Budget Friendly BBQ Dishes & Sides For A Large Crowd

I’m taking part in a blog series to help you plan and throw the best BBQ this summer.
Follow the below links for all the tips, tricks, and recipes!

Step 1: Planning {Dawn of Joyful Scribblings}

Step 2: Decor / Tablescapes {Cathy of Creations by Cathy}

Step 3: Appetizers {Chelsea of Whatcha Makin’ Now?}

Step 4: Main Dishes and Sides {Nicole of Daily Dish Recipes}

Step 5: Desserts!!! {Katie of What Katie’s Baking}

Step 6: What to wear {Ginny of My New Favorite Outfit}

It’s always fun to get together with family and friends in the summer months and throw together a BBQ to enjoy friendship, laughter and fun. However if you’re working on a budget, it can be stressful trying to come up with ideas to keep the cost down but to ensure everyone eats well. I can help.

First of all, when planning your menu, you should always start with the # of mouths you need to feed. In our family alone, we have 7 mouths, add in our extended family that usually attend our BBQs and you’ve easily hit 14. Then add in friends and neighbors and the cost of food increases dramatically as we add more mouths to feed. But that won’t keep us from throwing a great BBQ and making sure nobody goes home hungry.

Main Dish

Usually menu planning for a BBQ begins with the main dish. What are you planning on serving your guests? How much room do you need?

For the most frugal parties, hamburgers, hot dogs and brats seem to be the answer. But there is so much more you can do, to feed your guests well.

Our favorite BBQ main dish is actually pork ribs. You can usually watch the meat case for great deals starting in Spring, buy up what you think you’ll need and freeze it until you’re ready to use it. Pork is a pretty inexpensive meat on it’s own, but then when you watch for sales or deals you can wind up with quite a lot for not a lot of money.

Pork Ribs on Sale

10lbs of Ribs for $19 is enough to feed a party of 15.

Easy Marinated Pork Ribs
Recipe type: BBQ
Cuisine: American
  • 1½ cups of chicken broth
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • ½ cup dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons minced onions
  • ¼ cup steak sauce
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves
  • 10lbs of pork ribs (or other cuts of pork)
  1. In a large bowl, combine the first 9 ingredients and mix well. Pour 1-1/2 cups of the marinade into a large covered plastic container and add the ribs. Turn the ribs to coat completely.
  2. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours but 10+ is better. In another container, cover and refrigerate the remaining marinade.
  3. When you're ready to prepare, drain and discard the marinade from the ribs.
  4. Grill the pork ribs on the bbq grill, covered, over indirect medium heat for 20 minutes on each side. Baste the ribs with some the extra marinade sauce.
  5. Grill 15-20 minutes longer or until a meat thermometer reads 160°, turning and basting occasionally.
  6. You can serve the ribs with any remaining sauce or mix up a new batch.



 Side Dishes

We can’t forget the side dishes and there are so many budget friendly recipes and options for frugal side dishes. You can feed any crowd for less with these great recipes.

My favorite go-to frugal side dishes are always my Grilled Corn with Herbed Butter and my Bacon Potato Salad. (links to recipes below)


Corn is a great inexpensive side dish to serve with any BBQ. The reason being is that corn usually runs about .28 an ear and if you’re lucky you can go to the local farmer’s market and get it for 4/$1, sometimes better – for a party of 15 that’s less than $5 for a side dish and corn is a popular item at BBQ’s! Who doesn’t enjoy corn?

This awesome recipe is our favorite way to grill corn.


I love potatoes as an easy and inexpensive side dish. You can usually get HUGE bags of baking potatoes for around $3-$5 – anywhere from 5lbs to 10lbs and it’s definitely enough to serve a small army. Potatoes can be prepared in so many different ways. You can make your own french fries, or Mash ’em for some yummy Cream Mashed Potatoes. You can even take them a step further and make these beautiful, fancy Parmesan Hasselback Potatoes.

Our favorite thing to do for a BBQ though, is to make up a large batch of this Bacon Potato Salad that is always a huge hit. Everyone asks for the recipe and it’s so super simple and delicious, and goes with practically anything.


Obviously there are dozens of ideas you can use to create a perfect side dish. Veggies and fruit are always a popular item and if you plan around sales and seasonal availability, you can really get some great deals.

Salads in general tend to be popular and inexpensive. Even just a regular salad, but think outside the box and create a great pasta salad (pasta is cheap!) or egg salad or fruit salad.

Beans are a popular BBQ item and go great with just about any meat you throw on the grill.

No BBQ at our house is complete without this Moist Sweet Cornbread we make. This is the cornbread that converts haters. This is the cornbread that rises above all other cornbreads. I cannot explain it, but many a cornbread hater (including myself) has been converted with one sweet bite of this amazing stuff. I kid you not. Read the reviews if you don’t believe me. I wouldn’t lie to you.


Moist Sweet Cornbread

A large BBQ doesn’t have to cost a ton of money to be successful, taste great and have everyone stuffed.

I’d love to know what your favorite budget friendly main dish or side dish happens to be for a large BBQ. Tell me in the comments below.

Also, keep a lookout for a Lazy Days and BBQs Ebook coming to my blog soon – it will compile all of the post in the series together in one easy to read book, and will include lots of extra’s including new, never before seen recipes and other goodies.

Be sure to visit the other bloggers in this series, to get more frugal tips for the perfect BBQ.

Planning {Dawn of Joyful Scribblings}
Decor / Tablescapes {Cathy of Creations by Cathy}
Appetizers {Chelsea of Whatcha Makin’ Now?}
Desserts!!! {Katie of What Katie’s Baking}
What to wear {Ginny of My New Favorite Outfit}

Don't miss a single recipe!
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  1. says

    Oh my, Nicole – After reading all of those recipes and drooling over the pics… I am starving! I will def be trying every single one; including that yummy cornbread! Thank you for all of the money saving tips; esp when one is trying to be budget-friendly for a large crowd. Just in time for our Memorial Day BBQ’s!! All of the little “pigs” incorporated into my tablescapes are perfect for this meal! HA! 😉

    • says

      I enjoyed your tablescapes so much! I’m so glad you liked what you found and that cornbread is simply amazing. Love, love it! So happy to make a new friend in this fun series!! :)

  2. says

    This looks delicious! My husband is definitely a better cook than I am, so I’ll definitely be sharing this with him :)

  3. says

    I love all of these ideas, especially for the side items. My daughter loves bacon so I’ll definitely be trying the potato salad and the herbed butter is a great way to jazz up corn on the cob. All of these dishes remind me of summer! Thanks for being a part of this series.

    • says

      Thanks so much Dawn. I love taking something simple adding a little something to make it special – that’s how the herbed butter for the grilled ears of corn started. Your daughter will love that creamy potato salad with the bacon. Yum!
      Thanks for inviting me to do the series with you all. It’s been so fun!

  4. Angela says

    WOW! You took the intimidation out of a party I want to throw this summer. I know how to cook for a crowd, but BBQ is NOT my thing. I’m going to copy every single recipe! Looks amazing. THANKS.

    • says

      Angela! Excellent. I love it when I can provide information, tips and recipes that help someone do something daunting. Please check in after your party this summer and let me know how it went. Enjoy!!

  5. says

    Seriously. I’m drooling. That recipe for the pork ribs sounds amazing! Def. a crowd pleaser. I’m so ready for corn on the cob – it’s the true sign of summer in my book. Thanks for being part of these series; I’m glad I have a new blog to read!!

    • says

      The pork ribs were fantastic, so moist and succulent and made of course, exactly the way I love them.
      Corn on the cob is a staple here during the summer, so I totally understand Chelsea. I’m so glad we did this series and that I’ve made new friends along the way. :)

  6. Richard Holden says

    Trash Can Baked Beans
    Tip 6 cans of baked beans into a foil tray. Sprinkle with bbq seasoning, squeeze over 2 lines of French’s mustard. Add in 1 chopped red, green and yellow pepper and 2 chopped peaches. Add in any left over hamburger meat, pulled pork, brisket, sausage, all chopped into small pieces, and stir once.
    Cook over a low direct heat, with the lid down, until the beans start to bubble around the edges. At this point turn the heat off and just leave to stand for another 10 minutes.
    These are absolutely delicious and save you from throwing out otherwise unwanted pieces of food :-)

    • says

      Richard, thanks for the great recipe, and I just love the name! haha These look fantastic and super easy – two things I love.
      Thank you for sharing your lovely recipe!


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