Last Updated April 30th, 2022 at 01:02 pm by Lisa
A complete cookout menu with over 60 recipes for grilling, sides, drinks, desserts, potluck sides, and more for your outdoor BBQ party. Plus inspiring ideas, tips, and hacks to make your cookout spectacular.
You will find crowd-favorite Cookout Side Dishes like Cowboy Baked Beans, Corn on the Cob, 7 Layer Salad, Macaroni Salad, and Coleslaw. And cool Summer Salads galore including Watermelon Salad, Pasta Salad, and Potato Salad.
Outdoor parties are an American tradition, and one of the best parts of life is grilling and relaxing with those you love...
⬆ Grilled Hamburgers Video⬆
The common definition of a cookout is a party or gathering where a meal is cooked outdoors. Some people call this a BBQ. In Southern California where I live, people will call any outdoor cooking a BBQ.
Many people across the county would disagree. In North Carolina, BBQ is pork or the whole hog slow-cooked and smoked for many hours. A true BBQ is actually smoking or cooking meats for long periods of time outdoors, and is actually a cooking method!
Here are some ideas to get your party planned!
- Look high and low for serving pieces you have-trust me you have great things to use. Find trays, baskets, bowls, or buy inexpensive ones.
- Plan an area for all the food. A nice long table in the shade, the dinner table, or a kitchen counter space all work great.
- Serve out of the heat, cover food, and try to keep any salads or meat items covered.
- Plan for your number of guests, and space to walk around the table, and chairs, and places to sit in the shade. Set up folding tables and chairs, and borrow them from friends and neighbors.
- Buy plastic food baskets, and cut parchment paper or buy liners. These are great for serving any grilled foods like hamburgers and hot dogs.
- Have containers to send leftovers home with guests, people love it! I use inexpensive Chinese paper takeout containers or grocery store brands.
- Use what you have to create different heights if possible and to keep people moving around trying different dishes. I sometimes use boxes under pretty linens and tablecloths to create high and low places.
- Pick fun summery linens, red and white check gingham cloths, floral, or cute summer prints. Use baskets, bowls and platters in bright summer colors, or use colorful paper goods.
- Use American flags, linens, flowers, and patriotic decorations.
- Serve salads in large chilled bowls on ice packs with a pretty towel covering the ice packs.
- Buy platters that stay chilled for up to two hours, I have a couple and love them. They also can be heated in the winter for parties and holiday celebrations!
- Use fresh flowers, a large beverage container, succulents, herbs, and Summer decor pieces you love. For simple pretty table decorations, place flowers tied with ribbon in small jars.
- Make a DIY Wine Ice Bucket with flowers frozen inside the ice. It is gorgeous and chills bottles of wine or champagne.
Cookout Food Safety
- If serving outside, plan out to keep food protected from flying insects with food tents, chill salads. Keep dishes out of the direct sun if possible.
- For outdoor parties, make sure to get food back in the fridge after about an hour to keep it safe.
- Leftover dishes can be reheated later in the day when people get hungry.
- Pack up leftovers for guests to take with them, and keep chilled until people head home.
Cookout Party Checklist
- Serving Trays - regular or ones that stay chilled
- Pop-Up Food Tents/Covers (keep critters off your food!) 🐜🐜🐜
- Small Bowls
- Serving Spoons
- Grilling Tongs
- Plastic Baskets/Paper Liners or Paper Plates
- Red Solo Cups
- Beer, Wine, Drinks/Cocktails
- Bottled Water
- Iced Tea, Lemonade, or Soda
- Chips, Dips, Pretzels, Snacks
- Cookout, BBQ, and Grill Items
- Pressed Sandwiches
- Cocktails and Drinks
- Chinese Take Out Containers
A party or gathering where a meal is cooked and eaten outdoors.
Cookouts are outdoor parties where food is cooked on open flames of gas or charcoal grills. BBQ is an outdoor cooking method using fire and smoke to cook food, mostly meat like steak, pork, and beef. The techniques vary from direct and indirect heat using wood or charcoal usually for several hours. BBQ is a slang term (but really a cooking method) used in many parts of American to generally describe outdoor grilling.
Popular cookout menu items include hamburgers, hotdogs, pork chops, chicken, and steaks. It is very popular to have other side dishes like salads, snacks, drinks, cocktails, and desserts.
One way I love to entertain is to serve Grilled Hamburgers, arrange a platter of well-seasoned burger patties, and all the yummy toppings. Everyone can have their burger just the way they like them, with melted cheese, burger sauce, pickles, lettuce, tomatoes, all on butter-grilled buns. The BEST burgers ever right at home. 🍔🔥
Grilled Hot Dogs
Why make cut spirals into hot dogs? Well, they get nice nooks and crannies to hold more toppings. And they look fancy for your cookout!
- Push each hot dog on a metal skewer, and run a sharp knife at an angle scoring the hot dog into a spiral section all the way down each hot dog.
- PRO TIP: Jumbo hot dogs work better but regular hot dogs are fine too.
- Grill dogs on an outdoor grill or in a cast iron grill pan until cooked. Load onto hot dog bun with toppings, and serve in a food basket lined with paper.
Here Is What You Need
Hot Dog Relish
- 1 bell pepper chopped fine
- 1-2 dill pickles chopped fine
- 1 cup green cabbage finely shredded
- ¼ cup chopped onion chopped fine
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons yellow mustard
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- ½ teaspoon ground pepper
Hot Dog Relish
- Finely chop all the bell pepper, pickles, cabbage, and onion on a cutting board. Add to a medium size bowl. Stir in vinegar, mustard, salt, and pepper.
- PRO TIP: For a finer relish, pulse all ingredients in a food processor until finely mixed.
- Seal in a container and keep refrigerated for at least a day. Use within a week on hot dogs and hamburgers.
Try my oven Baked Hamburgers, which are small, great for kids, and are delish. 🍔🇺🇸
Gorgeous Grilled Recipes
Gorgeous Salmon Cedar Wraps with asparagus, zucchini ribbons, and topped with melted Lemon-Dill Butter are the perfect party food idea. These are super easy to make ahead for entertaining or a healthy family dinner party! 🐟🍋
Shish Kabobs (aka Shish Kebabs or Beef Kabobs) have a beef marinade made with pineapple and dark rum. Rum is optional. Prep skewers and have them ready to go when guests arrive, your cookout will be one to remember...
Fancy Grilled Lamb
An elegant easy entertaining grill recipe ready in 45 minutes, impress your family and guests with this Cabernet-Rosemary Grilled Rack of Lamb sliced into Lamb Chops served with refreshing Watermelon Skewers. 🐑 🍉
Gyros with Tzatziki Sauce are great for summer cookout dinner. Wrap a pita around grilled lamb meatballs with chopped tomato, cucumber, and a little parsley. The grilled lamb kabobs are sublime with the cool veggies and sauce all tucked in a pita... 🥙
Drinks & Cocktails
Ice cold Blueberry Lemonade captures Summer in every sip. This tasty lemonade can be made in minutes with homemade blueberry syrup, fresh lemon juice, and sweet honey. 🫐🍋
Limoncello is also known as Lemoncello. It is a delicious icy cold Italian lemon liqueur, perfect to serve on hot summer evenings. 🍋
A Frozen Floral Ice Bucket is the perfect way to keep wines cool for Spring and Summer entertaining! A stylish and pretty way to serve icy cold bottles of sparkling water, wine, or champagne outdoors. 🧊🌺🍾
Easy Margaritas made with 3 simple ingredients in a pitcher, you won't believe how good this margarita recipe tastes. 🍹🧊
Make these CoronaRita Margaritas at home! They have a mini “Coronita” turned upside down into a slushy margarita. 🍻🍹
Condiments & Seasonings
Made in minutes, and you pop the Buttermilk Ranch Dressing right in the fridge to enjoy all week. 🥗🥣
Avocado Salsa (aka Taco Sauce) can be drizzled on Mexican food tacos, burritos, taquitos, or served with tortilla chips. 🥑
Get one of these 25+ amazing New Mexico Hatch Chile Recipes with tons of tips on how to roast, prep, and freeze them at home. 🌶🔥🌶
Refrigerator Jalapeno Dill Pickles with jalapeno zing, garlic, and fresh dill. They require no canning and make perfectly crisp and crunchy dill pickles. 🥒🔪🧄
Cole Slaw with an easy vinegar dressing and no-mayo, is great on pulled pork sandwiches, with grilled hamburgers, or BBQ chicken. This coleslaw recipe works as a summer side dish for picnics and cookouts. 🥬 🥕
Potato Salad is a classic BBQ side dish. Loaded with crispy bacon and blue cheese. An awesome side for summer cookouts and potlucks. This is a great picnic food idea because it has no eggs or mayo. 🥔🥓
Try this Frozen Wedge Salad with Pistachio-Avocado Dressing on a hot summer day. 🥬🥑💚
The BEST Macaroni Salad recipe with chopped eggs, pickles, and PICKLE JUICE! A favorite old-fashioned recipe loved by all. 🥣💛🌿
Grilled Corn cooks in 10 minutes. It can be prepped the day before a cookout with endless flavor options for guests. 🌽🔥
This Mexican Street Corn Recipe (aka Elotes) has fresh summer corn grilled and brushed with a creamy cilantro sauce. Sprinkle with Cotija cheese and chile powder, and garnish with cilantro. 🌽🌿
Mango Jicama Slaw has sweet juicy mangos, crunchy jicama, and crisp green cabbage. And a sweet tangy mango-lime vinaigrette is one clean salad! 🥭🥗
Flag Pie (aka sheet pan or slab pie) is a patriotic dessert that serves 20 people. Serve as a July 4th dessert or for summer cookouts and picnics. This patriotic red, white, and blue baked pie is filled with easy blueberry and strawberry pie filling recipes. This sheet pan pie looks hard, but it's EASY, really easy. 🇺🇸🥧
A Strawberry Cake recipe has strawberries baked in the cake and strawberry preserves in the buttercream and is a deliciously natural dessert. 🍰🍓
Easy No-Bake Peach Cheesecake has a crisp graham cracker crust. Top with sweet whipped cream cheese filling and juicy ripe peaches.🍑🥧
Apple Crumble Pie with homemade apple pie filling. This has "foolproof" pie crust and a crumble topping. Some people also call this pie recipe Dutch Apple Pie, Apple Crumb Pie, and even French Apple Pie. 🍏🥧🍋
This summer dessert is dairy-free, vegan, has no refined sugar, and real fruit! Summer Fruit Sorbet or "Nice Cream" is made with raspberries, strawberries, pineapple, and bananas, and served in real lemon cups with absolutely zero guilt. 🍋🍓🍍🍌
Fruit Popsicles made with coconut water, strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries are refreshing low-sugar treats for hot summer days. 🍓🫐🧊
Make an ice cream cake this summer. This Oreo Ice Cream Cake has an incredible red velvet cookie crust. Layers of ice cream, pound cake, caramel, chocolate sauce, whip cream, and fun sprinkles. 🇺🇸🍦🎂
Taste just like CHERRY PIE 5 ingredients create your own Cherry Pie Ice Cream Sandwiches. An easy ice cream treat that screams summer. 🍒🍦
More Party Food
Learn how to set up a Crostini Bar with all the toppings, plus get beautiful design inspiration for arranging an easy and relaxed party for Fall gatherings, Friendsgiving or Thanksgiving.
And speaking of Thanksgiving, here are plenty of Thanksgiving Appetizers to celebrate the holidays.