50 All-American Recipes for Cookout Food

Look no further for cookout food ideas! We have recipes for everything you'll need for a delicious summer celebration.

Let’s hear it for summer! This is our favorite time of year for lingering outdoors, enjoying longer days and breezy nights, and of course, eating great food. Whether you need Memorial Day recipes to kick off the summer, Fourth of July potluck ideas to feed a crowd or easy Labor Day recipes for a weekend gathering, we have you covered. And don’t forget Dad! Celebrate your favorite guy with Father’s Day desserts everyone will love.

One thing all the summer holidays have in common is great cookout food. From brats and burgers on the grill to fresh salads, summer side dishes, fruity desserts and fun drinks, these recipes make any picnic or backyard barbecue special.

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All-American Sheet Cake

This easy white sheet cake topped with whipped cream frosting and fresh fruit is the epitome of summer desserts. It’s the perfect patriotic potluck food for holidays like Memorial Day, Fourth of July, and Labor Day.
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Favorite Barbecued Chicken

You’ll want to slather this fantastic Texas-style sauce over everything, including grilled chicken. If you want a more finger-friendly cookout food, you can grill chicken wings instead.
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Watermelon Feta Flag Salad

Sweet watermelon and cubs of salty feta cheese are a match made in heaven. Place them in festive stripes on a bed of arugula, add blueberries in place of stars and you have a splendid Fourth of July side dish recipe.
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Red and Blue Berry Lemonade Slush

Make this sweet-tart slushy the night before your get-together so it has the right frozen consistency. This is a zero-proof family favorite, but you can make it boozy like these Fourth of July drinks.
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Pesto Corn Salad with Shrimp

This dish really showcases the wonderful flavors of summer, like fresh corn, basil and gorgeous tomatoes. Make the salad ahead of time, throw the shrimp on the barbecue and serve everything together.
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All-American Banana Split

What would a summer celebration for the Fourth of July or Labor Day be without an all-American dessert like the banana split? Get all the toppings like strawberries, whipped cream, peanuts and chocolate sauce ready before scooping the ice cream. Assemble and serve immediately, or better yet, let everyone make their own!
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Southern Fried Chicken Strips

A pile of boneless fried chicken strips is the perfect option for any summer picnic. Serve with ranch dressing and crunchy celery, barbecue sauce or sriracha mayo.
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Smash Burgers

Get a good blend of ground brisket and short rib for the best burger, and make sure to salt liberally before throwing it on the grill. When it comes to burger toppings, a couple slices of American cheese, fresh crisp iceberg lettuce and fresh onion does the trick.
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S’mores Cupcakes

Of course every cookout should have s’mores. Or in this case, cupcakes with pieces of chocolate bars and graham cracker crumbs on top of marshmallow frosting.
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Red, White and Blue Summer Salad

A mash-up of two great salads—caprese and fruit salad—is the perfect summer cookout food. With prosciutto for saltiness and a balsamic vinaigrette, it’s a full-flavored hit along with other Memorial Day side dishes.
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Old-Fashioned Lemonade

This sweet-tart lemonade is a traditional part of Memorial Day and Fourth of July menus. Folks can’t get enough of the fresh-squeezed flavor.
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French Fries

Yes, frozen fries are easy. But you’ll be surprised at just how easy it is to make them from scratch, and you can’t beat the taste!
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Old-Fashioned Whoopie Pies

The beauty of a whoopie pie is that it can be served cold right out of the fridge or at room temperature. And there are loads of filling flavors to consider, like raspberry, maple or chocolate chip.
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Healthy Potato Salad

An alternative to creamy potato salad, this one has lots of crunchy vegetables plus a zesty vinaigrette to tie it all together. Make sure to cool the potatoes completely so the dressing has a better chance of sticking.
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All-American Pie

This patriotic slab pie makes the most of apples, cherries and blueberries. While stars and stripes make great Fourth of July, Labor Day or Memorial Day dessert, you can use any shaped cookie cutter for this potluck-friendly pie.
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Grilled Steak Tacos

You’ll want extra spicy aioli and avocado-corn salsa for these grilled ribeye tacos. Heat the flour tortillas on the grill for a charred flavor, but be careful, they puff up fast!
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Loaded Cowboy Queso

Loaded with cheese, beer, black beans, tomatoes and sausage, this is the cookout recipe for summer gatherings. Make sure to have lots of tortilla chips, pita or crackers for scooping.
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The Best Grilled Sirloin Tip Roast

Sirloin tip is lean and full of flavor, so you need to cook it over indirect heat so it doesn’t get dry out. Mop with the red wine-based sauce and serve with horseradish butter after. It’s one of the best barbecue recipes that you’ll want to cook all summer long.
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Easy Strawberry Lemonade Freezer Pie

Let your freezer do all the work with this simple three-ingredient pie. Like all easy no-bake summer desserts, just prep ahead and let it chill before serving.
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Air-Fryer Potato Chips

Have a few batches of these crispy potato chips ready for your summer backyard barbecue. They’re perfect with dips, as a side for burgers and brats or just for snacking.
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Quick Barbecued Beans

Sometimes the best cookout food is the easiest, like these quick baked beans. Cook them on the grill for extra smoky flavor.
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Strawberry Rhubarb Cheesecake Bars

These bars make the perfect summer potluck dessert. The layers of pecan shortbread crust, creamy cheesecake and sweet-tart strawberry rhubarb jam are just what you want at your cookout.
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Dilly Potato & Egg Salad

Dill pickles and hard-boiled eggs add some extra heft and flavor to this summer-favorite potato salad. It’s a perfect side for everything from burgers to barbecue ribs.
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Grilled Vegetable Platter

Grilling brings out the natural sweetness in vegetables like bell peppers, onions, asparagus and carrots. They’re great at room temperature, which is perfect for outdoor parties and backyard picnics.
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Creamy Macaroni Salad

No summer cookout or holiday would be the same without various salads and side dishes. For the creamiest macaroni salad, reserve some of the dressing to add to the macaroni salad just before serving.
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Vegetable Steak Kabobs

Once you learn how to make a marinade, you’ll have the building blocks for tasty grilled meats, fish and vegetables. Make sure to reserve some of the marinade for brushing on the steak and vegetable kebabs for extra flavor.
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Cherry Tomato Salad

When you have delicious peak-season summer cherry tomatoes, you need little to adorn them. This one, simply dressed with fresh herbs, olive oil and vinegar, is particularly good for Fourth of July, Father’s Day and other summer holiday cookouts.
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Nutty Broccoli Slaw

Filled with onions, almonds, sunflower seeds and ramen noodles (for crunch!), this broccoli slaw is a fantastic alternative to traditional coleslaws. The sweet dressing really brings it all together.
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Grilled Jalapenos

These stuffed jalapenos make the perfect hot appetizer for summer cookouts. Stuffed with sausage and wrapped in bacon, they’re hearty and addictively delicious.
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Peach & Blueberry Galette

You can’t get much better than an easy fruit galette for a picnic. Use fresh peaches and blueberries, a favorite summer combo, in a delicious pastry crust (frozen will work in a pinch!). Easier than a pie, it’s a stunning addition to any Memorial Day, Fourth of July or Labor Day dessert table.
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Strawberry Pretzel Salad

Whether you call it a salad or a dessert, the salty pretzels, sweet whipped topping and strawberries make this treat so craveable. Measure your pretzels after you crush them, not before, to make sure there’s enough for your 13×9.
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Buttery Grilled Shrimp

The buttery sauce for these shrimp is so good, you’ll want to use it on other seafood and shellfish, like lobster tails. To ensure your bamboo skewers don’t catch fire, soak them for at least 30 minutes before grilling.
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Blackberry Lemonade

Use up all the fresh seasonal fruit you can with this refreshingly tangy lemonade. Make a big batch ahead of your cookout and let everyone serve themselves.
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Marinated Three Bean Salad

Since you’re using canned beans, this classic picnic salad takes no time to throw together, but you do want it to marinate for a few hours so the flavor melds. It’s great served at room temperature, making it the perfect cookout food.
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Red, White and Blueberry Pie

White chocolate pudding, whipped topping, fresh fruit—need we say more? This pie comes together quickly for the Fourth of July or any summer holiday cookout.
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Macaroni Coleslaw

When you simply can’t decide between macaroni salad and coleslaw, combine them! We love the crunch of bell pepper, celery and cucumber in this recipe, but feel free to leave any out.
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Pork Chops with Glaze

Bone-in pork loin chops are great on the grill, and this glaze really makes them a standout at your summer cookout. The secret ingredients: Rosemary and orange juice.
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Southwestern Star Dip

Filled with olives and chilies, this gooey, cheesy hot dip is a knockout starter for backyard barbecues. Make a decorative star out of tomatoes for patriotic summer holidays like the Fourth of July and Labor Day. Make sure you try these Labor Day BBQ recipes.
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BBQ Brats

Start these brats on the grill and then throw them in the slow cooker with beer and barbecue sauce for a few hours. You’ll wow your guests and save some room on the grill for later. We have more delicious summer barbecue ideas for stress-free get-togethers.
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Patriotic Pops

What’s a summer cookout if the kids aren’t running around with ice pops? This recipe features frozen treats made with strawberries, lightly sweetened yogurt and blueberries, but you can swap in any seasonal fruit that you like. If you need more ideas for red, white and blue desserts, we’ve got ‘em!
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Buffalo Chicken Deviled Eggs

These deviled eggs have everything you love about Buffalo chicken wings, including blue cheese, celery and hot sauce. They’re practically a meal on their own.
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Kansas City-Style Ribs

You’ll want well-marbled, country-style pork ribs for this recipe, as they tend to stay moist on the grill and not dry out. Make extra rub, too; it’s great on other proteins, including chicken.
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Classic Texas Caviar

Black-eyed peas, lots of vegetables and a zesty dressing come together for this classic picnic appetizer. Serve with tortilla chips for scooping.
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Grilled Bean Burgers

Make sure your vegetarian eaters have a lot of cookout food options. Made with carrots, quick-cooking oats, beans and lots of spices, these patties hold together well and come off the grill juicy and full of flavor. You can try other plant-based meat options for your summer picnics.
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Iced Raspberry Tea

Use fresh or frozen raspberries for this delightful iced tea. You can play with the sugar quantity according to your taste.
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Sweet Macaroni Salad

This macaroni salad is on the sweeter side, thanks to the addition of sweetened condensed milk. It’s one of our best macaroni salad recipes, perfect for summer cookouts and potlucks.

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Pina Colada Fruit Salad

Dress fresh fruit like grapes, berries and pineapple with frozen non-alcoholic pina colada mix for a taste of the tropics. Of course, if you want to add a little rum to it, that’s OK, too. Here are our best rum picks for cocktails and sipping.
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Plum Good Crisp

Use fresh summer plums and nectarines for this crisp recipe. Serve warm if you can, and have plenty of vanilla ice cream to go on top.
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Creamy Coleslaw

Cut down on prep time with bagged shredded cabbage and carrots. This creamy coleslaw is aces next to cookout food like barbecue ribs, grilled chicken and burgers.
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Barbecued Picnic Chicken

Making homemade barbecue sauce is just about as easy as twisting the lid off a bottle or jar, and it makes a world of difference on things like this juicy chicken. Serve with your favorite side salad, baked beans or grilled corn.

Lesley Balla
As an associate editor at Taste of Home, Lesley helps track food and cooking trends, and writes and updates digital content. When not at her desk, you'll find her whipping up something with finds from the farmers market, discovering new restaurants, or hiking and roadtripping with her husband and pup Pucci.