Our 13 Favorite Tips for Throwing the Chillest Summer Cookout

Including our go-to recipes.

June 21, 2019
Photo by James Ransom. Food Stylist: Samantha Seneviratne. Prop Stylist: Amanda Widis.

We're partnering with Allagash Brewing Company to make sure you've got everything you need to make the most of all your #SummerSundays this season, whether you're hosting a laidback BBQ or hitting the beach. Here, we polled the Food52 team for their best summer cookout recipes and tips.

Nothing says summer has arrived better than a big backyard cookout. Growing up in Florida, that meant spending the entire day in the pool with my cousins and friends from the neighborhood, while our parents grilled burgers and citrus-marinated mahi-mahi fillets and plied us with ice pops. Here in New York, that means toting picnic baskets filled with make-ahead snacks to the park or hauling a portable grill up a few flights of stairs for a rooftop BBQ.

But whether you're hosting a cookout on your extra-large patio deck or inviting a few friends over to have a bite on your teeny-tiny balcony, feeding (and entertaining) a crowd doesn't have to be stressful.

We asked the Food52 team (aka the authorities on grilling, BBQ-ing, and beyond) for their very best hosting tips and recipes—plus a ready-to-cook menu for inspiration—so that you can enjoy the day just as much as your guests.

Our Go-To Menu

Before you can put any of our cookout tips to work, you're going to need a menu first. This knock-out lineup can largely be prepped ahead of time and has everything your guests could ever want, from smoked fish tacos with DIY toppings and freshly grilled corn, to a vegetarian-friendly shaved squash salad and sweet-tart blueberry compote:

Get the Recipes

Our Best Summer Cookout Tips

"I used to have a backyard when I lived in Red Hook a few years ago and the only cookout rule was to grill absolutely everything—even things you wouldn't normally grill, like grilled guacamole (even the avocados), grilled donuts/twinkies/bundt cake/whatever other baked goods were brought, grilled hamburger and hot dog buns, etc." — Alex Egan, senior SEO strategist

When it comes to drinks, I like to skip the cocktails and stock up on a few six-packs of my favorite summer beer. That way, the only thing I have to worry about is putting them on ice. And for the kiddos, I'll pre-mix a few batches of strawberry lemonade. — Erin Alexander, assistant editor of partner content (me!)

"My friends and I always opt for sliders over regular-size burgers. It's less food waste in the end and easier to make big batches of different types, like turkey, beef, or veggie." — Rebekah Daniels, account manager

"I've really gotten a lot of use out of this snake method for longer-term charcoal grilling sessions. You can smoke/grill basics for close to six hours without needing to touch anything." — Cody Kestigian, data scientist

"Grill a ton of wings and use different sauces for the likes of all (wing sauce, BBQ sauce, Korean-inspired, etc.)." — Sarah Yaffa, data analyst

"Grilled pizzas are so fun! Just set up a toppings bar and everyone can help themselves. My favorite combo: corn, ranch, and basil. And make a large pitcher of one drink you can pour regularly just as your guests arrive. There’s nothing worse than having to mix up individual cocktails per person, when what you really want to do is just hang out. In the summer I love mixing up Micheladas (basically, beer, tomato juice, hot sauce, and celery). It’s, ahem, strong, and a great start to a summer party." — Eric Kim, senior editor

"I know that the classic potato salad has mayo in it but I like to stay away from mayo since a lot of the food sits outside all day—I go the mustard-and-vinegar route!" — Lizzie Greene, sales director

"There's only one thing I love more than jumbo marshmallow s'mores at a summer cookout and that's leftover jumbo marshmallow s'mores for breakfast the next morning. If you don't have a fire or grill, a gas burner will do." — Max McDonough, social media manager

What are your go-to tips for hosting a summer cookout? Tell us in the comments below!

We've partnered with Allagash Brewing Company to celebrate the warm-weather months with some of our favorite recipes of the season, like the smoked fish tacos, refreshing summer squash salad, and blueberry compote we'll be making from now until September. No matter how you spend your #SummerSundays, a four-pack of Allagash White makes the perfect pairing.

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Erin Alexander

Written by: Erin Alexander

Erin Alexander is the Managing Editor of Food52.