A Rainbow of Barbecue Side Dishes


In addition to their oh-so-fresh flavor, one of the best parts of summer produce is the spectrum of vibrant colors seasonal fruits and veggies bring to the table. While a barbecue is often all about the meaty mains, like juicy steak or perfectly cooked chicken, side dishes served in a ROYGBIV rainbow will totally steal the spotlight.

Zucchini, peaches, peppers and greens galore are great whether grilled or served fresh, and will bring bold shades and even bolder flavors to your cookout spread.

Red: Arugula and Strawberry Salad (pictured above)

Super-sized strawberries are in season during summer, so what better way to add a pop of color to the start of your rainbow buffet? The story behind this salad: Alex Guarnaschelli saw a display of beautiful strawberries in the supermarket and wanted to prove there is a place for the berry outside the dessert world. The result: a delectable salad, balanced by peppery arugula and a classic poppy seed dressing.


Orange: Grilled Potato Salad

The standard potato salad gets a barbecue-ready update with Melissa d’Arabian’s grilled recipe. Toss a combination of red potatoes and sweet potatoes in a mayonnaise blend before grilling, which helps to deepen their flavor. Serve hot or cold — your choice!

Yellow: Grilled Corn on the Cob with Chili-Lime Butter and Cotija Cheese

Mexican street corn continues to have its moment in the spotlight at restaurants across the country — so why not try it yourself? Cotija is a Mexican member of the Parmesan family, known for its crumbly texture and salty flavor. After grilling your corn, try slathering it with a homemade blend of chili, lime and butter before garnishing with the cheese.

Grilled Mango with Jalapenos

When it comes to grilled summer fruit, the first thing that comes to mind is often pineapple. Instead, try grilling another island favorite: mango. Serve the slices of bright yellow mango on a platter for beautiful presentation and to ready them for easy drizzling of Mexican crema.

Green: Grilled Stuffed Jalapeno Chiles

Gorgeous green jalapenos are the spicy star of Marcela Valladolid’s grilled side dish. Grill the peppers to tone down their fiery flavor and soften them for easy scooping. After removing the seeds (where the brunt of the heat resides), stuff with cheese; a wrap of bacon holds the whole thing together.

Grilled Lime Scallions

For Asian flair at your next BBQ, look no further — these grilled scallions are the perfect side for teriyaki kebabs or grilled salmon. Serve them with lime wedges to keep the flavors summery and fresh while adding even more green to the spread.


Blue/Indigo: Purple Potatoes with Rosemary and Olives

When it comes to potatoes, the purple variety is surely the most underrated — and most underutilized! This potato salad features boiled purple potatoes to lock in that deep indigo hue. It’s best served warm, but feel free to make ahead and reheat at party time.

Blue/Indigo: Grilled Eggplant and Goat Cheese Salad

Grilled eggplant is an elegant side for a summer cookout, with a light flavor but a hearty texture that can hold its own next to a thick slab of meat. Cutting the eggplant a little bit thicker than normal keeps it from falling apart on the grill. Add toasted pine nuts, goat cheese and balsamic vinegar and you have a salad fit for a barbecue.

Violet: Healthy Chopped Slaw

Coleslaw is a barbecue no-brainer. With purple cabbage as a base, this slaw easily stands out among a sea of ho-hum sides. The secret ingredient to the zesty dressing? Pineapple juice, which lightens up what could otherwise be a mayo-laden side. Best of all, this slaw can be made ahead and kept in the fridge until the meat comes off the grill.

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