11 BBQ Appetizers You'll Be Serving All Summer

Tomato, Corn, and Red Cabbage Salad
Photo: Paul Sirisalee

As you season the steaks and fire up the grill, satisfy hungry guests with an assortment of savory starters. Just make sure they save room for the feast ahead—including dessert, of course.

01 of 11

Tomato, Corn, and Red Cabbage Salad

Tomato, Corn, and Red Cabbage Salad
Paul Sirisalee

This easy, no-cook side offers a delicious symphony of flavors. Use fresh raw corn kernels for their juicy, sweet pop—they pair wonderfully with the creamy avocado. Any tomato variety will work in this recipe, just be sure to keep them unwashed and at room temperature. Storing tomatoes in the refrigerator can make them mealy.

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02 of 11

Bacon-Wrapped Potatoes

Bacon-Wrapped Potatoes
Jonny Valiant

These savory treats are simple but oh-so-delicious—after all, anything wrapped in bacon becomes instantly crowd-pleasing. The dill sauce can be made and the potatoes steamed and wrapped in bacon (but not baked) up to 1 day in advance and stored in the refrigerator, covered. Bake the potatoes just before serving.

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03 of 11

Watercress Salad With Olives and Tomatoes

Watercress Salad With Olives and Tomatoes
Roland Bello

By using greens that are less likely to wilt, like hearty watercress, you ensure this salad will stand up to sitting out in the heat. After topping the watercress with tomatoes, olives, ricotta salata, and fresh oregano leaves, set out for guests alongside the homemade three-ingredient dressing.

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04 of 11

Barbecue Meatball Sliders

Barbecue Meatball Sliders
Paul Sirisalee

Ditch the standby cheeseburger sliders in favor of tangy meatballs tossed in barbecue sauce and topped with a creamy, crunchy slaw made with cider vinegar and celery seed. Hoping to serve these as a main course later in the week? Add a side of sweet potato fries, or a simple green salad.

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05 of 11

Tangy Cucumber Dill Salad

Tangy Cucumber Dill Salad
Raymond Hom

This fresh, no-cook veggie side dish takes the same amount of time to prepare as boxed mac and cheese—but is infinitely more flavorful and much more nutritious. Made with tangy red wine vinegar, sliced red onions, and chopped fresh dill, it's a great partner for rich, smoked meats.

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06 of 11

Spicy Corn and Chorizo Nachos

Spicy Corn and Chorizo Nachos
Jonny Valiant

Add a kick to cheesy nachos with spiced chorizo and pickled jalapenos. A sprinkling of sweet corn kernels balances out the spice. Bake them until the cheese has melted, about 3 to 5 minutes, then set a pile of them out with cold beers. They'll disappear faster than you can say tortilla.

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07 of 11

Quick Pickled Crudités

Quick Pickled Crudités
Roland Bello

Transporting crudités to a friend's barbecue? Remove the vegetables from the brine before packing in a large zip-top bag (no stinky spill). But don't pour the brine down the drain! Save it and boil it again for another batch of pickles. They'll keep in the refrigerator for up to one week.

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08 of 11

Marinated Watermelon and Tomato Salad

Marinated Watermelon and Tomato Salad
Marcus Nilsson

It's not a barbecue without at least one watermelon dish, and we're partial to this fresh fruit salad, which only takes 35 minutes to make—marinating and all. The watermelon cubes (cut from a 5-pound baby watermelon) absorb the tangy lime juice as they sit, resulting in a flavor-packed salad.

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09 of 11

Pimento Mac and Cheese Bites

Pimento Mac and Cheese Bites
Heather Meldrom

These pimento-flecked mac and cheese bites combine two comfort food favorites in one tiny package. Sharp cheddar cheese lends the mixture a rich, bold flavor, but if you'd like to add an even more "grown-up" edge, try swapping smoked Spanish paprika (pimenton) for the cayenne.

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10 of 11

Grilled Mediterranean Vegetables

Grilled Mediterranean Vegetables
Charles Masters

By serving this mix of zucchini, eggplant, cherry tomatoes, and scallions as an appetizer, you keep the grill clear for your meat or fish. But be sure to pay attention to which veggies take longer—eggplant and squash will need more time on the grill than the tomatoes and scallions. Serve with couscous and spiced chili oil, for drizzling.

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11 of 11

Spinach and Caramelized Onion Dip

Spinach and Caramelized Onion Dip
Jonny Valiant

This impressive make-ahead appetizer will prep guests for the meal ahead, and it's perfect if you can't decide whether to serve spinach dip or onion dip. Pair with broccoli and cauliflower florets, endive spears, and radishes.

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