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Our baking expert weighs in on the perfect desserts for your Labor Day barbecue

Best desserts for Labor Day

Hamburgers, hot dogs, chicken and other grilled favorites — these are the foods that probably come to mind when you think of a Labor Day barbecue. However, when planning a barbecue for this year’s end-of-summer holiday, don’t forget to include some delicious desserts.

We asked our baking expert for advice to assist our readers in selecting the right desserts for their Labor Day celebrations. Cordon Bleu-trained pastry chef Andrea Boudewijn weighed in on how to keep your summer dessert selection simple while satisfying your guests’ urge for something sweet after the main course.

Shop this article: Nordic Ware Three-piece Baker’s Delight Sheet Pan SetHomearray Stainless Steel Mixing Bowl Set and KitchenAid Artisan Series 5-quart Stand Mixer

What desserts are best for barbecues?

When it comes to a barbecue, certain desserts come to mind. Boudewijn said her favorite choices are classic options like Rice Krispies Treats, brownies and pie.

According to Boudewijn, these desserts are appealing and easy to take to a barbecue. “Rice Krispies Treats are great because they’re a light dessert, easy to make, and durable for transport,” she said. “Brownies are easy to make and travel well. Pie, because you have to have pie at a barbecue!”

Considerations for choosing desserts for a barbecue

During a backyard barbecue, the focus is on the grill where classic grilled cuisine is prepared and served. When desserts are offered, they are typically made in advance and brought to the event to be served after the grilling is done. According to Boudewijn, serving desserts suitable for outdoor gatherings and keeping them fresh and spillproof are important steps.

Here’s how she recommends you make that happen:

  1. Plan to have desserts that are safe to eat at room temperature.
  2. Wrap each dessert in plastic in a deli wrap style. Wrap it all the way over and under the bowl and plate then back around.
  3. Turn the dessert and do it a second time. When something is deli wrapped like this, it won’t leak or spill plus it keeps it extra fresh.

Tips for serving desserts at your Labor Day barbecue

Boudewijn said that when it comes to desserts for a barbecue, keeping it simple is the best plan. Following a few tips will make dessert time at this year’s Labor Day barbecue successful.

  • Handle items like toppings that need to be kept cool with care. According to Boudewijn, “whipped cream should be held in a dispenser inside a cooler and only dispensed right before serving.”
  • Some desserts should be kept out of direct sunlight. “Other things like icing on a cake are fine to eat at room temperature (they taste better at room temp, too), but if set in direct sun, icing melts,” Boudewijn said.
  • Protect cool desserts in outdoor settings. “Keep cool desserts in the shade with a pop-up tent if needed.”

Labor Day barbecue dessert recipes

Rice Krispies Treats

Yield: About 15 3-by-3-inch squares

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

10 ounces miniature marshmallows

12 ounces Rice Krispies


  1. Prepare a sheet pan with wax paper and lightly butter a rolling pin.
  2. Combine butter and marshmallows in a pot and stir until melted.
  3. Remove from heat and stir in Rice Krispies.
  4. Spread the mixture evenly in the prepared sheet pan. Roll your buttered rolling pin over the top to make an even layer.
  5. Let cool, then use a knife or scraper to cut the dessert into squares.
  6. Wrap the squares in plastic until they are ready to serve.


Yield: 16 brownies

¾ cup flour

¾ cup sugar

½ teaspoon baking soda

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

¼ cup butter

2 tablespoons water

2 eggs

¼ teaspoon salt

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips


  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees and butter an 8-by-8-inch baking pan.
  2. Combine flour, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl and set aside.
  3. In a small saucepan on low heat add butter, oil, water, and sugar. Stir and bring to a low simmer, then remove from heat. Stir in chocolate chips.
  4. Transfer chocolate sauce to a large bowl and mix in eggs one at a time. Gradually add flour and mix until they are fully combined.
  5. Pour brownie mix into a baking pan.
  6. Bake the mixture for 30 minutes then remove them from the oven to cool.
  7. Cut, serve and enjoy!

Best items for Labor Day barbecue desserts

Three metal baking sheet pans of increasing size

Nordic Ware Three-piece Baker’s Delight Sheet Pan Set

This versatile collection comes with three useful pans, including half and quarter sheets plus a jelly roll pan. They are made of quality aluminum that holds up well to frequent use and resists rust and corrosion.

Sold by AmazonWayfairKohl’s and Macy’s

A wooden rolling pin

KitchenAid Maple Wood-Handled Rolling Pin

With grippy handles and a solid build, preparing dough and other foods is simple with this well-made rolling pin. It’s made of maple wood that is hard and resists damage.

Sold by Amazon

A set of four silicone spatulas of different sizes. Two are small and two are big.

AmazonCommercial Nonstick Silicone Spatula Set

Silicone spatulas are useful cooking tools for stirring, scraping and flipping food without causing damage to cookware. This set includes two small and two large spatulas that can handle cooking temperatures up to 428 degrees.

Sold by Amazon

A set of six metal mixing bowls stacked from biggest to smallest

Homearray Stainless Steel Mixing Bowl Set

You’ll get six mixing bowls of various sizes in this practical set. Each bowl is made of durable stainless steel that’s great for mixing ingredients and is easy to clean.

Sold by Amazon

A light blue scraper with a light green handle on top. It's thin and rectangular shaped.

Dexter-Russell Bench Scraper

This handy scraper will come in handy for preparing ingredients and serving desserts. Although affordable, it’s durable and easy to use.

Sold by Amazon

A metal sauce pan with a handle and a lid (which also has a handle)

All-Clad 2-quart Stainless Steel Sauce Pan with Lid

Crafted of 3-ply stainless steel, the All-Clad 2-quart saucepan is both durable and practical for many home cooking applications. It comes with a well-fitting lid.

Sold by AmazonWayfair and Macy’s

A bright teal stand mixer with a metal bowl that has a handle on the side

KitchenAid Artisan Series 5-quart Stand Mixer

Every avid home chef wants a KitchenAid stand mixer. The 5-quart model is one of the most popular options by the brand and is built to simplify many meal-prep tasks.

Sold by Amazon and Wayfair

A plum purple hand mixer with black mixing things on the bottom

Black and Decker Helix Performance Five-speed Hand Mixer

When a hand mixer is all you need to prepare your favorite recipes, the Helix is the one you’ll reach for time and again. It features five speeds, a powerful motor, and a compact design that’s simple to use and store.

Sold by AmazonWayfair and Macy’s

A metal square cake pan with small horizontal grooves on the inside

USA Pan Bakeware Square Cake Pan

No baker’s cookware collection is complete without a square cake pan. An 8-inch model like this one is perfect for preparing small cakes and brownies. It’s made of aluminized stainless steel that’s strong and stick-resistant.

Sold by Amazon

A red silicone oven mitt

OXO Good Grips Silicone Oven Mitt

Made of heat-resistant silicone that also provides a reliable grip, this oven mitt is protective and useful when handling hot bakeware. The fact that it’s machine-washable is an added convenience.

Sold by Amazon

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Jennifer Manfrin writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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