Barbecue Chicken Sides

20 Best Side Dishes for Barbecue Chicken: Flavorful Recipes to Try

· 12 min read

Barbecue chicken sides are an essential part of any outdoor cookout, adding depth and flavor to the dining experience. These side dishes complement the smoky, savory taste of barbecue chicken, creating a balanced and satisfying meal. From classic favorites like coleslaw and potato salad to unique creations and international inspirations, the right sides elevate your barbecue to a memorable feast. What sides go with barbecue chicken? We'll explore a variety of barbecue chicken side dishes, providing recipes and tips to help you enhance your next cookout and delight your guests with an array of delicious flavors.

Part 1: 5 Classic Sides for Barbecue Chicken

When it comes to serving classic sides for barbecue chicken, there are timeless favorites that never fail to please. These sides perfectly complement the smoky and savory flavors of grilled or smoked chicken.

1. Coleslaw: Coleslaw offers a refreshing crunch and a delightful contrast to the richness of barbecue chicken. The combination of shredded cabbage, carrots, and a creamy dressing (often mayo-based with a hint of vinegar and sweetness) adds a creamy and tangy dimension to your meal.


2. Potato Salad: Creamy, tangy, and hearty, potato salad is a barbecue staple. Diced boiled potatoes mixed with mayo or a mustard-based dressing, along with celery, onions, and hard-boiled eggs, create a satisfying side dish that's loved by all.


3. Corn on the Cob: Grilled or boiled corn on the cob is a quintessential summer side. Brushed with butter and sprinkled with salt, pepper, and herbs, it's a simple yet flavorful addition that complements barbecue chicken beautifully.


4. Baked Beans: Smoky and sweet baked beans are a barbecue classic. They provide a rich, hearty component to the meal. Prepared with bacon, molasses, and spices, baked beans add a satisfying depth of flavor.


5. Macaroni and Cheese: Creamy, cheesy macaroni and cheese is an indulgent side that both kids and adults adore. The gooey goodness of melted cheese and perfectly cooked pasta pairs wonderfully with barbecue chicken.


Part 2: 5 Unique Creations to Go with Barbecue Chicken

Elevate your barbecue chicken experience with these five unique and creative side dishes that bring a burst of flavor and excitement to your outdoor feast. Each dish is accompanied by a detailed recipe and flavor profile to help you create a memorable meal:

1. Grilled Pineapple Salsa:

Flavor Profile: Sweet, smoky, and tangy.

Recipe: Grill pineapple slices until caramelized, then chop and mix with diced red onion, cilantro, jalapeño, lime juice, and a pinch of salt. Serve as a vibrant salsa or a refreshing side.


2. Bacon-Wrapped Asparagus Bundles:

Flavor Profile: Savory, salty, and tender.

Recipe: Wrap bundles of fresh asparagus with strips of bacon, secure with toothpicks, and grill until the bacon is crispy and the asparagus is tender. A drizzle of balsamic glaze adds depth.


3. Mediterranean Quinoa Salad:

Flavor Profile: Fresh, zesty, and wholesome.

Recipe: Combine cooked quinoa with diced cucumber, cherry tomatoes, red onion, Kalamata olives, feta cheese, and fresh herbs. Dress with olive oil, lemon juice, and a pinch of oregano for a Mediterranean-inspired salad.


4. Smoked Gouda and Bacon Mac 'n' Cheese:

Flavor Profile: Rich, smoky, and indulgent.

Recipe: Upgrade classic mac 'n' cheese by adding smoked Gouda cheese and crispy bacon bits to the creamy sauce. Bake until golden and bubbly for a decadent barbecue chicken side dish.


5. Grilled Vegetable Platter with Herb Dip:

Flavor Profile: Charred, earthy, and herbaceous.

Recipe: Grill a colorful array of vegetables like zucchini, bell peppers, and mushrooms. Serve with a homemade herb dip made with yogurt, garlic, and fresh herbs for a vibrant and healthy side.


Part 3: 5 Vegetarian Dishes with Barbecue Chicken

Cater to diverse dietary preferences and health-conscious choices with these five dishes that pair perfectly with barbecue chicken. These side options are both vegetarian and offer healthier alternatives without compromising on taste. Each recipe includes nutritious ingredients and ingredient substitutions where applicable:

1. Grilled Veggie Skewers:

Nutrition: Low-calorie, high-fiber, and packed with vitamins.

Recipe: Skewer a mix of bell peppers, zucchini, cherry tomatoes, and red onion. Brush with olive oil, sprinkle with herbs, and grill until charred. Serve with a balsamic glaze or yogurt-based dipping sauce.


2. Quinoa and Black Bean Salad:

Nutrition: Protein-rich, high-fiber, and gluten-free.

Recipe: Combine cooked quinoa, black beans, corn, diced bell peppers, red onion, and cilantro. Toss with a lime-cilantro vinaigrette for a refreshing and nutrient-packed salad.


3. Grilled Portobello Mushrooms:

Nutrition: Low in calories, rich in antioxidants and umami flavor.

Recipe: Marinate Portobello mushroom caps in balsamic vinegar, olive oil, garlic, and herbs. Grill until tender and serve as a meaty and satisfying side.


4. Greek Tzatziki Cucumber Salad:

Nutrition: Low-calorie, hydrating, and high in probiotics (if using Greek yogurt).

Recipe: Combine diced cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, red onion, and Kalamata olives. Drizzle with tzatziki sauce made from Greek yogurt, garlic, dill, and lemon juice.


5. Cauliflower "Mashed Potatoes":

Nutrition: Low-carb, low-calorie, and a great source of vitamins.

Recipe: Steam or boil cauliflower florets until soft, then blend with a touch of olive oil, garlic, and a splash of almond milk for a creamy and guilt-free alternative to mashed potatoes.


Part 4: 5 International Flavors Sides to Go with Barbecue Chicken

Embark on a global culinary adventure with these five international-inspired side dishes that beautifully complement barbecue chicken. These dishes offer a delightful fusion of flavors and cultural insights:

1. Mexican Street Corn (Elote):

Flavor Profile: Tangy, creamy, and smoky.

Recipe: Grill corn on the cob until charred, then slather it with a mixture of mayonnaise, cotija cheese, chili powder, and lime juice. Sprinkle with cilantro and enjoy a taste of Mexican street food.


2. Thai Green Papaya Salad (Som Tum):

Flavor Profile: Spicy, sour, and refreshing.

Recipe: Julienne green papaya and toss it with lime juice, fish sauce, palm sugar, chili, and cherry tomatoes. Garnish with crushed peanuts and fresh herbs for an authentic Thai side.


3. Indian Raita:

Flavor Profile: Cooling, herby, and subtly spiced.

Recipe: Combine yogurt with grated cucumber, mint, cumin, and a pinch of salt. This creamy Indian condiment balances the heat of barbecue chicken with its soothing flavors.


4. Spanish Gazpacho:

Flavor Profile: Chilled, tomato-based, and refreshing.

Recipe: Blend ripe tomatoes, bell peppers, cucumbers, garlic, and olive oil until smooth. Season with sherry vinegar, salt, and pepper. Serve this Andalusian classic chilled as a vibrant side.


5. Korean Kimchi Slaw:

Flavor Profile: Spicy, tangy, and crunchy.

Recipe: Combine shredded cabbage, carrots, and daikon radish with kimchi paste (gochugaru, ginger, garlic, fish sauce, and sugar). This Korean-inspired slaw adds a zesty kick to your barbecue spread.


Part 5: Tips for Perfect Pairing Barbecue Chicken and Sides

Pairing barbecue chicken with sides can be an art, and the right combinations can elevate your meal. Here are some tips for achieving perfect harmony between barbecue chicken and sides:

1. Consider Flavor Balance:

Balance the smoky, savory flavors of barbecue chicken with sides that offer contrasting tastes, such as tangy coleslaw or sweet cornbread.

2. Think about Texture:

Complement the tender texture of barbecue chicken with sides that provide a variety of textures, like crisp coleslaw or creamy potato salad.

3. Regional Pairing:

Match the style of barbecue chicken (e.g., Southern, Tex-Mex, Asian-inspired) with sides that align with the same culinary region or cuisine for a cohesive meal.

4. Temperature Variation:

Mix hot and cold dishes to create a dynamic dining experience. For instance, serve hot barbecue chicken with a cold cucumber salad.

5. Colorful Presentation:

Create visual appeal by choosing sides with vibrant colors that contrast beautifully with the brown hues of barbecue chicken.

6. Customization Options:

Consider dietary preferences and provide side options that cater to different tastes, including vegetarian or gluten-free choices.

7. Flavored Sauces:

Offer a variety of barbecue sauces or condiments on the side so guests can customize their chicken to their liking.

8. Complementary Cultures:

Experiment with global flavors and pair barbecue chicken with sides inspired by different cuisines for a unique and exciting fusion.

9. Crowd Pleasers:

Include some classic, universally loved sides like potato salad and cornbread to ensure there's something for everyone.

10. Garnish Creatively:

Elevate the presentation with fresh herbs, citrus zest, or a drizzle of specialty oils for a finishing touch.


The article has explored a world of delicious possibilities when it comes to pairing barbecue chicken with side dishes. From classic and comforting options to international-inspired creations, we've showcased how the right sides can elevate your outdoor gathering and create a memorable dining experience.

As you plan your next barbecue, we encourage you to embrace your culinary creativity and experiment with different combinations of sides. Whether you're aiming for the perfect flavor balance, exploring new textures, or drawing inspiration from around the globe, there's a world of flavors to discover.

So, fire up the grill, gather your favorite sides, and let your taste buds embark on a flavorful journey. With a little experimentation, you'll find the perfect pairings that will make your next outdoor gathering a delicious and unforgettable success.


How do I balance flavors when pairing sides with barbecue chicken?

Balance smoky and savory barbecue flavors with sides that offer contrasting tastes, such as tangy, sweet, or spicy options.

Are there any regional pairings to consider with barbecue chicken?

Match the style of barbecue chicken (e.g., Southern, Tex-Mex, Asian-inspired) with sides that align with the same culinary region or cuisine for a cohesive meal.

How can I create a visually appealing presentation with barbecue chicken and sides?

Select sides with vibrant colors that contrast beautifully with the brown hues of barbecue chicken. Garnish creatively with fresh herbs, citrus zest, or specialty oils.

What temperature variations should I consider when pairing sides with barbecue chicken?

Mix hot and cold dishes to create a dynamic dining experience. Serve hot barbecue chicken with cold salads or slaws.

What are some versatile sauces or condiments to offer with barbecue chicken and sides?

Provide an assortment of barbecue sauces, flavored mayonnaises, or unique condiments to let guests customize their dishes.

Grace Rodriguez

About Grace Rodriguez

Grace Rodriguez is your passionate grill aficionado and the lively host of the Fox Heights Bar and Grill Podcast. With a zest for culinary adventures and a gift for making everyone feel like a friend, Grace brings a warm and welcoming vibe to the world of grilling. From sharing her top-notch tips for crafting the perfect burger to creating an atmosphere of camaraderie around the grill, Grace's genuine charm and relatable style make her podcast a must-listen for both seasoned grill masters and newcomers alike.

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