24 Showstopping Sides for Your Memorial Day Cookout

For a memorable Memorial Day cookout, bring on the sides! Mix and match these 24 summery side dish recipes for your backyard barbecue or potluck. There's something for everyone.

photocollage of three cookout sides: corn, beans, and watermelon

Simply Recipes / Wanda Abraham

Look, I like burgers and such as much as most cookout aficionados, but when I really want are sides. Lots of them, with plenty of variety: crunchy veggie salads, creamy dips, filling beany dishes, carb-load potato or pasta salads, and the colorful fruit fresh thing or two. I want to mound them up in piles so big, my paper plate buckles. It's a time-honored tradition of Memorial Day as much as breaking out the bug repellant or flip flops.

These sides are all keepers. Lots of them also play nice with making in advance, allowing you to bring on those lazy, crazy, hazy days of summer in an appropriately chill fashion.

  • Classic Potato Salad

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

    This is it: the potato salad summers are made of. A touch of sour cream makes this potato salad especially creamy. Use Yukon golds for a more robust flavor, and celery for those signature pops of crunch.

  • Broccoli Salad

    Broccoli Salad

    Simply Recipes / Lori Rice

    So many backyard bashes seem to have a void of green veggies on the table. If you're invited to a cookout and asked to bring a dish, this one will deliver on all fronts. The winning combo of salty bacon and crisp-tender blanched broccoli florets never fails to please. Even haters of broccoli love this salad.

  • Classic Coleslaw

    Bright and fresh Classic Coleslaw in a white bowl.
    Kelly Hamilton

    A simple homemade dressing with just enough mayo to add a little body makes this coleslaw a standout. Not into chopping? Grab a bag of slaw mix from the grocery store, then mix the dressing. For coleslaw that's not watery or weepy, dress the salad no more than 2 hours before serving.

  • Green Goddess Pasta Salad

    Bowl of Green Goddess Pasta Salad

    Simply Recipes / Lori Rice

    Totally plant-based, this creamy and herby pasta salad won over Tik Tok and has the side benefit of being a safe bet for parties with vegetarians or vegans in the mix.

    Continue to 5 of 24 below.
  • Roasted Sweet Potato Salad

    Bowl of Roasted Sweet Potato Salad Topped with Crumbled Feta Cheese, Surrounded by Stack of Plate with Forks, a Small Bowl of More Feta Cheese, a Small Bowl of Salt, a Cutting Board with Lime Wedges, a Kitchen Towel, and Empty Glasses

    Simply Recipes / Ciara Kehoe

    Guys, this is THE salad I can't get enough of. I bring it to every party and everyone asks for the recipe. It's make-ahead friendly, and leftovers make the best lunch ever. But this is so good, leftovers are unlikely.

  • Trinidadian Boiled Corn

    Trinidadian Boiled Corn in a Bowl

    Simply Recipes / Alica Ramkirpal-Senhouse

    It's hard to resist the pull of fresh corn when summer rolls around, but the sweet corn in May isn't quite peaking yet. This amazing Trinidadian street food fixture is perfect for less-than-perfect corn: slowly cooked in a rich broch of coconut milk that reduces to a sauce and clings to every kernel, it's incredibly flavorful.

  • Pancit Bihon

    Two Bowls with Pancit Bihon (Filipino Rice Noodles) on a Placemat Next to a Bowl of Cracked Pepper

    Simply Recipes / Frank Tiu

    These Filipino stir-fried rice noodles are a fixture of gatherings, and offer a playful range of textures. It's best made shortly before serving, but it'll steal the show if you put in the effort.

  • Grilled Potatoes

    Grilled Fingerling Potatoes and a Grilled Halved Lemon in a Black Bowl

    Simply Recipes / Mike Lang

    If you have the grill going, why not maximize the coals and grill up some potatoes? Halved fingerlings cook fast but aren't too small to slip through the grates. The finishing touch grilling a lemon half to squeeze over right before serving is especially genius.

    Continue to 9 of 24 below.
  • Trader Joe's Homemade Cowboy Caviar

    Trader Joe’s Homemade Cowboy Caviar in a Bowl

    Simply Recipes / Sara Tane

    Can I tell you how much I miss living near a Trader Joe's? If I did, I'd make this in a heartbeat. It's a recipe designed just for those specific Trader Joe's offerings so you can grab the ingredients in one trip and toss it together in a jiffy. Non-TJ's folks like me can make our classic Texas caviar, and everyone's a winner.

  • Watermelon Salad with Cotija, Jicama, and Lime

    Watermelon Salad with Cotija
    Elise Bauer

    Drawing on the Mexican affinity for savory fruit salads, this uber-refreshing salad packs crunch from the jicama and a little creamy-salty action from the cotija. Big cold chunks of watermelon make this supremely moreish.

  • Cajun-Spiced Grilled Corn

    Cajun-Spiced Grilled Corn in a Casserole Dish with Two Lime Halves, Surrounded by a Table Setting

    Simply Recipes / Sharee Hill

    Plump sweet corn that's grilled, based with butter, and plastered with savory Cajun seasoning is hard to resist. Keep plenty of napkins ready!

  • Instant Pot Baked Beans

    Pressure Cooker Baked Beans
    Coco Morante

    I will eat baked beans any day of the week, prepared any way. For purists, here's a go-back-for-thirds recipe starting with dry beans and bacon that's streamlined in the Instant Pot. My favorite way to enjoy these is on top of a Memorial Day grilled hot dog.

    Continue to 13 of 24 below.
  • Two-Minute Feta Dip

    Yasmin Fahr 2-Minute Feta Dip

    Julia Gartland

    Four ingredients. Two minutes. Who doesn't love feta? I'm sold.

  • Grilled Bacon Jalapeno Poppers

    bacon jalapeno poppers on a sheet pan
    Emma Christensen

    If it's been a while since you've had jalapeno poppers, it's time to rekindle that relationship. Prepare the filling, assemble the poppers, and have them at the ready for grilling.

  • Napa Cabbage Picnic Salad

    Napa Cabbage Salad with slivered almonds in bowl
    Elise Bauer

    This one makes a big splash at potlucks. It's fresh and packed with tender raw vegetables. Sprinkle the almond slivers just before you set it out for guests.

  • Tomatillo Avocado Salsa

    Bowl of Tomatillo Avocado Salsa on a Platter of Chips and Vegetables

    Simply Recipes / Alison Bickel

    I love how this stretches out avocados (I feel like I could eat $5 worth of avocados in one sitting). The other bonus is how the tomatillos slow the oxidation of the avocado, so it's more friendly for making ahead than straight-up guac.

    Continue to 17 of 24 below.
  • Cucumber, Peach, and Basil Salad

    Summer peach and cucumber salad in a bowl with a serving spoon. A blue linen is to the right and peaches, limes and basil are to the left of the bowl.
    Kalisa Marie Martin

    Well HELLO, peachy cucumber salad! All the good things about summer meet in one bowl of sunny freshness.

  • Three Bean Salad

    3 bean salad recipe
    Elise Bauer

    The beauty of this potluck fixture is how it relies on the ease of opening cans, plus its sweet-tart dressing. And it only gets better as it sits.

  • Pull-Apart Corn Cheese Pigs in a Blanket

    Pull-Apart Corn Cheese Pigs in a Blanket with a Piece Pulled Off Surrounded by More and a Bowl of Mustard

    Simply Recipes / Ciara Kehoe

    Mashups don't get more playful than this. Pigs in a blanket meet corn cheese, a melty-rich Korean bar snack. After all, why do the hot dogs have to be limited to the grill?

  • Homemade Veggie Dip

    Platter of Vegetables with a Bowl of Veggie Dip

    Simply Recipes / Lori Rice

    Oof, have you see how much a veggie tray from the deli is these days? This easy veggie dip and a little knife prep will save you some bucks, plus give you a fresher, prettier, and far better veggie tray that'll magnetically draw everyone as they wait for their grillables.

    Continue to 21 of 24 below.
  • Caprese Pasta Salad

    How to Make Caprese Pasta Salad - bowl of caprese salad with pasta
    Sally Vargas

    Have you noticed that the inclusion of fresh basil often equates with lots of people loving a recipe? Add in the fresh tomato and fresh mozzarella combo and you have a big hit in the making.

  • Easy Grilled Peppers

    Platter of Grilled Peppers Surrounded by Olives, Capers, Olive Oil, and Toast

    Simply Recipes / Sally Vargas

    Grilled peppers are delicious warm or at room temp. They work solo or can top burgers, dress up grilled salmon, or sidle up nicely to steak.

  • Tortellini Salad

    Tortellini Salad Served in Two Small Bowls Next to a Large Bowl with More Salad

    Simply Recipes / Alison Bickel

    Tortellini isn't just for main dishes, though if you love those little pasta bundles with their cheesy middles, you can hog half the bowl and hope no one notices.

  • Grilled Artichokes

    grilled artichoke
    Elise Bauer

    You're either an artichoke person or not. If you fall in the former camp, then you know what a thrill it is to arrive at a celebration and find artichokes on the menu. They key to these being tender is steaming them prior to their stint on the grill.