27 Easy Fourth of July Side Dishes
As the grill heats up to char and sizzle classic Fourth of July mains, fill the picnic table with a plethora of summer side dishes to complete the celebratory cookout. Side dishes should be bright, easy-to-prepare, and complementary to just about anything that's slathered with barbeque sauce. These go-to sides will be winners at any backyard gathering you bring them to.
Maple-Bacon Baked Beans
Think of this dish as classic baked beans turned all the way up to 11--sweet, smoky, and saucy, with extra richness from the slow-simmered beans. The starchiness from the cooked beans will help bind the casserole. Curry powder adds a hint of earthiness, but you can leave it out for a more straightforward flavor.
Potato Salad Carbonara
With potatoes, pancetta, eggs, and cheese...what's not to love about this Spaghetti Carbonara turned potato salad? Try this served alongside barbecue chicken or pork and slaw. If you don't want to make the homemade aioli (which is really worth it), use 1/2 cup of store-bought mayo. You can also use bacon instead of pancetta, if you like.
Pesto Pasta Salad
Pasta salads are the ultimate summer move, especially when it’s too hot to use the oven. They’re easy yet delicious and come together quickly, plus they don’t require much heat. Adding an easy homemade pesto to pasta salad elevates it to much more than a picnic or barbecue side. If you need to use up some extra basil or just want to try a twist on a classic side, this pesto pasta salad will please everyone in a cinch.
Broccoli, Grape, and Pasta Salad
If you're a broccoli salad fan, you'll love the combination of these colorful ingredients. Cook the pasta al dente so it's firm enough to hold its own when tossed with the tangy-sweet salad dressing.
Use these video tips for getting pasta just right every time.
Grilled and Dilled Corn on the Cob
This creamy, savory topping perfectly complements sweet corn on the cob.
Charred Shishito Peppers
Charring refers to singeing and blistering the outermost layer of a food over extremely hot heat. This makes for a bolder flavor and adds a smoky nuance. Be aware: This type of high-heat cooking creates a lot of smoke, so be sure to ventilate the kitchen, or cook (in the pan) over an outdoor grill. Shishito peppers are tender, usually mild, and enjoyed whole. Serve with our spicy sauce or squeeze of fresh lemon juice.
Marinated, Grilled Summer Vegetables
These flavor-packed grilled summer vegetables utilize what we refer to as our “Master Marinade” to wake up all of the fresh flavors of the veggies without overpowering them. This tasty and simple summer side dish is the perfect accompaniment to any grilled meat entree. In fact, you could use the same marinade on your chicken, pork, or steak (marinating in a separate container, of course). Just be sure to keep in mind that the protein would need at least an hour or so longer in the marinade than the vegetables. Be sure to opt for the freshest summer vegetable you can find, and be careful not to cut them too small so that they do not fall through the grill grate. Also, try to keep the root of the onion intact so that the layers don’t break apart during cooking.
Shaved Cucumber Salad with Pickled Blackberries
"This salad was inspired by a basket of onions, blackberries, cucumbers, and mint that showed up in the kitchen one day," says Sarah Steffan, executive chef of The Dogwood restaurant at Blackberry Farm. "Soak the onions in salted water and ice to crisp them up and mellow them out."
Panzanella Caprese Stack
This panzanella-meets-caprese stack makes for an impressive appetizer salad for two or can be enjoyed as a lovely summer lunch for one. Layering the stack with the dressing in between each delicious layer allows every component of the stack to get well coated, as the elements of a tossed salad would. Add extra cucumber and red onion (and cheese) as desired to create your perfect tower of tomato goodness. You’ll probably want to eat this composed salad with a fork and knife… and a heavy handful of napkins.
Caesar Brussels Sprouts Salad with Almonds
Sturdy shaved Brussels sprouts hold the crunchy almonds and a garlicky Parmesan vinaigrette without wilting. Serve with roast chicken or lamb.
Shaved Mango-and-Cabbage Salad
A slightly firm, underripe mango will shave more easily.
Grilled Corn Pasta Salad
This vibrant, flavor-packed summer side dish combines a bounty of favorite seasonal flavors into a single, epic pasta salad. The recipe comes from our friends The Food Gays, and they developed this colorful grilled corn dish as a fresher, brighter alternative to the typical mayo-based pasta salads that often show up a summer parties. Packed with fresh produce and dressed in a light and zippy lemon-mustard vinaigrette, this grilled corn pasta salad is anything but boring. Give it a try at your next summer cookout and enjoy as the compliments pour in.
Chipotle Black Bean Dip with Corn Chips
A common craving among CookingLight.com users is chips; our homemade tortilla chips keep fat and sodium in check. This snack quells an oft-cited yen for Mexican fare and has protein, complex carbs, and fiber.
Pasta with Beans, Blistered Tomatoes, and Breadcrumbs
Hugh's Southern Mac and Cheese
Hugh Acheson's Southern Mac and Cheese combines 2-year-old aged Cheddar cheese with Gruyere cheese, diced bacon, and leeks. The results are a deliciously baked Southern classic that's finished with a drizzle of heavy cream and toasted breadcrumbs.
Greek Chopped Salad with Grilled Pita
We take the extra step of grilling the bell peppers along with the pita wedges to add a bit of char and smoky depth to the salad. You could also broil the peppers in the oven until blackened and peel them, and then toast the pita until browned.
Summer Melon Salad with Ham and Mint Vinaigrette
Celery, Apple, and Almond Salad
Crunch rules in this fall salad. Cut the celery on a diagonal for long, thin slices that will match the shape of the apple slices. We like a tart-sweet Pink Lady or Fuji apple here.
Field Pea and Pasta Salad
Farfalle and fresh veggies make a seriously delicious summer side.
We loved the classic caprese salad so much, we transformed it into a vibrant summer “salsa,” so that we could top just about everything with it. The simple, but so satisfying, flavor combo of ripe, juicy tomatoes, fresh basil, and rich mozzarella cheese is the perfect path to amping up any number of your favorite summertime staples. Serve this fresh and flavor-packed topper over grilled steak or chicken, use it as a burger relish, or spoon it onto crostini or grilled bread for an awesome and easy appetizer.
Farro Salad with Brussels Sprouts, Bacon, and Berries
The unlikely combination between bacon, Brussels sprouts, and sweet summer berries proves to be quite the match. This salad can be served with the bacon, Brussels sprouts, and farro are still warm, or you can prep the salad in advance, keep it in the refrigerator, and serve it chilled.
Toasted Farro Salad with Watermelon and Peaches
Toasting the farro before boiling it brings out an added layer of rich nuttiness to this hearty grain salad. Complemented by fresh herbs and sweet, juicy peaches and watermelon, this summertime side dish is the ultimate refreshing and nutritious bite you need. Serve it immediately, or let the flavors meld in the refrigerator for a couple hours (or overnight) and enjoy it cold.
Grilled Asparagus and Prosciutto Cobb Salad
In this fresh take on the classic Cobb, a little smoky char adds depth to asparagus and green onions, and the grill turns prosciutto into crisp shards. Choose large asparagus so they won't fall through the grates.
Roasted Asparagus and Baby Artichokes
To get a head start, prepare the recipe through step 2 up to two days in advance. Shortly before serving, place asparagus on pan with roasted asparagus, and proceed with step 3.
Sour Cream Potato Salad
Everyone needs an easy potato salad recipe in their summer sides rotation. We used sour cream to lighten this mayo-based potato salad up a bit. To lighten it up even more, substitute sour cream for greek yogurt.
New Potatoes with Shaved Celery, Buttermilk, and Dill
Crisp potatoes and a mild creamy dressing help keep this chunky potato salad from being anything but boring. Chill at least 1 hour before serving.
Green Bean Potato Salad with Lemon-Soy Vinaigrette (Wade's Potato Salad)
This vibrant and colorful side dish is sure to be a total show-stopper in any cookout, picnic, or potluck scenario--it's anything but your typical, creamy, mayo-based potato salad. Crisp, delicately sweet green beans pair up with tender, fluffy petite red potatoes for the base of this dynamic salad. The super simple lemony dressing is balanced by the salty kick of soy sauce, a touch of toastiness from sesame oil, and just a bit of heat from crushed red pepper. And the finishing touches put this recipe right over the top: mint leaves for a touch fresh herbaceousness and toasted almonds and sesame seeds for added nutty crunch.