20 Top Recipes for Cookouts

These awesome recipes will get you grillin' all summer long.

 Leah Maroney

When the temperature starts to rise, so do our cravings for cookout fare. These great grilling out recipes will make your backyard a BBQ destination

  • 01 of 20
     Diana Rattray

    A great cookout starts with a solid hamburger, and for that you've just got to make your own. Start with beef chuck with a little fat -- you don't want anything higher than 85% lean -- for juicy patties. If you can grind your own beef from chuck beef cubes, that will give you even better texture.

  • 02 of 20
    Baked Potato Salad
    Diana Rattray

    Every summer party needs a potato salad. Forget the bland mayonnaise-heavy version and whip up loaded baked potato salad for your next soiree. Bacon, cheddar cheese, and scallions bring the classic baked potato into the backyard. Make sure you don't overcook the potatoes, so they hold their shape.

     

  • 03 of 20
    Basic Coleslaw
    Photo: Diana Rattray

    If you've never put a little coleslaw on your hot dog or hamburger at a cookout, your life's about to change. This basic coleslaw recipe makes an awesome side for any meat, as well as a topping for anything you toss on the grill. Feel free to add some julienned red pepper, purple cabbage, or more carrot for festive color.

  • 04 of 20
    BLT Macaroni Salad
    Diana Rattray

    Macaroni salad makes pasta a great summertime dish, but it can get boring. Adding crumbled bacon and a little lemon juice kicks up the flavor contrast. Slice some tomatoes and arrange a bed of lettuce for serving, to give your guests the whole BLT experience.

    Continue to 5 of 20 below.
  • 05 of 20
     Istetiana / Getty Images

    Most of us probably grew up thinking chicken breasts were the best cut, but the real flavor lies in the legs. Chicken thighs not only cost less at the grocery store, but come out juicier, especially when grilled. This simple marinated recipe tastes great, but make sure you plan ahead. It needs four hours in the fridge, first.

  • 06 of 20
    Diana Rattray 

    This zesty, slightly spicy steak goes great on the grill, especially alongside some fresh summer vegetables. A sirloin or flank cut works best in this recipe. Just make sure you give it at least two hours to marinate first. If you don't have Cajun seasoning, or prefer less spice, try this homemade marinade instead.

     

  • 07 of 20
    Green Pea Salad With Easy Creamy Dressing
    Green Pea Salad Photo: Diana Rattray

    You probably have a bag of frozen green peas in your freezer right now. From there, you're not far from pulling together this easy, summer salad. Toss them with diced red onion, bell pepper, carrot, and celery dressed with a simple ranch and mayonnaise combination. This pretty salad goes great with grilled meats, too!

  • 08 of 20
     Diana Rattray

    If you only ever blanch broccoli in your kitchen, have we got a recipe for you. This easy and versatile broccoli salad combines the broccoli with raisins and bacon for a sweet and savory twist. Add your favorite chopped nuts, sunflower seeds, julienned carrots, or use bacon bits for fun variations.

     

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  • 09 of 20
     Diana Rattray

    Use tricolor rotini to give this garden vegetable pasta salad its fun colorful vibe. You can use whatever vegetables you have in your garden, but cucumber, red pepper, tomato, and carrot work especially well. Canned black olives give it a little umami flavor, and prepared pesto with a hit of lemon juice adds zing. You can use whatever pasta you have on hand, if you can't find rotini.

  • 10 of 20
     Diana Rattray

    Some people call this colorful black bean and corn salad "cowboy caviar," and it tastes as great as a dip with tortilla chips as a salad side. Lima beans, diced bell pepper, red onion, and both white and yellow corn kernels all add texture and visual interest. For extra spice, toss in some diced jalapeño or some hot sauce, too.

  • 11 of 20
     Wilfried Krecichwost/Photodisc/Getty Images

    If you love ordering beer brats at your neighborhood pub, bring that flavor to your own backyard. This recipe also works with any link sausage. Choose a beer you like, since you won't need the entire bottle for the recipe. A darker beer gives the broth a richer flavor, but any style will do. Best of all, this recipe works on the stovetop if you get rained out.

     

  • 12 of 20
     Brian Macdonald/Digital Vision/Getty Images

    Tequila-lime marinated shrimp will give your backyard BBQ a festive twist. These fun kebabs also work great as an appetizer or main course, but you can also use them in salads or lettuce wraps. Be careful not to soak them for too long; the marinade can actually cook the shrimp, making them tough after grilling.

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  • 13 of 20
     Leah Maroney

    Tired of the same old, same old cookout fare? These hot dogs are next-level with toppings ranging everywhere from Mexican Street Corn to Banh Mi-style and are guaranteed to perk up your party. You can adjust the heat of your toppings by adding more or fewer jalapeños, or buy jarred sauce to save time. Your family will never think of hot dogs the same way again.

  • 14 of 20
     Jo/Flickr

    You've had grilled chicken. You've had roast chicken. You've probably even had smoked chicken. But until you've tried beer in the butt chicken, you haven't had this juicy, steamed goodness. Use any can of beer you have around for this rosemary-scented chicken. Be careful when removing the can; it'll be hot.

  • 15 of 20
    Rachel Slepekis/Getty Images 

    Make the most of your garden's bounty this summer with these easy and delicious marinated vegetable kebabs. Zucchini, onion, and bell pepper all work great, but feel free to use whatever firm vegetable you have on hand. These make a great vegetarian main course over a bed of rice, or you can add chicken, beef, or pork if you prefer.

  • 16 of 20
     Thecrimsonmonkey/Gettyimages

    Why should the hot dogs and hamburgers have all the fun? Grilling your pizza gives it a smoky, crispy crust and lets you take the pizza party outside. What's not to love? This easy recipe combines figs, arugula, and balsamic vinegar with an assertive cheese for a classy flavor you won't forget.

    Continue to 17 of 20 below.
  • 17 of 20
     Regarding BBQ, Inc.

    Lemon and dill are made for each other, and when you season salmon fillets that way, something magical happens. Grilling salmon gives the fish a slightly sweet caramelized flavor, which contrasts beautifully with the bright lemon. Serve it with a fresh spring salad for a lovely outdoor dinner.

  • 18 of 20
     Regarding BBQ, Inc.

    Once you try this slightly spicy pulled pork recipe, you'll never go back to prepared sauce again. This smoked pork shoulder recipe takes about eight hours on the grill, but the wait is well worth it. After smelling it all day, you won't be able to resist these succulent sandwiches.

  • 19 of 20
     Stephanie Gallagher

    This simple, no-bake cake will top off your cookout perfectly. Using just a few prepared ingredients, it also comes together in a snap. Get your favorite flavor of ice cream sandwich or use caramel or another flavored sauce instead of hot fudge, for a fun variation.

  • 20 of 20
    MargJohnsonVA/Twenty20 

    When slaving over a hot (outdoor) stove, you need something to cool your brow. This homemade lemonade is made with agave, for a slightly richer flavor than white sugar. Ginger and mint add a nice zing. For variation, use sparkling water, a few limes, or garnish with fresh raspberries or strawberries.