This article was updated on 4th August 2023 for clarity and to include seasonal updates.
If you’re wondering what to serve with your BBQ ribs, you’ve come to the right place. In this article, I list 51 of the most popular side dishes for BBQ ribs.
In a rush? Here’s the short answer.
The best side dishes to serve with BBQ ribs are potato salad, broccoli slaw, fried okra, smoked mac and cheese, and sweet and spicy cornbread. You can also serve pineapple fried rice, avocado pasta salad, and bourbon baked beans. Want a spicy, tang kick? Try quick cucumber kimchi.
Pairing ribs with comfort food is a no-brainer, no matter what the occasion is. These sides offer hearty, filling flavors that stand up well to the robust flavor profile of BBQ ribs.
Sweet and spicy cornbread
A barbecue party wouldn’t be complete without cornbread on the menu, and this recipe is one of my favorites.
It yields soft, moist cornbread with the right balance of heat and sweetness thanks to the diced jalapeños and the addition of condensed milk. Nicole uses two jalapeños in the recipe, but you can stick with one pepper if you prefer a milder heat.
Why we love this recipe: it’ll make your kitchen smell amazing.
Creamed spinach is usually served with steak, but it’s fantastic with BBQ ribs too.
Salt and Lavender uses a combination of heavy cream, cream cheese, and Parmesan to create a rich creamy cheese sauce that coats the tender spinach leaves, mellowing out your BBQ ribs’ savory, smoky flavors.
Psst… don’t skip the nutmeg in the recipe. It really helps round out the dish’s flavor profile.
Why we love this recipe: it has a nice festive feel to it.
Smoked mac and cheese
You’re missing out big time if you’ve never tried smoking your mac and cheese. It’s a game-changer.
It requires more effort, and you’ll need to be patient because you’ll have to cook the mac and cheese and then leave it in the smoker for 45 minutes. But I promise you it’s worth it, especially once you throw fall-off-the-bone BBQ ribs into the mix. Sounds heavenly, right?
Why we love this recipe: it’s the result of lots of tests and trials.
Cajun sweet potato wedges
Fries are tasty, but I’m more of a wedges kind of gal. With these treats, you still get a crisp exterior, but with lots more potato-ey goodness.
These sweet potato wedges are flavored with a bold Cajun spice blend, giving you an addictive sweet and savory flavor combo to match your sticky ribs. But you can switch it up with other blends like Old Bay or even Italian seasoning if you’re not a fan of spicy food.
Psst… don’t forget the dipping sauce.
Why we love this recipe: the oven does all the work for you.
Apple butter bourbon baked beans
You didn’t think the list would end without mentioning baked beans, did you? But these aren’t any old baked beans.
Olive and Mango add apple butter to bring a sweet, fruity note you can’t get with only molasses or sugar. You can also use applesauce if you can’t find it, but it won’t be quite the same.
Enjoy these baked beans alongside your sticky BBQ ribs and save the rest for the next day’s breakfast.
Why we love this recipe: everything is cooked in one pot.
Serving vegetables is a great way to add balance and a pop of color to your plate of rich ribs. They also provide a variety of nutrients, ensuring your BBQ feast isn’t just delicious but also wholesome.
Grilled vegetables with chimichurri sauce
Grilling is an easy way to spruce up veggies. They get a lovely char and a smoky dimension that pairs well with BBQ ribs.
Some recipes recommend soaking the veggies in a marinade to give them extra flavor, but this recipe from Foodie Crush skips this step. The grilled veggies are instead drizzled with chimichurri sauce before serving, instantly adding a bright, tangy bite.
Why we love this recipe: you can grill any vegetables you have on hand.
Bring a tasty Southern twist to your barbecue spread with a platter of fried okra. They’re extra crispy, with a hint of heat, thanks to seasoned flour and cornmeal coating.
If you’re worried about your okra getting slimy, don’t stress. Copy Kat has two tips to help you out. The first is to cut the okra into bigger pieces to avoid releasing the slime from the pods. The second tip is to soak the okra slices in white vinegar for about 30 minutes before breading them.
Follow these and you’re guaranteed slime-free fried okra in no time.
Why we love this recipe: these addicting morsels are a guaranteed crowd-pleaser.
Grilled bacon-wrapped corn on the cob
Anything wrapped in bacon is always fabulous, like this jazzed-up corn on the cob.
As the bacon crisps up over the grill, it infuses your naturally sweet corn with its smoky, umami flavors. And the cherry on top is the finger-licking good honey chipotle glaze.
Psst… not a fan of corn? You can give asparagus spears the same bacon wrap treatment too.
Why we love this recipe: it’s Insta-worthy.
Sweet and spicy grilled bacon-wrapped corn on the cob
Make it fun
Grilled Mexican street corn
Make it trendy
Air fryer corn ribs
Country ranch green beans and potatoes
This recipe transforms a can of plain green beans into a delicious and hearty side dish in under 20 minutes.
Spicy Southern Kitchen uses bacon grease to saute the potatoes, onions, and green beans, which gives them a savory boost. You can also use butter in a pinch.
But the highlight of this dish is the ranch seasoning, which infuses the veg with a bright tang that pairs nicely with your savory BBQ ribs.
Why we love this recipe: it’s an excellent dish for when you’re in a rush.
Salads are what you need if you want a side dish that can cut through the deep, smoky flavors of BBQ ribs. Light, fresh salads made with leafy greens are a no-brainer. But even heavier, starch-based salads are a good option, as long as they have a tangy dressing.
Roasted cauliflower and potato salad
Trade in your usual potato salad recipe for this mayo-free version.
It’s got fresh arugula, roasted potatoes, and cauliflower florets, making it extra filling and healthy. But what really seals the deal for this potato salad is its tahini tarragon dressing, which is just as creamy as the mayo version, but lighter.
Psst… not a fan of arugula? One reviewer said they used romaine lettuce instead, which still gave the salad the same crisp bite, without the peppery notes.
Why we love this recipe: you won’t feel guilty asking for seconds.
Tomato and cucumber salad
This salad is a must-have at summer cookouts and barbecue parties. It’s juicy, cooling, and refreshing – exactly what you need with smoky barbecued meat like ribs.
Think this salad is too plain? You can try adding avocado chunks, crumbled feta cheese, or even nuts for added crunch.
Psst… give this salad time to rest before serving for better flavor.
Why we love this recipe: it’s a no-cook dish that takes 10 minutes to make.
Feeling adventurous? Skip your usual coleslaw recipe and give this version a try.
It trades in the standard cabbage and carrot combo with crisp broccoli and apples, dried cranberries, and sunflower seeds.
It’s an interestingly delicious take on a classic BBQ ribs side dish. Everything is still tossed in a mayo dressing, though, so you’ll still get that familiar creamy bite.
Why we love this recipe: it’s a tasty, nourishing addition to your spread.
Watermelon arugula salad
Add a fresh bite to your BBQ ribs by serving them alongside this watermelon arugula salad.
Worried about it being too sweet? Don’t stress – the combination of peppery arugula, fresh mint, and basil will offset this fruity sweetness. Plus, everything is tied together with a zesty chili honey-lime dressing that’ll perk up your taste buds.
Why we love this recipe: it’s a refreshing dish, perfect for warm days.
Watermelon arugula salad with chili honey lime dressing
Fire up the grill
Spicy grilled watermelon
Change the flavor
Watermelon feta skewers
Creamy avocado pasta salad
Not in the mood for a decadent pasta dish? How about this vibrant pasta salad instead?
It boasts a creamy but light avocado dressing – the ideal contrast to the sticky BBQ ribs. There’s also spinach blended in the avocado dressing, making this pasta salad even healthier. Trust me, spinach haters won’t even notice the addition.
Psst… got any leftovers? Store them in the fridge and use them for the next day’s lunch.
Why we love this recipe: it’s loaded with flavors reminiscent of summer.
Incorporating side dishes with international influences can turn a traditional BBQ rib meal into a unique culinary adventure.
Quick cucumber kimchi
Standard kimchi takes a long time to make, but you can have this version ready to serve in 20 minutes.
The spicy sauce – made with gochugaru (Korean red pepper flakes) – gives your cucumber slices a fiery, tangy flavor that will cut right through your rich BBQ ribs.
Kimchi Chick uses English cucumbers to make this side dish because they have thinner skins and fewer seeds. But you can also use Japanese or Persian cucumbers. They share the same properties, although they’re smaller than the English variety.
Why we love this recipe: it’s a different but delicious way to enjoy cucumbers.
Pineapple fried rice
This isn’t traditional, but I love serving pineapple fried rice with BBQ ribs. It has a blend of sweet and umami flavors that complements sticky BBQ ribs perfectly.
Lisa recommends using a whole fresh pineapple for this recipe, which has better flavor than the canned stuff. Plus, if you want to get really fancy, you can even serve the rice IN the hollowed-out pineapple (like in the picture).
Now that’s what I call a win-win.
Why we love this recipe: it’s detailed and even shows you the best way to break down a pineapple.
Pie is a quintessential dessert after a meal of sticky ribs. But why not switch things up and whip up this galette instead?
This French classic is like a regular peach pie, except there’s no need for a pie dish or an intricate lattice. The pie dough is simply rolled out, filled with fresh peaches, then folded to form the crusts. It’s that easy.
End your feast on a high note by enjoying a slice of this delicious galette with a scoop of ice cream on top.
Why we love this recipe: it’s a show-stopper that requires minimal effort.
What To Serve With BBQ Ribs [51 Ideas]
- 1 portion avocado pasta salad
- 1 portion quick cucumber kimchi
- 1 portion smoked mac and cheese
- 1 portion appple butter baked beans
- 1 portion watermelon arugula salad
- 1 portion sweet and spicy cornbread
- … and more
- Prepare your BBQ ribs according to your favorite recipe.
- In the meantime, choose one of the following sides to serve alongside it.
- Side dishes include: roasted cauliflower and potato salad, quick cucumber kimchi, fried okra, tomato and cucumber salad, pineapple fried rice, sweet and spicy cornbread, grilled vegetables with chimichurri sauce, creamed spinach, watermelon arugula salad, grilled bacon-wrapped corn on the cob., broccoli slaw, smoked mac and cheese, peach galette, cajun sweet potato wedges, creamy avocado pasta salad, and apple butter bourbon baked beans.
- Serve immediately and enjoy!