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The Essential Guide to Barbecue Sides

It’s barbecue season! We’re talking pulled pork, ribs, brisket and whatever else your crew loves to devour on beautiful summer days. And don’t forget about the sides. These delicious dishes complement your grilled meats and keep you and your loved ones coming back for seconds (and thirds).

Whether you’re lookin’ for carbs or are in the mood for veggies, read our guide to barbecue sides that pair with your deliciously smoked (or grilled) meats. (Hint: they all come perfectly packaged and all you need is a spoon to serve.)

Mac and cheese

All the cheesy goodness you could ask for in one easy dish. Tender pasta— usually elbow, rotini, or farfalle—mixed with rich cheese sauce, covered in grated cheese and baked just right. Eat it alongside slow-cooked brisket and feel the mouthwatering combination of cheese and barbecue in your mouth.

Buttered corn

What’s better than chargrilled corn, sliced off the cob, slathered in butter and topped off with some salt and pepper for an extra layer of flavor? Enjoy it with a filling piece of barbecue chicken. Winning.

Baked beans

Get messy with thick, flavorful baked beans. Brown sugar gives a hint of sweetness and smoked bacon adds a contrasting taste. Also, it goes perfectly with grilled sausages. Because if you unintentionally mix them together, just go for it. It’s basically magic in your mouth.

Potato salad

Served with a nicely grilled rib steak, potato salad helps you feel right at home and evokes a sense of comfort. Traditionally, this chunky dish is made with boiled potatoes, mayonnaise and an assortment of veggies, like celery, bell peppers and onions. Nowadays, there’s a ton of variations. Mayo can be swapped out for yogurt, sour cream or yellow mustard. And some vegetables can be left out completely.

Collard greens

Gotta add a dark, leafy green in here to round it all out. Sauteed with a little bit of apple cider vinegar for a kick, collards are filling and tangy. (Do a lot of barbecue spots add pork in the mix too? Maybe… and we don’t hate it.)

Note: honorable mentions go out to pasta salad, coleslaw and cornbread. (No, we didn’t forget you.)

But matter what barbecue dishes you’re ordering, make sure you complement ‘em with the perfect sides.