Best Summer Party Side Dishes

Need summer side dish recipes for a bbq party or backyard cookout? Here are some tried and true salads and sides that we’ve been making for years, and they always get rave reviews. Add these to your menu for summer parties and outdoor gatherings.

food photo collage and text saying summer party side dishes.

These summer party side dishes are perfect for casual cookoutspotluck parties and backyard BBQ parties. They’ll even round out your 4th of July party menu with loads of flavor, texture, and color.

I have to admit, the sides are my favorite part of the meal and I know I’m not alone. For get-togethers I like for them to be easy to make, have texture, and be flavorful.

With that in mind I put together this roundup of summer party recipes that will have guests begging for more.

20 Best Easy Summer Side Dishes

Pick one, two or more of these simple recipes that you can make-and-take to a potluck, or serve at home to guests.

round white baking dish with baked beans and ground beef, with serving spoon.

Hearty baked beans with ground beef are always a hit at cookouts and bbq’s. This recipe has 3 types of beans, hamburger meat, and savory Tex Mex seasoning.

overhead view of white bowl with potato salad, on white table with napkin and yellow plates.

My classic potato salad recipe is as good as it gets and it’s a nice hearty option that men go for. This recipe has a creamy base with bacon, and a subtle crunch from celery and onion.

large white bowl of penne pasta salad with sliced eggs on top.

Just as potato salad is a summer staple, pasta salad always makes an appearance as well! My classic pasta salad with hard boiled eggs is one of my absolute favorites! It’s creamy, crunchy, flavorful, and reminds me of my childhood.

deviled eggs topped with bacon sitting on vintage plate, close up view.

Delicious deviled eggs with bacon are welcome at any gathering all year long and this recipe is simply the best! These have several ingredients that add TONS of flavor.

spinach salad in oval platter, with orzo and red onion and dressing on the side, garnished with fresh flowers.

This spinach and orzo salad is a great combination between a green salad and a grain salad. The orzo adds a hearty element and you can adjust it to be more greens or more orzo depending on your needs.

creamy cucumber salad in white oval platter on white marble table.

Being from the South, I grew up eating fresh produce from the garden and cucumber salad was a summer staple. This creamy crunchy cucumber salad with bacon is actually made with Greek yogurt and light sour cream so it’s guilt-free.

corn salad with tomatoes, cucumbers and fresh basil in wood serving bowl.

Corn is at its best during the summer months. Turn it into this fantastic corn salad that’s perfect with barbecued and grilled meats.

broccoli pasta salad in white bowl with gold spoon.

Mix up this Asian style pasta salad with broccoli and peanuts. It’s a VEGAN option so there’s no cheese or cream sauce to worry about in the heat.

broccoli salad in white oval dish with gold spoon.

Another great way to lighten up the sides and get some fiber in the meal is to include this crunchy broccoli salad WITHOUT mayonnaise. When I make this one with tomatoes, raisins and crispy noodles, I always bring home an empty dish.

baked beans in green crock with bacon on top.

You can’t have a cookout without baked beans can you? My sweet & spicy baked beans with bacon and sausage are full of traditional flavor. This recipe is always a hit!

cold salad with spaghetti noodles and shrimp.

Add some Asian flavor with this crowd pleasing cold Thai noodle salad full of fresh veggies and peanuts. Toss in cooked shrimp, chicken, edamame, or serve without if you wish.

large white bowl with chickpea salad.

This Mediterranean-style chickpea salad can double as an entrée for vegetarians. Garbanzo beans give it a protein boost while fresh vegetables add crunch and freshness.

large white bowl of pesto pasta salad with basil on top.

Serve this easy pesto pasta salad that’s tossed with bell peppers, sundried tomatoes, and white beans. Another great vegetarian option.

watermelon cubes with feta and basil on tan platter.

Serve a refreshing watermelon salad with feta cheese and fresh basil. This all-purpose dish can be served in individual cups for an appetizer, or as a light dessert.

Asian noodle salad in black serving bowl.

Our Asian-style peanut noodle salad is always a fan favorite, and adds a twist of flavor to the table with a peanut butter sauce and a hint of heat. Cucumbers, carrots and peanuts add crunch.

round bowl filled with couscous salad full of veggies, layered on blue and white plate surrounded by lemons, pine nuts and green herbs.

This Greek style couscous salad is easy to make ahead, and also adds something different to the table. It’s got roasted red peppers, black olives, feta and pine nuts.

platter of grilled corn on the cob with flavored butter in small bowl

Everyone’s favorite side dish for a bbq is grilled corn. It’s easy to make and when you serve it with my Parmesan flavored butter, it’s next level good!

green bean salad with peppers and onions in blue dish.

Try our marinated green bean salad with peppers and onions for a light side dish that doesn’t have any mayonnaise or creamy sauce added.

bean and corn salsa dip in cream bowl surrounded by corn chips.

Most outdoor parties I’ve hosted or been a guest at, always seem to have a Southwestern element whether it’s chips and salsa, margaritas, or a side salad. My easy bean and corn cowboy salsa gets rave reviews and it’s hearty enough to be served as a salad too.

round platter with a mix of fresh berries and watermelon slices, on blue table with overhead view.

One delicious side dish option requires no recipe at all. A fresh fruit platter looks beautiful when it’s presented en masse. Add sliced watermelon and cherries, blueberries, strawberries and raspberries for a colorful arrangement.

What to Serve With Summer Sides

Try some of our favorite main dishes with these side dish recipes.

So which one of these summer side dishes do you want to try first? 

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round platter with a mix of fresh berries and watermelon slices, on blue table with overhead view.

Summer Side Dish Fruit Platter

Yield: 8 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes

A beautiful fruit platter with watermelon and fresh berries is perfect for summer outdoor parties and 4th of July cookouts.


  • 1 small seedless watermelon
  • 1 pint fresh strawberries
  • 1 pint fresh raspberries
  • 1 pint fresh cherries
  • 1 pint fresh blueberries


  1. Cut watermelon into triangle shaped slices. Fill a large platter with the slices, overlapping and stacking as you go.
  2. Fill in the platter with the berries, adding the on top, around the edge, and in between the watermelon.
  3. Cover with plastic wrap and keep refrigerated until ready to serve.

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  1. You have a great blog, I had a problem downloading the pdf reader, I will try again later.

  2. This the first time I have come onto a blog with so many great recipes and interesting articles on in one, I love it
    I will be coming back again to visit. !

  3. Holy cow. I pinned this side dish posting and it’s a hit on Pinterest. 
    I love your ideas. I just wanted to tell you how incredibly talented you are in case you needed reminding! 

  4. These pictures really make me want to make some of these! They look delicious. Since we have become vegans, picnic food has changed a little for us. But we still have potato salad (I make my own “mayonnaise” and baked beans (no meat of course.) It’s very doable and we really enjoy the tastes and flavors of what we eat.

    Thanks for sharing!

  5. I love side dishes & salads along with trying new recipes. I love a good potato salad, but that creamy cucumber looks amazing & cucumbers are my daughter’s fav. I did a round up of BBQ sauces & my fav. make ahead salad dressing. Drop by sometime & link yours up if you like.

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