Food & Drink

9 Low-Carb, Keto-Friendly Sides To Bring To Your Next Cookout

keto bbq
AS Food studio/Shutterstock

Of all the cooking-focused gatherings you can attend -- dinner party, crawfish boil, hot dog eating contest -- there is perhaps none more enticing for people going low-carb or keto than a backyard cookout. But there's one thing many will find themselves really missing out on as they play grand marshal to a parade of meats: the sides. 

Cookout sides are often the best thing on a BBQ spread, but just because you're cutting the carbs doesn't mean you can't fill your plate with something other than meat. Take a cue from these recipes and you'll have a fully loaded plate in no time. 

Cauliflower 'potato' salad

Potatoes are one of the first vegetarian things to go when you start restricting carbs, but thanks to the miracle of cauliflower, you can still manage to get a decent bowl spuds-free "potato" salad. Pretty much every recipe can be modified with broccoli's albino cousin. And if you prefer it German style, you get the distinct pleasure of curtly telling people you brought blumenkohlsalat, which just really rolls off the tongue. Crafty Morning has a great primer right here.

Tomato salad

Generally speaking, a tomato salad is a blank canvas, and one that can exist with minimal carbs. But the best move might be to mate it with a cucumber salad, as this wonderful recipe from Craving Tasty does, creating an exceedingly refreshing side dish that manages to go with pretty much anything.

Bacon-wrapped avocado

If you aren't already grilling avocado, you're seriously missing out on a baller BBQ move that will turn heads immediately. But why not take it one step further and start wrapping that superfood in a cloak of bacon, essentially creating the greatest keto French fry substitute known to humankind. Hell, this is the kind of side that French fries strive to be. Learn how to do it at Kirbie's Craving

Deviled eggs

Everybody loves deviled eggs. And they're basically the equivalent of a baked potato. Not in the fact that they're an unfertilized zygote or whatever. But in the fact that you can whip pretty much everything into that yolk, including bacon. Or you could follow the lead of Simply Recipe's ingenius and easy move and turn it into something that reminds you of crushing a pile of wings


Coleslaw is basically one of those low-carb dishes you can get away with bringing without having to explain any sort of dietary restrictions. Unless you're serving it in a bread bowl, you should be cool. The Little Pine has a great low-carb version right here

Cauliflower mac & cheese

Mac & cheese is a surefire way to win it at a cookout, whatever "it" truly is. And just because you're ditching the elbows in favor of cauliflower doesn't mean you're not going to win some converts. After all, cheese is the great equalizer between cultures, generations, and dietary lifestyles. Grab an easy and delicious version over at How to This and That, then feel free to add on to it. 


Radishes aren't just essential weapons in Mario's campaign to save Princess Toadstool from a nightmare scenario in which food writers make three-decades-old Nintendo references. They're also great potato substitutes. If you're craving a bag of chips, these faux potatoes from Gnom-Gnom are a great way to sate that Lay's craving

Stuffed Mushrooms

Don't worry. We're done with Mario references for now. Consider mushrooms to be a blank-slate for fillings, much like the deviled egg, but more fun. Because fungus. Sigh. Basically, you can stuff them with anything, as Salty Side Dish does with these tasty, less-spicy riffs on poppers.  

Armadillo Eggs

The bacon-wrapped jalapeno is a thing of beauty, one you can really riff on: whether you just jam the hollowed-out pepper with cream cheese and call it a popper or go more elaborate, people will be impressed. But nobody's going to top the Armadillo Egg, an unholy combination of popper and Scotch egg that sees a hollowed-out jalapeno stuffed with cheese, then wrapped in sausage, then wrapped in bacon, then chased by an immediate prescription to Lipitor. Hey Grill Hey has a great version right here

Sign up here for our daily Thrillist email, get Eatmail for more food coverage, and subscribe here for our YouTube channel to get your fix of the best in food/drink/fun.