30 Last-Minute Side Dishes for Labor Day

updated Aug 22, 2022
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Somehow Labor Day weekend is upon us. It’s been a very strange summer — it seems like we were just firing up our grills for Memorial Day, and yet that also feels like a long-distant memory now. Since we are all out of our normal rhythms, the long weekend might’ve snuck up on you. If you’re planning on getting outside and cooking this weekend, we’ve got some side dish options for you. Because coming up with the main dish is easy (just throw some ribs, chicken, or burgers on the grill) — it’s the side dishes that are often overlooked, though.

Summery dishes like cucumber salad, corn on the cob, and grilled vegetables are all easy to pull off with a moment’s notice. Here are 30 sides that take no time at all and are easy to make without breaking a sweat.

Summer Salads

Summer salads put prime, in-season produce on display, and they also usually hold up well for multiple hours.

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Tomato Orzo Salad with Tahini Dressing Recipe
The definition of peak-summer eating is this salad with tomatoes, orzo pasta, fresh veggies, feta cheese, and tahini.
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Stone Fruit Panzanella
Should you still have an embarrassment of juicy peaches, plums, and cherries from the farmer's market come Labor Day, then you must put them towards this simple and ultra-special stone fruit and bread salad.
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Sour Cream and Dill Cucumber Salad
An easy, potluck-friendly recipe for classic cucumber dill salad tossed in a tangy sour cream dressing.
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Summer Veggie Chopped Salad
A plain sailing yet stunning summer salad with tomatoes, corn, bacon, mozzarella cheese balls, arugula, basil, and a simple lemon vinaigrette.
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Rainbow Noodle Salad
This colorful dish will show you how spiralizing vegetables into noodles can turn a simple summer salad on its head.
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Dragon Fruit Salad
Scooping summer fruit into bite-sized balls and tossing in dragon fruit gives basic fruit salad a fun and impressive twist.
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Esquites (Mexican Corn Salad)
Sweet, charred corn is partnered with a slew of ingredients for a salad that's just the right balance of smoky, spicy, tangy.
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Miso Potato Salad with Yellow Wax Beans
Tiny new potatoes are tossed in a light, tangy dressing of yogurt and miso.
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Tangy Cucumber Salad
A light, fresh salad of quick-pickled cucumbers and chopped fresh chives that's perfect for your next potluck or barbecue.
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Tomato Chickpea Salad
Tomatoes and chickpeas are tossed in a simple vinaigrette for a light dinner or easy lunch.
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Pesto Tortellini Pasta Salad
Labor Day won't the same without a good pasta salad. That's why you need to make this pesto number which leans on cherry tomatoes and flavorful ingredients found at most grocery stores.
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Mixed New Potato Salad with Sweet Basil and Shallots
Toss tiny new potatoes with tangy buttermilk and sour cream along with handfuls of fresh sweet basil and crunchy shallots. It's the new summer classic.
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Tex-Mex Quinoa Salad
Mixed with quinoa, beans, and vibrant fresh veggies, and topped with a zippy chili-lime vinaigrette, this is a potluck salad that everyone can eat.
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Sides from the Grill

If the grill is already on for your burgers and hot dogs, you might as well toss a few other things on the grates for side dishes. Plus, it’s a well-known fact that all vegetables taste 100 percent better when cooked on the grill.

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Grilled Stuffed Tomatoes
Ripe tomatoes hollowed out, then filled with gooey cheese and summery basil pesto, skillet-cooked on the grilled, and garnished with toasted pine nuts.
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Chicken Caesar Salad Skewers Recipe
Here's a hack for a one-and-done grilled Caesar salad that can eaten family-style: form chicken skewers, crouton skewers, and split the romaine halves so everything can be cooked separately. Once all of the components have finished cooking, pile the skewers and greens on a platter so everyone can build their own salads and drizzle on Caesar dressing however they like it.
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Bacon and Basil Wrapped Corn
Some food duos are just dynamic. Case in point: corn and basil really know how to build flavor together. That's why here, we literally bundled them up together with a bow of bacon and grilled them until smoky and crisp.
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Grilled Chicken Wings
The key to crispy wings is to toss them in cornstarch before grilling and tossing them in a classic buffalo wing sauce.
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The Ultimate Grilled Zucchini Salad
Zucchini is grilled until smoky, then tossed with a lemon vinaigrette, feta, and mint.
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Balsamic Glazed Veggie Kebabs
A recipe for quick and easy mixed vegetable kebabs brushed with a balsamic and garlic glaze.
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Grilled Watermelon
Grilling watermelon caramelizes the melon's sweetness and gives it a subtle, smoky flavor.
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Grilled Eggplant Topped with Goat Cheese and Tomato
Celebrate every last bite of your late summer bounty with a quick veggie-dominated dinner laced with hot and smoky flavors captured from the grill.
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Other Winning Side Dishes

Beyond salads and grilled veggies, there are plenty of other unique side dishes to make that don’t take too much time. Toss a creamy corn casserole in the oven if you’re up for some heat, or grab the spiralizer if you’d rather keep it a no-cook situation.

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Sautéed Summer Squash with Basil and Parmesan
Here's how to pan sear yellow summer squash for a perfect side dish every time.
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Fonio and Strawberry Salad with Peppery Greens
Fresh summer strawberries toss with peppery greens, cucumbers and fonio is a great swap in for a typical summertime grain salad. Using fonio also keeps the salad gluten-free.
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Coronation Coleslaw
For your Labor Day side dish consideration: a chilled chicken coleslaw dressed in a sweet, acidic curried sauce and dotted with plump golden raisins along with salty, roasted cashews. It's a perky foil to heavier summertime foods like burgers, hot dogs, and flaky grilled fish.
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Baked Beans
Bacon and a handful of pantry spices go a long way in transforming an ordinary can of beans into a tasty Labor Day side.
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Garlic and Herb Butter Bath Corn
Boiling sweet summer corn in a butter bath with fresh herbs and garlic makes it taste like your favorite steakhouse side.
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Corn Pone Recipe
Serve these old-fashioned cornmeal cakes with salted butter, wilted greens, or tucked next to the mains on your Labor Day plate.
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Grilled Cabbage Wedges with Spicy Lime Dressing
Grilled cabbage wedges with a spicy lime vinaigrette.
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Summer Squash Succotash
This play on a classic succotash swaps out lima beans for chickpeas, tosses in a variety of tender summer squash, and elevates the flavor with a bit of smoked paprika.
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Hot Corn Casserole
Fresh summer corn is cooked into an irresistible creamy casserole that plays the role of dip, side dish, or condiment.
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