Home Recipe Roundup 30 Best Cookout Food Ideas

30 Best Cookout Food Ideas

Whether you’re celebrating a holiday or just having a fun afternoon with friends, good cookout food can make all the difference in whether or not your party is a success.

Whether you’re into traditional grilled goods, cool and creamy sides, or decadent desserts, this list should have something perfect for your next cookout. 

Macaronj Salad
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I’ve tried to include a wide range of options to please everyone, from the most die-hard meat eaters to those with vegan, gluten-free, or low-carb dietary restrictions.

You’ll find a few staples for outdoor gatherings, such as potato salad, BBQ chicken, and ribs.

However, I’ve also provided a few less common, more out-of-the-box suggestions like grilled watermelon and grilled apple crisp.

So sit back, enjoy, and let the summertime vibes wash over you as you peruse this list of super yummy recipes.

Crack burger

1. Crack Burgers

Everyone knows that thick, juicy hamburgers are a must-have at any cookout.

Upgrade your standard burger to these crack burgers, and watch an entire platter disappear.

A mixture of cheese, sour cream, bacon, and ranch dressing takes these juicy burgers over the top!

BBQ Baked Beans

2. BBQ Baked Beans

No cookout is complete without a side of baked beans!

These beans have it all. They’re sweet, smokey, spicy, and oh-so-meaty. The addition of ground beef takes these beans over the edge.

With just 30 minutes on the stovetop, you can have this side ready to go for hungry guests this summer.

Macaroni Salad

3. Macaroni Salad

I’ve tried plenty of recipes for macaroni salad over the years, but I always seem to keep coming back to this one. 

It’s quick and straightforward to make, includes plenty of healthy veggies, and is smooth, cool, and creamy. 

Grilled pineapple rings with sugary glaze served on a white plate.

4. Grilled Pineapple

With sweet pineapple, brown sugar, and melted butter – you can make a delightful side dish that’s sweet, tart, and just a tiny bit smoky. 

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These grilled pineapples are the easiest things in the world to make, and half the total time involves just letting them sit in the brown sugar! 

Grilled Watermelon Slices

5. Grilled Watermelon

You’d think grilled watermelon would be just like grilled pineapple, right? Nope. It’s much, much more. 

You will grill the watermelon, but then you’ll pile it high with feta cheese, fresh mint, lime, and honey.

The contrast between sweet and savory is beyond delicious. 

Rosemary Roasted Potatoes

6. Rosemary Roasted Potatoes

These rosemary roasted potatoes are like potato wedges, but they’re much better.

For one thing, they’re unbelievably crispy. They also have a lot more seasoning. 

Plus, it’s a great way to utilize all that rosemary from your summer herb garden!

Each bite is a little taste of herb heaven, and if you aren’t careful, you’ll eat a dozen or more before you can stop yourself. 

Deviled egg potato salad

7. Deviled Egg Potato Salad

Nothing says a backyard BBQ like deviled eggs! But what if we combined two classics: deviled eggs and potato salad?

It delivers the punchy, creamy notes of deviled eggs with a savory bite of potatoes.

Plus, it’s so easy to make the night before.

Grilled Chicken Tenders

8. Cracker Barrel Grilled Chicken Tenders

Grilled barbecue chicken is a staple of most cookouts, but not everyone loves meat on the bone.

These chicken tenders are kid-friendly and perfectly seasoned with Italian dressing.

They cook up quickly on the grill and are oh-so-juicy and delicious.

Ina Garten Corn Salad

9. Ina Garten Corn Salad (Barefoot Contessa Recipe)

I love this dish because it’s so colorful and creamy, and although it’s delightfully savory, there’s a hot kick to it, as well.

Has Ina Garten ever steered you wrong?

It’s also relatively easy to make. All you need is corn, red onion, olive oil, fresh basil, apple cider vinegar, and salt and pepper for this quick and easy side.

Grilled Mexican Street Corn

10. Mexican Street Corn (Elote) Recipe

Corn on the cob is great, but this Mexican Street Corn is even better!

Garnished with mayo, sour cream, cheese, and lime juice, you won’t miss the butter.

It’s savory, a little smokey, and so quick and easy to make in a flash.

Crack Green Beans with Crispy Bacon

11. The Best Crack Green Beans

Even the green bean skeptics will have a hard time resisting this green bean recipe.

Why? Because bacon makes everything better! Smothered in smokey bacon, these green beans are hard to resist.

With the addition of brown sugar and soy sauce, they’re the perfect balance of savory and sweet.

Beer Can Chicken

12. Beer Can Chicken

Beer can chicken might be the moistest, juiciest, and most tender chicken you can make. It’s certainly one of the most flavorful. 

It takes about 90 minutes to cook but only 10 to prepare and most of that work goes into making the rub.

While you’re at it, you may want to make two because one won’t last long. 

Coca Cola Pulled Pork

13. Coca Cola Pulled Pork

Nothing says summer like pulled pork and Coca-Cola! Eat it on its own with BBQ sauce, or pile it high on a bun with some coleslaw.

As it cooks, the soda caramelizes creating the perfect balance of sweet and savory.

Seriously, don’t sleep on this recipe!

Mexican Hot Dogs

14. Mexican Hot Dogs

Looking for a great way to dress up hot dogs? You have to check out this Mexican Hot Dog recipe!

Smoky hot dogs pair perfectly with fresh pico and a tangy lime crema.

Chopped jalapeno peppers add a nice kick of spice to these dogs!

Caprese Salad

15. Caprese Salad Recipe

Sometimes, it’s the simple recipes that steal the show. That’s certainly true for this classic Caprese salad!

Juicy summer tomatoes with fresh basil, mozzarella cheese, and a balsamic glaze is a thing of beauty.

It’s almost too pretty to eat. Almost.

Creamy Coleslaw

16. Coleslaw

If you’re making coleslaw, why not go all out and make copycat KFC coleslaw?

It’s cold and creamy, but the carrots and cabbage remain fresh and crunchy. 

It’s pretty zesty but stops just short of being outright sour, just as coleslaw should. 

If you like your coleslaw sweet, stick to the three tablespoons of sugar. Otherwise, you might want to dial it back just a bit.

Buffalo Chicken Wings

17. Crispy Buffalo Chicken Wings

Chicken wings are a must at any backyard BBQ. With crispy edges and juicy insides, this is the recipe you need this summer.

Plus, the smoky, spicy Buffalo sauce takes these wings over the edge.

Be sure to have some Bleu cheese or ranch dressing for dipping!

Broccoli Salad with Grapes and Onions

18. Broccoli Salad

If you’ve never had broccoli salad, you have no idea what you’re missing. It takes about 15 minutes to make and requires zero cooking.

The broccoli, onions, cheese, and bacon give it a hearty, earthy flavor, but the sugar, grapes, and raisins add a wonderful sweetness that even the kiddos love. 

If you have picky vegetable haters in your crew, this is almost a surefire way to get them to eat their greens.

Crispy Smashed Potato Salad

19. Crispy Smashed Potato Salad

Crispy Smashed Potato salad is the ultimate potluck staple! Pairing crispy potatoes with dill pickles, herbs, mayo, and lemon is like a flavor explosion.

The smoky, savory flavors go so well with BBQ foods and it’s so easy to make.

Be sure to double the recipe, because it will go fast!

Fall of The Bones Pork BBQ Ribs

20. Fall Off The Bone Ribs

Delicious smoked ribs take some serious time to cook, but oh man, are they worth it in the end. This recipe is pretty close to perfection.

The sauce crisps up a little around the edges for a bit of traditional BBQ crunch, but the meat is slide-off-the-bone tender.

No knife and fork required for these BBQ ribs! (But you may need a few napkins)

Shrimp Salad

21. Easy Shrimp Salad

Shrimp salad is incredible because you can cook a pound of the stuff in less than 20 minutes.

Plus, thanks to all the seasonings, they’re super flavorful. 

It makes a light main course or appetizer that utilizes all those fresh summer herbs!

Three Bean Salad

22. Three Bean Salad

Three bean salad is as beautiful as it is tasty. It has so much color from the green beans, red kidney beans, tan chickpeas, and red onions. 

The apple cider vinegar/olive oil mixture adds a nice, shiny coating to everything that makes it look even nicer.  

Oh, and yes, it tastes fantastic – light, fresh, and just a tad zesty.

Arugula Salad

23. Arugula Salad with Shaved Parmesan

BBQ food is unapologetically heavy, so let’s freshen things up with this light arugula salad!

The arugula is crispy and peppery, and pairs perfectly with nutty Parmesan cheese.

With a simple lemon and honey vinegrette, the flavors taste bright and summery.

Alton Brown Guacamole

24. Alton Brown Guacamole

Naturally vegan-friendly and gluten-free, this dish is one you won’t want to pass up!

The creamy avocado creates the perfect backdrop for summery veggies and a bright kick from lime juice.

It’s a great appetizer to keep company nibbling as the grill heats up!

Roasted Asparagus

25. Oven-Roasted Asparagus

Whether you pop it in the oven or on the grill, this asparagus recipe is full of flavor!

The nutty Parmesan cheese and touch of lemon juice brings out it’s earthy flavor.

This recipe is so easy and its smoky, nutty flavor is the ideal complement to any main course.

Homemade Cracker Barrel Fried Apples in a Bowl

26. Cracker Barrel Fried Apples

Don’t have time to fuss with a homemade apple pie? These Cracker Barrel Fried Apples are just as good- if not better!

Rich and buttery, they absolutely melt in your mouth. The secret ingredient is the apple pie spice that adds the perfect touch of warming flavors.

Bonus points: is all comes together in under an hour (and makes your home smell heavenly).

Chick-Fil-A Lemonade in a Tall Glass with Ice

27. Chick-Fil-A Lemonade

Chick-Fil-A knows lemonade! The key is to use fresh ingredients, and the perfect ratio of sugar to lemon.

With all those heavy foods, nothing soothes your thirst more than an ice cold glass of lemonade.

Trust me, taking the time to squeeze lemons is well worth the effort.

Fruit Salad with Mint

28. Fruit Salad

Fruit salad always makes a good cookout dessert. 

But fruit salad with additional peach pie filling? WOW! It makes the whole thing so much sweeter. 

Plus, it adds vibrant summery colors to your dinner table.

Apple Crisp

29. Caramel Apple Crisp

This caramel apple crisp recipe is rich and nutty with a punch of tartness from fresh apples.

The real star of the show is the crunchy oat topping with a kiss of cinnamon.

Top it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, and gently slip into a food coma.

Chocolate Covered Bananas

30. Chocolate Covered Bananas

Need a quick and easy 3-ingredient dessert? Then look no further!

It doesn’t get much easier than chocolate covered bananas. They’re sweet, crunchy, and perfect for a hot day.

The best part? You can top then with whatever you like! Nuts, sprinkles, candy pieces, coconut, or dried fruit are great options.

30 Best Cookout Foods

Course: Side DishCuisine: American


Prep time





Start your summer off right with these popular cookout foods. One of my favorites is Grandma’s Macaroni Salad. Enjoy!


  • 8 ounces elbow macaroni (cooked and drained)

  • 1 cup chopped celery

  • 1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper

  • 1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper

  • 1/3 cup chopped onion

  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise

  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar

  • 1 tbsp prepared mustard

  • 1 tsp sugar

  • 1 tsp salt

  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper


  • In a large bowl, mix in the macaroni, celery, bell pepper, and onion.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, apple cider vinegar, mustard, sugar, salt, and pepper until combined. Pour the mixture into the macaroni and vegetables. Mix well until everything is thoroughly coated in the dressing.
  • Refrigerate for at least 4 hours before serving. Preferably overnight.
  • Stir before serving.
Cookout Food

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author avatar
NaTaya Hastings
NaTaya Hastings is a food and recipe writer for Insanely Good Recipes. She’s an educator, boy mom, dog mom, and whatever-stray-enters-the-yard mom. As a result, she's constantly cooking for both humans and animals.

Luckily, she enjoys it!

Though born, raised, and still living in Alabama, her specialty is NOT down-home Southern cooking. Instead, she loves to experiment with Asian, Mexican, Italian, and other ethnic cuisines. She has two mottos when it comes to cooking. “The more spice, the better!” and “There’s no such thing as too much garlic!”

She’s also pretty good with desserts. Especially the easy, no-bake ones.

Her favorite things are cuddling with her four giant dogs, traveling, reading, writing, and hanging out in nature. She’s also pretty excellent at Dominoes.

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