7 Classic Southern Sides Every Barbecue Needs
When it comes to barbecue, there’s no question about it: Southerners do it best. While pitmasters from competing regions might debate the virtues of Texas-versus-Carolina-style prep methods, the one thing people generally agree on is the sides. Generous portions of boldly flavored, diversely textured dishes such as cornbread, collard greens and hushpuppies rule the Southern barbecue tradition, but you don’t need to live south of the Mason-Dixon line to appreciate the comforting amalgam of flavors on your picnic plate. Unless you’re planning a trip deep into the heart of American barbecue land, try a few of our easy, satisfying takes on classic barbecue sides at home.
These savory, deep-fried cornbread balls are part and parcel of a classic American barbecue experience, and Gina Neely’s Hot and Spicy Hushpuppies won’t disappoint. Don’t forget to stir up a batch of her Orange Dipping Sauce, which lends a sweet-and-sour note.
Sweet and creamy, with a hearty texture, corn pudding is a standard barbecue sidekick down South, but you don’t need to be Southern to appreciate just how deliciously comforting it is. Here’s a pro tip: When scraping the kernels away from the cob to use in this Sweet Corn Pudding, be sure to reserve the milky runoff to later incorporate as a natural thickener, along with the milk, heavy cream and cheddar cheese.
There’s no better tool for mopping up the juices of slow-cooked meats than a thick wedge of buttery cornbread. While sweet cornbread is ever-popular, we recommend a zestier recipe to amplify barbecue’s intensely smoky flavor. Food Network Magazine’s Jalapeno Cornbread definitely errs on the spicier side of the spectrum. And that crisp, golden-brown crust? That can be achieved only in a cast-iron skillet.
Don’t even think about skipping the greens! Keeping with Southern tradition, Tyler Florence prepares these flavorful Slow-Cooked Collard Greens with garlic, chicken broth and a ham hock for a well-rounded summer barbecue.
Bobby Flay’s Creamy Coleslaw embodies everything we adore about this classic summer side dish: It’s quick, easy and pairs perfectly with any and all forms of barbecue. We recommend using a touch of celery salt in addition to regular kosher salt, as it lends a subtle earthy note that cuts through the creaminess of the mayonnaise and sour cream.
Baked beans are typically quite sweet, and while the recipe for Mama Neely’s Baked Beans calls for molasses and brown sugar, they’re balanced by a generous helping of mustard, tangy apple cider vinegar and, most importantly, smoked sausage.
Mac and Cheese
You need only five ingredients to make this Classic Southern Macaroni and Cheese, all of which are probably stocked away in your pantry at this very moment. Combine everything in a dish, bake until golden brown and serve ample scoops alongside your favorite barbecue fare.