Pair your favorite grilled chicken, hot dogs, burgers, and steaks with one or two of my best cookout side dishes and let the party begin! Whether you're grilling on the weekend or hosting a casual backyard get-together you'll find plenty of great recipes and expert tips to make it pefect!
Honestly, I don't care how hot it is outside - I like a big scoop of old fashioned mac and cheese casserole on the plate!
Expert Tip: Keep cookout side dishes made with mayonnaise on ice during serving. You can do this by putting the serving bowl in a bigger bowl filled with ice and checking it often.
Some people bring good side dishes to potlucks and summer parties - while others bring bowls of magic that disappear fast and have people lining up to get the recipe.
Here are some tips to make sure you're in the second bunch.
- Most summer side dishes are best if made a day ahead and allowed to chill overnight.
- You can usually get away with making these two days ahead of time and keeping them tightly covered in the refrigerator.
- Pastas are best if they are overcooked a little bit before they're added to the rest of the ingredients.
- Make sure you bring all the ingredients to room temperature before mixing - hot pasta or potatoes will quickly cook the celery in a dish and make it limp.
- Put away leftovers quickly and throw away anything that you're not sure stayed cool enough. A little food is not worth the possibility of an ER visit!
Old Fashioned Macaroni Salad
Recipe: Macaroni Salad
Let's start with everyone's favorite - Mom's macaroni salad! Creamy, tangy, and wonderfully make ahead!
It's the classic recipe that Mom no doubt got from the back of the Hellmann's mayonnaise jar.
Recipe: Potato Salad
Potato salad is definitely one of the best cookout side dishes ever! It goes together easy, everyone loves it, and it can be made ahead of time!
Just make sure to keep it on ice if you're serving outside.
BBQ Macaroni Salad
Recipe: BBQ Macaroni Salad
When you want to really make people take notice of the (usually) ignored side dishes serve this easy BBQ macaroni salad!
It's creamy like the original but this has some sweet heat and southwestern goodness!
Pea and Cheese Salad
Recipe: Pea & Cheese Salad
Use fresh or frozen peas for this luscious, southern recipe! Sweet green peas, crispy bacon, and cheddar are mixed together with red onion and a yummy mayonnaise based dressing. A great side dish for any cookout!
Grilled Pear Salad
Recipe: Grilled Pear Salad
I've taken the southern classic pear salad and updated it by grilled the pears to perfect, caramelized sweetness and adding a sprinkle of bleu cheese and chopped pecans then drizzling with honey. Simple and delicious!
Italian Pasta Salad with Vinaigrette
Recipe: Italian Pasta Salad
This makes it into the collection of best cookout side dishes because it tolerates heat! No worries about spoilage like with mayo based dressings. Fresh, bright flavors - it will disappear fast. It needs to be made the day before serving.
Creamy Cucumber Salad
I grew up on this soothing summer side dish! Cucumbers are stirred together with a sour cream based dressing and some herbs to make a simple dish that's perfect on the hottest summer day.
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Here are a few tools to make your summer cookouts safer and easier!
- Chilled Serving Bowl keeps cold foods safely cold! The stainless steel serving bowl fits into another container that holds plenty of ice.
- Surface thermometer is perfect for checking the surface temperatures of side dishes to make sure they are in the safe zone of 40 degrees F or cooler. You can also use it as a family thermometer to check kids' temperatures while they sleep.
- Mesh covers keep the flies and other bugs off of your cookout side dishes while you're grilling -- and you don't have to keep covering and uncovering with plastic wrap! I love these things.
You'll find more great recipes in the side dish category. Now, go fire up that grill and get cooking!