On the day of a barbecue, there’s no denying that the grill is the center of attention. And it should be: all those meaty, perfectly charred mains are designed to steal the show. But no outdoor feast can subsist on burgers and brisket alone. A bright and colorful array of sides is just as essential.
You can cut down on the fuss and devote all your energies to being the master of the grill by making your sides in the slow cooker. Or if you’re a guest, a slow cooker side is easy to prep ahead of time and bring to the party. These recipes make it possible to put your ingredients in the crock and simply press start.
1. Easy Slow Cooker Baked Beans
Saucy baked beans are a fantastic accompaniment to grilled and barbecued meats. Our version throws in bacon and molasses, for a smoky-sweet flavors that hold up against virtually any heavily-marinated main. Get our Easy Slow Cooker Baked Beans recipe.
2. Easy Slow Cooker Chili
Whether you’re in the mood for jam-packed chili dogs or just want to fit a little extra meat into your spread, a ladle full of chili can easily find its place amidst all the barbecue fun. Get our Easy Slow Cooker Chili recipe.
3. Slow Cooker Hot Wings
Is your grill space all maxed out with burgers and brats? Throw your wings in the slow cooker for a supremely saucy finger food. Get our Slow Cooker Hot Wings recipe.
4. Slow Cooker Collard Greens
The best greens are full of smoky flavor with a hint of sweetness and tang. This slow cooker recipe ensures that they are completely infused, turning them into a powerhouse on the plate. Get our Slow Cooker Collard Greens recipe.
5. Slow Cooker Quinoa-Stuffed Peppers
Think of this as your veg and your grain-based salad all in one. The slow cooker helps the peppers get soft and sweet while the bean-studded quinoa turns each package into something hearty and substantial. Get our Slow Cooker Quinoa-Stuffed Peppers recipe.
6. Slow Cooker Creamed Corn
A barbecue spread would feel incomplete without corn of some sort. This rich and creamy rendition brings it in its most rib sticking-ly delicious glory. Get the recipe here.
7. Slow Cooker Mashed Potatoes
The best part about mashed potatoes with barbecue is swirling them around with the sauce from the meat to make one incredibly amazing flavor mash up. This recipe makes getting those delectably fluffy spuds about as easy as can be. Get the recipe here.
8. Crock Pot Bacon Green Beans
Green beans can be done two ways: either just barely blanched and snappy or meltingly tender and soft. With barbecue, the latter might just be the better option, fitting in perfectly with the other low and slow eats. This recipe shows you how it’s done. Get the recipe here.
9. Slow Cooker Macaroni and Cheese
Mac ‘n cheese in the slow cooker? Yes, indeed. The crock pot method brings out its most delightfully gooey unctuousness. Get the recipe here.
10. Crockpot Carrots with Herbed Honey Butter Sauce
Slow cooking emphasizes and concentrates carrots’ natural sweetness. In fact, it’s the only way we’d do them when we want to showcase all that they have to offer. Get the recipe here.
11. Loaded Slow-Cooker Baked Potatoes
A fully loaded potato can look pretty boss even next to the most spectacular of barbecued meats. These puppies are a side that few would want to skip over. Get the recipe here.
Miki Kawasaki is a New York City–based food writer and graduate of Boston University's program in Gastronomy. Few things excite her more than a well-crafted sandwich or expertly spiced curry. If you ever run into her at a dinner party, make sure to hit her up for a few pieces of oddball culinary trivia.