40+ Healthy Cookout Side Dishes
Over 40 nutritious side dishes to bring to summer cookouts, BBQs, and parties including salads, pasta dishes, vegetable sides, and dips. Plus, get the recipe for a fresh and simple summer fruit salad.
Summer is officially in full swing, and it’s time for cookouts and outdoor parties with friends and family. While classic cookout dishes like potato salad and corn have their place on the table, sometimes you want a more creative and healthier side dish to munch on with your burger.
As a Registered Dietitian, I love making and sharing healthy side dishes at cookouts. This recipe round up has you covered for all your side dish desires! Find recipes for pasta salad, green salads, vegetable sides, dips, and more.
Best types of healthy side dishes to serve at a cookout
Whether you’re hosting or bringing a side dish to a friend’s BBQ, there are so many delicious side dish recipes to choose from. Most cookouts will have main entrees off the grill like hamburgers, veggie burgers, salmon burgers, hot dogs, grilled chicken, or grilled kebabs. So, you’ll want to make sure your side dishes compliment a variety of protein choices. Some healthy cookout side dish ideas include:
- Pasta dishes
- Vegetable sides
- Grain based recipes
- Fruit salads
It’s also a good idea to serve appetizers or finger foods for guests to enjoy while the main meal is on the grill. I love to prepare a healthy dip recipe and serve it with chips, pita bread, and crunchy raw veggies.
What makes a recipe a good option for a cookout side?
It’s important to consider a few things when deciding on a recipe to make for a cookout side dish. Follow these simple guidelines to choose cookout side dish recipes:
- Easy to prepare ahead of time. A recipe that doesn’t need to be eaten right away is ideal for a summer cookout.
- Tastes good cold or at room temperature. Most cookout side dishes will be served room temperature or directly from the fridge. Choose recipes that don’t need to be served hot.
- Yields enough to feed a group. If a recipe normally only serves 3-4 people, you may want to double it for a cookout so everyone can have a taste. If you aren’t the host, check in with them to see approximately how many guests will be eating.
- Appeal to people with different dietary needs and preferences. If friends and family have different dietary needs, it’s nice to have one or two options that everyone can enjoy together.
Food safety tips for summer cookouts
When hosting or attending a summer BBQ, it’s super important to practice good food safety! Warm summer temperatures make it easy for foodborne bacteria to thrive, which can cause unwanted food poisoning.
- Food safety starts with safe preparation. Wash your hands frequently when preparing a recipe, especially if handling raw meat or fish. Thoroughly rinse raw fruits and vegetables in water before you cut them and add them to recipes.
- Avoid cross-contamination. Use separate knives, cutting boards, and utensils for high risk foods like raw egg, raw meat, poultry, and seafood. Keep these raw foods separate from other foods when stored in your refrigerator. Use separate, clean utensils and bowls for serving your prepared foods.
- Cook food to the proper internal temperature. Check using a food thermometer. Here are the minimum internal temperatures needed to kill off harmful foodborne bacteria:
- 145 degrees F for whole cuts of meat and for fish
- 160 degrees F for ground meat, like burgers
- 165 degrees F for poultry
- It’s important to keep side dishes within certain temperature ranges as well:
- Keep hot foods hot at or above 145 degrees F
- Keep cold foods cold at or below 40 degrees F
As a general rule of thumb, do not leave food out for over two hours, or over one hour if the temperature is above 90 degrees F. When in doubt, throw leftovers away if they’ve been sitting out for longer.
Below, find over 30 healthy summer cookout side dishes!
30+ healthy summer cookout sides
Herby Shaved Raw Cauliflower Salad with White Beans
This raw cauliflower salad recipe is a fantastic healthy side dish to make when you’re tired of green salads (or don’t want to turn on the oven). Raw cauliflower is shaved or sliced in a food processor and tossed with tons of fresh herbs, white beans, green olives, parmesan cheese, and a homemade white balsamic vinaigrette. No cooking required and ready to eat in about 20 minutes!
20-Minute Crunchy Kale Slaw with Apples
This kale and apple slaw is a delicious side dish for any meal. It’s got a cravable crunchy texture and is filled with nutritious ingredients including kale, green apples, cabbage, carrots, and almonds. It’s tossed in the most delicious creamy tahini apple cider dressing that everyone will love!
Strawberry Kale Salad with Goat Cheese
This strawberry kale salad with goat cheese and farro makes a light, healthy, and satisfying meal. It’s loaded with nutritious ingredients and flavor.
Burrata Panzanella Salad
This burrata panzanella is an Italian bread salad with juicy tomatoes, crunchy toasted bread, fresh basil, and creamy burrata cheese. It’s a simple and delicious summertime side dish ready in under 30 minutes. The best summer panzanella salad, elevated with creamy and rich burrata cheese! Wondering “what is panzanella“? It’s an Italian bread salad, made
Simple Kale and Romaine Salad
This simple kale and romaine salad is the perfect side salad to serve with any meal. It features a delicious homemade parmesan vinaigrette! It’s easy to make and ready to eat in about 15 minutes. As a Registered Dietitian, I love to throw together a simple side salad to have with pretty much any meal.
Nutritious Roasted Beet Salad with Feta Cheese
This simple beet and feta salad recipe features delicious and nutritious roasted beets. Roasting beets in the oven amplifies their sweetness and leads to the perfect fork-tender texture. They are perfect paired with creamy feta cheese, fresh dill, and a homemade white balsamic vinaigrette! You’ll love this easy and healthy beet salad recipe as a side dish with any meal.
Citrus, Beet, and Burrata Salad (Gluten Free)
This citrus, beet, and burrata salad is the perfect easy salad recipe to showcase winter produce this season. It’s packed with nutrients like antioxidants, vitamin C, and folate. Serve this as a tasty side dish with your holiday meal, or with any weeknight dinner! I have yet to eat a burrata salad I don’t love
Tomato Avocado Cucumber Salad
This tomato avocado cucumber salad celebrates the freshest summer produce! It’s SO easy to make, fresh, delicious, and healthy. Sometimes, the best dishes come together accidentally without a recipe, and become a favorite. This is one of those dishes! I made this tomato avocado cucumber salad without a plan, using ingredients I had on hand
Peach Caprese Salad with Heirloom Tomatoes (Gluten Free)
This peach caprese salad shouts “SUMMER!” from the rooftops. Filled with fresh peaches, heirloom tomatoes, and basil, it’s a super quick recipe to make with summer produce. It’s so easy to eat more produce during the summertime! Everything is so fresh, delicious, and abundant. From zucchini to corn to tomatoes, I love it all. Two
Authentic Greek Horiatiki Salad (Gluten Free)
This horiatiki salad is an authentic Greek dish that you won’t ever want to stop eating! Made with the freshest summer vegetables, olives, and feta cheese, this recipe is simple but so impressive. Newsflash: you’ve probably been doing Greek salads all wrong! If you’ve been to Greece, you’ll know that the horiatiki salad is the
Corn, Avocado, and Tomato Salad with Strawberries and Goat Cheese
This corn, avocado, and tomato salad just screams summer, with plenty of fresh produce, tangy goat cheese, and fragrant basil. It’s the perfect easy side dish to accompany your next dinner al fresco. Summer, can you please stay forever? I love the longer days, warm breezes, evening walks, and the bounty of summer produce. Ben
Burrata Salad with Tomatoes and Melon
This burrata salad is super simple to whip up. This recipe will impress your guests with its vibrant colors and delicious summer flavor! Burrata + tomatoes = the hottest couple of the summertime. The juicy tomatoes pair so well with creamy and rich burrata, especially with a little basil and balsamic. I love adding fresh
Watermelon Feta Salad with Cucumber and Mint
This watermelon feta salad is the most refreshing summer side dish. It’s the perfect post-beach or 4th of July Barbecue treat! All you need is five simple ingredients, one bowl, and 20 minutes to get this on the table. Raise your hand if you could eat an entire watermelon in one sitting…I know it’s not
Cold Bowtie Pasta Salad with Feta Cheese and Spinach
This cold bowtie pasta salad (or farfalle pasta salad) is perfect for cookouts or an easy weekday meal. Cooked and cooled al dente bowtie pasta is tossed with crumbled feta cheese, chopped spinach, green olives, sweet roasted cherry tomatoes, and pesto sauce – yum! Make your own pesto or use store-bought. It’s an easy, crowd-pleasing recipe that comes together in 30 minutes or less.
Healthy Tri-Color Pasta Salad with Spinach Basil Sauce
This tri-color rotini pasta salad is served cold, making it perfect for summertime gatherings. It features my popular spinach basil green sauce, which uses a whole bag of spinach (!) and provides vibrant green color and a pesto-like flavor. Toss cooked and cooled tri-color rotini with the homemade sauce along with cherry tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, and mini mozzarella balls for a nutritious and delicious cold pasta salad.
15-Minute Vegetarian Greek Tortellini Salad
This vegetarian Greek tortellini pasta salad is filled with lots of nutritious crunchy vegetables, cheese tortellini, kalamata olives, and feta cheese, all tossed a creamy homemade Greek yogurt dressing. Served cold, this tortellini salad is a delicious and filling weeknight meal (or cookout recipe for summer parties) that takes just 15 minutes to make!
Vegetarian Cold Taco Pasta Salad
You’re going to love this taco pasta salad recipe! It’s a cold pasta salad made with nutritious taco-inspired ingredients (corn, black beans, cilantro, avocado – yum)! Toss everything in a creamy homemade taco salad dressing. This crowd-pleaser vegetarian recipe comes together in 30 minutes or less. Perfect for summer cookouts!
Caprese Orzo Salad
Make this easy caprese orzo salad recipe for a simple and delicious side dish tonight. Mixed with homemade basil vinaigrette, it’s a great make ahead recipe, too! This caprese orzo pasta salad is bursting with cherry tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, and fresh basil. The simple flavors work wonderfully together when mixed with orzo pasta and a
Healthy Roasted Vegetable Pasta Salad
Make this healthy roasted vegetable pasta salad for dinner tonight, or your next outdoor cookout! Made with simple, nutritious ingredients, it’s easy to make and will satisfy everyone. Looking for an easy and healthy recipe to bring to all your summer cookouts? This healthy roasted vegetable pasta salad is perfect for just that! It’s filled
Kale Pesto Pasta
Whip up a batch of this kale pesto pasta for an easy, delicious, and filling weeknight meal. This dish comes together in under 30 minutes, and will satisfy everyone. Everyone needs a good pesto recipe in their back pocket. It’s an easy sauce to make, and can really elevate all sorts of meals. I would
Green Sauce for Pasta Recipe
This vibrant spinach and basil green sauce for pasta is a delicious way to get your greens in. Make it tonight for an easy weeknight dinner win, or meal prep a batch for a week of healthy eats!
Pasta Salad with Roasted Vegetables and Tuna
This easy pasta salad is an easy, light and refreshing recipe for warmer weather. The addition of canned tuna in olive oil gives this meal a delicious and filling boost of protein. Make it for dinner tonight and have leftovers tomorrow! I’m all about light, fresh, and filling meals these days. Once the days get
Romesco Potato Salad
If you’re not a fan of traditional, mayo-heavy potato salad, this romesco potato salad is for you! Soft potatoes are tossed in an addicting homemade romesco sauce for an flavorful summer side dish. Hot take: traditional potato salad doesn’t do it for me. I don’t love mayonnaise, and most potato salads I’ve tried lack flavor
Grilled Eggplant with Feta Cheese and Herbs
These light and fresh grilled eggplant slices are soft, tender, and are a perfect healthy side for a summer cookout. They’re even more delicious topped simply with feta cheese, fresh herbs, and lemon juice! As a Registered Dietitian, I look forward to all the fresh produce in abundance in the summer. I love to grill
Sweet and Smoky Baked Sweet Potato Fries
These baked sweet potato fries are loaded with sweet and smoky flavor! Seasoned with cinnamon and smoked paprika, you will want to make them again and again. They are so simple to make, and everyone will love them. I love sweet potatoes in pretty much every form. Roasted whole, mashed, in baked goods, and especially
Roasted Broccoli with Lemon Tahini Sauce
Bring your broccoli to the next level with this creamy, dreamy lemon tahini sauce! Everyone will love this healthy, addicting side dish. Do you have a favorite vegetable? I have to say mine is broccoli. I love it sauteed, steamed, on top of pizza, and tossed in pasta. Now, I ESPECIALLY love it drizzled with
Pesto tastes amazing on just about anything, and cauliflower is the perfect vehicle! This simple side dish features this versatile vegetable and a homemade vegan pesto. Have you made homemade pesto before? If not, now is the time! This vegan pesto is incredibly flavorful and easy to make. I love making homemade sauces, including pesto.
Moroccan Spiced Cauliflower
This Moroccan spiced cauliflower dish is the perfect combination of sweet and spicy, thanks to dates and ras-el-hanout spice. Everyone will love this side! Cauliflower is one of my favorite vegetables to experiment with. It’s become one of the best loved vegetables, because it can easily be transformed to pizza, rice, and even mac and
Quick & Healthy Red Quinoa Salad with Feta Cheese
This cold quinoa salad with feta cheese, chickpeas, vegetables, and fresh herbs is made with red quinoa and will be your new favorite healthy lunch recipe! Learn how to quickly cool down cooked quinoa to make a cold quinoa salad so the raw vegetables stay crunchy. Ready in under 30 minutes, this salad is perfect for meal prep and makes 4-6 servings.
Vegan Cilantro Lime Quinoa Salad with Avocado
This vegan cilantro lime quinoa salad with avocado is a healthy and delicious summer side dish. Make it in under 30 minutes for an easy weeknight recipe. As a Registered Dietitian, I love to incorporate lots of whole grains into my diet. Some of my favorites include brown rice, wild rice, farro, and quinoa! This
Farro Salad with Spice Roasted Vegetables and Feta Cheese
This farro salad is packed with spice roasted cauliflower and carrots, feta cheese, and a zesty, herby homemade dressing. Make it tonight for dinner and have leftovers for lunch! Grain salads – if you’ve been here before, you know I just love ’em! Grain salads end up being some of my all-time favorite recipes which
Farro Salad with Roasted Vegetables and Feta Cheese
This farro salad is the most delicious easy and healthy grain salad! It’s filled with roasted vegetables, creamy feta cheese, and crunchy walnuts, and is perfect for meal prep. I love experimenting with different whole grains in my kitchen. There are so many delicious options! Quinoa and brown rice are my usual staples, but lately
Mediterranean Quinoa Salad
This vegan, gluten free Mediterranean quinoa salad is the best make ahead recipe for a healthy lunch or dinner. It’s easy to make and super nutritious. You know those meals that you just feel HAPPY eating? This is one of them for me. Everything about this Mediterranean quinoa salad just makes me feel good. It’s
Greek Quinoa Salad with Lentils
This Greek quinoa salad recipe is so easy to make! It’s a perfect recipe for a warm summer day or meal prep, and is sure to please a crowd. If I had to choose one cuisine to eat for the rest of my life, I’d pick Greek. It has pretty much everything I love –
Pesto Zucchini Quinoa Salad
Put this delicious pesto zucchini quinoa salad recipe on your meal-prep menu for the week! It’s vegan, gluten free, and so easy to make. Pesto is one of those foods that I could eat every day. It’s such a versatile sauce. I love it on pizza, pasta, toast, and even with eggs! This homemade vegan
5-Minute Greek Yogurt Ranch Dip
This flavorful ranch dip is made with protein-packed Greek yogurt and a homemade ranch seasoning blend. It takes just five minutes to prepare. It’s the perfect healthy dip for veggies, chips, or pita. Make a batch to serve at your next gathering!
Healthy 5-Minute Greek Yogurt Dill Dip
This Greek yogurt dill dip is a delicious & nutritious snack or appetizer when served with raw vegetables, chips, pretzels, or pita bread. It’s made with Greek yogurt, so it’s loaded with high quality protein. You’ll love the fresh & zesty flavor of this creamy yogurt dill sauce – ready to eat in about 5 minutes!
5-Minute Creamy Avocado & Greek Yogurt Dip
This healthy avocado greek yogurt dip tastes amazing with veggies and chips or spread onto a sandwich. It features nutritious ingredients including avocado and plain Greek yogurt. Just blend everything together in your food processor to make this creamy dip in 5 minutes!
Protein-Packed Greek Yogurt Spinach Dip
This healthy spinach dip recipe is made with Greek yogurt so it’s loaded with high quality protein. It’s the perfect Greek yogurt dip for veggies, pita chips, pretzels, and even as a sandwich spread. Greek yogurt spinach dip is an excellent protein-rich snack or appetizer, and takes just about 10 minutes to prepare.
Traditional tzatziki sauce originates from Southeast Europe and the Middle East. It’s a yogurt based sauce mixed with cucumbers, fresh herbs, garlic, salt, and lemon. It’s incredibly refreshing and versatile!
You can use tzatziki sauce as a dip with vegetables and pita, as a creamy salad dressing, a sandwich spread, or paired with grilled vegetables, tofu, fish, or falafel. Tzatziki sauce is vegetarian (contains dairy) and gluten free.
Nutritious Homemade Beet Tzatziki Dip
This homemade tzatziki recipe uses creamy Greek yogurt, grated beets, fresh herbs, and lemon to create a dip that takes just 10 minutes to prepare! It takes just a few minutes to make, and everyone will love it! As a Registered Dietitian, it’s no surprise that I love to make all sorts of healthy homemade
The Best Homemade Guacamole
There are few better snacks than tortilla chips and guacamole. All you need is 10 minutes and 7 ingredients to make the best homemade guacamole that rivals your favorite restaurant! Stop buying store bought guacamole and make your own Guacamole is one of the best ways to enjoy avocado. It goes with pretty much everything
Loaded Greek Salad Hummus For a Crowd
What’s your favorite appetizer to snack on at parties? One of my go-to choices is a hummus! It’s a humble yet nutritious food, packed with plant based protein and healthy fats. You can use veggie sticks, better-for-you crackers or whole wheat pita for dipping to up the nutrition factor. Pulses, which include beans, lentils, peas
Dreamy Pink Beet + White Bean Dip
First recipe of 2019! I hope you all had a happy New Year’s Eve and are feeling ready to conquer any goals you may have set for yourself. I’m not huge on resolutions, but I am committed to using less plastic this year! Have you guys set any for 2019? New Years is probably the
Easy Vegan Queso with Oven Roasted Potato Wedges
You’re going to want to dip everything in this vegan queso! Made with simple, nutritious ingredients, it’s super easy to prepare. It’s downright addicting paired with these chili spiced, oven roasted potato wedges. I’m a sauce person. How about you? I firmly believe that sauces and dips can make the meal. Enter this vegan queso.
Fruit Salad (recipe below)
Fruit salad is a classic healthy summer side dish. You can use any fruit you want from pineapple to melon to grapes. I took advantage of all the summer fruits in season right now, and loaded this fruit salad up with peaches, berries, and kiwi.
Sometimes I like to add fresh mint to fruit salad. It adds incredibly refreshing flavor that compliments the sweet fruit so nicely! I don’t like to add dressing to fruit salad, because the fruit is sweet and flavorful enough on it’s own.
How to make summer fruit salad
Fruit salad is so easy to make. Just wash your fruits in cold water, chop them up, and add them to a big mixing bowl. Gently mix everything together and you are ready to dig in!
I recommend preparing this fruit salad the day you plan to serve it. You can definitely make it in the morning and put it in the fridge for a few hours before you plan to eat it.
Leftover fruit salad is good for 1-2 days in the fridge, but the fruit may soften and start to brown as it sits.Print
This summer fruit salad is a healthy and easy side dish for a gathering. It’s filled with peaches, berries, kiwi and (optional) fresh mint.
- 3 peaches, cubed or sliced
- 3 kiwis, peeled and cubed
- 2 cups strawberries, stems removed and halved
- 2 cups blackberries
- 1 cup blueberries
- 1/4 cup fresh mint, chopped (optional)
- Add the fruit and mint to a large mixing bowl.
- Stir everything together to combine.
I recommend preparing this fruit salad the day you plan to serve it. You can definitely make it in the morning and put it in the fridge for a few hours before you plan to eat it.
Leftover fruit salad is good for 1-2 days in the fridge, but the fruit may soften and start to brown as it sits. You can add a squeeze of lemon juice to prevent browning.
Feel free to swap out the fruit for other varieties, like pineapple, melon, or grapes.
Keywords: summer fruit salad, fruit salad with mint