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Jocelyn Delk Adams shares her tips and recipes for the ultimate summer barbecue

Kick off summer with these party-ready recipes from entertaining expert Jocelyn Delk Adams.

Cookbook author and founder of Grandbaby Cakes Jocelyn Delk Adams is firing up the grill with TODAY Food to host a memorable summer barbecue. With her tips, you’ll be able to host an easy and effortless outdoor cookout in no time.

Get the party started with her curated celebration playlist featuring festive tunes, which will set the tone for your gathering.

As for the food, serve savory staples like easy barbecue ribs and elote corn pudding alongside a refreshing watermelon-based side salad. To finish, make the day even sweeter with recipes such as her Berry Rhubarb Punch and popsicles for dessert.

Ahead, we're sharing our perfect party planning spreadsheet (download it below) to make sure that this celebration season goes off without a hitch.

Party-planning schedule

3 weeks before party

  • Decide on format/theme
  • When, where (reserve venue, if necessary)
  • Determine your budget
  • Create a guest list
  • Send out invitations
  • Plan your menu
  • Contact vendors and pay deposits
  • Plan activities

2 weeks before party

  • Confirm RSVPs
  • Craft the perfect playlist
  • Confirm vendor deliveries/pick-ups
  • House cleaned
  • Yard mowed/landscaped
  • Check plates, platters, serviceware; order what’s needed
  • Purchase decorations

1 week before party

  • Make and freeze any make-ahead dishes
  • Arrange furniture, seating, and tables
  • Write a grocery list

2-3 days before party

  • Final grocery shopping
  • Notify/request neighbor’s cooperation
  • Pick up rented items/vendor delivery, final payment

Day before party

  • Pick up food/Major cooking
  • Pick up flowers
  • Decorate
  • Cleaning touch-up
  • Set up bar

Day-of party

  • Last minute cooking (as minimal as possible)
  • Set out food
  • Get dressed
  • Take pictures
  • ENJOY!

1-2 days after party

  • House cleaned
  • Return vendor rentals
  • Share photos
  • Send thank-you notes
Easy Barbecue Ribs

You can’t have a cookout without ribs but serving tender, flavorful ribs can be a bit intimidating. Here, Jocelyn Delk Adams shows just how easy it is, so long as you have a bit of patience. She starts with eight to 10 pounds of beef back ribs, which are seasoned with a dry rub made with light brown sugar, cajun seasoning, smoked paprika, mustard powder, garlic powder and onion powder. 

Elote Corn Pudding

Inspired by Mexican street corn, this creamy corn side dish features freshly grilled corn kernels mixed with Mexican crema, lime zest, cotija cheese, ground cumin, chili powder and fresh cilantro. It’s baked in the oven until bubbling and is a must-make side dish to go along with the beef ribs.

Watermelon salad is tossed with juicy summer tomatoes, quick-pickled onions, crumbled feta cheese, torn mint leaves, and a chipotle dressing. You can make the pickled onions and chipotle dressing in advance but the salad should be assembled just before party time. 

Berry Rhubarb Punch

To make this punch, start by making an infused simple syrup made with sugar and water, plus fresh strawberries, fresh raspberries, chopped rhubarb and fresh mint leaves. That’s mixed with a combination of ginger ale, raspberry vodka (for an adults-only beverage), and more fresh berries for a refreshing sip.