Ask anyone what Texas is known for and you’ll probably get two consistent answers: being really big and having a great barbecue.
They are not wrong. The tradition of barbecue in Texas is well established. Pitmasters use wood-fired smokers to cook the meat over low, slow heat, giving the brisket, ribs and sausages the same loving attention usually reserved for gourmet kitchens. People from all over the country, if not the world, make pilgrimages to Texas to see what it’s all about.
When it comes to Texas barbecue, the brisket dominates the conversation, and rightly so. The best examples are marbled with succulent fat, topped with a crisp, seasoned bark, and good enough for visitors to settle in. But don’t sleep on the sides.
Potato salad, coleslaw, mac and cheese and pinto beans make up the classic quartet of side dishes on menus across the state, and when handled with care, they make delicious accompaniments to the main course. But, once in a while, you find side dishes so good, so unexpected, that you completely forget that prime rib in your hand and dig in for more.
These are eight of the best side dishes you’ll find at Texas barbecues. Some are creative takes on traditional favorites, while others stray completely from classic designs. They range from jalapeños stuffed with brisket and cream cheese wrapped in bacon to smoky, creamy scalloped potatoes and addictive greens swimming in a spicy gochujang broth. Add them all to your bucket list.