38 Best Barbecue Side Dishes—Because It's Not Just About the Meat

Our favorite barbecue sides might win out over that pulled pork.

Grilled Sweet Potato Fries
Photo: Antonis Achilleos; Prop Styling: Audrey Davis; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall

So you're hosting a barbecue—It sounds like it will be easy and breezy, right? Wrong. Even the most casual events require some planning and decision-making. You spend so much time pouring TLC into that meat—the sides deserve the same treatment.

Complement your best 'cue with these staff-favorite barbecue side dishes with a savory, mouth-watering twist. Our barbecue sides transform staples like coleslaw and potato salad into side dish stunners. Try the crowd-pleasing Shout Hallelujah Potato Salad or Roasted Tomato Macaroni and Cheese, which offers a new twist on the classic dish. If you are short on time, whip up the family-favorite Rum Baked Beans—they're as memorable as they are easy to make. 

Going fork-free? Barbecue sandwiches pair perfectly with our seaside-inspired, bite-sized Crispy Andouille Hush Puppies. From Crispy Potatoes to Grilled Jalapeño-Lime Corn on the Cob, these barbecue sides will ensure guests clean their plates at your next backyard barbecue.

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Rum Baked Beans

Rum Baked Beans
Hector Sanchez

No barbecue would be complete without the beans. The medley of beans—navy, dark red kidney, light red kidney, black, and baked—makes this dish irresistible. Prepare these baked beans up to two days ahead and bake just before serving.

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Shout Hallelujah Potato Salad

Candied Jalapeños
Hector Sanchez

Bragging rights for this flavor-packed, perfectly balanced potato salad favorite go to Blair Hobbs of Oxford, Mississippi, and The Southern Foodways Alliance Community Cookbook. Hailing from Oxford, Mrs. Hobbs knows about making a side dish perfect for every tailgate and barbecue she attends. This recipe is so good because of Mrs. Hobbs's fresh ingredients in her bowl—Yukon potatoes, pickles, red onions, green bell peppers, celery, parsley, and pimiento peppers—and that's not even to mention the variety of spices she adds.

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Whipped-Cream Corn Salad

Whipped-Cream Corn Salad
Southern Living

This no-cook salad comes together with just 10 minutes of hands-on time. The only thing better than corn on the cob at the barbecue is this lovely salad dressed up with whipped cream. It'll be your favorite dish of the spread.

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Crispy Potatoes

Crispy Potatoes
Photo: Hector Manuel Sanchez; Prop Styling: Buffy Hargett Miller; Food Styling: Katelyn Hardwick

When roasting potatoes, don't crowd the pan. Overcrowding will result in steaming, mushy potatoes. Make this dish with russet, Yukon gold, red, or fingerling potatoes. 

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Grilled Jalapeño-Lime Corn On The Cob

Grilled Jalapeño-Lime Corn on the Cob
Jennifer Davick

Fresh summer corn is already delicious. Transform traditional char-grilled corn by fixing it as "Mexican Street Corn." Add south-of-the-border flavor to buttery grilled corn with ground pepper, spicy jalapeño peppers, cilantro, garlic, lime zest, and lime juice. Because you will be preparing the corn without the Latin lime buttery mixture, we suggest you double the lime butter recipe and use the remainder with other parts of your meal.

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Best-Ever Succotash

Best-Ever Succotash
Victor Protasio; Food Styling: Tina Bell Stamos; Prop Styling: Christine Keely

The ultimate summer side, our Best-Ever Succotash is just that—the best. Fresh summer produce, like tomatoes, corn, and okra, speak for themselves, and this recipe is about giving them the tools to shine. A little bacon certainly doesn't hurt, either.

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Quick Pickled Slaw

Quick Pickled Slaw
Antonis Achilleos; Prop Styling: Mindi Shapiro Levine; Food Styling: Tina Stamos

An easy alternative to the bagged stuff, this Quick Pickled Slaw sure will make your life easier. It's healthy and acidic—the perfect light and bright side for a hardy BBQ. For ultimate freshness, prepare this dish on the day of your barbecue.

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Classic Baked Macaroni And Cheese

Classic Baked Macaroni and Cheese
Beth Dreiling Hontzas

This classic dish belongs at every party. Mac and cheese will always be the most popular dish at any party, and this made-from-scratch recipe only takes three steps to complete. Choose pasta with plenty of nooks to absorb all the cheesy goodness.

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Freezer Coleslaw

Chewy Chocolate-Peanut Butter Bars
Hector Manuel Sanchez

Freezer coleslaws were a hit in all of our vintage eighties issues, and now we can see why. Make this sweet and tangy vinegar-based slaw ahead of time. With minimal cook time and a short ingredient list, this coleslaw is easy to whip up on a weeknight to prepare for the upcoming weekend gathering. After you combine the dressing with the shredded slaw mixture, throw it in the freezer for up to a month. Whether you're making it for a party or just as a side to have on hand for a weeknight family dinner, this versatile slaw will please the crowd. Set it out three hours before serving—it'll stay cold and crunchy longer than most.

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Street Corn Salad

Street Corn Salad
Photo: Hector Sanchez; Styling: Caroline M. Cunningham

Mexican flavors inspire this summer salad. This corn salad comes together in a snap, so it'll save you if you've waited until the last minute, as it is ready with just a touch of olive oil and Cotija cheese. Use feta cheese as a substitute if necessary.

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Bacon Deviled Eggs

Bacon Deviled Eggs
Antonis Achilleos; Prop Styling: Kay E. Clarke; Food Styling: Chelsea Zimmer

No Southern get-together is complete without a platter of deviled eggs—there are endless ways to make them. This bacon-deviled egg recipe is the best of both worlds. Deviled eggs kissed with smoky bacon. One of our favorite make-ahead tips is to place the yolk filling in a zip-top plastic bag and the egg white halves in another container (it is convenient to take it to a barbecue). When ready to fill egg white halves, snip a corner of the zip-top plastic bag and pipe away.

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Field Pea, Corn And Bacon Salad

Field Pea, Corn, and Bacon Salad
Greg DuPree; Prop Styling: Kay E. Clarke; Food Styling: Cat Steele

This easy salad will find a regular place in your summer recipe rotation. This recipe shows off the season's best flavors with fresh lady cream peas, fresh corn, and sweet onion. Summer Sauce is the perfect complement, a vinaigrette made from mint, basil, and parsley.

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Golden Corn Fritters

Golden Corn Fritters
Southern Living

These nostalgic fried bites will be the absolute favorite at the family feast. Milk, sugar, and fresh corn make up this home-style finger food reminiscent of hush puppies. Even better, it only takes 30 minutes of hands-on time to prepare.

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Zucchini, Squash, And Corn Casserole

Zucchini, Squash, and Corn Casserole
Photo: Hector Sanchez

This Zucchini, Squash, and Corn Casserole is the perfect side to make after a summer farmers' market trip. Soft, white breadcrumbs double as a feather-light binder and golden crumb topping. To make them, pulse torn slices of day-old sandwich bread in the food processor. Sprinkle the fresh breadcrumbs over a creamy mixture of summer squash, butter, onion, garlic, fresh corn, white Cheddar cheese, sour cream, mayonnaise, and beaten eggs—top it all with Asiago cheese. This colorful casserole comes together in just over an hour. Bring it to a potluck, or make a family weeknight meal and serve it with simple grilled chicken.

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Roasted Tomato Macaroni And Cheese

Roasted Tomato Macaroni and Cheese
Victor Protasio

Use those fresh summer tomatoes for this grown-up mac and cheese. We find that mac and cheese is the tastiest when you shred your cheese, but pre-shredded from the grocery store will do just fine in a pinch. Oregano and dry mustard add a touch of seasoning to this dish.

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Zucchini-Potato Casserole

Zucchini-Potato Casserole
Iain Bagwell

Aside from pantry staples, you need just five ingredients for this colorful casserole. Serve it warm or at room temperature on too-hot summer days. If serving warm, let it sit for at least 10 minutes before enjoying it.

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Classic Grilled Corn On The Cob

Classic Grilled Corn on the Cob
Hector Manuel Sanchez; Prop Styling: Christine Keely; Food Styling: Chelsea Zimmer

You can never beat a classic husk of grilled corn. This recipe will show you how to do it like the pros. Use the husks as handles to dig into this delicious hand-held side. Try one of our recommended enhancements to make this classic extra special: Basil Butter with Parmesan, Bacon with Ranch Drizzle, Honey-Chipotle Glaze, or Smoky Barbecue Rub.

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Herbed Potato Stacks

Herbed Potato Stacks Recipe
Hector Manuel Sanchez; Prop Styling: Buffy Hargett Miller; Food Styling: William Smith

A mandoline is essential for getting extra thin, consistent slices. Try out this recipe for your most elegant potato yet. You'll never go back to bland old not-stacked potatoes. Fresh thyme and rosemary perfectly season this simple dish.

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Big Daddy's Grilled Blue Cheese-And-Bacon Potato Salad

Carolina Blue Potato Salad
Photo: Jennifer Davick

Potato Salad is the ultimate staple BBQ side dish, and this grilled version takes a Southern crowd-pleasing favorite to the next level. Grilling the potatoes in an easy-to-fold aluminum foil packet adds a subtle smoky flavor and makes cleanup a breeze. Tangy vinegar, fresh parsley, red onion, and Dijon mustard make this potato salad perfect as a Summer barbecue side dish. Hearty blue cheese, bacon, and mayonnaise flavors make this delicious potato salad great for a fall tailgate. Refrigerate this dish for a few hours to serve cold or immediately for a heartwarming side dish that guests will love.

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Creamy Cucumber Salad

Creamy Cucumber Salad With Dill
Hannah Zimmerman/Southern Living

Brighten up the barbecue with this delightfully refreshing side salad. This reliable recipe is a fan-favorite for every situation, from a barbecue to a ladies' luncheon. Enjoy this dish within four hours of preparing it to avoid watery cucumbers.

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Broccoli, Grape, And Pasta Salad

Broccoli, Grape, and Pasta Salad

Jennifer Davick

A good pasta salad recipe is essential for any hostess, and this colorful one will do just the trick. Our fresh and bright spin on pasta salad is easy to assemble and transport, so it will make it to the function ready to eat. Top it all with crumbled bacon.

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Creamy Broccoli Slaw

Creamy Broccoli Slaw

Will Dickey; Prop Stylist: Julia Bayless; Food Stylist: Ali Ramee

Serve this at your next barbecue. Your guests will ask for the recipe before the bowls are scraped clean. This slaw recipe combines savory and sweet flavorings with crisp and creamy textures. Use it as a side dish, sandwich topper, or base.

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Crispy Andouille Hush Puppies

Crispy Andouille Hush Puppies
Photo: Hector Sanchez

Readers from the deep South will see the word "Andouille" in this recipe's title and immediately add it to their cookbooks, but for those who haven't heard of this spicy, smoky Creole-Cajun pork sausage, you'll want to see what you've been missing. These crunchy, savory hushpuppy upgrades are coated in a beer batter and deep-fried to golden perfection. Whip them up in 35 minutes using only a few ingredients—cornmeal, flour, onion, eggs, buttermilk, beer, and Andouille sausage.

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Cowboy Pasta Salad

Cowboy Pasta Salad
Photo: Jennifer Causey; Food Stylist: Emily Nabors Hall

This dish holds its own at the cookout. Crisp veggies, tender pasta, and satisfying beef are all you could ask for in an enjoyable side. Drizzle a lime dressing for the perfect amount of tangy flavoring.

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Grilled Sweet Potato Fries

Grilled Sweet Potato Fries
Antonis Achilleos; Prop Styling: Audrey Davis; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall

Do you like your sweet potato fries sweet with honey and brown sugar or savory with salty queso fresco and ketchup? These grilled sweet potato fries are perfect for everyone. For a sweet rendition, drizzle the fries with honey and sprinkle with queso fresco and chives.

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Home-Style Butterbeans

Home-Style Butterbeans
William Dickey

Southern-style butterbeans will complement all your barbecue favorites. Mix bacon, brown sugar, and onion with frozen butterbeans for a quick, delicious side dish. Use lima beans as a substitute if you prefer.

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Southern-Style Potato Salad

Southern Living Southern Style Potato Salad in a bowl to serve with two glasses of sweet tea behind

Dotdash Meredith

Deliciously prepared with onions, celery, sour cream, and bacon, you can customize this recipe to make it your own. Add more mustard, shallots, or grape tomatoes for variety to this classic Southern potato salad. Let the potatoes cool entirely before adding the other ingredients to maintain the right texture.

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Broccoli Cheese Casserole

Broccoli Rice Casserole With Cheese
Broccoli Rice Casserole With Cheese. Diana Rattray

This unlikely barbecue side dish will always be a favorite, no matter the event. Try this traditional casserole for chilly fall tailgates, as you can prepare this recipe in advance and refrigerate it until you are ready to bake and serve. The buttery crackers are the ideal topping for this casserole filled with Cheddar cheese, onion, garlic, mayonnaise, and Dijon mustard.

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Black-Eyed Pea and Grain Salad

Black-Eyed Pea and Grain Salad
Photo: Alison Miksch; Prop Styling: Kaye E. Clarke; Food Styling: Torie Cox

A side dish ready in less than 30 minutes will always be a go-to for barbecues and other events. Combine black-eyed peas, pepper, cilantro, and scallions for a zesty salad. Substitute bulgur wheat for another hearty whole grain, such as quinoa or farro.

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Chubba Bubba's Broccoli Salad

Chubba Bubba's Broccoli Salad
Southern Living

Crunchy, cheesy, and simple to make—it's the ideal salad recipe. Add some fresh and green vegetables to the barbecue menu with this recipe filled with broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots. Top with bacon for even more flavoring.

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Three-Bean Pasta Salad

Three-Bean Pasta Salad
Photo: Hector Manuel Sanchez; Prop Styling: Lydia Pursell; Food Styling: Toni Brogan

Two classic side dishes come together to create something entirely new and delicious. Take the best ingredients from three-bean and pasta salad for this recipe with a tender-crisp texture and bright green colors. Sprinkle with chives before serving.

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Watermelon, Cucumber, and Feta Salad

Watermelon, Cucumber, and Feta Salad
Hector Manuel Sanchez; Prop Styling: Lydia Pursell; Food Styling: Toni Brogan

This refreshing summer salad combines cubed watermelon, fresh herbs, and crumbled feta cheese. Use a pre-cut watermelon to save time. Add the vinaigrette dressing immediately before serving.

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Tangy Potato-Green Bean Salad

Tangy Potato-Green Bean Salad
Photo: Greg DuPree; Prop Styling: Kay E. Clarke; Food Styling: Torie Cox

A lemon-dill vinaigrette transforms this potato and green bean salad into a zesty alternative to traditional mayo-based summer salads. Radishes, chives, shallots, and Dijon mustard perfectly flavor this dish. Prepare the lemon-dill vinaigrette in advance and store it in the refrigerator.

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Spicy Pepper Jelly Coleslaw

Spicy Pepper Jelly Coleslaw
Antonis Achilleos; Prop Styling: Audrey Davis; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall

Enhance traditional coleslaw with this hot-and-sweet version. For a spicy side dish, use thinly sliced napa cabbage and bell peppers flavored with fresh cilantro, red onion, and pepper jelly dressing. Cayenne pepper adds even more heat, but you can add more or less depending on your preferences. 

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Herbed Cucumber-and-Tomato Salad

Tomato Salad with Herbed Ricotta and Balsamic Vinaigrette
Jennifer Causey

Bring this Greek-inspired side dish to your next barbecue because it pairs well with just about everything. The cucumber and tomato salad features grape tomatoes, cucumbers, and red onion. The vinegar-based dressing uses fragrant herbs, including mint and dillweed. Top with crumbled feta cheese.

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Marinated Watermelon Tomato Salad

Marinated Watermelon Tomato Salad
Antonis Achilleos; Prop Styling: Kay E. Clarke; Food Styling: Torie Cox

Tomatoes and watermelons are a summer-based pairing that everyone will enjoy. Soak this salad in a tangy lime-ginger-mint vinaigrette for an extra flavorful dish. Top with crumbled goat cheese or feta if you prefer. 

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Summer Orzo Salad

summer orzo salad in a dark blue bowl
Photographer and Prop stylist: Jennifer Causey Food Stylist: Melissa Gray

Enjoy this fresh and bright summer salad, featuring plump tomatoes mixed with pistachios, cucumbers, and a basil pesto dressing. Complete the salad by topping it with more pistachios and crumbled feta cheese.

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Tangy Rainbow Slaw

Tangy Rainbow Slaw
Victor Protasio; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall; Prop Styling: Christine Keely

Make a cabbage slaw that looks as beautiful as it is delicious. Combining green and red cabbage creates a tangy dish bursting with colors from the carrots, peppers, and fresh herbs. Roasted, lightly salted peanuts add a unique crunch to this innovative slaw.

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