Top Cookout Side Dishes for Backyard Barbecues and Summer Picnics

You’ve got the main course, now what goes with it? These Cookout Side Dishes are perfect for your backyard barbecues and summer picnics. Or just serve them up for your next family dinner!

a pot full of baked beans with ground beef and bacon

How to Pair Sides with Main Dishes

Having the right side dish to compliment your entrees is crucial to the success of your meal. No one wants to have just a steak, they want a baked potato and corn on the Cob to go with it! That said, these cookout side dishes serve a few purposes:

  • Round out the nutrition. Having a plate full of grilled meat might taste delicious, but it isn’t the most nutritious way to eat. Sides, like vegetables, starches and grain, are a great place to bring in other nutritious elements that might not be part of the main dish recipe.
  • Balance the flavors. My grilled chicken marinade has an incredible flavor, but it can be tedious to eat the same flavors over and over. Pair hearty meats with something light, like a garden salad, or  something spicy with something mild.
  • Balance the textures and colors. Yellow food can seem bland when that’s all that’s on your plate. Likewise when all the food is soft. Pair crunchy with creamy, green beans with yellow corn and more. I mean, who doesn’t love a good pairing like crispy grilled cheese and creamy tomato soup?

pinnable image for easy cookout side dishes

The Best Cookout Side Dishes

We’ve got these delicious sides labeled for summer, but they are perfect year round. Who says you can’t have a bbq side like Red Potato Salad in December or Baked Beans in January? Certainly not me, so enjoy these favorite cookout side dishes all year long, whether you’re cooking out or in! Bonus, some of these recipes serve double duty as a cookout side dish or an appetizer, like this Summer Cheese Plate with my favorite herbed goat cheese or blue cheese!

Easy German Potato Salad

Authentic German Potato Salad is a cold salad made with an oil & vinegar dressing that is traditionally served in the Swabian region of Southern Germany.
Check out this recipe

Classic Macaroni Salad

Macaroni Salad is a hit at summer parties & BBQs with adults & kids alike. This is the best macaroni salad for all of your picnics and get-togethers.
Check out this recipe

Lighter Hawaiian Macaroni Salad

This Lighter Hawaiian Macaroni Salad is made with Greek Yogurt for a super creamy pasta salad that skimps on calories, but not flavor. It's the perfect side dish for barbecues, picnics or just dinner with your family.
Check out this recipe

Grilled Zucchini

Grilled Zucchini, marinated in lemon juice and olive oil, is a healthy summer side dish that everyone loves! It's become a staple in our house and the only vegetable my kids actually beg for!

Grilled Potatoes

These Grilled Potatoes are flavored with a simple seasoning blend, par-boiled then grilled to perfection. They are so simple and easy - they will become your new favorite summer side dish!
Check out this recipe

Cabbage Salad

Cabbage Salad is a versatile side dish with a sweet, tangy vinegar dressing. It's bright flavors pair well with any main dish, from fish to chicken to beef.
Check out this recipe

Greek Bean Salad

This easy Greek-style Bean Salad is super simple and packed with both flavor and gorgeous color. Add some crispy lettuce and grilled chicken for a full meal, or serve it with warmed pita bread as an appetizer. 
Check out this recipe

Fresh Corn Salad

This Corn Salad recipe is a perfect summer side dish. It's full of fresh corn, tomatoes, onions and parsley with a tangy dressing.
Check out this recipe

Beef & Bacon Baked Beans (aka Cowboy Beans)

Cowboy Beans are a great side, main course or even appetizer. Made with beans, ground beef and bacon in a rich and flavorful sauce.
Check out this recipe

Instant Pot Baked Potatoes

These Instant Pot Baked Potatoes are a delicious side dish recipe, made super fast in the Instant Pot!
Check out this recipe

Cucumber Salad with Blueberries and Feta Cheese

Cucumber Salad with Blueberries and a white balsamic dressing is a light and refreshing picnic side dish. It's perfect to bring to any summer gathering!
Check out this recipe

Creamy Mexican Street Corn Salad

Mexican Street Corn Salad is super creamy with tons of flavor - it's everything you love about the street corner classic roasted corn in a yummy salad. It's a delicious side dish that just screams summer!
Check out this recipe

Balsamic Grilled Vegetables

These Grilled Vegetables are coated with a balsamic vinegar reduction and grilled until tender and slightly charred. This is the ultimate summer side dish!
Check out this recipe

Simple Carrot Salad

This simple carrot salad will be your new go-to quick salad. It's so easy to throw together with minimal ingredients and a killer vinaigrette - this is a total winner!
Check out this recipe

Greek Pasta Salad

Easy Greek Pasta Salad, with lots of veggies and a flavorful dressing, is a quick & easy, full of flavor side dish, perfect for summer picnics & barbecues.
Check out this recipe

Easy Vegetable Pasta Salad

This Easy Vegetable Pasta Salad is one of my go-to summer recipes. It comes together in a snap and can be made ahead of time for a great menu addition!
Check out this recipe

Broccoli Salad

Broccoli Salad is a cool, crisp side salad that's perfect for summer cookouts. With a creamy, Greek yogurt and honey based dressing, crunchy sunflower seeds and juicy raisins, this salad is as delicious as it is light and healthy!
Check out this recipe

Spinach Salad

Spinach Salad with Red Wine Vinaigrette is the best weekday salad! It's easy and fast, made with fresh spinach, tomatoes, cucumbers and crunchy walnuts.
Check out this recipe

Creamy Walnut Coleslaw

My Creamy Walnut Coleslaw Recipe is a surefire winner for all your summer party side dish needs. It's crunchy and creamy with a tangy coleslaw dressing and so packed with flavor!
Check out this recipe

Summer Fruit Salad

This refreshing fruit salad is perfect as a side dish or a healthy dessert...and it has a secret ingredient that might surprise you! Perfect for summer, this fruit salad will win your backyard barbecues and picnics.
Check out this recipe

Antipasto Pasta Salad

What do you get when you combine all your favorite antipasto ingredients with pasta salad? Antipasto Pasta Salad, your new go-to summer side dish. Prepare to be the most popular person at the picnic!
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Creamy Grape Salad

This Creamy Grape Salad with walnuts is is creamy and sweet and the perfect side dish or dessert for picnics, potlucks and parties. 
Check out this recipe

Broccoli Slaw with Apples and Dried Cherries

Need a new side dish that will be welcome year round? This Broccoli Slaw with Apples and Dried Cherries definitely fits the bill! It's creamy and crunchy and a little bit sweet, making it the best side dish for summertime barbecues to Thanksgiving dinner.
Check out this recipe

Summer Spaghetti Salad

Summer Spaghetti Salad is a simple twist on the classic pasta salad. Made with just a few simple ingredients, this will become your new go to summer side dish!
Check out this recipe

Balsamic Strawberry Pasta Salad

This Balsamic Strawberry Pasta Salad is a whole meal in itself, with tender chicken and pasta, sweet strawberries, and a tangy Strawberry Balsamic Vinaigrette.
Check out this recipe

Caprese Pasta Salad

My Caprese Pasta Salad is simple and delicious, full of tender pasta, juicy tomatoes, chunks of fresh Mozzarella and a tangy Balsamic Vinaigrette. The perfect spring pasta salad!
Check out this recipe

Frog Eye Salad

Frog Eye Salad is a potluck classic and a family favorite around here. This weird-sounding but delicious dessert salad is made with acini de pepe pasta, pineapple, mandarin oranges, coconut, and marshmallows!
Check out this recipe

Watermelon Salad

Refreshing, sweet, and crowd-pleasing Watermelon Salad with Cucumber, Feta and Mint. Enjoyed by kids and adults alike with 6 simple ingredients, this 10 minute salad is not to be missed!
Check out this recipe

Summer Cheese Plate

This is an easy Summer Cheese Plate for any occasion! Perfect as a no cook appetizer for a cookout or grilling session, for picnic or just as a light dinner in the summer heat.
Check out this recipe

Avocado Corn Salad

This avocado salad and corn salad fusion is made with simple combination of ingredients and it's so flavorful.
Check out this recipe

Grilled Corn and Zucchini Salad

Grilled Corn and Zucchini Salad is a fresh summer side that goes well with anything off the grill. Full of flavor and lots of crunch make this summer salad a nice change from the classics.
Check out this recipe

Crunchy Asian Slaw

This Asian coleslaw is crispy, crunchy and tossed in the most flavorful Peanut Sesame Ginger Dressing. This Asian Slaw recipe is easy to make and great served as a side dish or main salad.
Check out this recipe

Old Fashioned Creamy Pea Salad with Bacon

Pea salad is a classic cookout side dish that is easy to make. This cold side is also less common, so will stand out on the picnic table among all the potato and pasta salads.
Check out this recipe

Oven Roasted Eggplant Recipe

Learn how to cut eggplant and how to roast eggplant slices in 2 EASY steps! This oven roasted eggplant recipe makes the perfect healthy low carb side dish.
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Mexican Fruit Cup with Tajin

This tart and tangy Mexican fruit cup is topped with tajin chili lime seasoning which makes the ripe fruit pop with unique and vibrant flavor. Tajin on fruit is great as a healthy snack that is kid friendly and adults love it too!
Check out this recipe

Fresh Pineapple Coleslaw

This fast & easy Fresh Pineapple Coleslaw adds tropical flair to the otherwise ordinary side, making it a great topping for everything from sliders to hot dogs!
Check out this recipe

easy homemade pickle recipe - Casa de Crews

Easy homemade dill pickles. This pickle recipe is full of flavor thanks to fresh dill and garlic, with red onion. No canning is required to get crunchy, and delicious refrigerator pickles!
Check out this recipe

Beer Battered Onion Rings

Crispy, golden and absolutely easy these Beer Battered Onion rings are the perfect appetizer or side dish to your dinnertime meal! Quick, tasty and crunchy!
Check out this recipe

Perfect Panzanella Salad

Perfect Panzanella Salad is packed full of tomatoes, toasty bread cubes, cucumbers, red onion, and an amazing easy dressing! Panzanella is perfect served with your favorite meat or by itself!
Check out this recipe

Pesto Tortellini Salad

Pesto Tortellini Salad is the easiest pasta salad you’ll make! Throw this quick and delicious pasta salad together in minutes and wow your friends and family!
Check out this recipe

Thai Noodle Salad

This Thai Noodle Salad is full of flavor and vegetables, can be served hot or cold, and is perfect at any BBQ, potluck, or picnic.
Check out this recipe

Easy Chopped Avocado Caprese Salad Recipe | Wholesome Yum

The simplest, easy chopped Caprese salad recipe with 7 ingredients! Once you see how to make avocado Caprese salad with cherry tomatoes, you’ll make this naturally healthy, keto salad over and over... and over.
Check out this recipe

Balsamic Grilled Asparagus

This easy Balsamic Grilled Asparagus recipe is the absolute best way to cook asparagus! It only takes 15 minutes and cooks up perfectly on your BBQ.
Check out this recipe

Perfect Tomato Salad

Perfect Tomato Salad is the most flavorful, using cherry tomatoes or any tomato you prefer! The dressing is irresistible and makes this salad the best fresh side!
Check out this recipe

Ranch Pasta Salad

Ranch pasta salad is an easy side dish that’s only 6 ingredients. Tri-color spiral pasta, cucumber, broccoli, tomatoes, parmesan cheese and ranch dressing.
Check out this recipe

Strawberry and Cantaloupe Salad

This strawberry and cantaloupe salad is the best of summer fruit with juicy melon and berries and a zesty lime mint sauce.
Check out this recipe

Macaroni Coleslaw Salad - Mindee’s Cooking Obsession

Macaroni Coleslaw Salad! Two classic salads, macaroni salad and coleslaw all in one! Quick and easy recipe that will be perfect for your next potluck!
Check out this recipe

Pesto Tortellini Pasta Salad

Flavorful Sun-dried Tomato Pesto Tortellini Pasta Salad, topped with roasted pine nuts for added crunch and toasty flavor for a delicious meal sized salad or side dish.
Check out this recipe

Lemon Orzo Asparagus Salad

Orzo pasta is cooked with turmeric for wonderful color and flavor, then tossed with fresh asparagus and a lemon vinaigrette in this delicious spring time side dish.
Check out this recipe

Jalapeno Popper Potato Salad

Jalapeno Popper Potato Salad, made with cream cheese, bacon, and lots of jalapeno peppers, is a spicy and delicious twist on regular potato salad that is just what you need to heat up your next cookout or picnic.
Check out this recipe

Cookout Favorites

Now you’ve got the cookout side dishes but need some ideas for the entree? Here are a few of our favorites, or check out our Summer Dinners and Grilling Recipes.

What are your or favorite sides to bring to a cookout? Let us know in the comments!

Kristin Maxwell

Kristin Maxwell is the creator and main recipe developer, writer, and photographer of Yellow Bliss Road. A self-taught cook and self-appointed foodie, she specializes in easy, flavorful and approachable recipes for any home cook.

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