Top 10 Barbecue Foods: Mainstays for Any Cookout!


Top 10 Barbecue Foods: Mainstays for Any Cookout!

Summer is coming to an end, but let’s look at the bright side: there’s still time left to plan one last summer backyard barbecue! Whether this is your first rodeo or you’re the backyard barbecue king on the block, everyone gets to a point where they need some grill-spiration, and we’re here for you with the top 10 barbecue foods that are mainstays at any summer cookout, listed here in no particular order.

Hamburgers & Hotdogs

We put these two in the same category because hamburgers and hotdogs go together like… well, like hamburgers and hotdogs! Regardless of your grill skill level, the success of hamburgers and hotdogs mostly comes down to the fixings.

You’ll want classic condiments like ketchup, mustard, barbecue sauce, mayo, and ranch dressing, and toppings like cheese, tomatoes, lettuce, and onion. If you and your guests have a more adventurous palate, consider trying different types of hamburgers and hotdogs (like lamb, bison, or emu) and expand the range of toppings with options like sliced cucumber, tzatziki sauce, or curry paste.

Tip: Challenge your guests to a sauce-off! Ask them to bring their favorite condiment, or a new condiment they want to try, and everyone gets the chance to try something new.


Another delicious meat that gets even more delicious slathered in barbecue sauce! Whether you like pulled pork, pork chops, or you’re more of a pork rib fan, whether you prefer your sauce North Carolina-style or Kansas City, can you even really call it a cookout if there’s no pork at the party?


If beef (Some delicious, fall-off-the-bone short ribs with a side of baked beans? Come on.) and pork aren’t enough, get some barbecue chicken in on the action! Since different cuts of chicken need to be cooked at different temperatures for different times to reach both a safe internal temperature and maximum deciduousness, it’s best to grill chicken in pieces rather than a whole chicken—and it also cooks faster that way.

Alternatively, bring fried chicken to the cookout if you want something crispy-crunchy to contrast with the smoky sweet barbecue flavors.

Cole Slaw

How do you convince someone who hates vegetables to eat vegetables? Make cole slaw! Cabbage and carrot strings marinated in a sauce that’s equal parts creamy, sweet and tangy adds a crunchy texture option to your cookout, along with a flavorful contrast to the heavier salads and savory meats.

Potato/Pasta Salad

We put these two in the same category because they’re very similar and we didn’t feel right trying to make a tie-breaker decision about something so divisive! Homemade from a family recipe that’s been passed down for generations or bought from the store on the way to the party just like Dad used to make, there’s no having a successful barbecue without at least one of these mainstay cookout dishes.

Whether you’re Team Potato Salad, Team Pasta Salad, or Team Both Please, get your grub on with this delicious and possibly healthful (depending on how you make it) side dish.

Tip: Add more protein to your salad by adding boiled eggs or chickpeas; pasta salad can be a source of additional dietary fiber by using whole grain pasta options.

Fresh Fruit

Is there anything better than ripe, juicy, chilled watermelon on a hot summer day? It’s a cookout classic for a reason! Along with cantaloupe and honey dew melon, plus berries, stone fruits, and other summer seasonal favorites, fresh fruit is probably the easiest healthy snack option for kids and adults alike.

Tip: Make an easy (lazy) summer drink replacing the ice cub

es in your daquiri with frozen fresh fruit or put chilled fresh fruit into your class of wine for a do-it-yourself single serving sangria.


Grilled Vegetables

You can serve a classic veggie tray—carrots, broccoli, cauliflower and celery, with the obligatory favorite ranch dressing—or you can go above and beyond with your veggie offerings by putting them on the grill! Mushrooms, red onions, and sliced peppers grill easily if you skewer them into kababs (with or without meat).

Slice zucchinis in half longwise, oil and season, then grill on both sides until cooked through. If you want to go really crazy, grill some eggplant, sweet potatoes or squash—you’ll be shocked at how popular these veggies are.

Ice Cream Bars/Popsicles

On an especially scorching day, nothing beats a frozen treat fresh from the freezer! To throw the best barbecue, simply greet your guests with a selection of ice cream bars, popsicles, freezies or other frozen novelties to keep the heat at bay.

The theme of “frozen treats on a stick” makes cleanup easier than scooping ice cream into bowls, plus they’re also easier for your guests to eat. Start or end (or both) your cookout with something cold to contrast with the heat of the day, and the heat of the barbecue.

Dessert Salads

We know all the jokes about those weird, retro gelatin salads—and we still love them! There’s something nostalgic and almost comforting about a bowl of seven different kinds of sugar with artificial colors and flavorings, plus mini marshmallows. No matter how healthy you are in everyday life, you can’t deny that if you’re already at a cookout, you’re going to try at least a few of the dessert salads on offer.

Grilled Corn

Yes, we already talked about grilled vegetables up above but we need to talk about corn specifically because good grilled corn is both a side dish and an art! If you want a scrumptious, easy BBQ recipe, look no further!

Turn your everyday grilled corn into an elote-inspired flavor experience by rubbing down the freshly-grilled corn with butter, then topping with Tajin seasoning and parmesan. (We do need you to understand that if you try this, you will become compelled to seek out authentic Mexican street corn, so just be aware that will become your life.)

And Speaking of Corn…

If you aren’t playing cornhole at your backyard barbecue or cookout, can you even really call it a backyard barbecue or cookout? No, no you can’t—and if you want your backyard barbecue to be the talk of the block, you’ll want a custom cornhole set from Cornhole Worldwide! Simply fill out the custom game request contact form with your design ideas to get started.

Share this post