outdoor party food ideas for adults and kids - backyard fall picnic BBQ cookout party, fraduation party, family reunion, church picnic, block party, end of summer back to school Labor day weekend cookout in the fall, football parties and more easy outdoor party food and inexpensive snacks for a crowd

Easy Summer Cookout Food Ideas for a Neighborhood Block Party, 4th of July BBQ, Labor Day Community Event or Memorial Day Party Too!

Let’s take a look at some easy Summer cookout food ideas and unique BBQ party recipes that are SURE to be crowd-pleasers.

These are also great food ideas for your neighborhood block party, back to school outdoor cookout in the fall, Labor Day weekend, or 4th of July party this year, too!

Outdoor Party Food Ideas For a BBQ Cookout or Neighborhood Block Party This Summer

Updated on July 17, 2024

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There are a LOT of summer party food ideas and recipes on this page…so take your time and scroll thru – you’re sure to find some great party food ideas for your neighborhood crowd!

Hot Dogs? Check. Hamburgers? Check. But what ELSE should you serve as side dishes and desserts and drinks at your summer cookout?

outdoor summer party food ideas

I found TONS of great BBQ cookout food ideas that are not only easy-enough to make (or make ahead), but also unique and original.

No one wants to serve the same ‘ol, same ‘ol right? Right!

Side Dishes

Let’s start with some unique and simply delicious side dishes I’ve tried:

Main Dishes

Not a hamburger and hot dog fan? Or want an alternative to traditional cookout food for your guests?

Below are some really delicious BBQ party main dishes that are options OTHER than traditional hot dogs and hamburgers.

I’ve got to tell ya – the ‘Make Your Own’ grilled foil packets was a GENIUS idea!

I set our a few types of meat, lots of veggies, cheese and topping and let everyone put together their OWN grilled dinner wrapped in foil – then, we popped them on the grill and….

Needless to say… EVERYONE loved their meal haha!

Want something even easier? Make a walking taco bar like this:

Cookout food ideas - having a BBQ party or birthday party outdoors (or indoors) - make a Taco bar like this

Or perhaps you’re going TO a BBQ party this summer and want to bring an easy and YUMMY food, dessert, or drink to share with the rest of the group.

Maybe even an easy appetizer or cheap finger food snack platter?


First off, you gotta try these easy 3 ingredient COLD appetizer ideas – no muss, no fuss and best of all, NO COOKING!

And then there’s these AMAZING Watermelon Fries – oh lordy, they are SO good!

Perfect cold snack for an outdoor party on a hot day!

If you just want something REALLY easy to make and take, these crockpot appetizers are all VERY easy to make (and they travel well too!)

Let’s Talk BBQ Party Desserts…

Of COURSE you’ll need EASY desserts to serve that crowd, too! But it’s HOT out, so what can we make WITHOUT cooking?

This is a cute cookout dessert idea for the kids – you can use any color sprinkles, too!

red white blue desserts and sweet treats for 4th of July or Memorial Day party

Below are some more of my favorite easy and UNIQUE Summer party food ideas that you’re sure to love, too.

outdoor party food ideas for adults and kids - backyard fall picnic BBQ cookout party, graduation party, family reunion, church picnic, block party, end of summer back to school Labor day weekend cookout in the fall, football parties and more easy outdoor party food and inexpensive snacks for a crowd

Fun & Easy Summer Party Food Ideas

First up, I have to share this pineapple lemonade recipe. It is so good, tastes “fancy” but is super easy to throw together quickly.

Don’t forget:

We have a LOT of easy party punch recipes are here

Pineapple Sprite Lemonade Punch Recipe

Want a fun cookout idea for the grownups?

How about a Jell-o shots cooler like this?

Cookout ideas - outdoor party, BBQ party, beach party (spring break!) Jello shots cooler ideas - summer party ideas

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One of the favorites for the kids at our summer parties are these dipped fruits (mainly strawberries) with sprinkles. There can be SO much junk food at these BBQs, it’s nice to see the kids CHOOSE to eat something healthy.

Summer Cookout and BBQ party food ideas - dip fruit in whipped cream or yogurt then dip in sprinkles

Speaking of healthy food options for a summer cookout – it’s way too easy to just grab a chip and dip it in whatever is closest, but if you’re trying to keep your weight in check this summer, take a moment to choose a more “weight friendly” dip for those chips.

Going Low Carb?

See my favorite Low Carb Comfort Food Recipes here – perfect snacks and dishes for you or your guests that are TRYING to eat low carb.

Healthy Summer Cookout Foods - choose the healthy chip and dip option

Now these next ideas are such a cute and FUN dessert ideas for the kids at our summer cookouts (I make these every 4th of July and they’re always GONE quickly).

The portable banana pudding packs are so fun! (the kids call them banana splits in a bag). I found a good variation of my recipe here and we ALL just love them!

Need more EASY dessert ideas?

These Dump Cake Recipes are PERFECT for a crowd!

Summer Cookout Foods we LOVE - portable banana pudding packs for a crowd!  So easy and SO good (makes a great 4th of July party dessert too)

Day in and day out, macaroni and cheese is a winner as a side dish in this house. For cookouts and get-togethers, I make this variation: macaroni and cheese pie.

It’s topped with BACON (and anything with bacon is always a good thing, right).

Just cook your own recipe of macaroni and cheese and put it in a glass oven-safe pie plate. Arrange bacon across the top “lattice-style” and pop it in the oven.

Easy… and EVERYONE loves it!

BBQ food ideas - this easy macaroni and cheese pie is topped with BACON - great summer cookout side dish idea

Last 4th of July, we decided to throw steaks on the grill. To me, a steak REQUIRES a baked potato with it, but I sure didn’t want to mess with all that. So, I got the wild idea to set up a cute potato bar like in the picture below.

Now, I had my potato bar set up inside and had all the toppings on ice, but this is kinda how it looked (and yep, they all thought I was super “pinteresting” because of my chalkboard sign..haha!)

Summer cookout food ideas or for any party with a crowd.  Love this potato bar idea for a BBQ party or ANY party

Here’s another idea we all love for our summer cookouts – tacos in a cup (I make these for our football party appetizers too).

I also add a layer of taco meat and everyone loves them!

They also go GREAT with these easy cheese dip recipes!

Summer BBQ Food Ideas - Tacos in a cup - great for a summer cookout or get together - easy crowd-pleasers

This is another variation I make called “walking tacos”. Many make these with Fritos but my family loves them with little bags of Doritos like this.

Just whip up some taco meat, make some sides of toppings, and set it all out with individual bags of Doritos or Fritos and let your guests make their own. Use plastic forks and it all goes in the trash when they’re done.

And I’ll admit: on particular busy (or lazy) days, I make these for dinner too (yep, these goes my Mom of the Year award… again haha!)

See ALL my Easy Dinner Recipes here

BBQ Party and Summer Cookout Food iIdeas - Walking Tacos for a crowd.  My family LOVES these Dorito bags fixed like tacos

This next cookout food idea is especially perfect for your 4th of July party AND it requires NO cooking – yay!

The kids love to help me put this fruit flag together… and they love to eat it!

Cooking with the kids?

See Easy Recipes Kids Can Make here

4th of July Party Food!  great ideas for summer cookouts and BBQ party foods - Make an American flag out of fruit-ka-bobs

Whatever you decide to cook and make for your cookouts this summer, take a little extra time to tie it all together with cute accessories.

Like this easy no-bake Flag cake recipe:

no bake flag cake recipe for 4th of July or memorial day

Flag Cake Recipe

– 2 pints strawberries
– 1 package frozen pound cake
– 1 1/2 cups blueberries
– 1 tub Cool Whip

Line bottom of 12×8 baking dish with pound cake slices, top cake layer with 1 cup of the sliced strawberries, 1 cup of the blueberries and then cover all with Cool Whip. Use remaining strawberries and blueberries to create a flag design on top. Refrigerate (makes about 14-15 servings)

Summer Party Drink Ideas

These red white and blue drinks are so cute for a 4th of July party and really make an impression on your guests.

Summer Cookout Food Ideas - red white and blue drinks - great for a 4th of July party

Just layer blue Gatorade, red Hawaiian Punch and sprite.

Prefer to also have a 4th of July or Memorial Day cocktail for the grown ups too?

Here’s how to make an adult version of the red white and blue drinks:

red white and blue adult cocktail recipe

Know what’s an even better ideas than alcoholic DRINKS at your summer party?

Adult POPSICLES with Alcohol Recipes!

BETTER than frozen alcoholic dessert DRINKS - these frozen alcoholic POPSICLES are fun AND easy!  Also called Poptails or Shotsicles - here's how to make them and lots of easy Poptails recipes (perfect for a crowd!)

See all our fun frozen Poptails recipes here

As far as easy side dishes for our summer cookouts, this cucumber tomato salad is a definite favorite. Just toss everything in a bowl, mix it up and serve (I like to chill it a bit first, but it’s delicious right away, too).

Summer Cookout Side Dish Ideas - Cucumber Tomato Salad - this easy BBQ party side dish is perfect for a large group and super easy to make - easy food ideas for family summer BBQ cookout or a neighborhood block party

See More Easy Summer Salad Recipes

Trying to plan your summer cookout party, but not sure what to buy or how much for each person? Afraid you’ll forget something?

Below is a summer cookout party shopping list AND a cookout party checklist:

And don’t forget the bubbles!

EVERY summer party or BBQ cookout needs a bubbles station for the kids!

Here’s the recipe to make giant bubbles mix at home.

bubbles refill station - Bubbles Recipes to make homemade bubbles - summer party activities for kids - fun activity ideas for kids - cookout or block party activities for kids

Summer Block Party Ideas

Here are more great ideas for food, activities and organizing your neighborhood block party this Summer.

neighborhood block party ideas

1 – How To Organize A Block Party That Rocks – Are you ready to rock your block party this year? Check out this post that will walk you though 6 easy steps to plan and organize a neighborhood block party. You’ll get game ideas, food organization tips, and practical steps like filing a permit with your city… read more

2 – The Best Block Party Ideas For Throwing A Fun Neighborhood Block Party – Throwing a neighborhood block party? This list of block party ideas will allow you to throw an event your neighborhood has never seen… read more

3 – ✅ Neighborhood Block Party Food Ideas – Neighborhood Block Party Ideas-Cookout Food, Planning and More – having a summer BBQ block party or potluck in your neighborhood? These block party appetizers finger foods are the perfect budget party food for a crowd, a potluck at work, a church picnic etc… read more

4 – Activity & DIY Game Ideas for Summer Block Parties – How to host an entertaining Colorful Community Block Party this summer! Get tons of ideas for DIY games and activities now, plus food, drink, and decor inspiration… read more

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Enjoy your summer!

What to do with the kids this summer?

See our Summer Crafts and Activities for Kids

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BBQ Party Food Ideas for a Crowd - this Pineapple Lemonade is so easy and SO yummy!  Makes for a great summer cookout drink at your Labor Day Block Party, Potluck or Family Reunion Picnic