LET’S EAT! Rocking Retro Recipes for Your Next Cookout

Summer is prime-time for outdoor BBQs and picnics. With the warm weather and clear, sunny skies, it’s no wonder we’re eager to get outside. 

The 1950’s brought about a time of relaxation and outdoor entertainment. Entire neighborhoods would come together at a new host’s place every week to get their cookout on. 

Whether you’re throwing a big bash or just itching to try new fixings for your family, here are some popular 50’s dishes sure to get you in the mood for retro food: 

Got milk?

Milk ruled our palates in the 50s, and it was everywhere- even having designated milk delivery trucks! And this milky lemon refresher is the perfect example of the 50s love of the stuff:

Lemon Refresher 

1 qt. cold milk

½ cup fresh lemon juice 

6 tbsp. sugar 

½ pint vanilla ice cream 

Combine and mix until light and fluffy. 

For another easy classic, plop a scoop of vanilla ice cream into any soda pop of choice (preferably rootbeer). Enjoy!

Bring out the Beans

Canned dishes also reigned in the 50’s. They were easy to make, and since they’re non-perishable, stocking up was easy. Beans are a typical addition to most picnics, as they are a great side dish, or go great topped on burgers and dogs.

Here are two new ways to style your beans for your next cookout:

Beanee Weenees

Beanee Weenees are exactly what they sound like- beans and weenies (or franks, or hot dogs- whichever you prefer). It comes in a can, and can be eaten by itself, or:

Western Style

¾ cup thinly slice onions 

1 tbsp. salad oil (oil with minimal taste, i.e. vegetable oil, canola oil, etc.)

2 cans 12 oz. Van Camp’s Beanee Weenees 

Salt and pepper to taste 

Cook onions to a glaze in the oil. Add Beanee Weenees, salt and pepper, and heat through. Makes 4 medium servings. 


Sure, you’ve topped plenty of burgers with beans. But have you ever put the beans in the burger patty? 

½ lb. ground beef 

1 tbsp. salad oil  

½ tsp. salt

⅛ tsp. McCormick pepper 

⅓ cup green onions 

1 can (1 lb.) Van Camp’s Pork & Beans, drained 

½ cup Stokely’s or Van Camp’s Catsup (any ketchup should be fine) 

8 round buns 

Brown meat in oil in a large skillet. Add salt, pepper and sliced onion. Cook slowly until well done. Add pork and beans and catsup. Heat. Spoon onto sandwich buns. Serves 8, large sandwiches. 


Following World War II, spam found its way from the shelves to our plates. The 50s founded many creative ways to dress up this canned pork, including:

Fun on a Bun

1 loaf SPAM

1 small onion 

½ lb. cheddar cheese 

Grind together ingredients. Stir in condensed mushroom soup to moisten. Scoop out soft centers of buns. Fill with mixture. Heat, foil-wrapped, in oven or on the grill. 

Dad’s Barbecued Spam 

Grill thick slices of Spam, brushing frequently with barbecue sauce of choice. Serve on buttered bun with tomato and onion slices. 

Besides SPAM, Hormel was also known for its chilli:

Chilli-Cheese Hot Dip   

1 cup Hormel chilli 

½ cup sharp cheddar cheese 

Heat 1 cup Hormel Chilli. Let stand at back of grill or on low heat for 10-15 min until some of the liquid has evaporated. Blend in cheese, using a fork to break up cheese.

You can Bet on Betty Crocker 

It wouldn't be the 50s without some delicious Betty Crocker desserts! 

Trix Cakes

This recipe calls for a unique topping- Trix. Yes, Trix cereal. Although the saying goes Trix are for kids, these delicious cupcakes are to be enjoyed by any age.

Betty Crocker White Cake mix

Betty Crocker Fluffy White Frosting 

Trix cereal

Follow the directions on the back of the Betty Crocker cake box. Top with fluffy white frosting and Trix cereal. 

Angel Delight 

Betty Crocker Angel Food Cake mix

Softened vanilla ice cream 

Fresh blueberries and raspberries 

Same as before, follow the directions on the back of the box to make your angel food cake. Serve topped with softened vanilla ice cream and berries. 

Fudgy Walnut Pudding

Betty Crocker Chocolate Devil's Food Cake mix

2 eggs

½ cup sugar 

¼ cup butter, melted

¾ cup dark Karo syrup 

¾ cup chopped walnuts 

Beat eggs, sugar, butter and Karo syrup. Add walnuts, then pour into 9” square pan. Top with ½ of the batter. Bake for 40 mins. at 350° (325° for glass pan). Cut in square, then invert. Top with whipped cream. 

Whether hanging out with family or entertaining guests, hopefully these great vintage recipes will join your next cookout, and the many to come after that!

All recipes courtesy of the 1950s cookbooklet “Let’s Eat Outdoors! 28 pages of recipes and ideas for outdoor eating."

Check it out here:  http://thevodkaparty.com/food/lets-eat-outdoors-mid-50s/

Buy it here: https://www.amazon.com/LETS-EAT-OUTDOORS-Barbecues-Camping/dp/B005HDN07U

Photo credit: Pinterest 

Rachael Doukas