Best Sides for BBQs

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Nothing says summer like a BBQ. While we all love throwing something tasty on the grill, it can often be the things served with it that make a dish. Today, we will look at what to serve at a bbq with a particular focus on some easy bbq side dishes recipes and give you some great ideas to make when you have company in the garden.

bbq sides

23 Easy BBQ Side Dishes Ideas

1. Watermelon Salad

Nothing says ‘summer’ like nice juicy chunks of watermelon. Watermelon is really easy to prepare, and if you pick one of a decent size, you can feed a crowd pretty easily. The sweet juice of watermelon works perfectly to refresh the palette. It brings out all of those delicious flavors in savory grilled meats. 

This recipe is super simple. Cubes of watermelon, a handful of finely chopped mint leaves, and a squeeze of lime juice are all it takes. Refreshing!

Why not try a Watermelon popsicle once you’re done with the barbecue, perfect on a hot day!

2. Potato Salad

This is a solid staple and is one of the most famous sides for BBQ. If your summer parties are anything like ours, guests descend on the BBQ like a hoard of gannets. Best fill them up early with something quick and simple to make. Some might describe potato salad as boring… But here’s the secret… Accessorize.

We like to add little extra’s like chopped up boiled eggs, chopped peppers, green onions, and sometimes even a few olives.

3. Coleslaw

kfc coleslaw

Another traditional barbecue favorite. Coleslaw is great as it can be eaten on its own as a BBQ side dish, or alternatively can be used to garnish burger and hotdog buns. While the traditional recipes use white cabbage, if you are looking for a real eye-catching effect, use red. It is slightly sweeter and goes a long way to enlivening a plate. Throw in colorful elements to brighten your platter. We love to use fresh beetroot, carrot and have been known, on occasion, to include exotic fruit like pawpaw.

4. Elote

If you’ve got the grill on, then you aren’t going to want to miss this. Elote is Mexican street food. If you haven’t tried it before, essentially, it is grilled corn on the cob… However, boring, this isn’t. We like to smother ours with lashings of butter, sour cream, chopped chili, and a liberal dusting of cumin powder. Get the grill nice and hot to ensure that you get those signature black stripes. Follow this dish up with a Mexican dessert recipe and you’re on your way to a good evening.

5. Baked Potatoes

Anything we can throw onto the grill while we cook other things gets a tick in our book. Baked potatoes are good, as they are easy to prepare and can be ‘pimped’ any way you see fit. Worried that they won’t be done in time? Give them a 5 minutes burst in the microwave and allow them to cool before wrapping them in foil and grilling alongside your other dishes. Our favorite filling is sour cream, green onions, and shards of crispy bacon, but we’ll your choice of filling up to you.

6. Apple and Cucumber Salad

BBQs are really waistline-friendly… Said no one, ever. The truth is, it is easy to get overwhelmed with carbs. Why not lighten and brighten it up with this easy to prepare summer salad. Cut apples into match sticks, slice a cucumber into thin ribbons, add a splash of white wine vinegar, a pinch of salt, and a teaspoon of cumin seeds, and you are pretty much there.

7. Mexican Spicy Rice

If you’re a regular reader of the site you’ll know how much we love Mexican appetizers. Who wants piles of plain old boring white rice? Not us! This recipe is bound to be a hit and normally runs out at our BBQs long before the burgers and sausages! A few Mexican spices like chili, cumin, and paprika elevate this dish to the next level. Throw in a handful of juicy corn kernels, chopped pepper, and fry for a couple of minutes for the best results. We’ll fight you for the crispy bits!

8. Grilled Halloumi

One of the joys of grilling is getting that professional-looking black pattern on all of the food you cook. Halloumi slices are a way to easily impress guests. The best bit is that it tastes as good as it looks. Squeaky cheese? Yes, please! While it is delicious on its own, we like to enliven our halloumi with a few little extra touches. We add a squeeze of lemon juice, a small drizzle of olive oil and top the entire thing with a pinch of dried chili flakes. Divine!

9. Spicy Bean Dip

Part of the joy of a BBQ is sharing, and there’s nothing better than creating a huge bowl of dip. People can plunge in and take a spoonful with what they will. It’s great as a burger bun topper for chips and fries and ideal with torn chunks of fresh focaccia. The best bit? It’s really easy to make. A tin of cannellini beans, a few herbs and spices, and a blender is all it takes! This Chipotle recipe is goes well with bbqs.

10. Potato Wedges

kfc potato wedges

BBQing can get a little ‘busy’. The answer? You want BBQ sides that can be left to ‘do their thing’ while you get down to the serious business of grilling. This is a prime example. If you want to go simple, cut potatoes into wedges, splash them in oil, and whack them in the oven for half an hour. If you want something slightly fancier, give them a dusting of salt and pepper, chili powder, and a pinch of cumin.

11. French Fries

five guys cajun fries

If there’s one thing that goes well with steaks and burgers, it’s fries. We couldn’t give you a list of BBQ sides recipes without including them! Provided you are handy with a sharp knife, we recommend cutting them as thin as possible (not just for taste… they cook quicker). As to what to serve them with? Well, you already know… Dollops of ketchup and mayo… Add a spoonful of curry powder to your mayo if you want to go all European.

12. No-Knead Homemade Focaccia

Nothing will have your guests cooing with delight more than a freshly baked focaccia. There are a few secrets that we’d like to share if you want something fluffy and light. First, invest in a decent pizza stone. Trust us, it is worth it! Second, make sure your oven is as hot as it can go. Focaccia is really simple to make, Flour, water, salt, and yeast. When it comes time to bake, dust the top with a mix of Italian herbs, and you are pretty much good to go. Hint: The corners are the best bit.

13. Tzatziki

This Greek-inspired dip is really easy to make and requires very few ingredients. Sour cream or yogurt, a finely shredded cucumber, and a couple of cloves of crushed garlic will get you to a basic level. If you want to elevate it, we’ve got a couple of tricks. First, make sure you add a decent amount of salt. It really brings out the flavor. Second, some recipes suggest using chopped mint. We say, forget that! To get a perfect taste, try and get hold of some mint sauce in a jar. A tablespoon ought to do it. 

14. Pitta Breads

Pitta bread is a joy for several reasons. These little pockets are the perfect vessel for easily holding all of your grilled foods and BBQ side dishes. They also look a bit classier than hot dog buns too! When we are busy, we opt for shop-bought, but the best versions are homemade. The trick to pitta dough is to make it as wet as you can handle and allow it to rest for at least an hour before rolling into rounds. We cook ours in a hot frying pan. It is so much quicker than the oven.

Looking for something more adventurous? Then try these breadsticks instead.

15. Grilled Zucchini 

Want to know the secret to getting a great result with BBQ grilled zucchini? Don’t grill it for too long. You still want to retain some of that crunch. Otherwise, it goes all floppy (and nobody needs a floppy zucchini). Cook this one right and the end, and get the grill as hot as it will go. A quick pinch of salt and pepper right at the end, perfect!

Read More: See our list of easy Zucchini recipes you can quickly make at home.

16. Spicy Cauliflower Dip

Cauliflower is great for a few reasons. It has a fairly mild flavor, so it won’t overpower other elements of your dish. It is also a breeze to prepare. Oh, and it is super low in calories. If you are looking for a healthy summer dip, then this is the one for you. Roast a full head of cauliflower until it is charred and soft. Add to a bowl with some cumin, a dash of lemon juice, a little butter or oil, and a pinch of chili. Mash until you have a smooth puree and allow it to cool. Simple or what?

Other dips worth considering are this Buffalo chicken dip and an artichoke dip I absolutely love.

17. Homemade Chickpea Hummus

The trick to good homemade hummus is twofold. Add plenty of garlic and when you think you are done blending, blend some more. Nobody likes granular hummus. Another tip is to use really high-quality olive oil. Trust us, the results are well worth it. 

18. Quinoa Salad

Quinoa can be a little bit tricky to get right, but here’s some advice. Once it bubbles away, turn the pan down to its lowest setting and leave the lid on. Do not stir! Once those grains begin to pop, remove them from the heat and let them do their thing. We combine these succulent pearls with a leafy green salad, shredded radishes, and a few more colorful elements. Light and fresh, just how we like it.

19. Mediterranean Herb Couscous

Now, don’t tell anyone, but we have been known to keep a portion back for ourselves the next day. Yep, it is that good. Mediterranean herbs turn this grain into something magical. We like to use a spoon of oregano, a pinch of thyme, oh, and don’t forget a splash of lemon juice to make this all summery and fresh.

20. Hasselback Potatoes

hasselback potatoes

Hasselback potatoes are really a dish in their own right, and we feel bad relegating it to a humble side. In fact, no, forget that. Let’s just dig in. You get all of the crunch of French fries with the creamy center of a baked potato. The little grooves in these humble little potatoes are the perfect vehicle for sauces and flavors. We like to add a handful of shredded cheese along with some scallions and a few fiery chilis just before serving.

21. Thai Corn Fritters

The good thing here is you don’t need any fancy ingredients. Canned sweetcorn will work really well too. Just give it a quick pulse along with a spoonful of flour, an egg, a spoonful of Thai red curry paste, and, if you can find them, a few shredded lime leaves. Our top tip is to make these in advance, refrigerate them, and give them a blast on the BBQ when serving the rest of the food. They are a great burger alternative for vegetarians too! Like any good thai recipe, they pack a punch.

22. Sweet Potato Rosti

This recipe can be a little fiddly, but here’s the good news. You can make these in advance, and they freeze pretty well. The trick to a crispy rosti is to remove as much moisture as possible. Grate a sweet potato, throw the entire lot into a clean tea towel, and twist until it stops dripping. From there, combine with a beaten egg and some salt and pepper, along with a spoonful of flour. Fry your batter for 5 minutes on each side. We make one huge pan and then cut it into squares later to save time. 

23. Barbecued Pineapple

Let’s finish all tropical. While it might sound weird, grilled pineapple is an absolute joy. It works really well with salty foods (and is best friends with BBQ pork). The sugars in the pineapple caramelize and give a slightly savory flavor. There’s nothing to add to this. A few chunks of pineapple and a skewer is pretty much all you need to make this recipe. If you have some leftover, you can even made yourself one of these delicious pineapple desserts.

Conclusion

If you were struggling to think of sides for BBQ, you’d now have a pretty good idea. Anything that compliments your dish, brightens your plate, or freshens your palette is a good place to start. The main thing you need is for it to be easy. Most of the dishes above tick that box for sure. Which was your favorite? Let us know in the comments.

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