Cookout season is here and it’s time to fire up the grill. When it comes to outdoor entertaining, we’re always looking for something new to cook outside, and a few ways to stay comfortable. So I’m here to help you add a little panache to your next outdoor party with these genius cookout tips and mouth-watering recipes.
Who’s ready to get out of the kitchen and host the latest, greatest summer soirée? (Me! Me!)
Related: All the Memorial Day eats: Over 50 summer recipes and party tips for your long weekend.
10 cookout tips and recipes for outdoor parties
1. Sparkling strawberry sangria, with or without the booze. Simply Recipes has a recipe for Strawberry Sangria that sounds simply…delicious. With or without the alcohol. Just make sure you label accordingly!
2. Never leave the pool. This Pool Noodle Cooler hack on Instructables was featured on Rachael Ray, and she knows how to spot a good tip. For just a few bucks, you can reach for a cold one without ever leaving the pool. (You still have to leave the pool to go to the bathroom. Please leave the pool to go to the bathroom.)
3. Why did no one tell me I could make these myself? Replace your favorite, basically nutritionless squeeze pops with a homemade version using these nifty little zip-top ice pop pouches by Zipzicles. They even have DIY frozen squeeze pop recipes on the site, with flavors from Berry-Mint, to Blackberry Vodka Martini for the adults.
The Krazy Coupon Lady
4. These pretty table decorations help keep bugs away. Whether they’re biting your ankles or tasting your food, bugs at a cookout are the worst. The Krazy Coupon Lady has a tip for decorating with citrus and cloves to discourage bugs, and offers several other non-toxic ways to get rid of insects on her site.
5. Using cast iron to cook on a grill opens up new possibilities. The Kitchn recommends cast iron for everything from smoking or baking, to preserving juices, to keeping things neat on the grill. It would be particularly useful for chopped vegetables that would slip through the grate otherwise. I’ll be trying it for baked s’mores, because it can be a little hot in the summer for a campfire.
Related: Some of our favorite s’mores recipes that make any day feel like summer
What’s Gaby Cooking
6. Love fresh peaches? Throw them on the grill. South Carolina, not Georgia, is actually the largest peach producer on the east coast. (This South Carolina mama is kind of proud of that.) We can’t eat them fast enough once the season starts. This grilled peaches with vanilla ice cream recipe from What’s Gaby Cooking is such a simple and easy cookout dessert.
Want more? I love this post of 11 more great grilled peach recipe ideas on Delish.
7. Watermelon is delicious grilled. Speaking of grilled fruit, grilled watermelon is still refreshing and the smoky flavor adds something special. Turn watermelon into a main course by adding shrimp on a skewer and tossing them on the grill like this cookout idea from My Recipes. If you’re allergic to shrimp like I am, substitute halloumi or feta. Or, just go ahead and add the cheese to the shrimp and watermelon. I have a feeling it will be delicious.
Related: Grilling for a crowd: Tips and 10 easy recipes we adore.
8. Spiralize those hot dogs. Why didn’t I think of this? Making spiral hot dogs is easy, looks cool, and results in a hot dog that holds on to even more delicious condiments. And hot dogs are all about the condiments, at least in my world. Learn how to do it from the instructions on Delish and you’ll never look back. Also now I want a hot dog with loads of chili and cheese and relish.
9. Martha Stewart keeps snacks on a stick sophisticated and simple. Prosciutto-wrapped melon is a real treat in the summer. The contrast of salty cured meat and sweet, ripe melon is irresistible. As always, Martha takes it up a notch. And who doesn’t love food on sticks?
10. Avocado is always a hero. Confession: I used to be against the idea of cooking avocado, and now I can’t even remember why. Was I ever wrong. I can’t wait to fire up the grill, add some avocado halves and stuff them with fresh summer herbs and tomatoes like this gorgeous recipe from Minimally Invasive. Her instructions are spot-on. Toss on some nuts for protein and call this one a meal.