8 Best BBQ Sides For Your Next Cookout

Are you gearing up for a fantastic cookout and wondering what sides to serve that will complement your smoky, savory barbecue? Finding the perfect balance of flavors and textures to accompany your grilled masterpieces can be a game-changer. From creamy to crunchy, tangy to sweet, the right side dishes can turn a good barbecue into a great one. Here’s a rundown of the eight best BBQ sides that are sure to impress your guests at your next cookout.

1. Classic Coleslaw

Classic Coleslaw

Why mess with a classic? Coleslaw is the timeless go-to side for any BBQ. Its creamy, tangy crunch complements the rich flavors of barbecued meats perfectly. Want a tip? Mix your cabbage with some carrots, onions, and maybe a touch of apple for that extra zing. Remember, the key to a great slaw is in the dressing—a blend of mayo, vinegar, a hint of sugar, and some mustard.

2. Sweet Cornbread

Sweet Cornbread

Nothing says BBQ quite like a piece of moist, buttery cornbread. Its slight sweetness is the perfect counterbalance to spicy, smoky barbecue sauces. For a twist, add jalapeños or corn kernels to the batter. This not only adds flavor but also texture and moisture, making each bite interesting and delightful.

3. Baked Beans

Three Bean Baked Beans

Baked beans are a hearty side that can stand up to any main dish. Slow-cooked with bacon, molasses, and brown sugar, they offer a deeply satisfying sweet and savory flavor that hooks you from the first spoonful. Plus, they’re incredibly easy to prepare in large batches, making them ideal for feeding a crowd.

4. Grilled Vegetables

How to Grill Vegetables

Why should meats get all the grill time? Thick slices of zucchini, bell peppers, onions, and mushrooms brushed with olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper can be grilled to charred perfection. They add a fresh, smoky flavor that lightens the often heavy feel of barbecue meals. Plus, they’re colorful and packed with nutrients!

5. Potato Salad

Our Perfect Potato Salad Will Have You Putting The Store-Bought Down For  Good

Is there a more iconic barbecue side than potato salad? I think not! The creamy texture and cool flavor profile of potato salad make it an excellent companion for hot grilled meats. Mix in some celery for crunch and pickle relish for a bit of tang. Here’s a secret: add a dash of vinegar to the potatoes while they’re still warm for extra flavor absorption!

6. Macaroni and Cheese

6-Cheese Truffle Mac and Cheese Recipe

Macaroni and cheese at a BBQ? Absolutely! Its creamy, cheesy goodness is a crowd-pleaser and provides a comforting balance to spicy or tangy BBQ dishes. For a golden, crispy top layer, sprinkle some breadcrumbs and bake it until it’s bubbling and browned. It’s a side dish that often steals the show!

7. Watermelon Salad

How To Make Watermelon and Feta Salad - Escoffier Online

On hot cookout days, the crisp freshness of watermelon mixed with feta cheese, mint, and a drizzle of balsamic glaze can be incredibly refreshing. This salad is not only delicious but also visually appealing with its vibrant colors. It’s a cool, refreshing break from the heat of the grill.

8. Corn on the Cob

How to Cook Corn on the Cob (Sweet & Crunchy Recipe)

Grilled corn on the cob, slathered with butter and sprinkled with salt, is simple yet irresistible. For something extra special, try adding spices like paprika or cumin, or coat the corn with Parmesan cheese or herbs like cilantro for a flavor explosion.


There you have it—eight fantastic side dishes that are perfect for any BBQ. Each brings its unique flavors and textures to the table, ensuring there’s something for everyone to enjoy. Whether you stick to the classics or experiment with new recipes, these sides will enhance your barbecue experience and leave your guests impressed.


Q What is the best way to keep sides warm at a BBQ?

Preheat a slow cooker and use it to keep dishes like baked beans or macaroni and cheese warm throughout the event. For salads and coleslaw, keep them chilled in the cooler until serving time.

Q Can I prepare these sides in advance?

Absolutely! Dishes like coleslaw, potato salad, and baked beans even taste better when made a day ahead as the flavors have more time to meld.

Q How can I add a unique twist to traditional BBQ sides?

Experiment with different seasonings and ingredients. For example, add curry powder to your coleslaw dressing or toss some smoked paprika into your potato salad for a smoky flavor.

Q What are some tips for making these sides healthier?

Opt for low-fat mayonnaise in your salads, use whole grain instead of white in your cornbread, and increase the number of vegetables in your dishes.

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