We’ve all had this happen before. We get invited to a party or cookout or weekend away and inquire about what we can bring. The hostess tells us a side or a dessert or a main dish or drink or whatever it is and we say, “Perfect!” And then we hang up the phone and have a little panic about what we are going to make and when we are going to find the time to make it and how well will that travel anyway.
Today I’m kicking off a new series called “What Should I Bring” where I’ll help you find a recipe that’s perfect for the party you are attending or the event you are throwing. Today is all about What Should I Bring: to a cookout?
Labor Day is in just a few days and fall cookouts and tailgates will soon follow! Below are my favorite recipes for cookouts that you are hosting and cookouts you are attending, whether it’s a weekend getaway like Labor Day or a backyard cookout on a Saturday. I’ve also provided a few suggestions about when to prepare these recipes and how they will work best for you.
My goal is to help you find recipes that you can trust and that your people will love. Give one of these a try for your next cookout and let’s all have a few less panicked moments about what to bring to a cookout!
If you’re at the beach or outside all day, you need a quick and light dinner to throw together at the end of the day. My cilantro + lime shrimp recipe is exactly what you’ll want. Quickly thaw frozen shrimp (or major bonus points if you’re at the ocean and can get fresh shrimp) and let everything marinate while your grill heats. These shrimp are done quickly and everyone will love them as an appetizer or for dinner.
Hamburgers are a go to for any cookout. May I suggest making your hamburgers salty and southern with pimento cheese + bacon burgers? If someone else is doing the grilling, maybe take some pimento cheese and cooked bacon with you and offer it as a side. Pimento cheese can be made the day before!
Like the grilled shrimp above, it doesn’t get much easier for dinner after a long day than my 2-ingredient grilled pork loin. You can brush the dijon mustard on the pork in the morning, store it in the fridge, and you’ll be ready to go for dinner.
These Tequila Lime Chicken Kabobs from Gimme Some Oven would be a delicious end to a long day on the beach. You could prep your kabobs in the morning or the night before!
If you’re looking to change things up from burgers or hot dogs, you absolutely cannot go wrong with this Crockpot BBQ Chicken recipe from High Heels and Grills. I have made this many times for parties, tailgates, etc and it is delicious every single time. And bonus points to you because it will be cooking in the crockpot all day while you are enjoying good company and fun outdoor adventures.
APPETIZERS + SIDES
My easy Avocado Dip with just ingredients is basically your cookout best friend. If you’re heading to someone’s house for a day, pick up some ripe avocados, a jar of salsa verde, and some tortilla chips and you’ll be ready to make a quick dip on a moment’s notice.
Grilled Flatbread with Havarti + Dill is a quick appetizer or snack you can whip up on the grill and it will disappear fast. Use store bought pizza dough ready to roll out to make this one super snappy. This recipe is probably best for when you’re cooking at your house or have some sway over the grilling schedule.
My Summer Pasta Salad uses grilled corn and fresh basil and is the perfect dish to take to any cookout or party where you’re not quite sure what’s going on the grill. The flavors in this are easy and will play nice with just about any main dish.
If you need a dish that you can make early in the morning or even the day before, take Grilled Corn Salsa and a bag of chips and maybe some coronas or margaritas. You’ll be invited back!
Caprese Pasta Salad is perfect for a dish that you have to make the day before. It needs a night to marinate in the dressing and you’ll get to sleep a little later the day of the cookout.
This Avocado Lime Black Bean Dip from Through Her Looking Glass would go great with burgers or whatever you’re grilling!
Going camping? These Fiery Campfire Veggies from A Hot Southern Mess would be a delicious and fun way to get your veggies in!
Also, I am dying to try these Bacon Wrapped Grilled Peaches from FoodieCrush. If you’re looking for a recipe that’s slightly different and a little fancy, this is the one you want!
Looking for more appetizer ideas? I’ve got over 100 ideas on my appetizers board on Pinterest.
Hands down, if you aren’t sure what to take, the answer is always Triple Chocolate Fudgy Brownies. This goes for cookouts, church potlucks, small gatherings, family reunions, and coffee dates. Brownies always win!
Looking for something that feels a little festive and patriotic and says I put effort into this dessert? Nothing says I love America and let’s celebrate like a perfectly baked strawberry pie.
Peach cobbler is our summertime staple and this recipe for individual peach cobblers means you don’t have to share. These would work best if the cookout is happening at your house, but you could always make these individual ramekins and plan to serve them at room temperature (that’s how my brother prefers his) when you get to the party. Just make sure to wrap them up well!
The good news is you can take that same peach cobbler recipe and make it a sweet and delicious Blueberry Cobbler. If you want to take peach or blueberry cobbler to your cookout, I recommend baking it in a disposable aluminum pan. Once the cobbler is gone (and it will be!), throw the pan away and take nothing but great memories and a better tan home with you.
Road trips and boat trips aren’t complete without yummy snacks like my peach and almond crumble bars.
My lemon blueberry bread would be a perfect breakfast that you could make ahead and pack to take on your trip. This would also make a great hostess gift. It’s light and citrusy and it has blueberries so it’s healthy.
We have been eating a lot of these Quick + Easy No Bake Oatmeal Peanut Butter Bites from How Sweet Eats at our house lately. If you’re staying at someone’s house for the weekend, why not whip up a quick batch of these and take them with you? They are perfect for quick breakfasts or a little snack in the afternoons to keep you going. Plus, they don’t have any coconut, so they win on that point 😉
If you’re heading out on a boat or to the beach or setting out a drink station, you want to include these Peach + Strawberry Daiquiris in mason jars. They are a delight because hello cute fruity drinks in mason jars and also easier on you because you won’t have to man the blender all day.
Coconut Rum Punch is always a crowd pleaser and it is so easy to drink! You can make this before you head to your party or take the ingredients and assemble it quickly in a pitcher when you get there. Either way, it will be a hit.
Who doesn’t love a bubbly drink? This Peach Prosecco Punch from Damn Delicious would be perfect to take for a day by the pool or to pass around after dinner. With just a few ingredients, it will be easy for you to pack up, transport, and quickly assemble at your cookout destination.
For more drink + party beverage ideas, check out my 5:00 board on Pinterest.
What are your favorite dishes to take to a cookout? Tell us about them in the comments!