Planning dessert for a cookout poses challenges—you probably won't have access to an oven, so fresh-baked pastries or hot sauces aren't a great option. Fortunately, there are plenty of great desserts that are served cold or at room temperature. We've collected pies, ice creams, puddings, and more that will make you want to save room for dessert at your next barbecue.
If the grill is still burning, then why not use it to make dessert? Cantaloupe turns into a sophisticated dessert when grilled and dressed with a sweet, vinegary peach agrodolce. Or try grilling slices of pound cake to serve with a basil-plum compote. And of course there's the most classic cookout dessert of all: s'mores. We love the classic Hershey's s'more, but if you're feeling ambitious you can make a homemade version with whiskey marshmallows, toffee-almond chocolate squares, and graham shortbreads.
At a summer barbecue, ice cream is a perfect way to cool down. The key to making ice cream at home is mastering a simple vanilla. It's delicious on its own, but also serves as a base for all kinds of other flavors, from fig to Vietnamese coffee. For something a little more unusual, try our roasted beet ice cream with mascarpone, orange zest, and poppy seeds from Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams in Columbus, OH.
Creamy, cooling pudding is fantastic end to a barbecue. Banana pudding is a classic, with its sweet, comforting combination of vanilla wafers, vanilla pudding, and bananas. For something ultra-retro, try our buttermilk cookie salad.
Find all of these dishes and more in our collection of barbecue dessert recipes.
Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies
This ice cream is best when made with true miel de lavande, French lavender honey from Provence, which is produced by bees that feed primarily on lavender blossoms, imparting a creamy texture and distinctive flavor and scent. Get the recipe for Lavender Honey Ice Cream »
For this cake made in the style of a tarte Tatin, rhubarb is caramelized until soft before being topped with batter and baked.
This refreshing gelée gets its light, fruity flavor from ripe peaches and semisweet fizzy moscato wine.
Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams in Columbus, OH, has some of the most amazing flavors around, but they all start with one simple base. In this recipe, the addition of roasted beets and poppy seeds lends the end product a festive hue and a bit of crunch. Get the recipe for Beet Ice Cream with Mascarpone »
Classic Smith Island Cake
Grape jelly intensifies the flavor of ripe plums in a sweet-tart summer pie.
When making this deluxe campfire treat, look for square marshmallows—they fit the graham crackers better and give chocolate a wider surface on which to melt. Get the recipe for Ultimate S’more »
Pastry chef Mindy Segal has made a successful career out of tinkering with, and improving, classic desserts. At her Chicago restaurant HotChocolate (and in her book, Cookie Love, from Ten Speed Press), she rejiggers icons like pineapple upside-down cake and baked Alaska with thoughtful, contemporary updates. So we gave her a challenge: Take the s’more, that beloved summer bonfire dessert assembled from store-bought components, and make it even better. Here’s her fantastic homemade version. Get the recipe for Smoked Almond S’mores with Whiskey Marshmallows »
At Local Ocean Seafoods in Newport, Oregon, a coastal feast is punctuated with this crumbly shortbread and berry parfait.
A decadent custard batter is studded with juicy, ripe cherries in this elegant and satisfying treat.
You can substitute the apricots in this juicy tart for plums, peaches, or even berries.
Ripe black mission figs, sweet brown sugar, and just a hint of cinnamon combine beautifully in this swirled ice cream, as lovely to look at as it is to eat.
SpudnutsTo ensure these potato-based donuts turn out pillowy and soft after frying, take care not to overwork the dough. Get the recipe for Spudnuts »
A chocolate-, almond-, and coconut-enriched graham crust supports a dense layer of buttercream topped with a slick of semisweet chocolate. Get the recipe for Nanaimo Bars »
Ground almonds add body and flavor to this creamy Swedish cheesecake. For the Midsummer holiday in late June, Asa Johanson, a gardener and chef on the island of Oland off of Sweden’s southeast coast, serves the cake with clouds of whipped cream and ripe strawberries macerated with fresh mint.
Rice Pudding Ice Pops (Paletas de Arroz con Leche)