9 Side Dishes For Smoked Brisket That Are To-Die-For
December 10, 2020 / No Comments
Oh, the sun shines on brisket day and the only clouds are puffs of deliciousness escaping from the smoker. It’s a beautiful day that ends gathered ‘round your favorite people, with bellies full of real, honest food.
Smoked brisket is a labor of love, which is code for “it takes all day”. But that doesn’t mean your sides should! These carefully selected side dishes can also make your backyard BBQ menu vegetarian/vegan friendly.
Side dishes for smoked brisket should be simple enough to let the brisket shine, but delicious enough to belong on the plate.
Click below to jump to the recipe that sounds best to you:
- Mustardy coleslaw
- Simple green beans
- Healthy broccoli salad
- Southern baked macaroni and cheese
- Honey roasted carrots
- Old fashioned spoon bread
- Mashed turnips
- Sauteed dandelion greens
- Esquites-inspired corn salad
- The one thing that brings it all together
It’s not a barbecue without coleslaw! This mustardy, Carolina-style coleslaw brings freshness to the table and doesn’t challenge the buttery-smokiness of the brisket. It’s a good palate cleanser among the sides.
- 1/3 cup mustard (dijon or whole grain, preferably)
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1/3 cup white vinegar
- 1/3 cup oil (vegetable or canola)
- 2 to 3 tbsp hot sauce (or you could try a spicy bbq sauce)
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 large head green cabbage, finely chopped (about 10 cups)
- 4 carrots, finely grated
In a big bowl, whisk mustard and sugar. One by one, whisk in the rest of the ingredients. When you get to the cabbage and carrots, switch to a wooden spoon (or your hands!). Serve chilled.
Barbecue restaurants usually have green beans on the menu, and for good reason. It’s good to have some fiber with all that meat! Keep your green beans simple and don’t overcook them. The crunch is a good contrast to the brisket. They are also a nice size and shape to dip in barbecue sauce… kind of like a healthy french fry.
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1.5 pounds fresh green beans, trimmed
- 2 cloves garlic, minced or smashed
- ½ tsp salt
- 2 tbsp water
Heat oil on medium-high in a skillet large enough to fit all the beans. Add green beans and cook, rotating often with a spoon (or just shake the pan) until the beans start to blister in areas (about 6 minutes). Turn heat to medium, add garlic and salt and keep stirring until you smell the garlic (about 30 seconds). Add water and immediately cover. Wait about 2 minutes, or until the beans are bright green. Serve immediately.
This is another crunchy, fresh option—with cheddar cheese! The sweet and sour dressing will lure people back to this “healthy option” and may even become a summerlong favorite.
- ⅓ cup oil (olive, canola or vegetable)
- 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 tbsp mustard
- 1 tbsp honey
- 1 medium clove garlic, minced or pressed
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1 pound broccoli florets, roughly chopped (these are available pre-cut in bags at most grocery stores)
- ½ cup sunflower seeds (raw or toasted)
- ½ cup red onion, finely chopped
- ½ cup grated cheddar cheese (optional but highly encouraged)
- ⅓ cup dried cranberries or dried tart cherries, chopped
In a large bowl, whisk together dressing ingredients. One by one, mix in salad ingredients until things are looking even. Serve immediately or chilled.
This recipe requires a bit of love to make, but you best not disrespect the brisket with box mac and cheese. You can make ahead of time and heat the day-of if you like. This is the thick, rich kind of mac and cheese that is your reward for eating all those vegetables. If for some reason you don’t eat all of it, you can mix with brisket bits, reheat, and top with BBQ sauce for Thanksgiving-level delicious leftovers.
- 16 oz box elbow macaroni, uncooked
- 16 oz shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- 8 oz shredded colby jack cheese
- 8 oz shredded mozzarella cheese
- 4 oz cream cheese, cubed
- 1 cup half and half
- 1 cup heavy cream
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1-2 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1/4 tsp mustard powder
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 tsp smoked paprika (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter an 8×11 baking dish and set aside. Cook elbow pasta to al dente – no more than that!
While pasta is cooking: in a very big bowl, mix the half and half, heavy cream, 12 oz of the cheddar cheese, half of the Colby jack cheese, all of the mozzarella cheese, and all of the cream cheese. Add all spices to the bowl, mixing thoroughly and checking for flavor. Remember that cheese is pretty salty, so go easy on the salt. Add eggs and stir until fully mixed. You should not be able to identify any egg yolks. Drain pasta and add to the egg-cheese-cream bowl. Mix well, then transfer to the baking dish. Top the macaroni mixture with the rest of the cheese and paprika, if using. Whisper “I love you” and place in oven.
Check in at 35 minutes. If the cheese looks good and bubbly (think like a pizza), take it out. If not, wait 4 more minutes and check again. Serve hot and gooey! If reheating, heat for about 10 minutes at 200F
Roasted carrots are so tasty with brisket because they are both sweet and rich, with buttery insides and crispy outsides. This recipe includes parsley, which offers a pop of color but also brings a nice freshness. Roasted carrots are another tasty, healthy option to dip in barbecue sauce.
- 2 pounds carrots, peeled and trimmed
- 3 tbsp butter
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 1/2 tbsp honey (substitute maple syrup if vegan)
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 2 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley (optional)
Preheat oven to 425F. In a large frying pan, melt butter on medium heat. Cook for about 3 minutes, swirling the butter until it smells nutty. Add the garlic, swirl for about 20 seconds, and remove from heat. Thoroughly mix honey into the butter mixture and set aside.
Line carrots on baking sheet and drizzle with half of butter mixture, turning to coat evenly. Add salt and pepper and toss to coat, ending with an even layer of carrots.
Roast for 15 minutes, flip carrots, and roast 15-20 minutes longer (until edges of carrots are turning brown and crispy). Remove from oven and allow to cool before transferring into a serving bowl. Drizzle remaining honey butter onto carrots and toss on parsley like confetti. Salt to taste.
Spoon bread is basically a creamier cornbread that is baked in a pan and eaten with a spoon. It’s super easy to make and scoops nicely onto a plate at buffet-style gatherings.
- 3/4 cup cornmeal
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 cup boiling water
- 3 tbsp melted butter
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup milk
- 2 tsp baking powder
Preheat oven to 350F. Grease an 8-inch baking dish (or casserole dish). In a large mixing bowl, whisk together cornmeal and salt. Add boiling water and mix until smooth. Add melted butter, stir thoroughly, and allow to cool about 5 minutes. Whisk in milk.
In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs. Add eggs and baking powder to the large mixing bowl and stir until smooth. Pour the batter into your baking dish and bake for 35 minutes or until slightly browned on top. Serve with a spoon and a big pat of butter.
Mashed turnips are a powerful, lower carb alternative to mashed potatoes. Turnips are luscious and creamy with a nice horseradish-y kick to them. Here they are paired with sage, a root vegetable BFF. This is a simple but impressive side dish.
- 4 large turnips, peeled and cubed
- 1 large russet potato, peeled and cubed
- 3 tbsp butter
- 2 shallots, chopped (Can substitute ¼ cup yellow onion)
- 2 tbsp chopped fresh sage
- 1 cup milk
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
This recipe is really pretty intuitive if you’ve made mashed potatoes before. Boil the turnip and potato cubes in a stock pot of salted water until they are tender, 20-30 minutes. On medium heat, melt butter in saucepan until foamy. Add shallots or onion and sage, stirring until shallot/onion is transparent. Add milk and simmer. Salt and pepper to taste.
Drain turnips and potatoes in a colander and return to stock pot. Add butter/milk mixture and mash until desired consistency. Season to taste and serve warm.
Here’s another easy veggie recipe that brings its own punch of flavor. Dandelion greens are easier to cook than mustard or collard greens but still bring a tasty palate-cleansing bitterness. This is a low carb option if you like to load up on barbecue sauce.
- 3 pound dandelion greens, stems removed and cut into two inch pieces.
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 5 large garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
- Red pepper flakes
- 1/2 tsp salt
Boil greens in a pot of salted water for about 8-10 minutes. Remove from heat, drain and rinse with cold water. In a large skillet, heat oil on medium until it shimmers. Add garlic and as much red pepper as you think you need, swirling for 30 seconds. Add greens and salt to the pan, mixing well, and increase heat to medium-high. Stir constantly for 4-5 minutes until greens are thoroughly coated with oil and steaming a little bit. Serve hot!
Corn is one of the most amazing and versatile foods on the planet, and corn dishes are almost always a hit at gatherings (you could probably just bring a bowl of popcorn to a BBQ and everyone would eat it). This corn salad is based off the Mexican street corn esquites with a little different seasoning. It calls for Cotija cheese but can be substituted with parmesan for a different flavor.
- 2 tbsp oil (vegetable or canola)
- 4 cups corn kernels (frozen or fresh, uncooked)
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 small jalapeño pepper, seeded and finely chopped (optional)
- 3 tbsp crumbled cotija cheese, plus more for garnish (grated parmesan is a good option too)
- 2 tbsp mayonnaise
- 1 tbsp lime juice
- 1 1/2 tsp chili powder
Heat the oil in a large skillet until it shimmers. Add the corn and cook on medium for 15-20 minutes, until the corn is toasted up. Swirl in the garlic and cook for another minute. Let cool.
In a serving bowl, mix together the rest of the ingredients until you’ve created a smooth paste. Add the corn kernels to the bowl one cup at a time to ensure even coating. When you’ve finished, top with extra cheese. Serve warm.
Soon the sides will be sitting on the table, awaiting the brisket. And when the perfectly
smoked brisket is lovingly set down, when you join with loved ones to savor the fruits of a hard day’s work, or even when you’re reheating the leftovers the next day, you will reach for the thing that pulls it all together—a smoky sweet, spicy smooth sauce.
You want a barbecue sauce that is created with the same care and honest work you just put into your dishes. Bonus if it’s healthy, tasty and vegan!