The summer season means longer days and lots of time outside. Cookouts are the perfect way to make the most out of your summer. They bring family, friends, and neighbors together over food and fellowship. Cookouts create spaces that cultivate new friendships and deepen existing ones.
When planning your ideal neighborhood cookout, make sure to grab all the essentials needed to make your cookout run smoothly. This includes necessary equipment and utensils and cookout-friendly food, drink, and dessert recipes.
So let’s take a look at the top 20 summer cookout essentials you will need.
Cookout Essentials: Food
The most important part of any cookout is the food.
Here’s a little inspiration:
1. Hotdogs and Hamburgers
This may seem overly simple, but every cookout needs a main dish. Hotdogs and hamburgers are a crowd-pleaser for both children and adults.
They are also easy to buy in bulk and are ready in minutes. Providing multiple types of cheeses for the patties is an easy way to create variety when entertaining a large group.
2. Fruit Salad
This summer salad is another cookout essential. It satisfies the sweet tooth in us all and adds vibrancy to any spread. Making fruit salads for your summer cookout is a fantastic way to showcase fruits that are in season. Include fresh watermelon, strawberries, and blueberries.
Cantaloupe and honeydew melon are also great additions to any fruit salad recipe. Throw these together for a delicious dish that is easy to assemble. For a super unique twist, add some feta (which pairs especially well with watermelon).
3. Pasta Salad
Pasta salad is another easy and delicious option for your cookout. This dish is served cold and makes for the perfect summer food. Include in-season vegetables like tomatoes, cucumbers, and peppers. Mix in some Italian dressing or balsamic vinaigrette for a light and zesty flavor.
4. Potato Salad
Potato salad is another side dish to serve cold. It is easily accessible at any grocery store and can also be made at home. This dish is a summertime favorite for a good reason.
5. Veggie Tray
Veggie trays serve as a wonderful appetizer to hold your guests over while you whip up the main course. Veggie trays typically consist of veggies like carrots or celery that can be easily dipped.
Cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, and bell peppers are usually also included. Pair this with chickpea hummus or ranch dressing, and you are set.
Kebabs are another classic main dish for any cookout or barbecue. To make your kebabs, simply cube your meat (or meat alternative) and prep your skewers with your meat and vegetables.
Steak and chicken breast kebabs are a popular cookout option. Load your skewer with red onions, peppers, zucchini, and other fresh vegetables as well. Making kebabs on the grill gives the meat and vegetables that desired smoky flavor.
Coleslaw is a must-have for any cookout, especially if you are serving BBQ anything as a main dish. Coleslaw pairs well as a topping for BBQ sandwiches as well as a standalone side. Not only is it versatile, but it’s also easy to make, perfect for weeknights and busy days.
Simple slaw requires only shredded cabbage, mayonnaise, apple cider vinegar, pepper, salt, and sugar. You can modify this to match your preferences as needed.
8. Corn on the Cob
Corn on the cob is another cookout staple. Grill it to seal in the natural sweetness of the corn. This side pairs well with any main cookout dish. Keep them on the grill for an extra crispy char.
9. BBQ Ribs
BBQ ribs take some extra prep time, considering the time spent to marinade and make barbecue sauce, yet they are worth the extra bit of effort. BBQ ribs are sure to be a crowd-pleaser, and they just belong at a summer cookout.
Cookout Essentials: Drinks
Next on our list of cookout essentials are the drinks:
1. Water Bottles
Water bottles are our most essential summer cookout drink. If you spend ample time in the sun, you’ll want to ensure that you and your guests are properly hydrated. Keep lots of water bottles in a cooler with ice. For an environmentally-friendly approach, encourage your guests to bring along their reusable water bottles.
Lemonade is another iconic summer cookout drink for children and adults. Take a spin on a classic by adding slices of fresh strawberries or raspberries.
Keep your adult guests happy by stocking your cooler full of your favorite beers.
4. Wine or Sangria
Wine is another lovely addition to any cookout. Find out which wines pair best with your main dishes. You can also use your red wines to make sangrias by the pitcher for your guests. Serve sangria in your Patriot Coolers tumbler for a drink that stays cold for hours.
Cookout Essentials: Desserts
Desserts are one of the key ingredients to throwing a successful summer cookout.
1. Ice Cream
Ice cream is the ideal summer dessert. It is sweet, creamy, and perfectly cold for those hot summer days. Serving ice cream at your summer cookout leaves room for creativity. Set up a sundae bar for your guests to create their own sundae or serve ice cream cones with a variety of topping options available.
Mint chip and strawberry ice cream are popular summer flavors. Serving a mango sorbet or pineapple dole whip is another refreshing and delicious dessert idea.
S’mores are a blast to have at any cookout. They are not only delicious, but they encourage guests to gather around a campfire and create memories.
3. Frozen Lemonade Pie
This dessert is relatively simple to make, requiring only three ingredients. It is the perfect summer dessert with refreshing flavors of lemon. Mix together frozen lemonade concentrate, whipped topping, and sweetened condensed milk. Place filling into a graham cracker crust and freeze.
4. Key Lime Pie
Key lime pie is another summer favorite. These bright and vibrant flavors of lime fit right in with the taste and feel of a summer cookout.
Cookout Essentials: The Supplies
Your grill is the backbone of any cookout. Make sure you are prepared with charcoal as well as utensils such as a spatula and tongs. Gather these items ahead of time before attempting your next grilling recipe.
Load up a large, hard-sided cooler built for entertaining. Pack your cooler with fresh ice and stock it with your water and beer.
If you are serving burgers and hot dogs, condiments are essential to completing the main dish. Stock up on the ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise, and barbecue sauce.
Food for Thought
Summer is the best time for outdoor fun with close friends and family. Kids are off of school, and the days are longer, making it the perfect time to gather everyone together for neighborhood cookouts and outdoor gatherings.
When preparing for your summer cookout, double-check your cookout menu is sure to satisfy all ages and taste preferences. Including these 20 summer cookout essentials will cement your cookout as one to remember.