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Planning your best Independence Day cookout

"Barbecue may not be the road to world peace, but it's a start."
- Anthony Bourdain

Summer's silent clarion has sounded! In still spring moments, you can hear the subtle rumble as grills are dragged into their rightful stations.  Cookout season is just around the corner. BBQ lovers and grill masters everywhere are making serious plans. Everyone loves a good cookout! They're simple, classic and easy to execute. Everything but the grilling can be done ahead of time. They can be pot-luck or partially catered. They are rooted in beloved comfort foods but can be tweaked to add flair. They're held in the great outdoors and foster relaxation and good conversation.

As avid grillers and BBQ fans, Caroline's chefs offer the following dos and don'ts and some delicious suggestions for the perfect cookout. If you focus on your grilling technique, you can create a memorable meal with even the simplest fare.

Grilling 101

  1. To avoid that chemical taste on your meat, don't use lighter fluid. Instead, use a chimney starter, place crumpled newspaper beneath it, pack with coals and light!
  2. Make sure that your grilling surface is hot enough. Whether you're using propane or briquettes, your thermometer should read at least 450 degrees. Your meat should sizzle when it makes contact with the surface.
  3. Make sure that your grill is clean to avoid chunks of carbon from adhering to your food. The easiest way to do this is to scrape it when the grill is near or at temp before you start cooking.
  4. Keep food at an even temp using the air flow vent. The wider it's open, the higher the heat. For a slow cook, keep the vent almost closed. Do not open and close the hood frequently because it will interfere with the cooking temp - just like an oven.
  5. Unless you're a veteran and can gauge your food by touch and sight, use a meat thermometer. For beef: 120 is rare, 140 is medium and 160 is well done. Poultry should be cooked to 165. Pork should be 145.
  6. Don't serve your meat right off the grill. Tent it with foil and let stand for 10 minutes to give the juices time to redistribute through the protein.


  1. Bring all proteins to room temp before grilling
  2. If you are using oil in your marinade, make sure to get rid of any excess before cooking to avoid flares.
  3. Pat beef dry for a better sear.
  4. Vent sausages or prick with a fork. Make an indent with your thumb in the middle of your burgers to retain shape during the cooking process.
  5. To avoid carbonization, brush BBQ sauce on meat well into the cooking process.
  6. When grilling shrimp, use a basket or skewers. Fully thawed or fresh 16-20 count or larger work best.

The Fixings and Beyond

We asked our sous-chef, AJ, for some recommendations to pair with your beautifully grilled protein. He suggests at least one vegetable dish or a salad and at least one starch. He selected these versatile classics from Caroline's Fine Food to round out your feast:


  • Street Corn
  • Traditional Cole Slaw
  • Roasted Summer Veggies w/ Green Goddess Dressing


  • Classic Caesar
  • Garden Salad
  • Herbaceous Salad
  • Baby Greens
  • Greek Salad


  • Black Beans & Rice
  • Classic Potato Salad
  • German Potato Salad
  • Pasta Salad
  • Herbed Cous Cous
  • Orzo, Feta & Scallion
  • Quinoa Tabouleh
  • Herbed Farro

To explore these options and for further inspiration, check out our menu.

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