It’s summertime and that means it’s BBQ season. The main event of the BBQ will always be whatever meats the grill master has been cooking up all day, but that doesn’t mean side dishes don’t deserve some time in the spotlight. In fact, the best sides have the potential to upstage the main course. Whether you’re hosting the BBQ or you’re bringing a dish to the annual family potluck, any of these side dishes are sure to be a crowdpleaser.
Classic Side Dishes
These side dishes are tried and true. We know them, we love them, and we expect them at every cookout we will ever go to. Bring any one of these items and everyone will thank you.
1. Barbecue Baked Beans
Next to the meat, barbecue baked beans are perhaps the most essential item on any BBQ menu. They’re the perfect combination of sweet and savory and sometimes spicy. This recipe, featuring small pieces of bacon, is a must try! Depending on how much time and effort you want to spend on this, you can cook these beans in either the oven or in a crockpot.
2. Mac And Cheese
In my family, you never have to worry about mac and cheese sitting out all day at the potluck because it is always the first side dish to disappear because it’s the ultimate comfort food. One of the nice things about mac and cheese is that it can be modified to your dietary needs and still be delicious. Check out our recipe for Easy Baked Mac and Cheese.
3. Deviled Eggs
Deviled eggs are the perfect appetizer for any occasion. Just make sure to get ’em while they are fresh, especially if all the food at your BBQ is outside. You don’t want these sitting out in the hot sun all day. Our recipe gives you a step-by-step break down of how to make this classic.
If you don’t eat cornbread with your BBQ, you need to start. Put a piece on your plate and it will soak up all the extra juice and sauce from your other food items and turn into a tasty sponge you can enjoy at the end of your meal. Check out this recipe for cornbread muffins.
5. Potato Chips
It may sound basic, but you really can’t go wrong with bringing a couple of party-sized bags of classic potato chips to the BBQ. Everyone loves chips. You can graze on them all throughout the day or you can grab a handful and put them in your pulled pork sandwich (if you’re into that kind of thing).
Okay, so most of these items aren’t salads in the traditional sense. Are they made up of leafy greens? No. Are they healthy? Debatable. Are they delicious? You betcha!
6. Potato Salad
Potato salad is another classic you are likely to find at pretty much every potluck. Homemade potato salad is probably one of my favorite things in the world. Just don’t bring store-bought potato salad to the BBQ – it never quite hits the spot like homemade does. If you’re unsure whether you should make German, old-fashioned, or classic, check out our recipes for all three.
Whether you love coleslaw or you think it just belongs in the trash, you gotta have it at the BBQ. This summertime classic is best served with pulled pork, grilled chicken, or ribs. Check out this recipe for an easy coleslaw that the whole party will enjoy.
8. Pasta Salad
Pasta salads come in all shapes and sizes and have the potential to be a real crowd pleaser. It’s probably not the first thing people think of when they think of BBQ side dishes, but it’s always appreciated when it’s there and missed when it’s gone. Here’s our take on easy pasta salads.
9. Ambrosia Salad
It may look super weird, but ambrosia salad is actually pretty tasty. Everyone probably has an aunt or grandma that loves bringing this stuff to the family picnic every year, but check out this recipe if you’ve ever wanted to learn how to make it for yourself.
10. Fruit Salad
Fresh fruit is the perfect compliment to any plate full of BBQ and side dishes. It’s sweet, refreshing, and delicious. Making a fruit salad is pretty simple too – just chop up your favorite fruits and put them in a bowl together.
BBQs are the perfect excuse to pig out on all the food you can stuff your face with. However, that doesn’t mean we can’t throw in a few items that are actually good for you too! These vegetable sides are great for balancing out your plate with something that’s tasty AND healthy.
11. Grilled Asparagus
Asparagus probably isn’t the first thing you think of when you think of BBQ side dishes, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be appreciated when it’s there. Grilling will give the asparagus an irresistible smoky flavor that will have the whole party talking. Check out the recipe here.
12. Mexican Street Corn
You can always find regular corn on the cob at most BBQs, but if you want to take it up a notch and impress your friends and family, try making Mexican Street Corn. Also known as elotes, this take on corn is something I look forward to every time I’m at an event.
13. Grilled Potatoes
Potatoes are so easy to cook on the grill. Just chop them up, put a little seasoning on them, wrap it in a foil packet, and throw them on the grill. These Parmesan Garlic Potatoes make an excellent side dish to any plate of BBQ.
14. Grilled Zucchini
Take the aforementioned recipe for grilled potatoes and swap the potatoes out for zucchini. It’s minimum effort, little clean-up, and super tasty.
In my opinion, dips are the most important part of any potluck. They’re what keeps people coming back for seconds (and thirds). You see, most people aren’t going to make an entire batch of dip to eat by themselves. People need BBQs as an excuse to chow down on their favorite chips dipped in their favorite dip. These dips will surely be the talk of the next cookout you go to.
15. Queso Cheese Dip
It doesn’t matter what occasion or season it is – if there will be queso, I will be there too. It’s savory treat perfect for any get together. It’s also pretty simple to make; check out our recipe.
16. Spinach Artichoke Dip
Spinach artichoke dip is perfect for when you’re craving something cheesy, savory, and full of flavor. Make our recipe and serve it with tortilla chips, pita, or crackers.
17. Cowboy Caviar
Cowboy caviar is a fun dip for people who want to bring something more than just chips and salsa. This healthy and flavorful dip is full of beans and veggie and a little bit of spice.
18. Buffalo Chicken Dip
Buffalo chicken dip always disappears halfway through pretty much every party I throw – people love it that much. It’s spicy and creamy and it’s the perfect dip to put on the table before or after the big meal. Check out this recipe.