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15 Classic Sides to Serve With Barbecue This Summer

Bring the best mac and cheese, cornbread, baked beans, and coleslaw for any barbecue spread.

<p>Matt Taylor-Gross / Food Styling by Barrett Washburne</p>

Matt Taylor-Gross / Food Styling by Barrett Washburne

"A cookout's DNA is found in the sides and who made them. This task is not for the faint of heart or the thin-skinned," wrote Dr. Regina Bradley in an essay for Food & Wine. "If your beans taste burnt or your potato salad has raisins or olives, we talking bad about you 'til your grandchildren hear about it."

This rings true whether you're hosting or attending a barbecue. Prepare to fill out the fixings with all the classic barbecue sides: gooey mac and cheese, savory baked beans, crispy coleslaw, comforting potato salad, refreshing pickles, and homemade white bread. You can't forget collards, must have macaroni salad, and should celebrate sweet summer corn with these recipes.

Gina Mae's Baked Beans

Photo by Caitlin Bensel / Food Styling by Margaret Monroe Dickey / Prop Styling by Lydia Pursell
Photo by Caitlin Bensel / Food Styling by Margaret Monroe Dickey / Prop Styling by Lydia Pursell

Bradley dresses up store-bought barbecue sauce with extra brown sugar and uses apple cider vinegar to cut through the smoky sweetness for this show-stopping side that can be made ahead.

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Classic Coleslaw

Photo by Victor Protasio / Food Styling by Torie Cox & John Somerall / Prop Styling by Audrey Davis
Photo by Victor Protasio / Food Styling by Torie Cox & John Somerall / Prop Styling by Audrey Davis

Coleslaw is a popular barbecue side because the cooling, tart-sweet dressing cuts through rich, fatty, smoked meats. You'll find regional preferences for coleslaw much like those for types of barbecue; Memphis slaw in Tennessee includes chopped green bell pepper, while the slaw in Lexington, North Carolina, uses ketchup instead of mayonnaise in the dressing. Matt Horn keeps his coleslaw simple, using a mix of shredded red and green cabbage as the base. The mayonnaise dressing gets its tang from apple cider vinegar and mustard. That tartness is tempered with a hint of sweetness from honey, while dill gives the coleslaw herbal notes.

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Classic Potato Salad

<p>Diana Chistruga</p>

Diana Chistruga

Baby potatoes have a naturally sweet flavor and velvety texture that's delicious in this recipe. With a creamy mayonnaise base that contains herbs, onion, and celery, this simple side is ideal for your next backyard barbecue or summer cookout.

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Macaroni and Cheese with Buttery Crumbs

Jennifer Causey
Jennifer Causey

Small chunks of cheddar and Colby cheeses throughout give this classic dish a fabulous gooey texture, while the breadcrumb topping provides great textural contrast and even more flavor.

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Dill Pickles

<p>Julia Hartbeck</p>

Julia Hartbeck

Pickles provide acidity to balance the richness of barbecue, often served on the side or with white bread for barbecue sandwiches. Bobby Flay's incredibly simple pickles have just the right amount of garlic and dill and are intensely crunchy and refreshing.

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Buttermilk Cornbread

Victor Protasio
Victor Protasio

Follow three rules for a savory, crispy crust.

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Vegan Collard Greens

Lauren Vied Allen
Lauren Vied Allen

This mildly spicy vegan collard greens recipe from Boricua Soul, a Puerto Rican–Southern restaurant in Durham, North Carolina, achieves the familiar depth of flavor with quality vegetable broth, adobo seasoning, and a hint of liquid smoke.

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Succotash

<p>Matt Taylor-Gross / Food Styling by Barrett Washburne</p>

Matt Taylor-Gross / Food Styling by Barrett Washburne

Make Carla Hall’s succotash your go-to side dish for barbecues to show off sweet summer corn and tomatoes when they are in season.

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Potato Salad with Fresh Corn and Basil

Photo by Victor Protasio / Food Styling by Margaret Dickey / Prop Styling by Claire Spollen
Photo by Victor Protasio / Food Styling by Margaret Dickey / Prop Styling by Claire Spollen

Summery fresh herbs shine in the dressing for this mashup of classic barbecue sides.

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Julia Child's Perfect Sandwich Bread

<p>Greg Dupree / Food Styling by Micah Morton / Prop Styling by Claire Spollen</p>

Greg Dupree / Food Styling by Micah Morton / Prop Styling by Claire Spollen

To steal the show at any barbecue, bake your own white bread. This version is wonderfully soft while substantial enough to hold all the fixings.

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Cucumber Salad

<p>Julia Hartbeck</p>

Julia Hartbeck

Simply slice your cucumbers using a mandoline, toss them with a bit of sugar and salt, then stir in vinegar and onion. A few extra minutes of marination time softens the bite of the onions and helps the tangy seasonings infuse every bite of cucumber for a simple, refreshing side.

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Texas Caviar

The Picture Pantry / Alamy Stock Photo
The Picture Pantry / Alamy Stock Photo

John Devore makes his version with diced fresh cilantro, white onions, and garlic; chunks of Roma tomatoes; chopped red pepper, jalapeno, and poblano; black-eyed peas; and lime juice, as described in this case for barbecue's best friend.

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Grilled Okra, Corn, and Tomato Salad

Victor Protasio
Victor Protasio

Toss peak summer produce for a fresh, textural salad that's stunning among a barbecue spread.

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Classic Macaroni Salad

© Kristen Stevens
© Kristen Stevens

This classic creamy macaroni salad has just the right amount of crunchy vegetables and is ready in 20 minutes.

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Corn Bread Casserole

© Abby Hocking
© Abby Hocking

Bake frozen and canned corn, corn muffin mix, butter, sour cream, and an egg into something delicious and comforting alongside a plate of barbecue.

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