Food

19 amazing summery side dishes to take your July 4th barbecue to the next level

It's not a cookout without the main course — from juicy burgers and succulent steaks to grilled chicken. But nothing truly wows a crowd excited quite like a sweet spread of fun sides.

Throw a Fourth of July cookout to remember by adding some of these creative, colorful and crazy good options, including twists on classics like coleslaw and potato salad.

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Seriously, no matter which side of the mayo divide guests fall on, they are going to go in for seconds of this potato salad. Instead of mayonnaise, a mixture of heart-healthy tahini, apple cider vinegar and a splash of starchy potato-cooking water help bind this tangy dressing to each bite. Deceptively creamy, this filling and refreshing classic picnic side dish will be piled high on everyone's plates.

Tim Love's Easy Potato Salad
Patty Lee / TODAY
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Chef Tim Love's easy vinegar-based potato salad is perfect for tailgating, picnics, cookouts and year-round entertaining. But we love how light it is for summer.

Summer Corn Succotash
Summer succotash
Maya Visnyei
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With only three ingredients that may already be in the pantry, this is a sweet and simple summer side that's a great recipe to keep going back to every weekend.

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Pandan, also known as screw pine or the vanilla of Southeast Asia, brings out a wonderfully smoky sweetness from the corn. It can be found in the Asian food section of some grocery stores or in many Asian specialty stores.

Snap Pea, Charred Corn and Quinoa Salad
Chef Ryan Scott makes a snap pea, charred corn and quinoa salad that's perfect for summer picnicking
Patty Lee / TODAY
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A tangy, white balsamic vinaigrette gives this simple salad lots of great flavor. It can be served cold or at room temperature, making it a great portable option for summer picnics and other outdoor activities.

5-Ingredient Watermelon, Feta and Arugula Salad
Kevin Curry cooks up low-calorie, gluten-free sweet potato lasagna with watermelon, feta and arugula salad
Samantha Okazaki / TODAY
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Peppery arugula is a perfect foil to creamy feta cheese and sweet, juicy watermelon in this dish. Serve it as a side or even as a main course. Don't be surprised if this becomes a new go-to summer salad!

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United in this citrus salad, Cara Cara and blood oranges, pink and yellow grapefruits and kumquats are a kaleidoscope of colors and a mouth-watering mélange of flavors.

5-Ingredient Spicy Grilled Shrimp and Avocado Salad
5-Ingredient Spicy Grilled Shrimp and Avocado Salad
Grace Parisi / TODAY
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Canned chipotle chiles in adobo not only add heat, they also add a subtle smokiness to this quick-as-lightening shrimp salad. Serve it slightly warm or chilled. It's also great on top of a bed of greens as a refreshing main salad dish.

The 4-ingredient kale salad we're obsessed with
4-Ingredient Kale Salad
Samantha Okazaki / TODAY
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Other kale salads require tenderizing the leafy green with a massage. There’s no need with this salad because the kale naturally softens thanks to the lemon juice in the vinaigrette. In fact, the longer the dressing settles into the kale, the better the salad becomes.

Easy Asian-Style Coleslaw
Chef Tiffani Faison makes an easy Asian-style coleslaw
Zach Schiffman / TODAY
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Bok choy and pea pods add extra crunch and sweetness to this gingery slaw from chef Tiffani Faison of Boston's Sweet Cheeks Q and Tiger Mama.

Flavor-Packed Asian Slaw
Ellie Krieger's recipe for healthy Asian-spiced brisket
Samantha Okazaki / TODAY
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This colorful, crisp slaw is packed with flavor thanks to the dressing's irresistible balance of tangy lime and sweet honey — with just the right kick of chili sauce. It is perfect with just about any kind of grilled meat or fish ... or even stuffed into a wrap sandwich! But it was truly born to be served with brisket.

Slow-Cooker Pulled Pork Sliders with Brussels Sprouts Slaw
Tiffani Thiessen's recipe for Super Bowl snacks, slow cooker pulled pork sliders with Brussels sprouts slaw and sweet potato tater tots
Samantha Okazaki / TODAY
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TIffani Thiessen tops her slow-cooker pulled pork sliders with a Brussels sprouts slaw here, but any crunchy slaw — from a creamy coleslaw to a sweet carrot slaw — would also be a great addition in warmer months.

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Make some curry roasted cauliflower ahead of time and toss it with bagged slaw for a flavorful side or meal.

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This twist on traditional slaw is the perfect lunch or dinner to make ahead of time and pack for a mobile feast. It's delicious and hearty while still being healthy, plus it's packed with a good dose of protein, grains and vegetables!

Cole Slaw Wrap
Cole slaw wraps
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Here's a delicious and healthy take on summer rolls using savory cabbage, courtesy of chef Jeff McInnis of Root & Bone restaurant in New York City.

Al's Orzo Pasta Salad
Al Roker's orzo pasta salad
Samantha Okazaki/TODAY
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With no mayo, this simple, healthy orzo pasta salad is perfect for eating at room temperature and taking to picnics or on road trips.

Easy Heirloom Tomato Tart
Heirloom Tomato Tart
Maggie Shi
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This savory tomato tart is just as delicious to eat as it is beautiful to look at.

Quick and Easy BLT Salad with Pickled Onions
How to make a BLT salad
Debbie Koenig/TODAY
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This salad takes all the best things about the classic BLT sandwich — crisp bacon, of course, along with lettuce, juicy tomatoes and great bread — and puts them into forkable form.

3-Bean Salad
Craig Strong's delicious five-ingredient chipotle chicken and bean salad
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Don't feel like going grocery shopping? All the ingredients for this simple, pleasantly acidic side dish are probably already in the pantry.

This post was originally published May 25, 2016.

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