Grilling Inspiration for Fourth of July Barbecues


If you’re anything like us, you’ll be firing up your grill at least once over the Fourth of July weekend. But there’s a lot more to be had on the grill than just your typical burger. Check out a few of the foods the SacFoodies have thrown on the grill in the last few weeks for some non-traditional Fourth of July grilling fun! 

Beer Can Chicken 

Ever since we got a brand new grill a few weeks ago, we’ve been using it almost every night! I love being able to eat outside – plus, a meal on the grill typically results in far less of a mess to clean up – definitely an added bonus. My dad is the king of beer can chicken and I was determined to finally try the technique now that I have a decent barbecue.  Just make sure that your grill is large enough that you can close it all the way with the bird still standing up. 

To make beer can chicken, you’ll want to start by marinating your chicken in whatever herbs and spices appeal to you. I like to use a mixture of olive oil, garlic, rosemary and salt and pepper. When you’re ready to grill, pour out half of a beer and use it like a stand for the chicken. You’ll also want to enlarge the opening so that the entire top of the can is open. (Hint: No cans of beer in the fridge? If you have a can of soda and a bottle of beer, just pour out the soda and transfer some beer into the can). The beer will add flavor and moisture to the chicken as it cooks. If you have multiple burners on your grill, try keeping the ones on the far left and right turned up to high and the two on the inside turned off – it will cook the chicken more evenly. If your chicken is between 4 and 5 pounds, it will take about an hour to cook. If you’re not sure if it’s done, use a meat thermometer – the inside of the chicken should be 170 degrees Fahrenheit.  

chicken 039

Grilled Taters 

I’ve always loved potatoes, but working on the public relations team for the United States Potato Board (USPB) has opened my eyes to a whole new potato world! Mashed, fried, baked – you may think you know every way to slice and dice a spud, but until you’ve tossed those taters on the grill, you really haven’t lived. The other week, my friends and I got together to barbecue and I quickly committed to this side dish as an excuse to try out the USPB’s new Cookout Potatoes recipe. 

Cookout Potatoes


Nonstick cooking spray
1 medium onion, halved and thinly sliced
1 1/2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, very thinly sliced
1 1/3 cups shredded low-fat sharp Cheddar cheese
1/3 cup real bacon bits
1/3 cup chopped bell pepper (any color)
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt 


Spray a 9 x 9 x 2-inch foil pan liberally with nonstick cooking spray. Place half the onions, potatoes, cheese, bacon bits, bell pepper and garlic salt in pan. Repeat layers. Cover tightly with foil and grill over medium heat for 1 hour, rotating pan occasionally to avoid hot spots. Makes 6 to 8 servings. 

Cookout Potatoes were not only delicious, but affordable to make (at approximately $1.03 per serving) and healthy to boot! Need a little more persuasion? One of the best reasons to BBQ a potato side dish is the fact that it makes clean up oh-so-easy! When the entire meal is on the grill, there are no pots or pans to fuss with and you can toss the foil pan when you’re done.


Pizza a la Grill 

Pizza is yet another delicious option for the grill. My fiancée and I recently had our good friends (and serious pizza aficionados) Mike and Stef over to our house to try throwing the pie right on the grill. In what became true trial and error, we attempted to find the perfect way to cook homemade pizza on the grill. (Mike made amazing dough and sauce from scratch; we got off easy and simply provided the toppings.) 

Not sure where to begin, we decided charcoal might be the way to go… thinking it could possibly lend a nice grilled flavor. We heated up the coals and slapped a pizza stone right on the grate, covered and waited for the heat to build.  Hoping for intense heat similar to a real pizza oven, we then put the prepared pizza directly on the hot stone and covered. A few minutes later, a burning smell permeated the backyard.  Upon further inspection, the bottom crust of the pizza was completely blackened, while the top crust and toppings had barely begun to cook. We rescued the pizza from the fiery stone and finished it in the oven under the broiler – not a total loss. 

For the second pizza, we abandoned the charcoal and fired up the gas grill. We also decided to ditch the pizza stone, in favor of placing the pizza directly on the grates. With the grill flames on medium, we closed the lid and waited… no burning smell… a good sign. About 10 minutes later we removed the pizza from the gas grill, complete with a perfectly crisp (but not burnt) crust and gooey melted toppings.  Grilled pizza perfection! 

If you’d like to try grilled pizza and don’t have friends like Mike and Stef to bring the homemade dough, try picking up a take-and-bake pizza and throwing it on the grill (I obviously recommend using gas!). Everyone loves a good pizza, but who wants to turn on their oven in the summertime? With a little trial and error, grilling can be a great way to go.   

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6 Comments so far ↓

  • Ashlee Gadd | Jul 6, 2009 at 9:38 am

    Great post! Last year in Tahoe at the Fall Food and Wine Festival they did a segment on making pizza on the grill and it was delicious!

  • Lesley | Jul 6, 2009 at 1:49 pm

    I’ve got to try this recipe! Hubby doesn’t like chicken so much, but maybe if I told him it’s “Beer Chicken” he will give it a try.

    Last night we made barbecued peaches. They were divine!

  • Jenna | Jul 6, 2009 at 1:59 pm

    Mmm… grilled peaches are delish with a drizzle of honey and a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

  • Cynthia | Jul 6, 2009 at 2:30 pm

    You can also pick up balls of pizza dough at Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s and some pizza places. We pre-cook most of the ingredients, put the thin dough directly on the grill to crisp up the crust, remove dough, flip over and add the ingredients and cheese then pop back on the grill to melt cheese and finish up.

    Try soaking halved peaches in Mexican vanilla for about 1/2 hr before grilling. Top with TJ’s vanilla yogurt.

  • breakerbreaker | Jul 11, 2009 at 10:36 pm

    Very good use of PBR. Don’t see that red/white/blue can on too many high quality food sites.

  • Weber Q Grills | Feb 24, 2010 at 8:17 pm

    This recipe sounds so good and easy to prepare, too. I just love finding these gems unexpectedly!