35 Sides for Hot Dogs to Serve at a Summer Cookout

·11-min read

Oh, hot dogs. You wait for your big moment on the grill all summer long, from the Memorial Day cookout to the July 4th potluck to the Labor Day picnic. So why do we always repay your loyalty with broken potato chips and watermelon wedges? This year, we’re making it up to you with 35 sides for hot dogs to whip up for every al fresco dinner of the season. We’re talking cauliflower potato salad, jalapeño mac and cheese and everything in between. (And in case you’re wondering which hot dog brands are worth buying, we ranked ’em.)

RELATED: 10 Hot Dog Toppings That Aren’t Ketchup and Mustard

1. Corn Fritter Caprese with Peaches and Tomatoes

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour

  • Why We Love It: crowd-pleaser, vegetarian, special occasion-worthy

Corn and peaches are two of summer’s sweetest gifts, so it only makes sense to combine them into one BBQ-friendly side dish.

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2. Roasted Mediterranean Vegetables

  • Time Commitment: 40 minutes

  • Why We Love It: vegan, crowd-pleaser, one pan

Pick and choose your favorite veggies for this one—whatever looks best at the farmers market (or whatever your kids will actually eat).

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3. Zesty Chargrilled Broccolini

  • Time Commitment: 10 minutes

  • Why We Love It: <30 minutes, <10 ingredients, vegan

If the grill is already hot, why not cook the entire meal on it? This side takes ten minutes to prepare, so it will be ready once the hot dogs are sizzling.

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4. Corn and Tomato Salad with Feta and Lime

  • Time Commitment: 20 minutes

  • Why We Love It: vegetarian, kid-friendly, crowd-pleaser, <30 minutes

Corn on the cob is delicious and all, but sometimes we don’t want to deal with butter and salt dribbling down our chin. This summer salad is for those times.

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5. Summer Millet Salad

  • Time Commitment: 45 minutes

  • Why We Love It: vegetarian, crowd-pleaser, <10 ingredients, make ahead

Lettuce need not apply. The best part about a grain salad like this one is that it can be made ahead—we’d argue it tastes better that way.

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6. Avocado and Black Bean Pasta Salad

  • Time Commitment: 20 minutes

  • Why We Love It: <30 minutes, vegetarian, crowd-pleaser

Creamy avocado, spiced black beans, al dente pasta. What more could you ask for?

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7. Minty-Fresh Zucchini Salad with Marinated Feta

  • Time Commitment: 15 minutes (plus marinating time)

  • Why We Love It: no cook, make ahead, vegetarian

Summer is undoubtedly zucchini season, but we quickly get tired of sautéed coins. Enter this cold salad, which will class up any hot dog dinner.

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8. Cold Soba Noodle Salad with Strawberries

  • Time Commitment: 20 minutes

  • Why We Love It: vegan, crowd-pleaser, special occasion-worthy

Putting strawberries in a savory noodle side dish sounds like a wild idea, but it totally works. Their tart-sweet flavor complements the salty miso dressing just right.

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9. Pearl Couscous with Chickpeas, Eggplant and Peaches

  • Time Commitment: 35 minutes

  • Why We Love It: crowd-pleaser, vegan, special occasion-worthy, make ahead

Honestly, we’ll use any excuse to eat peaches while they’re in season. This dish is great cold, warm or at room temperature, plus you can make it up to one day ahead.

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10. 20-Minute Burrata Salad with Stone Fruit and Asparagus

  • Time Commitment: 20 minutes

  • Why We Love It: crowd-pleaser, vegetarian

You had us at “burrata” and again at “stone fruit.” Try to use the ripest peaches, plums and cherries you can get your hands on for the best flavor.

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11. Grilled Watermelon-Feta Skewers

  • Time Commitment: 35 minutes

  • Why We Love It: <10 ingredients, kid-friendly, beginner-friendly

Tomato and fresh mozzarella? We don’t know them. The watermelon holds up great against the tangy cheese, and don’t even get us started on those smoky grill marks.

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12. Chilled Cucumber Salad

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour and 35 minutes

  • Why We Love It: <10 ingredients, vegan, crowd-pleaser

Even the kids won’t mind cooling off with a bowl on a blazing hot day. And with only five ingredients, it’s as easy to make as, well, a hot dog. The secret? Dill and rice vinegar. (Did we mention it pairs wonderfully with Pinot Grigio?)

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13. Cauliflower ‘Potato’ Salad

  • Time Commitment: 40 minutes

  • Why We Love It: crowd-pleaser, make ahead, vegetarian

Cauliflower stars in this light take on a summer staple. We traded mayo for Greek yogurt, Dijon mustard and sour cream, plus added a bunch of crunchy surprises like celery, green onion and cornichons.

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14. Rainbow Vegetable Skewers

  • Time Commitment: 55 minutes

  • Why We Love It: vegan, crowd-pleaser, beginner-friendly

We’re big fans of skewer season. You will be too, once you place these on the grill. Each skewer has a different veggie, so you don’t have to worry about the small ones cooking faster than the rest. Color Roy G. Biv impressed.

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15. Slow Cooker Baked Beans

  • Time Commitment: 6 hours and 10 minutes

  • Why We Love It: one pot, slow cooker recipe, <10 ingredients, crowd-pleaser

One summer essential, coming right up. A pound of navy beans turns soft, savory and sweet after six hours in the Crockpot. It wouldn’t be a BBQ without them.

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16. Grilled Corn with Spicy Aioli

  • Time Commitment: 30 minutes

  • Why We Love It: vegetarian, crowd-pleaser, beginner-friendly

Make some space on the grill, husk a few cobs and whip up an addictive spicy mayo you’ll want to put on everything. Those hot dogs are in good company.

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17. BLT Pasta Salad

  • Time Commitment: 40 minutes

  • Why We Love It: crowd-pleaser, kid-friendly, <10 ingredients

Here’s a side even salad haters can get behind. That’s what happens when you dress tomato, romaine and avocado up with crispy black pepper bacon and mayo-mustard dressing. We can’t blame ’em.

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18. Zucchini Caprese Salad

  • Time Commitment: 25 minutes

  • Why We Love It: <30 minutes, <10 ingredients, vegetarian

The combo of mozzarella, tomato, basil and balsamic vinaigrette is traditional for a reason. Assemble it atop grilled zucchini with a sprinkle of salt and pepper, and you’ve got an app for the books.

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19. Loaded Baked Potato Chips

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour and 5 minutes

  • Why We Love It: <10 ingredients, crowd-pleaser, kid-friendly, one pan

Mashed, roasted, fried: We’ll take taters however they come. But this ingenious starter is at the top of our list because it gives us all the fixings—bacon! cheddar! sour cream!—while still leaving room for everything else on the table.

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20. Light and Tangy Coleslaw

  • Time Commitment: 30 minutes

  • Why We Love It: no cook, make ahead, crowd-pleaser, vegetarian

No cookout is complete without a batch, and we don’t mean the clumpy store-bought stuff. Shred your own cabbage and carrot, or save time with a pre-shredded mix. Then, substitute mayo for rice vinegar, Dijon mustard and Greek yogurt.

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21. Roasted Cauliflower Sliders

  • Time Commitment: 50 minutes

  • Why We Love It: crowd-pleaser, <10 ingredients, vegetarian

For us, hot dogs are usually an appetizer for our cheeseburger. Save more room for dessert (and cocktails) by trading beef and cheese for golden-brown cauliflower steaks, sandwiched between layers of spicy yogurt and your favorite hummus.

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22. Jalapeño-Avocado Mac and Cheese

  • Time Commitment: 30 minutes

  • Why We Love It: vegetarian, one pot

She’s spicy. She’s buttery. She’s super cheesy. What’s not to love about ooey-gooey white cheddar sauce over pretty gemelli pasta? That’s right, nothing.

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23. Portobello and Avocado Quesadillas with Magic Green Sauce

  • Time Commitment: 30 minutes

  • Why We Love It: vegetarian, make ahead, kid-friendly

Is there a better way to get your daily veggies? We think not. These are filled with mushrooms, black beans, avocado, cheddar cheese and Greek yogurt. Just wait until you taste the citrusy sauce, rich with herbs, capers and lime juice.

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24. Zucchini “Fries”

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour

  • Why We Love It: <10 ingredients, vegetarian, kid-friendly, crowd-pleaser

Fries are a no-brainer, but these have a twist. Not only do we use zucchini in place of potatoes, we also skip messy frying and cook them in the oven instead. The kids may turn up their noses at first, but it’ll only take one bite to convert them.

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25. Chopped Italian Salad Pizza

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour

  • Why We Love It: crowd-pleaser. vegetarian, beginner-friendly

How do we like our greens, you ask? On golden-brown pizza crust, of course. It’s thin and crispy, so you can double-fist a hot dog and a slice without getting too full. We’ll take extra pepperoncini, please.

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26. Zucchini Salad with Lemon and Parmesan

  • Time Commitment: 20 minutes

  • Why We Love It: no cook, <10 ingredients, vegetarian, <30 minutes

Three words: No. Cooking. Required. This beauty comes together in minutes, and all you need is a peeler (because zucchini just tastes better in ribbons), fresh herbs and a few pantry staples. Don’t skimp on the Parm shards.

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27. Salami, Artichoke and Ricotta Pasta Salad

  • Time Commitment: 20 minutes

  • Why We Love It: <30 minutes, <10 ingredients, crowd-pleaser, kid-friendly

Red sauce wasn’t invited to the picnic. Instead, we’re bringing bowties with briny artichoke hearts, salami, dollops of ricotta and a ridiculously simple mustard vinaigrette.

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28. One-Ingredient Watermelon Sorbet

  • Time Commitment: 4 hours (includes freezing time)

  • Why We Love It: vegan, <10 ingredients, make ahead, kid-friendly, crowd-pleaser

We’re picturing you in the pool with a hot dog in one hand and a cup of this in the other. It’s so sweet and refreshing that no one will guess it’s just straight-up watermelon. We won’t tell if you let it melt and drink it with a straw...or spike it with vodka.

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29. Crunchy Ramen Noodle Salad

  • Time Commitment: 10 minutes

  • Why We Love It: vegetarian, <30 minutes, beginner-friendly

Liven up your picnic spread with a sweet, tangy and crispy salad doused in a simple sesame vinaigrette. You won't need to boil water to prepare the ramen noodles; simply toast them in the oven until golden and crispy.

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30. Peach, Tomato, Corn and Arugula Pasta Salad

  • Time Commitment: 25 minutes

  • Why We Love It: <30 minutes, vegetarian, special occasion-worthy

Juicy stone fruit, zippy tomatoes and spicy arugula will make this inspired vegetarian pasta salad a hit at your next summer potluck.

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31. Caesar Pasta Salad

  • Time Commitment: 20 minutes

  • Why We Love It: crowd-pleaser, <30 minutes, beginner-friendly

The dressing uses buttery, creamy avocado in place of traditional eggs. Make a second batch for dipping vegetables, pita bread, pretzels and more.

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32. Caramelized Kimchi Baked Potatoes

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour and 5 minutes

  • Why We Love It: <10 ingredients, kid-friendly

Sugar, sesame oil and a hot pan curb the intense zing of kimchi, turning it fragrant and slightly sweet. Even picky eaters will get behind this sweet-and-savory take on baked spuds.

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33. Celery Salad with Walnuts and Pecorino

  • Time Commitment: 10 minutes

  • Why We Love It: vegetarian, special occasion-worthy, <30 minutes

This simple side proves that celery deserves a spot in the limelight. Once the walnuts are toasted, most of your work is done.

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34. Kale and Brussels Sprout Caesar Slaw

  • Time Commitment: 25 minutes

  • Why We Love It: <30 minutes, vegetarian, crowd-pleaser, no cook

Thanks to sunflower seeds and blanched almonds, the dressing is totally vegan. Feel free to skip the blue cheese if you want the dish to be dairy-free.

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35. Cauliflower “Tater” Tots

  • Time Commitment: 45 minutes

  • Why We Love It: kid-friendly, crowd-pleaser

Trust us: Your kids will have no idea that these tots are totally devoid of potatoes. Cauliflower rice and gooey cheddar cheese will keep them happy nonetheless.

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RELATED: 45 Pasta Recipes to Bring to Every Picnic and Potluck This Summer

For even more great recipes, check out our first cookbook, Only the Good Stuff.

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