The Best Way to Serve Cold Food During Your Cookout

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Photo: Elena Veselova (Shutterstock)

Grilled meats like hamburgers, hot dogs, and chicken tend to take centerstage at cookouts—like the many happening over this holiday weekend—but the sides are what make the meal. And because most cookouts take place in warmer summer weather, it can be tricky to keep sides like potato salad and coleslaw cool.

Fortunately, there’s a TikTok hack for that. Here’s what to know.

How to keep refrigerated food cool when eating outdoors

This tip has been making the rounds since it was posted on the @alifebetterorganized TikTok account, and comes just in time for the 4th of July holiday weekend. Instead of worrying about whether your mayo-based salads have been sitting out too long, make your own cooling tray.

First, get a few disposable aluminum pans, and make sure that one of the pans is big enough to fit at least one other pan inside of it. Then, fill the largest pan with about an inch of water, and pop it in the freezer.

In the meantime, pile your salads and any other cold sides into the smaller aluminum pans. Once the water in the big pan turns to solid ice, take it out of the freezer, and place the smaller pans inside of it. From there, you’re ready to bring the food outdoors to serve.

But what if someone turns up with salad in a bowl? Don’t worry: Lifehacker’s own Claire Lower has a hack for that:

Simply grab a [shower] cap (a cheap plastic one works best), scoop some ice into it, and set the bowl of food down inside. Bring the elastic up around the sides of the bowl to create a chilly environment for your famed potato, pasta, or chicken salad.

So, there you go: Two ways to keep your food cool and safe at cookouts this weekend, and the rest of the summer.

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