The Ultimate Guide to Cooking for a Crowd

Hosting a big cookout or dinner party sounds like fun, but once you realize how many people are coming, it’s easy to find yourself in panic mode. What if you don’t make enough food? What if I make something that someone can’t eat? What if I make too much and I’m buried in leftovers? It’s easy to stress out about cooking for a crowd, but planning is actually the key to ensuring your guests—and you—have a great time. 

Summertime is the best time to have people over for cookouts and dinner parties. Feel like you’re missing something? Check out our Guide to Kicking off Your Summer for other must-haves and unique touches that will help you host an unforgettable summer cookout.

Having the right tools on hand can make feeding a crowd much easier. Here’s a list of what we reach for while planning a get-together.

A man pulls a perfectly shaped burger patty from Shape + Store's Burger Master and gets it ready to cook

Portion Out Servings Ahead of Time

When you need enough food to feed a crowd, you don’t have time to stop and make up 50 burger patties by hand. With the Shape + Store Burger Master, you can easily make eight patties at once by simply pressing on top of the tool. The best part? You don’t have to get your hands dirty. You can also use it to freeze individual portions of pasta sauce, soups, cookie dough, and much more.

A man holds a cutting board with O-Yaki's standing skewer cooking system loaded up with fresh meats & veggies ready to be grilled

A Stand-Up Tool for Standout Results

Start searching for BBQ menu ideas for a crowd, and you’ll find a lot of kabob and skewer recipes because they’re so easy to whip up quickly for a lot of people. The Standing Skewer Cooking System makes assembling kabobs a breeze, and you can place the whole thing in the oven or on the grill for even cooking. Unlike traditional skewers, these ones stay vertical, ensuring they cook well and you don’t waste time turning them.

Hot and cold salads stay fresh on a picnic table thanks to Oggi's insulated bowls & lids

Keep Food Insulated and Delicious 

One of the big challenges with figuring out how to feed a crowd is trying to keep all the great food at the right temperature. You want serving dishes to look good and you want food to stay at the optimal temperature The Oggi insulated bowl and lid solves that problem. Its double-wall insulation will keep cold foods nice and chilled or your hot dishes warm. Since it’s made of stainless steel, it looks great on the table, too. 

Shellless hard boiled eggs sit on a plate next to Eggibles silicone egg boiler

Deviled Eggs Without the Hassle

Deviled eggs are a favorite 4th of July food, but it’s frustrating to peel all those eggs. The Silicone Egg Boiler puts an end that. Simply crack eggs into the mold and boil it the whole thing for perfectly hard-boiled eggs minus the shells. You can even have some fun adding bacon bits, veggies, and other ingredients to customize each egg. 

Chips and veggies sit in a serving tray with Guac-Lock's guacamole preservation container

Keep Your Guac Fresh for Days

Guacamole and chips or veggies is always a favorite when you’re making enough food to feed a crowd, but the last thing you want is gauc that looks brown and gross. With the Guacamole Preservation Container & Serving Tray, an airtight seal keeps gauc fresh and green for days. Attach the tray and add veggies or chips when you’re ready to serve. It’s a great container for other dips, too, such as tzatziki, salsa, and hummus. 

A person butters their corn with ButterOnce, the corn butter knife

Butter Corn with Ease

Grilled corn on the cob is one of the best 4th of July grilling ideas, and it’s perfect for any summer BBQ. The problem with this summer favorite is trying to butter all that corn. Enter the Corn Butter Knife, which is contoured to fit the shape of corn on the cob, so every kernel gets some buttery goodness. Two knives are included, so guests won’t want to stand in line waiting.

A person uses the 3-in-1 BBQ tool from BBQ Croc to pick up a corn cobb from a grill filled with other meats and veggies

An All-Around BBQ Tool

Whole chickens, ribs, grilled veggies, and roasts all make great BBQ food ideas for large groups, but sometimes flipping or moving these larger items from the grill can be a challenge. The last thing you need is your food going “splat” on the ground. The BBQ Croc 3-in-1 BBQ Tool works as a scraper, tongs, and spatula and ensures you keep your hands well away from the heat. It opens wide so you can easily grab a whole roast or chicken without worrying about dropping it. Not only is it great for the grill, but it works well for grabbing corn or lobster out of deep pots.  

A man shreds a pork loin with black meat shredder claws from Bear Paw

Shred Prep Time

Some of the best 4th of July recipes and cooking ideas include delicious grilled or smoked meats, and the Bear Paws Meat Handler and Shredder ensures you can handle these dishes with ease. With six extremely sharp prongs, you can shred meat in no time, so it’s an essential tool if you want to serve pulled pork at your next cookout. The tongs are tough and sturdy, and work well for lifting large chickens, turkeys, or roasts and keeping them steady while carving. 

A variety of grilled veggies sits on top of a copper grill mat from Bear Paw over a charcoal grill

Great Cooking, Easy Cleanup

Copper Grill Mats offer a tidier way to grill veggies, bacon, fish, chicken, and nearly anything else. Not only can you use them on the grill, but you can use them for baking in the oven, too. When you’re done, pop them in the dishwasher—that’s a win-win when you’re cleaning up after hosting a crowd. 

A seared steak rests on a wooden cutting board, with MEATER's wireless meat thermometer checking the internal temp

Cook Meat to Perfection Every Time

With MEATER, you don’t have to guess about the doneness of your roasted or grilled meats. The MEATER wireless smart meat thermometer works with an app to give you alerts, warnings, and estimated cooking times right on your phone. When you’re busy with all your guests, you don’t want to forget about what you’re cooking, and MEATER ensures you’re not stuck in the kitchen or next to the grill while you’re cooking up tasty dishes. 

Skewers of grilled shrimp and veggies sit on a serving platter, skewered y the stainless steel slide & serve bbq skewers from Proud Grill company

Artful and Easy to Flip Skewers

If you’re looking for cookout ideas for large groups, you can’t go wrong with kabobs, and the Proud Grill Company Slide & Serve BBQ Skewers make it easy to create kabobs that cook evenly every time. Tines give veggies and proteins more surface contact with the grill for even cooking. These skewers are easier to flip, and hooked tips on the tines keeps food in place.

A person uses iGienetti's watermelon slicer to easily slice fresh watermelon

Effortlessly Cut and Serve Melons

When it comes to easy 4th of July recipes, watermelon is a refreshing choice that serves a crowd, but no one loves slicing one up. With the Melon & Watermelon Slicer Duo, you can slice up cantaloupes and giant watermelons without a problem. These tools slice, lift, and can even serve in just one motion. You’ll be left with just the empty rind, so you don’t waste any of the deliciousness, and much less of the big mess.

A person pours iced coffee out of the Coldwave Beverage Chiller into a glass filled with ice

Ice-cold Drinks in Less than Two Minutes

You can’t afford to forget about the drinks if you’re cooking for a crowd, especially during the hot summer months. Keeping everyone supplied with cold beverages is a challenge, but it’s made much easier by the Coldwave Beverage Chiller. It will chill warm drinks to ice cold in less than two minutes, and you don’t have to worry about diluting the flavor. Simply keep the insert in the freezer, and you can cool down any drink in a jiffy. 

A man uses a green single-handed server from SnapIt to grab pasta salad

A Fun Twist on Serving Utensils

There’s nothing like trying to juggle a plate while trying to serve yourself some salad with just one hand. The Snapi Single Handed Server makes this easy. It lets you grab a serving of salad or pasta while you still have a hand left to hang on to your plate. You may want to grab a couple, and be prepared for guests to ask you where you got it.

A cook marinates steak in a half gallon silicone storage bag from Stashers

Eco-friendly Silicone Bags

Plastic baggies are useful for marinating meats, bagging up leftovers, and more when you’re throwing a big BBQ, but the Stasher Silicone Half Gallon Storage Bag offers an eco-friendly option that’s just as handy. You can use it in the microwave, freezer, pantry, and even toss it in the dishwasher when you’re done. The bag won’t break down, and you can use it over and over again while the air-tight pinch-press seal ensures it won’t leak. 

a stainless steel Rapid Boil pot & lid sit atop a gas burner

Boil Water Faster than Ever

They say a watched pot never boils, and that’s especially true when you’re rushing around cooking for a crowd. However, the Turbo Pot Rapid Boil Pot is the answer to this problem, since highly conductive aluminum fins along the base increase heating surface area. This means water boils 30-50% faster than in traditional pots. You’ll save a lot of time as you’re cooking up guest favorites, and it saves energy, too.

A full feast sits on a table, with a white to-go casserole carrier from Fancy Panz as the star of the show

A Safer Way to Transport Dishes

Casseroles make some of the best 4th of July cookout ideas, but transporting these tasty dishes can be a bit challenging. The Fancy Panz To-Go Casserole Carrier holds casseroles safely in place, so you don’t have to worry about spills, which makes it perfect for picnics, cookouts, tailgating, or potlucks. The clear plastic lid ensures you can easily identify and serve up your dish, and you can stack these carriers, so it’s a breeze to transport multiple pans if needed.

Cooking for a crowd comes with a few challenges, but it can be a lot of fun if you have the right tools to help handle hosting a big crew of people. Add some of these cookout essentials to your kitchen, and you’ll save time, energy, and frustration so you can actually enjoy spending more time with your guests.  

Looking for other bar and grill necessities? Browse our entire Bar and Grill collection here!


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