20 Make-Ahead Sides for Your Next Outdoor Gathering
Whether you're grilling burgers and hot dogs or serving up grilled chicken and kebabs, these cool salads and grillable sides are sure to impress your guests. From marinated slaws to flavorful pasta salads and cheesy grilled potatoes, these dishes have something to offer everyone at the table. Recipes like our Dill-Pickle Pasta Salad with Creamy Dill Dressing and Lemony Lentil Salad with Feta can be made the night before—or even days ahead—to make hosting the perfect gathering easier than ever.
Dill-Pickle Pasta Salad with Creamy Dill Dressing
If you're a fan of pickles, this easy pasta salad will easily become your go-to. If you want to give it some extra kick, an additional teaspoon or two of hot sauce will do the trick. Pair it with anything hot off the grill or pack it up for a picnic. It can also easily translate from a side dish to an entree by adding a can of flaked tuna or shredded chicken.
Vidalia Onion & Cucumber Salad
For this old-fashioned Southern cucumber and onion salad, thin slices of cucumber and onion marinate just long enough to develop a touch of tanginess without any sharp bite. Serve with sweet dishes like barbecue to lend a refreshing balance.
Although it's not a traditional topping for American tacos, cabbage slaw is an essential ingredient when making fish tacos. This colorful, vinegar-dressed coleslaw can be made in just a few minutes. Use preshredded cabbage to make it even quicker.
Cucumber Pasta Salad
This light and tangy cucumber pasta salad is fresh and bright. The orecchiette pasta holds the dressing for flavor in every bite, but you can use another small pasta shape if you like. This easy salad is perfect for a warm day or to serve as a lunch dish for company! For a fruitier flavor, try apple-cider vinegar in place of white distilled vinegar.
Quinoa-Herb Tomato & Balsamic Salad
In this easy tomato salad recipe, we add a healthy kick of protein and fiber in the form of quinoa. This whole grain helps make this veggie-packed salad more satisfying, which makes it the perfect thing to pack up for lunch or serve as a dinner side. This delicious salad takes just 10 minutes to make and while you could eat it right away, it tastes even better the longer it sits, so plan to leave at least an hour of marinating time before serving.
Lemony Lentil Salad with Feta
This delicious and healthy lentil salad comes together in just 30 minutes and makes a wonderful hot-weather meal. Serve with whole-wheat pitas, if desired.
Sweet Corn Polenta with Bell Pepper & Tomato Salad
Serve this simple vegetarian side dish warm or room temperature alongside grilled meats and a stacked summer salad. A flash under the broiler leaves these slices of corn-studded polenta golden on the outside and soft on the inside; an herby, smoky tomato-pepper salad acts like a salsa to be spooned over the top.
Greek Potato Salad
In this healthy potato salad recipe, a white-wine vinaigrette dresses the potatoes, tomatoes, feta and olives. Waxy potatoes, such as red and yellow, make the best potato salad because they hold their shape when cooked. Keep the potato skins on for more fiber and potassium.
Southern Pasta Salad with Black-Eyed Peas
This isn't any ordinary picnic pasta salad. Coffee and molasses add rich notes to the tangy dressing.
Adding okra to traditional ratatouille gives this French vegetable stew recipe Southern flair. It's delicious on the day it's cooked, but even better the next day. Serve as a side to grilled chicken or on top of thick, crusty bread.
Spinach & Strawberry Pasta Salad
This simple pasta side dish combines sweet strawberries and creamy avocado with a tart balsamic vinaigrette. You can make the dressing ahead and keep it separately, tossing with the pasta salad just before serving. Make this salad even more special by adding crumbled feta or goat cheese.
Cheesy Potato Packets
These easy, cheesy potatoes cook in a foil packet perfect for throwing over the coals of a campfire for a delicious, healthy side dish while camping.
Pesto Pasta Salad
A creamy pesto sauce turns this simple pasta salad into a delightful dinner. Adding broccoli to the pasta cooking water just before the pasta is done is a convenient way to briefly cook it so that it turns a vivid shade of green and softens slightly.
If you prefer, make this salad with broccoli slaw mix instead of the coleslaw mix.
Curried Potato Salad
In this healthy and creamy potato salad recipe, yogurt replaces half of the mayo and we keep the potato skins on for more fiber and potassium. Red bell pepper and green peas add even more color to the yellow-tinted potato salad.
Smashed Cucumber Salad with Lemon & Cumin
Don't skip salting the cucumbers in this quick cucumber salad recipe--just 10 minutes pulls out some of their excess moisture, concentrating the flavor and keeping the salad from being watered down. Serve as a healthy side dish at a summer cookout alongside burgers and hot dogs.
This tangy potato and kale side dish is served warm.
Easy Tomato & Balsamic Pasta Salad
This easy pasta salad is packed with fresh flavor from tomatoes, basil and balsamic vinegar. It takes just 10 minutes to make and while you could eat it right away, it tastes even better the longer it sits, so plan to leave at least an hour of marinating time before serving. Make a batch to have for lunch this week, serve it alongside a healthy protein source for dinner or bring it to your next potluck.
Middle Eastern Potato Salad
In this healthy potato salad recipe, a cumin-spiked vinaigrette coats the potatoes, zucchini and baby spinach. Waxy potatoes, such as red and yellow, make the best potato salad because they hold their shape when cooked. Keep the potato skins on for more fiber and potassium.
Mediterranean Broccoli Pasta Salad
We've loaded this healthy pasta salad with vegetables and flavors of the Mediterranean. Sun-dried tomatoes and a touch of lemon zest jazz up the dressing, while tender-crisp broccoli florets cook alongside the pasta, making assembly (and cleanup!) a breeze.