5 Best Sides for a Summer Cookout

Memorial Day weekend is just a few short weeks away.  The early summer sunshine is drying up the springtime rains, so it’s the perfect time to fire up the grill! Invite a few friends over to crack open a beer and let the good times roll.

love a summer cookout.  I’ve been to quite a few and have thrown many myself, so I’ve developed pretty high standards for a good cookout.  And though the guest list is always top priority…good friends and family make all the fuss worth while…your cookout menu has to be mind-blowing.

Burgers, ribs, and an awesome BBQ pulled pork are the must have entrees.  But crappy side dishes can ruin your otherwise blissful gathering faster than an unsupervised child peeing in the pool.  Here are the 5 sides sure to please your crowd and crown you cookout hostess for the summer.

 

 

Potato Salad

The potato salad is The Husband’s barometer for a good cookout.  If he’s disappointed in the potato salad, he’s going to mumble every grumpy thought he thinks under his breath.  Potato salad is a staple for any well-planned cookout.  There are limitless recipes out there for you to try.  I am not a fan of the egg and mayo based variations.  My fun twist on this classic is this amazing recipe from Food.com for Loaded Potato Salad.

 

Check out this recipe on Food.com! http://www.food.com/recipe/loaded-baked-potato-salad-29767

 

Pasta Salad

Pasta salad is another cookout necessity.  But when you’re serving heavy entrees like burgers or ribs, in addition to heavy sides like beans and potato salad, I prefer to serve an oil or vinaigrette based recipe.  It helps to balance out the weight of the traditionally fatty cookout food and the beer you’re washing it down with.

My go to pasta salad recipe is this Italian Pesto Pasta Salad from Pampered Chef.  It’s super easy to throw together and the pesto adds a fun nutty crunch to the dish.

 

 

Corn Bread

Is there anything else more deliciously satisfying than quickly licking your fingers clean of sauce while eating a tender BBQ rib?  Only when you follow it with a bite of a soft, thick piece of cornbread.

I know.  My tummy is growling too!

I’m a Northern girl living in a Southern world, so I’m not afraid to turn up the heat on my corn muffin recipe by throwing in a little jalapeño and Southwestern Seasoning mix.  I also prefer to make them in my Brownie Pan so they come out of the oven in perfect-to-hold squares.

 

 

Baked Beans

The Husband is a huge fan of baked beans and insists that any recipe worth having must contain brown sugar.  My go-to recipe is from Food Network’s Paula Deen…if there’s anyone who knows anything about good ol’ fashioned comfort food, it’s Paula.  Her Southern Baked Beans is full of brown sugar goodness.  You can also cook them right alongside your burgers and dogs on the grill in a Pampered Chef Rockcrok Dutch Oven.

Find this amazing recipe on Food Network’s website: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/paula-deen/southern-baked-beans-recipe2

 

Crisp, Summery Salad

Let’s be honest…when you’re piling baked beans, potato and pasta salads, burgers or ribs, corn bread onto your plate..it’s easy to let all that heavy food weigh you down.

It’s a good idea to offer your cookout guests something healthy and green, like a salad.  This helps to counteract all the fat, sugar, and carbs in your other menu selections.  Salads are always best when they embrace the flavors of the season, so my favorite to serve in the summer is this fresh Spinach & Strawberry Salad.

 

 

The best part about hosting a summer cookout is how simple your menu can be…but your simple dishes have to be good. Go full flavor for each dish and you’ll definitely please the crowd.  Make sure to have a good beer on tap and your cookout will be the hit of the summer.

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