Summer is the perfect time to show off your grilling and smoking skills. Nothing sets off a better summer party than having epic side dishes that complement your barbecue. Making your own sides is fun and can save you lots of money over buying premade sides. Many of the summer side dishes we're going to share with you can be made in advance which will save you time and effort on the big day.
Epic Summer Side Dish Ideas
We're going to start with a few classic sides that are often bought already made. Making your own version gives you the perfect opportunity to take an otherwise boring BBQ side dish and make it a showstopper.
Mac and Cheese
Here is an easy way to make gluten-free mac and cheese that is better than anything in a box. Our spin on this classic BBQ side dishes flavor comes from your smoker.
Gluten-Free Smoked Bacon Make and Cheese
This recipe can be prepped up to 24 hours ahead of time.
The next time you are shopping for pasta, look for gluten-free noodles. Most stores these days will carry a few varieties. The best are made from corn or rice flour. Avoid noodles with chickpea or any bean flour in the first few ingredients. They taste (not surprisingly) like beans.
Make Pasta and Melt Cheese
1. Prepare pasta according to package directions then drain and set aside.
2. Shred about 24 oz of cheese. You can use one type such as sharp cheddar or combine two or three for better flavors and textures. Adding mozzarella gives a stringy texture while adding jack cheese will make you mac creamier. Set aside.
3. In a medium to large saucepan, melt one or two tablespoons of butter.
4. Add in the shredded cheese and about two cups of milk.
5. Stir until combined and cheese has melted.
Making a Thickener
6. In a measuring cup, whisk together two tablespoons cornstarch with one cup of milk until combined. Add to melted cheese. Stir regularly over medium heat until sauce thickens, about five minutes.
7. In a disposable aluminum baking pan, pour drained gluten-free pasta.
8. Pour cheese sauce completely covering the pasta and gently mix.
9. Crumble hickory-smoked bacon over the mixture. You can also add any other flavors or toppings you would like at this point. We like to add a hefty sprinkle of our Bearded Butchers Blend Chipotle Seasoning for the right balance of smoky and spicy.
Smoking the Mac
10. When you are ready to cook the mac & cheese, place it on the smoker with indirect heat at about 225 degrees. Too high of a temperature will overcook the pasta.
11. Remove after about two hours when the top is crisp and the center is gooey. Serve carefully – this stuff is so good you might lose a finger to hungry guests.
This is one of those BBQ side dishes that sits at every barbecue picnic and people take a few just to be polite. Making these into a side star is easy using fresh green beans and a little help from the Bearded Butchers.
Black and Blue Cheese Green Beans
1. In a cast iron skillet, cook one pound of bacon well-seasoned with Bearded Butchers Blend Black Seasoning. Reserve the bacon drippings.
2. Chop bacon into quarter inch pieces and set aside.
Green Bean Blanching Steps
3. Start a large pot of generously salted water to boil.
4. Snap the ends from one pound of fresh green beans and rinse in cool water. When the water begins to boil, place the beans in the pot uncovered.
5. Prepare an ice bath using a large bowl of ice and a small amount of water.
The green beans will only need to darken, about two minutes. Immediately drain the beans and place in the ice bath to stop the cooking process. Drain and pat dry. Heat the bacon drippings in the skillet.
Combining the Flavors
6. Place the beans in the skillet and cook about one minute.
7. Add the bacon pieces and continue to heat for about one minute.
8. Transfer the beans and bacon to a bowl.
9. Add in a half cup blue cheese crumbles and toss together. Serve.
Corn on the Cob
This summertime classic is also kind of boring. Don't accept mediocrity when you can make the most amazing corn on the cob in the state. Check out our favorite and easy way to make one of the classic BBQ side dishes.
Smoked State Fair Corn on the Cob
This side dish recipe is best when made with the freshest corn you can find. Get whole, husk-on sweet corn. We like to buy white summer corn in the husks with the corn silk still on. You can tell by the color of the corn silk how fresh the corn is.
Clean and Smoke the Corn
1. Use scissors to cut the corn silk. Remove any loose corn husk, but do not unwrap the ear. You want the corn husk on for this recipe.
2. Place the cleaned corn in the husks on the smoker at 225 to 250 degrees. Remove after about two hours.
Make Cajun Garlic Butter Sauce
3. While the corn is smoking, saute several cloves of sliced garlic in a pan.
4. Add one quarter cup of butter and just barely melt it. Remove from the heat.
5. Add in one teaspoon of Bearded Butcher Blend Cajun Seasoning and whisk to combine.
6. When the corn is ready, remove from the smoker and strip away the husk.
7. Drizzle with garlic butter mixture and serve.
The smoke flavor and grilled corn flavor makes this one of those BBQ side dishes you'll make every summer.
This is another common BBQ side dish that can use a little help to get it past being boring. This is a recipe you can make ahead even by several days. This twist on one of the most essential BBQ side dishes is unforgettable.
Here's an easy to make twist on a traditional German-style potato salad. We add slivered sun-dried tomatoes to honor the state fruit of Ohio and to compliment the slightly sweet and tangy vinegar dressing. Choose new red potatoes or Yukon Gold for the best potato salad results.
1. Cube six to eight potatoes and place in a large pot of cold water.
2. Bring the pot to a full boil and cook until tender.
3. Drain and rinse in cold water to stop the cooking process.
4. Spread in an even layer to cool and drain.
You can also use baked potatoes for a simple time-saving hack.
Making the Dressing
6. In a cast iron skillet, cook bacon until slightly crisp.
7. Remove from the pan and drain.
8. Add one thin sliced red onion to the bacon drippings and cook until translucent, but not browned.
9. Toss in two tablespoons of minced garlic and cook for 30 seconds.
10. Add a half cup of chicken or beef broth to the pan and a quarter cup of white or cider vinegar.
11. Stir in two tablespoons of Dijon mustard and one teaspoon of sugar.
12. Bring to a gentle boil and reduce by half.
13. Toss potatoes with dressing.
14. Fold in sliced sun-dried tomatoes, bacon pieces, fresh parsley, and fresh dill.
15. Add salt and pepper to taste.
This delicious recipe can be served hot or cold.
Shop Local, Cook Fresh
We always like to support our local farmers and we encourage you to visit a local farmers market for ingredients to use in your side dishes. You'll get fresher and better tasting produce for your barbecue when you buy locally. Plus, you'll be helping a farmer keep growing.
Using Local Produce for the Best BBQ Side Dish
Some of the best BBQ side dish ideas can be found in the local market. We love to make fruit salad using produce grown locally and it's the best place to get fresh greens for salads and coleslaw recipes. Many of the key ingredients in the delicious recipes we shared today can be found locally.
Combining Barbecue Sides
One of the key things is to combine the types of side dishes you have with the main dish so they complement one another. Featuring a dish like macaroni salad with baked beans makes an excellent choice with hot dogs and hamburgers. A Tex-Mex corn salad recipe makes a nice side with a tomato salsa and Mexican street tacos. Broccoli salad and seared black pepper zucchini add tons of flavor to a steak. You can combine red and green cabbage with our Original Bearded Butchers Blend Seasoning for a flavorful twist on an easy BBQ side.
The Key to Epic BBQ Sides: Get Creative
Use your imagination when creating fun homemade side dishes for your summer barbecue party. There are tons of ways you can use local flavors to make your side dishes stand out from the crowd. The best BBQ sides are the ones made with creativity, love, and a spirit of summer fun.