Our list of easy sides for ribs can help you get a meal on the table with minimal stress. These sides for ribs will also keep boredom at bay without a ridiculous amount of prep or a lengthy list of ingredients. Read on for our cookout-worthy recommendations and find your new favorite side dish! Think about what type of rib you are going to buy and what flavor rib rub you are using, how you’ll thaw them & cook – and pair away!
Crockpot Baked Beans
Baked beans are an easy, make-ahead side dish that always goes over well with any sized group, but this recipe easily scales for a crowd. Using your slow cooker also frees up your oven for other dishes and reduces the amount of labor involved in the cooking process. The one change you’ll make when using the slow cooker is how you layer in the ingredients.
Layering the ingredients allows the beans to soak up the bacon grease and liquid from the other ingredients for the best flavor. First, you’ll add the bacon to the bottom of the crock, and then pour over the soaked beans and finally the onions. Once you add the cooking liquid, make sure you resist stirring. Get a recipe here.
Macaroni and Cheese
Macaroni and cheese always please a crowd, and this recipe uses only a few simple ingredients like cheddar cheese, butter, eggs, and milk. For this recipe, you’ll use a square baking pan and pre-cook the macaroni before combining the ingredients and baking the dish.
It’s best to slightly undercook your pasta for this recipe as fully cooked pasta will become overcooked during the baking process. If you want a bit more crunch, you can add a breadcrumb topping by combining a cup of fine breadcrumbs with two tablespoons of melted butter. Spread this mixture over the top of your macaroni and cheese and bake until nicely golden brown. Get a recipe here.
Black Bean and Mango Salad
For a refreshing alternative to traditional side dishes, try this black bean and mango salad that mixes canned beans, mangoes, and a simple vinaigrette. This dish takes minutes to assemble and requires no cooking, so it’s an excellent last-minute option that you can scale up or down.
If you don’t have jalapeno, you can use hot sauce, and if you aren’t a fan of mangoes or can’t find them, you can use peaches instead. Get a recipe here.
Italian Pasta Salad
Pasta salad is a summer must when it comes to potlucks and other meals (like tuna steak!). This pasta salad features a good blend of flavorful ingredients, and you can make it in advance. The prep is simple, but make sure you get good pasta as it’s the foundation to this dish, and you’ll notice if the pasta is low-quality.
To get the most flavor out of this dish, make sure to heavily salt the water you boil your pasta in and use a good quality cheese like mozzarella or feta to create that luxurious creamy taste. Get a recipe here.
Rainbow Slaw with Tamari Ginger Vinaigrette
Some of the best sides for ribs include colorful ingredients and crunch that add variety to the textures on your plate. This rainbow slaw is easy to throw together in a hurry, and if you aren’t a fan of cutting vegetables, you can get most of the ingredients pre-cut from just about any grocery store.
The vinaigrette is simple and blends oils and vinegar with brown sugar, soy sauce, and ginger for a light yet flavorful blend. This dish is best when it has time to chill so the flavors can mingle, but you can easily serve it sooner without compromising the taste too much. Get a recipe here.
Orzo Salad with Kale Pesto
One great thing about this side dish is that you can eat it with ribs, and then eat the leftovers as a main meal with any protein in your fridge. Orzo is easy to find alongside other types of pasta, and you can add a variety of colored peppers and tomatoes for a summery look.
This recipe uses canned cannellini beans, but you can substitute great northern beans or another type of white bean. This dish is easy to make at the last minute, but it’s best when it has time to chill completely before serving. Get a recipe here.
Old-Fashioned Potato Salad
The secret to this potato salad is using the correct type of potato and allowing the dish plenty of time to chill. Extra chilling allows the flavors time to develop, so this dish is excellent as leftovers. The ingredients here are simple: potatoes, onion, garlic, olive oil, and spices, but the result is intensely flavorful and pairs well with succulent ribs.
Choose a potato that holds together well once boiled, and peeling the potatoes for this salad is mandatory for the best texture. Another tip is to whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, garlic, and spices and allow them to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before adding them to the sliced boiled potatoes. Get a recipe here.
Creamy Broccoli Salad
This salad features lots of broccoli and bacon, so the flavor and texture work perfectly with some tender ribs. There’s little cooking involved, and the dressing here is essential, so don’t skip it!
As a side dish, this creamy broccoli salad is pretty easy to throw together and has a limited number of ingredients. There’s some cooling time involved for the bacon, so plan accordingly, but the broccoli remains raw and gets cut into bite-sized pieces. Get a recipe here.
Baked Corn Pudding
Baked corn pudding is a crowd-pleaser with a limited number of ingredients. This recipe calls for cream-style corn and whole kernel corn, so you get whole pieces of corn and a silky soft saucy texture with a delectable crust on top.
This recipe also calls for a fair number of eggs, milk, and butter, and you can double it to feed a crowd. While this dish works best when served hot, room temperature is also fine, and you can top it with just about anything you want or eat it plain. Get a recipe here.
Black-eyed Peas with Collard Greens
Collard greens are a traditional side served with ribs, but the addition of black-eyed peas adds a depth of flavor and texture not matched with many other pairings. You’ll also find bell pepper and bacon in this recipe which also adds color and saltiness, and although there’s a bit of broth in this recipe, it’s not watery at all.
This side dish is an excellent option if you want something simple that works well with ribs and any kind of rib sauce. There isn’t a sauce on this dish per se, but the spices and other ingredients create a full-bodied dish that pairs well with a fruity red wine. Get a recipe here.
Fresh Corn and Tomato Salad
Corn and tomato salad is an excellent way to use up an abundance of produce in your garden, and it’s something you can make ahead and chill, or whip up in a few minutes. It’s a great summer salad that fits well with pork ribs. The dressing consists of oil, vinegar, and salt, and there’s also some basil for an added punch of flavor and color.
This dish is an excellent choice for picnics, cookouts, and potlucks since it travels well and doesn’t need refrigeration for a few hours. It’s best to use fresh local sweet corn if you have access to it, and local tomatoes such as Roma or grape tomatoes work best. Get a recipe here.
Cornbread muffins are a favorite side dish with ribs, and this recipe is easy and quick but yields twelve muffins. The ingredients are straightforward, but be sure and use fresh cornmeal and muffin tin liners to prevent these gems from sticking. Get a recipe here.
Southern Green Beans
Green beans make another great side with ribs, and when you add some crispy bacon bits you get the best flavor without sacrificing the unique texture and flavor of your beans. Make sure to salt these at the end to ensure you don’t overdo it, and try adding a little:
- Cajun seasoning
- Smoked sausage
- Crushed red pepper
Your green bean dish should be made and served fresh, so the green beans maintain their best texture, and fresh green beans are a must. Get a recipe here.
Three Bean Salad
Three bean salad is a great quick dish to make that also pairs exquisitely with ribs and doesn’t require many ingredients. Use canned beans for this recipe and fresh herbs for the best result, and don’t skimp on the dressing as it imparts a valuable flavor that deepens over time. Get a recipe here.
Traditional Potato Salad with Bacon
Yukon gold potatoes work the best with this recipe because they hold their shape well after cooking. While this recipe takes a little longer since you have to cook the potatoes, it’s a dish you can make well in advance, and it improves over time while in your fridge. Get a potato salad recipe here.
Classic Macaroni Salad
Macaroni is a standard side dish at many cookouts, and this recipe keeps things simple with a limited ingredient list packed with flavor. This dish works well when prepared in advance and given plenty of time to chill before serving.
Don’t skimp on the vegetables in this recipe, as that’s what gives it an eye-catching pop of color, but feel free to make some substitutions if you feel like mixing things up. Get a recipe here.
Asian Noodle Salad
This Asian Noodle Salad is another excellent example of how a cold salad with lots of texture pairs so well with tender, fall-off-the-bone ribs. This recipe calls for vermicelli rice noodles, which have a distinctive texture, and a load of veggies that add complexity to the overall flavor. If you aren’t a fan of chili, it’s ok to leave it out.
The fish sauce, or soy sauce if you’re vegetarian, is an essential yet subtle part of the delectable flavor of this dish. Get a recipe here.
Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes
Cheesy potatoes are a delightfully hot and hearty side that pair well with ribs, and you can easily enhance this dish with various add-ins such as green onions, bacon, ham, peppers, or onions. This dish needs to bake for 1.5 hours in a 400-degree oven, so make sure to plan and include extra time for broiling and cooling. Get a recipe here.
Deviled eggs are a simple yet classy side that doesn’t require any unique ingredients but benefits from the addition of smoked paprika as a garnish. It doesn’t take long to make this dish, just over half an hour, but the eggs should get served once chilled. Get a recipe here.
German Cucumber Salad
This cucumber salad includes a cream sauce lightly flavored with dill and parsley. To increase the flavor here you can use fresh herbs instead of dried, and thinly sliced cucumbers create a larger surface area for more sauce in each bite.
You can make this dish a few days in advance since it gets better when the flavors have a chance to mingle. If you’re not a fan of sour cream, it’s ok to leave it out and add additional oil and vinegar to taste. Get a recipe here.
Cowboy caviar involves a little more vegetable cutting than some other recipes, but the result is a beautiful side dish that also doubles as a dip with corn chips. Make this side a little in advance, but don’t add the avocado until you’re ready to serve.
If you can’t find black-eyed peas, you can use cannellini, great northern, or pinto beans and fresh lime juice is essential. Get a recipe here.
Caprese salad is not a traditional side dish with ribs, but it’s easy and beautiful. Simply layer together the ingredients, and don’t be afraid to buy your mozzarella pre-sliced for added convenience. This recipe is an excellent way to use up leftover basil and tomatoes from your garden.
You can drizzle this dish with a balsamic reduction for added flavor, as the acid helps to balance out the creaminess of the cheese and oil. Get a recipe here.
Easy sides for ribs aren’t limited to baked beans and muffins anymore, and serving foods with pops of color and fresh vegetables is an excellent way to enhance your meal. Keep in mind that many of these dishes you can make in advance, and some sides need time to chill completely before serving. Don’t forget other “side side” dishes like watermelon, coleslaw, or simple fruit salad to round out the meal.
These easy side dishes provide some valuable nutrition but won’t overshadow the ribs you worked so hard to make perfect. Some of these sides also work as a main meal if you add a serving of protein such as leftover ribs, eggs, fish, or chicken.