The "Three C’s" for a Crowd-Pleasing Summer Cookout

With summer break coming up, it’s about that time again: cookout season! Whether it’s a neighborhood get-together, family reunion, or graduation party, being the host can seem overwhelming. Here are a few tips to make your cookout a hit.

1.  Change it up

Hotdogs and hamburgers are always a crowd favorite. However, don’t be afraid to change it up! Families attend multiple cookouts throughout summer time so you don’t want your event to be just another cookout. Try spicing up your toppings table. Add avocado, salsa, bacon, a variety of cheeses, pineapples, or anything else you think your guest might enjoy alongside the classic cookout toppings. Your guests will be happy to create their own hotdog or burger and you won’t have to worry about customizing each individual meal.

2.  Consider the Aesthetic

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There’s more to a cookout than just serving delicious food. The best part of cookouts are the summer vibes and being surrounded by your friends and family. Have some family-friendly music playing in the background, set up outdoor games, such as corn-hole, to entertain the kids and adults, or hang up some string lights for when it gets dark. You can never go wrong with a bonfire for s’mores! Your guests will feel more relaxed in this atmosphere.

3.  Collaborate

It’s a lot of pressure trying to be the chef for an entire get together. Don’t be afraid to ask your guests for help. Friends and family love feeling like they had a part in the occasion. If it helps, assign different people different items, but keep it broad. Maybe a few families can do desserts while others take over the sides. This way there’s not too much of anything and each family can add their personal touch.

Try these recipes if you want some healthier food options at your cookout:

Hawaiian Turkey Sliders (from


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·         1 pound 93%-lean ground turkey

·         2 tablespoons reduced-sodium teriyaki sauce      

·         2 scallions, sliced

·         1 large garlic, minced

·         ¼-inch-thick fresh pineapple rings

·         1 small red onion, sliced

·         Toasted whole-wheat slider buns

·         2 tablespoons mayonnaise

·         6 small leaves Boston lettuce


1.       Preheat grill medium-high

2.       Combine turkey, teriyaki sauce, scallions and garlic in a medium bowl; gently knead together. Do not overmix. Form into 6 burgers, about three inches wide.

3.       Oil the grill rack. Grill the burgers 2-3 minutes per side. Grill pineapple rings until lightly charred. Grill onions until lightly charred and starting to soften.

4.       Assemble the burgers on toasted buns with 1 teaspoon mayonnaise, 1 lettuce leaf, 1 pineapple ring and about 3 onion rings each.

Summer Vegetable Kabobs (


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·         ¼ cup dry white wine

·         ¼ cup honey

·         2 cloves minced garlic

·         2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

·         2 tablespoons olive oil

·         1 ½ teaspoons pepper

·         1 teaspoon salt

·         1 cup cherry tomatoes

·         1 red bell pepper, cut into pieces

·         1 zucchini, sliced

·         Metal or bamboo skewer


1.       Mix together wine, honey, garlic, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper. Add the vegetables and toss to coat. Cover the container and chill for 30 minutes in the fridge.

2.       Heat the grill to medium high, then prepare the skewers. Thread each vegetable on separate sticks.

3.       Place the skewers on the grill and close the top. Grill for around 5 to 10 minutes, but keep a close eye on the tomatoes, they may be done within 3 minutes. Turn each stick occasionally.

4.       Let the vegetables cool and mix them up on the skewers.