While there may still be snow in the forecast, as the winter begins to wind down, cookout invites will start pouring in. You can look forward to chatting with your friends in the sun and watching your kids run around, but you might not get excited about deciding what cookout food to bring along. Packing another bag of potato chips to share is a tempting solution, but why not find a creative and fun treat to add to the table? Check out these five alternative cookout foods to make this spring.
1. Mini Ranch Burger
Grilling out is a go-to activity at spring gatherings, but regular burgers are too predictable. Instead, Opt for sliders with different flavors. For a tasty burger perfect for tiny fingers, try this miniature-sized option featuring your children’s favorite dipping sauce.
- 1 1/2 pounds ground beef
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 8 small dinner rolls, sliced
- 1/2 cup ranch dressing
- 1 sliced tomato
- Lettuce for serving
Create 3-inch patties out of the ground beef and put seasoning on them. Next, place the olive oil in a skillet to heat up and cook the patties for a few minutes on each side until they’re completely done. Serve the burgers on the buns with ranch dressing and optional toppings.
2. Mac and Cheese Hot Dog
Picky eaters have met their match with this combination. Rather than cutting up hot dogs and tossing them in pasta, switch it up with these delicious mac and cheese dogs for the spring.
- 1/2 pound elbow macaroni pasta
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 1 can evaporated milk
- 1/2 cup chicken stock
- 1 teaspoon mustard powder
- 8 ounces grated cheddar cheese
- 8 hot dogs
- 8 hot dog buns
Boil macaroni pasta until it’s just cooked. Then, make a sauce by stirring butter and flour together in a saucepan on medium heat. Add the chicken stock and evaporated milk to thicken the mixture. Slowly stir in the mustard powder and cheese until the sauce is smooth. Combine the pasta and sauce, then cook the hotdogs. With the hot dogs in buns, top them with plenty of mac and cheese.
3. Sausage and Cheesy Salsa Burger
These sausage burgers with a kick are a mouthwatering alternative to beef burgers. If you and your little ones like your food with a hint of heat, indulge in this unique cookout recipe.
- 1 package sweet Italian sausage
- 1/2 cup pepper jack cheese, shredded
- 4 slices cheddar cheese
- 1 avocado, sliced
- 1/4 cup salsa, plus extra for topping
- 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped, plus extra for topping
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
- Salt and pepper
- 4 burger buns
Mix the sausage, pepper jack cheese and spices in a bowl until they’re thoroughly combined. Form four patties with the mixture, then cook them on the grill for a few minutes on each side. Place a slice of cheese on top to melt before you remove them. After the burgers are on their buns, put cilantro, avocado and salsa on them.
4. Sweet Potato Fries
A welcome alternative to greasy french fries, sweet potato fries can be dunked in ketchup and loved just as much. Ditch ordinary snacks for this sweet and savory side dish when you head to your backyard party.
- 2 pounds sweet potatoes
- 1 tablespoon chili seasoning
- 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
- 1 tablespoon canola oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
Peel the sweet potatoes and cut them into half-inch slices. Pour the oil, seasonings and sweet potatoes into a bowl and toss the contents until there’s a thorough coating on the fries. Distribute fries onto a foil-covered baking sheet. Bake at 400 degrees for half an hour.
5. Italian Confetti Pasta Salad
Once you mention the word “confetti,” your kids will be hooked. A twist on classic macaroni salad, this yummy Italian pasta salad has plenty of nutritious vegetables and flavor to satisfy everyone.
- 12-ounce package tri-color rotini pasta
- 1-2 cups diced bell peppers or sliced mini peppers
- 2 cups elbow macaroni
- 1-2 cups cherry tomatoes
- 1/2 large English cucumber
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 bottle Italian dressing
- Grated parmesan and romano cheese
Boil pasta until it’s al dente and transfer it into a bowl to add the Italian dressing. Chop the vegetables into bite-sized pieces and sprinkle them into the pasta. Stir the mixture together, then dust it with plenty of cheese.
Bring Creative Food to Your Next Cookout
Next time you’re preparing for a cookout, take one of these fresh ideas that kids and parents can enjoy. Rather than a bland burger or a plain hotdog, your friends and family can dig into a new kind of cookout cuisine.
Kacey Bradley is the lifestyle and travel blogger for The Drifter Collective, an eclectic lifestyle blog that expresses various forms of style through the influence of culture and the world around us. Kacey graduated with a degree in Communications while working for a lifestyle magazine. She has been able to fully embrace herself with the knowledge of nature, the power of exploring other locations and cultures, all while portraying her love for the world around her through her visually pleasing, culturally embracing and inspiring posts. Along with writing for her blog, she frequently writes for sites like US Travel News, Thought Catalog, Style Me Pretty, Tripping.com and more! Follow Kacey on Twitter and subscribe to her blog to keep up with her travels and inspiring posts!