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The Best Late Summer Barbecue Sides, According to Eater Editors

Don’t let the Gregorian calendar hem you in: It’s never too late to host a summery barbecue

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An overhead photo of a cast iron pan with cornbread topped with a jalapeno slices. Shutterstock

We know, we know. It may feel like summer is almost over — according to the calendar, the first day of fall is only a few weeks away — but if alarming global weather patterns have taught us anything, it’s that it’ll probably be summer for a lot longer than we were expecting. Don’t think too hard about that right now — just host a barbecue while the summer produce is still good. Need sides-piration to go along with those hamburgers and hot dogs? Here are the cookout sides our editors turn to most.

Lahbco’s Potato Salad

Nasim Lahbichi

A few weeks ago my friend brought this potato salad to the beach (move: bring potato salad to the beach) and it changed my life. I’ve always been more of a fan of mustard-y, herb-y potato salads over those drowning in mayonnaise, and Lahbco’s version takes everything I want in a potato salad and adds everything I didn’t know I needed. It’s filled with Middle Eastern flavors like preserved lemon, sumac, and pomegranate molasses, and is full of crunchy, bright bits of red onion and scallion that offset the creamy chunks of potato. I could not stop eating it. This is the kind of side I would ignore entire entrees for. — Jaya Saxena, senior staff writer

Peaches and Tomatoes With Burrata and Hot Sauce

Chris Morocco, Bon Appetit

There are a handful of picky eaters in my family, which can make menu planning for get-togethers less than enjoyable. But the first time I brought this summery side to a big barbecue, I returned to check on the plate and found it absolutely scraped clean. The combination of sweet tomatoes, peak-of-season stone fruit (most recently I used pristine Frog Hollow Farm peaches but as the recipe indicates nectarines work, too), creamy burrata, and a tangy dressing make this a perfect counterbalance for anything from burgers to grilled chicken. Best of all, it’s one of those dishes that comes together in about five minutes — seriously, we love a two-step recipe — and only gets better if it sits around for a bit while the fruits marinate in the vinegar, honey, and hot sauce. I usually use Tabasco, even though the recipe calls for Frank’s or Crystal. My only advice? Double up on everything if you’re planning to feed a crowd. — Lauren Saria, Eater SF editor

Honey Hush Cornbread

Dinosaur Bar-B-Que

My five years living in Rochester, New York, turned me into a Dinosaur Bar-B-Que super fan (still waiting on that Boston location, folks…), and so the honey hush cornbread recipe in its cookbook, Dinosaur Bar-B-Que: An American Roadhouse, is one of my cookout VIPs: It’s embarrassingly easy, and it hits that just-right middle ground of not too dense, not too light. It’s a little bit sweet, but not too sweet, a perfect pairing for pretty much anything you’ll be grilling. The final step — brushing the top with honey right after it comes out of the oven — is key. Might I recommend using a chile-infused honey (like Mike’s Hot Honey) to add a little zing? — Rachel Leah Blumenthal, Eater Boston editor

Quinoa Chickpea Salad

Erin Clark, Well Plated

Let me preface this by saying: Quinoa is not particularly exciting. But this salad over-delivers thanks to the roasted scallion dressing, which is a sneakily sophisticated and delicious upgrade to a regular vinaigrette. The roasting — simple and quick though it is — imparts a much deeper flavor than raw scallions ever could, and it transforms the rest of the humble ingredients (chickpeas, almonds, red onion, parsley) to something greater than the sum of the parts. The best part: The recipe is endlessly adaptable. I usually add in cucumber; avocado or feta also made good additions, and I’m sure other nuts besides almonds would work well. Plus it keeps well, is easily transported, and (bonus!) is vegan. Simply put, it’s a cookout crowd-pleaser that punches above its weight. — Ellie Krupnick, director of editorial operations

Late-Summer Salad with Berry-Coconut Dressing

Gregory Gourdet, Everyone’s Table

This time of year is one of my favorites when it comes to farmers market trawling: I get up early, make it to the market right before it opens, and fill my stained old tote bag with Maryhill stone fruit, fat beefsteak tomatoes on the verge of splitting, electric orange Sungold tomatoes, and pints of plump marionberries and raspberries. When I want to show off at a dinner party or cookout, I use all of the above in this stunner of a Gregory Gourdet salad, which combines nectarines, caneberries, tomatoes, and grilled corn with a garden’s worth of fresh herbs and coconut dressing. The dressing is really what makes the dish: Makrut lime, Thai chile, and lime juice bring out the perfume-y qualities of the fruit, while the coconut milk and olive oil add some nice fat to temper the acid. I tend to quadruple the garlic in this recipe, or add thinly sliced shallots, to give it a more savory character; if I’m really feeling extra, I plop a ball of burrata at the center, pour the salad around the cheese, and serve the whole thing with rice crackers. — Brooke Jackson-Glidden, Eater Portland editor

Corn Salad With Tomatoes, Basil, and Cilantro

Genevieve Ko, NYT Cooking

Over the summer, I am extremely lazy in the kitchen, opting only for recipes that ask very little of both me and my stove. Luckily, much of the best seasonal produce requires little to no cooking and still manages to be filling and delicious, and this corn salad is the best of the best. Throw some corn, tomatoes, herbs, and lime into a bowl. Add salt. Mix. It’s so simple that a recipe seems unnecessary. The added benefit of this salad in particular is that it doesn’t have to only be a side: It makes for a good hot dog topping, too. — Dayna Evans, staff writer and Eater Philly editor