25 New Spins on Old School Drive-In Treats

A night at the drive-in meant a trip to the snack bar—which cheerfully dished up classic American treats. What could be better for a summer party than updated versions of those timeless drive-in treats?

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drive-in movies sign
Shutterstock / J.D.S

In the days of drive-in movies, short films urged people to leave their cars at intermission to explore the wonders of the snack bar. Those promised wonders were actually timeless American classics: hamburgers, fries, hot dogs, ice cream, pizza and popcorn. Here are updated drive-in treats perfect for a summer party!

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Burger Americana

Go on a burger road trip in your own backyard. Grill the patties and load them sky-high with your favorite toppings. For instance, peanut butter and bacon make them southern style; coleslaw and tomatoes, a northern version. —Susan Mahaney, New Hartford, New York
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Loaded Waffle Fries

Make any dinner fun with my Loaded Waffle Fries, topped with a savory blend of cheese, scallions and bacon. I copied this family-favorite recipe from a local restaurant, and it's great with hot dogs, burgers or by itself. —Jeffrey Viccone, Decatur, Illinois
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Bandito Chili Dogs

These deluxe chili dogs are a surefire hit at family functions. Adults and children alike love the cheesy chili sauce, and the toppings are fun! —Marion Lowery, Medford, Oregon
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Grilled Sausage-Basil Pizzas

We love basil recipes, and these easy little pizzas are a wonderful change of pace from the classic cookout menu. Let everybody go crazy with the toppings. —Lisa Speer, Palm Beach, Florida
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Nacho Popcorn

My husband and I like to munch on this while watching TV. The nacho flavoring is a zesty alternative to butter and salt. —Linda Boehme, Fairmont, Minnesota
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Strawberry-Rosemary Yogurt Pops

We planted strawberries a few years ago, and these tangy-sweet frozen yogurt pops are my very favorite treats to make with them! The options are endless. Try using other yogurt flavors like lemon, raspberry or blueberry. You may also substitute your favorite herb for the rosemary—or simply omit it. —Carmell Childs, Ferron, Utah
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Barbecued Burgers

I can't take all the credit for these winning burgers. My husband's uncle passed down the special barbecue sauce recipe. We love it on everything...it was only natural to try it on, and in, burgers. Add cheese and bacon to take them over the top. —Rhoda Troyer, Glenford, Ohio
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Baked Sweet Potato Fries

I can never get enough of this baked sweet potato fries recipe! Even though my grocery store sells them in the frozen foods section, I still love to pull them out of my garden and chop them up fresh! —Amber Massey, Argyle, Texas
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Grilled Brats with Sriracha Mayo

I am a Sriracha fanatic, so that’s what inspired this dish. You can boil the brats in your favorite beer to reduce the fat and give them flavor before grilling, or spread garlic butter on lightly toasted buns. —Quincie Ball, Olympia, Washington
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Peanut Caramel Corn

A sweet, crunchy, lighter alternative to traditional caramel corn, this can’t-stop-eatin’-it treat won’t stick to fingers or teeth! It’s wonderful for gifts, too. —Lois Ward, Puslinch, Ontario
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Personal Margherita Pizzas

This family-friendly supper is simplicity at its finest. Golden-brown, melted fresh mozzarella and a sprinkling of fresh basil give these personal pies Italian-inspired flavors. —Jerry Gulley, San Francisco, CA
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Quick Icebox Sandwiches

My mother liked making these cool, creamy treats when I was growing up in the States because they’re so quick to fix. Then I made them for my three kids. —Sandy Armijo, Naples, Italy
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Barbecued Chicken Pizza

This pizza starts with a prepared bread shell and barbecue sauce, plus leftover cooked chicken. I simply assemble and bake. Often, I cut the pizza into small bite-size pieces and serve it as an appetizer at parties or potluck dinners. —Patricia Richardson, Verona, Ontario
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Buffalo Turkey Burgers

Celery and blue cheese dressing help tame the hot sauce on this turkey burger recipe. For an even lighter version, pass on the buns and serve the burgers with lettuce leaves, sliced onion and chopped tomato. —Mary Pax-Shipley, Bend, Oregon
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Seasoned Fries

These fries are always popular with my meat-and-potatoes bunch. The cheesy seasoning can easily double as a flavorful baked potato topper, too. —Maribeth Edwards, Follansbee, West Virginia
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Lemon-Apricot Fruit Pops

With just 31 calories, 4 teaspoons of sugar total and lots of vitamin C, this is one light and refreshing summer dessert everyone can find room for! —Aysha Schurman, Ammon, Idaho
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Hot Dog Sliders with Mango-Pineapple Salsa

For parties, we shrink down lots of foods, including these quick hot dogs, to slider size. Pile on the easy but irresistible fruit salsa for a burst of fresh flavor. —Carole Resnick, Cleveland, Ohio
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Buttery Cajun Popcorn

Cheesy and spicy, this finger-lickin' snack with just a hint of lime is downright addictive! —Beth Stengel, North Hollywood, California
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Homemade Strawberry Ice Cream

What could be better than a tubful of luscious, homemade ice cream made with fresh strawberries? Having an ice cream social at church with more of the same! —Esther Johnson, Merrill, Wisconsin
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Cheesy Summer Squash Flatbreads

When you want a meatless meal with Mediterranean style, these flatbreads smothered with squash, hummus and mozzarella deliver the goods. —Matthew Hass, Franklin, Wisconsin
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Southwestern Backyard Burgers

Whether you're in the stadium parking lot or on your patio, these Southwestern-style burgers are great on the grill. Sometimes I make six patties rather than eight because I like my burgers bigger and better! —Robert Hodges, San Diego, California
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Curried Sweet Potato Wedges

Sweet potatoes roasted with curry and smoked paprika delight everybody at our table. The mango chutney makes a tangy dip. —Simi Jois, Streamwood, Illinois
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Rosemary-Parmesan Popcorn

Fresh herbs and real cheese make this popcorn a homemade favorite that will make you forget about store-bought seasoning mixes. —Dan Kelmenson, West Bloomfield, Michigan
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Sloppy Joe Dogs

There are so many different ways to top a hot dog, but this tasty Sloppy Joe version beats them all. —Kimberly Wallace, Dennison, Ohio
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Rocky Road Fudge Pops

These sweet frozen treats are simple to prepare and guaranteed to bring out the kid in anyone. The creamy pops feature a special chocolate and peanut topping. —Karen Grant, Tulare, California

Hazel Wheaton
Hazel is a writer and editor who has worked in the publishing industry for over 25 years in the fields of travel, jewelry arts and food. As the editor of the Taste of Home Christmas Annual (among other titles), she's in the holiday spirit all year round. An enthusiastic baker, she's known for her cookies, cakes and other baked goods. And she still wishes she could cook like her mother.