Meat tends to get all of the glory at summer grill-outs, but that doesn't mean it shouldn't be accompanied by equally tantalizing side dishes. I'm talking flavorful grilled vegetables, cooling salads, and saucy baked beans. We've got 18 recipes to complete your Fourth of July feast that'll almost make your guests forget about those smoky, savory ribs.
Grilled Cabbage With Spicy Thai Dressing
Deeply fragrant with smoky charred edges, cabbage takes on a nutty, sweet flavor when grilled over blazing hot coals. At once tender and crisp, its layered structure also picks up sauce especially well, like this spicy Thai dressing flavored with chili, garlic, fish sauce, and a ton of herbs.
Grilled asparagus with homemade aioli is the ultimate backyard finger food. Here we grill the stalks to perfection, and make a few different spiked aïolis for dipping: tarragon and lemon, sumac and mint, and harissa. Try it as an appetizer or a side dish.
The Best Barbecue Beans
Starting with dried beans may take longer, but it's worth the wait when you're making a batch of the best barbecue beans you'll ever have. A slowly reduced sauce packs a deep and complex barbecue flavor while the tender and creamy beans round it out.
Quick Barbecue Beans
If you don't have the time to make the top-of-the-line barbecue beans above, you can still make a great side dish with lots of flavor. Using canned beans with a sauce built from scratch delivers a lot of the depth associated with more time-intensive recipes.
Grilled Romaine Hearts with Buttermilk-Dill Dressing
Lettuce may be one of the few vegetables you haven't thought to put on the grill, but it can be really delicious after a quick trip over hot coals. Grilled romaine makes a smoky and crisp salad with a rich, tangy buttermilk dressing shot through with fragrant dill.
5 Delicious Coleslaw Variations
There's a good reason coleslaw is a summertime staple: it perfectly offsets the smoky, meaty main dishes with some tangy crunch. If you're going the vinegar-based route, we've got five tasty recipes for you to pick from: Lexington-style red coleslaw, mustardy coleslaw, tangy apple coleslaw, jalapeño coleslaw, and a classic vinegar coleslaw. Any of these slaws are sure to taste great piled high on a pulled pork sandwich, or paired with baked beans.
If you're going the creamy route, this is your ultimate coleslaw recipe. Shredding the cabbage and letting it sit in salt tenderizes it and gets rid of excess moisture, so you're left with a creamy, crispy dish instead something soupy and tough.
Grilled Sweet Potato Wedges
To achieve a creamy texture with a charred, crisp exterior, roast your sweet potato wedges before grilling them. A spice mixture of paprika, cumin, chili powder, and cayenne amps up the smokiness and adds a contrast to the potato's natural sweetness.
Grilled Trevisano or Radicchio With Gorgonzola, Olive Oil, and Saba
Radicchio or trevisano, both hearty bitter lettuces, become remarkably sweet and succulent when charred on the grill. Served with a drizzle of good olive oil and saba—a sweet wine-based condiment—along with a sprinkle of gorgonzola cheese, and it might be the best vegetable you've never grilled.
The Best Basic Grilled Corn
The key to great grilled corn is to use the freshest corn possible, so grab a half dozen ears at the farmer's market and head home to throw them straight on the grill. This basic grilled corn is cooked on a hot fire until blistered and charred, served with butter and salt. Mix it up with miso butter, harissa, or chili mayo.
The Fully Loaded Iceberg Wedge Salad
This classic dish is satisfying while staying light and refreshing, perfect for a summer's day. To celebrate flavor and texture, creamy dressing contrasts with smoky chopped bacon, crispy breadcrumbs, and quick-pickled red onions.
Halloumi and Vegetable Skewers
Halloumi—a semi-soft cheese from Cyprus made for grilling or pan-frying—is skewered alongside red onion, tomato, and zucchini to create a deliciously fresh and salty vegetarian meal on a stick.
Easy Fingerling Potato Salad with Creamy Dill Dressing
The key to the brightly flavorful potatoes in this tangy and creamy salad is to cook them in water seasoned with salt and vinegar. A dressing of olive oil, sour cream, and dill binds it all together.
Charred Corn and Cherry Tomato Salad with Zucchini and Radishes
An easy salad that combines all the flavors of summer: charred sweet corn and zucchini, bright cherry tomatoes, crunchy radishes, and fresh herbs, bound together with just a hint of sour cream, lime, and cotija cheese.
Mixed Herbs Salad With Olives, Tomatoes, and Fresh Mozzarella
A medley of fresh herbs—basil, thyme, parsley, cilantro, and mint—combines with arugula, grape tomatoes, shredded mozzarella, and two types of olives for a bright, intensely flavorful summer salad.
Fingerling Potato Salad With Aioli, Pesto, Fried Shallots, and Pecorino
This fingerling potato salad with homemade aioli, basil pesto, fried shallots, and pecorino is full of contrasts that come together into one amazing side dish. It's a potato salad that's anything but forgettable.
Grilled Zucchini with Capers, Basil and Lemon
Grilled zucchini is always delicious, and simply requires an even chop and a brush of oil before cooking on a hot grill. Add some flavorings after it's cooked, like bright capers, basil and lemon, or even briny olives or Pecorino-Romano.
Watermelon, Lychee, Feta, and Basil Salad with Spicy Lemongrass Vinaigrette
It wouldn't quite be the fourth without a side of ripe watermelon, and a sweet and salty salad is a really fantastic way to eat the summery fruit. We add syrupy-sweet lychee, basil for an herbal touch, and feta for creamy saltiness.