Nearly 30% Of People Think This Is The Best BBQ Side Dish

Memorial Day Weekend is here, which means barbecue season has begun ... or should we say barbeque season? However you spell it, there's no question that summertime is the peak season for backyard parties featuring families, friends, and plenty of delicious food. Of course, in addition to spelling, people also argue over definitions. To some, summer BBQ simply means a cookout where you grill up popular American favorites like hot dogs and hamburgers. Purists, meanwhile, see those capital letters ⁠— BBQ ⁠— and think of classics like pork ribs, beef brisket, and pulled pork, smoked or grilled with the regional barbecue sauce of choice. But as far as we're concerned, the biggest debate isn't over what meats should be on the barbie this summer, it's what side dishes to serve?

So interested were we in the side dish question, in fact, we polled over 500 of our Tasting Table readers to find out what they thought went best with BBQ. Some of the answers may surprise you, at least in terms of where they rank. We must admit we were a little surprised to see pasta salad ranking last among the five side dish options given, garnering the votes of only 58 of the 515 people surveyed (or 11.26% of responses). Roasted veggies fared slightly better (81 votes, or 15.73%), but still couldn't crack the top three.

Survey finds this is the most popular BBQ side dish

The winner, or BBQ side dish of choice among those surveyed in our Tasting Table survey, was baked beans, which commanded nearly 30% of the vote (28.35%, to be exact, as it was the top choice of 146 of 515 people polled). There's no doubt baked beans are a perfect addition for any potluck or picnic, but what elevates them to a BBQ classic is their versatility. As the New England Historical Society notes, baked beans are often associated with "Beantown" or Boston, and while that city favors molasses when cooking their baked beans, the dish can accommodate myriad other ingredient options as well, from spicy mustard to bourbon to onions. The side dish is also readily available from a can, as our ranking of the 12 best canned baked beans can attest to.

Potato salad finished a close second in our side dish poll, earning a healthy 25.24% of votes (or 130 responses). Potato salad partisans can claim regional bias, if they like. Our third-place finisher, meanwhile, was coleslaw. This BBQ side dish standard-bearer garnered a respectable 19.42% of votes, finding favor with an even 100 of survey participants. We could argue with those who say, as Our Best Bites does, that sweet and tangy Memphis-style coleslaw is iconic, but since it's now BBQ season, why argue when we could be eating? Besides, the one thing we can probably all agree on is there's room for plenty of sides at any good BBQ.