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.
The addition of buttermilk in this ultra-retro dessert keeps it from being too cloying and renders cookie salad totally appropriate for the adult palate.
Get the recipe for Buttermilk Cookie Salad »
Red wine is reduced with spices and bright citrus zest and then drizzled over fresh strawberries, ice cream, and grilled bread in this delicious, simple dessert.
Get the recipe for Strawberries with Wine »
These refreshing frozen treats come from pastry chef Jen Yee at New York City’s
Lafayette. Get the recipe Strawberry Rhubarb Yogurt Pops »
In this elegant dessert, cantaloupe is grilled until it caramelizes and is then dressed with agrodolce, a sour-sweet Italian sauce made by reducing vinegar and sugar.
Get the recipe for Grilled Cantaloupe with Peach Agrodolce »
Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies
This basic ice cream recipe from pastry chef Tracy Obolsky of
North End Grill is endlessly customizable; turn it into anything from chocolate to rum-raisin to pistachio. Get the recipe for Vanilla Ice Cream »
Roasting strawberries over mellow, barely glowing embers turns them from bright red bulbs to plump crimson pillows of deeply sweet juice.
Get the recipe for Grilled Strawberries »
Sweetened condensed milk and a touch of spice set this caffeinated treat apart from other coffee ice creams.
Get the recipe for Vietnamese Coffee Ice Cream »
Lemon bars are a light, brightly-flavored dessert, best served with a sprinkling of confectioners’ sugar.
Get the recipe for Lemon Bars »
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 version of the cake is a potluck and bake sale favorite; the addition of crushed pineapple helps to keep it sweet and moist.
Get the recipe for Classic Carrot Cake »
This refreshing gelée gets its light, fruity flavor from ripe peaches and semisweet fizzy moscato wine.
My mom, Ellendean, would occasionally surprise me with this creamy chocolate pie when I came home from school, then watch as I devoured a quarter of it while watching “M*A*S*H” reruns.
—Keith Pandolfi Get the recipe for Chocolate Pudding Pie »
Custard, vanilla wafers, and bananas are layered and topped with whipped cream in our version of the classic Southern dessert.
Get the recipe for Banana Pudding »
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 »
When Jon Rowley was a child, his grandmother used to make juice from fresh-picked blackberries. In it, he says, “you could taste and smell the briar.” In this recipe, Rowley’s wife, Kate McDermott, has combined that flavor from his youth with a tender, flaky pie crust to create an exemplar of the Pacific Northwest’s cuisine.
Classic Smith Island Cake
Strawberries macerated with gin, lime zest, and cardamom make an unexpected compote.
Get the recipe for Strawberry Compote »
Pecan Cream 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 »
Local Ocean Seafoods in Newport, Oregon, a coastal feast is punctuated with this crumbly shortbread and berry parfait.
Strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, and raspberries are brightened with lemon juice and zest to make the filling for this juicy pie.
Get the recipe for Razzleberry Pie »
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.
The best of summer comes together in this satisfying dessert of grilled pound cake topped with a fruity, herbal compote.
Get the recipe for Grilled Pound Cake with Basil-Plum Compote »
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 »
As a kid, I wasn’t really into cooking or baking, preferring instead to be outside playing soccer. The one thing that I did enjoy helping my mom make, however, was her strawberry bread: packed with fresh strawberries, I loved to eat it hot out of the oven slathered in butter. It’s so fast and easy, I make it all the time now, with whatever fresh or frozen fruits I have lying around.
—Farideh Sadeghin, test kitchen director Get the recipe for Strawberry Loaf Bread »
Coconut milk gives these donuts from Seattle’s Top Pot donut shop a super-moist interior and a gratifying crust.
Get the recipe for Top Pot Triple Coconut Donuts »
Making one generous biscuit instead of individual shortcakes lends this classic dessert a grand presentation.
Get the recipe for Strawberry Shortcake »
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.
The flavor of ripe summer strawberries is front and center in these creamy treats, which are brightened with just a touch of fresh lemon juice.
Get the recipe for Strawberries and Cream Ice Pops (Paletas de Fresas y Crema) »
With just two ingredients—puréed pineapple and sugar—these paletas are unbelievably simple to assemble.
Get the recipe for Pineapple Ice Pops (Paletas de Piña) »
Rice Pudding Ice Pops (Paletas de Arroz con Leche)
We love the combination of spicy ancho chile powder with sweet-sour tamarind.
Get the recipe for Tamarind-Chile Ice Pops (Paletas de Tamarindo y Chile) »