We hope you’ve been making the most of grilling season with our 13 most popular BBQ recipes and even a few unusual things to grill this summer, but what about those all-important BBQ sides? If you’re looking for inspiration beyond another bag of chips, you’re in luck. Just in time for the upcoming Labor Day weekend, we’ve handpicked some of our most popular BBQ sides to serve alongside your grilled chicken, steaks, and burgers.
After all, you’re cool. You’re interesting. You’re different, and fun. You’re popular; people like you. Shouldn’t you be able to say the same for the sides at your next BBQ?
All of these sides pair well with classic BBQ food, like ribs, brisket, and the many glorious BBQ sauces we love. And bonus: Most are sides that can be made (or at least partially made) right on the grill. From cooling coleslaws and salads to satisfying starches, cornbreads, and elote, these are some of our most popular BBQ sides for your next summer shindig.
Nothing sops up BBQ sauce quite like cornbread. This easy BBQ side can be made in a cast-iron skillet on the grill for extra crunchy sides that everyone loves. Put a square of this next to a heaping pile of pulled pork and remember why you love summer so much. Get our Skillet Cornbread recipe.
Lodge Chef Collection Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron Skillet, $29.95 from Sur La Table
Yes, you can use your skillet on the grill.
Related Reading: More Ways to Make Grilled Bread
Slaw is one of those classic BBQ side dishes that I wish people would have more fun with. Usually, you show up to find a gloppy mayo mess without much character. Just a squeeze of lime and jalapeno adds a whole new dimension to this otherwise ordinary coleslaw (which happens to be perfect for a keto BBQ too). Get our Lime and Jalapeno Coleslaw recipe.
Related Reading: Try These Two Tricks for the Best Coleslaw You’ll Ever Eat
Lest we forget what a glorious sweet char sweet potatoes get when you put them on a grill. Well, I haven’t forgotten and I’m here to remind YOU. Cayenne and cumin give them a nice smoky note to complement your BBQ mains, while fresh lime perks them up and sour cream cools them down. Pro tip: these are even better reheated the next day for some reason. Get our Grilled Sweet Potato recipe.
Another light BBQ side that’s full on flavor. Fennel has such a distinct taste it will be a nice change of pace from the standard romaine or spinach salad you’re used to. Use ripe avocados, but not too ripe or the whole salad will become mush. Get our Fennel, Avocado, and Mint Salad recipe.
Related Reading: The Ultimate Summer Salad Guide
This is some people’s absolute #1 summer BBQ side and for good reason. Sweet corn charred from the grill with tangy lime and creamy cotija cheese has nearly every element you could want in a food. Make sure your corn is ripe or it won’t get the good char you need—and check out our corn grilling guide for more. Get our Elote recipe.
Related Reading: 11 Ways to Eat Elote When You Just Can’t Get Enough
For me, the flavors of a Greek salad, with all its spicy red onion, sweet tomato, and creamy, tangy feta cheese is near perfection. Sometimes when you make and dress a salad out in the warm summer sun it ends up soggy but this deconstructed and grilled version of a Greek salad is the perfect armor against wilting, while still capturing all the flavor. Get our Grilled Greek Salad recipe.
Kona BBQ Grill Mats, 2 for $19.95 from Amazon
A veggie grilling mat keeps things from falling through the grate—but is good for grilling proteins too.
Related Reading: 15 Things You Didn’t Even Know You Could Grill
Sure, you could just open a can of beans and put them in a saucepan. But trust us when we say this baked beans recipe (which actually gets made in the slow cooker), with its many deep smoky spices, is worth the little bit of extra trouble and ingredients. This is one of our most popular BBQ sides and for good reason. Get our Slow Cooker Ranch-Style Pinto Beans recipe.
Related Reading: 16 Slow Cooker BBQ Sides for Easy Summer Eating
This Asian-inspired BBQ side is light and crunchy and somewhere between a salad and a slaw. Bok choy holds up against dressing well so it shouldn’t wilt or wither in the warm summer air. Get our Bok Choy and Pineapple Salad with Peanut Dressing recipe.
Potato salad is another one of those classic BBQ sides that could always be more fun. Potatoes are a blank slate begging to be adorned with bold flavors like mustard and spices. This herbed salad does just that. Try to use fresh herbs if possible, but a sprinkling of dried will do the trick. And don’t overcook the potatoes (just to fork tender and no more). Get our Herbed Potato Salad recipe.
One of the breakout stars of summer has definitely been this Japanese potato salad. Mayo lovers will appreciate the Kewpie mayonnaise base, but it also appeals to the texture-obsessed: fluffy and creamy but with crunchy bits of cucumber and onion, this is so delicious you might want to make a double batch. Get our Japanese Potato Salad recipe.
What can we say? People love potatoes. And not just in salad form, as the enthusiastic response to this skordalia has made crystal clear. It’s a dip made from Yukon Gold potatoes, almonds, bread, and lots of garlic. Definitely not keto-friendly—nor vampire-friendly, for that matter. But it is incredibly addictive, and your BBQ spread will be poorer without it. Get the Skordalia recipe.
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Header image by Chowhound.