Kid-Friendly Side Dishes for Your Family BBQ

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Figuring out what kids like to eat at a BBQ can feel challenging. The atmosphere calls for fun, laid-back food, but they must also eat healthy meals. Use these BBQ side dishes as inspiration for your upcoming cookout. You’ll find the perfect balance between nutritious and indulgent, even for those picky eaters in your family.

Healthy BBQ Side Dishes

Check out these side dish ideas for healthy barbeques. They have something for everyone and all the nutrients people need to feel their best.

Grilled Mexican Street Corn

People often make grilled Mexican street corn because it’s one of the easiest BBQ side dishes. You already use the grill, so why not use it for your sides? Whisk a crema and jalapeno sauce together before browning the corn cobs and drenching them. You can always swap crema for low-fat sour cream to make it healthier.

Related: A Single Parent’s Guide to Getting Your Kids to Love Cooking

Corn And Squash Succotash

Succotash is an opportunity to throw all the vegetables in your fridge into one dish — especially if you have summer squash. Barbecue recipes taste great with squash’s complementary flavor profile. The veggie also supports heart and bone development with nutrients like vitamin C and magnesium.

Toss corn kernels, diced squash, and other veggies your family enjoys with salted butter. Add spices as you see fit to round out the easy side dish, like thyme, pepper, and chives.

Homemade Campfire Beans

Anyone can get a can of chili beans at the store, but they often contain high amounts of sugar. The sweetener preserves the canned goods and increases your blood sugar when consumed. Make campfire beans from scratch to provide a healthier version. Pinto beans, zero-sugar ketchup, mustard, and chili powder bring the dish together. It’s one of the primary things kids like to eat at a BBQ because it’s savory and sweet.

Lobster Salad

You’ll redefine how everyone enjoys salads by making a lobster salad for your next family barbecue. Lobster is a quintessential summer food, especially when paired with chilled lettuce. Top your salad with homemade Caesar dressing by mixing ingredients like anchovies, parmesan, and egg yolks.

The cheesy garlic flavor balances the savory lobster juice, delighting taste buds in every bite. Your kids will love the burst of summer zest next to cheesy burgers and salty hot dogs.

Related: 5 Healthy Tasty Meals for Single Parents and Small Families

Sliced Fruit in Fun Shapes

Get your cookie cutters out of storage and make a fruit tray for your barbecue side dish. Fun shapes like stars and animals will appeal more to kids than regular slices. Add plates featuring everyone’s favorite cartoon characters for a budget-friendly BBQ hack.

Comfort Food Side Dishes

Cookouts wouldn’t be the same without indulgent BBQ side dishes. Make a few of these comfort food recipes to find the best one for your upcoming event.

Baked Mac and Cheese

There are so many ways to have fun with baked mac and cheese. Kids love funny pasta shapes and a breadcrumb layer topping the melted dish. Go big with sharp cheddar cheese and salt to maximize the savory cheesiness even when the dish reaches room temperature next to the other sides.

Waffle Fries

Anyone can stop by a fast food restaurant for shoestring fries. They’re the classic shape everyone pictures when they imagine fries, so surprise your loved ones with waffle fries instead. If you spritz them with oil, they’ll get crispy in an oven or air fryer. 

Related: How to Meal Plan So You’ll Actually Stick With It

Want to get even more creative? Each fry is wide enough to hold toppings, like tortilla chips and salsa. Spread your cooked waffle fries across a baking sheet and top them with shredded cheese, bacon bits, or anything else matching your main barbecue entrees. You’ll easily win an award for the best appetizer or side at the cookout.

Tuna Macaroni Salad

Encourage your kids to eat more veggies by making tuna macaroni salad as one of your recurring BBQ side dishes. Boil and refrigerate elbow noodles until they’re cold. Mix peas, diced pickles, drained tuna, mayonnaise, and cheddar cheese in a large bowl. Your dish is ready to serve once you’ve mixed the elbow noodles into the concoction.

Twice-Baked Potatoes

This is the recipe you want to make if your BBQ is just a few hours away. Bake Russet potatoes in the oven until they’re soft. Slice them lengthwise and scoop the fluffy insides out. Mix the insides with cheddar cheese, sour cream, and chives before spooning them back into the empty potato skin boats. A few minutes under your broiler will brown this side dish to perfection.

Southern-Style Cornbread

Barbecues don’t feel complete without warm, buttery cornbread. It’s also something kids like to eat at a BBQ because it’s a delicious finger food. Make it from scratch or a boxed mix in less than an hour, and let it cool on a rack. Whether you prefer slices or squares, your cornbread will be the life of the party for people of all ages.

Make What Kids Like to Eat

Make these BBQ side dishes for your next summer get-together. Whether your kids want something cheesy, healthy, or anything in between, these recipes are always a hit. They could even help make them before the party if they want to help make the magic happen.


Beth is the content manager and Managing Editor at Body+Mind. She writes about parenting, fitness, mental health, and nutrition. You can find Beth on Twitter @bodymindmag.