiano cheese is tasty and addictive. 

Hero Ingredient: Don’t sleep on radicchio! Leafy greens seem to be the go-to when it comes to salad, but this red leafed veg adds a pop of color and a bite that regular salads don’t. 

Radicchio Citrus Prosciutto Salad

Radicchio Citrus Prosciutto Salad

Why We Love It: Wow, ok—this combo needs to be studied for all the glory it brings to your salad plate. The bitterness of the radicchio, paired with the sweetness of the oranges  and the saltiness of prosciutto is truly *chef’s kiss* Don’t let summer pass you by without trying this one. 

Hero Ingredient: Can this three ingredient combo count as the hero? Because it absolutely should.

Italian Salsa Verde

Italian Salsa Verde

Why We Love It: Alison and Jay Carroll served up this salsa verde at their Joshua Tree home when we visited last month. And to say we were floored by its complex flavor is an understatement. While you might be more familiar with the Mexican salsa verde which features a sweeter, tomatillo base, this Italian spin is more acidic and delivers a delicious punch of flavor. Green olives, a few good glugs of olive oil, and herbs aplenty are all you need to make it your own.

Hero Ingredient: Go for a really fruity olive oil here. It’s the perfect pairing for the tangy green olives.


Shrimp Skewers with Tzatziki

Shrimp Skewers with Tzatziki

Why We Love It: Could it really be a list of the best BBQ appetizers without skewers? They’re one of the easiest summer recipes and can be customized in infinite ways. I love this combo of light, juicy shrimp with colorful and substantial veg. Taste the rainbow, y’all.

Hero Ingredient: Do yourself a favor and serve your skewers with this homemade tzatziki. You’re welcome.

Melon prosciutto skewer

Prosciutto & Melon Skewers

Why We Love It: I could wax poetic about my love of skewers. They’re simple, require just a few ingredients, and when someone asks you how they can help, you can put them to work. Think of these skewers as the classic Italian snack of prosciutto-wrapped melon, deconstructed. While I love packing all those flavors into a single bite, getting the salty prosciutto, sweet melon, and creamy bocconcini one by one is an experience to savor.

Hero Ingredient: When I tell you that bocconcini are small mozzarella cheese balls, my pick should be obvious.


Summer cheese board

Summer Cheese Board

Why we love it: A cheese board is appropriate for any season, but a summer specific one as a BBQ appetizer is especially lovely. Opt for softer cheeses like brie and chèvre (these work better in the heat than hard cheeses) and summer fruit. Edible flowers are optional, but add the sweetest touch.

Hero ingredient: A really nice cheese. The kind you splurge on. A good cheese board only needs one!

Pear and ricotta board

Ricotta Board With Pears

Why We Love It: Pears are in season starting in August, and this board is the perfect end of summer treat. Be generous with full fat ricotta and add slices of sweet pear to a board for a perfect grab and go BBQ appetizer. 

Hero Ingredient: While pear and ricotta make a delicious pairing, honey roasted pistachios take this board to the next level.

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