72 BBQ Side Dishes That Are Better Than the Main Event
Don’t get us wrong—come barbecue season, we’re all about the burgers, hot dogs and steaks. But let’s not forget about those all-important sides. No Memorial Day cookout or summer picnic is complete without them, from gooey mac and cheese and crunchy slaw to fresh salads and baked beans. Here are 72 mouthwatering BBQ side dishes that will kick your Fourth of July barbecue or laid-back family meal up a notch this grilling season.
6. Rainbow Vegetable Skewers
Sick of half the skewer burning while the other half stays raw? Organize them by veggie, so the pieces are all equal size. Problem solved.
7. Jalapeño-Avocado Mac and Cheese
We just combined two of our favorite things for a new take on a barbecue classic. The buttery avocado adds one more layer of cozy decadence to all that melted white cheddar.
10. Chilled Cucumber Salad
Lettuce, schmettuce. This refreshing and leaf-free salad has only five ingredients. And it's just what you (and your guests) need after a long, hot day in the backyard.
12. Jicama Mango Slaw with Orange and Lime
Hard to pronounce (hee-kah-muh), easy to eat. Think of it as a cross between an apple and a crisp pear. Serve as a side salad or on top of turkey burgers.
13. Parmesan Baked Sweet Potato Fries
Your burger is crying out for these crispy spuds, coated in a ridiculously simple spice mix. Think salt, garlic powder, cayenne and grated Parmesan.
14. Light and Tangy Coleslaw
See ya, mayonnaise. Go beyond gloppy store-bought slaw with this vinegar-based beauty made with lots of crunchy veggies dressed in Dijon-Greek yogurt vinaigrette.
23. Greek Lemon Chicken Skewers with Tzatziki Sauce
The kids will need lots of energy before dominating the cornhole board. Enter this protein-packed app. Serve with mini pita or Greek salad.
26. Salami, Artichoke and Ricotta Pasta Salad
All of your antipasto favorites in one bowl. Skip hearty red sauce for a lighter version with Italian ingredients like rosemary and artichoke hearts.
29. Cold Sesame Cucumber Noodles
We'll never get sick of pasta, but spiralized cucumbers are hands-down more refreshing. Thanks to the tangy tahini-soy dressing, you won't miss wheat noodles one bit.
30. Sweet and Spicy Cornbread
You're going to get a real kick out of all the spicy Fresno chiles. See what we did there? Jalapeños work, too, if that's all you have. Drizzle each slice with honey before devouring.
32. Skillet Pasta with Summer Squash, Ricotta and Basil
Forget all about the mayo-drenched elbow macaroni of cookouts past. Combine cherry tomatoes, thin-sliced summer squash and lots of ricotta and Pecorino Romano instead for an easy win. After all, everything looks better in a skillet.
38. Rainbow Collard Wraps with Peanut Butter Dipping Sauce
Obsessed with the peanut sauce at your go-to Thai restaurant? You can make your own with five pantry staples. (The secret ingredient is sweet chili sauce.)
39. Kale and Brussels Sprout Caesar Slaw
Stand back, cabbage. Let some other greens in on the slaw game. It's like a vegan Caesar salad with a creamy dressing made from sunflower seeds and almonds.
40. Crispy Baked Fish Tacos with Cabbage Slaw
Could you serve these for the main course? Yes. Are we eating two of these before digging into burgers and dogs? Also yes. Bring on the lime sour cream.
41. Charred Cauliflower with Crunchy Garlic Chile Oil
If you haven't been introduced to crunchy garlic chile oil yet, now's the time. Spicy and savory thanks to seven whole cloves of garlic and Aleppo chile, it can take any veggie from blah to OMG.
44. 7-Layer Dip
We never get tired of this party staple. Not only is it a breeze to put together, but you can make it up to 12 hours ahead of the picnic. Serve with tortilla chips, pita chips or vegetables.
46. Grilled Flatbread Pizza with Artichoke, Ricotta and Lemon
Transform store-bought flatbread with briny artichoke hearts, fresh spinach, lemon juice and basil. Extra crushed red-pepper flakes, please.
47. Roasted Cauliflower Macaroni and Cheese
Let's be real: We're going to have *at least* two servings of mac and cheese at the picnic. So, we added cauliflower florets to make it healthy. Well, healthy-ish. Just assemble, bake, cover with foil and hit the road.
48. Smoky Barbecued Corn
Butter and salt? You can do better than that. These cobs are charred and coated with lime mayo, Parmesan cheese and smoked paprika.
51. Buttermilk Skillet Cornbread with Tomatoes and Scallions
This no-frills side just went fancy. The cherry tomatoes and green onions get soft and savory while roasting in the oven as the cornbread bakes. Al fresco dinner on the patio, anyone?
60. Bacon Mac and Cheese
Salty, crispy strips of heaven truly never hurt, especially when they're mixed in with cheddar campanelle pasta, fire-roasted tomatoes, sweet onion and arugula.
63. Rodney Scott’s Pimento Cheese
The trick to this savory, spicy side? Shredding the cheddar cheese by hand. Pre-shredded cheese is packaged with additional ingredients to prevent clumping, so starting with a block guarantees a creamy, velvety final product.
64. Jake Cohen’s Just-Add-Sour-Cream Caramelized Onion Dip
Sure, you can serve this tangy-sweet bowl of umami with potato chips or French fries. But what we're really psyched for is spreading it onto our first cheeseburger of the season.
65. Crispy Halloumi ‘Fries’ with Roasted Tomato Dip
Because fried cheese is always invited to the cookout. The halloumi fries are almost like super flavorful mozzarella sticks, while the tomato dip is a garlicky, refined alternative to ketchup and marinara.
69. Patatas Bravas with Saffron Aioli
Crispy on the outside and tender on the inside, just like fries—only a million times more elegant. The citrusy saffron aioli will totally blow your mind, BTW.
72. Yellow Tomato Gazpacho
Not only does using yellow tomatoes instead of traditional red lead to a milder, less acidic gazpacho, but the addition of ripe summer peaches also gives the soup a subtle sweetness you'll love.
For even more great recipes, check out our first cookbook, Only the Good Stuff.