This article was updated on 02/08/2023 for clarity and to include some seasonal updates.
If you’re wondering what to serve with your burnt ends, you’ve come to the right place. In this article, I list 45 of the most popular side dishes for burnt ends.
In a rush? Here’s the short answer.
The best side dishes to serve with burnt ends are loaded fries, baked beans, cornbread, and slaw. For a veggie side, try cheesy roasted green beans, sweet potato mash, or grilled pineapple. For salad options, try a Mexican street corn salad, orzo pasta salad, or a red potato salad.
Psst… Labor day is just around the corner, so I’ve added my favorite berry trifle and homemade iced tea to the list to help you celebrate.
Burnt ends are usually served at barbecues, so we had to have a few (okay maybe more than a few) common cookout sides on the list.
Some of them have a nice twist on them though – we’re not boring here!
Get comfortable with a warm bowl of baked beans and burnt ends.
These homemade baked beans are a saucy blend of three kinds of tender beans with just the right amount of sweet and savory flavors.
And the best part? Beans are nutritious, healthy, and cheap. I always make extra so I can serve the leftovers over a buttery baked potato the next day.
Why we love this recipe: all you need to do is throw everything in the slow cooker.
Red cabbage slaw
Red cabbage slaw is a vibrant addition to any BBQ meal.
This slaw has a delicious creamy-but-tangy taste which helps mellow out the savory flavors of the burnt ends. And it brings a bright pop of color to your plate.
Purple cabbage is also slightly sweeter than green cabbage, but if green cabbage is all you have it will work fine in the recipe.
Why we love this recipe: there’s notes for how to make a mayo free version.
Cornbread is another must have for any BBQ party. It’s a crumbly delight that will soak up all the different flavors from whatever else is on your plate.
Especially the saucy sides like baked beans.
Simply recipes keep things simple (as you’d expect), with straight buttermilk and no added sugar. They recommend using a cast iron skillet for the crispiest crust.
Why we love this recipe: you can’t go wrong with the classics.
Red potato salad
Red potatoes have firmer flesh than other varieties, making them perfect for a potato salad because they hold their shape. And leaving the skin on gives the salad a rustic feel.
If you don’t have red potatoes, some waxy Yukon gold potatoes will work well too.
The herbs you see are a mixture of fresh dill, parsley, and chives. There’s also some diced celery and pickles in there for extra crunch.
Why we love this recipe: it’s a great make-ahead salad.
At a barbecue, the most important thing is that no one leaves hungry. Leaving a barbecue hungry is a crime! Which is why I always make sure to have lots of filling carb-based sides on offer.
Oh yeah, and because they’re delicious.
Loaded ranch fries
Who can resist a heaping pile of loaded fries? Not me!
It’s got everything you could want – melted cheese, crispy fries, juicy tomatoes, and a creamy ranch dressing. Well almost everything. It’s just missing a topping of some smokey burnt ends.
Psst… you can also use nachos for this dish.
Why we love this recipe: it’s a guaranteed crowd pleaser.
Orzo pasta salad
This Greek-influenced orzo pasta salad is fresh and filling at the same time.
It’s packed with interesting textures and everything is tied together with a lemony, acidic dressing that will cut right through the fatty, heavy burnt ends.
You can make it in advance too, so there’s no stress when it comes to dinner time. It tastes even better after a few hours of marinating.
Why we love this recipe: the leftovers will still taste great the next day.
Want something fun and a little different? Try some Mexican fusion and use your burnt ends to make tacos.
You’ll need some soft corn tortillas to get started (you can buy them, but they’re super easy to make yourself!), plus some slaw, salsa, or guac. To make the tortillas you’ll need masa harina, if you can’t find this in your local grocery store it’s easy to order online.
Psst… I’m a big fan of pineapple salsa or peach salsa if peaches are in season.
Why we love this recipe: to make the tortillas you only need three simple ingredients.
Sweet potato mash
Any mash will work with burnt ends, but I like a sweet potato mash because I think the sweet-but-savory combo works really well.
The added cinnamon and fresh herbs (sage and rosemary) in this recipe really take it to the next level. You and your guests will love it!
Natasha from salt and lavender recommends baking the potatoes before mashing them to bring out their sweetness, but boiling will work too.
Why we love this recipe: it’s great if you’re serving a crowd.
Smoked mac and cheese
Want something indulgent? Mac and cheese will do the trick, and if you’ve never tried smoking it before, you’re in for a real treat.
It adds on some cooking time, but the results are well worth it. Rebecca suggests using a mild flavored wood like apple, maple, or cherry.
Psst… don’t skip mixing the bread crumbs with the bacon grease. YUM!
Why we love this recipe: kids and adults will love it equally.
Want some greens to liven up your plate? These veggie sides are a far cry from the regular steamed broccoli, although that’s a great option if you’re in a rush!
Cheesy roasted green beans
Jazz up your green beans by adding some garlic, parmesan, and mozzarella.
Roasting the greens gives them a crisp-tender texture, with a gooey outside thanks to the melty cheese. They make a great substitute for fries if you’re watching your carbs but still want something indulgent.
Psst… I like to sprinkle some red pepper flakes over the cheese for a kick of heat.
Why we love this recipe: you don’t have to feel guilty going back for seconds.
Mexican street corn salad
Fresh and colorful, Mexican street corn salad is a great side for burnt ends.
The medley of roasted corn, juicy cherry tomatoes, creamy queso fresco, and tangy ingredients like cilantro and jalapeno make it one stunning dish.
This would go really great with the corn tortillas I suggested earlier because it makes a fantastic taco topping.
Why we love this recipe: it’s an easier-to-eat version of the traditional Mexican street corn.
Blue cheese broccoli salad
Get creative with broccoli by turning it into a salad.
The addition of blue cheese will bring a touch of sophistication to the meal, as well as a salty flavor to go with the earthy broccoli. You can use cauliflower in the salad too.
The dressing calls for sugar, but I left this out because I see no need for sugar in a salad! instead I added a few raisins for sweetness.
Why we love this recipe: you can throw it together in just 15 minutes.
Desserts and drinks
What party is complete without a sweet treat at the end and a refreshing drink (that may or may not also be sweet)?
Some of these desserts will even double as a side.
Grilled cinnamon pineapple
A fan of cinnamon? You’re in luck!
These tender and sweet sliced pineapples get a touch of smoky flavor from the grill, but still provide a really refreshing end to your rich meat.
Psst… if you don’t like cinnamon, try this chili-lime butter pineapple instead. And don’t feel limited to pineapple! Watermelon, peaches, pears, and even bananas all grill well.
Why we love this recipe: it’s a great summer dish you can enjoy outdoors.
Lemon and blueberry trifle – a Labor day special
There are a few components to make, from the lemon pound cake to the lemon cheesecake cream, but doing each thing individually means everything is packed with flavor and you get a really tasty result.
I love using blueberries because they add a pop of juiciness to each bite. But you can swap them for any berries.
Why we love this recipe: it looks as good as it tastes.
Peach and lavender iced tea – a Labor day special
If we’re lucky enough to have a sunny Labor day weekend then you’re going to want a refreshing drink on tap. I gave up trying to mix fancy cocktails a long time ago in favor of a simple iced tea that’s easy to make in bulk.
The sprig of mint on top is optional, but both me and Naomi from a life delicious highly recommend it.
Why we love this recipe: both kids and adults can enjoy it.
What To Serve With Burnt Ends [45 Ideas]
- 1 portion Baked beans
- 1 portion Grilled pineapple
- 1 portion Red cabbage slaw
- 1 portion Sweet potato mash
- 1 portion Smoked mac and cheese
- 1 portion Cheesy green beans
- Prepare your burnt ends according to your favorite recipe.
- In the meantime, choose one of the following sides to serve alongside it.
- Side dishes include: baked beans, loaded ranch fries, red cabbage slaw, orzo pasta salad, corn tortillas, sweet potato mash, grilled cinnamon pineapple, cheesy roasted green beans, Mexican street corn salad, smoked mac and cheese, southern cornbread, blue cheese broccoli salad, and red potato salad.
- Serve immediately and enjoy!