All-American Backyard Entertaining Menu

This meal is the quintessential barbecue dinner or afternoon picnic. So simple, and yet it always makes everyone happy. The menu is broken down to make every item manageable for a large party, but you can serve just your family in no time flat.


This timeline shows you how far in advance food preparation for the menu can take place. Following these tips allows maximum time with your guests and minimum fuss.

Up to 1 month before

  • Prepare dry ingredients for step 1 of the cobbler. Store in an airtight container and freeze.

Up to 2 weeks before dinner

  • Toast and chop nuts for cheese ball, place in a zip-top bag and freeze.
  • Prepare dressing for vinaigrette slaw; cover and refrigerate.

Up to 1 week before dinner

  • Prepare chicken marinade; cover and refrigerate.
  • Prepare dressing (step 2) for potato salad; cover and refrigerate.

Up to 2 days before dinner

  • Hard-cook eggs for potato salad and refrigerate.
  • Slice celery. Chop onions and pickles for potato salad and place each in a zip-top bag.

Up to 1 day before dinner

  • Marinate chicken in refrigerator, drain after four hours. Make sauce from reserved marinade; cover and refrigerate. Keep chicken refrigerated.
  • Thaw nuts for cheese ball.
  • Prepare cheese ball through step 1; cover and refrigerate.
  • Prepare potato salad; cover and refrigerate.
  • Prepare vinaigrette slaw; cover and refrigerate.
  • Shuck corn; cover and refrigerate.

Up to 6 hours before dinner:

  • Prepare cobbler, bake and cool to serve.

1 hour before dinner

  • Grill chicken.

20 minutes before dinner

  • Reheat remaining barbecue sauce.
  • Roll cheese ball in nuts and arrange with crackers.
  • Cook corn on the cob.
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