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Ranking the Best Cookout Side Dishes

The summer cookout is one of the best reasons for the season. The smell of the grill, the laughter, some good picnic music and the good food all combine to make it the ultimate vibe of summer. But what should YOU bring to the cookout in order to stand out? Here are the seven best side dishes of the cookout.

7. Baked Beans

Good luck finding a cookout without baked beans — it’s almost impossible. But do baked beans ever stand out? Sometimes you can dress up the baked beans with some bacon pieces and some brown sugar, but it’s not exactly easy making the baked beans the talk of the table. Chances are you got too busy during the week and you just grabbed one of those monster cans in the store. It’s good, but not great. Still good enough for seventh on the list here.

6. Coleslaw

Now we are talking about a bit of a classier cookout. Even if you get the store made coleslaw, it’s a classy side dish. Chances are you even sprung for the nice paper plates instead of the ones that can also be used for arts and crafts at the kids’ school. Bonus points if you get the coleslaw with the purple cabbage. That’s real class.

5. Potato Salad

Doesn’t matter if we are talking German potato salad, Southern potato salad or whatever location you hail from potato salad. It’s all good. Myself? I lean toward the loaded baked potato salad. Now, if it’s super hot out, yeah, you are rolling the dice with some food poisoning, but the upside is worth it.

4. Pasta Salad

Much like its potato brother, the pasta salad can also come in many different varieties. Give me spiral noodles, tomatoes, shredded cheese and some pepperoni, and I will listen to that long lost aunt talk my ear off as long as I got a plate. Others like the mayo-based pasta salad and I won’t quibble with that claim either. Either choice is solid and teeters into the ‘must-have’ category for the cookout.

3. Watermelon

I almost left watermelon off the list. Is it truly a side, or is it a desert? I have long thought that trying to pass off any fruit that is not baked or cooked in sugar as dessert is a massive cop-out.

I told my Mom long ago, and I will repeat it here: An apple is not a treat. But watermelon is unique. It’s perfect for being eaten by hand, appears at all cookouts and doesn’t waste precious stomach space that could be filled up with another cheeseburger. Plus, it helps keep you hydrated on those hot summer days. It stands as a side, and a highly ranked one at that.

2. Potato Chips

I mean how can you not have chips at the cookout?And let’s not try and fool each other here, the plain chip is the undisputed king of the cookout chips.

You can have the Doritos or the wavy sour cream and onion if we are talking about any other sandwich situation. But, when we are talking cookouts, it’s plain. If you want to get fancy, toss out some dip, sprinkle six carrots around it to pretend that you care about health and let’s ride.

1. Deviled Eggs

I know, you think this is wrong. But let me ask you one simple question: When was the last time you saw a leftover deviled egg after a cookout? The answer is never. In the history of time, ever since man fired up his first grill and someone brought some deviled eggs, they have all be eaten.

How do you compete against that? After all, there is always leftover potato salad, pasta salad, chips, corn — go on down the list. But there are never leftover deviled eggs. The King of the cookout side dishes.

Honorable Mentions

Corn on the cob: Solid choice, but it needs butter and salt. Plus, it’s messy.

Cornbread: Solid choice, especially if barbecue is the menu, but tough to pack with flavor.

Mac and cheese: Always a favorite until it’s 92-degrees out and you just gave Nana botulism because the mac and cheese went bad.

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