Add Flair To Your BBQ With These Delicious Summer Sides – Zenwise Add Flair To Your BBQ With These Delicious Summer Sides – Zenwise
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Add Flair To Your BBQ With These Delicious Summer Sides


Searching for the best side dishes to round out your next all-star cookout? We suggest adding some of these old [and new!] favorites to your BBQ rotation.

While some classics should never be challenged, only improved [we’re looking at you, baked beans!], other sides can handle a shake-up [like our sweet-and-tangy coleslaw that holds the mayo, thank you.]

Before we get started on the sides…let’s discuss dining al fresco safely. We suggest keeping your sides refrigerated or stashed in a cooler with ice packs until serving time. And never let your food sit outside in the heat for more than 2 hours. 

Nothing takes the bite out of outdoor BBQs like when you have to fight off mosquitos, horseflies, and no see ‘ems.  Believe it or not, setting up a couple of portable fans will help keep the bugs away and provide a nice cool breeze, which will be very welcomed in the hot summer heat.

Certain herbs can repel insects as well…and offer a bit of décor while you’re at it. Fill some vases with a combo of basil, mint, rosemary, and lavender and scatter them around your buffet table.

Now, back to those sides….


Crunchy Thai Cucumber Salad

Thai cucumber salad is the perfect accompaniment with rich, hearty dishes since it’s so light and crunchy.

The dressing combines lime juice, garlic, fish sauce and sugar for the perfect blend of umami. The salad ingredients couldn’t be simpler. Cucumber, red onion, jalapenos, parsley, and cilantro. Add some roasted salty peanuts for extra protein and texture. 

You can mix the dressing up to 3 days beforehand. Just add it to the salad about 30 minutes before serving. That’s long enough for the veggies to marinate in the dressing without becoming soggy.


Why We Love These Ingredients

Cucumbers are mostly water with some important electrolytes, so they’re mega-hydrators. Plus, it’s high fiber content means it’s a BFF for your gut health. Cukes also contain antioxidants like beta carotene and flavonoids, which help fight inflammation and protect cells from chronic disease.

Limes are good for your digestion from the first bite!  The acids in lime help your saliva break down food and stimulate the secretion of digestive juices. They also contain vitamin C and antioxidants that strengthen collagen. Research also shows that lime juice can hydrate and rejuvenate your skin. 


Pro Tips to Get You Started

Slice the cucumbers in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds with a spoon. Otherwise, the salad will become watery.  This salad will keep in the refrigerator for 3-4 days, but the cucumbers will lose some of their crunch. For best results, serve within one day. 

Don’t like heat? Just leave out the jalapeño. Or, if you like extra heat just substitute some Thai chiles.


Crunchy Thai Cucumber Salad




  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1 tsp fish sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, sliced thin 
  • 1 clove minced garlic 
  • 2 Tablespoons avocado or canola oil 
  • 2 English cucumbers (cut lengthwise, seeded, and thinly sliced into half-moons)
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro 
  • 1/2 small red onion, sliced thin  
  • Kosher salt ( to taste)
  • 1/2 cup roasted peanuts, loosely chopped


  • In a large bowl, whisk the lime juice with the fish sauce, sugar, chiles, garlic and oil. 
  • Add the cucumbers, cilantro, peanuts, and onion and toss to coat.
  • Refrigerate until ready to serve.


Hold-The-Mayo Red Cabbage Coleslaw

Look—we know mayo is wonderful…but we think this non-dairy version tastes even  better. This Red Cabbage Slaw contains super simple ingredients and is drizzled with a sweet and sour vinegar-based dressing. Since there’s no mayo, it holds up well in the summer heat, and it goes perfectly with ribs, pulled pork or virtually any outdoor BBQ dish!

Why We Love These Ingredients

Red cabbage contains sulforaphane, a potent inflammation fighter. What’s more, the insoluble fiber in red cabbage prevents constipation, promotes regularity, and eases GI symptoms. It’s also high in immune-boosting vitamin C.

You probably know that carrots are packed with vision-boosting vitamin A. But did you also know that it can promote healthy blood sugar and blood pressure levels? In addition to the fiber carrots provide, they're chock-full of water—a carrot is actually 88% water. What's more, carrots are low in calories and can help you feel full faster.


Pro Tips to Get You Started

You can shred the cabbage and carrots up to five days ahead of time. If you want to make everything super simple, use pre-shredded cabbage and carrots.  If you would like a little heat, a pinch of red pepper flakes will be perfect. 

To conserve the crunch, add the dressing right before you’re ready to serve. Then toss everything together and enjoy. Any leftovers will last in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. 


Hold-the-Mayo Red Cabbage Coleslaw

PREP TIME: 10 minutes



  • ½ head red cabbage shredded
  • ½ head green cabbage shredded
  • 3 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 carrot grated
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon honey
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/8 tsp celery seed
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Add cabbage and carrot to a large bowl.
  2. Whisk together apple cider vinegar, honey, olive oil and salt. Pour over cabbage mixture.
  3. Toss well to combine. Season with additional salt and pepper, to taste.


Warm German Potato Salad

This delicious warm German Potato Salad combines tender potatoes with a warm bacon-mustard vinaigrette dressing. It’s tangy, creamy and the perfect side dish for the summer grilling season. 

Made with just a handful of ingredients, it comes together in about 25 minutes. And because this potato salad is served warm, there’s no waiting for your potatoes to cool after cooking or worrying about how to keep it cold outside.

Even better, dressing those potatoes while they’re warm helps them absorb even more of the delicious, sweet n’ tangy bacon vinaigrette dressing. And it’s the perfect match for smokey BBQ fare.


Why We Love These Ingredients

Potatoes—so delicious, versatile, and gut friendly! Potatoes are full of “resistant starch”. This starch makes its home in your large intestine,  where it acts like a prebiotic, or food source, for good bacteria.

Resistant starch also creates a short-chain fatty acid called butyrate. Butyrate acts like an energy source for your gut, protects its lining and controls intestinal inflammation.

Bacon contains some essential micronutrients, including potassium, which supports bone health, heart health, muscle strength and prevents high blood pressure. Bacon is also a good source of choline, a compound which helps promote memory health.


Warm German Style Potato Salad



SERVINGS:  4 people


  • 2 pounds medium red potatoes
  • 4 strips bacon (cut into ½” pieces)
  • 1 red onion (diced)
  • ½ cup minced celery 
  • 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar [or white vinegar
  • 1 ½ Tablespoons coarse mustard
  • ½ tsp sugar
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • ¼ cup chopped parsley


  1. Place potatoes in a large pot and cover with water by 2 inches .Season the water generously with salt. Bring to a boil and cook for 10-15 minutes, until just tender. Drain.
  2. While the potatoes are still warm, peel and slice, or cube them, into a large serving bowl.
  3. Meanwhile, cook the sliced bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until browned, about 5-6 minutes stirring occasionally. Transfer the bacon to a plate topped with paper towels to drain. Pour out all but 2 tablespoons bacon fat from the pan.
  4. Add the onion to the bacon fat. Season with a pinch of salt and sauté for about 3-4 minutes, until softened.
  5. Whisk in 1/4 cup water, vinegar, mustard, sugar, salt, and pepper.
  6. Bring to a simmer, then take off heat pour over potatoes. Toss to coat.
  7. Add the bacon, celery, and parsley. Season with additional salt and pepper, to taste. Serve warm or at room temperature.


Homestyle Baked Beans

Here’s a kicked-up version of the classic favorite!  For this summer-perfect side, we take your favorite barbeque sauce and dress it up with more brown sugar and a dash of apple cider vinegar. Bacon and lean ground beef add smokey flavor and more protein, making this side almost a meal in itself!

These beans can be made up to 3 days in advance, covered, and stored in refrigerator. Let come to room temperature before reheating.


Why We Love These Ingredients

Beans are a great way to get low-fat, low-calorie protein and some gut-friendly fiber! Research shows that obese men on a protein-rich diet lost more weight with beans as their top protein source.

Studies also show that beans can lower your LDL "bad" cholesterol and support overall cardio health.

Apple cider vinegar contains antimicrobial and antioxidant compounds that support overall immunity. Research shows it can reduce blood sugar levels, lower cholesterol, and protect your heart.

Another study claimed that apple cider vinegar twice a day helped people following a reduced-calorie diet lose a few extra pounds.


Homestyle Baked Beans






  • 3 bacon slices
  • 1 pound 85% lean ground beef
  • ¾ cup finely chopped sweet yellow onion [Vidalia or similar]
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • ½ tsp cracked black pepper
  • 1 cup of your favorite barbecue sauce
  • ¼ cup light brown sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 (22-ounce) cans baked beans




  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Place bacon slices in a single layer in a 12-inch skillet. Cook over medium-low, flipping occasionally, until browned and crisp, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer bacon to a plate lined with paper towels, reserve drippings in skillet.
  2. Increase heat under skillet to medium. Add ground beef. Cook, stirring occasionally, until beef is crumbly and just browned, about 6 minutes. Remove from heat. Push beef to one side of skillet; tilt skillet to let drippings drain to empty side. Using paper towels, carefully soak up drippings, discard.
  3. Return skillet to heat over medium, and add onion, garlic, salt, and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is softened, about 5 minutes. Add barbecue sauce, brown sugar, vinegar, paprika, and cinnamon; stir until well combined. Stir in baked beans, and bring mixture to a simmer over medium, stirring often. Pour mixture into a 2 1/2-quart baking dish.
  4. Bake beans, uncovered, in preheated oven until bubbling in center, about 50 minutes. Crumble bacon evenly over top and bake an additional 10 minutes. Let cool 10-15 minutes before serving.




Recipe sources

Baked Beans

Mayo Free Cole Slaw

German Potato Salad

Thai Cucumber Salad

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