Barbecue Side Dishes

Starchy and filling, or fruity and fresh, sides are an essential part of a BBQ meal

Barbecue Side Dishes

While meats make up the majority of any barbecue side dishes are often served to add a variety of tastes to the meal.

They are cheap, quick to prepare and are incredibly versatile, allowing them to be served with almost any meat.

They can usually be prepared as you wait for the BBQ to heat up, or as the meat is cooking.

Below are various types of side dishes including coleslaw, salsas and salads along with some recipe links.

Many States in the USA (particularly Southern states) have adopted side dishes unique to their region, providing numerous diverse and interesting flavors.


Barbecue Side Dishes

Coleslaw is an easy dish that can be prepared in matter of minutes. All that is required is a bit of chopping and mixing.

They tend to benefit from being chilled for around an hour before serving. A good classic coleslaw is always popular, but there are several different ways to brighten up this staple BBQ side dish.

Krautsalat, a German take on coleslaw, adds colour to the meal by including grated carrot or red pepper. By using BBQ sauce instead of mayonnaise and adding red vegetables such as cabbage, peppers, radishes and onions you can make red slaw, a favorite with the natives of North Carolina.

Further popular Southern variations on this recipe include Tennessee style mustard coleslaw and Texas coleslaw, which is made by adding green onions, radish and a bit of lime juice. For a winter American slaw, take the basic recipe and add sweet apples.


Like coleslaw, salsas are easy to prepare in a short time, but can add great variety to a BBQ. Salsas work best with something to dip in them, such as tortilla chips or an American favorite, Hush Puppies (savory cornbread balls).

Those in California make salsa by dicing together tomatoes, onions, garlic, coriander (cilantro) and adding jalapeños to suit individual taste.

Another salsa that requires very little effort but looks and tastes great is pineapple salsa.

Potato Salads

Barbecue Side Dishes

This side dish takes a little longer to prepare than those above, given the need to cook the potatoes and let them cool before serving (although some potato salads, particularly vinegar based ones, work just as well served warm).

If you are making potato salad with crispy bacon, allow for a short amount of time to cook the bacon too. There are some American variations that can make this side dish a little more original - check out our list of variations (there are many!) on the potato salad recipes page.

Other Barbecue Side Dish Ideas

Couscous is an extremely versatile side dish, can be served both hot and cold and comes in a variety of flavors. It has neutral taste and is therefore great to serve with any meat or salad. Suggested couscous flavors: Garlic, Onion, Tomato, chopped herbs, or try chicken stock.

Southwestern Corn Salad is another side dish enjoyed by many Americans. They dice a variety of peppers, onions and garlic into a bowl, adding black beans and corn kernels, for a distinctly Southern flavour.

Okra is used widely by Southern BBQ enthusiasts. It can be breaded and quickly fried to create a crispy snack, or mixed together with corn and other vegetables to create a New Orleans classic.

Grits, a coarsely ground corn, is usually eaten at breakfast, either hot or cold. However, when mixed with prawns, cheese or practically any other savoury ingredient it becomes the perfect barbecue side dish.

Watermelon, Mache and Pecan Salad, is another Southern favorite. Crumbling Gorgonzola over the watermelon can add another texture and flavour to this salad. This salad works particularly well with spicy meat, cooling your mouth before the next plateful of your main meal.

A favorite of mine from Greece is grilled Halloumi cheese - this salty delight was a real find.

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Barbecue Side Dish Recipes

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