Taking Sides: A Guide to the Best Sides for a BBQ Party

In Delicious BBQ Recipes, Sides and Drinks by marketninjas

What Is A Barbecue Party?

A barbeque happens when someone invites a lot of other people to their backyard and cooks stuff on a grill, often basted with a seasoned sauce. Most of these people will expect there to be certain side dishes that are normally associated with barbecues. The usual suspects include corn on the cob slathered in butter, a mean coleslaw, and some kind of salad with green leafy vegetables.

If someone can provide the side dishes, the barbecue turns into a barbecue party. That’s a barbecue where everyone really has a good time. Some consider side dishes to be the life of the barbecue party. They play a key role in the barbecues entertainment factor.

What Do You Serve At a Backyard Barbecue Party?

You should serve meat at a barbecue party. No matter how good your sides are, they are called sides for a reason. The main focus is on the meat.  And don’t rely on your guests to bring it. When you throw a barbecue the meat is just sort of implied.

Stock up on some burger meat, hot dogs, brats for a real crowd pleaser, and be sure to marinate your chicken the night before if your barbecuing for a crowd. Steaks are a bit pricey. If you do want to include them, stick to sirloins for a less expensive cut that grills well.

Sides Matter

So if the meat is the star, why do sides matter so much? Sides matter because:

  • They bring something for everyone to the table. (Vegetarians, vegans,  keto dieters, weight watchers, the glucose intolerant, lactose intolerant, those with nut allergies, etc).
  • They can serve as a distraction if the meat doesn’t turn out as well as you would have liked.
  • They keep well as leftovers, provided there’s not much mayonnaise involved.
  • Little kids love the finger foods (see hushpuppies).
  • They’re more cost-effective than meat if you want to go big on your barbecue.
  • They can steal the show and make you really popular.

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What Are Some Good Sides?

We all have our good sides and our bad sides. Hopefully, we don’t end up bringing our bad ones to our potluck barbecues. What are some good sides to serve at a barbecue? Here are some traditional sides, with a few unconventional twists thrown in.

Running With the Deviled Eggs: 

Why are they called deviled eggs? Is it because of the wickedly good taste, or is it just because they’re wickedly hard to peel? They’re sort of like mini bowls of eggs salad inside an egg white – absolutely delicious and great finger foods, but they can take a lot longer to eat than they can to make.

Want to get that shell off without taking the egg with it? Here are some handy instructions for keeping your shell off in as close to one piece as possible.


1. The Perfect Boil:

The perfect boil starts with older eggs. Not expired, mind you, but you may want to buy them a week before to let them soften up a little. Softer eggs peel more easily. Once the eggs are aged to perfection:

  • Put them in a saucepan and cover up with cool water.
  • Let boil, cover saucepan up and remove from the heat.
  • Let them sit covered for 15 minutes.

2. Egg Apeel

When the fifteen minutes are up, take the eggs and tap them on your counter. The good news here is that hard-boiled eggs don’t break when you crack ‘em – great for damage control. Tap that egg until its good and cracked all over the shell. Rinse each individual egg under cold water and peel with ease!

Now that you have your egg perfectly peeled:

  • Slice each egg in half, and pop out the yolks.
  • Add mayonnaise and your choice of spices and condiments (salt and mustard come highly recommended) and spoon mixture back into the yolk. Garnish with paprika.
  • Chill and serve and then serve and chill.

Husky Corn on the Cob

 Is it the old fashioned typewriter method ( gnaw end to end, rotate and repeat), or is it the rotary, (eats around the edges first to let the middle cool off)?  There may be many ways of attacking your cob, but there are things that are more or less universally agreed upon – corn cobs taste best when grilled, dripping with butter, and preferably, not from a freezer bag. tastes better when eaten with those cute little

The secret to a juicy cob is keeping the husk on during grilling. The husk keeps the corn from drying out and lets the corn steam in its own juices while receiving an infusion of smoky flavor from the charred corn husks. If grill marks are desired, pull back a few of the outer leaves of the husk to put a thinner layer between the grill and the corn.

To grill corn on the cob perfectly:

  1. Prepare grill for direct high heat (550 degrees Fahrenheit), propane or charcoal.
  2. Grill corn in husks to keep from drying out or burning. For char, peel off a few layers of corn husk before grilling.
  3. Cover the grill. Turn corn occasionally, about 15-20 minutes, until husks are charred on all sides.
  4. Remove cobs from the grill. Wait for them to cool before removing silks and husks
  5. Serve with butter, sprinkle with cheese, chili powder, or lime juice or all of the above.

It is also a little known fact that corn on the cob corn cob holders at either end. Throw some in your shopping cart if your bringing in the sheaves.

A Mean Bean Salad

If you’re tired of the classic three-bean, this badass bean salad is going to let off more gas than a propane grill.  Some bean salads are topped with white wine vinaigrette – this one’s topped with beer and barbecue sauce. Substitute the beer with a non-alcoholic brew or even soda for a more sobering experience.  


  • 1 can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
  • 4 stalks celery, halved and sliced
  • 3 plum tomatoes, seeded and chopped
  • 1 bunch of green onions, trimmed and chopped
  • 1/3 cup prepared BBQ sauce
  • ¼ cup bock beer
  • 3 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon molasses
  • ½ teaspoon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce
  • Salt and black pepper
  • Additional hot sauce for those with numb taste bud, optional


  1. In a large bowl, combine beer, BBQ sauce, molasses, vinegar, and hot sauce and mustard seeds.
  2. Add celery, green onions, beans, tomatoes, and green onions. Toss until fully coated.
  3. Serve in a bowl lined with lettuce leaves, if you want to maintain some semblance of a salad.
  4. Use a slotted spoon to avoid a pool of dressing on the plate.

Slaw Is The Law

When you’re at a barbecue, coleslaw is the law! All you really need for coleslaw is shredded cabbage and vinegar. (Yes, there are coleslaws without mayonnaise) but if you want to slay with your slaw, you might want to get a little jiggy with it. Here is a recipe that lays down the law on slaw with crunchy ramen noodles and delightfully toasted almonds

Dried Ramen Noodle Coleslaw:


  • 14 package coleslaw mix
  • 3 oz. package Ramen Noodles ( spicy chicken or )
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • ½ can sliced almonds
  • 3 stalks sliced scallions
  • 11 oz can mandarin orange
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil

For the dressing:

  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil


  1. Put all the dressing ingredients in a small bowl and set aside. Whisk until the dressing is emulsified.
  2. Place sesame seeds and almonds in a small pan over medium heat. Toast for a few minutes until they turn medium brown. Transfer them onto a plate and let cool.
  3. Place coleslaw mix, sesame seeds, mandarin oranges, and scallions into a bowl. Break Ramen noodles over the top using your fingers.
  4. Pour dressing over the top and toss until the salad is well coated.

Hush Puppies

If you thought hush puppies were just a line of comfortable casual shoes for men and women, you probably weren’t born in the south. Had you been, you would know them as crispy battered corn meal balls that are probably going to be long gone before the meat even gets grilling.  A double batch of these will spoil everyone’s appetite. Serve with an array of dipping sauces such as spicy ketchup,  honey mustard, or aioli to make a spread out of it.  Here’s what you need to


  • 1 1/2 cups yellow cornmeal
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 slightly beaten egg
  • 1 minced small onion
  • 6 cups peanut oil


  1. Preheat oil in a deep pot to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Place all ingredients into a medium bowl. Stir until well blended.
  3. Allow batter to stand 5-10 minutes before dropping batter one teaspoon at a time into oil, dipping the spoon in a glass after each teaspoon.
  4. Fry until golden brown, turning occasionally.

What Should I Bring To A BBQ Potluck?

The answer, any of the above. Macaroni and cheese, veggie kebobs, sweet potato fries, pasta salads are also good choices. And if cooking isn’t your thing, just bring some marshmallows, Hershey squares, and Graham crackers. Everyone makes their own S’ mores.

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