From potato salad to cornbread, enjoy these heavy-hitters all summer long.
Whether they’re dry rubbed or tossed in a sticky-sweet Kansas City-style sauce that leaves stains in unexpected places, baby back ribs instantly turn up the volume on your summer gathering. Pounds of ribs laid side by side is a sight to behold—and the smell of them coming right off the grill or being pulled out of the oven guarantees that neighbors will walk over uninvited to say, “what’s cooking?” But hey, the more the merrier, especially when it comes to such a crowd-friendly main course like ribs.
And while the meat is plenty filling on its own, a true barbecue feast will also feature an all-star lineup of side dishes like potato salad, coleslaw, grilled summer vegetables, baked beans, sautéed greens, and a whole lot more. Here are 10 of the best side dishes to serve with ribs all summer long.
- Potato salad with celery and hard-boiled eggs
Barbecue and potato salad are key players for summer and this recipe is considered one of our very best sides. It features a classic duo mayonnaise and whole-grain mustard, which adds sharpness and some texture. Chopped chives add vibrancy and break up the neutral hues of hard-cooked eggs and potatoes.
- Grilled bread salad with broccoli rabe & summer squash
This may be humanity’s most genius idea ever—a salad made with big crusty cubes of bread. It’s not exactly the lightest side dish ever, but it doesn’t need to be because it’s just so delicious. Toss the bread with grilled summer vegetables like squash and zucchini, plus tender broccoli rabe. A spicy mayonnaise marinade ties it all together.
- Southern potato salad recipe
Everyone knows and loves the humble potato salad. It’s a comforting summer side dish that pairs well with anything and everything—but especially ribs. This recipe goes on a tour of the American South with ingredients like sweet relish, Miracle whip, yellow mustard, and a generous dose of hot sauce.
No cookout is complete without coleslaw, plain and simple. There are endless recipes for this staple side, including some that even swap out the usual cabbage in place of carrots, zucchini, or squash. But when you want a twist on the all-American, old-fashioned recipe that will still make Grandma happy, this is it. There’s tang from Greek yogurt, sweet honey, earthy za’tar, heat from Tabasco, and acidity from apple cider vinegar for a beautifully balanced bite.
When I think of the perfect side dish for ribs, I instantly think of cornbread. Crumbly, buttery, semi-sweet cornbread. “Like all cornbread, this is dreamy still warm from the oven, but it also holds up for a couple of days,” said recipe developer Emma Laperruque, which means that it’s just right for summer entertaining.
- Collard greens braised in coconut milk
One of the ultimate side dishes to pair with ribs is collard greens. There are so many ways to prepare them, but this sweeter iteration calls for cooking the greens in a combination of coconut oil and coconut milk. A couple of tablespoons of tamari packs a punch of savory umami flavor and breaks up the sweetness with some salt.
- Fresh corn salad with brown butter, chives & chiles
If you’re like me, you’re counting down the summer days until corn on the cob is officially in season. Once it’s time, grab a bushel, cut the kernels off the cob, and turn them into this speedy side salad.
- Early summer panzanella
If you’d rather be lounging on a floating inflatable swan in a swimming pool than cooking over a hot stove, fear not: This 30-minute salad, which features a bounty of grilled produce and a sharp garlic scape pesto, will let you have some fun in the sun with time to spare to prepare a delicious side dish.
- Baking sheet macaroni and cheese
Macaroni and cheese is a crowd-favorite entrée, but it also is a dream side dish for ribs. This six-ingredient sheet-pan side dish developed by our founder Amanda Hesser makes our childhood (and let’s face it—adulthood) wishes come true.
- Light and flaky buttermilk biscuits
Recipe developer Samin Nosrat learned a way to make old-fashioned buttermilk biscuits feel new again. She “incorporated half of the butter into the dough to make it tender, and then rolled and folded the finished dough a few times to create flaky layers.” All we need now is an extra pat or two of butter to smear in the middle.
By Kelly Vaughan