Level Up Your Summer Side Dishes with These 17 Easy Recipes

Publish Date April 12, 2024 4 Minute Read

Level Up These Iconic BBQ Side Dishes

Whether you’re planning a picnic, serving a side dish at a barbecue or hosting a summer cookout complete with all the fixings, try these clever twists to take your dishes from classic to iconic. With just a few smart hacks and some unexpected ingredients, you can cook up stellar side dishes that are sure to elevate any warm-weather meal.

What Sides Should I Bring to a Summer Cookout?

The best and easiest summer side dishes are those that capture the essence of the season’s laid-back, low-fuss vibe. As great as traditional recipes are, it’s always fun to level up a favorite recipe by including some fresh new takes, yummy ingredients and creative mashups.

All these recipes come together quickly, are easy to transport and will have everyone at the barbecue asking, “Who brought this amazing side dish?” Prepare to receive all the compliments.

And remember, the first step for elevating any dish is to purchase the freshest and highest-quality ingredients possible. If your garden is in its prime right now, feel free to add or substitute any of your favorite seasonal veggies.

Our Best Leveled-up Summer BBQ Sides

Leveled-up Easy Summer Caprese Mac and Cheese

For many of us, the best part of summer is digging into the rustic freshness of a Caprese salad. This recipe combines signature Caprese flavors with the rich comfort of traditional mac and cheese to create a side dish that will make mouths water. With juicy grape tomatoes, silky mozzarella pearls, fresh basil and a drizzle of tart balsamic glaze, this mac and cheese is truly on another level.

Leveled-up Sweet Hatch Chile Corn on the Cob

Ready for a spicy summer? Try creating your own zesty spread by blending Hatch chiles, garlic, honey and cilantro into softened butter. Then slather on grilled sweet corn for the perfect combination of sweetness and heat.

Leveled-up Bourbon Bacon Baked Beans

Grownups, gather ‘round for a bold side dish that’s just for you. Jazz up canned baked beans with sauteed onions and bacon, then deglaze your skillet with bourbon, brown sugar and a touch of red pepper flakes. It’s a tasty new take on a cookout classic.

Leveled-up White Wine Potato Salad

Add a touch of French sophistication to a traditional potato salad by boiling your potatoes in a mixture of white wine and water. Then toss those swanky spuds in a snappy dijon vinaigrette with shaved fennel, shallots and fresh herbs. The result? Magnifique.

More Summer Sides

More Easy Summer Recipes

Ready for more inspiration? Find everything you need for your summer shopping, including all your favorite summer party foods and summer grilling essentials, plus the summer’s freshest produce.