Side Dishes: The Ultimate Lists of Sides to Complete Any Meal
The side dish is a powerful, if little noticed, thing. It’s a companion on a plate, a helpmate on the table.
It can make a familiar main dish sing notes we’d forgotten about, or it can ground the wild flavors of a complex main dish while still letting its magical qualities come through.
Of course, your choice of a main dish plays a huge part in where your meal is headed, but there’s good reason to also focus in on choosing the best side dishes.
Whether you’re trying to highlight the central flavors, contrast with the textures, or simply find the fastest way to get a well-rounded and delicious meal on the table, it can be both an art and a science.
Most meals are best thought of as an ensemble cast of characters, not one built to highlight one powerhouse performance.
Of course, there will be powerhouse performances, and that’s as it should be.
All eyes will – and should – turn to that gorgeous beef Wellington you slaved over. But it’s the perfect accompaniment that will really make all that work pay off.
Because, once you master the perfect side dish, you’ll realize that it’s often the unsung hero – the bit player, the character actor – which makes the whole meal not just good, but deliciously memorable.
Jump to Individual Side Dish Lists:
That’s all the long way of saying that, bringing the best supporting cast into your menu will only make your main dish sing with even more aplomb.
Much like pairing the perfect wine, the perfect side can often make your main dish even better, bringing out flavors and textures that might otherwise fade into the background.
Of course, great side dishes can also simply round out the meal, not just to make sure there’s enough food for a satisfying meal, but also to diversify the nutrition, visual appeal, and flavors of the meal.
Finding the Right Balance
Leaning into contrasting flavors to balance and add interest to the palate is one of our go-to uses of dish duos. If your main dish is fatty and heavy, think about a side dish with a touch of acid or spice.
If your main dish comes barreling at you with bright and spicy flavors, look for sides with a touch of sweetness or a luxurious fattiness.
A heavy protein is often beautifully balanced with the light crunch of vegetables or the bitterness of greens with a touch of heat and a wisp of acid from citrus or vinegar.
If your main dish is complex and involved, then easy side dishes may be in order to help balance your time and sanity in the kitchen.
It’s Always the Right Season
Thinking seasonally and regionally is also a good strategy for searching out the perfect accompaniment to round out your meal.
If your main dish leans heavily on seasonal ingredients or is traditionally served at a specific time of year, then don’t hesitate to lean into seasonal touches with your sides or appetizers.
Think lamb with mint and peas or roast turkey or seared duck with autumn root vegetables for Thanksgiving side dishes.
The Role That Salads Play
Salads not only add a punch of fresh flavors and endless possibilities, they can also be a great time saver.
Whether you’re going elaborate or simple, you can almost always pull a good salad together while your main dish is cooking. On a busy weeknight or during hectic prep for a dinner party, salads are the perfect companion to – well – pretty much everything.
Bonus: We’re in a golden age of fruits and vegetables, and keeping just a few things in the fridge can up your salad game tenfold.
Pomegranate seeds are available all year long now, and there are wide varieties of things like pea shoots, radish shoots, watermelon radishes, and other types of produce that were just a blip on the radar a few years ago.
Playing in the produce aisle has never been this much fun!
So, let’s delve into some of our favorite ideas for side dishes to our favorite meals.
Sides for Beefy Dishes
Beef brings a hearty, bold savoriness that makes it naturally the star of every plate. So, it practically begs for bold partners especially when you’re talking about special dinner sides.
There are many ways for a side dish to be assertive and bold – whether it be through bright contrasts of acidity and crunch or the richness of a stick-to-your-ribs classic.
We explore these many possibilities to get the perfect accompaniment for your delectable beef recipe tonight.
1. Best Side for Steak: Creamy Potatoes Au Gratin
As the French know well, this may be the best side that has ever been created.
With a crispy, cheesy top filled with perfectly sliced potatoes, Au Gratin compliments both the flavor and texture of steak.
Yum. We want this. You know you want this.
They are easy to make, and they’re spectacularly rich.
This is bound to satisfy the hearty appetites in your family. We recommend making a large batch; these go fast.
They’re best fresh out of the oven, but if you happen to have leftovers, au gratin does reheat well, and it’s delicious because it gets a little extra golden and crispy.
2. Short Rib Side: Sweet and Savory Sweet Potato Mash
Well, we’re licking our lips thinking about fork-tender, slow-cooked, short-ribs cooked with root vegetables.
Talk about comfort.
The only thing that could make this meal better is if you add a little sweetness in the mix. Maybe we also want something a little smooth or creamy, so compliment the pull-off-the-bone texture of the short ribs.
We’ve got an idea. Maple. Syrup. Sweet. Potato. Mash.
Put those words together to create something magical.
This recipe from Simply Delicious Food will bring the perfect balance to this dish with a combination of sweet and savory.
3. Delicious Sides for Beef Stew: Fluffy Cornbread
We know, when you think of cornbread, it’s usually next to a big bowl of chili. Well, can you ever really have too much cornbread?
This fluffy and cakey bread goes so well with any stewed or soupy entree.
Whether you make this from scratch or dress up the little blue box of Jiffy, there are few things better than a warm, buttery, slice of cornbread.
The best cornbread is only lightly sweet, but it incorporates the rich flavor that we are looking for to complement the hearty beef stew.
4. Good With Any Beef Dish: Chinese Garlic Green Beans
These Chinese-style green beans tossed in garlic are a fantastic side dish. These delicious strings are flash-fried, which keeps the center perfectly tender and crisp.
The umami flavor compliments the flavor of the beef and will add a sweet Asian flavor to any meat-based meal.
These are not only delicious, but they are super good for you.
No matter what style beef you are cooking up for the evening, you’ll wow your family or guests with these babies.
Chinese-style garlic beans are the perfect side dish; a perfect way to incorporate the perfect umami taste.
5. Roasted Mushrooms with Herbed Quinoa
Most people know how well mushrooms pair with tender steak or meatloaf. Even if you aren’t a fungi fan, you’ll enjoy this blend packed with herbs and the superfood quinoa.
While you’re cooking this dish, the spongy raw morsels will turn into luxurious, delicious umami bombs of flavor.
You don’t even need fancy mushrooms for this.
This is a light side dish with a perfect blend of textures and flavors.
The squeeze of lemon juice will bring together all of the delicious mushroom juices.
Enjoy this refreshing, texture diverse side!
Now, our list of beef dishes with their unbelievable side dish ideas:
There aren’t many dishes that come more packing with comforting, deep umami, and succulent textures than this amazing French beef stew. Check out our list of delicious and accommodating sides to make your special dinner even better.
Hearty, meaty, stick-to-your-ribs deliciousness – beef stew needs no introduction. But you might be surprised at just how much more appreciation you’ll have for this classic concoction once you serve it with the perfect side. Our list has a plethora of ideas for just the right combinations.
As the name implies, beef tenderloin is not only tender and succulent, it also deserves your love and attention. But pair it with the perfect side dish, and it might just take your breath away. Whether you focus on archetypal combinations like the perfectly baked potato or adventure into more unusual territory, we have a whole host of ideas to help get your perfect dinner together.
The perfect beef Wellington wants, nay, demands the perfect simple and elegant side dishes to compliment its masterful place in the center of the table. Whether it’s a simple bright carrot puree, or a rich and decadent cheesy potatoes dauphinoise, we have the sides that one of the most storied main dishes will love. You’ll find the perfect accompaniment here.
A mouth-watering French Dip is warm, savory, flavorful, and perfect on a fall or winter’s day. The soft, gorgeous, yeasty roll with a slight sweetness, the thinly sliced tender beef folded inside in satiny layers, melted provolone cheese, and then, the Au Jus. This amazing concoction deserves the perfect accessories, and we have some simple yet ultra delicious ideas.
The classic (and classy!) Italian meatball is insanely popular – and for good reason. It’s the ultimate family dish. Adults love them. Kids love them. Domestic animals linger beneath your feet hoping one will roll off the plate. And they love a good side dish. So, whether you opt for a traditional side like a Caesar salad, or go for something that’s simple and unique like eggplant pizzas, we’ve got you covered.
Meatballs, Marinara, and Submarine rolls make one heckuva a snack, but they can be upgraded to a fantastic meal with the addition of some amazing side dishes. It can be a minefield deciding which way to go to make this masterpiece complete. Read on for some killer ideas.
It’s a Wednesday night, and the aromatic smell of a beef or turkey meatloaf is wafting through the kitchen. Oh, you can smell its homey and luscious flavors. And those flavors want the perfect side dish to match its unparalleled table appeal. So, while you’re letting it rest for a bit why not pull together a quick side of bacon-wrapped asparagus? How about a steakhouse favorite like luscious creamed spinach? We have 15 delectable sides for you to choose from here.
When you’ve had a pot roast in the oven for a few hours it gives you time to think. Namely, about how rich and juicy the meat is going to be – and what would lovingly pair with its amazingness. Wonder no more! We have 15 suggestions that cover everything from the sweet (hello, applesauce!), to the hearty (hello, whipped mashed potatoes!), to the light and airy (hello, dinner rolls!).
Another great traditional meal. This dinner deserves something special, but not too crazy given how filling the main course is already. Browse this wonderful list of the best side dishes to captivate your pallet and your stomach.
We love Sloppy Joes! It’s a security blanket of youthful joy and whimsical pleasure. A classic of barbecues and good school days. Sloppy Joes never let you down. So, they deserve the right back up, as well. And we found a world of side dishes – from quick pickles and savory corn – that are perfect for a quick Tuesday night meal. So many ideas to get you started.
When you love something, you take the time to make the time. And cabbage rolls are definitely a Sunday meal – not a Monday one. So, once you’ve taken the time to put together these bundles of flavor – you want some stellar sides to go with them. And boy, did we find some amazing sides that fit the bill.
Stuffed peppers are a fun dish that never seem to go out of style. They’re like Audrey Hepburn riding a Vespa scooter in Roman Holiday. They fill you with joy. So, we searched out side dish recipes to make sure all that joy has some excellent company on the plate. From a peppery and fresh salad to pillowy homemade pita, you’ll never need to wonder what to serve with stuffed peppers again.
This is one savory and delicious concoction of meat and pasta. It’s a wondrous food all on it’s own sitting in the bowl before you. But this dish does beg for something a little more to create the perfect balance. We offer up that little more with our side dish ideas to make your meal complete…all put together like a diamond set in the perfect, finished ring.
Sides for Poultry Dishes
Poultry loves to absorb what’s around it, which makes it a perfect canvas for a variety of flavors.
And the sides that accompany it can be comfortably fresh and light like the many easy side dishes for chicken, or hearty and savory, and each can elevate the poultry main dish until it shines.
1. Simple and Tasty Lemon Ginger Spinach
We are moving away from our belly-busting side options. This one is light and healthy.
The ginger and lemon come together to add some zest to the poultry meal. The array of flavors will completely change the sensation of each bite.
If it’s summertime, try cooling this down for a bit in the fridge. Chilled cooked greens can be some of the most refreshing.
This side is bound to add to the flavor profile of your dinner or lunch.
Lemon and chicken are natural companions. The sharp acidity of lemon cuts the rich flavor of the chicken.
This lemon and ginger spinach side dish is simple and easy to prepare. It’ll go well with grilled or roasted chicken.
2. Classically Smooth Mashed Potatoes With Mushroom Sauce
Yup, you guessed it. Skin off, skin on, whichever way you mash it, there is nothing better than a dollop of perfectly creamy mashed potatoes equipped with a dip full of gravy.
There are just some things that you don’t grow out of: Disney movies, napping, and mashed potatoes.
It’s comfort food to soothe any mood. Mashed potatoes are genuinely healing.
Even a dry prepared chicken, turkey, or duck can be spruced up with this on the plate.
Mashed potatoes can be made in a million ways, so be sure to experiment to find your winning side dish.
3. Thanksgiving Turkey Anytime; Comforting Stuffing
When it comes to the holidays, it’s all about showing appreciation for our family. Well, we all love the cousin that hates stuffing. More for us!
Stuffing cooked inside the turkey is more savory and delicious as it sucks up all the tasty juices.
When roasted together, these ingredients mesh in a marvelous blend of texture and flavor; stuffing is the most loyal of food friends.
Stuffing is so hearty and delicious.
Its roasted avian partner often overshadows this bready goodness. However, it has won the heart and taste buds of so many.
Herbs, bread, butter. Where could it go wrong?
It could only be made better if you add another classic.
Do you know where we’re going with this?
4. Grilled Zucchini Boats
When you’re eating chicken, duck, or turkey, it can be easy for a plate to lack color.
Add some beauty to your plate with this fantastic and healthy side.
These grilled zucchini boats are filled with antioxidants and protein-packed veggies.
Zucchini boats are incredible and will make your dinner.
The acidity of the balsamic vinaigrette brings together the flavors of chickpeas, quinoa, tomatoes, and feta cheese.
Throw some chicken breasts and zucchini boats on the grill and prepare the filling. If you’re having a summer cookout, these babies will wow the crowd.
An amazing side dish like this will help make your table look beautiful when entertaining.
5. Baked Macaroni and Cheese
Cheesy, crunch, macaroni. Not from the box, but straight out of the oven.
What could be better to pair with poultry?
The salty flavor combines well, and the creamy texture is more than welcome.
The crispy Panko-Parmesan topping sets this side dish apart from a lot of other options.
We love cheese more than most, and then if you add pasta to it?
We’re in love.
The roux base is simple, and once you bake it, the whole thing melts all together.
This is one poultry side dish that is absolutely delectable and will make the whole family smile.
Now, some of our favorite poultry dishes with plenty of side dish ideas:
Roll this chicken dish into a roulade or deep fry it, or stuff it with black forest ham and gruyere cheese and bake it in the oven. It’s a mouthful of wonderful textures and flavors, and what you pair it with can make it even more magical when you find just the right contrasts. Check out these ideas and take a ride beyond the boundaries of appetizing.
A bowl of chicken and dumplings is legendary. Just so perfectly homey and comforting, whether in a wedding buffet spread or on a harried Tuesday night dinner table. It also pairs magically with any number of sides, from sweet and creamy corn to hearty breads. We’ve got all the bases covered with this list.
A chicken dish that comes with so many flavors it’s hard to know what truly works best alongside it. Not to worry, this list of sides makes the decision easier for you. We take you from beginning to end and every flavor in between so you can complete this famous chicken entree.
Chicken marsala sides run the gamut from “great” to “really great” to “fork-droppingly fantastic.” And we have a list of them that are resoundingly delicious and versatile. Creamy polenta starts our list off and spinach with garlic and lemon closes it out – and there’s so much more deliciousness in between.
There are so many more options for sides that go with this scrumptious dish, and they aren’t all the traditional pasta wingman you might expect. Check out our suggestions to make this dish even better than it could be alone. We will help you find the perfect mix of flavors to leave you wanting more.
There’s no denying that when you eat something as special as chicken piccata you need something extraordinary to go with it. In fact, whatever you choose will undoubtedly taste better itself. Let our list of sides, apps, drinks and desserts complete your perfect evening tonight.
Chicken pot pies are the ultimate in comfort food. Steaming chicken and vegetables in a flaky crust is like a hug on a plate. So, to bring that loveliness up a notch we’ve compiled a list that ranges from the sweet and tangy all the way to the rich and savory. Our list of the perfect side dishes for this beloved classic await you.
Chicken salad is one of the most versatile meals around. It can be a bit of classic Americana, or it can be filled with the flavors of Asia. Chicken salad wears its many hats very well. Our list of sides celebrates this versatility, from crunchy bites like cheese straws to a multitude of salads and soups.
Chicken wings are a go-to for parties. They’re easy to walk around with, and they make the perfect pointer tool for gesturing at the television when your team earns some points on the board. Score! You’ll score too, with this list of side dish ideas that covers an exciting range of indulgent flavors. Delve into the goodness here.
Coq au Vin is a French classic that is much more straightforward to prepare than you might imagine. What to serve with it is effortless when you follow our guide on the tastiest accompaniments out there.
These wonderful, diminutive birds are the perfect meal for a date night, a dinner party, or a special and memorable weeknight meal. So, we wanted to let them “get their fancy on” with some sides that would showcase their beauty. Roasted veggies, a myriad of eye-popping salads, and big, fluffy, popovers are just a few of the amazing sides that made our list.
Duck breast is a wonderful midweek treat. It cooks in the same amount of time as a chicken breast, but brings a certain joie de vivre to a worknight meal. So rich. So decadent. So elegant. And we love pairing it with things as traditional as roasted figs, or as avant garde as burrata blood orange salad. This is a fun – and delicious – list of sides.
Jerk chicken is spicy, but it’s not a “hey, hold my beer while I walk across a bed of red hot coals on a dare” type of heat. It’s a thoughtful heat that’s a little fruity and bright. It just begs for side dishes with vibrant colors and an array of textures. Think colorful salsas, red beans and rice, or fried plantains – just to start. Our list is chock full of easy and delightful weeknight sides to pair with this multi-layered main dish.
Oh, this Asian inspired dish is so magical when it comes to sweetening up a nice, lean protein like chicken. Asian side dishes aren’t the only way to enjoy this favorite. See what we’ve cooked up in our list of combos for this spectacular dish.
Sides for Mexican Dishes
Mexican food is one of the most popular cuisines in America. For example, salsa has overtaken ketchup as the number one selling condiment.
This also means there are a plethora of new and fresh ingredients popping up in grocery stores that are perfect to create a side dish with classic and new Mexican flavors.
We’re full of ideas of what sides work with your favorite south-of-the-border dishes.
1. Rajas con Crema, Creamy Meats Spicy
We’re talking Mexican here, so it’s hard to go around spiciness. This doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy a few Mexican side dishes that, while based on chili, are incredibly smooth and balanced.
There’s a green, fist-sized chili of mild spiciness called poblano. If you see something like a bell pepper in the Mexican supermarket aisle grab it, it’s delicious!
Now clean it up and slice it thin strips (Julianne is the fancy term.) Sautee them with diced onions and a hefty amount of heavy cream, and you’ve got yourself some rajas con crema.
You see, dairy tames spiciness, that’s the way things work. This is why you can have a whole bowl of this peppery, herbal, buttery and creamy side dish without breaking a sweat.
Check out Stephen Chavez recipe for Rajas con Crema at Latino Foodie here.
2. Pickled Chiles
You know pickles, they’re the hint of acidity and crunchiness every dish deserves; now meet pickle’s Mexican cousin — Chiles en Vinagre.
Literally ‘chilis in vinegar’, the side dish is a bit more complex than what its name makes you believe.
Slice a carrot and a few jalapeno peppers, break down a cauliflower head into bite-sized pieces, throw in a few garlic cloves and a three-fingered pinch of peppercorns. Add a teaspoon of sugar and another one of salt. Throw it all in a jar and fill with white vinegar to the rim.
Shake and store in the fridge until ready to use.
This is authentic Mexican right there, the holy grail of Mexican street food and home cooking alike. The brine itself is exhilarating, a spoonful of the stuff will brighten any dish with acidity, texture and the right amount of heat.
3. Fideo Seco, Mexican Pasta, Really!
Fideo seco is for Mexico what Mac & Cheese is the States, it’s THAT of a big deal.
Fideos are a thin, short pasta brought from Spain (think fideuá) that’s was embraced by the Mexican people during the colony — expect half-inch angel hair noodles.
Cooked in chicken broth, the pasta becomes the country’s most popular soup: the fideo soup, but when cooked in tomato paste, leaving all the water to consume, fideos become a side dish made in heaven.
Fideo seco, or dried fideo, looks and kinda tastes like day-before spaghetti, it’s dried up and has a thick consistency, what’s not to love?
The secret ingredient is a measure of smoky chipotle pepper; it gives color and bright, spicy flavors to the singular pasta dish. Top fideo seco with fresh crumbly cheese, and you can call yourself Mexican.
Check out Carissa’s recipe for Fideo Seco at Thrift and Spice for an authentic rendition of this side.
4. Mexican Corn on the Cob, from the Streets to Your Table
You think you know corn on the cob, but you haven’t tried it at its fullest potential, and that is Mexican style.
Corn on a stick is a popular evening street food Mexican snack. When the sun goes down, people come out looking for the steaming pots of boiling water to get a massive corn on a stick. Now you can make them at home too!
Boil your corn until tender and cut in into three or four pieces with a heavy knife (or leave them whole). Use a wooden skewer to make the handles and set them on a platter.
The seasoning is essential: spread mayo on to each piece, sprinkle with a pinch of salt, drizzle with lime juice, powder with grated fresh cheese and dust with powdered red chili (use paprika for a milder heat.)
5. Jalapeño Poppers, Cheesy, Spicy One-Biters
You might have tried this fun, spicy, gooey snack before in fast-food chains, but the home-made version is insanely better.
I dare you to eat just one because if you clean the peppers well enough, you’ll only get a kiss of heat and a mouthful of coating, cheesy flavor.
Get yourself a fistful of small jalapeño peppers, cut them open, and remove all the seeds. Fill them with your favorite cheese and dip them into the batter (a home-made beer batter is excellent, but even premixed pancake batter works!)
Deep fry your poppers until golden brown and let them rest on a paper towel to eliminate excess fat.
Jalapeno poppers are an incredible side dish and a fantastic stand-alone snack too. Make a whole platter and sit back to watch the game.
This is one dish that comes with variety. Mexican food restaurants will often have an entire page dedicated to enchilada types. We give you side options that cater to whatever style you’re in the mood for.
Meat, cheese, veggies all melted and sandwiched together in a tortilla. There’s no telling what you can pair with this American favorite Mexican dish, and we take you through some of the tastiest matches. From the spicy to the refreshing, you’ll find a an authentic supporting cast of sides.
You don’t need a party as an excuse to serve fajitas, because they are the party. Once the flavorful sizzling meat and vegetables kissed with a bit of lime hit the warm tortilla – oh, yes. It’s a party. And every party deserves fun guests. So, we found some. From classic combos to unexpected delights, our list has more than enough ideas to turn your table into a fiesta.
Get your Taco Tuesday dinner filled out with some of these amazing side dishes just for your fish-filled tacos. We cover everything from authentic and spicy to ideas you’ve never tried before but will become instant “bests” in your house.
Sides for Seafood & Fish
Seafood loves colors and textures to bring out its delicate flavors. Whether the seafood is kissed with citrus or cream, or just a myriad of herbs – there’s a world of side dishes awaiting your favorite oceanic protein.
1. Crispy Garlic and Butter Asparagus
It’s springtime’s star veggie!
Crispy, tender asparagus complements the flaky, juicy flavor of any fish. The garlicky, buttery nature of this recipe is fantastic.
If you’re baking the fish, you can even throw it all on the same pan with the fish. Less clean up? We’ll take it.
Drizzle the butter all over the fish for added flavor.
This side is both versatile and tasty. For an extra yum, we recommended sprinkling some parmesan cheese on top.
Asparagus might be our favorite veggie to pair with any seafood.
2. Healthy and Delicious Garlic & Sour Cream Mashed Cauliflower
Yup. We’re going to say it. These may be better than mashed potatoes when it comes to pairing with fish and seafood.
The cauliflower has a perfect flavor and light texture that pairs perfectly with a white fish or a seared salmon.
The best thing about this recipe is that it is keto-friendly!
Great for you if you’re watching your carbs, and if you’re not.
These are creamy and will make you feel lighter than after eating the same portion size of mashed potatoes.
For some extra texture and flavor, you can even add some delicious cheddar cheese.
Put your mashed potatoes skills in use for this alternative, low-carb mash.
3. Mushroom and Asparagus Risotto
This side pairs best with a mild fish, seared scallops, or a lobster. This risotto is vibrant, and you will love the fresh crispy asparagus to accompany the squishy deliciousness of seafood and fish.
Again, these mushrooms are like tiny umami bombs that have a way of tying the whole plate together.
You’re sure to be full after pairing this side with seared scallops, grilled salmon, or steamed shellfish.
The secret ingredient is some white wine used to simmer the Arobio rice and vegetables. You know what that means for the flavor.
When this is on your plate, you’ll want to make sure you’ve got some Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc in your glass for a full gastronomic explosion.
This is an excellent choice for home cooks looking to try something different on their menu.
4. Buttery Delicious Steamed Veggies
It’s known. Steamed and buttered vegetables are a modest addition to a plate from the sea. We think these tiny health morsels are underrated.
Buttery veggies are an amazing side for any shellfish.
Toss together some bell peppers, carrots, zucchini, and broccoli and season them up a bit with some essential salt and pepper.
Fish and vegetables are better together.
A light steam so that they stay fresh and crispy is the best way to go, and make sure you don’t overcook them unless your family or guests are a fan of squishy broccoli trees.
5. Summer Salad
It’s summertime, and we’re feeling fine.
Do you know what we think the secret to this pairing is?
It’s the fruit. For some reason, the sweet, tangy, acidic flavor of fruit perfectly cuts any overwhelming fishy taste, and we love it.
There are so many ways to make a summer salad; you can choose-your-own-adventure when it comes to this situation.
Throw some nuts for added sweetness and crunch. Add some feta cheese for some much welcome zing of salt.
Versatile and adaptable, that’s what we love it.
Summer is about eating the best of the bounty and mixing all seasonal ingredients!
Whichever way you mix it, it’s sure to be a delight.
Now, go mix together your perfect summer salad (any time of year), without limits!
And now… some of our favorite sides for popular seafood dishes:
Sweet and crunchy coconut shrimp is a meal that makes every evening stellar. So, let’s take a little journey to the Caribbean with some sides, shall we? From tropical and sweet to spicy and light, with island fare from around the globe, this list will help you get the perfect coconut shrimp dinner together in no time.
Whether traditional New England clam chowder is your jam, or Manhattan clam chowder is your thing, we have the sides that will make your chosen style of this flavorful classic jump out of the bowl. Think about basil butter corn or bacon wrapped scallops lingering near a bowl of steaming chowder. Check out a variety of fun sides here.
Sweet and flaky crab cakes are a perfect summer meal. And they are loath to dine alone. The perfect side dishes bring out the delicate nature of the crab and elevate the cakes to new heights. So, dive into our round up of sides – the colorful, the vibrant, and the sweet and savory.
From the Southern US, to the south of the US and on over to the UK, this dish is a popular one in many cultures. So as varied as it can be, so too can be the fare you accompany it with. Give these ideas a try the next time you fry up some of your favorite fish.
There are as many grilled shrimp recipes as there are stars in the evening sky -- some citrusy, others smoky. But all of them are tantalizing. So, your sides have to live up to the main and bring it all together. We love to pair shrimp with everything from light and crisp vegetables to more hearty and filling dishes. Our list is loaded with fun ideas to hit the spot.
Halibut is mild and sweet, and it loves to take on any flavors a cook can throw at it. Which makes it the perfect vehicle for herbs, spices, and sauces. So, we love big, bold, colorful accompaniments that make the meal jump off the plate. Here are some of our favorite lively options for your evening of halibut pleasure.
How much do we love lobster tails? Let us count the ways. It entices us with its lightly sweet flavor, and when it’s dipped in butter it’s a joy beyond words. So, of course we want an equally indulgent side dish. From succulent, indulgent salads to herby breads or hearty, cheesy wonders, there’s a whole world of possibilities. We’re hear to help you sort them out.
Making this dish is easy enough, but deciding on sides to share on the table with your tasty meal isn’t always obvious. Let’s simplify your choices and open up your eyes (and tummy!) to a variety of options that will make your salmon patties meal simply spectacular.
This is one fish that fish lovers enjoy and non-fish lovers will try and say, “Hey, that’s not too bad!”. With it’s gently flavor and meaty feel, it satisfies all types of meal requirements. Now, peruse our side dish ideas and see how this blank canvas can turn into a masterpiece on your plate.
In our round up of tuna steak side dishes, we called them “the beef tenderloin of the sea,” and we wholeheartedly stand by that metaphor. They’re big and bold, and they love to be paired with things like a winter citrus salad, or German creamed spinach. Here are some more ideas you’ll love to peruse for a quick midweek meal.
Sides for Italian Dishes
Italian food is like a kiss from a beloved grandmother. It’s comforting and it’s the epitome of warmth and joy. Because it tends to be a little rich, it loves light sides like salads, but it also enjoys heartier fare like roasted veggies and homemade breads.
1. Molto Bene Caprese Salad
If you give us a fresh ball of mozzarella, we’re sure to say “grazie mille bella!”
Add some fresh heirloom tomatoes and basil from the garden! And we’re kissing you on the face.
Caprese salad, we can never have enough.
Add some sea salt and extra virgin olive oil, and we’re in. We don’t even need any bread!
The combination of textures, herbal flavor, and juicy tomato transport us straight to a Tuscan trattoria.
No matter if you’re pairing this salad with spaghetti, lasagna, or chicken parmesan, it will be perfect.
2. Toasty Garlic Bread
Wait, did we say we didn’t need bread? We take it back!
Garlic bread is the king of all Italian sides. It’s flexible, and you can dip it in marinara sauce, make spaghetti sandwiches (we always did that as kids), or smother it in butter.
Why is garlic so good?
It’s high in allicin and can even help the blood flow to your sexual organs. No wonder the Italians are so romantic!
Anyone who says that they don’t like garlic bread is probably lying.
Hot, crisp from the oven, filled with buttery juices. Is there anything better?
When you want something heartwarmingly delicious on your dinner plate this is your go-to side dish.
3. Grandmas Broccolini
Anyone with a nonna knows that the most underrated side dish is broccolini.
This beloved Italian vegetable is healthy and the best accompaniment for sauces with a sweet tomato base or any grilled meats.
Broccolini is a thin stalk with leafy florets. If you can’t find it at the store, you can always look for Rapini (Broccoli Rabe).
The perfect green color is a result of a fast high-heat saute with a zest of lemon juice and some water.
Hint, hint; use the pasta water.
This side is fast and easy to make.
4. Succulent and Hearty Meatballs
Whether you choose spaghetti, manicotti, ravioli, linguine, fettucini, bow-tie, or any of the pasta options available; meatballs are a classic pair.
These round masses of italian flavors are welcome on any plate.
Pasta night is made better when hot meatballs in a tasty gravy (tomato sauce) are available.
Most people have a solid recipe that they use, tailored to their taste, but meatballs are versatile.
They are the perfect sidekick for any dish.
The best thing about meatballs is that they are the gift that keeps on giving. They freeze well and can be reheated for any dinner night inspired by the gastronomy of Italia.
Cooking Classy has this side nailed and that is only the beginning of the delicious recipes they have on offer.
5. Powerful Chicken Caesar Salad
It would make sense if this salad were named famous Roman despot. This dish holds some serious power when paired with any main course.
Legend has it that it was actually created by restaurateur Caesar Cardini, an Italian with a bistro in Mexico.
Today, it is one of the most popular salads in the world.
Whatever its history, we love a good chicken caesar salad to accompany pizza, pasta, or Italian meat.
One question we always have is -- “anchovies or no anchovies?” We don’t like the thought, but we sure love the flavor of these tiny fish.
Choose this simple Caesar salad side dish option that will make your dinner time more enjoyable, without the fuss.
What’s next? Our list of classic Italian meals with plenty of the best side dish ideas!
You wouldn’t know it, but this is a traditional hunter’s meal deserving of hearty combinations to satisfy the hungriest of souls. Check out some traditional ideas and some unique takes from rustic to modern twists to make your meal not only complete, but utterly fulfilling.
You can make eggplant parm in so many ways. And because of that you can pair it with so many things. From veggies to traditional pasta, to your go-to meats (steak and chicken, anyone?) and a whole host of complimentary salads and breads. Pick your favorite and enjoy!
Tender and lovely gnocchi – tossed with a rich butter or tomato sauce – can be made from a variety of ingredients. Potatoes, ricotta, butternut squash gnocchi are all a delight. So, naturally that leaves us a myriad of side dish ideas to choose from. From pancetta umami bombs to deeply flavored vegetables, our list will get you where you want to go.
You pull your lasagna from the oven and put it on the oven top to rest up before slicing, when you realize, “Side dishes!” Take a deep breath. It’s not too late. This is the perfect time to pull together a fun side dish. We love a good garlic bread with parmesan and herbs or a bowl of brightly roasted Italian broccoli, but we have so many other delectable ideas for that perfect Sunday meal.
Creamy mac and cheese is rich and homey – the culinary equivalent of a warm blanket on a cold, rainy day. We love you, Mac and Cheese! Which means we only want to pair you with the most beautiful and delicious sides. Whether you’re in the mood to brighten it up or to lean into the creamy side, we have the perfect suggestions for you.
This classic roast is full of both succulence and crispiness. Get down to (food) business with our list of amazing sides to round out your hearty dinner or sandwich in a way that will make you realize just how fun being a foodie is.
This is one you don’t want to miss. The magic you can do within your ravioli when it comes to stuffing and sauces is out of this world. The same is true when it comes to what you combine with ravioli on the table. Soak this up now, and get ideas for your next Italian indulgence.
Risotto is a classic dish that loves to be paired with other rich and lively food. Think of scallops that are perfectly seared in butter or parmesan garlic roasted green beans. How heavenly do those dishes sound next to the perfectly cooked risotto? The answer is “very.” But that’s just to get things rolling – our list will help get your risotto dinner to the finish line.
An Italian-American favorite, this is one the best combos of cooked food anyone could dream up. Eat it on a plate, in a bowl or as a sandwich. It’s beyond good. Now, we give you what to cook along with it for an insane tasting overall meal for any occasion.
Pull out that red and white checkered tablecloth and light the candles. It’s spaghetti night! With or without meatballs, we have a variety of sides that will pair with every kind of spaghetti dish imaginable. We have colorful salads like lemony arugula with pine nuts, and we have amazing carbs like braided pesto bread. We’ve got you covered for so many spaghetti side dishes.
Sides for Other Meat Dishes
Hearty meats love to be front and center in main dishes, whether it’s andouille in jambalaya or a good tender lamb chop on the bone. And that rich meat needs a foil on the plate. Whether it’s a crisp salad or tender spaetzle, we have all the sides for meat you’re looking for.
When it comes to sides for brats, we love ‘em all. So, when you’re heating up that grill to make one of our favorite meats for an al fresco summer evening, we have lots of options – from classic sauerkrats and spaetzles to light and bright salads or sweet and sour veggies – to choose from for a quick accompaniment.
Here’s a list of sides to pair with gumbo to help you mix things up a little. As if Gumbo needed any more mixing up! But if this is a go-to meal for your family or you have a special even, check out the possibilities and enjoy!
This truly all-American dish is the perfect blend of savory and spice. And it loves big, bright, and bold flavors. We love to pair it with greens and veggies like Swiss chard in balsamic vinegar, or rich and flaky cheddar biscuits, or … well, our list has so many options for you to choose from. Check it out.
Rich and earthy lamb loves both simple side dishes and complexly-layered company on the plate. Elegant roasted spring vegetables are a welcome addition to lamb chops, and pea and mint risotto are a perfect pairing too. Both are classic combinations, but there are so many other options and our list will open the door to new ideas and side dishes for you to play with.
Grilled, boiled, or fried, we all love a good hotdog. And it’s an exuberant main dish, that loves a fun accompaniment. How about classic baked beans loaded with molasses and bacon, or fluffy cornbread that will make your mouth water. Yes, we’ve got those sides – but so much more, including some clever (if we do say so ourselves!) ideas for toppings.
There’s tons you can do with pulled pork, so we give you the sides that cover almost any style you eat your shredded pork with. Plus, we dive into some of the ways you can eat pulled pork with combinations you might have never thought were possible…but will find delicious!
White Chicken Chili is a favorite of families all over the nation and is straightforward to make with delicious results. The spices and heartiness of the dish will keep your guests happy and your plates clean. The scents and textures of this wonderful dish can be enjoyed by everyone, but be sure to share the portions fairly to avoid arguments! Check out our ideas for sides to go with it.
Sides for Vegetarian Dishes
Double your veggies, double your fun! Vegetarian side dishes love to be surrounded by flattering and or contrasting produce flavors to really let them shine.
They also love grains, and every type of bread under the sun.
There’s nothing better than a rainbow on the plate.
1. Filling and Yummy Vegetable Biryani
When it comes to vegetarian gastronomy, India is the motherland.
Vegetable Biryani is one of our favorite side dishes for any wholesome, filling, and nutritious meat-free meal.
Biryani is a traditional and straightforward dish.
We’re obsessed with the layers of spiced vegetables and chickpeas nestled within perfectly cooked basmati rice.
Did we mention the curry marinade and the saffron kiss? It’s a luxury experience for the mouth. In India, this is considered a food for the gods! We couldn’t agree more.
This side dish is vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free friendly.
We love Eva’s recipe from The Curious Chickpea almost as much as we love the blog name!
2. Colorful Beet, Goat Cheese, and Pistachio Salad
Something about goat cheese with beets just makes us happy. Add some nuts, avocado, and mandarin orange slices. We’re smiling ear to ear.
A good vegetarian meal is all about diversity of color, flavor, and texture -- this salad has it all!
The arugula adds the perfect bite of bitterness in contrast with the creamy avocado and goat cheese. Beets and oranges come together for an explosion of sweet and tangy flavor.
This salad is perfect during the fall, winter, spring, or summer.
Even the picky eaters in the house will love it. As for us, we’re obsessed with these colors and flavors.
3. Gujarati Chapatis
Back to the motherland! No Indian meal is complete without bread!
Chapatis are a distinctive form of flatbread that is remarkably adaptable and easy to make.
They only have three ingredients: whole wheat flour, salt, and water.
It can take some practice to roll out the perfect round shape, but however they look, they are sure to taste delicious.
In India, Chapatis even replace silverware! Use them to pick up your food for the perfect combination of textures and a much welcome carby presence!
Use them for a couple of days to create delicious sandwich wraps out of your leftovers.
4. Healthy and Delicious Turmeric Spiced Cauliflower
Wow, our favorite spice meets one of our favorite veggies in this one.
Did you know that turmeric has some incredible health benefits? It may be one of the most effective nutritional supplements, and it’s been around for ages! The spice has a natural anti-inflammatory compound and can repair cellular damage.
Not to mention, it’s tasty and warm.
We love this recipe; it’s super easy and great for overall well-being. It is also amazingly easy and fun to make!
5. Simple and Savory Roasted Carrots
A simple comfort. Good for your eyes and your thighs. These roasted carrots are a treat on any plate.
If cooked well, these carrots have a perfect texture. They are hearty and filling. The flavor is an ideal combination of savory and sweet.
Three cheers for roasted carrots!
Add some honey, garlic, or butter to make this classic side to a whole new level!
Also, in terms of the process of cooking these delicious orange delights, it doesn’t get any easier! Just peel and then toss them in some oil, butter, and seasoning and throw them in the oven!
Here’s a few of our favorite vegetarian side dishes and their meals:
Rustic ratatouille is a classic vegetarian dish. The veggies meld together in wonderful garden-fresh goodness, infused with herbs and spices. It’s perfect when served on a bed of cheese grits, or with polenta triangles. Don’t forget to indulge in some rice love with pilaf and risotto too. There are so many combinations to choose from that you may want to indulge in them all.
This versatile dish has many variations. But at the core, the falafel is a flavor all its own, so you you need to pick carefully what combos you eat with it. Don’t worry, there’s plenty of choices, and we give you more than enough to whet your appetite.
Sides for Breakfast Dishes
Breakfast is more than just fluffy eggs and toast on a plate. It’s fruits and vegetables, and a world of flavors to get your day started with vim and vigor. And of course, the right side dish can bring your breakfast – or brunch – up to the next level and turn a simple meal into a treasured memory.
Whether it’s for breakfast, brunch, lunch, or dinner, quiche is where it’s at. It’s beautiful, filling, and loaded with veggies, meats, and cheese for the ultimate “one pot meal.” But, quiche loves companionship. A little green salad or a little fruit salad. A little soup or a little bread. All bring quiche up to another level. And we have just the recommendations to get you there.
Side Dish Companions
Side dishes love other side dishes. Bowls and platters of good things go together like best friends. Whether it’s soup or bread, or roasted veggies or grains – the table is never happier than when it’s groaning under the weight of varied and lively sides.
Ah, the baked potato. When you think of meaty meals and want a starch, you think baked potatoes. While you can’t deny the good balance made from this combo, there are plenty of meat recipes you might not have thought of before to pair up with some hot spuds. Check out our ideas; plus, we’ll dive into the world of toppings and twice baked versions that will have you running to the store to pick up some potatoes in no time.
It’s delicious on its own with it’s magnificent tandem of melted cheeses and hearty broccoli. But that doesn’t mean you can’t bring in other complimentary foods to strike a chord with it’s rich flavors. See what we came up with to up your game with this popular creamy soup.
Sometimes you need a lil’ bit more than just this tradition soup. So unless you’re feeling under the weather, you may be longing for a nice compliment to join the table next to your soup. We look at comfort sides, light and healthy sides, and ways to add to your soup recipe that you’ll want to record directly into your recipe book.
Whether you’re looking for new cornbread add-ins or looking for something to metaphorically break bread with cornbread at the table – we have a lot of thoughts on the matter. Like pork. Barbecue pork loves to be served with cornbread, and cooked smoky bacon loves to be cooked in cornbread. We also delve into soups, stews, casseroles, cheeses, and stuffing. Check out all of the cornbread love here.
Take the humble corn on the cob and create a hearty, filling classic chowder that has a sweet and creamy texture. Every bite, when paired with the right side dish, will create a meal that is memorable in complexity in flavors and delicious. Take your corn chowder to a whole new level with the right side dishes -- many of which are on this list!
When it comes to French onion soup sides, sometimes less is more. And sometimes more is perfect. We love to pair the hot, steaming, rich, cheesy soup with salads, veggies, and the occasional New York strip steak. Oh, and we don’t neglect the wine! We’re thinking about both white and red. Here are some of our favorite sides.
It’s refreshing and autumnal at the same time. This chilled soup comes with so many content and flavor possibilities it’s unreal. We take you on a journey of pairing options that will have your mind (and palate) spinning with delight whether this soup is the main dish or an accessory.
If you haven’t tried these and you like dumplings, this has got to be your next meal! Boiled or fried, these little pockets can be filled with just about anything. This means you can pair them with just about anything. Be sure to pick the best sides though depending on your fillers and how you cook them. We give you the low-down to make the right choices!
Potato soup is a creamy treat that can be hot as potato leek soup or as chilled as Vichyssoise. And there’s a wide range of hearty and light soups and stews in between – a lot of wiggle room for colorful sides to pair with a canvas of flavor. Think of mashed potato puffs, or DIY whole grain crackers heaped up alongside a big bowl of deliciousness. And so many other ideas for you to play with, so let’s dive in!
Potstickers are so versatile that the options for what to serve with this wonderful dish are endless. It’s a fabulous opportunity to experiment, and these ideas will keep your guests smiling and salivating.
It’s a side by its own right, yet it can be the main attraction when done up in style. Here’s a list of tandem side dishes that can help bring a regular sounding food all the way from basic to vibrant and delicious.
Sides for Other Popular Meals
This is a sandwich that will conjure up distant but fond memories for many of us. The go-to partner is tomato soup; but today there is just so much more that can sidle up alongside this crispy, cheesy sandwich. Check out some of our healthy choices that pair perfectly using flavors and textures that come together like a symphony orchestra.