A tasty side dish is well worth the extra few minutes it takes to prepare. Without stealing the show, a great side or two will really round out your barbecue and transform it into a complete meal.
But all the thought and effort that goes into cooking your meat sometimes means the side dish is an afterthought or forgotten completely.
We have put together a list of 23 side dishes that will complement your meat dishes perfectly.
Whether you’re looking for a side dish to serve with brisket, rib, pulled pork, or any other smoker recipe, you’ll find some great options for your next barbecue.
23 delicious side dishes to serve at your next barbecue
1) Southern Style Coleslaw (both sweet and tangy)
If you have five minutes to spare, then you can whip up our very own perfectly balanced southern coleslaw recipe. If you have bought pre shredded cabbage you probably only need three minutes.
Creamy, tangy and just a little bit sweet, it is sure to be a crowd pleaser. It is also versatile. For instance, if you have any coleslaw left over from the night before (which is unlikely, as it is so tasty) then pop it on a pulled pork tacos.
Even if it was all gobbled up the night before, it is so delicious and easy to make, you might just find yourself whipping up another batch anyway.
Recipe: Southern Style Coleslaw
Baked beans are one of the best side dishes to accompany your BBQ spread.
They pair well with smoked meats, but one of the best things about baked beans with BBQ is how well they take on smoke.
In this recipe, I’ll walk you through how to make smoked baked beans, and how you can customize them to be as sweet, savory, or spicy as you like.
Recipe: Smoked Baked Beans with Bacon
3) Smoked Mac and Cheese
There’s no more decadent side dish to serve with your perfectly cooked barbecue than mac and cheese.
This version doesn’t require a dozen different cheeses you’ve never heard of (although you can totally use a few different kinds of cheese if you like).
Instead, you get the wonderful smoky flavor, and there are also some bbq spices incorporated.
You can easily cook this in the smoker while your main protein is resting. Depending on how hot you can get your smoker you may want to finish it with a quick broil in the oven.
Recipe: Smoked Mac and cheese
4) Crisp Apple and Beets Coleslaw
Didn’t we already have a coleslaw recipe? Yes but this crisp apple and beet slaw is different enough and well worth trying.
I think coleslaw might be the perfect side dish to go with any barbecue meal because of how well it cuts through rich, sweet, fatty meat.
This slaw recipe uses apple and beets for an extra fresh take on the classic creamy coleslaw.
Recipe: Apple and Beets Slaw
5) Crisp and Tender Smoked Sausage Stuffing
It’s time everyone stopped making terrible, soggy stuffing. This gives you a double smoke helping with smoked bread, combined with country pork sausage and stuffing mixture and then smoked again until nice and crisp.
This will go perfect with your Thanksgiving turkey, but can just as easily go with roast chicken or any protein for that matter.
Recipe: Smoked sausage stuffing
6) Herby Roasted Potato Salad (because the more potato salad the better)
Because it is such a crowd-pleaser, we had to include this much-loved potato salad.
Potato salads are usually rich and creamy, which is great, but this is a slightly lighter and zestier take on it.
The potatoes in this salad are also roasted, which gives them a whole different taste and texture that’s (in our opinion) vastly better than standard boiled potatoes.
Fried bacon gives this dish some wonderful rich crispness, and everything is topped with fresh herbs to keep it light and fragrant.
Recipe: Herby Roasted Potato Salad
7) Celery and Parmesan Salad
If you don’t want to spend a lot of time on your side dishes, this celery and parmesan salad will be a perfect choice, as takes just 10 minutes to make.
While the recipe is simple, the taste is far more complex. Fresh and crispy, this salad pairs perfectly with poultry, steak and seafood (for instance, cedar plank salmon).
For a more creamy version, just add some mayonnaise to the mix and you’ll be in salad heaven.
Recipe: Celery and Parmesan Salad
8) Bacon Wrapped Jalapeño Poppers
Take this already punchy side dish of jalapeño poppers and elevate it even more by wrapping it in bacon and adding a smoky flavor by cooking indirectly over hot coals.
You can prepare these ahead of time and then pop them in your BBQ for a quick 30 minute cook while your meat is resting.
If you’re looking for a flavor bomb to serve your spice loving guests at your next cookout, these nuggets will hit the spot.
Recipe: Bacon Wrapped Jalapeño Poppers
9) BBQ Corn Ribs
If you’re a fan of the flavors of Mexican Esquite, you are going to love these curly smoked corn ribs.
Cooked with a combination of melted butter and spices and then topped with cilantro, fresh lime juice, and cotija cheese, these corn ribs will be a tasty addition to your BBQ repertoire.
Also, the great thing with these corn ribs is you can smoke them alongside other dishes to save time.
Recipe: BBQ Corn Ribs
10) The Best Pasta Salad for BBQ
This is a truly versatile side dish to have in your repertoire, just stick with homemade garlic vinaigrette and you can’t go wrong.
Choose the shape of pasta you want, throw in some veges, don’t have cucumber but asparagus, that will do, green olives not black will work as well, as for cheese, mozzarella, feta or cheddar they’re all delicious.
And the great thing with this pasta salad is it can sit for a day or two and only gets better with age.
Recipe: The Best Pasta Salad for BBQ
11) Garlic and Rosemary Smoked Potatoes
Potatoes, are they not the perfect side dish?
This classic combination of potatoes, garlic, rosemary, and parmesan cheese is enhanced when smoked with fruit wood.
No more average old roast potatoes.
12) Mexican Grilled Corn
This is one of the simplest side dishes you can make. And once you’ve tried grilled corn there’s no going back.
Butter your corn and then season with a rub of cumin, garlic powder, chili and paprika then pop it on your grill, once cooked add a nice grating of parmesan and a spritz of lime juice.
Sweet, juicy corn just got even better.
Recipe: Mexican Grilled Corn
13) Loaded Potato Salad
If a potato salad and a loaded baked potato had a love child it would look like this!
Pillowy potatoes, creamy mayo dressing, and wham, grated cheddar, crispy bacon and green onions on top.
A match made in potato heaven.
Recipe: Loaded Potato Salad
14) Savoury Corn Pudding – a classic southern side dish
The term, “an oldie but a goodie” applies to this creamy, comforting casserole.
This particular recipe includes thyme and onions to give it an extra savory kick, making it right at home next to your sausages or steak.
Best made thick and rich with heavy cream, this is not the recipe for you if you are looking for something light and crispy to go with your meal. This is comfort food all the way.
Check that it is done by sticking the tip of your knife in the middle. While it might be a little jiggly, the knife should still come away clean.
Recipe: Savoury Corn Pudding
15) Smoked Chantilly Potatoes
Potatoes are easy to love. But with the addition of cream, cheese and a hit of smokiness, they are completely irresistible.
To create these dangerously addictive taters, you will need to fire up your smoker. But if you have it out already for the rest of your meal, why not put it to good use!
There are not too many ingredients needed to make this dish, most of the work lies in chopping the potatoes into ⅛ ” rounds. If you have some kind of gadget that can do the chopping for you, even better!
If you are after creamy, carby, cheesy, buttery goodness, you have found the perfect recipe.
Recipe: Smoked Chantilly Potatoes
16) Collard Greens (these are packed with flavor)
For many, a bowl of collard greens will bring memories of family dinners flooding back. A classic southern dish, the infusion of turkey, onion and garlic makes this dish absolutely packed with flavor.
This sure is one tasty way of eating your greens.
For added deliciousness, you may like to pour some hot sauce or vinegar over your portion. However, for some, nothing needs to be added for this dish to be a hit.
The ingredients needed to make this dish are not fancy or obscure, rather it is the way they all come together so well which makes this such a satisfying meal.
Recipe: Soul Food Collard Greens
17) Meathead Goldwyn’s Fire Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Fennel and Prosciutto
Let’s not be childish and turn up our noses at brussels sprouts. Sure, if they are cooked the wrong way they are bitter and stinky, but we can do better than that. Much better.
In fact, when cooked right, brussels sprouts are delightful.
Meathead Goldwyn shows us how to cook brussels sprouts right in this recipe. The sprouts are licked by the flame to bring out their best, prosciutto adds richness and warmth to the dish, and a touch of fennel is added for the X factor.
All in all, this is a very grown up recipe, and breathes life into the humble sprout, and will do much the same at your next barbecue.
18) Southern Potato Salad (because potato salad is always a winner!)
When potato salad is plonked on the table you know you won’t be looking for space in the fridge to stick the leftovers, it is guaranteed crowd pleaser.
If you are still looking for your go-to potato salad recipe I suspect you may just have found it here.
Creamy but with the crunch of some celery, salty but with a hint of sweet relish, this is nicely balanced recipe.
Of course, the beauty of potato salad is that you can make minor tweaks here and there according to your taste, but starting out with a recipe that has it all is most definitely the best place to start.
Recipe: Southern Potato Salad
19) Grilled Watermelon & Fennel Salad with Charred Lemon Vinaigrette
Grilled watermelon? You better believe it! This salad is a great way to balance out the heavier flavors of grilled or smoked meats.
However this salad is tasty and unique enough that you could put it up on just about any occasion is going to lead to happy guests, and a bit of a ‘wow’ factor.
All the ingredients and flavors in this dish have been carefully researched and paired, so as wacky as it may sound, it is going to taste great.
20) Thanksgiving Stuffing Balls
The concept of these tasty morsels is similar to that of cookie dough.
Now that you are all grown up, you can turn all those things your parents told you couldn’t eat by the spoon on their own into a full blown meal, eg; the stuffing of the turkey for mains (or a substantial side) and uncooked cookies for dessert.
Even better, the mixture for these balls can be made ahead of time and frozen, so you can enjoy the salty, bready goodness any time, simply let the mix thaw out and you are ready to go.
Savoury, nutty, salty with a tiny bit of sweet, these balls can be cooked to perfection in the oven ensuring you have a crispy outer layer which opens up to a steaming, moist center.
Recipe: Thanksgiving Stuffing Balls
21) Creamed Corn with Smoked Sausage
This versatile dish not only perfectly compliments smoked meats, but would also be a great addition to tacos or nachos.
The beauty of this recipe is that it is not too sweet. This means the flavor is beautifully balanced. The only issue with this is that you might find yourself filling up on the side dish and have no room for the main meal.
Don’t be afraid to double the batch and enjoy it the next day.
Recipe: Creamed Corn with Smoked Sausage
22) Carolina Hush Puppies
Crispy, golden, tasty hush puppies are a staple at North Carolina barbecues. But you don’t have to live in North Carolina to enjoy a hush puppy or two the next time you fire up the grill.
This recipe is really easy to make, but you will need a piping bag, so make sure you have one on hand before you start mixing up all the ingredients.
Recipe: Carolina Hush Puppies
23) Tomato Salad with Pickled Onion (quick and easy)
If you don’t have any time and you are low on ‘fancy’ ingredients, then this recipe will save the day.
The perfect fresh and zesty salad to cut through the richness of meat, this recipe is also ridiculously easy to make.
You will need to set aside some time to let the onion ‘pickle’ in the juices, so make sure you get cracking on this salad a couple of hours before you plan to eat it.
Aside from thinking ahead a little, there isn’t much more you need to do than chop up some onions and tomatoes. Just the kind of salad you are after when you have a few things on the go at the same time.
Recipe: Tomato Salad with Pickled Onion
Wrapping it up
A great side dish rounds out a barbecue and adds light and shade to an otherwise meat heavy meal. Most side dishes are quick and easy to make, and the ones in this list will perfectly complement any barbecue.
We hope you enjoyed this roundup of the 15 best barbecue side dishes. If you have any others you would like to recommend, let us know in the comments section below, and if you found this article helpful, be sure to share!