Picture: You’ve got everything geared up and ready to go for your Memorial Day cookout. Burgers are shaped, hot dogs laid out, veggie patties stacked neatly, buns unpackaged with a 1-to-1 meat-to-bun ratio. But what about the sides! If you spent all your time making sure your mains were absolutely perfect, please don’t worry — we have plenty of last-minute sides that will be welcome at any cookout. (If you’re headed to a potluck cookout and you’re the procrastinating type but want to do better than a six-pack of beer, we’ve got you covered, too.)

All of these are minimal effort, maximum flavor, meaning everyone will appreciate the care you took to craft your gorgeous spread and never question your prep time.

“Instant” Coleslaw, above. Most coleslaw recipes require you to wait, sometimes overnight, for flavors to mingle. We say nay! This coleslaw brings all that tang to center stage without watching the clock. When we say instant, we mean it.


(Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post)

Grammie’s Macaroni Salad. You know what they say: “Grammie knows best.” She really does! Once you boil the pasta, just whip together a quick dressing, and you’ve got this pasta salad ready to serve.

Fresh Kale Salad. Chopping kale in fine strips lets the dressing tenderize the leaves fast, eradicating any notion that kale could ever be tough.


(Jennifer Chase for The Washington Post; food styling by Lisa Cherkasky for The Washington Post)

Dorothy Sietsema’s Three-Bean Salad. Another mother who knows where it’s at: Our very own food critic’s mom, Dorothy, says tossing these three beans in an apple cider vinegar and thyme dressing is a winner. We agree.

Rice Pilaf With Chickpeas and Lemon. Just 20 minutes gets you a grain dish that our gluten-free pals can indulge in. There are no sad swaps here, just good rice, yummy chickpeas and bright lemon. This pairs perfectly with grilled chicken!


(Jennifer Chase for The Washington Post)

Radish and Pea Slaw. This is one to check your knife skills. Julienne crunchy radishes, carrots and snap peas, toss in a sweet but vinegar-tangy dressing, add a handful of herbs, and you’re done! This refreshing slaw will bring out new sides of your grilled goodies.

Fresh Mango Salsa. Oh yes. This sweet, funky, tart salsa will take your grilled meats to the next level. On a burger, on a hot dog, with grilled chicken, eaten with a spoon out of the bowl, this is good. Let rest for just 10 minutes, and it’s ready.


(Tom McCorkle for The Washington Post; food styling by Lisa Cherkasky)

Tortellini Salad With Asparagus and Basil Dressing. Plump little tortellini, crisp-tender asparagus and tomatoes are matched with a basil dressing, bringing all your favorite parts of a caprese into something more substantial. Cook the pasta, toss together, and let sit while your guests mingle.

Southern Saute of Okra, Corn, Onion and Herbs. You’ve probably got a couple extra ears of corn ready to hit the grill, so cut some of those kernels off, and lend them to this saute instead. That way, you get double the corn action alongside some extra, excellently flavored veggies.

More from Voraciously:

You don’t need a lot of time to make — and then eat — great pickles

We love a good burger, from classic to creative. These beefy recipes belong on your grill.

Can a vegan hot dog compete with the real thing? This company is banking on it.