For a perfect barbecue, the grilled mains are important, but the meal isn't complete without a full spread of sides that hit every note: smoky, crunchy, spicy, and salty-sweet. We've rounded up awesome barbecue side dish recipes for you to serve at your next cookout.
Sweet corn is a natural side for a barbecue. The summer vegetable is great on the grill. Slather grilled corn on the cob with an herbed goat cheese compound butter or a garlicky pesto, or take it off the cob to make a succotash with edamame and cherry or plum tomatoes. For a richer corn side, you can't go wrong with our creamy corn casserole with cheddar and bacon.
Simultaneously hearty and refreshing, potato salad as an infinitely versatile side dish. It can be rich, like our lemon mayonnaise smashed potato salad, or lighter, like our olive oil-dressed Moroccan potato salad. Those are served cold or at room temperature—our pesto potato salad, on the other hand, can be served warm.
Barbecue food can be a little heavy, so fruit is a good way to lighten things up. Stone fruits are great for salads—mix peaches and plums with arugula, cilantro, and basil, and dress it with a little red wine vinegar to balance the sweetness. Or try our watermelon salad with feta and jalapeño— and save the rind for pickling.
Find all of these dishes and more in our collection of barbecue side dish recipes.
In this offbeat slaw from chef Chris Shepherd of Underbelly in Houston, raw red cabbage adds a textural contrast to the grilled green cabbage, and a zippy, spicy-sweet-salty dressing goes well with the charred bits. Get the recipe for Charred Cabbage Slaw »
Tomato Salad with Green Beans and Basil
Boiling potatoes whole and unpeeled means they don’t absorb too much water as they cook. Mixing them with an egg yolk and olive oil yields a rich dressing without the heavy creaminess of mayonnaise.
Sweet corn grilled in its husk is enhanced by an herbal goat cheese compound butter.
This cool, creamy potato salad is spiked with pickle relish and red onion.
Summer peaches pair remarkably well with sweet caramelized onions and crisp green beans in this salad from Deb Miller of Lawrence, Kansas.
Barbecue chips’ smoky, tangy flavors are easy to create at home with a simple mixture that combines classic barbecue sauce spices such as chile powder, garlic powder, and onion powder, with the added kick of cayenne pepper.
These classic baked beans are a barbecue side-dish staple.
Crunchy, sweet watermelon pickles offer a bright contrast to smoked meats.
Feta, red onion, and mint are a classic combination; tossed with snappy green beans they make a salad of surprising complexity.
This baked corn casserole is a popular side dish at Smokestack restaurant in Kansas City.
Bright and aromatic with plenty of fresh parsley, this potato salad is definitive of Moroccan cuisine.
Light, tangy yogurt replaces rich mayonnaise in the herb-laced dressing for this salad.
In this wonderful regional take on mac and cheese, grated onion and Worcestershire sauce are added to the mix.
This crunchy salad is a cool complement to smoked meat.
The combination of grilled squash and a cool, creamy aioli flavored with ramps is springtime at its best. Once ramp season has passed, you can substitute scallions in the aioli.
Flavored with molasses, maple syrup, and rum, this filling bean dish is simple to prepare; all it takes is time. Six hours of cooking yields thick, rich results.
Green Beans with Lemon and Capers
Basil vinaigrette makes a perfect topping for grilled eggplant—also try it with other summer vegetables such as zucchini.