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17 Delicious Barbecue Sides to Go With Your Meat

No backyard barbecue is complete without sides, so consider some of our favorites.

When summer days grow longer, and the sun keeps the air humid and warm, many people tie on an apron and fire up the grill for some delicious barbecue.

assorted trays of texas bbq with collard greens, hotlinks, pulled pork, mac and cheese, coleslaw

While deciding what goes on the grill is easy, picking the best side dishes to enjoy with pork ribs or beef brisket can be challenging. 

While side dishes usually play second fiddle to smoked or grilled meats, these seventeen amazing side dishes might steal the show at your next summer barbecue.

From traditional dishes like baked beans to exciting popular dishes like Mexican Street Corn, you will find the perfect combination for your next family barbecue! 

Best BBQ Side Dishes

Add these sides to your next cookout for a complete meal – along with your perfectly grilled meats, of course!


Macaroni Salad

Macaroni salad is made with elbow macaroni and mayonnaise.

Depending on the recipe, other ingredients include diced red pepper, peas, onion, carrots, and celery.

Classic macaroni salad is served chilled and is akin to coleslaw or potato salad. However, macaroni salad is an easy dish to customize by choosing different ingredients to add to the base of pasta and mayonnaise. 

Hellman’s mayonnaise has a classic macaroni salad recipe includes vinegar, dijon mustard, sugar, salt, pepper, celery, green pepper, and onion.

Other creative additions include pepperoni, fresh cilantro, fresh mozzarella, or crisp bacon bits. Macaroni salad is a delicious and versatile option for a side dish at a backyard barbecue. 


Coleslaw

Coleslaw is made primarily from shredded red and green cabbage.

It also includes mayonnaise, apple cider vinegar, honey, shredded carrots, celery seeds, and salt. Coleslaw is hundreds of years old.

It was first made in the Netherlands and was known as a cabbage salad. When Dutch immigrants arrived in the United States during the 1700s, they began making and serving coleslaw. 

Coleslaw is served cold, which makes it a perfect barbecue side dish. Additionally, it is easy to adjust coleslaw to your liking, and many other chefs have prepared recipes with unique ingredients.

For instance, try coleslaw with the addition of collard greens or the exclusion of mayonnaise! 


Mexican Street Corn

Mexican street corn is a delicious dish with species and cheese crumbles.

Street corn is a popular food in Mexico and is gaining popularity in the United States. To make Mexican Street Corn, cover the corn in mayonnaise or butter before rolling in spices and top with cotija cheese.

The dish is finished with a squeeze of lime juice and chopped cilantro. 

While the grill is already fired up, before you coat the corn on the cob, toss it on the grill to get a nice char on the outside of the corn to enhance the flavor.

Mexican Street Corn can also be made in the form of a salad by charring the corn and then removing it from the cob.

By mixing corn, chili space, cotija, cilantro, and a bit of mayonnaise, you can enjoy an elote salad! 


Collard Greens

Collard Greens are a delicious side dish that originates from the southern United States. Collard greens are leafy vegetables that are most often slow-cooked on a stovetop. 

Some people use the Wiley’s Eat Your Greens spice packet to season their collard greens. The packet includes brown sugar, garlic, and tamarind.

Collards are native to the Mediterranean and were introduced to the United States via the immigrants who founded the Jamestown Colony. 


Potato Salad

Potato Salad is primarily boiled potatoes. You can use any variety of potatoes for potato salad, including red potatoes, Idaho potatoes, or even purple potatoes!

Classic potato salad often includes mayonnaise, red onion, mustard, lemon juice, chopped pickles, paprika, and green onions or chives. Some people add hard-boiled eggs into a classic potato salad. 

One of my favorite variations is a Bacon Ranch Potato Salad with mayonnaise, ranch dressing, bacon bits, green onions, and red potatoes.

Other variations include a German potato salad with dill or sour cream and onion potato salad. It is easy to customize your potato salad to pair well with any item you are grilling up for your barbecue! 


Grilled Corn on the Cob

Grilled Corn on the Cob is a traditional summer barbecue dish.

Many cooks believe that soaking your corn before grilling can enhance the flavor; it only takes an hour of soaking your corn in water to keep the kernels plump!

Another tip for perfectly grilled corn on the cob is generally using butter on the exterior of the corn. 

After your gill is hot, you only need to place the corn on the cob on the grate for up to twenty minutes.

Making corn on the cob is a great way to use the grill for your side dishes instead of having to heat an oven which will warm up the house on an already hot summer day. And, your guests will find corn on the cob fun to eat!


Sweet Potato Fries

Sweet potato fries are a great side dish to enjoy with hamburgers, hot dogs, or grilled chicken.

Home cooks can prepare a regular sweet potato by julienning the potato and either baking or frying the fires. To save on time, you could also buy a frozen bag.

Another great way to prepare sweet potato fries is in the air fryer, which makes the potatoes crispy without using oil.

Sweet potato fries can be dipped and a wide variety of different sauces. For instance, you can dip your sweet potato fries and ketchup or aïoli or maple syrup.


Baked Beans

Baked beans are nearly a requirement at every backyard barbecue.

Most baked beans can be poured out of a can and heated on top of the grill or in the oven. Bush’s Baked Beans offer various flavors like Country Style, Bourbon and Brown Sugar, and Onion. 

On the other hand, some people like to add ingredients to their baked beans, including chopped onions or green bell pepper.

Some people even add hotdogs or bacon to their baked bean recipes. Many recipes for baked beans are passed down within families, so it is fun to taste how others prepare this classic barbecue side dish. 


Cucumber Tomato Avocado Salad

Combining cucumber, tomato, and avocado to make a salad is a fresh side dish for your summer barbecue.

Some recipes include feta cheese, lemon, red onion, and olive oil, creating a distinctly Mediterranean flavor. Other recipes add ingredients like balsamic vinegar or fresh dill. 

Regardless of the other ingredients, you add to your cucumber tomato avocado salad those three basic ingredients make this dish stand out at a summer barbecue.

Be sure to store the salad properly so that the chopped avocado in the salad does not turn brown before it can be eaten. The lemon juice also helps with keeping the avocado fresh! 


Biscuits

Biscuits are simple bread made without yeast. Most biscuits are made using buttermilk.

Biscuits can be made using all-purpose flour or self-rising flour, but if you use all-purpose flour, then your recipe might call for baking powder to help the biscuits rise in the oven. 

One of my favorite ways to enjoy biscuits is with a honey butter topping! Simply, let your butter heat to room temperature, then whisk in honey and spread on your warm biscuit.

Another popular biscuit recipe is to add chives and cheddar to your biscuit batter before cooking for a distinctly savory taste. 


Green Beans

Green beans are a summer vegetable. You can pick them from your own garden before the barbecue or perhaps grab a bundle at your local farmer’s market.

Green beans are a relatively simple dish to prepare, but the magic from green bean recipes comes from what you can add as a topping! 

For instance, you can cook green beans on a sheet pan in the oven then remove them and add toasted walnuts, feta cheese, and a squeeze of lemon on top for a tasty side dish.

Another great topping for green beans is a generous amount of grated Parmesan cheese. The availability and versatility of this vegetable make it a great side option for a summer barbecue. 


Pea Salad

Classic pea salad is served chilled and has ingredients like sour cream, bacon, cheddar cheese, and red onions.

It is the culinary cousin of potato salad or pasta salad.

It’s best to use either fresh or frozen green peas in the salad because peas from a can tend to lose their shape faster and can make your salad a bit mushy. 

A creamy pea salad is a great complement to heavier barbecue dishes like pork ribs or Boston butt. A pea salad is a great summer side dish to take to any barbecue. 


Mac and Cheese

From a nine-year-old to a 90-year-old, everyone loves classic macaroni and cheese. It’s the perfect comfort food!

Whether you are making Kraft Macaroni & Cheese for the kid’s table or you are using Gouda, sharp cheddar, and ricotta in baked macaroni and cheese for a more sophisticated palate, the combination of pasta and gooey cheese is nearly unbeatable.

My favorite way to make macaroni and cheese is to use classic elbow pasta prepared as directed and then make a béarnaise sauce with extra sharp cheddar added at the end.

Pour the cheese over the elbow pasta, and let the mixture bake in the oven for just a bit until all of the flavors marry together.


Potato Wedges 

Potato wedges or another perfectly simple yet completely delicious side dish that everyone will enjoy at a backyard barbecue.

You can either prepare potato wedges using Idaho potatoes or he can shop the frozen section of the grocery store for pre-cut and ready-to-cook fries. 

You can cook potato wedges in the oven, in the air fryer, or you can deep fry potato wedges in vegetable oil.

Once cooked some people like to top potato wedges with Parmesan cheese, garlic powder, and parsley. Other folks like to toss potato wedges in smoked paprika or Old Bay seasoning


Cornbread

Cornbread is a classic barbecue side dish if you are enjoying baby back ribs and collard greens. The most popular way to make cornbread is to purchase a box of Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix

You can follow the instructions on the box by mixing an egg and some milk to create a batter, then pouring it into a muffin tin for individual servings of cornbread.

Some people like to add diced jalapenos or pimentos to the batter to add a spicy and savory element. 

Other recipes call for cornmeal, flour, buttermilk, and egg. If you make your cornbread batter from scratch, then you can control how sweet the cornbread tastes.

Regardless if you use a box mix for a family recipe, be sure to top your cornbread with a pad of butter. 


Jalapeno Poppers

Jalapeño poppers are a great addition to the backyard barbecue and can be enjoyed as an appetizer or side dish.

First cut the jalapeño pepper in half and if you’d like to control how spicy the popper is to remove the seeds.

Second, stuff the inside of the pepper with a cheese mixture. Most of the time the cheese mixture is some combination of shredded cheddar and cream cheese. 

Then take a strip of bacon and wrap it around the exterior of the stuffed jalapeño. Bake the jalapeño popper for about twenty minutes in a hot oven to finish the dish.

If you do not have lots of time to prepare a side, check out the frozen aisle for FarmRich’s Jalapeno Peppers


Fruit Salad

A fruit salad using fresh summer produce is a great addition to any barbecue, and might be enjoyed as both a side dish and a dessert!

One of my favorite ways to prepare a fruit salad is to cut your various fruits, add a dash of granulated sugar, and a handful of fresh basil! 

During the summer, watermelons and cantaloupes are in season and make for great additions to your fruit salad.

Additionally, grapes and pineapple are other traditional fruits that many add to the dish. Notably, some recipes call for a mixture of sour cream and cream cheese to mix into the fruit for a creamy fruit salad! 


Best BBQ Side Dishes

  1. Macaroni Salad
  2. Coleslaw
  3. Mexican Street Corn
  4. Collard Greens
  5. Potato Salad
  6. Grilled Corn on the Cob
  7. Sweet Potato Fries
  8. Baked Beans
  9. Cucumber Tomato Avocado Salad
  10. Biscuits
  11. Green Beans
  12. Pea Salad
  13. Mac and Cheese
  14. Potato Wedges 
  15. Cornbread
  16. Jalapeno Poppers
  17. Fruit Salad

Final Thoughts 

The summertime is synonymous with outdoor grilling and it is the perfect time to try different side dishes.

Whether you make lots of pasta salad for a neighborhood cookout or just a few jalapeno poppers to enjoy while the meats finish smoking, this comprehensive list will get your creative recipe juices flowing. 

Let us know if your favorite barbecue side dish isn’t on the list by leaving a comment below. If you want to learn more about summer grilling, check out 13 Grill-Friendly Vegetables For Your Barbecue

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Written by Erin Elizabeth

Erin lives in East Passyunk and enjoys checking out the local restaurants in South Philly and beyond. Her favorite restaurants are those with spicy food and outdoor seating so that she can bring along her dog, Miss Piggy.