How do you choose what to serve with barbecue chicken? For a full-on feast, consider a variety of textures and flavors in your side dishes.
BBQ chicken is grilled, smoked, or barbecued parts of the chicken, often coated or seasoned with barbecue sauce, spice, or both. This seasoning or marinade is also used to add flavor and tenderize the meat, making BBQ chicken the star of any summer cookout.
From classic starch options to lighter vegetable options, these delicious plates are perfect pairing plates for barbecues and weeknight meals.
Serve your barbecue chicken with homemade cornbread, potato salad, creamy coleslaw, grilled veggies, sweet and salty baked beans, or chili.
These are savory sides that will amp up the protein for sure.
01. Southwest Pasta Salad
This fresh pasta salad captures the flavors of summer with crisp veggies and tangy dressing. Plus, you can eat the leftovers for a light lunch or dinner the next day, so make a lot!
If you’re strapped for time, use bottled ranch dressing. Or try vinaigrette or blue cheese dressing for a different twist.
But if you use bottled sauce, don’t skip the cilantro: fresh herbs bump up the flavor of any dish.
You can make this easy side ahead of time because the flavors just get better overnight!
02. Cowboy Beans
Don’t reach for a can of baked beans when you can make this hearty side!
Cowboy beans have lots of different names, but this side is essentially a tangy pot of chili. However, it cooks in the oven, so it’s much more hands-off than stove chili.
Since this side is basically a meal by itself, you can even skip the BBQ chicken and serve this over pasta. Or, spoon it on hard rolls as sloppy joes.
Don’t forget the melted cheddar cheese on top!
03. Baked Sweet Potatoes
By stuffing sweet potatoes with shredded chicken, this clever dish combines a main and sides into one delicious bite!
For a backyard gathering, you could set up a buffet bar with lots of different toppings for each baked potato. Set out a mix of options that offer different flavors and textures.
For example, crunchy diced onion, sweet pickle relish, or tangy feta cheese are all delicious. And BBQ sauce, of course!
Or, use leftover BBQ chicken for a quick weeknight dinner.
04. Potato Salad
Creamy potato salad is a classic barbecue side, and it’s often dry and flavorless. But not this one!
The dressing has Greek yogurt and dill pickle juice for tanginess. And while the dijon mustard adds a little heat, you could also add a dash of hot sauce.
As well, the fillings add even more texture and depth. Hard-boiled eggs and bacon may sound like breakfast, but they’re also awesome additions to potato salad.
However, if you’re serving vegetarians, swap sliced black olives for the bacon.
05. Sweet Potato Fries
In my top 3 most delicious side dishes of all time, French fries always top the list. I love my potatoes however you slice them.
And this dish is no exception! The sweetness of these fries pairs perfectly with smoky grilled meats.
If you prefer a bolder seasoning, add some chili powder to the salt, pepper, and garlic powder mix. Or, make a spicy ketchup for dipping.
You can also make potato wedges instead of fries — just cook them for a little longer in the oven.
06. Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes
While potato flakes are convenient, they never taste the same as the real thing! These mashed potatoes have a creamy texture and rich garlic flavor, and they’re perfect for a BBQ chicken dinner or holiday feast.
Roasting the garlic gives you a much richer flavor than boiling the cloves with the potatoes. Also, it will make your kitchen smell divine!
As well, never mash potatoes in a blender or stand mixer. Instead, do it by hand or in a ricer so they don’t get gluey.
07. Grilled Vegetable Salad
Grilled vegetables are a delicious and healthy option to go with chicken, especially if the barbecue is already hot!
There are also endless variations depending on the veggies you choose. So, check out the local farmer’s market or roadside stand for the freshest produce.
If you want to make this ahead, chop the veggies and make the vinaigrette beforehand. Then grill everything and drizzle on the dressing before serving.
This is also an easy recipe to adapt for a vegan barbecue — just skip the cheese.
08. Garlic Parmesan Green Beans
I could eat a whole plate of these savory green beans and skip the BBQ chicken! The tender beans melt in your mouth, and the parmesan topping is delightfully crispy.
If you want tons of topping, add an additional handful of parmesan, but no more than a cup. And since parmesan is very salty, add the salt a little at a time, tasting as you go.
Also, use fresh green beans instead of frozen. Frozen beans will be very wet, and they won’t have the right texture.
09. Corn Salad
What’s a summer barbecue without fresh corn? Instead of getting your fingers buttery on a cob, try this refined corn salad.
The crunchy veggies and fresh basil are very refreshing, and the apple cider vinegar adds a fruity twist to the dressing. However, you could also use rice vinegar if you prefer a milder flavor.
And if the dressing tastes too sour, add a pinch of brown sugar for some sweetness.
10. Chick-fil-A Sauce
If you’re craving comfort food, you can easily make this Chick-fil-A sauce in your own kitchen. While originally intended for nuggets, it’s a delicious accompaniment to grilled chicken, burgers, or ribs.
This is a rich, creamy sauce made from 5 staple ingredients like mayo and barbecue sauce. And it takes less than 5 minutes to make!
Plus, you can change the ratios to suit your tastes. And if you’d like a bit more spice, add a dash of hot sauce or a pinch of cayenne pepper.
11. Brown Rice
Brown rice can sound boring, but not this dish! The Mexican spices add pep, and brown rice has a nice bite to it that white rice lacks.
This is a classic side dish for Cinco de Mayo parties. And it pairs really well with grilled meats and refried beans.
For presentation, add some chopped cilantro on top. And if you’re serving vegetarians, simply use veggie stock instead of chicken broth.
12. French Fries
Here’s another delicious French fry recipe with terrific flavor. And no oil splatters!
Coat these oven-baked fries in spices including chili powder, pepper, sugar, and salt. In the oven, this will create a crunchy coating.
These fries turn out best in a convection oven, but you’ll still have a great-tasting dish in a conventional one.
And you can experiment with different spice blends such as steak seasoning, berbere mix, or tandoori seasoning. Make these fries your own!
13. Cucumber Salad
How do you cool yourself off on a hot day? With a creamy cold salad!
Cucumber is an excellent choice for a barbecue side because it’s a very refreshing vegetable. So, this salad pairs well with heavier meals like BBQ chicken or grilled meats.
You can quickly slice the cucumbers with a mandoline. But if you don’t have one, you can always use a sharp kitchen knife.
This salad tastes best if it sits for at least an hour before serving. That way, the flavors can meld.
When you’re tired of the classic coleslaw, take a trip to the islands with this Hawaiian version!
The crushed pineapple and cilantro lighten up the mayo dressing. And these summery flavors pair really well with tangy barbecue sauce.
To minimize prep time, use bagged coleslaw mix. Or, you can shred your own cabbage and carrots.
If the coleslaw tastes too sour, add a little brown sugar. And if it’s too sweet, add a bit more vinegar.
Also, let this salad marinate for a few hours before serving.
15. Pita Bread
Don’t be scared of making homemade bread — it’s not hard! And pita pockets are a delicious way to make BBQ chicken sandwiches.
You cook these pitas over the stove instead of in the oven, so you have lots of control. But plan ahead because it takes about 3 and a half hours to make them.
Also, don’t worry if yours don’t have pockets. The flavor will still be incredible!
16. Grilled Corn on the Cob
Fresh corn on the cob is the taste of summer. And this is an easy side dish if you’ve already heated your barbecue.
When you grill the corn, you get a smoky, caramelized flavor. Then top that with herb-and-garlic butter, and you have a winning combination.
You can go classic and just slather on the plain butter and salt. Or you can experiment with different flavored butters.
For example, add cilantro, lime, and chili powder for Mexican corn. Or, add parmesan cheese and Italian seasoning.
17. Macaroni Salad
In under half an hour, you can make classic macaroni salad that tastes way better than store-bought.
This dressing starts with a classic mayonnaise base. But the author boosts the flavor with mustard, onion powder, and chopped green onions.
While macaroni is classic, you can use any pasta shape you like. For example, I enjoy using mini shells or rotini.
18. Corn Pudding
This southern recipe serves up classic comfort. The creamy texture and sweet corn flavor make this the perfect BBQ side.
Also, there are endless variations! For a Mexican version, add chopped jalapeños and a little cotija or pepper jack cheese.
Or, add garlic powder and chopped chives if you like your sides more savory.
The best part of this recipe is that the prep only takes 5 minutes. That leaves you free to work on your chicken while the pudding is cooking!
Skip the Jiffy corn muffin mix, because homemade cornbread is really easy!
Soft and moist, this cornbread is great for snacking or soaking up the barbecue chicken drippings. And for breakfast, you could bake this in muffin tins.
If you can’t find buttermilk, just add a tablespoon of vinegar to a cup of milk. Let it sit for 5 minutes, and — voila! –you have buttermilk.
In this recipe, three simple ingredients come together to make magic. Into the oven go flour, buttermilk, and butter – and out come tender, flaky biscuits.
These southern biscuits are a classic side for barbecues. And they go with everything!
So whether you’re serving BBQ chicken, ribs, or chili, bake up a batch or two.
The key to flaky biscuits is to keep the ingredients cold. So, keep your butter frozen!
What to Serve With BBQ Chicken
- Southwest Pasta Salad
- Cowboy Beans
- Baked Sweet Potatoes
- Potato Salad
- Sweet Potato Fries
- Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes
- Grilled Vegetable Salad
- Garlic Parmesan Green Beans
- Corn Salad
- Chick-fil-A Sauce
- Brown Rice
- French Fries
- Cucumber Salad
- Pita Bread
- Grilled Corn on the Cob
- Macaroni Salad
- Corn Pudding
- Choose your sides.
- Barbecue your chicken.
- Have a party!