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Anne Byrn's Cheese Straws

Danielle Atkins

Anne Byrn's Cheese Straws

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11 Southern sides to complete a summertime burger cookout

With Memorial Day just around the corner, we're hitting prime burger cookout season. And so much goes into crafting the perfect burger — so why not put in the same love into a killer side? From traditional picnic fare to surprising salads, there’s a whole world of delicious sides that pair perfectly with your juicy burger. 

Check out some of our favorites for some tasty inspiration. 

Anne Byrn's Cheese Straws
Cheese straws are easy, versatile, cheap to make, and so fun to nibble on whenever you’re craving a crunchy snack. Best of all, you can make these little cheese snacks well ahead of time — they can be stored in an airtight container for up to a week. In fact, we recommend making extra for in-between burger-making snacks!
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Yucatan-Style Ceviche with Avocado
With a simple, well-thought-out ingredient list, this refreshing recipe is easy as a snap to assemble and is far more complex than meets the eye. Make sure to take some time to find the highest quality ingredients available and avoid bottled citrus juice — your fish will thank you. 
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Potato Salad
Potato salad is one of our favorite picnic and cookout sides for good reason — making it ahead of time not only spares you some extra grilling time, but it actually tastes better if assembled in advance. We’ve added in some butter and pimento cheese (why not?) to take this yummy side to unforgettable levels. 
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Fried Okra with Pickle Aioli
For when you are craving something fried but have had your fill of spuds, try out an easily snackable take on this throughly Southern dish. Cutting the okra lengthwise brings a heartier mouthfeel (and easier to grab shape) than the more traditional slices. The brightness of the pickle aioli adds some much-needed acidity to the savory okra.
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Grilled Eggplant and Summer Fig Salad
While you have the grill out, why not whip up toasty salad to go with your burger? Using a grill (or grill pan) to cook the eggplant adds a smoky char that helps to highlight the sweetness of the figs. The peppery arugula and creamy ricotta balance all of the ingredients together into a tasty, harmonious bite.
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Grilled Pineapple Salsa

While we are huge fans of tradition salsa, this grilled pineapple version kicks it up a notch. Made with red bell peppers, jalapeño and an almost absurd amount of lime juice, this is the recipe to pull out when you want to make an impression. The sweetness and acidity of pineapple makes it a perfect partner for grilled meats, poultry and fish. Try this salsa on tacos, pulled pork sandwiches, burgers or with your favorite seafood.
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Shaved Zucchini and Toasted Corn Salad
Perfect for your summertime cookout, this light and vibrant salad featuring sweet summer produce gets a fragrant note from herbaceous basil, plus crunchy pecans and salty Parmigiano-Reggiano. For best results, use a Y-shaped peeler so you get beautiful wide ribbons with the most surface-to-flavor ratio.
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Fried Dill Pickles with Buttermilk Ranch Dressing  
Salty and tart, fried dill pickles are truly a perfect pairing with a freshly grilled burger. Homemade ranch dressing is a tasty accompaniment to the hot fried pickles — and your burger too, of course!
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Grilled Mexican Street Corn

Popular in Mexico City, this grilled corn on the cob gets its richness from a coating of mayonnaise, which is then used to affix salty cotija cheese to the surface. This is a fantastic side dish, but you could also follow the same recipe, cut the kernels from the cob, toss all the ingredients together in a bowl and use the resulting “salad” as a topping for hot dogs or tacos.
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Fried Alligator with Srirancha

Although it sounds cliché, the flavor of alligator is somewhat similar to chicken. Since the tail is a working muscle, the meat has a tendency to be tough unless cut into very small pieces. We like to cut the alligator into strips that measure about 1/2 inch by 2 inches. Srirancha is a clever update on a classic buttermilk dressing, spicing it up with the addition of spicy Thai Sriracha sauce.
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Smoky Bacon and Black-Eyed Pea Salad

Who says bacon takes away the health value of a salad? A combination of that most-loved of pork products, black-eyed peas, peppers, red onions and celery makes this crunchy salad hearty yet still jam-packed with vegetables. You can serve the dish right after assembling, but if you have a little time, let it rest in the fridge to let all of the flavors settle in nicely. 
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Photo credit (Yucatan-Style Ceviche with Avocado): Ranji McMillan
Photo credit (Fried Okra with Pickle Aioli, Grilled Pineapple Salsa, Fried Dill Pickles with Buttermilk Ranch Dressing, Grilled Mexican Sweet Corn): Ramona King 
Photo credit (Grilled Eggplant and Summer Fig Salad, Shaved Zucchini and Toasted Corn Salad): Lauren Booker
Photo credit (Fried Alligator): Maura Friedman 
Photo credit (Smokey Bacon and Black-Eyed Pea Salad): Lisa Lotts


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Dena Rayess is a recipe editor and cookbook author based in San Francisco. She enjoys exploring new foodways in and around the Bay Area and beyond, and has been known to whip up a mean house cocktail at dinner parties.

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