May is National Barbecue Month and many of us are starting to dust off our grills. Our ovens will soon go into hibernation for the summer and our forks will stay in the utensil drawer as we reach for finger food until the sun goes down.
Barbecue is a social eating experience best enjoyed in the outdoors. That’s why cul-de-sac after cul-de-sac at military housing areas around the world will begin the summer barbecue season with a potluck on Memorial Day weekend.
I personally love eating outdoors surrounded by my friends. But I often fret about which side dish or dessert to bring to the neighborhood barbecue. I want to bring a dish that is familiar to my friends, but not boring. I aim for food that people will eat so I don’t have any leftovers. Finally, I am thrilled when a fellow military spouse asks for my recipe. Her request is the highest form of flattery for this amateur cook.
Here are 6 super simple side dishes that you can take to your next neighborhood barbecue.
Bacon Ranch Potato Salad
Potato salad can be tricky. I once had a neighbor who tried to make a healthy potato salad. It was a disaster because the words “healthy” or “light” are not intended to accompany potato salad. A delicious potato salad has tender red potatoes that aren’t mushy. Mushy potatoes turn potato salad into potato soup. Try this Bacon Ranch Potato Salad for a flavorful side dish.
Citrus Cole Slaw
The barbecue side dish counterpart to potato salad is coleslaw. People often prefer one over the other. Coleslaw by definition is chopped raw cabbage moistened with mayonnaise. That’s your starting point for coleslaw. Recipes, like this Citrus Cole Slaw, surprise your taste buds with subtle orange juice sweetness.
Lowfat Chuckwagon Beans
This recipe is low in fat and high in protein and fiber. It’s also very affordable. You could nearly feed an Army with the Lowfat Chuckwagon Beans. When I need a low-cost option for a potluck, I turn to this baked beans recipe.
Mighty Macaroni Salad
Need to bring a side dish to a neighborhood barbecue on Friday night? This Macaroni Salad is a great option because you can assemble it ahead of time and put it in the fridge. It makes 34 servings so make sure that there will be a crowd at the barbecue to devour this side dish.
When you are really scratching your head trying to decide what to bring to a neighborhood barbecue, keep it simple. Make a batch of homemade guacamole and grab a bag of tortilla chips. It’s a simple and safe choice. Plus it tastes so much better than that lumpy green stuff from the store.
Chocolate Brownie Cupcakes
Offering to bring a dessert is always a great option for a neighborhood potluck. Many people will pass by a table of side dishes, but few will decline a dessert. I find myself rotating between baking brownies or cupcakes. Then I found this recipe and the problem was solved—brownies packaged in cupcakes. Top the Chocolate Brownie Cupcakes with your favorite frosting and be ready to share the recipe with your neighbors. I guaranteed they will ask for it.