6 Must-Haves for Your Cookout Cooler

If there’s one way to guarantee you’ll see me this summer, it’s inviting me to a cookout. Cookouts are quite possibly the most perfect event I can imagine: warm summer days, the great outdoors, plus food and alcohol??? I’m f***ing there! Sunshine and fresh air are always great, but those last two are especially key. And since your cookout may or may not be located near a kitchen with a functioning refrigerator—I’m talking beach cookouts, park cookouts, camp cookouts—you need to learn how to stock a cooler and, more importantly, what you absolutely have to have in your cookout cooler, whether you’re grilling at home or heading out to a park and cooking on one of those weird little public grills. I recently purchased my very own cooler (proud cooler owner!), so let me be your guide.

Fat Tire Beer Bratwurst

If I walk into a cookout and there’s nary a bratwurst on the grill, I’m leaving. At the very least, I’m pushing the grill master aside and making room for a few brats alongside the hot dogs and burgers. What’s my brat of choice, you ask? Fat Tire Beer Brats, partly because I just let the Sporked archives guide all of my shopping decisions and partly because managing editor Gwynedd Stuart made them sound so damn good. “The snap of the casing is absolutely outrageous and it’s filled with the perfect beer brat flavorr—unbelievably fresh and porky, but with that undertone of a refreshing, tasty Fat Tire ale.” These are a must when you’re stocking your cookout cooler.

Read the full ranking of the best bratwurst

Beyond Sausage Brat Original

The cookout is open to all, so throw a package of Beyond brats into the cooler for the non-meat eaters. Honestly, even the meat eaters are gonna go for these. There’s no compromise with this vegan brat. From the first bite, you’ll find the familiar snap of a good bratwurst and a mouthful of “meat” flavor to back it up. No “taste of fennel, red pepper, apple, etc.” here, just “real” meat flavor that’s so good you just might think you grabbed the wrong brat. Keep a pack of these in the cookout cooler for anyone who wants to stuff their face with a dang good brat.

Read the full ranking of the best vegan sausage

Walmart Freshness Guaranteed Deviled Egg Potato Salad

Honestly, who among us isn’t just going to the store to buy a potato salad to pass off as our own for the cookout? There’s no shame; we’re all honest here. If you’re trying to impress, get the good stuff. I mean the good good stuff. Swing by Walmart and grab a tub of their deviled egg potato salad. It’s creamy, it perfectly balances sweetness and tartness, and there isn’t too much egg going on here. In other words, it’s not botched, like your coworker’s version that they insist on bringing to every potluck even though it goes untouched every single time.

Read the full ranking of the best potato salad

La Terra Fina Caramelized Onion with Roasted Garlic Dip & Spread

To all you readers who have “grandma’s secret French onion dip recipe” nestled in your little recipe box, you can sit this one out. Still, we firmly believe that no grandma on the planet has made a better onion dip than La Terra Fina’s. The base is lusciously creamy. The onion flavor is strong. You get actual pieces of onion in this dip—and we’re talking caramelized onion, not fresh. The roasted garlic adds to the subtle sweetness without being distracting. It tastes homemade, but better. Bringing chips to the cookout is fine, but bringing a dip in the cookout cooler is a real pro move.

Read the full ranking of the best French onion dip

Cazadores Spicy Margarita

If there’s one thing that should be in your hand this summer, it’s a damn good spicy marg. And this is truly the best version out there. Cazadores spicy margarita has a really wonderful jalapeño flavor, along with sweet agave, a hit of tart lime flavor, and just the right amount of sugar for Sporked’s resident cocktail expert, Justine Sterling. And it comes in a can, so my lazy ass (and yours) won’t have to take a time out from the BBQ fun to mix up a batch of margs.

Read the full ranking of the best canned Margaritas

Simpler Times Lager

Frankly, I don’t love beer, but I suppose I can be accommodating to those whose tastes differ from mine. Trader Joe’s Simpler Times Lager comes canned rather than bottled (so I’m not wasting any precious cooler space on longneck beers), it tastes good, and it’s cheap as hell. When Justine ranked every TJ’s beer, she was shocked that this was the best of them all. In fact, she called it “a perfect day-drinking beer,” so it’s a must when we’re stocking our cooler for a cookout.

Read the full ranking of the best Trader Joe’s beer

About the Author

Vinz Karl

Vinz Karl is a freelance contributor to Sporked and self-proclaimed Guy Fieri superfan. He believes in breakfast supremacy and is on a never-ending mission to try every flavor of Oreo out there. Originally from the Midwest, Vinz now resides in Los Angeles, where you can find him going on hikes, checking out new restaurants, and preparing for his eventual casting on CBS's Survivor.

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