What to Eat with BBQ Chicken: Perfect Pairings and Side Dishes

Discover a variety of sides that perfectly complement the smoky flavors of BBQ chicken, enhancing your meal with balanced textures and tastes.

Key takeaways:

  • Baked beans: Sweet and savory sauce complements smoky chicken.
  • Coleslaw: Tangy crunch cuts through rich BBQ flavors.
  • Cornbread: Dense, crumbly texture balances saucy chicken.
  • Grilled corn: Sweet and smoky counterpoint to BBQ chicken.
  • Vegetable sides: Brussels sprouts, grilled veggies, cucumber salad, garlic green beans.

BEST Side Dishes to Serve With BBQ Chicken

best side dishes to serve with bbq chicken

Baked beans are quintessential, their sweet and savory sauce harmonizing with the smokiness of the chicken.

A tangy, crunchy coleslaw can offer a refreshing contrast to the richness of the meat, while cornbread, with its sweet buttery flavor, provides a comforting balance.

Each side dish serves a dual purpose: complementing the main while rounding out the meal nutritionally.

With these partners, the umami of barbecue is elevated, creating a full-bodied dining experience.

Baked Beans

When paired with the smoky flavor of BBQ chicken, baked beans offer a delightful balance with their sweet and savory sauce. Their creamy texture contrasts nicely against the crispness of chicken skin.

Amp up traditional baked beans by incorporating applewood-smoked bacon or a dash of bourbon for depth. If you’re catering to a health-conscious crowd, opt for a low-sugar version, which can be equally flavorful with the right herbs and spices, like thyme or smoked paprika.

Another excellent customization is to stir in charred peppers or onions to provide an additional layer of smokiness and sweetness, thus elevating this classic side dish to something unique.


The crisp, refreshing crunch of coleslaw serves as the perfect counterbalance to the savory flavors of barbecued chicken. Opting for a classic cabbage and carrot slaw dressed in a vinegar-based dressing will infuse a tangy note that cuts through the rich BBQ glaze. This bright acidity is a taste bud’s respite from the hearty chicken, creating an irresistible contrast on the plate.

For those who favor a creamy texture, a mayo-based slaw dressing will round out the smokiness of the meat, adding a velvety touch to the palate. The versatility of coleslaw also allows for creative additions like apple slices for sweetness or a sprinkle of red pepper flakes for a touch of heat, ensuring it can cater to a variety of taste preferences while maintaining its role as a BBQ staple.


Cornbread, with its dense yet crumbly texture, adds an ideal contrast to the smoky, saucy nature of BBQ chicken. The subtle sweetness of the bread complements the savory flavors of the meat, creating a balanced taste experience.

Consider a classic Southern-style cornbread, baked in a cast-iron skillet to achieve a crispy edge that’s as satisfying to bite into as the chicken itself. For a twist, stir in some jalapeños or cheese to the batter for an extra kick or a touch of creaminess, respectively.

It’s a versatile side that can be sliced, buttered, and served warm, acting as the perfect sponge for any extra barbecue sauce that makes its way onto your plate.

Vegetable Sides Perfect With BBQ Chicken

Grilled Corn on the Cob is a quintessential partner to BBQ chicken, providing a sweet and smoky counterpoint that complements the savory flavors. For added zest, brush corn with a mix of melted butter, lime juice, and chili powder before grilling.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts, tossed with olive oil, salt, and pepper, become caramelized and deliciously crisp in the oven. The slight bitterness of the sprouts harmonizes with the tangy BBQ sauce.

A medley of Grilled Vegetables such as zucchini, bell peppers, and asparagus, lightly seasoned and charred, adds both color and a range of textures to your plate. Their natural freshness balances the richness of the chicken.

A simple Cucumber Salad, dressed with vinegar, sugar, salt, and dill, offers a cooling and palate-cleansing effect, cutting through the heaviness of the meal.

Garlic Green Beans, quickly sautéed with a hint of garlic, remain crisp and vibrant, giving you an uncomplicated yet flavorful side that doesn’t compete with the main star.