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Wow Your Guests with These Unexpected Grilled Side Dishes

Wow Your Guests with These Unexpected Grilled Side Dishes

Words Jennifer Billock

The next time you’re cooking out, try these recipes for the best grilled sides that can be cooked right alongside the main course.

Potatoes and butter-basted corn on the cob are staples when you’re cooking on the grill. But the next time you have friends over for a cookout, why not replace that standard fare with some more unique grilled side dishes? We’re talking grapes, oysters, cheese and more.

When I was growing up, my family cooked out on the grill almost every weekend during the warm summers. We loved to get creative and tried to come up with the best grilled sides. Sometimes we would have competitions to see who could come up with the most surprising ideas. My dad began making whole grilled Vidalia onions that taste just like French onion soup (you’ll find that recipe below). My mom, forever a devotee to baked Brie, threw the cheese on the grill. And my brothers and I tried everything else, from fruit and squash to oysters and bread, often seasoned with a family secret mixture that we kept in a refillable shaker.

If you want to surprise your guests at your next backyard barbecue, try these four recipes.

grilled foods on plates and skewers

French Onion Vidalias


1 medium Vidalia onion per person

1 beef bouillon cube per onion

1 tablespoon butter per onion


  1. Cut each Vidalia in half most of the way down, so the two halves are still connected at the base. Turn the onion 90 degrees and make the same cut, then turn the onion 45 degrees and make the same cut, then 90 degrees and the same cut. You’ll end up with eight onion wedges, all connected at the base. You can also use an apple divider to save time and create evenly sliced wedges.
  2. Place each Vidalia on a square of tin foil large enough to wrap the entire onion. Press a bouillon cube down into the middle of each onion, and press a pat of butter down on top of that. Bring up the sides of the foil and wrap the onion, leaving a little bit of room inside for steam.
  3. Place the packets on a medium-high heat grill for 40 minutes, or until the onion inside gets soft and tender. Move the packets into individual bowls. Unwrap foil and eat by pulling off pieces of the onion with a fork.
  4. (Optional) After each onion is cooked, unwrap it and top with Gruyere cheese; cook under a broiler until bubbly.
assorted foods on the grill

Grilled Brie with Jam and Toastlets


1 wheel of Brie cheese

1 tablespoon olive oil

Jams of your choice

French bread slices, toasted


  1. Heat grill to medium-high heat.
  2. Brush Brie rind all over with olive oil.
  3. Grill for 3 to 5 minutes on indirect heat. Flip over and grill for 3-5 more minutes. If desired, brush a tablespoon of your favorite jam on top of the Brie after flipping it.
  4. Remove from grill and serve with jam and toastlets.
grilled vegetables on skewers

Oysters on the Barbie


6 fresh oysters per person, 4 if the oysters are large

1 lemon, cut into wedges


  1. Heat grill to medium-high heat.
  2. Scrub the oysters.
  3. Place the oysters cup-side-down onto the grill. Cover the grill and cook oysters for 5 to 10 minutes, watching for shells to pop open.
  4. As each oyster opens, remove it from the grill and pull the top shell off. Serve with lemon wedges.

Want even more cookout ideas? Here’s how to make grilled pizza, charred lemons, and more fun fruits you can grill.

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By Jennifer Billock

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