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What to Bring to a Black Cookout (Backyard BBQ Ideas)

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In the Black community, a summer cookout isn’t just a meal – it’s a cultural experience.

A Black backyard cookout is a time for family, best friends, and neighbors to come together, celebrate life, and enjoy some soul food and Southern barbecue dishes straight from the grill. I’m talking ribs, fried fish, mac and cheese, and peach cobbler! Oh, and don’t forget the music, dancing, and outdoor games (card games, dominos, lawn games, etc.). It’s all the way live, basically an outdoor party.

Birthdays, family reunions, and holidays like Father’s Day, Juneteenth, 4th of July, Labor Day, or Memorial Day is the perfect time to throw a backyard cookout. Really any time is a great time to enjoy good food and good people!

black people dancing at a cookout

So, grab a friend, put on some music, break out the fire pit, and let’s get it going.

What’s the difference between a cookout and a backyard barbecue?

The word “cookout” and “barbecue” are often used interchangeably, but there are differences between them:

  • Cookout: A cookout typically refers to an outdoor event where food is cooked and served outdoors, often in a casual setting. It can involve grilling hot dogs and burgers, but it’s not limited to just grilling. Cookouts may involve a variety of cooking methods such as barbecuing, smoking, or even cooking food inside to be eaten outdoors (think mac and cheese, pasta salad, or potato salad). The term “cookout” is more inclusive.
  • Barbecue: A barbecue specifically refers to a gathering where the primary method of cooking food is through grilling, typically on a barbecue grill or smoker. While a cookout can involve various cooking methods, a BBQ focuses specifically on grilling food in the backyard or outdoor space. 

Cookout Recipes

Invited to the cookout? You don’t want to come empty handed! Here is a roundup of our favorite recipes (main course, side dishes, salads, drinks, and desserts), and easy BBQ ideas.

Main Course

St. Louis Style Ribs

St Louis-style ribs are seasoned with a dry rub and cooked low and slow on the smoker until they are tender and juicy. Brushed in a sweet and tangy sauce, this pork spare ribs recipe is perfect for a cookout or backyard barbecue.

Smoked Brisket

A flavorful smoked brisket recipe cooked to perfection on a pellet smoker. This brisket promises the best bark, tender texture, and a smoky flavor that will have everyone asking for seconds.


Pulled Pork (Pork Butt)

This smoked BBQ pulled pork recipe features tender pork shoulder cooked with cherry wood and doused in flavorful mop sauce. Pile smoked BBQ pulled pork high on sandwich buns and top with your favorite coleslaw!

Chicken Leg Quarters

Tasty barbecued chicken leg quarters paired with a homemade Alabama white sauce recipe is the perfect bbq chicken recipe for grilling season. 

Beef Ribs (Back Ribs)

A mouthwatering smoked beef back ribs recipe featuring a simple dry rub and BBQ sauce. Back ribs are smoky and tender, and perfect for your next backyard cookout!

Pork Chops

These thick cut pork chops are seasoned with a simple dry rub, grilled until extra tender. It’s the best grilled pork chops recipe for summer and prepared with simple steps.


Fried Catfish

This Southern Fried Catfish has a crispy golden brown cornmeal crust and is seasoned to perfection with fish fry seasoning. It’s a real crowd-pleaser and the best recipe for fish fries or a cookout!

blackstone smash burger

Blackstone Smash Burgers

These juicy Blackstone smash burgers are cooked on a hot flat-top griddle and have perfectly crispy, caramelized edges.

Poor Man’s Burnt Ends

This recipe for Poor Man’s Burnt Ends features succulent chuck roast cubes generously seasoned and slathered in BBQ sauce, resulting in a rich and flavorful dish.

Smoked Oxtail

This smoked oxtail recipe combines the best of Southern barbecue and soul food, delivering tender, smoky, flavorful meat. Whether it’s a summer cookout or a cozy winter night, this dish promises a taste of comfort!

Fried Chicken

Discover the secret to perfect Southern fried chicken (soul food) with our easy recipe—crispy, golden, and full of flavor! Skip the buttermilk soak and embrace a salt, sugar, and water brine for juiciness. Our blend of flour, cornstarch, and seasonings guarantees an irresistibly crispy coating every time.

Rib Tips

Experience Memphis barbecue with our succulent and tender smoked rib tips! Served with white bread and pickles, it’s a simple yet delicious combination that captures the authentic flavors of this Southern dish.

Pork Belly Burnt Ends

This Smoked Pork Belly Burnt Ends recipe features tender, juicy pork belly, cut into cubes and seasoned to perfection.


Smoked Chicken Wings

Smoking imparts a rich, smoky flavor to the chicken wings that is simply mouthwatering. The slow cooking process also allows the flavors to sink in, resulting in more tender and flavorful wings.

Smoked Bologna

Our smoked bologna recipe features a whole bologna chub seasoned with your favorite rub and smothered in barbecue sauce.

Dino Ribs

These colossal, slow-smoked dino ribs are smoky, fall-off-the-bone tender, and simply irresistible. A tried-and-true recipe perfect for barbecue enthusiasts!

Chicken Legs

Our smoked chicken legs recipe features frenched “chicken lollipops” that are slathered in barbecue sauce. It’s kid-friendly, simple to make, and creates a fun presentation for drumsticks!

Smoked Beef Short Ribs

These Smoked Beef Short Ribs are melt-in-your-mouth tender. The flavorful crust and rich and succulent taste make it the perfect primal dish!

Fish and Spaghetti

This fried fish and spaghetti recipe is a traditional southern dish that is often enjoyed for weeknight dinners, fish fries, and even holidays. It’s made using our Southern Fried Catfish and mom’s famous soul food spaghetti recipe.

Side Dishes 

Baked Beans

Flavorful baked beans with ground beef is a classic barbecue side dish that’s as convenient as it is delicious. Made with canned beans, seasoned beef, bell pepper, onion, and seasonings, these beans are perfect for a cookout.

Mac and Cheese

This recipe feature cheddar, Monterey jack, and mozzarella. It’s decadent and comforting, and an absolute must-try for anyone looking to savor a taste of the South.


Our creamy and crunchy BBQ Coleslaw is a Southern-inspired side dish that brings the perfect blend of textures and flavor. 



Potato Salad

Our Southern potato salad has the best creamy texture and tangy flavor, with ingredients like mayo, mustard, hard-boiled eggs, pickle relish, and seasonings. It’s one of those recipes that always brings people together at barbecues, picnics, family reunions, and holiday gatherings!


Hibiscus Lemonade

Inspired by the cultural significance of the iconic “red drink” in the Black community, this hibiscus lemonade is a refreshing twist on a classic recipe offers a delightful blend of nostalgia and freshness, making it a perfect addition to any spring and summertime gathering.



Peach Cobbler

Our easy peach cobbler recipe with canned peaches and flaky pie crust is a quick soul food dessert. Serve it with a scoop of ice cream and enjoy!

Red Velvet Cake

Discover the allure of old fashioned red velvet cake, cherished for its vibrant red color, light and fluffy texture, and subtle cocoa flavor. It’s a classic soul food dessert recipe layered with rich and decadent homemade cream cheese buttercream frosting.

More Backyard Cookout Recipe Ideas

Dive into the richness of Southern soul food cuisine, celebrating tradition and community. Discover your next favorite dish—click to explore more backyard BBQ ideas!

You can also check out these Southern, soul food favorites:

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