summer side dishes

26 Scrumptious Summer Side Dishes (Great for Beating The Heat!)

Summer is the season of potlucks, cookouts, BBQs, and beach picnics, and do you know what all those have in common? Lots of delicious food! Thus, if you’re hosting the next get-together, arm yourself with the best recipes, including these delightful summer side dishes!

Picking the right side dishes is crucial not just for ensuring your foods taste great. More importantly, you make sure they suit the notorious summer heat and won’t make the day hotter than it is. If you don’t want to stress yourself with that, pick from these 26 summer-perfect and refreshing options!

1. Watermelon Feta Salad

With their 90% and above water content, watermelons did not just aptly earn their name. Such juiciness also makes them the perfect summer fruit, as they’re effective for hydration. But if you don’t want to settle for simple slices, make this watermelon feta salad! It hits that delicate balance between sweet and salty. It is also exceptionally refreshing, as, besides the watermelon chunks, there are cucumbers and red onions.

2. Cucumber Tomato Salad

This cucumber tomato salad promises refreshing juices, cool flavors, and crunchy textures. Besides the main elements, cucumber and tomatoes, it has red onions, fresh herbs, olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt, and pepper. Those ingredients enhance the salad’s overall profile, giving you more depth than expected from a simple-looking dish. However, if you want more decadent flavors, you can also try a creamy cucumber salad!

3. Macaroni Salad

Pasta salads are fantastic for the summer, but this macaroni salad is a show stealer during the summertime. You can see how creamy and luscious it is by its looks alone. Its dressing is made from a rich duo of mayonnaise and yogurt or sour cream. The salad also has celery, bell peppers, green onions, carrots, cider vinegar, mustard, and seasonings, to make the textures and flavors more complex.

4. Classic Potato Salad

Potato salads are a hit during family potlucks and BBQs. They’re rich and creamy, like macaroni salads, thus satisfyingly contrasting grilled meats. You can serve them warm, at room temperature, or chilled. There are many variations, too. For instance, some have hard-boiled eggs in them! This recipe may not have eggs, but it uniquely uses baby potatoes, resulting in more distinct shapes and sweeter flavors.

5. Panzanella Salad with Tomatoes and Peaches

Panzanella is a classic Italian salad with tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, an olive oil dressing, basil, and stale bread chunks. While the original flavors are already suited for the summer, this recipe makes the salad better, even more summer-perfect. For instance, adding more tomatoes and peaches makes it taste juicier and more refreshing for the heat. Meanwhile, the mozzarella balls and white wine dressing contribute creamy and tangy flavors.

6. Creamy Grape Salad

Do you want a side salad that doubles as a dessert? This creamy grape salad is the answer. It’s rich, nutty, and fruity, so it isn’t as savory or herby as most salads or side dishes. However, when you have a table full of such foods, maybe creamy and sweet is just what you need to break the flavor monotony. Also, the recipe needs only seven ingredients to make!

7. Blackberries & Greens Salad

The usual green and garden salad is incredible but can get old. If you want something new for the summer season, bring together fruits and veggies to make this fantastic blackberries and greens salad. The ingredients list is impressively diverse, resulting in complex and exciting flavors and textures. For instance, besides the greens and blackberries, there are onions, almonds, goat cheese, and a unique blackberry-ginger balsamic vinaigrette!

8. Avocado Mango Salad

Avocados and mangos are fruits that make not just great desserts but also excellent side dishes. Together, they’re an irresistible balance of sweet and savory flavors perfect with meat and fish main courses. Thus, if you have those dishes this summer, consider making this avocado mango salad to pair. You don’t need many ingredients – just avocados, mangos, red onions, cilantro, and an olive oil and lime dressing.

9. Cold Thai Noodle Salad with Peanut Dressing

Color your summer with the flavors of Asia by making this one-of-a-kind cold Thai noodle salad. It combines cooked and cooled spaghetti noodles with a peanut dressing filled with umami and nutty flavors. Those tastes come from mixing peanut butter, soy sauce, rice vinegar, honey, sesame oil, ginger, and red pepper flakes. Once combined, you can add cucumbers, red bell peppers, cilantro, shredded cabbage, and lime juice.

10. Red Cabbage Apple Slaw

Coleslaw is highly recommended for summer cookouts and BBQs. But aren’t you getting tired of the usual cabbages and mayo? Make this red cabbage apple slaw for a new yet familiar taste. It shares a lot of flavors and textures with the classic coleslaw. However, it also stands out for its sweet and crisp apples, crunchy sunflower seeds, sweet dried cherries, and tangy apple cider vinegar dressing.

11. Broccoli Slaw

Another way to reinvent your coleslaw is by using broccoli instead of cabbage! This broccoli slaw features bright flavors and crisp textures. Besides the florets, toasted sunflower seeds and ramen noodles – without flavor packets – are included for crunchiness. There are also green onions and dried cherries. Moreover, the dressing isn’t creamy like most coleslaws; it’s tangy, savory, and made with oil, rice wine vinegar, honey, lime juice, salt, and pepper.

12. Cabbage Mango Slaw

The last slaw recipe in this article is the most summer-perfect of them all. This cabbage mango slaw is made with shredded cabbage, ripe mangoes, cilantro, red onions, jalapeno, and dressing with lime and olive oil. It’s crisp, fresh, and bursting with sweet, tangy tropical flavors that brighten grilled meats and cookout dishes. Thus, make sure to have this recipe ready for BBQ days!

13. Fresh Peach Salsa

Mexican salsa is great for BBQs and cookouts because the juicy and refreshing flavors complement the grilled meats. However, to make such a side dish more suited for the summer, you should opt for this fresh peach salsa instead of the usual pico de gallo. Adding peaches, an iconic summer produce, contributes sweet and refreshing flavors that temper the salsa’s classic heat.

14. Summer Fruit Kebabs

Serve your family and friends a cute and sweet side dish that takes minimal effort. This summer fruit kebabs need no cooking, grilling, or baking. Just slice and prepare some pineapples, berries, cantaloupes, honeydew, and mint leaves. Once they’re prepped, pierce each piece with a wooden skewer. String them together in the pattern and combination you like until you have a rainbow of fruit kebabs!

15. Grilled Corn on the Cob

Corn is so sweet and sunny it’s popular during the summer. Some have it creamed, sauteed, or tossed in a salad. But when you’re having a BBQ, what better way to cook your cobs than grilled? This recipe for grilled corn on the cob does it classically: grill with or without husk and slather on some butter and seasonings. However, you can follow the Mexican style for more flavor, too!

16. Zucchini Fritters

Did you know you can make fritters with zucchini? It might sound like a bizarre prospect, but once you’ve tasted them, you’ll fall in love with the creativity. Each patty has satisfying crisp-tender textures and delicious, savory flavors. You can serve them with various dips, like sour cream, marinara, or aioli. If you have kids, they’re a great way to entice them to eat veggies!

17. Fried Green Tomatoes

Tomatoes are usually elements of other dishes. It hardly gets a spotlight until you’ve made these fried green tomatoes. Although this recipe isn’t a novelty – fried tomatoes are a Southern favorite – it’s still quite underrated outside the South. Thus, serve it at the next summer cookout so you and your guests can try and enjoy the crunchy, savory breading and juicy, crisp tomato center.

18. Marinated Tomatoes

Another way to highlight tomatoes is by making these marinated tomatoes, which are recommended with salads and meat. You can use your choice of tomatoes, which includes cherry, grape, Roma, heirloom, and more. You can even add cucumbers for more veggies! The tomatoes are marinated with onions and a vinaigrette made from olive oil, parsley, vinegar, seasonings, garlic powder, and lemon juice. Thus, the flavors seep deep into every piece.

19. Grilled Portobello Mushrooms

While you have your meats on the grill, why not toss in your side dishes? You save time, the flavors are more consistent, and you make the most out of the effort you put into setting up the grill. If you find that a sound proposition, here’s a recipe for grilled portobello mushrooms ready for your taking. It’s rich, tender, cheesy, and meaty – perfect for summer roasted meats.

20. Grilled Pineapple

Serve grilled pineapples with your meal, and your taste buds will feel like they’re in the tropics. On a more serious note, this recipe is incredible and a summer must-try. It transforms simple pineapple slices into caramelized delicacies with a more intricate flavor profile. Just imagine the fruit’s sweet and tangy juices beautifully intertwined with hints of buttery, brown sugar, and cinnamon flavors and aroma.

21. Zucchini Bread

If the zucchini fritters mentioned above sound bizarre to you, this zucchini bread will blow your mind. Grated or shredded zucchini is incorporated into the bread batter so the bread stays moist and tender when baked. The vegetable may also contribute a unique flavor. You can add chopped nuts, chocolate chips, dried fruits, or spices like cinnamon for more texture and complexity. Serve your zucchini bread fresh from the oven!

22. Baked Feta with Chili and Oregano

Baked feta can be a side dish, appetizer, or even a main course! However, this baked feta with chili and oregano is more recommended as a side for salads and bread. It’s salty, spicy, and herby – not quite the usual flavor profile for a summer dish. But when you find your main courses too cool even for the summer heat, this is just what you need.

23. Grilled Eggplant with Peanut Ginger Sauce

Toss some eggplants into the grill, and you can have this grilled eggplant with peanut ginger sauce for your meal. This recipe has many flavors: smoky, nutty, umami, salty, sweet, spicy, and more. However, such an assortment of flavors comes together so sensibly and beautifully. Thus, you’ll enjoy every aspect of this side dish – from the roasted eggplant slices to the crunchy peanut garnishes.

24. Cold Sesame Noodles

Noodles are usually served hot. Thus, if you’re craving noodles and Asian flavors for the summer, nothing could be more perfect than cold sesame noodles. The al dente noodles are drenched and drained in cold water before being combined with veggies and a special sauce. The latter is made from a fascinating blend of peanut butter, sesame oil and paste, spices, orange juice, and other flavorful Chinese ingredients.

25. Roasted Summer Vegetables

If you need a go-to side dish, roasted vegetables are an excellent candidate. They’re delicious, easy to make, healthy, and suit a wide array of foods and meals. Moreover, you can slightly tweak the ingredients so they’re more suited for the season or menu. For instance, this recipe for roasted summer vegetables highlights summer’s harvest, which includes zucchini, yellow squash, and cherry tomatoes flavored with parsley, olive oil, and seasonings.

26. Sweet Corn Saute

For those who don’t like their corn on a cob, salad, or creamy casserole dish, you’ll love this sweet corn saute as it achieves none of those. Instead, it draws out the corn kernels’ sweet and delicious flavors and combines them with the tastes of butter, green onions, garlic, basil, salt, and pepper. It’s simple and quick, and the light profile makes it suitable for many meals and mains.

AboutRibana Hategan

Ribana is a certified pastry chef and passionate home cook who curates and develops recipes that are high on nutrition. She develops and tests cost effective, nutritious meals using quality ingredients to help people better their everyday eating experiences.