When you think of appetizers, do you think of smoked appetizers? Or do you think of quick-and-easy reheated items from the freezer thrown into the oven or fryer?
Well, whether you are having friends over for a party in the backyard or it’s gameday, having appetizers ready for snacking is a big bonus. While we all love showing off our grills and what we’re cooking, a never-ending chorus of “Is it done yet?” can get old real quick. If you put a bit more effort than using fresh-from-the-freezer items, appetizers are a great way to show off your cooking prowess and keep everyone (including yourself) happy while the main course cooks.
Now what if you can take garden-variety appetizers and turn them into bbq appetizers? Here’s our list of the best appetizers for BBQ that you can make at home.
Smoked Appetizers: Our Favorites
1. Pork Belly Burnt Ends
This is truly a BBQ appetizer. Smoked pork belly rubbed down with your favorite rub and doused in your favorite BBQ sauce. Sure, it may take some time, but this is the perfect appetizer to show what you can do with BBQ other than the main dish. It’s simple too, not requiring a lot of ingredients. Just cube up pork belly, add your favorite rub, and get them smoking.
Just make sure you use a really good BBQ sauce for this. Our Jack Daniels BBQ sauce is a great option for these burnt ends. Burnt ends may take up time, but when you do them right, you’ll understand why they’re called meat candy.
2. Pulled pork nachos
While we recently profiled brisket nachos for our best leftover brisket recipes, nachos are also a perfect way to use leftover pulled pork. Whether you go with the basic nachos or some of the optional garnishes detailed in this recipe, you’re going to have a great smoked appetizer perfect for a party or gameday.
You can do these in the oven or on the grill, but as the recipe says, the grill is the best way to go. Not only do you have the smoky taste of the pulled pork you smoked, but the other ingredients can pick up on the smoke from the grill.
3. Smoked Queso
Just because something goes viral on Instagram and TikTok doesn’t mean it should be avoided. This smoked queso is case in point. You can have a spicy, cheesy dip easily made on your smoker that will blow people away.
The recipe even gives you some substitutions that you can make based on your preferences or what you have on hand. While it references their specific barbecue rub, you can substitute your favorite or you can even use our Kansas City-style brisket rub for the queso.
4. Smoked Buffalo Chicken Dip
Speaking of dips, this Smoked Buffalo Chicken Dip is perfect for tailgating, gameday parties, or colder days. Everyone knows that Buffalo tailgates are legendary, and what better way to pay homage than to it than with a smoked take on a Buffalo chicken dip?
You’ve got smoked chicken, hot sauce, and pepper jack cheese all under a layer of crumbly blue cheese. It wouldn’t be a true Buffalo chicken dip if it didn’t have blue cheese. You can evenprepare ahead by smoking extra chicken next time you have your smoker fired up.
5. Smoked Deviled Eggs
Deviled eggs are made for summer cookouts. They’re tangy and cool, perfect for a hot summer day. However, boiling eggs doesn’t add any flavor to the party. What if you made deviled eggs with smoked eggs? You get these smoked deviled eggs.
If you’ve never smoked eggs before, there’s instructions on how to do it in the link. Just be aware that smoking eggs for these deviled eggs will take much longer than the normal way of making hard-boiled eggs. However, you will have the most unique deviled eggs at the cookout. If smoking the eggs wasn’t enough, then you amp the BBQ flavor up by including BBQ rub in the yolk mixture and also by sprinkling it over the finished eggs.
6. Smoked Cream Cheese
While some appetizers may seem over-the-top, there’s something nice about a simple appetizer. Smoked cream cheese, much like the smoked queso, went viral recently. If you’ve ever made it and ate it, you understand why. It’s about as simple as a BBQ recipe can get and to eat, but it transforms the flavors of a block of cream cheese completely.
All you need is your favorite BBQ rub, a block of cream cheese, and some aluminum foil and away you go. Give it enough time to develop a beautiful color in the smoker and serve it with some good crackers.
7. Smoked Jalapeño Poppers
Jalapeño poppers are a popular appetizer. You have cheese, spice from the pepper, cream cheese to balance the spice a bit, and even bacon, because bacon makes everything better. Well, this recipe takes that beloved appetizer and makes it on the smoker.
You smoke the bacon on the grill first, then assemble the filling. Use your favorite rub in the mix for more flavor, whether it’s a store-bought rub, your homemade rub, or our Kansas City recipe. Then smoke them until its done. What could be better?
Grilled BBQ Appetizers:
1. Grilled Potato skins
Potato skins are a sports bar-food staple. Crispy skin, cheese, bacon, sour cream, and scallions. They’re easy and taste delicious. Well, you can bring the sports bar home or on the road for game day with a grilled twist with this recipe. You still have all the staple ingredients that make this a legendary appetizer, but now you add smoke and fire to it rather than just being cooked in an oven or microwave.
You still do microwave the potato skins to get the cooking process started, but these potatoes will still pick up the taste of the grill. Microwaving them first just ensures the proper doneness without scorching them badly over the fire.
2. Grilled potato chips with garlic aioli
Whether it’s a backyard BBQ or gameday party, there’s always potato chips. Rather than paying for a bag that’s at least a third air, you can make these grilled potato chips right at home. You get crispy, golden-brown chips without having to fry them.
You can slice your potatoes up with a knife, but the key is a uniform slice to grill up properly. Too thin and you burn the chips, too thick and they won’t cook properly. If you don’t have the proper knife skills to do that, use a mandolin slicer to make your life a lot easier. Then you add in a homemade dip like this garlic aioli? Everyone is going to want to these chips and dip.
3. Grilled Stuffed Mushrooms
While mushrooms may be more associated with sides or garnishes when it comes to grilled food, you can make stuffed mushrooms on your grill for a savory appetizer that’s a bit different.
Speaking of the filling, how can you go wrong with an appetizer that combines panko crumbs, jalapeños and includes not just cheddar cheese but also cream cheese? You can’t, especially when it’s cooked on the grill.