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.
Easy Crock Pot Baked Beans
Slow-Cooked, sweet, and savory baked beans with brown sugar and bacon is a side dish recipe that’s pure perfection! These Easy Crock Pot Baked beans will be a hit for any cookout, barbecue, or summer party.
Cheesy Ranch Potato Foil Packs
Cheesy Ranch Potatoes cooked in Foil Packs are the perfect side dish for cookouts and BBQs. Cooking in foil packs on the grill is super popular, and for good reason. You can customize your dish with your favorite ingredients; it's easy, there's virtually no cleanup, and most importantly, the flavor is outstanding.
The Best Creamy Coleslaw Recipe
Extra creamy with a healthy crunch, this coleslaw recipe is the perfect side dish for any cookout, summer lunch, or dinner. Creamy Coleslaw also makes a terrific topping for hot dogs and hamburgers!
Southern Fried Squash
Beautiful, yellow squash, lightly battered and fried, is easy to make and excellent as a side dish or as an appetizer. This tender vegetable is abundant in summer, making it a classic southern dish that shows what seasonal eating is all about. Fried Squash is easy to make and it's always a hit!
Bacon Deviled Eggs
Classic Deviled Eggs are taken to a whole new level with the addition of bacon! They’re creamy, decedent and totally irresistible. These perfect little bites are great for brunch, Easter, baby and wedding showers or anytime you’re
Air Fryer Cajun Potatoes
Take your side dish game to a whole new level with these Cajun Potatoes cooked in the Air Fryer. With classic Cajun seasoning made with spices and herbs, these potatoes, cooked perfectly in less than 15 minutes, are extra crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside.
Skillet Cinnamon Apples
Simple, easy Skillet Cinnamon Apples makes an amazing side dish, or dessert and is perfect for breakfast. Sauteed in butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon your favorite fall apples are turned into a decedent creation that's hard to resist!
BBQ Red Slaw
North Carolina red slaw with a tangy flavor for pork sandwiches, burgers or as a side dish.
Crushed Potatoes with Ranch Dressing
Creamy, crispy, crushed potatoes, topped with homemade ranch dressing, are the perfect side dish for any dinner and make great small bites for entertaining. These smashed potatoes are easy to make and deliciously addictive!
Pineapple BBQ Baked Beans
For cookouts, potlucks, covered dish suppers, or a weeknight meal, Pineapple BBQ Baked Beans is the side dish to serve! Made with pineapple, brown sugar, and honey, with just the right amount of BBQ sauce and mustard,
Southern Fried Corn Recipe
Buttery, Fried Corn is a classic Southern side dish that's a pure delight. It's simple, made in minutes with fresh corn, and is destined to shoot to the top of the list of your favorite recipes after the first time you make it!
Tomato Pie with Cheese & Pesto
Southern Tomato Pie is a classic summer recipe! Layers of ripe tomatoes, cheese, pesto, herbs and onions all baked in a flaky crust for a savory pie that’s downright scrumptious. Once summer tomatoes start coming
Blue Cheese Coleslaw
The perfect cole slaw with an added kick of blue cheese for all of your grilled burgers.
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.
Best Caprese Pasta Salad (Fresh and Easy)
This fresh and easy salad combines all the classic flavors of a Caprese Salad with pasta! Perfect for a simple family meal or when feeding a crowd this make-ahead recipe for the best Caprese Pasta Salad delivers a burst of flavor everyone will love.
Macaroni Salad For A Crowd
Macaroni Salad For A Crowd is an easy to make recipe that’s ideal for potlucks, covered dish suppers or entertaining. This simple recipe with pasta, onions, celery and a creamy dressing is always the first to disappear on the buffet table!
Couscous Salad With Tomatoes And Feta
This Couscous Salad recipe combines juicy tomatoes, tangy feta cheese, and fresh herbs to create a delicious and refreshing salad. It's a healthy side dish perfect for serving alongside grilled meats or fish, and great as a light main dish for lunch. As a bonus, it couldn't be easier to make in just 15 minutes!
Mediterranean Pasta Salad
Juicy tomatoes and cucumbers along with salty olives, red onion, tender pasta, and spinach are tossed together with creamy feta cheese in a homemade dressing for a crave-able salad that's so easy to make!
Easy Penne Pasta Salad With Vegetables
Juicy tomatoes, fresh spinach, sweet Vidalia onions, and olives are tossed with whole wheat pasta in a light lemon dressing to make the perfect pasta salad! This extra-easy recipe is excellent for customizing with your favorite ingredients and will become your go-to when you need a fast, delicious side dish.
Creamy Tomato Cucumber Pasta Salad
Fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, onion, and herbs tossed in a light creamy dressing with pasta make a salad that's absolutely irresistible! Creamy Tomato Cucumber Pasta Salad is not only easy to make but it's colorful, cool, and does double duty as a side dish or salad.
Spaghetti Salad is the perfect side dish for a party, potluck or when you're feeding a crowd. Made with tender pasta, pepperoni, fresh veggies and tossed in a zesty dressing then topped with Parmesan cheese, this easy to make salad is ideal for "soup and salad" night!
Strawberry Caprese Pasta Salad
Ripe, juicy strawberries, tender pasta twirls, and creamy mozzarella, all tossed in a bright dressing, make a fresh, easy-to-make salad that's like a pop of summer in every bite.
Pesto Pasta Salad With Tomatoes And Mozzarella
Tender pasta, juicy tomatoes, creamy mozzarella cheese, and fresh basil all tossed in a "short-cut" pesto sauce make a salad that is seriously delicious! This easy pasta salad recipe is perfect for parties, cookouts, potlucks, and a must-make when you're feeding a crowd.
Broccoli Pasta Salad
Broccoli Pasta Salad is bright, fresh and, loaded with veggies! This simple to make side dish is also great to enjoy as a light lunch. It's the perfect recipe to serve at your next cookout, picnic, or potluck and will be the first dish to go when you're feeding a crowd.
BLT Tortellini Pasta Salad
Inspired by a classic BLT sandwich, this pasta salad is outrageously good with the addition of cheese tortellini and a light creamy dressing! This easy to make recipe is just the thing for any cookout, potluck, or family gathering.
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.
Tomato Cucumber Salad
Tomato Cucumber Salad is a refreshing dish that packs a punch of fresh flavor. It's simple to make with a bright dressing full of herbs. This is one delightful salad that's like a burst of summer on your plate!
Simple Green Bean Salad
Fresh green beans tossed in a bright, lemony dressing with tomatoes, onions, and feta cheese make an irresistible Green Bean Salad! This clean and simple recipe is ideal served as a side dish for a weeknight meal and is always welcome on a holiday buffet.
Easy Ambrosia Salad
Ambrosia Salad is a classic recipe that's hard to resist. Make with pineapple, cherries, oranges, coconut, pecans and grapes all wrapped up in fresh whipped cream and marshmallows, is a fruit salad that dreams are made of!
Fruit Salad for A Crowd
Fresh fruit tossed in a bright citrus dressing with just a hint of cinnamon is a great, easy-to-make dish when you're feeding a crowd. It's always one of the first dishes to go on my buffet table. Whether you're hosting a holiday party, family reunion, block party, or tailgating, this fruit salad will be a fan favorite!
Broccoli Apple Salad
Fresh broccoli, apples, cheese and a light, bright dressing made into one awesome salad. There’s a reason why this broccoli salad is a favorite at covered dish suppers and holiday celebrations!
Spicy Cucumber Tomato Salad
Spicy Cucumber Tomato Salad is refreshing and simple to make in just 15 minutes! It's loaded with fresh cucumber, tomatoes, and onions along with creamy Feta cheese then tossed in a bright, spicy herb dressing.
Classic Creamy Pea Salad
Sweet peas, bacon, cheese, and onion, tossed in a vibrant creamy dressing, this sweet and savory salad recipe is a fantastic choice for cookouts, potlucks, and holiday buffets.
Watermelon Salad With Feta (Refreshing And Easy)
With the perfect mix of sweet and savory flavor, Watermelon Salad with Feta is bright, refreshing and super easy to make! Whether served as a side dish or light lunch, it's the best cool salad for summer.
Spinach Strawberry Salad
Beautiful, delicious, and easy to make, Spinach Strawberry Salad is like a burst of spring in every bite! Then with a sprinkle of feta cheese, candied pecans, and a drizzle of homemade dressing, you've got a next-level salad to make any time of the year.
Cucumber Tomato Avocado Salad
Cucumber Tomato Avocado Salad is a refreshing dish that packs a punch of fresh, bright flavor. Made with sliced cucumbers, tomatoes, and avocados drizzled with a simple dressing. Serve this salad any time of the year for
Strawberry Tomato Avocado Salad
This beautiful, refreshing salad tastes like a burst of summer in every bite! It's loaded with strawberries, tomatoes, and avocado, with a pop of red onion, drizzled with a homemade dressing that gives just the right amount of tangy sweetness.
Crisp apples, juicy grapes along with crunchy celery, and walnuts are tossed in a creamy dressing to make a classic recipe that's super delicious! Waldorf Salad is a perfect side dish to serve any time of the year and is ideal for covered dish suppers, potlucks, or whenever you're feeding a crowd.
Creamy Cucumber Salad
Creamy Cucumber Salad is a cool, refreshing side dish that can be made in minutes! Fresh veggies and dill tossed in a light dressing make a great salad that’s perfect for any summer party, weeknight meal or
Fresh Tomato Salad
Fresh Tomato Salad made with red onions, basil and a simple dressing couldn't be easier to make. It's beautiful, smells heavenly, tastes amazing, and is sure to become a favorite side dish in no time!
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.
Entertaining is super simple with these Antipasto Skewers! This is a make-ahead appetizer that's packed full of flavor and great for any occasion. They are fun to serve as a salad and are so good alongside grilled fish or chicken and an excellent accompaniment to soups or sandwiches. This is finger food at its best.
Cream Cheese and Olives
Cream cheese and Olives is a retro recipe that folks LOVE! Cool cream cheese, mixed with chopped olives makes a savory dip with fresh veggies or a delectable spread for thinly sliced bread. One taste of this classic recipe and you'll be hooked.
It doesn't matter if you call them Candied Jalapeños or Cowboy Candy, this sweet and spicy concoction is downright irresistible! With just a few ingredients, fresh jalapeños are turned into something extra special and perfect with burgers, sandwiches, salads, and appetizers or anything else that suits your fancy.
Pimento Cheese Sausage Dip
Warm Pimento Cheese Sausage Dip is a MUST-make for any party! Made with sausage, cream cheese, and pimento cheese along with green chilies and tomatoes, this over-this-top dip is ideal for game day, tailing or when you’re entertaining. Fair warning though, you better make a double batch because this stuff disappears quickly!
Easy Mexican Corn Dip
Inspired by Mexican street corn, this easy-to-make dip is guaranteed to be a hit at your next party or gathering! Mexican Corn Dip is creamy, cheesy with just the right amount of spice from chilies. Add a pop of fresh-squeezed lime, and you've got a party in every bite.
Crock Pot Little Smokies
Sweet and tangy little smokies are a required snack for game day. The crock pot does all the work for you so they are also a great for parties!
Crock Pot Spinach Artichoke Dip
Spinach Artichoke Dip is rich, creamy, and super easy to make in the slow cooker. This cheesy, warm dip with swirls of fresh spinach and artichokes is a crowd-pleasing appetizer that's perfect for your next party, game day celebration, or when you're entertaining.
Southwest Ranch Dip
This 10-minute recipe has all the creaminess you love from ranch dip with a spicy kick! Southwest Ranch Dip is crazy delicious served with carrots, celery, and chips. Plus it's awesome as a dressing, marinade or a spread on burgers and wraps.
Don’t you love it when a recipe does double and sometimes triple duty? If you do, then we are destined to be friends and I’ve got the perfect recipe for us to share…my Pickled Shrimp. In the
Outrageously Good Stuffed Celery
Celery sticks stuffed with cream cheese, bacon, herbs and cheddar cheese are outrageously good! Served as an appetizer or snack, this is a recipe that's sure to become a favorite at parties, cookouts and family gatherings.
Million Dollar Dip
Million Dollar Dip made with just a few simple ingredients is totally addictive and deserving of its name! This easy dip recipe made with cheese, bacon, green onions, almonds and mayo is great to serve at parties, for game day or when you're entertaining.
Sweet Heat Pickles
Sweet heat pickles made from kosher pickles, red pepper flakes, garlic, herbs, and sugar are a delicious and crazy twist on traditional pickles. They are a fabulous balance of sweet and spicy flavors, perfect for layering on burgers, and sandwiches, served on charcuterie boards or just eating right out of the jar!
Pineapple Bacon Cheese Ball
Crushed pineapple, smokey bacon, and loads of cheese are all turned into a sweet, savory cheese ball that's irresistible!
Black Bean And Corn Salsa Recipe
This colorful and fresh Black Bean And Corn Salsa is creamy, and crunchy with a subtle spicy kick! Made with 6 simple ingredients and in just 10 minutes, this salsa makes a great appetizer on its own, but don't stop there. Serve it as a side dish, or pile it on tacos, salads, eggs, or just about anything!
Easy Mini Cheese Balls
Delicious, versatile, and easy to make, Mini Cheese Balls are perfect for any occasion! They are a terrific finger food appetizer for parties, casual entertaining, or holiday gatherings with family and friends.
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.
Fresh Tomato Relish
Fresh Tomato Relish is full of bright, sweet, and tangy flavors making it irresistible! Serve it as an appetizer with crunchy bread and cheese or as a dip with chips. It's super versatile and makes the best topping for grilled burgers, sausages, chicken, and fish.
Ranch Dill Pickles (TikTok Recipe)
Ranch Dill Pickles have been blowing up the internet! Turn a jar of dill pickles into something ridiculously good with a packet of ranch seasoning mix. For snacking, appetizers and a must for any summer cookout or party.
Pickled Corn with Red Onions and Cilantro
Fresh corn, sweet red onions, spicy jalapeños, and cilantro, all put together in a hot vinegar brine make a great topping for grilled meats, burgers, tacos, and salads. Pickled Sweet Corn is a surprising, tangy, crunchy addition to any dish!
Cucumber and Onion Refrigerator Pickles
Three-ingredient refrigerator pickles are super easy to make and pack a flavorful, crunchy bite that's out of this world delicious!
Quick Pickled Sweet Peppers & Onions
Sweet red peppers, along with Vidalia onions, all in a bright, flavorful brine, are "quick pickled" and mouthwateringly delicious. You'll love this tangy, crunchy taste of pickles when you add them to burgers, hot dogs, tacos, or alongside grilled chicken or pork.
Best Spicy Mayo Sauce
Creamy mayo, combined with spicy Sriracha and a dash of chili power takes the word "sauce" to a new level! When it's time to add a little something special to a sandwich, burger or you want an above-average dip, this is the sauce you need.
Homemade BBQ Sauce (Easy And Delicious)
In just minutes, you can make rich, tangy homemade BBQ Sauce with just the right amount of sweetness and heat! This made-from-scratch sauce is great slathered on chicken, pork, or beef, plus it's great as a dip for fries, onion rings, and veggies.
How To Make The Best Fry Sauce
Learn how to make the BEST Fry Sauce that's creamy, smooth, and super flavorful. This 5-ingredient recipe is the perfect dipping sauce for fries, onion rings, and veggies, and it is crazy delicious slathered on sandwiches and burgers.
Carolina Vinegar BBQ Sauce
Carolina Vinegar BBQ Sauce is tangy, spicy, and the ultimate sauce when you’re serving pork!
Carolina Gold BBQ Sauce Recipe
Tangy, peppery, and loaded with a punch of flavor, Carolina Gold BBQ Sauce will take anything you slather it on to a whole new level! With a beautiful golden color from mustard and a slight sweetness from brown sugar and honey, this sauce takes only 10 minutes to make.