When it comes to BBQs and cookouts, side dishes can make all the difference, so I’ve rounded up a delicious collection of my all-time favorite recipes for any summer gathering! From classic BBQ side dishes to fresh salads and crowd-pleasing appetizers, this list has got you covered.
What You’ll Find In This Post
BBQs and cookouts are all about good food, good company, and good times. While the main course, like burgers, dogs, or barbecue, often takes center stage, side dishes truly complete the meal. So, it doesn’t matter whether you’re hosting a backyard BBQ, a family cookout, or a neighborhood block party, these all-time favorite side dishes are truly the unsung heroes of summer get-togethers.
How To Pick The Right Side Dishes
When it comes to selecting the perfect side dishes for your BBQ or cookout, a few key factors should be considered.
- First and foremost, the side dish should complement the flavors of the main course and provide a refreshing contrast to the smoky flavors of grilled meats and create a balance on your plate.
- Side dishes should also have different textures and colors and be pretty to look at.
This list of timeless classics is my go-to when it comes to side dishes for any cookout or family BBQ.
Tips For Planning And Prepping
- Plan the guest list, and send out the invites.
- Make the menu and your shopping list.
- Prepare as much food as you can ahead of time. Chop, marinate, and make as many dishes as possible before the day of your gathering.
- Clean the grill if you are using one. Gather all the tools you’ll need for cooking as well.
The Best Pasta Salads
No BBQ or cookout is complete without pasta salad! These recipes are simple to make and most ahead of time so that you can spend time having fun with your guests.
Tips For Serving
- Set up a buffet with plates and bowls at one end of the table, then food, and at the end, the utensils and napkins. That way, folks are not balancing things while trying to serve their food.
- Make sure to have plenty of extra napkins or paper towels on hand.
- Stock up on various beverages, including non-alcoholic options such as water, soda, and iced tea.
- My #1 pro-tip is always to have more ice on hand than you think you’ll need!
There’s nothing like a salad made with farm fresh ingredients! Each of these salads make a great side dish to grilled meats, or seafood, and are perfect for the veggie lover.
Crowd Pleasing Appetizers
Get the party started with a few of these amazing appetizers. All of these recipes are proven winners when it comes to revving up your taste buds.
Tips For Successful Hosting
- Make sure you have enough seating for your guests, whether it’s chairs, benches, or picnic blankets. Also, consider offering shaded areas with umbrellas or tents if it’s bright and sunny.
- Set the mood with some upbeat music or relaxing background tunes. Outdoor speakers or portable Bluetooth speakers are great for everyone to enjoy music.
- Set up outdoor games like corn hole, Frisbee, or lawn darts. You can also set up a designated area for kids with games and activities to keep them occupied.
Must-Have Extras (Pickles And Sauces)
Extras like pickles, relish, spreads and sauces are the finishing touch for any BBQ or cookout. They bring unique flavors to the party and deliver incredible flavor to anything cooked on the grill.