Published on May 21, 2018

Peach Caprese (c) Amy Neunsinger.jpg Pin It
Photography by Amy Neunsinger
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Photography by Amy Neunsinger

With Memorial Day just around the corner, the season for impromptu barbecues and backyard bashes is finally here. But instead of reverting to the default potato salad and hot dog menu, why not make your backyard barbecue extra special with some unique, delicious bites? We’ve rounded up the mouth-watering recipes you should be bringing along. From easy side dishes that you can make ahead, to veggie-friendly grill options and out-of-the box salad ideas, these crowd-pleasing dishes offer a twist on the traditional.

Joanna Gaines’s Peach Caprese Salad

Take a page from Joanna Gaines’s new cookbook and bring a refreshing no-cook salad. Double or triple this recipe for a caprese that swaps sweet peaches for tomatoes for a fun twist.

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Courtesy of Healthy Seasonal Recipes

Broccoli Salad with Sweet Miso Dressing

Try this sweet and savory take on a traditional, creamy broccoli salad, which subs in miso dressing, roasted shiitake mushrooms, sunflower seeds, and dried cranberries. Plus, it’s dairy and gluten-free, and vegan-friendly.

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Courtesy of Yunhee Kim

Summer Shortcake

A patriotic shortcake that’s light and delicious is as tasty as it is festive. This one uses bright, plump blueberries and sweet strawberries held together by a sweet homemade whipped cream and wrapped in between delicious cake. 

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Slow Cooker Sweet and Spicy Sticky Wings

Wings are party favs, and this recipe is especially handy if you’re making them in advance – they practically roast themselves in your slow cooker. Delicious both warm and room temp, these sweet and spicy wings (thanks in part to brown sugar and Sriracha) are sure to be a hot item at your next barbecue.

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Bacon Ranch Potato Salad

Is any summer barbecue complete without potato salad? We think not. And there’s no reason NOT to shake up your standby recipe just a bit with bold flavors like bacon and ranch. Sour cream, cheddar cheese, and green onions round out this side that’s a deliciously kicked-up version of a barbecue classic.

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Southwestern Caprese Bites

Skewered appetizers are genius for parties. They’re pre-divided into individual servings, easy to eat with one hand, and fun – who doesn’t like a yummy treat on a stick? We’re also loving the vibrant colors going on here, making a healthy combination of veg and cheese look artfully tempting.

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Photography by SNACKWORKS.COM

S’more Marshmallow Pops

Or, bring the s’mores with you via a batch of these tempting S’more Marshmallow Pops. This no-cook, no-bake recipe is the ideal treat for kitchen newbies, or anyone with a soft spot for campfire treats.

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Mango and Feta Summer Salad

Mayo-free salads are a popular choice for barbecues that call for long hours in the hot summer sun. This sophisticated-looking dish is actually a simple combination of mango, avocado, and feta cheese – an unexpected combination of yummy summertime flavors that’s guaranteed to be a crowd pleaser.

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Spiced Sweet Potato and Bacon Skewers

If there will be extra space on the grill, prep a batch of these skewers in advance and grill on site. A surprisingly delicious sweet-salty flavor combo creates lots of tempting caramelized flavor and the perfect side to any barbecue main.

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BLT Pasta Salad

Two delicious dishes combine, creating the salad of your dreams! This BLT Pasta Salad will have you hooked from the first bite. Tip: to prevent ingredients from going soggy, keep salad mix, dressing, and pasta separate (freezer bags or plastic storage containers work great for this), and mix on site just prior to serving.

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Photography by MACEY FORONADA

Showstopping Watermelon Jell-O Shots

For a take-along that’s extra festive, you can’t beat the stage presence of these fresh watermelon Jell-O shots. You can also make them without alcohol, or (since you must slice a watermelon lengthwise and fill two halves with Jell-O) one with alcohol and one virgin. The genius is in the recipe, which combines Jell-O with extra gelatin, providing added stability. These are fun to eat, and a treat to devour at any age!

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Photography by GIVERECIPE.COM

Tangy Tomato and Corn Salsa

Zesty, fresh, and great at room temp, this flavorful salsa is a yummy addition to hot dogs, pulled pork, ribs, burgers, and (of course) tacos. For added dairy-free creaminess, slice in a few avocados just before serving.

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Sweet and Smokey Bourbon Baked Beans with Applewood Smoked Bacon

Baked beans are another barbecue staple, and they MUST be made in advance. (No, canned beans just won’t cut it.) While this dish is sweet, onion, garlic, bourbon, and a full 12 ounces of applewood smoked bacon impart lots of savory flavor. We’re betting there won’t be leftovers.

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Old Fashioned Pistachio Salad (Watergate Salad)

Whether you know this as Pistachio Salad or Watergate Salad, chances are you’ve seen it before – probably at the table of your grandmother’s house. It’s one of those vintage recipes that’s finally making a comeback, and you’ll be glad it did.  This light and creamy no-cook recipe only calls for 5 ingredients (the green hue coming from one package of pistachio pudding mix) and comes together in minutes. Just be sure to serve extra cold – allowing 3 hours to chill in the refrigerator before serving is recommended.

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Homemade Churros

The beauty of this recipe is that you can make the churros (even days) in advance, and seal them up in airtight containers until ready to serve. They keep well, are a cinch to transport, and are delicious room temp – and their crispy outer shell coated in cinnamon sugar tastes like the perfect way to top off a festive summer feast.

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Bacon Sriracha Potato Salad

Trade in that bland potato salad recipe for a batch of this tempting side, with plenty and bacon and Sriracha to keep your taste buds busy (and wanting more).

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Dill Pickle Dip

And while you’re at it, whip up a batch of homemade Dill Pickle Dip too! Cream cheese makes this dip extra creamy, and a combination of diced pickles, pickle juice, and fresh dill gives it plenty of zip.

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Asian Pineapple Salad with Peanut Coconut Dressing

When you really want to stun them with a salad they’re not expecting, bring THIS. There’s so much flavor going on here – pineapple, peppers, jicama, peanuts, coconut, cilantro, lime juice, and a tasty homemade 5-minute dressing that comes together in the blender. Make it. You won’t be disappointed (and neither will they).

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Pineapple Bourbon Barbecue Sauce

Think outside the box (or bottle?) when volunteering to bring a side to the barbecue. Instead of a dish, why not offer to make the barbecue sauce instead? Just when the host was about to buy a few bottles from the supermarket, you could step up and make this simple homemade version bursting with the flavors of bourbon and pineapple. Genius!

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Chipotle Peach Salsa

Somewhere between a salsa and a side dish, this chunky mix is the perfect fresh flavor combo to cut through the richness of ribs, pulled pork, and burgers. Just be sure your peaches are perfectly ripe for optimal juicy flavor.

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Stone Fruit Sangria

We love everything about this – from the recipe to the genius serving idea. Wait, is that a glass storage canister? Fresh fruit and peach liqueur make this ideal for summertime sipping, so consider bringing a large batch of this Stone Fruit Sangria to your next gathering.

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Cucumber Avocado and Feta Salad

Another tasty mayo-free salad idea packed full of flavor thanks to avocado, fresh dill, lemon juice, and feta cheese. Feel free to expand on this Mediterranean-inspired combination by adding Kalamata olives, tomatoes, capers, or roasted peppers.

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Pineapple Coconut Cashew Rice

Yes, the presentation is a showstopper, but this over-the-top delicious recipe won’t be any less tasty served in more travel-friendly dish (plasticware included). What better way to kick off summer than a recipe piled high with tropical flavors like pineapple, coconut milk, coconut flakes, cashews, and cilantro, just to name a few. This dish is sure to be a hit alongside any grilled main.

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Photography by SKINNYTASTE.COM

Greek 7-Layer Dip

This clever twist on the traditional 7-layer Mexican dip is full of fresh Mediterranean flavors, starting with a base layer of hummus. Prep is virtually zero – only chopping and layering – so this recipe comes together in no time, making it ideal for mixing up last minute.

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Pineapple Guacamole

Just when you thought guacamole couldn’t get any more delicious, enter pineapple. We like the idea of topping burgers and hot dogs with this flavorful dip. And, since it’s dairy-free, a large bowl of this guacamole is perfect for celebrating under the hot summer sun.

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Photography by FOODIECRUSH.COM

Creamy Yogurt Cucumber Salad

When your barbecue bash calls for something cool and creamy, this refreshing Cucumber Yogurt Salad can’t be beat – so delicious, no one will believe it’s also healthy!

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Honey-Drizzled Bleu Cheese Strawberry Bites

Bring something unexpected to this year’s bash with these simple strawberry bites. Pears with bleu cheese and honey is a classic French combination, and strawberry looks just as tempting.

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Photography by LAYLITA.COM

Vodka Mint Limeade

Every barbecue needs a pitcher of lemonade, and this version refreshes with fresh lemon, fresh mint, and ice cold vodka. Easy to prep in large batches, this cooler is perfect for celebrating under the hot summer sun.

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Photography by SKINNYTASTE.COM

Watermelon ‘Pizza’ with Feta and Balsamic Vinegar

For a lighter end to your feast, DIY this festive watermelon pizza, topped with lots of flavorful fruit garnish. It’s a treat for the eyes (and the Instagram), and a deliciously light barbecue finale that everyone will enjoy.

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Photography by SIMPLEBITES.COM

Raspberry-Rhubarb Collins Punch

This trifle bowl makes for an elegant punch bowl in a pinch, and is perfect for showing off the gorgeous color of this Raspberry-Rhubarb Collins Punch. A little extra effort with fresh rhubarb proves well worth the end result.

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Summer Salad with Tomato, Cucumber, and Quinoa

Quinoa is the ideal ingredient for take-along summer salads because its texture stays intact long after mixing. This tasty combo is heavy on Mediterranean flavor, but feel free to add in whatever salad ingredients you like best.

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Strawberry Mojito Sangria

Just try resisting a glass of this refreshing sangria, packed full of fresh mint, lime juice, peaches, and strawberries. Remember – ripe fruit is key, so substitute in whatever looks best in your local market.

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Cowboy Caviar

Chances are you’ve tasted this dip before, even if you’ve never heard the name. This ‘caviar’ is actually a simple combination of beans, peppers, onions, cilantro, and corn – great for topping a salad, burger, munching as a side, or eating with tortilla chips. And BONUS! – this recipe is also seriously healthy.

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Spiralized Carrot Salad with Lemon Ginger Dressing

Put that spiralizer to use this summer and mix up a bowl of healthy, flavorful carrot salad. Fresh lemon, ginger, parsley, and garlic ensure this side is anything but boring.

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Photography by BHG.COM

Pasta Salad with Roasted Tomatoes and Mozzarella

Simple and tempting, this caprese-inspired pasta salad will have guests coming back for seconds. Tip: to prevent pasta from becoming too soft, keep ingredients separate until time to serve.

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Cheese and Prosciutto Phyllo Rolls

These flaky wraps have a sophisticated feel, but they couldn’t be easier to make. They only call for five ingredients, including optional honey for drizzling and dunking. And, while they recommend mozzarella cheese for the filling, feel free to use bleu, goat, or whatever you like best.

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Front Porch Peach Tea

Warning – this is not your average front porch tea. Unlike its namesake, this version is one half Peach Moonshine (the rest made up by equal parts sweet tea and lemonade). This tea definitely packs a punch, so label well and ensure guests know what they’re sipping in advance.

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Watermelon Feta Blackberry Skewers

How can something so simple look so elegant? Just when you think these skewers are wedding fare, we were about to suggest them for your next barbecue. They’re deliciously tempting with sweet and salty flavors, and a rainbow of colors that’s also patriotic.

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5-Ingredient Strawberry Salsa

The idea of strawberry salsa is simply too tempting to pass up. Opt for this delicious twist on fruit, instead of a boring premixed supermarket fruit salad.

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Photography by SAVEUR.COM

Long Island Iced Tea (By the Pitcher)

Instead of picking up a 12-pack en route to the barbecue, go the extra mile with a pitcher of festive Long Island Iced Tea. With only slightly more effort than popping into the market, fellow guests will appreciate the delicious gesture.

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Homemade Barbecue Potato Chips

When all they’re expecting is a bag of store bought potato chips, surprise them by making a batch of these tasty homemade barbecue crisps instead. Bonus! – this recipe also offers instructions for baking and frying, so choose the method you like best.

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Chicken Apple Pasta Salad

Mixing in a few unexpected ingredients like grapes, honey, and poppy seeds, this is no ordinary chicken salad. Just be sure to keep cool until time to serve, as mayo creates that tempting creamy consistency.

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Brownie and Fruit Kebabs

This patriotic dessert (on a stick!) is one dessert no one will resist. With just enough fruit to keep calories in check, this brownie-marshmallow-fruit combo is genius, and fun for adults and kids alike.