Summer is prime grilling season. Any main course you make in the presence of a smoky flame immediately takes on the taste of the season, but the real question is, what side dishes will you make to go alongside your burgers, steak, or grilled chicken breast? That's where the fun really comes in.
Here are over 30 of our favorite simple sides — including everything from grilled cabbage and garlicky rice to a colorful summer squash gratin — that play well with dinner from the grill.
Corn on the cob is a staple of summer cookouts. While you can grill it, we sometimes prefer it prepared on the stovetop. Dealer's choice! Either way, make sure you include plenty of butter and salt when you bring it to the table.
While it doesn't require any cooking, this simple side is best when you have the forethought to make it ahead. The longer they sit, the more flavor the beans soak up.
Roasting your broccoli leaves it a bit crunchy and smothered in garlicky goodness. Of course, you can always add lemon juice or a bit of cayenne pepper to spice it up as well. Want even more topping ideas? Try these out.
A burger and fries is a no-brainer when you're out to eat, but when you have the home-court advantage, try out a batch of these asparagus fries. The crispy breadcrumb coating is a revelation. We bet you'll never go back to your old asparagus recipes.
For anyone who likes salt and vinegar potato chips, this recipe is the upgraded, appropriate-for-company version. Use whatever kind of small, fingerling potatoes you can find, and then try not to eat them all before they hit the dinner table.
Sometimes there's nothing better than a simple salad to go alongside your burger. When that's what you're in the mood for, you'll need this easy ranch dressing recipe.
Asparagus isn't the only unusual veggie you can turn into a baked fry. These avocado slices are crispy on the outside, creamy on the inside, and completely irresistible.
Put that spiralizer to good use with these cold cucumber noodles. The rice vinegar and sesame oil dressing gives it the perfect amount of kick to lighten up your meal.
While this colorful slaw calls for currants, they aren't always the easiest ingredient to find — raisins and dried cranberries are perfect substitutions.
It wouldn't be a cookout without beans. This updated baked beans recipe might take a bit longer to make than opening a can, but we guarantee the results are worth it. You'll be the hero of the party if you bring these to your next potluck.
If you want something a bit fancier for a cookout with friends, opt for these grilled zucchini rollups. They are a cinch to assemble, but look like you spent all afternoon on them. That's a win-win in our book.
Want a side dish that you can make on the grill and that involves very little cleanup? These cheesy potato packets are the answer. You can prepare them while your burger patties are chilling, and then grill them right alongside the meat.
Putting cabbage on the grill might not be your first instinct, but believe us — you're going to want to try this recipe. The spicy, citrusy dressing complements the slightly charred wedges perfectly.
Roasted or grilled shishito peppers are one of our favorite things about summer. The charred skins, the mellow flavor of most of the peppers (with a few spicy ones tossed in) — we can't get enough. Serve them as an appetizer or a side dish.
18. Three-Bean Salad
Few things spell summer more than a classic three-bean salad. The combination of textures and flavors all in a sweet-tart vinegar dressing is enough to complete any summer meal. We recommend making enough so you'll be able to enjoy leftovers with lunch the next day.
When your backyard garden or CSA supplies an abundance of zucchini and summer squash, this baked dish is the perfect answer. Plus, since you'll be outside grilling, you won't have to worry about the kitchen being hot from the oven.
Of course, we would never say no to French fries served alongside a burger, but we like to spice things up a bit. This oven-baked fry recipe adds a dusting of sumac, a lemony spice frequently found in Mediterranean cuisine, and swaps the ketchup for a delicious garlic spread. Your steak would be very happy with a pile of these sitting next to it.
This salad is like summer in a bowl, since it makes use of two of our favorite seasonal veggies. Quickly sautéing everything gives it a bit of caramelized flavor. The good news is that you can serve it hot from the stove or at room temperature.
Mushrooms have a sponge-like ability to soak up this buttery balsamic and garlic marinade before they're charred on the grill.
While you're grilling your dinner, add a few zucchini to the flames as well. Then you can chop them up and toss them with grape tomatoes, herbs, and a balsamic vinegar dressing.
If you have all of these herbs and veggies growing in your backyard, this salad will be your new summer favorite. It also has the added benefit of being a great vegetarian main dish.
If you're not already doing this, this side dish is going to be a game-changer for your dinner routine. Just be sure to start with a screaming-hot oven.
27. Squash Ribbons
We normally serve summer squash cooked, so this raw salad of squash ribbons, basil, pine nuts, and goat cheese is a nice change of pace. Make it before you grill your mains so the dressing has time to really soak in.
These quick-pickled cucumbers are the perfect counterpart to things like burgers and steaks, since they're a nice contrast to their richness.
Inspired by a chopped salad, this crunchy Greek number starts by prepping the veggies into bite-sized pieces to match the small noodles. You'll thank us when you're eating this off a wobbly paper plate in the backyard.
While you've got the grill fired up, toss on a bunch of zucchini to make this easy salad. The warm slices soak up a savory oregano dressing and feta adds a dose of salty goodness.
Skip your normal pasta salad recipe in favor of this updated one. It's chock-full of sautéed broccoli, crumbly feta, and salty olives. It's great with burgers or grilled chicken.
As a bonus, this salad will leave you with plenty of leftovers for tomorrow's lunch.