BBQ Side Dish Smackdown
How We Chose the Winners
It's a good potato salad, but is it a $1,000 potato salad? That's what we asked as we tasted our way through stacks of mouthwatering side dish entries in our reader-recipe contest, which launched online in December 2011 and offered meaty cash prizes to winners in six categories (including an open-ended surprise option). Fortunately, when we stumbled across recipes such as Priscilla Yee's Spinach-Artichoke Dip Potato Salad, we knew we had an answer. And to those who didn't win: There's an entire summer ahead for experimenting—and we can't wait to dig in again next year.
Winner: Best Baked Beans
Recipe: Grandma Gwen's Beans - Liz Matthews, Fullerton, California
"My grandmother would make this dish for special family gatherings—it's a favorite. Sharing her recipe helps her legacy live on."
Winner: Best Pasta Salad
Recipe: Tangy Tzatziki Pasta Salad - Dawn Moore, Warren, Pennsylvania
"I merged my love of Greek ingredients with my favorite barbecue side dish: pasta salad. It's wonderful with grilled chicken."
Winner: Best Coleslaw
Recipe: Chipotle-Cilantro Slaw - Nadine Mesch, Mount Healthy, Ohio
"My family always enjoys a little heat with their meal, and this slaw delivers on that! It's great with grilled meats or on a sandwich."
Winner: Best Potato Salad
Recipe: Spinach-Artichoke Dip Potato Salad - Priscilla Yee, Concord, California
"Our favorite party dip inspired this dish, and it's the perfect base for potato salad. Potato chips add an irresistible crunch."
Winner: Best Mac & Cheese
Recipe: Chipotle-Bacon Mac and Cheese - Marshall Lee Camp, Sandy Springs, Georgia
"Happy childhood memories of my mother making mac and cheese from scratch inspired this dish. I cook comfort food all year."
Winner: Best Surprise
Recipe: Sweet, Salty, and Spicy Watermelon Refresher - Carolyn Kumpe, El Dorado, California
"Watermelon just goes with barbecue. It cleanses our palates from heavy meats and rehydrates us on those smoldering summer days."