Summer BBQ Menu: The Best Apps, Sides, and Desserts

Last Update: September 27, 2022

When you’re firing up the grill for a backyard cookout, don’t forget about the unsung heroes of your menu: appetizers, sides, and desserts. Today’s post has more than 20 great summer BBQ ideas, so there’s something for everyone. If you need to brush up on your outdoor cooking techniques, don’t miss our guide to all things grilling with safety recommendations and tips for both gas and charcoal grills.

Best Summer Appetizers

Need an easy summer BBQ menu? Start with one of these delicious appetizers to whet your appetite for the main event.

Creamy Avocado Dip

No healthy summer BBQ menu is complete without a tricked out dip. Instead of heavy sour cream, lighten things up with creamy avocado, garlic powder, and cilantro. Bonus: This dish is gluten-free and dairy-free.

Almond Hummus

Not to be outdone by avocado, almond hummus is a stellar addition to your outdoor feast. Instead of traditional chickpeas, just soak almonds and add flavor with tahini, garlic, and fresh sage. It’s make-ahead snack perfection!

Almond Hummus

Keto-Friendly Veggie Chips

Sure, you can open a bag of chips and call it a day, but why not make your own batch of keto-friendly vegetable chips? This recipe makes good use of the air fryer, and you can try zucchini chips, kale chips, or eggplant chips.

Greek Salad Skewers With Dill Dressing

Salad on a stick isn’t just a fad—it’s a super practical way to serve your greens. This recipe is layered with Greek ingredients like oregano, dill, kalamata olives, and feta cheese.

Easy Rosé Ice Pops

Does a drink count as an appetizer? We say yes. Summer BBQ cocktail recipes are just as essential as chips and dips, and this adults-only spin on ice pops makes the most of everyone’s favorite pink wine. (FYI: This will definitely be in the running for best frozen appetizer.)

Watermelon Gazpacho

Soup in July is highly recommended—so long as it’s chilled. This refreshing sip blends up tomatoes, cucumber, and spicy jalapeño for a make-ahead dish that’s the perfect summer appetizer.

Watermelon gazpacho

Best Summer Side Dishes

Yes, we’ve got all the summer BBQ potato recipes you need, plus lots of recipes for summer BBQ salads, and our favorite grilled corn ever.

Summer Veggies With Orange Brown Butter

Is it even a barbecue without potatoes? Sauteéd Vegetables With Orange Brown Butter bring extra flair to your dinner, and feature peak seasonal produce such as snap pas, green beans, and creamy potatoes. Instead of staying indoors, you can cook this dish right on the grill in a cast iron skillet.

Cold German Potato Salad

Here’s our second summer BBQ potato recipe: a German-inspired potato salad that can be prepped ahead and served chilled. This dish is made with paleo-friendly mayo, apple cider vinegar, and pantry spices.

Grilled Romaine Salad

Grilled salad will definitely wow your guests. Just throw sturdy romaine on the grates for a couple of minutes for added smoky flavor. It’s easily one of the best side dishes for salmon, burgers, and kabobs.

Grilled romaine salad

Keto Wedge Salad Toasts

You can never have too many salad recipes, if you ask us. This recipe is deconstructed, making it easy to eat and a real showstopper. Each piece has a small wedge of lettuce, crispy bacon, and juicy tomato.

Heirloom Tomato Salad

When heirloom tomatoes are ripe at the market, it’s best to keep things simple. All you need to do to create a stunning summer appetizer is drizzle the tomato slices with EVOO and add a sprinkle of flaky salt.

Tomato olive oil salad

White Bean and Herb Zucchini Noodles

To accompany heavier meats, lighten your side offerings with a spiralized zucchini salad. Cannellini beans add extra protein, and fresh herbs jazz up every bite.

White Bean and Herb Zucchini Noodles

Grilled Corn With Chipotle-Lime Mayo

Grilled corn is a summer staple. This recipe is a take on Mexican street corn, and slathers the smoky ears with mayo before sprinkling on feta cheese, lime juice, and cilantro.

Mexican street corn

Zucchini Pizza Boats

For vegetarians, you can’t go wrong with zucchini pizza boats. This carb-free side dish has all the classic pizza ingredients like melty mozzarella and fresh basil, all contained in a tender “zucchini boat.”

Zucchini Pizza Boats

Best Summer Desserts

You need the best desserts for a summer BBQ, and we’ve got ’em. Lots of fruit make an appearance (naturally), plus make-ahead ice pops for the perfect ending.

Tropical Green Ice Pops

Ice pops are definitely on the menu. No one will question the good-for-you factor when you blend banana, avocado, coconut water, and spinach.

Green popsicles

Grilled Peaches With Yogurt and Granola

Keep the grill on and char some fresh peaches for this summertime dessert. Finish each serving with vanilla yogurt (or ice cream), crunchy granola, and a drizzle of honey.

Grilled peaches with yogurt and granola

Balsamic-Blueberry Chia Ice Pops

Ready to make the best healthy summer dessert? Start with superfood chia seeds, juicy blueberries, and a touch of balsamic vinegar—this sweet treat will make everyone happy.

Blueberry chia popsicles

Coconut Cream Berry Tart

Have you seen a more beautiful berry tart? This impressive dessert really highlights the bounty of summer berries, and the recipe is gluten-free, dairy-free, and paleo.

Best Chocolate Dessert: Skillet Brownies

Just add ice cream! That’s our philosophy when it comes to serving up a serving of vegan skillet brownies. These are so decadent and tender, you won’t be able to resist an extra bite.

Earl Grey Peach Slab Pie

Slab pie? Yes, please! This treat combines the lemony flavor of Earl Grey tea with juicy peaches, cardamom, and cinnamon.

Peach slab pie

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Nicole Gulotta

Nicole Gulotta is a writer, author, and tea enthusiast.

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