52 BBQ Sides That Are Better Than the Main Event
Don’t get us wrong—come barbecue season, we’re all about the burgers, franks and steaks. But let’s not forget about those all-important sides. No Memorial Day cookout or summer picnic is complete without these, from gooey mac and cheese and crunchy slaw to fresh salads and baked beans. Here are 52 mouthwatering BBQ sides that will kick your Fourth of July barbecue or laid-back family meal up a notch this grilling season.
1. Loaded Baked Potato Chips
There’s no “wrong” way to serve a potato, but these roasted spuds topped with bacon, cheese, sour cream and chives just seem extra right. Serve them on the baking sheet for minimal mess.
2. Grilled Corn with Spicy Aioli
Butter is good, but Sriracha-flavored aioli is better. Cook the cobs in their husks right on the grill until they get some nice char marks.
3. Strawberry Arugula Salad with Basil and Black Rice
So pretty. So easy. And oh-so-tasty. The crumbled goat cheese offers salty bursts of flavor against tangy balsamic dressing and mild black rice. (You could substitute quinoa, farro or wild rice too.)
4. Grilled Cheese Crostini
Charred bread topped with melted cheese and tangy balsamic-marinated strawberries? Oh, you fancy. Better yet, it'll only take you 45 minutes to put them together.
5. Slow-Cooker Baked Beans
The barbecue doesn't start until a big batch of this shows up. And because it's made in the Crock-Pot, the recipe couldn't be any easier. Don't be shy about the dark brown sugar.
6. Rainbow Vegetable Kabobs
Grill your way to five a day with these colorful skewers. Wait until you try the zesty and garlicky Dijon marinade.
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.
8. Bourbon Peach BBQ Baked Beans
Sticky, sweet, smoky perfection. This Southern-inspired side starts with thick-cut bacon and baked peaches, not to mention maple syrup and some of your favorite bourbon.
9. Caprese Salad with Grilled Zucchini
A dish that's bursting with summer flavors (it doesn’t look too shabby, either). Load up on zucchini at the farmers market to spice up this tomato classic.
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.
11. Avocado Deviled Eggs
This old-school party dish gets a green twist, thanks to avocado and minced chives. Serve them at the start of the barbecue or break them out at Sunday brunch.
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 starring lots of crunchy veggies dressed in Dijon-Greek yogurt vinaigrette.
15. Honey Jalapeño Corn Bread Drop Biscuits
Regular corn bread? Yawn. These buttery biscuits strike just the right balance of sweet and spicy. The best part? You won't even have to knead the dough to make them.
16. Avocado Potato Salad
Sayonara, mayo. We're using Greek yogurt to make this side super creamy. Pass the ribs, please.
17. Grilled Mango Salsa
Take your tastebuds on a tropical getaway. This limey, spicy condiment is just as delicious with chips as it is piled on top of grilled chicken or fish.
18. BLT Pasta Salad
Sandwich, meet our cutest salad bowl. We're swapping bread for pasta to make this crunchy-creamy dish.
19. Rainbow Vegetable Skewers
Sick of half the skewer burning while the other half stays raw? Organize your skewers by veggie so the pieces are all equal size. Problem solved.
20. Roasted Poblano and Corn Guacamole
Bust out the tortilla chips, because this dip will be the first to go at the cookout. Roast the peppers and corn in the oven or cook them on the grill.
21. Grilled Watermelon and Feta Skewers
Fact: Everything tastes better when it’s on a stick, and these barbecued bites are no exception. We traded tomatoes for cubed watermelon, but either will work.
22. Summer Rolls
These Vietnamese beauties offer serious refreshment after a few rounds of kickball. Load 'em up with everything from lettuce to carrot to mint before stuffing them with shrimp and wrapping them.
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.
24. Avocado Chicken Salad Recipe
This lunchtime classic was overdue for an update. We started by adding chunks of buttery avocado. Then, we cut back on the mayo to make way for tangy rice vinegar and fresh dill.
25. Carrot Pigs in a Blanket
Weenies get enough attention at the cookout. That's why we swapped the minis for tiny pieces of carrot, which get wrapped in store-bought pizza dough and sprinkled with sesame seeds. Just wait until you try the green goddess dip.
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 flavors like rosemary and artichoke hearts.
27. Skillet Blueberry Cornbread
We're picturing a slice of this nestled on a paper plate between big scoops of pulled pork and mac and cheese. Did we mention it also goes great with mimosas?
28. Greek Yogurt Chicken Salad Stuffed Peppers
Lunch never looked so good. And the recipe is a breeze to make since it calls for shredded rotisserie chicken. Serve them as sides with ribs or steak and take leftovers to work all week.
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 chilis. See what we did there? Jalapeños work too if that's all you have. Drizzle each slice with honey before devouring.
31. Charred Broccoli with Sriracha Almond Butter Sauce
Roasting is the secret to crispy veggies. The Thai-inspired almond butter sauce puts it over the top, thanks to toasted sesame oil, soy sauce, Sriracha and lime juice.
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.
33. Veggie Niçoise Salad with Red Curry Green Beans
Hit a Parisian café without ever setting foot on a plane. We substitute canned tuna with extra veggies (hello, green beans, arugula, new potatoes and radishes), plus add a curry vinaigrette and Dijon dressing. Très chic.
34. Cheater’s Vegetarian Pizza with Zucchini and Bell Peppers
It doesn't get simpler than store-bought flatbread and shaved summer vegetables. Let the barbecue in on the fun and cook it right on the grill.
35. One-Pot Mac and Cheese
Pulled pork's best friend is easier to whip up than you think. Take our one-pot recipe, made with only seven ingredients in 30 minutes. You're welcome.
36. Grilled Peach and Halloumi Salad with Lemon-Pesto Dressing
When the weather gets warm, we try to work juicy peaches onto our plates as often as possible. Here, they're grilled alongside tangy halloumi cheese and tossed in basil-lemon dressing. We'll take extra pine nuts.
37. Orecchiette with Spring Greens
Pass on tri-color spirals. This pretty pasta is easy for guests to scoop and packed with baby spinach, peas and Parmesan. Add chopped roasted almonds for crunch.
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 is the 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 with seven whole cloves of garlic and Aleppo chile pepper, it can take any veggie from blah to OMG.
42. 15-Minute Gazpacho with Cucumber, Red Pepper and Basil
Who said soup has to be hot? Cool off with a bowl of this tomato-based gem. All you need is 15 minutes and a blender.
43. Aran Goyoaga’s Niçoise Salad
This version honors the traditional recipe while upgrading it with fried capers, pickled radishes, chopped dill and bonito tuna packed in olive oil. We'll bring the Chardonnay.
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.
45. Cheddar Biscuits with Caramelized Onion Gravy
Our vegetarian take on a Southern classic swaps sausage for thin-sliced onions. Bring these to brunch or the barbecue. We're making pulled pork sliders with ours.
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.
49. Beet Hummus
No one's passing on this pretty-in-pink dip. And you're only seven ingredients and 15 minutes away. Serve with crackers, veggies or pita chips.
50. Zucchini “Fries”
All the salty crispiness you love, minus the deep frying. These panko-crusted zucchini sticks get baked in the oven, so you can have a handful (or three) with your cheeseburger.
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?
52. Mexican Street Corn Dip
Imagine if you could dip a chip into an elote. Yup, we did that. Think lots of corn kernels with all the fixings from cotija cheese to cayenne pepper to sour cream.