Whether you’re a vegan yourself or are hosting a vegan guest, this guide will help you discover the best vegan cookout food and ideas, as well as the tips and tricks you need to make your BBQ a ball.
If you’re new to plant-based eating, you might be nervous about grilling season. As a veteran vegan, I’m here to reassure you that you will survive! With some simple prep and a little patience, vegan BBQ recipes can be easy, tasty, and lots of fun.
Vegan Cookout Food Survival Guide
Here are the five lessons I learned as a vegan at meat-based BBQs.
1. Salad and sides are totally meal-worthy.
If you don’t want to bring your own plant-based burgers then most of the time, you’ll be able to find a bunch of good cookout food ideas in the sides and salads section! To be on the safe side, consider bringing your own – like this Lentil Salad or ‘Summer in a Bowl’ Corn Salad.
2. People might want to know why you’ve chosen a plant-based lifestyle.
And that’s cool – if you’re happy to discuss your reasons (I usually love to explain my lifestyle but everyone is different!). It’s not rude of you to let someone know if you don’t want to enter a discussion at this time. This is your party too!
3. Your host may not know you prefer to cook your food separately.
If you’re particular like me and don’t like your vegan food being cooked on the same grill as meat, then avoid an awkward exchange by wrapping your food in aluminum foil or bringing a little grill pan from home. This way you can keep your cookout food separate without making a fuss.
4. Yes, (most) bread and condiments are vegan.
The non-vegan ingredient that’s found in some bread is honey, so just avoid that type of bread. For inspiration on plant-based bread, check out my recipes for Focaccia with Tomatoes and Herbs and Garlic Butter Dinner Rolls.
Condiments such as ketchup, relish and yellow + dijon mustard tend to be vegan (but avoid honey mustard). The non-vegan ingredient in mayonnaise is eggs, so opt for vegan mayonnaise. Hellmans aka Best Foods vegan mayonnaise is my favorite or make your own using this Plant Riot recipe.
5. People are going to want to try your plant-based goodies.
Vegan Cookout Food
Although cookouts have a reputation for being meat-heavy events, cookouts are a great opportunity to enjoy delicious vegan grill recipes. Most grocery stores now have a variety of vegan burgers and sausages, and of course veggies such as corn, zucchini, eggplant, asparagus and bell pepper taste delicious cooked on the grill. And for the sweet tooth, pineapple, watermelon, peach and strawberries are delicious grilled until golden.
Cookouts are a fun way to experiment with new ideas for cookout food, easy plant-based sides, and delicious dairy-free desserts. To help you plan your menu, here are 38 good cookout food ideas for vegans and those plant-based eaters.
Ideas for Vegan Cookout Food Snacks + Appetizers
Try these delicious snack and appetizer recipes to elevate your next vegan cookout.
Pico de Gallo
A bright, fresh recipe like Pico de Gallo should be on everyone’s list of good cookout food ideas. Super versatile, you can use it as a dip, add it to burgers, or mix it with salads.
A delicious Salsa Verde recipe, complete with tart tomatillos and spicy jalapeño peppers! In addition, we round out the salsa with onion, garlic, lime juice, and cilantro. Sounds good, right?
Deviled ‘Eggs’ made with Small Potatoes
Take these deviled potatoes to your next cookout, picnic, or pot-luck as a plant-based alternative to eggs. These are so delicious it’s hard to have just one!
5 Minute Creamy Hummus
This creamy hummus will go down a treat at your next cookout and is popular with vegans and non-vegans alike.
Good Cookout Food Ideas for Mains
When it comes to the main event there are plenty of delicious plant-based recipes to choose from. From classic burgers to vegan pulled “pork”, there’s something for everyone – meat-eaters included!
Make sure to have some soft buns and hot dog rolls on hand before the cookout. Most bread is vegan, but double-check just to be sure. I also love topping my burgers with lettuce, sliced tomato, onions, and vegan cheese. Some of my favorite vegan cheese for burgers and hot dogs are from Miyokos, Violife Foods, and Field Roast’s Chao Creamery.
Black Bean + Brown Rice Burgers
These delicious burgers are not only plant-based but gluten-free too! That means delicious burgers for everyone.
Tempeh + Chickpea Burgers
Vegan burgers are one of our favorite healthy recipes, and this one has the added bonus of around 30 grams of protein from the tempeh and chickpea patties!
If you don’t have time to cook your own burgers, then there are plenty of yummy ready-made options available. Some of my favorites are:
- Dr Pragers (plant protein + veggie burgers)
- Impossible Burger Patties
- Beyond Burgers
- LightLife (amazing hot dogs)
- Field Roast (delicious sausages, hot dogs and burgers)
- Tofurky (yummy vegan sausages, especially the Beer Brats!)
More Cookout Food ideas
Smoky, tangy, and just a little sweet, once cooked this fruit takes on a texture remarkably similar to pulled pork or chicken.
Rustic Onion Tart
Every bite is a satisfying combination of crunchy pastry, creamy vegan cheese, and mustard filling, plus the almost meaty, savory-sweet flavor of caramelized onions.
Sides and Salads
The best sides and salads to compliments your vegan cookout food.
Tomato Basil Salad with Balsamic Dressing
This recipe marries heirloom tomatoes, basil, and tasty seasonings for a flavorful side dish suitable for any summer event.
Chilled Lentil Salad
As vegan cookout recipes go, this easy lentil salad is one of the best. Packed with legumes, fresh veggies and a zesty dressing, you’ll be fighting off even the staunchest of meat-eaters with this one.
The sweetness of the corn cuts through the cherry tomatoes and fresh English cucumber, creating a superb salad that tastes like sunshine in a bowl.
Summer Salad with Strawberries + Peaches
When it comes to vegan ideas for cookout food, you can’t go wrong with this bright, fresh, and tasty summer salad with sweet grilled peaches and strawberries. It’s a delicious way to use the grill for more than just burgers!
Watermelon Salad with Mint + Vegan Feta
Watermelon and vegan feta cheese combine to form a sweet/salty combination that really pleases the palate! In addition, fresh mint leaves add a herbal aroma that makes our watermelon salad even more enticing!
This tasty lemon vinaigrette recipe is ready in minutes and makes the perfect lemon dressing for just about any salad. If you’re looking for a homemade salad dressing that’s super easy and delicious then this is the recipe for you.
Smoky Baked Beans
We love these baked beans as the perfect smoky side dish at cookouts or BBQs!
Focaccia Bread With Tomato + Herbs
Light and fluffy inside and gold and crispy on the crust, this focaccia no-knead recipe is perfect for sandwiches, bread baskets, or even making focaccia bread art!
Yeast Dinner Rolls with Vegan Herb + Garlic Butter
Soft and fluffy bread rolls smothered in with vegan herb and garlic butter. Perfect as a tasty side.
This easy one-bowl cornbread is a yummy southern-inspired recipe that’s perfect for cookouts, BBQs and picnics.
It’s not a BBQ without the yummy sauces and toppings! Bring your own and prepare to share. Plus, don’t forget:
- Yellow mustard
- Pickle relish
Quick Pickled Red Onions
This quick pickled red onion recipe takes less than an hour to make and is the perfect no-fuss condiment for vegan cookout food.
Cilantro Lime Dressing
This herby cilantro lime dressing recipe is as delicious as it is versatile!
Looking for dessert recipes to enjoy during your summer cookout? Then you’re in the right place. All these desserts are dairy-free and super easy to make.
Mango Ice Cream
This three-ingredient treat is made without an ice cream maker and is a tasty addition to your cookout food menu.
Watermelon Popsicles with Mint + Coconut
This fun homemade popsicle recipe is the perfect treat for cooling down in a heatwave!
Chocolate Hazelnut Cheesecake Bites
This vegan cheesecake recipe delivers that addictive chocolate hazelnut flavor in a bite-sized package. Try these no-bake cheesecake bites at your next cookout food event.
Blueberry + Lemon Galette
This blueberry galette recipe makes the perfect sticky, sweet treat for the summer.
Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp Recipe
This strawberry rhubarb crisp recipe combines sweet, gooey, bubbling fruit with a crumbly topping of toasty oats and almonds.
Summery drinks to go with Cookout Food
Easy Lemonade Recipe
This lemonade recipe is easy to make and combines lemon juice, and homemade simple syrup for a refreshingly sweet flavor that perfect for hot summer days!
12 Infused Water Recipes
These recipes will show you how to make refreshing infused water for your next BBQ. The perfect accompaniment to cookout food.
This recipe is not only beautiful, but it adds a fresh flavor to every glass, and you can customize it with whatever fruit or herbs you have.
Ice Butterfly Pea Tea
Create beautiful, colorful tea with this magic recipe.
Virgin Pina Colada
This pineapple smoothie recipe is sweet, creamy, and perfect for cooling down on a hot day. If you’re partial to piña colada then just add a shot of white rum.
Sweet and oh-so refreshing, this smoothie is a delicious BBQ drink. For an alcoholic option add a shot of vodka!
Looking for more vegan food collections?
I hope you enjoyed this round-up of my favorite summer recipes! Let me know your go-to cookout food in the comments section below!