If you need some amazing summer dishes to go along with your burgers or dogs or cookout main dish, give these a look! There are 35 amazing choices that will please any guest or be welcome at any BBQ or party you attend! And, they aren’t just for summer and they aren’t just for get-togethers: they are perfect any time of the year.
The Unsung Star of the Cookout: Side Dishes
Did you ever see a movie where the supporting actor or actress totally up-staged the main star?
That’s how I feel about side dishes.
Side dishes are usually thought to fulfill a supporting role, but when done right, they can totally be the star of the show.
When we are preparing meals or preparing for parties, we usually spend a lot of time thinking about the main dish – something special, something delicious.
And rightly so. I mean, after all, it’s the main dish, right?
Sometimes we gloss over the side dishes, thinking they really aren’t that important.
But having amazing side dishes will only compliment all the time you’ve spent on the main meal – in the same way that the supporting actor can help the star of the show shine.
With summer cookouts and BBQs, you really can host a bang-up get together and rely on some amazing side dishes to compliment a simple, uncomplicated main dish.
Usually, you have your burger and hot dogs, so having side-dishes that knock it out of the park can really go a long way.
The Ideal Side Dish
When you’re thinking about summer cookouts or BBQ, there are a few things that make a side dish an ideal choice.
This is true whether you’re hosting the get-together or if you’re a guest bringing something to share.
1| You want a dish that’s uncomplicated and easy to make. Nobody wants the stress of a complex dish.
2| You want something that travels easily, if you’re the one attending someone else’s get together.
3| You don’t want something that will require full-on cooking before serving. Ideally, it should be something, if it needs to be cooked, it can be cooked ahead of time.
Then, it just needs a quick reheat. Or, something that can be served in a crockpot could work as well.
4| It’s something you can make ahead of time. It’s stressful if you need to put a dish together while guest or there, or if you need to make it at the host’s house.
5| When you’re thinking summer, you want something that is refreshing, but not something that will go bad in the heat.
It’s OK to have some dishes with mayo, but I’d reserve that for the host, who knows the serving environment, versus bringing something with mayo.
Delicious Summer Side Dishes that Check Off All the Boxes
As you go through this list, you’ll see that most of these dishes check off most of these boxes.
Of course, not every single dish on the list fulfills every single requirement, but most dishes fulfill most requirements.
And, I have to say – don’t limit yourself to just summer cookouts to make these sides.
These are great all year long, to serve at your family dinner.
I personally struggle with side dishes, feeling like it’s the same old, same old – but these side dishes can really freshen up an old standby meal.
If you’re looking for more side dish options, here’s a whole list of healthy salads, most of them green salads but other types mixed in, that would also be amazing as side dishes as well.
Side Dish Table of Contents (Sort of)
Below, I tried to group the side dishes into categories, so it’s easier for you to find what you’re looking for.
It’s a loose grouping and there’s some overlap, but you’ll catch on.
#1 – #8: Salads with Grains or Pasta
#9 – #14: Vegetable Salads
#15- 17: Salads with Starch (beans, potato)
#18 – #20: Cole Slaws
#21 – #23: Fruit Sides
#24 – #29: Dips & Salsas
#30 – #35: Hot Sides
OK! On to the sides!
Delicious Side Dishes to Bring to a Cookout This Summer
You definitely don’t need a get-together or party to make them. They would really add some fun to a regular weeknight or weekend dinner.
All summer long.
This makes food tables a breeze with these grab-and-go dishes!
Getting Backyard Ready
As you’re planning your backyard get together, you may want to consider how to clean up your backyard deck and patio! If so, take a look here!
And if you’re looking for some backyard party inspiration – food and more! – check these out!
More Delicious Summer Food
If you’re looking for more delicious food to eat this summer, I’m putting together a special series focused just on that! Summer is a time for cookouts and family and friends, even in these crazy times. For all the food inspiration, take a look at these posts below!
If you try this, I’d love to hear how it came out or any suggestions you have (always a work in progress here!). Please tag me on Instagram@100affections or leave a comment on Pinterest! And use the hashtag #summereats2020.
Thoughts? I’d love to hear them! Leave a comment below!