Barbecue ribs pair easily with just about any dishes that are suitable for a family cookout or picnic. Choose and prepare simple finger foods -- suitable for kids -- rather than elegant, complicated dishes. Whole fresh fruits and vegetables and simple salads go perfectly with barbecue ribs. Add one or two side dishes, and the menu is complete.
Potato salad is a natural side dish for a barbecue rib menu, but select from plenty of alternatives. Coleslaw, bean salad, mixed greens and marinated cucumber salad go perfectly with barbecue ribs. For a flavor twist, make salads that include apples, carrots, tomatoes and cheese, or prepare an artichoke salad. Macaroni and other pasta salads made with bottled salad dressings are quicker to prepare than potato salad and go well with ribs.
Cornbread is a tasty companion for barbecue ribs, but can be heavy and filling. Lighter breads include dinner rolls, sourdough bread and baguettes. Ribs also pair well with potato bread, which is light and fluffy and has a mild flavor to balance out the barbecue sauce. A twist on traditional cornbread also makes a barbecue rib meal special. Add jalapeno peppers, whole kernels of corn, cheese, apples, sour cream or bacon to cornbread for a noteworthy flavor.
Fresh fruit is refreshing when paired with barbecue ribs, especially for outdoor menus. Look for fruit that is in season. In the summer, peaches, plums, apricots and grapes can be served whole, sliced or mixed together in a fruit salad. Cube melons, like watermelon, honeydew and cantaloupe. Mix berries -- such as sliced strawberries with whole blueberries and raspberries -- with whipped cream for a light fruit dish.
Grilled, boiled or even creamed corn rounds out a barbecue rib menu perfectly. Potatoes, roasted on the grill or in the oven, also go well with ribs. Dark green and bright-colored vegetables bring visual interest to the menu and provide vitamins and minerals. Asparagus, peas, steamed carrots, broccoli and stuffed mushrooms are tasty side dishes that complement the main course. Fresh vegetables for dipping, with ranch or blue cheese dressing, make a cool menu option for hot weather. Include cucumbers, carrots, celery, bell peppers, broccoli or sugar peas on a deli tray with dip.