By Carl Hanson

'Que the sides!

Main dishes always get the top billing at the barbeque, but let's not ignore the side dishes. They're the supporting players that contribute to the success of the whole production — and the best barbeque sides are the ones you can make ahead or right on the grill.

I'll share some of our most popular barbeque side dishes to complement any outdoor menu, whether you're doing an easy family meal or you're bringing side dishes for picnics and potlucks.

Make-Ahead Barbeque Side Dishes

Salads top the list of popular make-ahead barbeque sides. Make them the night before and you're ahead of the game. Many summer salads taste better after sitting overnight in the refrigerator. Of course, if you're having green salad, remember to wait until just before serving to add the dressing and croutons. Here are top barbeque side dish salads to try.

Potato Salads

Potato salads are the ultimate picnic and barbeque side dish. Most potato salad recipes can be made ahead of time and they travel easily. Get recipes for creamy potato salads, no-mayo potato salads, dairy-free potato salads, red potato salads, tangy German potato salads, and all the rest of our potato salads.

More: Get tips to make the best potato salads.

Get this recipe: Bacon and Eggs Potato Salad | Photo by naples34102

Try this recipe: Restaurant-Style Potato Salad

Video: See how to make a restaurant-worthy potato salad. It's creamy with a nice mustard and vinegar tang.

Pasta Salads

Here's another classic barbeque side dish. Like potato salads, pasta salads are simple to make in advance — and taste even better after a day or two in the fridge. Get more recipes for pasta salads, including macaroni salad, Italian pasta salad, chicken pasta salad, seafood pasta salad, tortellini pasta salad, and vegetarian pasta salad.

More: Get tips to make the best pasta salads.

Get this recipe: Pesto Pasta Caprese Salad | Photo by Buckwheat Queen

Try this recipe: Chicken Club Pasta Salad

Video: See how to make this hearty pasta salad that has all the elements of a classic chicken club sandwich.


It'll take you all summer to try all the different coleslaw recipes we have, including broccoli coleslaw, apple coleslaw, Asian coleslaw, coleslaw with mayo, coleslaw without mayo — and then there are all of our coleslaw dressing recipes.

More: Get tips to make summer's best coleslaw recipes.

Get this recipe: Thornehedge Peach Slaw | Photo by Molly

Try this recipe: Nana's Southern Coleslaw

Video: See how to make this old family recipe that some say tastes like the one from that famous fried chicken take-out. You know the one.

Bean Salads

Bean salads are always crowd-pleasers and come together quickly when you use convenient canned beans. Find your favorite bean salad recipes — including bean and corn salads, lentil salad, green bean salad, black bean salads, and more.

Get this recipe: Mexican Bean Salad | Photo by lutzflcat

Try this recipe: Greek Garbanzo Bean Salad

Video: See how to make this crunchy, colorful salad with canned garbanzo beans (chickpeas), cucumbers, tomatoes, olives, and feta cheese with a light oil and vinegar herb dressing.

Grain Salads

Cooked grains add a pleasing bite of texture and extra nutrition to side dish salads. Check our collection of grain salad recipes — featuring quinoa salads, rice salads, and tabbouleh salads.

Get this recipe: Cherry Farro Salad with Sweet Vinaigrette | Photo by France C.

Try this recipe: Zesty Quinoa Salad

Video: See how to make this light and citrusy quinoa salad with black beans and tomatoes.

Fresh Vegetable Salads

The warmer weather that invites us outside to barbeque and grill also brings a summer's worth of fresh vegetables of every kind to fill your salad bowls with the brightest, most flavorful produce. Explore our collection of vegetable salad recipes that make the most of this bounty, including corn salad, avocado salad, tomato salad, broccoli salad, cucumber salad, and so much more.

Get this recipe: Easy Cherry Tomato Corn Salad | Photo by lutzflcat

Try this recipe: Greek Zoodle Salad

Video: See how to make this 5-star summer salad brimming with zucchini "noodles", cucumber, tomatoes, olives, and thinly sliced red onions tossed with salty feta cheese in a lemon and olive oil herb dressing.

Fruit Salads

The most refreshing salads of barbeque and grilling season have to be the ones made with the juiciest summer fruits you can find. Now's the time to take your pick of our fruit salad recipes, including strawberry salads and watermelon salads.

Get this recipe: Perfect Summer Fruit Salad | Photo by RainbowJewels

Try this recipe: Refreshing Watermelon Salad

Video: See how to make this classic pairing of sweet watermelon, crunchy cucumber, and savory feta cheese.

Grilled Side Dishes

Then there are side dishes you prepare right on the grill, or nestled into the coals. Most vegetables and fruits, from eggplant and corn on the cob to peaches and pineapple, are delicious when seasoned and cooked directly on the grill — or dotted with butter and herbs and wrapped in foil pouches to cook in the hot embers. For more on grilling veggies, see how to make the best grilled vegetables.

Get this recipe: Grilled Corn with Cilantro Lime Butter | Photo by Molly

Fresh broccoli rabe from the grill is so simple and "excellent served alongside grilled Italian sausages and thick crusty bread," says France C:

Grilled Broccoli Rabe | Photo by France C

Try this recipe: Grilled Bacon Potatoes

Video: See how to make a show-stopping side dish that'll make you the star of the BBQ. Whole potatoes are wrapped in bacon, brushed with olive oil and brown sugar, then wrapped again in foil and grilled until the potatoes are cooked and the bacon is crisp.

Breads and Cornbreads

Bread is another great barbeque side dish to make ahead of time. There's nothing better than mopping up extra sauce and juice with some freshly baked cornbread or savory herb bread.

Great Grilled Garlic Bread | Photo by Soup Loving Nicole

You can't beat flatbread fresh off the grill. Or try this lightly sweetened cornbread in a cast iron skillet. See how it's done:

Check out our entire collection of barbequed and grilled side dishes.