The end of summer need not mean the end of grilling.

The end of summer need not mean the end of grilling.

For an autumn barbecue, take your cue from the flavors of Oktoberfest and serve up sausages. There are few ways to entertain a crowd so easily yet leave them so satisfied.

A sausage theme is a fairly novel idea, too, so you don't have to worry that it's something people are tired of. It also is a surprisingly versatile and affordable approach that accommodates many palates.

Sausages can be spicy, sweet or savory. They can be spiked with all manner of ingredients, such as tomatoes or cheese. There are even vegan sausages.

"The beautiful thing about sausage is it's so distinctive. It's a culinary, heritage item that's very resonant of a region but very accessible," says Matt Weingarten, executive chef at Manhattan's Inside Park at St. Bart's, which serves homemade sausage.

His favorite to serve? Butifarra, which comes from Catalonia, Spain. Weingarten describes it as a garlic-infused sausage scented with cinnamon and cumin. He serves it with an almond-and-charred-tomato relish.

More mainstream, chicken-based sausages have a milder flavor and appeal to health-conscious guests. Plus, kids love them and leftovers make for a great day-after-party breakfast with eggs.

Best yet, sausages can be cooked almost entirely in advance. In fact, almost the entire meal can be done ahead of time, allowing hosts to sip beers with guests before it's time to eat.

— The Associated Press