Summer Cookout Ideas That are Sure to be Big Crowd Pleasers

Summer_CookoutSummer Cookout Fun

If you’re looking for a big crowd-pleasing menu for your next summer cookout then you landed on the right place.

Most hosts want their guest to leave feeling like they attended an epic summer event and the menu and tools in this post will do just that.

If you’re a host that enjoys seeing your guest coming back for more then I think you’re going to love the recipes and ideas I have picked to share with you, they are my family’s own recipes and favorites!

I love to plan great summer cookouts that everyone, including myself, can enjoy. This means I need to take careful consideration when planning the menu items. Otherwise, I will spend most of my time cooking instead of enjoying the party.

One of my favorite tricks to do this is to mesh our family’s personal recipes with store bought food items that I really can’t make much better.  So, I will be including suggestions throughout this blog for both. Let’s get started!


There are many good Smokers and Grills to choose from.  Below are the three we recommend.

Grill & Smokers:

If you would like to read a head to head review of the Traeger vs Big Green Egg check out this awesome review by Wes Siler on Outside Online.

For detailed instructions on how to setup the Green Egg for smoking ribs check Zac Stuckey Step by Step setup on snap guide.



Personal Family Recipes

For my personal family dishes, I am going to be sharing my brother-in-law’s show stopping, mouth-watering, crowd-pleasing baby back ribs & my mother’s amazing, off the charts macaroni salad recipe.

Both are fantastic menu items because they can both either be prepped or made ahead of time.

What more could you ask for; great homemade food that you can make ahead of time? These are the kind of menu items that you want to choose so you can enjoy the party!


5 from 1 vote


Course Main Course
Cuisine American


  • 1 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup paprika
  • 1/2 cup garlic powder
  • 3 Tablespoons ground black pepper
  • 1 Tablespoons ground ginger powder
  • 2 Tablespoons onion powder
  • 1 Tablespoons ground rosemary powder (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper


  1. Mix all ingredients together making sure to break up any lumps.  This will store well in a jar for several months.  Before applying the rub to your ribs make sure you remove the membrane on the back side of rib first.  

  2. When you are ready to prepare ribs for cooking it is recommended that you pre-salt them at least 12 hours prior to cooking.  Apply approximately 1/2 teaspoon of salt per pound of meat.  

  3. Coat meat with a little olive oil and sprinkle the rub over meat until it colors the meat.  To prevent contamination of the dry rub use one hand to sprinkle dry rub on meat and the other to rub dry rub into the meat.  

You can mix this sauce weeks ahead of time and refrigerate or use your favorite store-bought brand.

5 from 1 vote



  • 2 Tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 cups tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup yellow mustard
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/3 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup Heinz 57 steak sauce
  • 1/4 cup dark molasses
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce (Tabasco)
  • 1 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 medium white onion, finely chopped
  • 4 medium cloves of garlic, crushed or minced
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne


  1. Mix all ingredients except onion and garlic in a bowl and mix together then aside.

  2. In a medium pan heat oil and add onion.  Cook until translucent, about 5 minutes.  Crush the garlic, then add and cook for another 2 minutes.  Add all the mixed ingredients now and simmer over medium heat for about 15 minutes with no lid.  The mixture will thicken as it cooks.

  3. Taste and adjust to your liking.  You can store in a jar in the refrigerator 


  • Do as much of the grill set-up like general cleaning ahead of time it will give you more time to relax and enjoy yourself the day of the party.
  • Make all of your rub and sauce ahead of time.  Remember you can store both for an extended period of time.  So if you make double or triple batches it will make it easier at your next cookout.
  • Cook any of your sides ahead of time.

Remember, your hickory or pecan chunks need to be soaked at least 30 minutes before firing up the grill.


Whether you pick a theme for the party or not here are a few general items you can use to really make your summer cookout stand out.  Your plates, napkins, and cups should be coordinated with your cookout theme.

I personally like to have my utensil caddy, cups, napkins, drink dispensers and salt and pepper shakers stored year around so that they are ready for any summer cookout or party on the fly.  I also like to keep a general look; like metal or galvanized so that they can be used for all my parties and events. I have found the more I have these items available and ready to go the more it makes entertaining fun and not a burden.

At any case, I hope you have found some of our favorite grilling tools and crowd-pleasing family recipes helpful in planning your next epic Summer Cookout!

Until next time,


P.S. If you are planning a party make sure you grab our party planning checklist I included my recent blog.  Also a big shout out to Shawn and Margaret for allowing me to share their awesome recipes that they allowed me to use this blog; you two rock!!

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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3 thoughts on “Summer Cookout Ideas That are Sure to be Big Crowd Pleasers

  1. Maybe it’s because i’m hungry or maybe because these recipes sound amazing but my mouth is watering after reading this. Guest at your parties are in for a treat. I live in the UK and have never been to the states but if I ever happen to be in Tennessee, be sure to give me an invite to an invite lol.