The Best BBQ Sides for Summer

These BBQ Sides are perfect for any warm weather meal! From potatoes and pasta salads to grilled veggies and casseroles, these are the best side dish ideas for all your cookouts and potlucks this season.

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Can you feel it? The chill is leaving the air. The birds are back from vacation. Slowly, but surely, my winter layers have retreated to the back of the closet. Summer barbecues are coming up quickly!

As soon as summer is here, we’re all about Grilled Chicken, Grilled Pork, and any excuse to cook outdoors. We can’t forget Homemade Burgers, and even Grilled Pizza!

Cozy indoor dinners with friends are replaced with warm weather cookouts. Plus, with the grilling season also comes endless possibilities for delicious BBQ side dishes!

I like to keep things simple, which is why I’ve put together a list of the very best easy BBQ sides to try this summer. These side dishes are tasty, fuss-free, and just as great for family meals as they are for backyard entertaining.

What Makes a Side Ideal for BBQs & Potlucks?

What are my non-negotiables when it comes to BBQ and potluck sides? Let’s discuss:

  • Easy to make. If you can toss a side dish on the same grill as the rest of the meal, all the better! If not, then easy casseroles, effortless salads, and slow cooker recipes are king (any excuse to minimize time spent standing next to a hot stove in the summertime!).
  • Summer-inspired. If there’s ever an occasion to embrace seasonal ingredients like veggies and lighter fare, it’s at a BBQ or summer potluck. 
  • Crowd-pleasing. Whether I’m feeding the family or feeding a crowd, the key to a good BBQ side dish is self-service: big-batch recipes that guests and family can dish up themselves, to their hearts’ content!
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What Are the Most Popular BBQ Sides?

  • Potatoes. Potatoes (and sweet potatoes) go hand in hand with BBQ – potato wedges, fries, baked potatoes, grilled potatoes, potato salad. I could go on.
  • Salads. Of all kinds. Green salads, coleslaw, pasta salads, you name it. 
  • Veggies. Grilled veggies like zucchini, bell peppers, and summer squash are all easy go-tos. Plus, we can’t forget other vegetarian sides like baked beans and corn-on-the-cob!

Tips for Making Sides in Advance

The key to making your sides ahead of time is all in the preparation: 

  • Choose a make-ahead recipe. Obviously, the first step to making a side in advance is choosing a recipe that can be made in advance! Depending on how far ahead you’re planning to make it, look for a dish that will last for a day or more in the fridge, or that freezes well for longer term storage.
  • Prep the ingredients. Even if you’re not assembling a casserole or recipe right away, you can always get a head start by preparing your ingredients. Chop up veggies, shred cheese, prepare sauces, and then store them in containers so they’re ready to go.
  • Go hands-free where you can. Some of the best make ahead side dishes are the ones that require the least intervention (not to mention less clean-up). Recipes that you can make in your slow cooker or Instant Pot, or assemble in a single bowl or casserole dish are your friend!
overhead image of grilled potatoes in foil
Grilled Potatoes in Foil
You can’t beat the convenience of wrapping up potatoes in foil and tossing them onto a grill that's already fired up. This simple grilled potato recipe packs big flavors thanks to an easy, flavorful herb butter.
Get the recipe here
overhead image of german potato salad in white dish with parsley
German Potato Salad
It wouldn’t be a cookout without a cracking potato salad, now would it? German potato salad can be served warm or cold, loaded with bacon bits and a sweet, tangy onion and bacon dressing.
Get the recipe here
broccoli salad recipe with bacon cranberries cheese and homemade dressing.
Easy Broccoli Salad
This fresh and creamy broccoli salad recipe was made for BBQs! Hardy enough to keep in the fridge all week long, and delicious enough to devour in one sitting with zero regrets.
Get the recipe here
easy homemade coleslaw in glass bowl
Homemade Coleslaw Recipe
Sure, you could buy your coleslaw – or you could make your own in only 15 minutes! The perfect side for summer BBQ, this is the best recipe for creamy and tangy homemade slaw with a family-favorite dressing.
Get the recipe here
blue bowl with macaroni and cheese topped with fresh parsley and a fork
Easy Homemade Mac and Cheese
Creamy, cheesy, and kid-friendly, a classic mac and cheese is the ideal side dish for almost any occasion or season. This recipe is made in just one pot, and only needs a handful of ingredients!
Get the recipe here
square image of creamed corn in white skillet.
Homemade Creamed Corn
A classic Midwestern and Southern side dish recipe that’s most welcome even North of the border! Flavorful homemade creamed corn is perfect for slapping onto a plate next to saucy BBQ.
Get the recipe here
instant pot potato salad close up glass bowl
Easy Instant Pot Potato Salad
Let your Instant Pot do the heavy lifting with this easy potato salad! The potatoes and eggs for this recipe cook all in one pot, so all that’s left is to toss everything into a bowl, stir with creamy dressing, and serve!
Get the recipe here
instant pot baked beans in pressure cooker
Instant Pot Baked Beans
Another classic BBQ side dish that’s full of nostalgia, not to mention loads of flavor! These simple and delicious BBQ baked beans cook up fast and easy in the Instant Pot.
Get the recipe here
overhead image of potato salad in large white serving bowl
Easy Potato Salad Recipe
Red potatoes covered in a creamy homemade mayonnaise dressing makes for a tasty and easy potluck or picnic dish! This recipe is great for feeding a crowd and never falls short in the flavor department.
Get the recipe here
creamy ranch bowtie pasta salad in a large bowl
Creamy Ranch Bowtie Pasta Salad Recipe
Name a more authentic summer side dish than a good old-fashioned pasta salad! This is an easy recipe made with rich and creamy ranch dressing and tender cooked bowtie pasta.
Get the recipe here
This no mayo Garlic Herb Potato Salad is great warm or cold -- the perfect make ahead side dish for summer barbecues, loaded with fresh herbs! Includes step by step recipe video. | light recipe | low calorie | diet | healthy recipe | healthy side | summer salad | warm potato salad |
No Mayo Garlic Herb Potato Salad
If you’re craving a lightened-up version of potato salad sans the creaminess, this is the recipe! This simple potato salad recipe skips the mayo while still bursting with flavor thanks to garlic and herbs.
Get the recipe here
close up view of foil pack with grilled potatoes covered in melted cheese, bacon, and green onions.
Cheesy Grilled Potatoes with Bacon
A little bundle of bacon-infused joy, hot off the grill! These cheesy potatoes are an easy foil packet side dish, perfectly seasoned and cooked with smoky bacon pieces.
Get the recipe here
We LOVE these for summer barbecues! Healthier Slow Cooker Baked Beans that pack a big punch of flavor with maple syrup and balsamic vinegar -- great cold or warm! Gluten free.
Healthier Slow Cooker Maple Balsamic Baked Beans
These balsamic baked beans are a healthier alternative to the classic, conveniently made in the slow cooker! Toss in the ingredients and then leave them to cook into a side dish brimming with delicious hints of maple.
Get the recipe here
close up image of brioche buns on baking sheet
Brioche Bun recipe
Whether you’re serving these wrapped around a hamburger patty, or using the moist and fluffy bread to soak up all sorts of BBQ sauces, this is an easy and versatile bun recipe to have on hand this summer!
Get the recipe here
square image of southwest potato salad with wooden spoon stuck in
Southwest Potato Salad
Bring Tex Mex flair to your cookout with this easy grilled potato salad idea! Tossed in a finger-licking taco spice vinaigrette, this mouthwatering medley of potatoes, peppers, corn, and tomatoes is just as easy as it is delicious.
Get the recipe here
close up overhead image of baked potato split open with butter
Baked Potato Recipe
Want to know the secret to the perfect baked potato? Look no further! This easy recipe walks you through how to make a baked potato that’s cooked to crispy, tender, buttery perfection.
Get the recipe here
close up image of metal spoon scooping hashbrown casserole
Hashbrown Casserole
Ten minutes of prep is all you need, and then you’re on your way to side dish greatness with this recipe! This easy potato casserole is full of melty cheese and so delicious to serve at BBQs!
Get the recipe here
A skillet full of fried corn.
Fried Corn Recipe (Southern Fried Corn)
The best recipe for Southern fried corn that’s fresh off the cob! Tender sweet corn kernels are fried up to perfection with bacon drippings and sugar in a cast iron skillet. The perfect summer side to keep your cookout recipes company all season long!
Get the recipe here
A bowl of creamy cucumber salad with red onions.
Creamy Cucumber Salad
A creamy and refreshing cucumber salad made with crisp red onions in a savory dill dressing.You’re going to love this salad at BBQs and then some.
Get the recipe here
A bowl of creamy pea salad topped with bacon.
Pea Salad
Creamy pea salad is a classic recipe bringing together sweet green peas, crispy bacon, cheese and onion in a rich homemade mayo and sour cream dressing.
Get the recipe here
A bowl of pesto tortellini salad with a wooden spoon.
Pesto Tortellini Pasta Salad
A cold tortellini salad filled with herbaceous flavors of basil pesto! Mixed with cherry tomatoes and mozzarella cheese, this Italian-inspired pasta salad recipe is easy to make in under 15 minutes.
Get the recipe here
Elote grilled corn on a blue plate with a lime wedge.
Mexican Corn on the Cob (Elote)
Strike while the grill is hot – with this Mexican-style corn on the cob side dish! Elote street corn is a traditional recipe loaded with flavor and spices that you’ll want to make for every cookout, from now until the season changes!
Get the recipe here
Chopped kale salad in a wooden bowl with a wooden salad spoon.
Chopped Kale Salad Recipe
A colorful, healthy green salad made with chopped kale and a rainbow of nutritious veggies is just what every BBQ needs! Zesty lemon dressing and fresh green leaves are the perfect way to lighten up any meal.
Get the recipe here
A white bowl of chicken Caesar pasta salad garnished with bacon bits and lemon wedges.
Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad
Bowtie pasta salad gets a novel twist in this creamy chicken Caesar version! Finish this easy pasta salad recipe with a squeeze of lemon and enjoy all the authentic flavors of classic Caesar dressing, tender chicken, crunchy croutons, bacon crumbs and parmesan.
Get the recipe here
A hand holding a bowl of asparagus and sun dried tomato pasta salad.
Orzo Pasta Salad with Asparagus
This simple and craveable orzo pasta salad recipe is filled with snaps of asparagus and juicy sun dried tomatoes. A one-pot side dish that’s perfect for summertime entertaining!
Get the recipe here
A large bowl of Southwest quinoa salad garnished with lime wedges.
Southwest Quinoa Salad
Wholesome quinoa mingles with all sorts of delicious Southwest-inspired fixings in this tasty make-ahead summer salad! Black beans, red peppers, sweet corn and cilantro brush shoulders as they’re mixed with a zingy homemade lime vinaigrette.
Get the recipe here
A bowl of black bean, corn and avocado salad.
Black Bean Corn Avocado Salad
An effortless black bean salad recipe made with corn and creamy, seasonal avocado. So full of flavor and easy to make!
Get the recipe here
Mexican street corn salad in a red bowl garnished with green jalapeno slices.
Mexican Street Corn Salad (Elote Deconstructed)
Deconstruct your Mexican corn on the cob into this zesty, spicy, flavor-packed salad that’s begging to be the star of your next BBQ.
Get the recipe here
A large bowl of Cajun potato salad.
Cajun Potato Salad (30 Minute Recipe!)
This Cajun potato salad recipe will have you and your guests relishing in its Southern-inspired flavors and special combination of creamy, crunchy textures.
Get the recipe here
Top view of a bowl of 4-ingredient cucumber salad.
4-Ingredient Cucumber Salad Recipe
Make this cool cucumber salad with only four ingredients! This recipe has it all, and then some: bright and tangy flavors, crunchy veggies, and it’s ready in 15 minutes!
Get the recipe here

Meet Ashley

My name is Ashley Fehr and I love creating easy meals my family loves. I also like to do things my way, which means improvising and breaking the rules when necessary. Here you will find creative twists on old favorites and some of my favorite family recipes, passed down from generations!

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