Ready for some summer grilling? Of course you are. I have been ready since January, right around the time the cold winds were blowing through the cracks in the windows in chilly Chicago. You bought the grill. It’s waiting for the moment. The propane is full and the charcoal is stocked. The tools are gleaming, waiting for their chance to flip that first perfect piece of meat.

But there’s much more to a barbecue! What about the sides? The following is a collection of excellent side dishes to include at your next barbecue, block party or outdoor celebration.

1. Red Lobster Cheddar Biscuits

“Biscuits at a barbecue?!”, you ask. After tasting my first Red Lobster Cheddar Biscuit a little over a year ago, my heart sank because I knew I had missed 24 years that I could have been ingesting these perfect morsels! And that is why I firmly believe that this recipe belongs at every summer barbecue you host this summer. Have fun and experiment. Try making a hamburger cheddar biscuit bun! Eh?


  • 2 ½ cups Bisquick baking mix
  • ¾ cup cold whole milk
  • 4 tablespoons cold butter (1/2 stick)
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 heaping cup grated cheddar cheese

Brush on Top:

  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • ¼ teaspoon dried parsley flakes
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • pinch salt


  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Combine Bisquick with cold butter using a large fork. Mix until there are small chunks of butter that are about the size of peas. Add cheddar cheese, milk, and ¼ teaspoon garlic. Mix by hand until combined, but don’t over mix.
  3. Drop ¼-cup portions of the dough onto an ungreased cookie sheet.
  4. Bake for 15 to 17 minutes or until the tops begin to turn light brown.
  5. After removal from the oven, melt 2 tablespoons butter. Stir in ½ teaspoon garlic powder and the dried parsley flakes. Use a brush to spread this garlic butter over the tops of all the biscuits. Makes one dozen biscuits.

Recipe courtesy of Todd Wilbur, “Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 2,” Plume Books.

2. Spinach artichoke dip

This recipe was a college favorite, constantly cooked up by my best friend. It never lasted long, regardless of the number of people digging in. Serve this up with a tray of nacho chips, pita bread, or a loaf of fresh baked bread from the grocery store. It won’t be around long. You’ll wish you’d quadrupled the recipe. And then you’ll profess that if you could eat one food for the rest of your life, this would be that food.


  • 16 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup mild cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper, ground
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 14-ounce jar of marinated artichoke hearts, drained
  • 5-ounce package spinach, chopped, frozen, drained and squeezed dry
  • 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Spray 9″ x 13″ baking dish with Pam or similar vegetable shortening.
  3. Mix cream cheese, cheddar, sour cream, parmesan, pepper and garlic in a mixing bowl on medium speed until creamy.
  4. Add artichokes and spinach and mix by hand until blended.
  5. Spread in greased baking dish.
  6. Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese.
  7. Bake in 350 degree oven for 30 minutes until bubbly and light brown.
  8. Let sit 10 minutes before serving.

3. Seven layer taco dip

Of course, the profession you just made about the spinach artichoke dip will vanish as soon as you taste this delicious hot nacho dip alternative. Better yet, don’t make it an alternative – make it in addition to the spinach artichoke dip. No one will complain.


  • 1 (1 ounce) package taco seasoning mix
  • 1 (16 ounces) can refried beans
  • 1 (8 ounces) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1 (16 ounces) container sour cream
  • 1 (16 ounces) jar salsa
  • 1 large tomato, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 bunch chopped green onions
  • 1 small head iceberg lettuce, shredded
  • 1 (6 ounces) can sliced black olives, drained
  • 2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese


  1. In a medium bowl, blend the taco seasoning mix and refried beans. Spread the mixture onto a large serving platter.
  2. Mix the sour cream and cream cheese in a medium bowl. Spread over the refried beans.
  3. Top the layers with salsa. Place a layer of tomato, green bell pepper, green onions and lettuce over the salsa, and top with Cheddar cheese. Garnish with black olives.

4. Mexican Corn on the Cob

This is an easy way to spice up an average summer barbecue side; corn on the cob. If you’ve ever been lucky enough to encounter a street vendor selling Mexican corn on the cob, you’ll know why corn was destined to be paired with mayonnaise, cotija cheese, lime and butter. Cook some bacon and chop into small pieces to sprinkle over the corn for an extra delicious crunch!


  • 4 ears corn, shucked
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup grated cotija cheese
  • 4 wedges lime (optional)


  1. Preheat an outdoor grill for medium-high heat.
  2. Grill corn until hot and lightly charred all over, 7 to 10 minutes, depending on the temperature of the grill. Roll the ears in melted butter, then spread evenly with mayonnaise. Sprinkle with cotija cheese and serve with a lime wedge.

5. Broccoli Salad

This is a summer favorite of mine. It’s easy to make and easy to improvise! Feel free to play with the proportions of the dressing to suit your taste – it’s a hard recipe to get wrong.


  • 5 cups fresh broccoli florets
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 cup cooked, crumbled bacon
  • 1/4 cup of red onion, chopped
  • 1 cup of frozen peas, thawed


  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons vinegar
  • 1/2 cup sugar


  1. Combine broccoli florets, raisins, sunflower seeds, crumbled bacon, chopped onion, and peas in a large serving bowl.
  2. Whisk together mayonnaise, vinegar, and sugar in a separate bowl or large cup.
  3. Add dressing to the salad and toss to mix well; chill thoroughly before serving.

Every great cook needs over one dish to serve. So while your main course might be the show’s star, side dishes bring it all together and make for a delicious meal everyone will remember.

Several side dishes complement the season and bring out the best in your main entrees when you’re hosting a backyard BBQ or attending one as a guest.

The summer is when our taste buds crave lighter foods such as veggies, fruits, salads, and other foods that make us feel refreshed. Many options can easily complement any meal with just a few simple additions like pesto or balsamic vinegar.

With so many yummy side dishes to serve at your next barbecue or picnic, you won’t have to worry about having anything to serve. Instead, these easy side dishes will become your new favorites this summer!