32 Sides for Your Next Summer Cookout

Scene-stealing salads, slaws, breads, and grilled vegetables turn even a casual menu into a memorable meal.

grilled vegetable platter with cheese

Ryan Liebe

Everyone knows the side dishes are the real stars of a summer meal: A perfectly-cooked steak or fish filet may look like the centerpiece of your menu, but the right vegetables, salads, breads, and slaws steal the show every time.

Whether you're grilling an entire rack of barbecue ribs for a crowd or throwing marinated chicken thighs on a hot grill for a weeknight dinner, find a side that pairs well with your main. Here, we share our secrets to a perfectly grilled ear of corn, delicious riffs on coleslaw, and a savory-sweet cornbread. Toss any in-season fruit or vegetable, charred over an open flame, with an easy vinaigrette for a quick and tasty side—or opt for more elaborate dishes that elevate flavor profiles or provide complementary textures.

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Sautéed Corn With Black Pepper and Manchego

sauteed corn with black pepper and manchego
Noe Dewitt

Upgrade fresh corn by cutting the kernels off the cob, sautéing them with butter in a cast-iron skillet, and tossing with grated aged Manchego for a delicious, indulgent grilling side dish.

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Green Beans With Tomatoes and Crispy Breadcrumbs

Green Beans with Tomatoes and Crispy Breadcrumbs
Frédéric Lagrange

This crisp, colorful side dish recipe calls for a vibrant combination of green beans and wax beans, cocktail tomatoes, homemade croutons, and grated Manchego cheese.

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Sweet Corn, Zucchini, and Tomatoes With Bulgur

Sweet Corn, Zucchini, and Tomatoes with Bulgur
Frédéric Lagrange

Celebrate the bounty of summer produce with this juicy grain salad. Cooked bulgur is tossed with green and yellow zucchini, fresh corn kernels, beefsteak tomatoes, and arugula.

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Miso-Watercress Green Beans

miso-watercress green beans
Kate Sears

If you think green beans are boring, this side dish will make you think again. The beans are sautéed, then briefly steamed until they're crisp on the outside and tender on the inside. Serve them with a simple dressing made with miso paste and fresh lemon juice.

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Grilled Corn With Fish Sauce and Scallions

grilled corn with fish sauce and scallions served with lime wedges
Kate Sears

Summer is the only time we want to eat fresh corn on the cob. This easy recipe calls for topping the corn with an umami-packed combination of sambal oelek, fish sauce, and lime juice, bringing big-time flavor to your cookout.

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Cucumber-Herb Salad

cucumber-herb salad served in floral-patterned dish
Noe Dewitt

This make-ahead green salad offers freshness and crunch to lighten up heavy steaks or tenderloins. Toss together cucumbers, extra-virgin olive oil, rice vinegar, and fresh tender herbs, such as parsley, mint, and chives for a breezy side dish.

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Harissa-Roasted Green Beans

harissa-roasted green beans topped with sesame seeds
Kate Sears

In this 30-minute recipe, roasted green beans are tossed with harissa paste and topped with toasted sesame seeds.

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Black-Eyed-Pea-Salad With Celery

black‑eyed‑pea salad with celery
Chris Simpson

This simple side dish recipe uses canned black-eyed peas to make preparation even easier. The protein-packed legumes are tossed with diced rice onion, red wine vinegar, chopped celery, and parsley.

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Braised Green Beans With Tomatoes and Cilantro

braised green beans with tomatoes and cilantro
Noe Dewitt

Tomatoes are the epitome of everything juicy and delicious in summer. We've highlighted them alongside chopped green beans in this sautéed side dish recipe.

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Grilled Vegetables and White-Bean Fattoush

Grilled Vegetables and White-Bean Fattoush
Con Poulos

How beautiful is this array of grilled vegetables? Bell peppers, escarole, and red onions are brushed with oil, then grilled until charred and tender. Serve with cannellini beans, crumbled feta, and pita chips.

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Grilled Asparagus and Farro Salad

Grilled Asparagus and Farro Salad recipe
Chris Simpson

Bring flavor to your backyard barbecue with this light and bright side dish recipe. Asparagus is grilled, then mixed with farro, salty-sweet Marcona almonds, lemon juice, and feta cheese.

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Green Salad With Pickled-Shallot Vinaigrette

close up of green salad with pickled-shallot vinaigrette
Paola + Murray

When summer comes, we're all about embracing vibrant colors and flavors—so this big-batch salad, featuring pink watermelon radishes, sliced carrots, and mixed greens, is just the right recipe.

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Spicy Pineapple-Peanut Salad

Spicy Pineapple & Peanut Salad recipe
Lennart Weibull

We can't get enough of the unique combination of sweet pineapple, salty peanuts, spice chile peppers, and fresh mint in this cookout side dish.

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Test Kitchen's Favorite Potato Salad

Test Kitchen's Favorite Potato Salad
Ren Fuller

There are a few key steps to our food editors' favorite potato salad: evenly cutting your potatoes so they cook at the same rate; placing the potatoes in cold water, then boiling; and using a starchy, creamy spud like russets or Yukon golds. The result is a creamy, flavorful potato salad.

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Shredded-Carrot-and-Cabbage Coleslaw

carrot cabbage slaw
Ren Fuller

A coleslaw that's as light and vinegar-y as we're used to but with a whole lot more color? Yes, please! Spiralized carrots and shredded cabbage are a welcome summer upgrade to a cookout staple.

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Dill, Potato, and Egg Salad

Dill, Potato, and Egg Salad
Petrina Tinslay

Summer cookouts and potato salad go hand in hand. Here, we updated the creamy mayo version by adding pickled shallots, tangy sliced cornichons, and just a couple tablespoons of Dijon mustard. It's lighter, zestier, and more colorful than the classic.

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Grilled Corn on the Cob


Instead of boiling corn on the cob, why not grill it? The subtle smoky flavor and charred crisp is a delicious contrast to the sweet, milky kernels.

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Greek-Taverna Salad

Greek-Taverna Salad
Petrina Tinslay

Help yourself to this chopped, deconstructed Greek salad. By keeping the dressing on the side, you prevent the ingredients from getting too soggy. And this way, no one has to pick around the ingredients they don't like. Win-win!

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Classic Cornbread

Classic Cornbread on wood cutting board

This buttermilk cornbread recipe is made with a simple combination of butter, cornmeal, all-purpose flour, sugar, and eggs: easy to make and a guaranteed crowd-pleaser.

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Cucumber Salad With Herbs, Kumquats, and Sumac Dressing

cucumber salad with herbs kumquats and sumac dressing
The Ingalls

We could snack on crisp, raw cucumber slices all day, but they're so much better when tossed with fresh herbs, sumac (a tart, acidic spice), and kumquats. Every ingredient is bright and a bit of a surprise, which makes this a delightful summer side salad.

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Eggplant, Tomato, and Mozzarella Salad


Add grilled eggplant to the classic caprese salad of fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, and basil for a summer vegetable extravaganza.

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Grilled Green Tomatoes With Creamy Basil Sauce


Here's a genius way to use those unripened green tomatoes: Cut them into thick slabs and char them on the grill until they're softened and slightly sweet. Drizzle the grilled tomatoes with a creamy sauce of fresh basil, garlic, lemon juice, and mayonnaise.

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Grilled Peas With Toasted Coconut

grilled peas with toasted coconut
Armando Rafael

In under 30 minutes, a delicious, healthy side dish is born: By grilling the peas in their pods, you get a hint of smokiness, while coconut, lime, and cayenne deepen the flavor.

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Tomato and Avocado Salad


Make an elegant and simple salad by pairing rich avocado and juicy, multicolored tomatoes. A drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkling of salt and pepper is all the seasoning this easy salad needs. Serve with grilled steak or chicken for a delicious summer meal.

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Tabbouleh With Watermelon

watermelon tabbouleh dish

Watermelon replaces the traditional tomato in this Middle Eastern salad, giving it bursts of sweetness, while goat cheese provides creamy contrast.

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Peppery Greens With Meyer-Lemon Dressing

peppery greens with meyer lemon dressing
Lennart Weibull

Green salads don't get much simpler than this recipe. Choose any greens you like, such as a blend of peppery arugula and bitter frisée, then toss in a simple vinaigrette made with lemon juice, olive oil, and Dijon mustard.

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Skillet Corn, Edamame, and Tomatoes With Basil Oil

Andrew Purcell

For a fresh update on succotash, replace lima beans with edamame and drizzle with homemade basil oil. You can cook this dish on the stove during colder months, or on a grill heated to medium-high.

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Grilled Cauliflower With Spiced Yogurt Sauce

grilled cauliflower with spiced yogurt sauce
Yuki Sugiura

Olive oil seasoned with garam masala, paprika, and garlic gives this grilled head of cauliflower its rich, reddish-brown char; serve with a simple dressing of yogurt and lemon juice.

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Grilled Zucchini With Miso

grilled zucchini with miso
Dana Gallagher

In-season zucchini, thickly sliced and grilled with a miso-soy glaze, cooks in about 15 minutes on the grill—and adds a rich, savory complement to the rest of your cookout menu.

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Grilled Summer Squash With Hot Honey and Ricotta

grilled summer squash with hot honey and ricotta
Yuki Sugiura

Sweet-and-spicy hot honey goes with everything from pepperoni pizza to fried chicken, so it's no surprise that it can also transform grilled squash. Ricotta, fresh mint, and toasted almonds fill out this make-ahead dish.

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Grilled Vegetarian Stuffed Peppers

grilled vegetarian stuffed peppers
Armando Rafael

Grilled bell peppers filled with raisins, couscous, or bulgur, and crumbled feta are a lighter alternative to the classic beef-filled version, and make a pretty presentation alongside grilled steak or fish.

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Grilled-Vegetable Agrodolce

grilled vegetable agrodolce
Ryan Liebe

This antipasti dish matches grilled eggplant and squash, marinated in a sweet-and-sour sauce, with cured meats, goat cheese, and burrata—plus toasted sesame bread for serving.

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