Our Best Labor Day Side Dishes
We've rounded up the best side dishes to complete your Labor Day feast, including baked beans, grilled veggies, pasta salads, and more!
How to Make Broccoli, Grape, and Pasta Salad
If you're a broccoli salad fan, you'll love the combination of these colorful ingredients.
Barbecue Mac and Cheese
This flavor twist on mac and cheese is perfect for your Labor Day celebration.
Smoky "Baked" Beans
This global mash-up of a summer classic borrows the ideas of red lentils and maple syrup from celebrated Montreal restaurant Joe Beef and replaces the standard chili sauce with Korean gochujang for a bit of "what is that flavor?" flair.
Creamy Potato Salad with Bacon
Take classic potato salad up a notch by using red new potatoes and sprinkling the dish with parsley, tarragon and bacon before serving.
Grilled Sweet Potato and Bell Pepper Toss
Cut the red bell peppers from top to bottom into four panels; then simply discard the core. The wide pepper pieces will take on more char and be easier to maneuver on the grill.
Summer Melon Salad with Ham and Mint Vinaigrette
Watermelon Salad with Feta and Mint
A simple, fresh watermelon salad says summer like nothing else. And with the addition of crumbled feta cheese, bright mint, and a chunky olive vinaigrette, the salty-sweet flavor balance of this watermelon salad is especially swoon-worthy. The secret to the salad's Kalamata dressing, which would be excellent with any blend of summer melons, is in the toasted walnuts. The robust nuts temper the intense brininess of the olives to just the right level, while also giving the dressing another layer of rich flavor. If you’re hesitant about salting your watermelon, just trust us on this one—sprinkling the juicy summer fruit with salt actually amps up its sweetness.
Southern Pimiento Mac and Cheese
Pair this extra-cheesy pasta dish with your favorite grilled meat for a delicious Labor Day meal.
Tomato Salad with Herbed Ricotta and Balsamic Vinaigrette
Sliced heirloom tomatoes are wow-worthy on their own--a simple vinaigrette and dollops of basil-flecked ricotta take them over the top. Serve with toasted baguette slices to sop up any tomato juices.
Quick Summer Squash and Bell Pepper Gratin
You could also layer sliced tomatoes in between the onion mixture and the squash and bake a few minutes longer.
Pesto Pasta Salad with Tomatoes and Mozzarella
This bright and fresh Caprese-inspired pasta toss is the ultimate summer main for a busy weeknight, outdoor picnic, or lunch on the go. With just two steps, it couldn't be easier.
Grilled Eggplant Planks with Creole Salsa
Be sure to choose smaller eggplants; they'll be easier to slice and easier to handle on the grill.
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.
Peas with Lemon and Tarragon
We scattered edible white borage flowers over this summer salad--you can use any variety of pretty blooms you like: lavender, elderberry, chive or squash blossoms, chamomile, and violets.
Sesame, Tomato, and Cucumber Salad
Serve a slice of summer with a tomato and cucumber salad. The vinaigrette is made with salty soy sauce, but berfore serving, sprinkle a pinch of flaky sea salt to add texture to the fresh tomatoes.
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.
Tomato, Peach, and Corn Salad
The summer's favorite produce is compiled together to create this vibrant and beautiful salad. The salad is tossed in a sweet and savory honey vinaigrette and topped with feta for a stunning finish.
Crunchy Broccoli Slaw
Oaxacan-Style Grilled Corn on the Cob
Using Mexican creme instead of sour cream gives this grilled corn on the cob a slightly tangier taste.
Grilled Potato Salad
Picnic-friendly grilled potato salad is a fun, tasty twist on this traditional summer side dish recipe. Grilling the potatoes gives the dish a smoky flavor while the simple 3-ingredient dressing adds a tangy note. Serve warm with barbecued pork, grilled chicken, or juicy steaks.
Summer Vegetable Kabobs
Grilled Mexican Corn Salad
This gorgeous corn dish is an off-the-cob play on a popular Mexican street dish.
Summer Squash Casserole
As the most versatile Southern side dish, you can pair Summer Squash Casserole will just about anything.
Farmers' Market Pasta Salad
Cook the pasta al dente (1 or 2 minutes shorter than package directions specify) so it holds its shape when tossed with the vegetables and vinaigrette. Ripe for riffs, the salad is also delicious with cheese-filled tortellini.
Classic American Potato Salad
Say "potato salad," and this classic recipe comes to mind: chunks of tender potato and plenty of chopped hard-cooked eggs, lightly coated with a tangy mayonnaise dressing full of crunchy red onion, celery, and pickles. Serve it alongside grilled meat for a warm-weather meal.
Blazin' Baked Beans
Chipotle chiles in adobo sauce add smoky-hot depth to these easy-to-make baked beans.
Grilled Summer Veggie Succotash
Don’t let the meat eaters dominate—veggies deserve a front row on the grill. Lightly coat vegetables with oil; they tend to stick to grill grates. if you don’t have a grill pan, cut pieces in half lengthwise, so they’re less likely to drop into the flames.
Cola Baked Beans
Adding cola to the brown sugar and molasses is the secret to the complex sweetness of these bacon-accented beans.
Grilled Jalapeño-Lime Corn on the Cob
Add south-of-the-border flavor to buttery grilled corn with jalapeño peppers, cilantro and lime juice.
Look for mini multicolored tomatoes at the supermarket. Toss them with strawberries for a surprising combo to serve with grilled salmon, chicken, or pork.
Fruit Salad with Lemon-Honey Dressing
This colorful fruit salad is tossed in a sweet-tart dressing made from lemon juice, honey, Dijon mustard, salt, and pepper.
Creamy Lime Slaw
Add more zesty, fresh flavor to creamy slaw with lime juice, lime zest and cilantro.
Summer Grilled Peach Salad
Gorgonzola cheese gets gooey and delicious melted over the grilled peaches in this amazing summer salad recipe. There's a perfect balance of salty and sweet goodness.
Corn on the Cob with Smoky Red Pepper Mayo and Basil
Top grilled corn on the cob with a smoky red pepper mayo for a flavorful side dish.
Grandma Gwen's Beans
This award-winning baked bean recipe features four types of canned beans baked in a mixture of brown sugar, mustard, vinegar and bacon.
Fire-Roasted Vegetable Salad
This vegetable salad is infused with a smoky flavor making it the perfect side for any grilled meat or fish.
Penne with Green Beans and Tomatoes
You can prepare this colorful pasta dish in advance and let it chill in the refrigerator before serving at your Labor Day gathering.
Sautéed Squash and Tomatoes
Combine two kinds of summer squash—yellow squash and zucchini—with tomatoes, onion, fresh herbs and bacon for a savory side dish.
Baked Zucchini Chips
Opt for oven-baked zucchini chips as a light, yet tasty alternative to fries or chips. This baked zucchini chip recipe is a fun and easy way to use up summer zucchini, and it’s one your family will request time and time again. The high oven temperature will evaporate moisture from inside the zucchini and crisp the breadcrumb coating to a beautiful golden brown. The thinner you slice the chips, the crisper they’ll get in the oven. If needed, pat the zucchini slices dry with a paper towel before tossing in oil to remove any excess moisture. Finish the baked zucchini chips with fresh herbs and even more grated Parmesan for extra flavor.
Grilled Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms
If you're looking for an easy crowd-pleaser, grilled portobello mushrooms are the way to go. These giant portobello mushrooms are stuffed with some incredibly tasty ingredients like cheese, tomatoes, and fresh herbs, and are then grilled to absolute perfection. This recipe works well as an appetizer or even as an impressive side dish. In the store, look for portobello mushrooms that have a clean exterior and aren't bruised on the caps. Also, because you're stuffing them, look for mushrooms with small stems that will be easier to remove. If you aren't crazy about mozzarella, feel free to use another type of cheese, such as Parmesan, instead.
Rotel Potatoes Aligots
This is a marriage of two of the greatest comfort foods of our time: Rotel dip and mashed potatoes. We’re talking very satisfying and suuuuuuper-rich. This would be great served with a protein like pork chops, but you can also add a little milk to turn this into a dip. This method of mashing potatoes essentially emulsifies whole butter into hot potatoes, and it’s important that you work quickly and don’t let the potatoes get too cool. The potatoes will continue to break down as you add the butter, so don’t overmash them.
Peach-Fennel Salad with Pecorino
This salad is crunchy, sweet, salty, bright, and refreshing—in other words, it’s perfect for summer. Peak-of-freshness peaches are the way to go here: If they’re still ripe, but a little firm, that’s perfect. Bonus points if you get them at a roadside stand. If you can find fennel with intact fronds, get that rather than fennel with the tops cut off—the fronds help make the salad feel special. Serve with flaky white fish and a nice glass of white wine or rosé.
Grilled Pattypan Squash With Garlic Butter
This squash has a subtle sweetness and a meaty, yet juicy texture. The flavor is simple, but the savory garlic butter takes things up a notch. Pattypan squash has a different shape that typical squash, but it’s just as inexpensive—so cooking one up is an easy and budget-friendly way to impress company. Try it as a side for grilled chicken or steak.
Blue Cheese Mac-And-Cheese
This incredibly rich baked mac and (blue) cheese might be the one dish that even the most staunch blue cheese hater will embrace with open arms. If a side dish better suited to accompany your next steak dinner exists, we sure don’t know what it could be.
This grilled corn has it all: sweetness, spice, and meat. It’s perfect for a summer cookout with friends and family and will fit right in with other grilled goodies. Thick-cut bacon won’t wrap around the corn easily, so don’t buy it. Soak the toothpicks for 10 minutes before grilling so they don’t burn up quickly.
Classic Potato Salad
No need to rush to the store—we’ve got the perfect potato salad recipe right here. Creamy and rich, with hints of tangy vinegar and crunchiness from fresh vegetables, this classic potato salad is hearty and perfectly delicious. Russet potatoes are the ideal here, because they break down a little and make the potato salad creamier. Also, feel free to add in fresh herbs or more veggies to customize it to your tastes—think of this recipe as a basic canvas for foolproof potato salad.
Endless Summer Salad
This abundantly loaded salad is the ultimate love letter to summer. Featuring a colorful menagerie of seasonal gems—blueberries, tomatoes, corn, cucumbers, okra, and more—it’s as gorgeous as it is delicious. Plus, it’s absolutely flexible; consider this recipe a blueprint for bringing together everything that catches your eye at your own local farmer’s market this week. But do yourself a huge favor—do not skip out on making the Vidalia Onion Ranch Dressing; it’s the type of salad dressing that will keep you from ever going back to the bottle. You’ll have plenty of this dressing and the pickled peaches to use for salads to come, so both are well worth the effort to make. If you’re unable to find Vidalia onions, any sweet onion will work here. Shredded rotisserie or leftover grilled chicken would be a welcome addition to make for a heartier, main-dish salad.
Corn Salad With Soybeans, Cherry Tomatoes, and Basil
This simple, tasty salad from Abra Berens' Ruffage is summer in a bowl. Pan-frying the corn kernels enhances their complex sweetness, and adding fresh basil and tomatoes brings in a note of bright acid.
Single-Skillet Cavatappi Ratatouille
With its roasted vegetables and fresh basil, this gooey, cheesy pasta skillet dinner won a lot of hearts in the test kitchen. This dish is super family friendly, as the vegetables act as a vehicle for the sauce and all the cheesy goodness you can harness in one dish. It’s also easy—all you have to do to the veggies is crush them and give them time to cook down enough so the dish doesn’t get too watery. Either way, it’s a weeknight win.
Grilled Radishes with Feta and Thyme
Cooked radish is often overlooked, but it works really well and combining it with fresh radish gives you the best of both worlds. These are easy to make and a little different than the normal grilled fare, which makes them fun., especially when paired with grilled meats You can use any type of radish, but the large ones will be easier to grill—for smaller radishes, use a grill basket. You’ll want the butter to be warm when you make the dressing, so don’t make it too early or warm it up again before drizzling it over the radishes.
Ultimate Crispy Ranch Smashed Potatoes
This practical (and much tastier) alternative to loaded potato skins is both fun and filling. The savory potatoes are crisp and salty on the exterior, and soft and creamy inside.
Creamy Cucumber Salad
Cool, herbaceous, and refreshing, this creamy cucumber salad is the perfect accompaniment to any number of summer entrees, including barbecue pulled pork, grilled chicken, smoked brisket, and more. If you can’t find English cucumbers, simply use regular cukes, but peel them first.
Everything Bagel Salad
Your favorite brunch special just took on a new, heartier format. Everything here comes through: The bagels, capers, lox, raw onions, and cream cheese are all balanced out by spinach’s natural mild sweetness. This makes a lot of salad, so you could serve it as either a main or a side dish for a larger crowd. Using whipped cream cheese will make it easier to whisk. You can opt for hot smoked salmon, but cold is a classic. Since the spinach is hardy, you can make this up to 30 minutes before serving.
For the perfect, all-purpose macaroni salad, look no further than this easy recipe. Our version of the staple summertime side dish delivers everything you love about a classic, creamy pasta salad, but with an extra touch of vibrancy. Chopped bell peppers deliver colorful, sweet crunch while cream cheese provides a tangy depth, and fresh dill lends a flavorful kick of freshness. Whether you’re heading to a picnic or potluck-style barbecue, a large bowl of this macaroni salad will always be more than welcome.
Spicy Grilled Watermelon
This bold and beautiful grilled watermelon recipe features a kick of heat, balanced with bright lime and salty cotija cheese. With a bit of cilantro for a pop of freshness and color, this summery side dish is ready for your next cookout. For a more dynamic spice experience, we love Tajin seasoning—which can be found at most grocery stores and pairs exceptionally well with melon. If you have trouble finding it at your local supermarket, try the nearest Mexican market or order it online. You can cut the watermelon away from the rind before or after grilling and chop it into a more composed salad if desired.
Farro Salad With Cherries, Corn, and Basil
Meal preppers, meet your new favorite salad. It’s bright and juicy thanks to the cherries, while the farro base keeps things feeling nice and hearty. The almonds bring in a crunch and nuttiness that helps bring everything together. Since it’s super versatile, you could make a batch on Sunday and serve it with arugula and baked chicken for a healthy lunch all week long.
Taco Mac & Cheese
When taco night meets mac and cheese, magic happens. Melty cheese, hearty ground beef, and a creamy Tex-Mex inspired sauce come together in this taco-mac skillet for a maximum comfort food meal. You can absolutely prep this cheesy dinner bake ahead of time to make for even easier weeknight prep; simply assemble (following the recipe through step 4), then cover tightly and refrigerate until you’re ready to bake (add a few minutes to the bake time if you’re going from the fridge to the oven). You can typically find taco skillet sauce shelved near the dry taco seasoning and tortillas in the supermarket.