3 Summer Salad Recipes Your Cookout Needs

by Sadie Trombetta

It seems to be the same story at every cookout. The grill is loaded with burgers and hot dogs, the coolers are filled with a variety of canned beer, and the salad table has three basic offerings: garden, potato, and pasta. Sure, these summer salad recipes are basic and reliable, but dare I say boring? Don't get me wrong, I love traditional cookout grub just as much as the next person, but after eating the same thing from Memorial Day to Labor Day, anyone can get sick of the same mayo-tossed side dish.

If you're hosting a cookout, or if you're just one of those people signing up to make a salad for the next potluck, why not try and break the mold and offer a twist on a summer favorite? Forget the chopped salads and cucumber-yogurt dish. Leave the deli-style potato salad at the grocery store. Spice up the predictable macaroni salad recipe you've been eating since you were a kid. It's 2015, and you're an adult — well, kind of — so it is time your cookout contributions are a reflection of that. When it comes to potato, macaroni, and garden salads, instead of the tried and true, it's time you try these three bold and new:

Tomato Watermelon Mint Salad

Nothing says summer quite like sweet watermelon and ripe, red tomatoes. Forget the wilted lettuce — this cool, juicy salad is the perfect produce plate on a hot summer day.


  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes
  • 1/4 watermelon, chilled
  • 10 mint leaves
  • Juice from four key limes (about six tablespoons)


1. Cut tomatoes in half, and place in a salad bowl. Cut watermelon flesh into bite-sized cubes, discard the seeds, and add to bowl. Mix with your hands.

2. Chop mint, and whisk it together with key lime juice. Pour it over the melon and tomato, and toss. Serve immediately.

Chicken Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad

Who doesn't like the flavor combination of chicken, bacon, and ranch? Try it out on your pasta salad, but be prepared with enough helpings, because this is the type of dish that will have everyone coming up for seconds.


  • 2 cups of pasta elbows, uncooked
  • 3 medium boneless chicken breasts
  • Olive oil
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 1/2 tbs. dry ranch mix
  • 4 celery stalks, diced
  • 6 slices of cooked bacon


1. In a medium pot, boil water for pasta. Cook pasta for six to 10 minutes, until tender. Drain. Coat with olive oil, and set aside.

2. Coat chicken in olive oil. Cover with salt, garlic powder, and pepper. Cook over medium heat in a non-stick skillet for six to eight minutes on each side, until browned and cooked throughout. Set aside to cool. Once cool enough, dice into small cubes.

3. To the pasta bowl, add mayo and ranch seasoning. Mix until it's thoroughly coated and well blended. Add in chicken, celery, and bacon. Mix until well blended. Chill for at least one hour. Serve.

Creamy Apple Bacon Potato Salad

Avoid serving a too-mushy potato salad by adding crispy, sour green apples and crunchy, salty bacon to your favorite basic recipe. It might sound a little weird, but trust me, you haven't had good potato salad until you've tried this take on it.


  • 2 large Granny Smith apples
  • 1 lb. red potatoes, scrubbed
  • 1/2 cup mayo
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. onion powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 6 slices of cooked bacon


1. Cook potatoes in boiling water for 20 to 25 minutes, until tender. Cool. Dice them into bite-sized cubes. Cut apples into smaller bite-sized cubes. Mix together in a bowl.

2. In a separate bowl, mix together mayo, sour cream, garlic, onion, salt, and pepper. Add to potatoes and apples. Toss until fully coated. Add chopped bacon.

3. Chill for at least one hour. Serve cold.

Images: Sadie Trombetta