Bobby Flay's Simple Tip For A Stress-Free Summer Cookout

Nothing says summer quite like the sound of meats and veggies sizzling on the grill but coordinating all the details of warm-weather soirees can sometimes be stressful. However, if you're looking for a top tip to make sure your summertime cookout goes smoothly, try following the advice of celebrity chef Bobby Flay, a master of all things grill-related.

"Everybody wants to know what's a good thing to feed a crowd that everyone is going to enjoy. I tell people, do a taco bar. I do everything family-style, whether it's a burger bar or a taco bar," Flay told People.

To put Flay's recommendation into play, all you need to do is prepare and set out the toppings and sides before settling in to grill up all the proteins and veggies. By creating a DIY atmosphere for guests, you can eliminate keeping track of who wants specifications like cheese or no-cheese on their proteins while grilling — or having to craft whole burgers or tacos with toppings and condiments when they come off the grill. Instead, you can focus on getting that perfect sear on your steak and enjoying the company of the guests you invited to your gathering.

Easy dishes to serve at a cookout

When setting up a spread for hungry guests, you can serve up staples like the standard store-bought condiments for burgers and tacos, but to elevate the experience, consider adding options with various textures, too. Try offering creamy, spreadable cheeses like Boursin, whipped feta, goat cheese, or one of Bobby Flay's favorite cheeses for burgers — pimento (it can work well on tacos, too).

Additionally, guacamole, crema, tzatziki, or an aioli will all make your grilled masterpieces shine whether they're stuffed into a tortilla or between two buns. Then, give alternatives to the likes of lettuce, tomato, and onion with crisp and crunchy toppings like shredded cabbage or carrots, pico de gallo, and onion rings.

In addition to giving the option to create textural contrasts, introduce interesting flavors, too. For a spicy kick, serve sriracha or jalapeños — or let guests add sweetness with honey mustard or Thai sweet chili sauce. And while briny dill pickles are a go-to topping for burgers, try other pickled veggies for a fun twist. Also, while your meats or vegetables may already have some smoky flavor from the grill, you can add more with the addition of bacon. But instead of the traditional slices, which may take more coordination to cook, make a bacon jam ahead of time to serve.

Finally, don't sleep on serving sides that can do double duty as toppings. Try coleslaw, baked beans, creamy mac and cheese, and caprese or Greek salads.

More tips for stress-free outdoor entertaining

While food may be the top focus at cookouts, there are plenty of other considerations for creating the perfect outdoor event, not the least of which is what to wash down all of that grilled goodness with. Many hosts will want to have options on hand to accommodate both drinkers and non-drinkers, so serving fizzy sodas and sparkling waters along with beer, wine, and ready-to-drink cocktails can be an easy option that feels festive for everyone.

However, you can also kick your drink game up a notch by preparing an easy large-batch mocktail. Simply serve it in large pitchers or a punch bowl alongside liquor that pairs well so that guests can easily customize their own drinks.

One aspect of outdoor entertaining in the summer that can pose a problem is keeping food and drinks cold. While it's easy enough to have a cooler on hand for bottled drinks, punch bowls or casserole dishes can be a bit more challenging to chill.

You can easily eliminate the stress of keeping your salads and spreads cool by placing the dishes of food into aluminum foil pans filled with ice. Meanwhile, if you're looking for a way to keep your hot foods warm, you may want to invest in chafing dishes. However, for a less expensive solution, merely keep hot foods covered with aluminum foil to retain the heat. And as a bonus: Covering the food will help to keep some of summer's bugs at bay.