A stellar barbecue spread isn’t complete without a selection of irresistible side dishes to complement the smoky mains. When hosting a cookout, sides are just as important as the slabs of ribs or trays of smoked corned beef!
From southern classics like BBQ baked beans and potato salad to vibrant veggie ideas, you’ll find a thrilling variety of recipes. These include flavor-packed pastas, global fusions guaranteed to complement any barbecue.
That’s why I’ve put together this handy guide to 18 of my all-time favorite bbq side dish ideas to pair with your grilled and smoked favorites. From colorful salads to comforting baked beans and potatoes, you’ll discover plenty of delicious ideas.
So let’s dive mouth-first into the essential sides that complete any proper backyard barbecue bonanza!
Southern Comfort Classics
You can’t host authentic American barbecue without these beloved standards!
BBQ Baked Beans
Smoky, sweetened baked BBQ beans in a tomato molasses sauce makes the quintessential barbecue accompaniment. I load mine up with ground beef and bacon for a deeply savory flavor that complements any grilled meat.
See Full Recipe: Sweet & Tangy Secret BBQ Baked Beans Recipe
Cast Iron Skillet Mac and Cheese
Ooey, cheesy bliss! This Mac and cheese BBQ side is irresistible!
Mix elbow pasta with an ultra-rich cheddar béchamel, then bake topped with buttery breadcrumbs until bubbling and beautifully browned. Guaranteed grill guest favorite!
Cool, crisp shredded cabbage and carrots tossed in a mayo dressing provides necessary balance alongside fatty ribs or pulled beef. I love to spike mine with lots of fresh dill and lemon zest.
Salads: Leafy, Fruity and Beyond
Fresh, vibrant salads liven up any barbecue lineup!
Grilled Romaine Caesar Salad
Charred smoky romaine makes a fabulous base for a classic Caesar salad. Toss the grilled lettuce with garlic croutons, parmesan and an eggy dressing. Bacon makes a nice smoky topping too!
Zucchini Ribbon Salad with Corn
Thinly slice raw zucchini and summer corn kernels, then toss them with fresh herbs, lemon and olive oil dressing. The pretty green and yellow ribbons look stunning next to plates of barbecue.
Watermelon Feta Salad
Sweet watermelon, crumbled feta, and torn mint leaves tossed with balsamic makes a beautiful summer salad. The juicy fruit against salty cheese is a magical match!
From the Grill: Smoky Veggies & More
Take advantage of that hot grill for extra flavor! These vegetable sides soak up tasty smoke and char.
Grilled Veggie BBQ Side Platter
A sampler platter of grilled seasonal vegetables lets guests assemble their own sides. Try thick slices of zucchini, bell peppers, eggplant, onions and squash brushed with herby olive oil then grilled over direct heat to char.
Get the recipe for Mouthwatering Grilled Vegetable Platter.
Smoky Grilled Corn BBQ Side
Simple sweet corn brushed with butter then char-grilled becomes an addictive side when kissed with smoke. Sprinkle it with chili powder or cotija cheese if you like.
Smashed Rosemary Potatoes
These crispy smashed spuds are my new barbecue essential! Parboil small potatoes, smash them flat, then grill or pan-fry in olive oil and rosemary until crispy golden brown.
Carb-Loaded Crowd Pleasers
Hearty carb-centric sides always satisfy!
Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes
Slicing potatoes ultra-thin helps them cook up creamy and tender when baked in a creamy cheese sauce studded with garlic and thyme. Comfort food magic!
Mexican Street Corn Pasta Salad
For a fun fusion Mexican BBQ side, combine grilled corn, poblanos, onion, cilantro and cotija cheese with pasta shells tossed in a smoky chipotle mayo dressing. Sweet, spicy, smoky goodness!
Skillet Honey Cornbread BBQ Side Dish
Warm cornbread slathered with honey butter is perfect for mopping up sticky barbecue sauces. Bake up this sweet cornbread spiked with corn kernels and bake in a preheated cast iron skillet.
Related Read: Keto Side Dishes for BBQ: Delicious and Healthy Recipes
Not Your Average Pasta Salads
Pasta BBQ side dishes add hearty substance and soak up delicious dressing flavors. These creative spins amp up typical noodle salads!
BLT Pasta Salad
Little penne pasta shells tossed with cherry tomatoes, bacon crumbles, shredded romaine and creamy ranch dressing tastes like an entire BLT sandwich in pasta form! Genius.
Authentic Hawaiian Macaroni Salad
Elbow macaroni soaked in a sweet Hawaiian-style dressing blended with pineapple tidbits, ham chunks, shredded carrots and green onion makes a tropical barbecue side.
Italian Steakhouse Pasta Salad
Thinly sliced grilled Sirloin steak atop rotelle pasta mixed with balsamic tomatoes, grilled onions, blue cheese and fresh basil mimics the flavors of a steakhouse in satisfying salad form.
Twisted International Infusions
Finally, get creative with unique cultural fusions! The smoky meat flavors of American barbecue beautifully blend with global spices and ingredients.
Mu Shu Veggie Wraps
For an Asian twist, sauté crisp cabbage, mushrooms, carrots and bean sprouts, then serve with small flour tortillas and hoisin peanut dipping sauce. Let guests assemble their own mini mu shu wraps!
Jerk Chicken Pasta Salad
Rotelle pasta mixed with black beans, mango, red onion and cilantro, then tossed in a fiery jerk barbecue sauce makes a tasty Caribbean-inspired accompaniment to spicy jerk chicken fresh off the grill!
Greek Orzo Salad
Zesty orzo pasta dotted with cucumbers, olives, tomatoes, feta and herbs impressively channels the bright flavors of Greece, pairing especially well with lamb ribs or wings hot off the smoker!
Fire Up Those Grills!
Well there you have over a dozen dynamite side dish ideas to rock your next cookout! From southern comfort classics to global fusion flavors, fresh vegetable dishes to filling pastas and salads, mix and match these recipes for a thrilling barbecue spread.
Now quick! Get grilling those smoky meats so we can dig into these sensational sides under sunny summer skies! Don’t forget the pie and mojito too!
Let me know which become your new barbecue side staples. Happy grilling, friends!