Summer is fast approaching, and with this season comes BBQs and cookouts. Practically everyone has a BBQ at some point during the summer, so we’re sure this list will apply to you sooner or later!
Trying to come up with a side dish that will pair perfectly with your BBQ feast can be a tricky feat. You don’t need to accomplish this alone; we’ve got your back.
We’ve carefully curated a list of seventeen perfect BBQ side dishes; each of the options on this list are sure to impress this summer!
- 1 17 BBQ Side Dishes
- 1.1 1. Corn Salad
- 1.2 2. Pasta Salad
- 1.3 3. Buffalo Chicken Salad
- 1.4 4. Potato Salad
- 1.5 5. Coleslaw
- 1.6 6. Grilled Carrots
- 1.7 7. Sesame Cucumber Salad
- 1.8 8. Salsa
- 1.9 9. Fresh Fruit Mix
- 1.10 10. Grilled Corn
- 1.11 11. Cheddar Bacon Ranch Corn
- 1.12 12. Pickles
- 1.13 13. Bacon Shrimp Skewers
- 1.14 14. Baked Mac & Cheese
- 1.15 15. Fruit Salad
- 1.16 16. Macaroni Salad
- 1.17 17. Guacamole
- 2 Wrap-Up
- 3 17 BBQ Side Dishes
17 BBQ Side Dishes
We doubt you want to waste any more time with further introductions, so let’s just jump straight into it. Here’s our list of seventeen BBQ side dishes.
1. Corn Salad
Corn is often featured as part of summer meals since it’s readily available fresh during this season. Considering this, it shouldn’t be surprising that corn salad is right on top of our list.
By serving corn salad instead of the more traditional corn-on-the-cob, you’ll offer a new spin on classic BBQ meals that will surely leave your guests talking- and in a good way!
Need a recipe? Find one here: https://iwashyoudry.com/creamy-corn-salad-recipe/
2. Pasta Salad
There’s a reason someone always brings pasta salad to a bring-your-own-dish cookout. It’s simple and easy to make, and absolutely delicious!
During the hot summer months, having a cold pasta salad can be refreshing and especially appealing. Plus, pasta salad often allows for you to serve large portions or smaller portions to lots of people.
Find a recipe here: https://www.spendwithpennies.com/italian-pasta-salad/
3. Buffalo Chicken Salad
BBQs are all about the meat, so it’s perfectly understandable that you’d want to involve meat in your side dish in some way. It’s also perfectly reasonable to seek out a healthy meat option, too!
That’s why we’re suggesting buffalo chicken salad for a BBQ side dish. It still incorporates meat and the relevant sauces but makes it a bit healthier by slapping it into a crisp salad. Dig in!
We’ve got a recipe here: https://www.willcookforsmiles.com/zesty-buffalo-chicken-salad/
4. Potato Salad
If pasta salad is too cliche or boring for you, try your hand at potato salad! It’s a bit harder to make than pasta salad, but it’s definitely more interesting than a side dish someone else is probably already bringing.
Potato salad has quite a sharp taste to it, so it’ll blend well with the savory and bold tastes of a typical BBQ dinner. Plus, it’s a cold side dish, perfect for those warm summer nights.
A great recipe can be found here: https://www.foodiecrush.com/how-to-make-the-best-potato-salad/
Tangy and crunchy, coleslaw will strike differences against typical BBQ entrees with ease. It can be awesome to have contrasts in a meal, both in flavor and texture.
A lot of BBQ sauces can be quite bold, especially if you decide you want to go for hotter sauces. The intense flavors of a good coleslaw will help ensure that your side dish never gets buried underneath all the heat.
A fantastic recipe is here: https://www.cookingclassy.com/coleslaw-recipe/
6. Grilled Carrots
Everyone knows about grilled corn and grilled zucchini, but grilled carrots are a perfectly reasonable side dish to serve, too! Since carrots are so popular as side dishes for many meals, we think they’ll still work well with a BBQ.
For those of you really on the health grind when it comes to picking out good side dishes, this is perfect for you. There’s nothing substantial in terms of calories or fat here- just delicious carrots.
Find out how to grill the perfect carrots here: https://fitfoodiefinds.com/grilled-carrots-recipe/
7. Sesame Cucumber Salad
Want a more unusual option for a BBQ side dish? Look no further than sesame cucumber salad! Using soy sauce and fresh ginger, this salad is a unique take on a side dish that will have your taste buds popping!
And of course, it’s healthy, too. Maybe not as healthy as some of the other options on this list, but it’s certainly going to be better than French fries or potato chips!
An amazing recipe is located here: https://gooddinnermom.com/cucumber-sesame-salad/
The tangy and bold flavors of a good salsa can work really well with the flavors typical BBQ sauces often bring out. You can really stretch a good bowl of salsa quite away, from appetizer time all the way until dinner.
If you’re looking to save yourself both time and money, then this is the option for you. It’ll kill two birds with one stone! Just remember to load up on those tortilla chips!
Want to make your own salsa? Try this recipe: https://www.aspicyperspective.com/best-homemade-salsa-recipe/
9. Fresh Fruit Mix
The main courses often served at BBQs are heavy and filling. There’s nothing wrong with that, of course, but sometimes having a lighter side dish is exactly what the chef ordered.
Fresh fruit is substantial enough to stand on its own as a side dish, but it’s light enough to not overwhelm anyone who’s eating at your BBQ. Plus, it’s crisp, which will contrast nicely with the more tender textures of BBQ meats.
Need any ideas for how to make the perfect fresh fruit mix? Here is one: https://tastesbetterfromscratch.com/fresh-fruit-bowl/
10. Grilled Corn
Regular corn-on-the-cob is kind of boring. We get it. Everyone does it. But we really mean it when we say just grilling it is enough to give this tired side dish new life!
Since your BBQ meats are already going to have a smoky flavor, why not include that in your side dish? Sometimes, consistency really is key. Corn is already such a summer staple, so why not have it at your next summer BBQ?
Need to know how to grill corn? Find out here: https://cookieandkate.com/best-grilled-corn-recipe/
11. Cheddar Bacon Ranch Corn
Another way to liven up regular old corn-on-the-cob is to add some savory toppings to it. This certainly won’t do wonders for your waistline, but hey, embrace it! Nobody said skinny is the only type of beautiful.
Slather cheese, bacon, and ranch on top of your corn-on-the-cob, and you’ll create an explosion of flavor that will have both yourself and your guests reaching for more.
Find a fantastic recipe here: https://yellowpinetimes.wordpress.com/2020/08/30/cheddar-bacon-ranch-corn/
Sure, jar pickles are great, but have you ever tasted homemade pickles? They taste infinitely better than what you can get in the store. So crunchy and tangy!
Finger foods are pretty common in the summer, and pickles are no exception. Since you’ll usually see them served in restaurants, why not replicate that here? They’re simple and yummy.
Find out how to make your own pickles here: https://www.onceuponachef.com/recipes/quick-and-easy-dill-pickles.html
13. Bacon Shrimp Skewers
Want to introduce some seafood into your BBQ? Try out bacon shrimp skewers. They’re quite easy to make- just wrap up the shrimp in bacon and stick it on a skewer.
Remember how we said above that finger foods are common in the summer months? This is another option that can easily be eaten with just your hands. It’s hearty and savory, exactly what you need for a BBQ side dish.
Need a recipe? We’ve got you: https://www.thepioneerwoman.com/food-cooking/recipes/a32881438/bacon-shrimp-skewers-recipe/
14. Baked Mac & Cheese
If you’ve ever been to a BBQ or a BBQ restaurant, chances are they had baked mac and cheese available in some format. It’s savory, hearty, and dense, making it a fantastic option to serve at your next BBQ.
Baked mac and cheese, in our opinion, is better than creamier kinds for BBQs because it’s so hearty and dense. BBQs aren’t really meant to be health fests, so don’t try too hard to make it so!
Find a mouth-watering recipe here: https://www.thechunkychef.com/family-favorite-baked-mac-and-cheese/
15. Fruit Salad
We recommended that you consider fresh fruit as a side dish above, but we also think a good fruit salad can work wonders when served alongside some good BBQ meats.
Fruit salad can make fresh fruit feel so much more complex and flavorful, even though they’re really isn’t too much to it. For this reason, we really recommend considering it as a light, yet still meaningful, side dish.
Find a jaw-dropping recipe here: https://cafedelites.com/honey-lime-fruit-salad-recipe/
16. Macaroni Salad
You didn’t think we’d leave this off the list, did you? Along with pasta salad, macaroni salad is surely something you’ll see crop up at practically every bring-your-own-dish summer event.
It’s bold in flavor yet relatively simple in execution. Side dishes don’t need to be complex, but they do need to stand out on their own against main courses, without overwhelming them of course. Macaroni salad does that just fine.
Want to make your own macaroni salad? We recommend this recipe:
If the salsa we suggested above isn’t to your liking, then we think guacamole will work just fine at a BBQ in its place. Guacamole is delicious and incredibly popular right now, meaning it will surely be a hit with your guests.
You can surely stretch your guacamole a long way, too; it can serve as both an appetizer and a side dish. It doesn’t have to be one or the other! Like we suggested above for the salsa, make sure you stock up on those tortilla chips!
We’ve found an amazing guacamole recipe right here: https://downshiftology.com/recipes/best-ever-guacamole/
Whew! That was a bit of a marathon! We hope you found some great inspiration on this list. Remember that a good BBQ side dish is bold in flavor without overpowering the main course. We wish you the best of luck in your future cooking endeavors!