The summer season means a lot of things. Sure, summertime might evoke images of palm trees and beaches, or swimming pools and bikinis, but if a good old fashioned BBQ doesn’t also come to mind, then you may need to get your summer priorities in order. There’s nothing like rounding up a group of friends, firing up the grill, and making the most out of a breezy summer day. When most people hear BBQ, they immediately think of grilled meats and sauces. And it may be all about the meats for many, but it’s important to not lose sight of the side dishes. Barbecue is essentially the Thanksgiving of the summer—no one wants to eat a roasted turkey without mashed potatoes and gravy, and the same goes for eating barbecued meats without any of the delicious sides.
From brisket to burgers, there are a million different ways to get your barbecue fix. Once you’ve settled on the main course, it’s time to start thinking about the BBQ side dishes. Trust us: The secret to success is in the sides. A good BBQ can be transformed into a great BBQ if you get the complementary plates right. Purists might say it’s the meat the matters, and no one cares about the accompanying dishes, but it’s important that you don’t buy into that nonsense.
Not all side dishes are created equal, though, so we’ve picked the best recipes of the bunch so you don’t have to guess on how to knock a BBQ out of the park. Whether you’re grilling for the whole block or just hanging out with a couple friends, be sure to serve up one of the the classic or fresh takes on BBQ sides we’ve listed below. It’s safe to say that if you stick options from this list, you’ll be flexing your way into status as the BBQ god of your social circle.