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Throw a Pickleball-Themed Cookout | Full Menu and Shopping List

by Adam Forziati on

It's the end of August, and your opportunities for outdoor eating are slipping away, along with your chance to play pickleball outside (unless you're in the South).

Why not combine interests? It's prime time for a pickleball-themed barbecue or potluck.

We're not in the catering business, but these menu possibilities write themselves:

Baseline bruschetta

The combination of the smoky grilled bread and the fresh, flavorful tomato topping is sure to be a hit at any gathering.


For the Bruschetta Topping:

  • 4-5 ripe tomatoes, diced
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

For the Grilled Bread:

  • 1 French baguette, cut into 1/2-inch thick slices
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and halved


Prepare the Bruschetta Topping:

  • In a bowl, combine the diced tomatoes, chopped basil, minced garlic, finely chopped red onion, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar.
  • Season the mixture with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Gently toss everything together until well combined.
  • Cover the bowl and let the bruschetta topping sit at room temperature for about 15-20 minutes to allow the flavors to meld.

Prepare the Grilled Bread:

  • Preheat your grill to medium-high heat.
  • Brush both sides of the baguette slices with extra-virgin olive oil.
  • Place the oiled baguette slices on the grill grates and cook for about 1-2 minutes on each side, or until they are nicely toasted with grill marks. Keep a close eye on them to prevent burning.
  • Once the bread is toasted, remove it from the grill and immediately rub one side of each slice with the halved garlic clove. This will infuse the bread with a subtle garlic flavor.

Assemble the Bruschetta:

  • Spoon the prepared bruschetta topping generously onto the garlic-rubbed side of each grilled bread slice.
  • Arrange the bruschetta-topped bread on a serving platter.


  • Serve the grilled bruschetta immediately as an appetizer or light snack.
  • You can drizzle a little extra olive oil over the top and garnish with additional chopped basil if desired.

Serve-and-sizzle veggie fajitas

Feel free to customize your fajitas with additional toppings like guacamole, sliced jalapeños, or diced tomatoes.


For the Marinade:

  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

For the Fajitas:

  • Pre-marinated tofu or black beans
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 green bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • Olive oil, for brushing
  • 8 small flour tortillas

For Serving:

  • Sour cream
  • Salsa or pico de gallo
  • Grated cheese
  • Chopped fresh cilantro
  • Lime wedges


Prepare the Marinade:

  • In a bowl, whisk together the lime juice, olive oil, minced garlic, cumin, chili powder, smoked paprika, dried oregano, salt, and black pepper.
  • Place the chicken in a resealable plastic bag or a shallow dish. Pour the marinade over the chicken, ensuring it's well-coated. Seal the bag or cover the dish and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or up to 4 hours, to marinate.

Grill the Fajitas:

  • Preheat your grill to medium-high heat.
  • While the grill is heating, prepare the vegetables. Toss the sliced bell peppers and onion with a bit of olive oil to coat.
  • Remove the chicken from the marinade and let any excess drip off. Grill the chicken for about 6-8 minutes per side, or until fully cooked and the internal temperature reaches 165°F (75°C). Cooking time may vary based on the thickness of the chicken.

Grill the Vegetables:

  • During the last few minutes of grilling the chicken, place the oiled bell peppers and onion slices on the grill. Cook for about 4-5 minutes, turning occasionally, until they are slightly charred and tender.

Slice and Assemble:

  • Once the chicken is cooked, remove it from the grill and let it rest for a few minutes. Then, slice it into thin strips.
  • Warm the flour tortillas on the grill for about 10-15 seconds on each side, or until they are pliable.


  • To assemble the fajitas, place some sliced grilled chicken and grilled vegetables onto a tortilla.
  • Top with sour cream, salsa or pico de gallo, grated cheese, chopped cilantro, and a squeeze of lime juice.
  • Fold the tortilla over the filling and enjoy your delicious grilled chicken fajitas!

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Smash sliders

Feel free to get creative with the toppings and sauces to suit your preferences.


For the Sliders:

  • 1 pound ground beef (80% lean, 20% fat)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 12 small slider buns

For the Toppings (Feel free to customize!):

  • Sliced cheddar cheese
  • Lettuce leaves
  • Sliced tomatoes
  • Sliced red onion
  • Pickles

For the Special Sauce:

  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon sweet pickle relish
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon white vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste


Preheat the Grill:

  • Preheat your grill to medium-high heat.

Prepare the Special Sauce:

  • In a bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, ketchup, sweet pickle relish, Dijon mustard, white vinegar, onion powder, salt, and black pepper. Adjust seasoning to taste. Set the sauce aside for serving.

Shape and Season the Sliders:

  • Divide the ground beef into 12 equal portions and shape them into small patties, slightly larger than the size of the slider buns.
  • Season both sides of the patties with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Grill the Sliders:

  • Place the sliders on the preheated grill and cook for about 2-3 minutes per side for medium doneness. If you prefer your burgers more well-done, adjust the cooking time accordingly. During the last minute of cooking, add a slice of cheddar cheese to each patty and close the lid to melt the cheese.

Smash the Sliders:

  • While the sliders are grilling, prepare a clean, heat-resistant surface nearby (such as a cutting board or a pan).
  • Once the sliders are cooked and cheese is melted, transfer them to the clean surface.
  • Using a spatula, gently press down on each patty to flatten and "smash" it slightly. This will create a crispy, flavorful crust.

Assemble the Sliders:

  • Place the smashed sliders onto the bottom halves of the slider buns.
  • Top each patty with lettuce, tomato slices, red onion, and pickles.

Add the Special Sauce:

  • Spread a generous amount of the special sauce on the top halves of the slider buns.


  • Place the top buns over the toppings to assemble the sliders.
  • Serve these delicious grilled smashed sliders hot and enjoy the combination of flavors and textures!

Nasty Nelson's nachos

These grilled nachos offer a medley of smoky grilled flavors and a creamy cumin-lime crema.


For the Grilled Vegetables:

  • 2 bell peppers (any color), sliced
  • 1 red onion, sliced
  • 1 zucchini, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

For the Nachos:

  • 1 bag of tortilla chips
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 can (15 oz) black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup corn kernels (fresh, frozen, or canned)
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • Lime wedges, for serving

For the Cumin-Lime Crema:

  • 1/2 cup sour cream or Greek yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1-2 tablespoons lime juice
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste


Preheat the Grill:

  • Preheat your grill to medium-high heat.

Grill the Vegetables:

  • Toss the sliced bell peppers, red onion, and zucchini with olive oil, salt, and black pepper.
  • Grill the vegetables for about 4-5 minutes per side, or until they have grill marks and are tender. Remove from the grill and set aside.

Prepare the Cumin-Lime Crema:

  • In a small bowl, whisk together the sour cream or Greek yogurt, ground cumin, lime juice, salt, and black pepper. Adjust the lime juice and seasoning to taste. Set aside.

Assemble the Nachos:

  • On a large heatproof platter or tray, spread out a layer of tortilla chips.

Add the Ingredients:

  • Sprinkle a portion of shredded cheddar cheese over the chips.
  • Distribute the grilled vegetables, black beans, and corn kernels evenly over the cheese.

Grill the Nachos:

  • Carefully transfer the platter to the preheated grill. Close the lid and grill for about 5-7 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and bubbly.

Finish and Serve:

  • Remove the grilled nachos from the grill and top with sliced jalapeño, chopped cilantro, and diced avocado.


  • Drizzle the cumin-lime crema over the grilled vegetarian nachos.
  • Serve the nachos immediately with lime wedges on the side.


Here's one alcoholic and one non-alcoholic drink:

Courtside cooler


For the Watermelon-Cucumber Mix:

  • 2 cups watermelon chunks
  • 1 cup cucumber slices
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice

For the Cocktail:

  • 9 oz vodka
  • 1 oz elderflower liqueur (optional)
  • 6 oz watermelon-cucumber mix
  • 3 oz fresh lime juice
  • 3 oz simple syrup
  • 1 bottle (16.9 oz) sparkling water, chilled
  • Fresh mint leaves, for garnish
  • Watermelon and cucumber slices, for garnish
  • Ice cubes


Prepare Ahead of Time: Watermelon-Cucumber Mix

  1. In a blender, combine the watermelon chunks, cucumber slices, and fresh lime juice.
  2. Blend until smooth. Strain the mixture to remove any pulp. You can do this step a day ahead and store the strained mixture in the refrigerator.

On the Day of the Barbecue:

Mix the Cocktail:

  • In a large pitcher, combine the vodka, elderflower liqueur (if using), watermelon-cucumber mix, fresh lime juice, and simple syrup. Stir well to combine.
  • Refrigerate the mixture until you're ready to serve.

Serve the Cocktail:

  • Fill serving glasses with ice cubes.
  • Pour the prepared cocktail mixture into each glass, filling each about 2/3 full.

Add Sparkling Water:

  • Top off each glass with a splash of chilled sparkling water. This adds a refreshing effervescence to the cocktail.


  • Garnish each glass with fresh mint leaves, and a slice each of watermelon and cucumber.


  • Serve the Courtside Cooler cocktails to your guests and enjoy the refreshing and vibrant flavors!

Net-Rush Nojito


  • 1/2 lime, cut into wedges
  • 8-10 fresh mint leaves
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar (adjust to taste)
  • 1 oz freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 oz freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1/2 oz simple syrup (adjust to taste)
  • 4 oz sparkling water
  • Crushed ice
  • Citrus slices (lime, orange), for garnish
  • Fresh mint sprig, for garnish


Muddle the Mint and Lime:

  • In a glass, muddle the lime wedges and fresh mint leaves together. Gently press to release the mint's aroma and lime's juices.

Add the Citrus Juices:

  • Add freshly squeezed lime juice and freshly squeezed orange juice to the muddled mixture.

Sweeten the Mix:

  • Stir in granulated sugar and simple syrup to add sweetness. Adjust the sweetness to your taste preference.

Fill the Glass:

  • Fill the glass with crushed ice, packing it in well.

Top with Sparkling Water:

  • Pour sparkling water over the ice and citrus-mint mixture. Stir gently to combine the ingredients.


  • Garnish the mocktail with citrus slices (lime and orange) and a fresh mint sprig.


  • Serve the Minty Citrus Sparkler Mocktail immediately and enjoy its vibrant flavors and refreshing character.

Shopping list

Here's a shopping list if you're planning on making all of the above recipes:

Baseline Bruschetta:

  • Ripe tomatoes (4-5)
  • Fresh basil leaves
  • Cloves of garlic (2-3)
  • Red onion
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • French baguette
  • Clove of garlic (for rubbing)
  • Optional: Additional basil leaves for garnish

Serve-and-Sizzle Veggie Fajitas:

  • Lime juice
  • Olive oil
  • Cloves of garlic (2)
  • Ground cumin
  • Chili powder
  • Smoked paprika
  • Dried oregano
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Pre-marinated tofu or black beans
  • Red bell pepper
  • Green bell pepper
  • Onion
  • Olive oil (for brushing)
  • Small flour tortillas
  • Sour cream
  • Salsa or pico de gallo
  • Grated cheese
  • Fresh cilantro
  • Lime wedges

Smash Sliders:

  • Ground beef (80% lean, 20% fat)
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Small slider buns
  • Sliced cheddar cheese
  • Lettuce leaves
  • Sliced tomatoes
  • Sliced red onion
  • Pickles
  • Mayonnaise
  • Ketchup
  • Sweet pickle relish
  • Dijon mustard
  • White vinegar
  • Onion powder

Nasty Nelson's Nachos:

  • Bell peppers (any color)
  • Red onion
  • Zucchini
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Bag of tortilla chips
  • Shredded cheddar cheese
  • Black beans (canned)
  • Corn kernels (fresh, frozen, or canned)
  • Jalapeño pepper
  • Fresh cilantro
  • Avocado
  • Lime wedges
  • Sour cream or Greek yogurt
  • Ground cumin

Drinks:Courtside Cooler:

  • Watermelon chunks
  • Cucumber slices
  • Fresh lime juice
  • Vodka
  • Elderflower liqueur (optional)
  • Simple syrup
  • Sparkling water
  • Fresh mint leaves
  • Watermelon slices
  • Ice cubes

Net-Rush Nojito:

  • Lime
  • Fresh mint leaves
  • Granulated sugar
  • Freshly squeezed orange juice
  • Simple syrup
  • Sparkling water
  • Crushed ice
  • Citrus slices (lime, orange)
  • Fresh mint sprig

Make sure to adjust quantities based on the number of servings you plan to make and your guests' preferences.

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Adam Forziati

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