Try these easy summer side dishes to highlight your backyard BBQ or picnic!
We’ve rounded up a few summer sides that will add flavor and appeal to grilling, potluck dinners, cookouts, and patio parties.
There is nothing like enjoying a warm, sunny day with your friends and family, feasting on simple grilled tomatoes (heirlooms are lovely this time of year), and grilled corn on the cob. (More grilled recipes below.)
We love to share the best summer side dishes from around the web. Our list below is a combination of some of our favorites.
If you are planning on hosting a summer party this season, there’s a lot to prepare!
While you gather up the main courses and drinks you will be serving, let us help you find out which summertime side dishes will wow your guests.
(And maybe give you a little more time OFF your feet.)
- 1 1. Easy Creamy Pasta Salad
- 2 2. Hawaiian-Style Macaroni Salad
- 3 3. Italian Pasta Salad
- 4 4. Vegan Pasta Salad
- 5 5. Grilled Pineapple Slices
- 6 6. Grilled Whole Sweet Onions with Bacon
- 7 7. Smokey and Sweet Grilled Peaches
- 8 8. Grilled Peach Salad
- 9 9. Grilled Corn 4 Ways
- 10 10. Grilled Tomatoes
- 11 11. Balsamic Grilled Grapes
- 12 12. Fried Pickles with Buttermilk Ranch
- 13 13. Mexican Grilled Corn
- 14 14. Peach Panzanella
- 15 15. Flatbread with Avocado and Scallion Salsa
- 16 16. No-Mayo Carolina Slaw
- 17 17. Apple Carrot Slaw
- 18 18. Red Cabbage and Apple Slaw
- 19 19. Champagne Vinaigrette
- 20 20. How to Make an Asian Slaw
- 21 21. Ribbon Salad with Orange Vinaigrette
- 22 The Bottom Line
- 23 21 BEST Summer Sides
Choose a pasta shape. The smaller ones like elbow, rotini, and shells do well, but bowtie pasta are so fun. Mini penne regate is new on the salad scene—this tiny penne will make a nice hearty summer side salad.
Choose your dressing. Italian pasta salad zings with a simple packet of Italian dressing mix. Add dashes of oregano and basil to amp up the flavor. If you like a little sweetness, our Hawaiian Style Pasta Salad is delish!
Choosing your mix-ins. Italian pasta salad can be made with hearty vegetables, such as cherry tomatoes, olives, and artichokes. Add feta, pearl mozzarella, sun-dried tomatoes. It’s hungry in here!
You can throw in some shredded chicken, black olive slices, hard-boiled eggs, or chickpeas for a complete meal or keep it simple with just a few ingredients and a flavorful dressing. Add your flair.
Add more brown sugar baste and these become DESSERT.
Made with RealSweet Vidalia Onions, these came out mouthwatering and fall-apart tender.
I tell you what. Just try them. You’ll be hooked. HOOKED. Use them to make Grilled Peach Salad, because as the great vegan chef Tabitha Brown would say, “That’s your business.”
Use some leftover grilled peaches from #7 above and you’re set for a luscious, slightly sweet summer side dish.
They all come out amazing, each recipe just uses different tools and ingredients.
10. Grilled Tomatoes
Lip-smacking spectacular, this is one of our most popular hits on the site. If you have tomatoes sitting around, toss with some simple olive oil and a few spices. The grill will do the rest.
We haven’t yet tried these, but the way The Rose Table described them as “smokey and jammy” they just sound amazing.
12. Fried Pickles with Buttermilk Ranch
This summer side dish recipe is out of this world. Fried to golden brown perfection, these crispy pickle bites will surely transport you and your guests to heaven.
Watch them vanish from the lunch table in seconds when you present them to your guests and family during your next backyard BBQ.
Deliciously crispy, fried pickles taste even better when served with homemade buttermilk ranch sauce. Remember to use dill pickles or gherkins for the best results.
Find the recipe for fried pickles here.
13. Mexican Grilled Corn
Love to grill? As you smash some patties for burgers, grill corn on the side. Mexican grilled corn is one of the easy summer side dishes that everybody loves.
There are several ways to dress up grilled corn. You can either smother the cobs traditionally in butter and pepper before serving or do things a little differently this year.
We suggest elote: smothering grilled corn with mayo, sour cream, tajîn and cilantro dressing before sprinkling it with parmesan cheese. Serve hot.
For the Mexican grilled corn recipe, click here.
14. Peach Panzanella
Peach Panzanella is one of the popular summer vegetable side dishes that pair nicely well with barbecued chicken. Made from fresh ripe peaches, mozzarella or burrata cheese and flavorsome caper dressing, this recipe will be the star of the show at your next cookout.
The best thing about peach Panzanella is that it only takes 30 minutes to make, is super easy to assemble, and suitable for vegetarians!
For a delicious peach Panzanella recipe, click here.
15. Flatbread with Avocado and Scallion Salsa
Do you love avocado toast? Here’s a side dish that is 10 times better!
Flatbread with avocado and scallion salsa looks like a delectable summertime side dishes. It’s highly reviewed over at Bon Appetit, but cooks are saying to use less oil than the recipe calls for.
Soft and pillowy flatbread is the ideal canvas for spicy salsa and buttery avocados. You can also top your flatbread off with all kinds of sauces, dips, and spreads.
This recipe works best with homemade flatbread. To find out how to make it, click here.
You can use green cabbage, but the red cabbage adds a lovely pop of color. This Apple Carrot Slaw recipe cuts the mayo with sour cream.
This crisp and refreshing slaw from The Modern Proper sings, with a hint of jalapeños, mint, and cilantro is one of our favorite summer sides and it really goes with so many dishes.
Since a summer BBQ can be heavy and rich, a vinegar or lemon juice based slaw can be a real palate cleanser and a nice flavor complement to robust meat dishes and sandwiches.
Our Champagne Vinaigrette would add a nice light tang to a simple slaw.
To learn the basics of putting an Asian slaw together and adding your own special touches, we have a guide to help you.
21. Ribbon Salad with Orange Vinaigrette
All you need on a hot day is a bowl of light and flavorsome citrusy salad. I am such a huge citrus fan, and while cooking with lemon is my favorite, orange comes in a close second.
Loaded with ribbon-cut zucchini, carrots, and cucumbers, this salad is an ideal side for casual hangout, lunch parties as well as special occasion dinners.
This one is a bit time-consuming because you have to “strip” the veggies into ribbons, but wow, what a beautiful presentation from Taste of Home.
Click here to learn how to make ribbon salad with orange vinaigrette.
The Bottom Line
So whether it’s about the wow-factor of your newest signature side dish, or you just want a basic recipe that you can bounce your best ideas off of, we hope you found a new favorite or two here in this list.
Want even more summer side ideas? Here’s even more deliciousness:
Which recipe did you enjoy the most? Let us know in the comment section below!
- Easy Creamy Pasta Salad
- Hawaiian-Style Macaroni Salad
- Italian Pasta Salad from Delish
- Vegan Pasta Salad
- Grilled Pineapple Slices
- Grilled Whole Sweet Onions with Bacon
- Smokey and Sweet Grilled Peaches
- Grilled Peach Salad
- Grilled Corn 4 Ways
- Grilled Tomatoes
- Balsamic Grilled Grapes
- Fried Pickles with Buttermilk Ranch
- Mexican Grilled Corn
- Peach Panzanella
- Flatbread with Avocado and Scallion Salsa
- No-Mayo Carolina Slaw
- Apple Carrot Slaw
- Red Cabbage and Apple Slaw
- Champagne Vinaigrette
- How to Make an Asian Slaw
- Ribbon Salad with Orange Vinaigrette
- Choose a favorite summer side dish recipe to make for your next summer cookout or barbecue.
- How did it come out? Snap a pic, share, and tag us with #cookingchew and let us know!