21 Best Side Salads for Summer BBQs, Potlucks, and Parties

Need an awesome side dish for your next summer get-together? Look no further! We have suggestions—21 of them—ranging from classic macaroni salad to Asian coleslaw!

10 Best Side Salads for Summer

Potlucks really are the best, aren’t they? You only have to make one dish and then end up tasting a fantastic variety of other dishes. Minimal effort with maximum rewards!

You know what's fun? Bringing new dishes to potlucks! There’s just something so satisfying about having people come up to you after they’ve enjoyed every last bite of your side dish and ask you for the recipe.

In choosing the recipes for this round-up, we wanted sides that go beyond the traditional and get everyone’s taste buds buzzing. Each one of these sides really is meant for summer potlucks because they’re quick and easy to make.

Not to sound like a broken record, but it’s all about minimal effort in making the sides and maximum rewards with flavor, right? The hardest thing for you will be deciding which one to make!

  • Mom's Easy Macaroni Salad

    Easy Macaroni Salad Recipe in a bowl for serving
    Elise Bauer

    It seems that every potluck/BBQ/picnic needs some sort of macaroni salad... so what exactly sets this apart? The chopped red pepper, of course! It brings in a fabulous crunch that ties the whole salad together.

  • Pasta and Bean Picnic Salad

    Pasta Bean Picnic Salad
    Sheryl Julian

    The name certainly says it all, but what it’s not telling you is that this salad is made without mayo! It has a light vinaigrette so you don’t have to worry about it feeling too heavy.

  • Caprese Corn Salad

    caprese corn salad
    Elise Bauer

    I think we can all agree that we adore a good caprese salad...so let’s take it to the next level with grilled corn, shall we? It’s an easy way to use up all that garden bounty, but in a new way!

  • Watermelon Salad with Feta and Mint

    Watermelon Salad with Feta and Mint
    Elise Bauer

    Do watermelon and salty cheese really go together? Yes, yes they do – especially when you throw a little mint into the mix. It’s one side salad that people will notice.

    Continue to 5 of 21 below.
  • Greek Pasta Salad

    Gluten Free Greek Pasta Salad
    Sabrina Modelle

    This has all the bright and zesty flavors of your favorite Greek salad but is way better suited for potlucks because of the pasta. You can even make this gluten-free by subbing a legume-based pasta.

  • Asian Coleslaw

    Asian Coleslaw dressing
    Elise Bauer

    It technically may not be Asian, but versions of this slaw are a staple of American cookouts and potlucks. Our features a zesty dressing of peanut butter and rice wine vinegar. Serve it with burgers or alongside fish and shrimp.

  • Panzanella Bread Salad

    Panzanella Bread Salad in a glass serving bowl
    Elise Bauer

    First of all, a salad with bread?! Gimme all of it, please! This is a fabulous recipe to keep in your back pocket during the summer months because it uses up all that bounteous garden produce in a fun way.

  • Grape and Walnut Side Salad with Blue Cheese Dressing

    Side Salad Recipes - - colorful salad in a bowl with blue cheese dressing
    Sally Vargas

    This salad features hearty greens so they won’t be prone to wilting easily, and it has only a handful of ingredients so you can throw it together in no time at all!

    Continue to 9 of 21 below.
  • Cherry Tomato Orzo Salad

    Cherry Tomato Orzo Salad
    Elise Bauer

    Cherry tomatoes are summer’s candy, and this salad uses them up in all the right ways. If you don’t have orzo on hand, you could substitute quinoa or even couscous!

  • Cucumber Mint Quinoa Salad

    Cucumber Quinoa Salad
    Elise Bauer

    You’ve heard the expression, “Cool as a cucumber,” right? This salad is sure to produce double the coolness thanks to the cucumbers AND mint.

  • Cold Pea Salad

    cold pea salad with walnuts
    Sally Vargas

    Here's something a little different—a cold pea salad with smoked almonds, green onions, water chestnuts, and a hint of curry in the mayonnaise dressing. Make it ahead, but leave the almonds out until just before serving to retain their crunchiness.

  • Broccoli Salad

    Broccoli Salad

    Simply Recipes / Lori Rice

    Blanching broccoli florets for just a minute or two makes them vibrant green and crisp-tender. They're the perfect base for this salad with almonds, red onion, bacon, and peas. A mayo-based dressing brings it all together. It goes particularly well with chicken, steak, or salmon.

    Continue to 13 of 21 below.
  • Kale Salad With Balsamic Dressing

    kale salad with balsamic dressing
    Elise Bauer

    Unlike some other greens, kale doesn't wilt easily so it's great for summer get-togethers. Made with dried cranberries, pine nuts, Parmesan, and a balsamic vinaigrette, the kale becomes more tender while it sits and the dressing softens the tough kale leaves.

  • Three Bean Salad

    3 bean salad recipe
    Elise Bauer

    Packed with protein, this three bean salad is full of canned cannellini, kidney, and garbanzo beans plus red onion and celery. Fresh herbs and a sweet and sour dressing help to meld all the flavors together.

  • Tuna Macaroni Salad

    Tuna macaroni salad in a serving bowl.

    Simply Recipes / Mihaela Kozaric Sebrek

    Macaroni pasta combines canned tuna, bell peppers, celery, and mayonnaise. The celery and peppers add some crunch. Use tuna packed in oil or water, but if you add the packed in water variety, add a little olive oil for flavor. It's a budget-friendly salad for a picnic or potluck.

  • Classic Potato Salad

    Side view of homemade potato salad in a white bowl.
    Eliezer Martinez

    Is it even a potluck or a party if there isn't potato salad? This classic version—made with boiled potatoes, sour cream, mayo, green onions, celery, parsley, pickles, and bacon—will please everyone. It's the ultimate accompaniment to a grilled burger.

    Continue to 17 of 21 below.
  • Classic Carrot Salad

    Classic Carrot Salad in a bowl with wooden serving spoons.
    Michelle Becker

    Grated carrots, raisins, mayo, and a crunchy apple. That's all you need to make this slightly sweet salad that's a cousin to coleslaw. For extra eye appeal, use a variety of colored carrots.

  • Easy Cucumber Salad

    Fresh & Easy Cucumber Salad

    Simply Recipes / Mihaela Kozaric Sebrek

    Cucumbers are bountiful in the summer, and this easy salad is a great way to share the bounty at the next barbecue or potluck. Cucumbers, fresh herbs, and seasoned rice vinegar (plus a little salt and pepper) are all it takes to make this crunchy, healthy salad that's a side for just about anything at the party.

  • Stone Fruit, Tomato and Cucumber Salad

    Stone fruit and vegetable salad in a serving bowl with a linen underneath.
    Alison Bickel

    We've got your explosion of summer fruits and veggies here. Peaches, plums, cherry tomatoes, celery, cucumber, cherries, and Serrano pepper (the combination works, trust us), plus a simple vinaigrette combine to make a beautiful summer salad.

  • Grilled Corn Salad

    grilled corn salad
    Elise Bauer

    This easy grilled corn salad goes great with burgers or juicy grilled chicken. With red bell pepper, zucchini, red onion, chili pepper, and a cider vinaigrette, it's simple and flavorful. Top with feta or cotija and watch it disappear.

    Continue to 21 of 21 below.
  • Caprese Salad

    caprese salad with heirloom tomatoes, mozzarella and basil
    Elise Bauer

    Did we save the best for last? Maybe. Classic, simple, and screaming of summer, heirloom tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil should end up on your seasonal table many, many times before fresh tomatoes disappear in the fall. Drizzle with good olive oil and balsamic, lightly sprinkle with salt and pepper, let it sit for a few minutes and you have heaven on a plate.