Looking for the best summer side dishes for your next barbecue? It’s that time of the year so heat up the grill. If a backyard barbecue is on your agenda (it should be!), you’ll love these easy summer sides.

Warm weather, fun outdoor hangouts, insanely delicious barbecue—these are just a few of our favorite summer things! Let’s face it, food just tastes better during this time of year. If you’re planning a backyard bash or a low-key al fresco dining family, these refreshing sides are the perfect dishes to serve alongside some life-changing barbecue.

Summer is the perfect time to revamp your barbecue menu with vibrant and refreshing side dishes. Mexican street corn, pasta salads, pineapple salsas—okay, we’re drooling already. You just name a time and place, we’ll be there with hungry bellies!

barbecue food

What is a good summer side dish for a cookout?

When it comes to summer sides, nothing beats a chilled salad. And I’m not talking about a boring garden salad. We can keep it healthy while switching it up because salads are incredibly versatile, allowing you to include a mix of crisp vegetables, fruits, nuts, and dressings.

They serve as the perfect complement to smoky, savory grilled foods, balancing the richness with light and fresh flavors. Whether you opt for a leafy green salad with a vibrant vinaigrette, a hearty bean salad, or a fruity concoction like a watermelon feta salad, each option offers a cool, refreshing bite to combat the summertime heat.

The Best Summer Side Dishes

pasta salad, a classic summer side dish perfect for barbecues

Creamy Chicken and Arugula Pasta Salad

Smoky grilled chicken is tossed alongside pasta (take your pick—we love elbow or rotini for some added texture, but any will work!), fresh arugula and cheese for texture in this standard side with a twist. Plus, the creamy dressing is loaded with flavorful herbs and is still light in texture and taste. Find the recipe here!

Mexican street corn

Mexican Street Corn on the Cob

Why make plain grilled corn on the cob when you can make elote?! This popular street food in Mexico is served with cotija cheese and chili powder for a tiny kick (you can always omit it if you don’t like heat). And don’t be afraid of the mayo⁠—it turns into a creamy sauce that blends with the chili powder and cheese. Then grab a drink, and don’t forget to squeeze some lime at the end for an extra zing! Get the recipe for this favorite!

salad ingredients

Mediterranean Bean Salad

Zesty lemon juice? Check. Creamy Chickpeas? Check. Tart feta? Check. This Mediterranean bean salad is everything you want in a summer side! Super light, refreshing, and easy to make. You can switch out the beans with your favorites, though we prefer chickpeas, white northern beans, and black beans. Serve as a side, and then save the leftovers for lunch the next day. Try out this quick and easy recipe.

Check out all my grilling ideas on the City Girl Gone Mom Pinterest board!

outdoor grilling
caprese salad on plate

Caprese Salad

Would this really be a CGGM roundup without an Italian dish?! We didn’t think so. This is why Caprese was a no-brainer when thinking up summer sides. The creamy mozzarella, fresh tomato, and bold basil create such an effortlessly delicious dish. Then drizzle olive oil across, sprinkle salt and pepper and you’re good to go. Add this recipe to your barbecue menu.

Caprese salad originated back in the 1950s on the Isle of Capri, but quickly became a country—and global—favorite.

summer salads

Watermelon Feta Salad

Is there anything more refreshing than this watermelon salad? It’s light enough to really complement any main dish but still holds its own with feta, mint, cucumber, and onion to pair alongside sweet watermelon. You may want to make two batches, it always goes fast! Grab the quick and easy recipe here.

The first mention of a “barbecue” in America dates from 1733, when Benjamin Lynde of Salem, Massachusetts, wrote in his diary on August 31st, “Fair and hot; Browne; Barbacue. hack overset.”

sliced pineapple

Pineapple Salsa

This amazing recipe serves this tasty salsa inside a pineapple! Um, yes, please! Serve alongside tortilla chips or a bowl of your favorite veggies and you’re in business. This can be a pre-dinner appetizer or served as a side if your barbecue has a Mexican flair. Or skip the main and just eat this. This is City Girl Gone Mom—there are no rules here. Learn how to make this amazing recipe here.

Have you listened to my podcast? Check out The Mom Confidential!

Salsawhich is made up of a combination of chilies, tomatoes, and other spicescan be traced to the Aztecs, Mayans, and Incas.

funny barbecue quote
woman grilling


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