Mac and cheese is the ultimate comfort food and it needs something just as amazing to go with it. Maybe you want a vegetable dish to pair with your mac and cheese or perhaps a heartier protein. You could even consider serving your mac and cheese with a big glass of burgundy which is the official wine pairing for the dish. Adults only, of course!
What to serve with mac and cheese is actually a very common question. When considering what goes good with mac and cheese, you should think about flavors that complement the dish but also bring new, contrasting tastes to the meal. It is also a good idea to consider how the side dishes will look when served on a plate next to your mac and cheese. The presentation along with flavors are key in choosing what to eat with mac and cheese.
Here are our top 15 incredible side dishes that you can serve alongside your favorite mac and cheese recipes. Stop wondering what to serve mac and cheese with and start reading!
- 1. Slow Cooker Chili
- 2. Simple Skillet Green Beans
- 3. Simple Sauteed Brussels Sprouts
- 4. Easy Oven Roasted Carrots
- 5. Homemade Coleslaw
- 6. Baked Zucchini Fries
- 7. Two Ingredient Apple Dumplings
- 8. Homemade Potato Chips
- 9. Crockpot BBQ Little Smokies
- 10. Broccoli and Cheese
- 11. Extra Crispy Onion Rings
- 12. Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
- 13. Apple Salad with Candied Walnuts
- 14. Oven BBQ Baked Ribs
- 15. Sauteed Spinach
Our slow cooker chili will only take you a few minutes to put together. All the ingredients are added to the crockpot bowl and then the pot is turned on. It’s as easy as that! The crockpot stays on for several hours as slow cooking allows the flavor to grow and become richer. Chili will add some extra protein and tons of taste to your mac and cheese meal.
Pairing your mac and cheese with a delicious vegetable is a great idea. This green bean dish from Healthy Seasonal Recipes is made by sauteing fresh green beans in olive oil and then steaming them. You can use frozen green beans if needed, they will just need a few more minutes to cook with the lid on the pan. You can also place your cooked green beans under a broiler to give them a little extra crunch. The bright green color will also look great next to your orange pasta.
While we are on the topic of veggies, you may want to consider serving Brussels sprouts alongside your cheesy main course. They have a powerful flavor. Our recipe enhances that delicious taste by cooking the sprouts with garlic, lime juice, and red pepper flakes. Skip the lime juice and use lemon juice if needed. Add some crumbled bacon to give the veggie even more taste. Sprinkle parmesan cheese over the top to make your Brussels sprouts and cheesy pasta an even more cohesive meal.
Complete your mac and cheese meal with these juicy oven-roasted carrots from Spend with Pennies. They’re tender, naturally sweet, and will melt in your mouth. Carrots get sweeter as they roast meaning kids will love them even more. Try using rainbow-colored carrots which are purple, yellow, and orange, to add more color to your side dishes. Using baby carrots will help speed up the cooking process and cut back on prep time as well.
You may want to try making something crunchy to serve with your creamy main course. Homemade coleslaw is a perfect complement both in texture, taste, and color. This recipe from Inspired Taste is made with apple cider vinegar which gives the dish a delicious, tangy taste. The purple cabbage is beautiful when served next to orange mac and cheese. Look for a bag of pre-shredded cabbage to help you save time when making this recipe (no knives needed!)
Crunchy zucchini fries are a very healthy side dish to serve next to your favorite comfort food. Zucchini is full of vitamins and minerals like vitamin A and vitamin C. This zucchini fry recipe from Damn Delicious bakes the veggie in the oven which is a much healthier cooking method than frying since it uses less oil. This crisp and tender veggie is definitely one of the best mac and cheese sides we have tried!
Our tender apple dumplings are the perfect way to end your meal and they only require two ingredients. Refrigerated biscuit dough and apple pie filling are mixed and baked to golden, sweet perfection. Top the dish with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and you will be in heaven. Mac and cheese and apple pie are two of the most popular comfort foods out there so why not enjoy the two recipes together!
A potato, some salt, and a microwave-safe plate are all you need to make your own potato chips. This recipe from As Easy As Apple Pie shows you how to cook crispy, salty chips right in your microwave. The whole recipe only takes about 10 minutes and the result is crunchy irresistible chips. Try making this recipe using sweet potato for a sweeter version of homemade chips.
These tangy barbecue mini hot dogs from The Salty Marshmallow are the answer to what to serve with mac and cheese. Mix all the ingredients together in your crockpot and then cook over low heat for several hours. The flavors will grow and one bite will make your taste buds sing! Try chopping the mini hotdogs and then serving them right on top of your mac and cheese. BBQ mac and cheese sounds amazing!
This mouthwatering veggie side dish from Spend with Pennies has a homemade cheddar cheese sauce poured over quick steamed broccoli. We love that the sauce mimics the cheesiness of mac and cheese and really ties the two dishes together. This recipe directs you to steam the broccoli in a saute pan but you can also steam it in the microwave or roast the broccoli in the oven for a crispier version.
Onion rings are definitely high up there on the list of incredible, classic side dishes! A sliced white onion (or red onion if you want a sweeter, more colorful onion ring) is dipped in flour, egg, and crispy breadcrumbs before being deep-fried in canola oil to golden perfection. Pairing crunchy onion rings with your favorite cheesy meal is one of the best combinations out there. So check out this recipe from My Latina Table.
Mac and cheese and chocolate chip cookies are like a match made in heaven. Our recipe for oatmeal chocolate chip cookies is even better since it adds nutritious oats into the cookie batter. Anyway to sneak in a little nutrition is always a good idea! The delicious, melted chocolate chips are a fantastic way to end your meal.
Apple walnut salad adds a lot of crunch and also sweet flavors that are delicious when paired with decadent mac and cheese. This recipe from RecipeTinEats also features candied walnuts which are going to be a fan favorite for sure! Salad is light enough to enjoy next to such a heavy main course and, in the case of this apple walnut salad, it is sweet enough to be a dessert. This salad is quick to put together but still very gourmet.
These oven-baked ribs from Butter Your Biscuit may take center stage over your mac and cheese. Bone-licking ribs are roasted in the oven and will make your entire house smell incredible as they bake. The ribs are tender and fall right off the bone for easy eating. The sweet sauce is the perfect complement to your cheesy pasta. The combination of the dishes will make for quite a hearty, filling meal.
15. Sauteed Spinach
This nutritious, fast, and delicious side dish from A Couple Cooks goes perfectly with mac and cheese. You can make tender, sauteed spinach in about 5 minutes. You also only need 5 common ingredients that you likely already have in your kitchen: spinach, garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, and salt. Everything gets tossed into one saute pan and cooked quickly. Simple recipes are often the best recipes!
Mac and cheese is great for any time of year. It is a classic dish that never gets old. It is great for both lunch, dinner or just to enjoy as a snack. However, serving it with a side dish will give you a more complete meal. Choose from one of these fantastic, complementary sides to ensure that your mac and cheese nights stay exciting and delicious!