4th of July Sides
While it's easy for burgers and steaks to steal the show at your Independence Day party, it's important that you not neglect the complementary, seasonal side dishes. From corn on the cob to slaws and salsas, these side dishes will have a hard time not taking the spotlight during your Fourth of July feast.
Grilled and Dilled Corn on the Cob Recipe
This is a riff on elote, Mexican street corn. We love how sweet dill plays on the richly caramelized corn and briny cheese.
Creamy Black Pepper Coleslaw
Cutting the cabbage coarsely gives the dish a different look from shredded-cabbage slaws. A full teaspoon of black pepper lends pleasant warm heat without overpowering. Make the dish up to a day ahead if you like—the veggies will stay crisp and the flavors will meld as the slaw chills.
Smoked Potato Salad
The mesquite wood chips bring a strong smoky flavor to the potatoes, but the vinaigrette balances it out, especially when the kalamata olives are added to the mixture. To bring more heat to the potato salad, you can add cayenne or red chili flakes.
Zucchini and Onion Gratin
You can serve this side dish hot, but it's also great at room temperature.
Yukon Gold Potato Salad
A middle ground between waxy red potatoes and starchy russets, buttery Yukon Golds are great in potato salad.
Grill-Steamed Corn with Cilantro and Chile Flakes
Aleppo is a fruity Middle Eastern pepper with moderate heat. Sub 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, if desired.
Lemon-Caper Parmesan Potato Salad Bites
Turn "jacket potatoes" into irresistible potato salad bites. Capers offer a twist on traditional relish; they're actually pickled flower buds and add bright, briny flavor to this appetizer.
A little chipotle pepper in the dressing lends smoky heat to the dish. A touch of sugar and tangy lime juice balance the pleasant bitterness of radicchio. You can make this slaw up to a day ahead. The radicchio will soften a little as it chills, but the broccoli and cabbage stay crunchy.
Chile-Lime Watermelon Wedges
A dusting of smoky chile powder, earthy cumin, zingy lime rind, and a hit of salt turns watermelon's flavor up to 11.
Cut back on the black pepper for a more kid-friendly version of this cookout staple.
Applewood-Smoked Corn on the Cob
We love the warm, slightly sweet smoky flavor applewood gives the corn. Hickory chips might overpower here, but cherry chips would also work.
Roasted Peppers and Tomatoes with Herbs and Capers
This dish is baked just long enough to bring out the juices of the tomatoes, then chilled. Serve it as a salad or a side dish.
Fingerling Potato Salad with Mustard Vinaigrette
Little fingerling potatoes are fantastic in potato salads, in part because their skin-to-flesh ratio is much smaller than big potatoes, so there's more dynamic textural difference in every bite.
Pesto Pasta Salad with Tomatoes and Mozzarella
This citrusy take on coleslaw is fresh and pleasantly spicy, an ideal side dish or burger or brat topping. Leave the seeds in more peppers for added fire, or seed all of them for a milder dish.
Watermelon Salad with Feta and Cucumber Pickles
Sumac—available at spice stores—adds a subtle piney, tangy note, but don't worry if you can't find it: The salad will still have loads of flavor complexity without it. You could also sub 1 teaspoon of prepared horseradish for the wasabi powder.
Corn on the Cob with Lemon-Chive Butter
Heirloom Tomatoes with Charred Okra, Vidalias, and Malt Mayo
"Okra doesn't have to be fried. Charring the pods is really fun—it shuts down the sliminess and gets beautifully crisp. Tomatoes just need a little salt, pure and simple," Christensen says.
Honey-Chipotle Baked Beans
Dress up canned baked beans with flavor and richness—and minimal added fat—with this quick and simple dish. Since the sodium is high, use organic canned beans to keep sodium levels in check.
New Potatoes with Shaved Celery, Buttermilk, and Dill
"The dressing for potato salad usually ends up overseasoned and doesn't permeate the potatoes," Christensen says. "Adding vinegar to the cooking process flavors the potatoes, so the dressing should be more mellow."
Tomato and Cucumber Salad
Tomatoes are a summer superstar. Enjoy them in a refreshing salad or simply sliced. Sweet peach dressing amps up the summery deliciousness in this simple salad.
Grilled Corn on the Cob With Roasted Jalapeño Butter
Charring the pepper eases the heat, yielding a versatile, not-too-spicy butter.
Grilled Baby Eggplants with Green Onion Salsa
If you can't find Indian eggplants, as we used here, go for small, slender Japanese eggplants instead.
Gemelli Salad with Green Beans, Pistachios, and Lemon-Thyme Vinaigrette
Haricots verts are thin, tender green beans. If you can't find them, use trimmed regular green beans, but add them to the pasta after 8 minutes of cooking since they'll take longer to cook. You can make the salad ahead, but dress it just before serving so the beans don't turn drab.
Summer Peach and Tomato Salad
Simplicity has never looked so beautiful. A stunning combination of skin-on peaches and heirloom tomatoes of various colors, sizes, and shapes creates a sweet-savory salad.
Lemon-Herb Potato Salad
Lemon-Herb Potato Salad isn't your mother's potato salad. Made with peppery arugula, kalamata olives, fresh herbs, and lemon, this potato salad will stand out among the other side dishes at your backyard cookout.
Miso Grilled Vegetables
Miso adds worlds of savory depth to fresh grilled vegetables.
Andrew Zimmern's Grilled Corn and Snap Pea Salad
Photo: Christopher Testani
You can assemble this salad the day before you plan to serve it, but toss in dressing just before serving to keep Zimmern's salad as crisp as he intended.
Golden Beet Salad with Avocado and Feta
Simple, bright, and balanced, this salad pairs perfectly with grilled fish or chicken. To cook the beets in the oven, wrap in foil and bake at 400° for 45 to 50 minutes.
Summer Pea, Watermelon, and Farro Salad
This unusual yet delicious combination of flavors makes a good substitute for traditional pasta salad at your next cookout.