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41 Easy Picnic Side Dishes To Wow Your Crowd

Looking for a perfect side dish for a summer party? Here's a host of side dishes that are just right for the season, will feed a crowd and won't take a back seat to what's on the grill!

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Pesto Pasta & PotatoesTaste of Home

Pesto Pasta & Potatoes

Although this healthy pasta dish is pretty simple to begin with, it's made even easier because you can throw the green beans and pasta into one big pot to cook. —Laura Flowers, Moscow, Idaho

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Baked Beans with PineappleTaste of Home

Baked Beans with Pineapple

This recipe is a staple at our neighborhood's annual barbecue. —J Hindson, Victoria, British Columbia

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Green Bean-Cherry Tomato SaladTaste of Home

Green Bean-Cherry Tomato Salad

My grandmother made a cold green bean salad with potatoes for every family barbecue. Now I bring my own version of the recipe to parties. With added color and taste from the cherry tomatoes, this classic favorite is even better. —Angela Lemoine, Howell, New Jersey

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Contest-Winning Grilled Corn SalsaTaste of Home

Contest-Winning Grilled Corn Salsa

Nothing beats the flavor of grilled vegetables, and this is a super way to use your garden bounty. I grill the veggies anytime I'm grilling something else, then whip up the salad and put it in the fridge to marinate. It's even better the next day. —Teri Kman Laporte, Colorado

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Nutty Broccoli SlawTaste of Home

Nutty Broccoli Slaw

My daughter gave me the recipe for this delightful salad. The sweet dressing nicely coats a crisp blend of broccoli slaw mix, onions, almonds and sunflower kernels. Crushed ramen noodles provide even more crunch. It's a smash hit wherever I take it. —Dora Mae Clapsaddle, Kensington, Ohio

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Summertime Tomato SaladTaste of Home

Summertime Tomato Salad

My crazy good salad has cherry tomatoes, squash and blueberries together in one bowl. Then I layer on the flavor with fresh corn, red onion and mint. —Thomas Faglon, Somerset, New Jersey

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Parmesan Snap Pea Pasta

Parmesan Snap Pea Pasta

My family loves pasta! This simple dish is always a hit, especially during the spring when sugar snap peas are the sweetest. To keep us from getting in a rut, I change up the flavors. —Crystal Jo Bruns, Iliff, Colorado

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Melon with Serrano-Mint Syrup

Melon with Serrano-Mint Syrup

This is just one of the recipes I developed to take advantage of the fresh mint I grow nearly year-round. The serrano pepper is a nice contrast to the sweetness of the syrup and salad. —Jennifer Fisher, Austin, Texas

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Deluxe German Potato SaladTaste of Home

Deluxe German Potato Salad

I make this salad for all occasions—it goes well with any kind of meat. I often take this salad to potlucks, and there's never any left over. The celery, carrots and dry mustard are a special touch not usually found in traditional German potato salad. —Betty Perkins, Hot Springs, Arkansas

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Crunchy Ramen SaladTaste of Home

Crunchy Ramen Salad

For potlucks and picnics, this ramen cabbage salad is a knockout. I tote the veggies in a bowl, dressing in a jar and noodles in a bag. Then I shake them up together when it's time to eat. —LJ Porter, Bauxite, Arkansas

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Fourth of July Bean CasseroleTaste of Home

Fourth of July Bean Casserole

The outstanding barbecue taste of these beans makes them a favorite for cookouts all summer and into the fall. It's a popular dish, even with kids. The beef makes it so much better than plain pork and beans. —Donna Fancher, Lawrence, Indiana

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Summer OrzoTaste of Home

Summer Orzo

I’m always looking for fun ways to use the fresh veggies that come in my Community Supported Agriculture box, and this salad is one of my favorite creations. I like to improvise with whatever I have on hand, feel free to do the same here! —Shayna Marmar, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

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Beer Macaroni & CheeseTaste of Home

Beer Macaroni & Cheese

Creamy with a hint of beer, this cheesy mac is one of our favorites for a big family dinner. —Lauren Petersen, Marysville, Washington

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Khmer Pickled Vegetable Salad

Khmer Pickled Vegetable Salad

I grew up as a missionary kid in Cambodia, and most of my favorite foods have a Southeast Asian background. Locals love eating this pickled salad for breakfast, but I like it as a side for lunch or dinner, especially with chicken satay. —Hannah Heavener, Belton, Texas

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Garlic-Sesame Green BeansTaste of Home

Garlic-Sesame Green Beans

Sauteed bits of garlic and shallot, with a sprinkling of toasted sesame seeds, turn ordinary beans into something special. Keep the recipe in mind for your garden crop in summer. —Deirdre Cox, Kansas City, Missouri

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Island Mango SlawTaste of Home

Island Mango Slaw

The cooling effect of mango and Greek yogurt meets jalapeno spice in this snappy take on a slaw. To ensure ripeness, you may want to buy your mango a day or two ahead. —Jenn Hall, Collingswood, New Jersey

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Grilled Firecracker Potato SaladTaste of Home

Grilled Firecracker Potato Salad

I can eat potato salad like crazy. A little spice is nice, so I use cayenne and paprika in this grilled salad that comes with its own fireworks. —Ashley Armstrong, Kingsland, Georgia

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No-Fuss Avocado Onion SaladTaste of Home

No-Fuss Avocado Onion Salad

My mother, Nena, grew up in Cuba and learned many styles of cooking. She had a knack for making something incredibly simple taste amazing. This salad is proof. By itself, the dressing is really tart, but add the avocados and onions and it's the perfect complement. —Marina Castle Kelley, Canyon Country, California

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Corn with Cilantro-Lime ButterTaste of Home

Corn with Cilantro-Lime Butter

I like to use fresh cilantro from my garden in this lime butter I created especially for grilled corn. —Andrea Reynolds, Westlake, Ohio

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Sweet & Spicy BeansTaste of Home

Sweet & Spicy Beans

My husband and I love this sweet and savory bean dish. It can be enjoyed as a side, but it's also fun for tortilla and corn chip dipping. —Sondra Pope, Mooresville, North Carolina

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Green Beans with Yellow-Pepper ButterTaste of Home

Green Beans with Yellow-Pepper Butter

Colorful, crunchy and buttery, this bean dish comes together quickly and will be a hit at your holiday table. For variation, sprinkle toasted pine nuts over the top just before serving. —Judie White, Florien, Louisiana

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Summertime SlawTaste of Home

Summertime Slaw

As a change from mayonnaise-laden slaw, I created this refreshing alternative. It uses many of the garden vegetables I grow, so it's also economical. I serve it at our family reunion each Fourth of July, and it's always a big hit at get-togethers. —Sharon Payne, Mayfield, Kentucky

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Summer Squash SaladTaste of Home

Summer Squash Salad

This is a colorful and tasty alternative to coleslaw. Like most gardeners, we usually have an abundance of squash and zucchini in summer, so this dish is inexpensive to prepare and a great way to put this fresh produce to use. —Diane Hixon, Niceville, Florida

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Black-Eyed Pea Tomato SaladTaste of Home

Black-Eyed Pea Tomato Salad

Spending time in the kitchen with my late aunt was so much fun because she was an amazing cook and teacher. This black-eyed pea salad was one of her specialties. It's easy to make and is a nice alternative to pasta or potato salad. Add cooked cubed chicken breast to make it a meal on its own. —Patricia Ness, La Mesa, California

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Veggie Macaroni & CheeseTaste of Home

Veggie Macaroni & Cheese

This creamy mac and cheese definitely doesn't come from a box! Fresh veggies add crunch and color and will leave everyone saying, "More, please!" —Marsha Morril, Harrisburg, Oregon

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Tzatziki Potato SaladTaste of Home

Tzatziki Potato Salad

My son has an egg allergy, so this potato salad is perfect for him. For extra color, add radishes, apple and garlic dill pickles. —Cindy Romberg, Mississauga, Ontario

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Quick Antipasto SaladTaste of Home

Quick Antipasto Salad

I always told my sister, Karen, I'd marry a cowboy—and I did! Patrick and I had a festive farm-style wedding. My mother prepared all the side dishes, including this tongue-tingling salad. —Kendra Waterbury, East Thetford, Vermont

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Slow-Cooker Potluck BeansTaste of Home

Slow-Cooker Potluck Beans

It was the morning of our family potluck and I still needed something to bring. I threw together this recipe while drinking my morning coffee. By the end of the gathering, the beans were all gone and someone had even washed the crock for me! —Mary Anne Thygesen, Portland, Oregon

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Refreshing Tropical Fruit SaladTaste of Home

Refreshing Tropical Fruit Salad

Want a family-friendly side dish? This colorful medley is kid-pleasing and a great way to encourage healthy eating. —Sharon Ricci, Spooner, Wisconsin

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Grilled Lebanese SaladTaste of Home

Grilled Lebanese Salad

Amazingly, even our kids eat their greens, herbs and garden veggies when they’re prepared this way. Fresh and healthy never tasted more delicious. —Trisha Kruse, Eagle, Idaho

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Caraway Coleslaw with Citrus MayonnaiseTaste of Home

Caraway Coleslaw with Citrus Mayonnaise

The combination of caraway and orange keeps this slaw from being anything but run-of-the-mill. I always get requests to bring a big batch to potlucks; proof positive that it's a keeper! I also like to make it a day ahead so the flavors can truly blend. —Lily Julow, Lawrenceville, Georgia

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Cheesy Slow-Cooked CornTaste of Home

Cheesy Slow-Cooked Corn

My family really likes this creamy, cheesy side dish—and it's so easy to make. Even those who usually don't eat much corn often ask for a second helping. —Mary Ann Truitt, Wichita, Kansas

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Grilled Romaine HeartsTaste of Home

Grilled Romaine Hearts

Romaine is a great companion for a grilled medium rare steak, but don’t leave it on the grill too long, or the leaves may scorch. —Stuart Pritchard, Commerce, Texas

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Grilled Italian  Potato SaladTaste of Home

Grilled Italian Potato Salad

Living in California, we grill year-round and tend to get tired of the same old thing. My family loves this version of potato salad. I usually make this with Italian flavors, but you can use anything you want. —Courtney Wilson, Fresno, California

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Summer RisottoTaste of Home

Summer Risotto

My mom always made this hearty dish to use up late summer garden vegetables. Often, I’ll add sautéed mushrooms and serve it as an entrée with crusty bread and a salad.—Shirley Hodge, Bangor, Pennsylvania

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Layered Cornbread SaladTaste of Home

Layered Cornbread Salad

When the garden comes in, we harvest the veggies and layer them with cornbread and sweet relish for this snappy salad. Everyone wants seconds. —Rebecca Clark, Warrior, Alabama

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Beans, Bacon & Tomato Bake

Beans, Bacon & Tomato Bake

Bacon, tomatoes and lima beans combine for a nutrient-packed side dish that makes the perfect accompaniment to turkey. —Karen Kumpulainen, Forest City, North Carolina

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Two-Bean Tomato BakeTaste of Home

Two-Bean Tomato Bake

Parmesan cheese, basil and garlic spice up this mouthwatering medley of beans, mushrooms, onion and tomato. It's even more flavorful when you use your garden harvest. We love the crumb topping because it adds a fantastic crunch.—Dorothy Rieke, Julian, Nebraska

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Corn Salad with Tamale CroutonsTaste of Home

Corn Salad with Tamale Croutons

This recipe is special because I was able to take a delectable, but somewhat complicated, appetizer recipe and turn it into a salad that's easy to make and transport. Adjust the jalapeno and chipotles to suit your spiciness level.—Richi Reynolds, Scottsboro, Alabama

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Bacon and Broccoli SaladTaste of Home

Bacon and Broccoli Salad

You'll want to serve this family-friendly broccoli salad with bacon year-round. The broccoli gets a big-time flavor boost from bacon, toasted pecans, dried berries and a mayo dressing. —Cindi Read, Hendersonville, Tennessee

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Pennsylvania Dutch ColeslawTaste of Home

Pennsylvania Dutch Coleslaw

My mother used to make this salad on holidays. With all the cabbage that is grown here in the Northwest, the recipe is a real natural for us! —Deb Darr, Falls City, Oregon

Hazel Wheaton
Hazel is a writer and editor who has worked in the publishing industry for over 25 years in the fields of travel, jewelry arts and food. As the editor of the Taste of Home Christmas Annual (among other titles), she's in the holiday spirit all year round. An enthusiastic baker, she's known for her cookies, cakes and other baked goods. And she still wishes she could cook like her mother.

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