Cookout side dishes are summertime necessities, and you can do better than just opening a bag of potato chips this summer! We’ve got fresh, seasonal salads, quick pickles, veggie noodles, and the best dips. Here are ten summertime sides ready for your picnic table or patio.
A quick take on the classic Greek salad, this version highlights delicious summer produce, including sliced tomatoes, cucumbers, and colorful bell peppers. The dressing, a simple combination of Italian seasoning, vinegar, and good olive oil, is great for dipping pieces of bread.
The best part about this fun side dish? You can customize it to whatever toppings your family likes best. Start with quick store-bought crescent dough rolled into a circle. Cook it on a pizza stone to ensure crispness. Then top it with dill-spiked cream cheese and mayonnaise and whatever summer veggies you want: chopped cucumbers, bell peppers, yellow squash, broccoli. Choices abound.
Aiming to trim a few carbs this summer? This fresh “pasta” salad, made with seasonal zucchini ribbons, gets plenty of flavor from turkey bacon, cannellini beans, and chopped basil. Three cheeses: cream cheese, grated parmesan, and feta, make it taste more indulgent than it looks.
While potato salad might seem like a distinctly American dish, it’s commonly eaten as a side dish in Korean cuisine, possibly introduced by American soldiers during the Korean War. Spiralized red potatoes meet a rice-wine vinegar and mayonnaise dressing for an unusual take on the potato salad we know in the U.S. This version gets extra flavor from honey, chopped green onion, and spiralized seedless cucumbers scattered over the top.
An excellent side dish when it’s paired with heavier grilled meats, like short ribs or barbecue, quick pickled vegetables bring a bright, light flavor to the table. Here, a brine of vinegar, water, sugar, and salt is microwaved, then poured over a bowl of sliced daikon radishes and placed in the fridge to chill. The simple recipe can be used with lots of veggies, including turnips.
Refreshing cucumber noodles fit well with the traditional ingredients of a Greek salad. Strain the cucumbers (a salad spinner works great) so the dressing doesn’t get waterlogged. Combine the noodles with onion, tomato, artichoke, feta, and a light vinaigrette before serving.
Put your herb garden to good use with this dish, which combines a classic basil pesto with creamy avocado. Combine the pesto with spiralized carrot, squash and zucchini noodles, and add summer’s favorite tomatoes and crisp-tender broccoli. Add chicken to make turn this side dish into a main course meal. Then, freeze the leftover pesto to use in future meals.
Elote, a popular Mexican street food that consists of a fresh ear of corn coated in cheese and delicious spices, has been turned into a dip that’s the perfect summer side dish. Grill the corn, fresh jalapeno, and onion for maximum flavor, then chop and combine with the rest of the ingredients and warm for a creamy, spicy, satisfying side.
A bright salsa made with ingredients straight from the garden is perfect with chips, yes, but it’s also great on grilled chicken or fish. Combine tomatoes, jalapeno, onion, garlic, and seasoning, then chop roughly together until it’s at your desired chunkiness.
Does sangria count as a side dish? We think so! This adults-only beverage is made for hot summer evenings on the porch. Combine raspberries, tequila, triple sec, and sparkling wine for this refreshing sipper; the recipe starts with a warm sugar syrup, so be sure to leave time for chilling in a pitcher.
This post has been updated since its original publication in April, 2016.