8 Cheap Grilling Ideas for Backyard Cookouts

Summer is the season for the great American cookout. Grills and barbecues across the country will soon be sizzling with traditional menu items like steaks, hot dogs and hamburgers as well as savory veggie options like black bean burgers and grilled mushrooms.

But when you add up the beers, burgers and potato salad, hosting a backyard cookout can burn a hole straight through your wallet. So how can you save money this summer?

We consulted two experts: Natalie Ramsey, owner of Red Bridges Barbecue in Shelby, North Carolina, and frequent Food Network celebrity judge Dr. BBQ, aka Ray Lampe of St. Petersburg, Florida.

Ramsey is the granddaughter of 2021 legacy Barbecue Hall of Fame inductee Lyttle Bridges and the first woman barbecue entrepreneur in North Carolina. Lampe, another Barbecue Hall of Fame inductee and owner of Dr. BBQ restaurant in St. Petersburg, is also ambassador for Louisiana Grills and spokesman for the National Turkey Federation.

Their eight expert tips for cooking out on a budget will set you up for summer success.

But first, let’s get something straight: Are you grilling or barbecuing?

BBQing vs. Grilling

The difference in technique is simple, but the distinction is an important one. “Basically, it’s low and slow versus hot and fast, direct versus indirect,” Lampe explained.

With barbecue, the heat circulates around the entire surface of the meat or veggie. With grilling, the heat comes from only one side. Barbecue is slow cooking and grilling has a much quicker result.

A bonus with a barbecue — less expensive cuts of meat really shine, like these options from BBQ Champs Academy.

“By nature, barbecue is taking the cheap cuts of meat and turning them into something delicious,” Lampe said.

Both techniques can result in a delicious cookout, but don’t worry if you only have a grill. Keep reading for tips to turn your grill into a barbecue or smoker.

8 Cheap Grilling Ideas for Summer

These expert tips should help…

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