Chef-Approved (and Provided) Recipes to Wow at Your Next Cookout

Summer cookout showstoppers from Cincinnati chefs

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click to enlarge Grilled Avocado and Romaine Salad with Mojo Dressing and Pico - Photo: Hailey Bollinger
Photo: Hailey Bollinger
Grilled Avocado and Romaine Salad with Mojo Dressing and Pico

It’s summer cookout season, which means you will undoubtedly be invited to an outdoor shindig — or host one of your own — where you’ll have to prepare a people-pleasing potluck dish. Maybe it’s a side, salad or something sweet (or boozy)? Or one of each. To help you flex your creative culinary muscles we tapped a few local chefs to get recipes for their favorite foods to bring to a backyard barbecue.


Grilled Avocado and Romaine Salad with Mojo Dressing and Pico

Recipe provided by Kayla Robison of Arnold’s Bar and Grill

This is my favorite salad to make at cookouts because it’s quick, easy, refreshing, and still allows me to play on the grill.”


  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Juice of 1 lemon 
  • 4 romaine hearts, cut lengthwise
  • 2 avocados, a little firm, cut into medium size slivers 
  • 2 cups of queso fresco 
  • 2 cups Mojo Dressing
  • 2 cups pico
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped for garnish 
  • Kosher salt and pepper 

Mojo Dressing 

  • Juice of 5 limes 
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup mayo 
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced 
  • 1/4 cup cilantro 
  • Salt and pepper


  • 2 tomatoes, diced
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 1 jalapeño, minced
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • Juice of 1 lime 
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped 
  • Salt and pepper 

Instructions: Brush romaine lettuce and avocado with olive oil and a little lemon juice and grill on med-high heat until grill marks appear. Place on a sheet tray. Top with pico, grilled avocado, Mojo Dressing, queso fresco, cilantro and finish with a little Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper. 


Baked Beans

Recipe provided by Taren Kinebrew of Sweet Petit Desserts


  • 1/2 pound bacon, chopped
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 tablespoons garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons freshly minced ginger
  • 1 green pepper, diced
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 2 16-ounce cans kidney beans, undrained
  • 1 16-ounce can pinto beans, undrained
  • 1 16-ounce can black beans, undrained
  • 1 cup of your favorite barbecue sauce
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 bottle of beer
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Instructions: In a large sauté pan, cook bacon over medium-low heat for 5 to 7 minutes. Add onions, garlic, ginger and peppers to pan and cook until soft. Add dry mustard and stir for 1 to 2 minutes. Add the beans, barbecue sauce, molasses and brown sugar. Stir and simmer on stove for 2 hours (or bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 1 hour). Season with salt and pepper and serve.

Potato Salad

Recipe provided by Mike Florea of Karrikin Spirits


  • 8 skin-on potatoes, cut and boiled in salt water until tender
  • 8 hard-boiled eggs, small diced
  • 1 yellow onion, small diced
  • 3 stalks celery, small diced
  • 3 cups mayo
  • 1/2 cup mustard
  • 1/4 cup sweet pickle relish
  • 1/4 cup dill pickle relish
  • Salt and pepper

Instructions: It is very important that all ingredients are diced the same size — for plating and so it isn’t just potato salad on a plate. After dicing, place ingredients into a mixing bowl. Fold carefully.


Key Lime Pie

Recipe provided by Taren Kinebrew of Sweet Petit Desserts

Light and refreshing with a mild, tart taste but not too much that it might make your lips pucker — it’s bursting with flavor.”


Graham Cracker Crust

  • 1 paper-wrapped package of graham crackers
  • 5 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup sugar


  • 4 eggs
  • Grated zest of 2 limes (about 1 1/2 teaspoons)
  • 1 14-ounce can of sweetened condensed milk
  • 2/3 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (if you can get Key limes,use them; otherwise use regular limes)


  • 1 cup heavy or whipping cream, chilled
  • 3 tablespoons super fine sugar


For the crust: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter a 9-inch pie pan. Break up the graham crackers and place in a food processor. Process to crumbs. If you don’t have a food processor, place the crackers in a large plastic bag, seal and then crush the crackers with a rolling pin. Add the melted butter and sugar and pulse or stir until combined. Press the mixture into the bottom and sides of the pan, forming a neat border around the edge. Bake the crust until set and golden, about 15 minutes. Set aside on a wire rack. Leave the oven on.

For the filling: In an electric mixer with the wire whisk attachment, beat the egg yolks and lime zest at a high speed until very fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the condensed milk and continue to beat until thick, 3 or 4 minutes longer. Lower the mixer speed and slowly add the lime juice, mixing just until combined, no longer. Pour mixture into the pie crust. Bake for 10 minutes, or until the filling has set. Cool on a wire rack, then refrigerate. Freeze for 15 to 20 minutes before serving.

For the topping: Combine the cream and sugar and whip with an electric mixer until nearly stiff. Add to top of pie.


Sour Beer and Cherry Punch

Recipe provided by Jackson Rouse of Bauer Farm Kitchen


  • 2 cups pomegranate juice
  • 3/4 cup German brandy (Aspach is a good one)
  • 1/3 cup cherry liqueur (Maraschino or Cherry Heering)
  • 1/8 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1/8 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 32 oz. chilled Berliner Weisse, gueuze, lambic or any other unflavored sour beer. Alternatively, use a Belgian-style white beer.

Instructions: Place the pomegranate juice, brandy, cherry liqueur and lime/lemon juices in a glass container and refrigerate until very well chilled, 2 hours to overnight. Place the chilled cherry juice mixture in a large pitcher. Add the beer and serve immediately. Serves 4.


Chow Chow

Recipe provided by Mike Florea of Karrikin Spirits

“Chow chow is a condiment. It can be put on everything. It’s fresh, yet pickled, crisp, slaw-ish — so damn good!”


  • 2 heads napa cabbage
  • 2 onions
  • 6 tomatoes
  • 3 jalapeños, seeded and diced
  • 2 red peppers, seeded and diced
  • 2 green peppers, seeded and diced
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoons red pepper flake
  • 4 tablespoons whole grain mustard
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger (dry)
  • 3 cup red wine vinegar

Instructions: Cut all vegetables to the same size and place into one bowl. In another bowl place rest of ingredients — salt, sugar, red pepper, mustard, turmeric, ginger and vinegar. Whisk until sugar is dissolved. Place vegetables into quart cups and divide the liquid evenly. 

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