Ready, Set, Grill!

23 Make-Ahead Cookout Sides For Memorial Day

Pop one of these in your fridge now and you’ll be ready for Monday.

Firing up the grill for a Memorial Day cookout is one of the best ways to start the summer with family and friends. The combo of good food, good people, and cold drinks on a hot summer day can be pure magic. Whether you’re hosting your own backyard Memorial Day barbecue or heading to the neighbor’s house to hit up their grill, having the right sides on hand can make all the difference. Need some inspiration? The make-ahead cookout sides on this list will add tons of flavor to your Memorial Day meal — and all you’ll have to do when it’s time to eat is set it on the picnic table.

Among tried and true cookout favorites like potato salad, you’ll also find deliciously hearty dips that double as side dishes for burgers and hot dogs, plus tasty twists on classics like pasta salad and coleslaw. If you’re looking for a cool and refreshing side dish that will stay good in your fridge until it’s time to dish it out to the guests at your backyard get-togethers this summer, chances are you’ll find it here. Also perfect for the next potluck situation you find yourself in, these make-ahead cookout sides for Memorial Day are easy to reach for when you need to pull something together beforehand to take with you.


Watermelon Salad With Whipped Feta

Light, cool, and refreshing on a hot summer day, this watermelon salad with whipped feta from Gimme Some Oven is sure to be a star at the next cookout you attend. In addition to ripe watermelon, it’s got chunks of cucumbers, sliced red onions, and is tossed with lemon and mint to make it the perfect summer side dish.


Mexican Street Corn Coleslaw

Is it coleslaw? Is it street corn? It’s both, and it’s delicious. From Averie Cooks, you don’t want to miss out on the flavor explosion that is this Mexican street corn cole slaw recipe. It’s served cold and can easily be made up to 24 hours in advance.


Caramelized Onion Dip

Does dip count as a side dish? It absolutely does when it’s a hearty one like this caramelized onion dip from Pinch of Yum. All you need to go with it is a bag of potato chips.


Classic Macaroni Salad

No cookout is complete without this classic side dish. From Damn Delicious, this macaroni salad recipe features elbow macaroni, diced bell pepper, red onion, celery, frozen peas, and cheddar cheese tossed in a homemade dressing of mayo, dijon mustard, and tangy apple cider vinegar. It’s served cold, so everything just hangs out in a bowl in the fridge until it’s time to eat.


Classic Potato Salad

This potato salad recipe from A Spicy Perspective is so good that they’ve deemed it “the best ever” potato salad. With the classic ingredients included here, you really can’t go wrong serving this as a cookout side dish.


Italian Tortellini Pasta Salad

This Italian tortellini pasta salad from A Pretty Life In The Suburbs is chock-full of flavor thanks to the inclusion of olives, salami, fresh basil, cheese, banana peppers, and so much more. It would be so tasty served with steaks or ribs, but it also works well as a standalone dish for any cookout guests who are looking for lighter fare.


Cold Quinoa Salad

Don’t be surprised if you get asked for the recipe (by multiple people) when you make this cold quinoa salad to serve at your next cookout. From Jessica In The Kitchen, this Asian-inspired quinoa salad takes just 15 minutes to come together and is full of crunchy veggies with a bright ginger dressing that’s sure to impress.


Baked Sweet Potato Chips

Looking for a cookout side that’s on the lighter end of the side-dish spectrum, but still fits the bill? From A Spicy Perspective, these baked sweet potato chips will surely hit the spot on a plate served up with hearty BBQ ribs or even a cheeseburger.


BLT Chopped Salad

If there was an award given for the salad with the most summer vibes, I would give it to this BLT chopped salad from Well Plated. The colors of that fresh corn and the tomatoes against the greens of the lettuce just look like summer in a bowl. Plus, there’s bacon, and who doesn’t love bacon in a side salad?


Caesar Salad

Hosting or heading to an elevated cookout — think steaks on the grill and chilled wine bottles on ice — calls for a sophisticated side salad. In that case, you should make this Caesar salad recipe from Foodie Crush. It’s a classic that you can easily whip up from scratch.


Melon Caprese Salad

How pretty would these little cups of melon caprese salad from Half-Baked Harvest look set out on a picnic table on your patio during your Memorial Day cookout? They’re 100% Instagram-worthy and make a fabulously tasty side dish to go with any sort of BBQ or grilled meats and vegetables.


Creamy Broccoli Salad

I love a cold broccoli salad as a side dish with hot dogs or hamburgers from the grill. Make this creamy broccoli salad recipe from Family Fresh Meals for your next cookout if you want a crowd-pleasing side dish that’s packed with veggies, but also full of flavor.


Avocado Shrimp Salsa

This recipe for avocado shrimp salsa from Half-Baked Harvest is kind of like what might happen if guacamole and shrimp salad had a baby. So yes, a salsa-like dip for chips, but at a cookout, I honestly might just scoop some on my plate and enjoy it with a fork.


Creamy Coleslaw

Yes, it’s a classic cookout staple side dish for a reason. From Foodie Crush, this creamy coleslaw recipe is a simple, yet delicious, way to make this traditional Memorial Day side dish.


Spinach Pesto Pasta Salad

A summery pesto pasta as a cookout side dish? Yes, please! From Baked By Rachel, you really can’t go wrong with this veggie-packed spinach pesto pasta salad. It’s served cold, so it’ll be nice and refreshing on a hot summer day.


Apple Beet Slaw

A tasty twist on traditional coleslaw, this apple beet slaw from A Pretty Life in the Suburbs is a tangy and sweet side dish to serve alongside your main dish at your Memorial Day cookout. And just look at how pretty the colors are. Simply gorgeous for summer.


Three Bean Salad

If you’re having a Memorial Day cookout and need a make-ahead side that could also double as a filling main dish for any vegetarians at your event, this three-bean salad from Love And Lemons is a top choice. Green beans, chickpeas, and kidney beans come together with red onion slices and a light and refreshing dressing to create this tangy dish.


Fresh Corn & Basil Salad

A scoop of corn is a great side dish for just about any main dish you’d serve at a cookout. When you want to make a corn side ahead of time, reach for this fresh corn and basil salad from Wholefully. You can use fresh corn cut right off the cob since it’s in season during the summer, or you can opt for frozen corn, depending on what you have available.


Fruit Salad

Is it really even a summer cookout if you don’t serve some sort of fresh fruit? Or, how about all of the fresh fruit? This fruit salad recipe from A Beautiful Mess includes more seasonal fruit than you can shake a stick at. In short, it’s an essential side dish for your next cookout.


Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad

If you’re looking for a standout side dish that’s simply drool-worthy, look no further than this shaved Brussels sprout salad from Foodie Crush. Complete with crumbled goat cheese, roasted beets, and crunchy pecans, you’re going to want to serve this at every summer event you host.


Cucumber Tomato Salad

I’m from the south where cucumber salad is a staple at every family gathering. This recipe for cucumber tomato salad from Simply Scratch is a refreshing take on the summery side dish that gets even better the longer it sits in your fridge — so it’s perfect to make ahead of a Memorial Day cookout!


Seven-Layer Dip

I just went to our first summer cookout at my aunt’s house where she served a fabulous seven-layer dip extremely similar to this one by Two Peas and Their Pod. Everyone loved it, and I’m sure the same will be said of your version if you make this for your next get-together.


Caprese Skewers

Any side dish that’s on a skewer that people can just pick up and enjoy with their burgers is a great choice for a cookout. You can make these caprese skewers from Love and Lemons ahead of your next summer event and they’ll stay good in the fridge until you’re ready to serve them.

So, grab your favorite serving bowl or a giant platter and impress everyone this Memorial Day with one of these make-ahead cookout sides.