Mac and cheese is one of those classic comfort foods that everyone loves.
But what should you serve with mac and cheese?
Mac and cheese pairs wonderfully with a variety of sides. Try serving it with roasted vegetables, grilled chicken or steak, pork chops, sausage links or patties, bacon bits, salad greens, garlic breadsticks and more. For a truly indulgent meal you could also serve mac and cheese with seafood like shrimp or scallops!
The possibilities are endless!
It’s easy to get stuck in a rut when it comes to side dishes, but don’t worry, I’m here to help.
I’ve rounded up 30 of the best side dishes to serve with mac and cheese.
Whether you are looking for light salads, roasted vegetables, cheesy sides, pasta sides, or something else entirely, there is sure to be something on this list that will make your meal complete.
So go ahead and give one (or all!) of these tasty side dishes a try the next time you make mac and cheese!
Why Consider Serving Sides for Mac and Cheese?
Serving sides for mac and cheese is a great way to add variety, texture, and flavor to the dish.
- First, adding sides can provide additional nutrients that are not found in mac and cheese alone. For example, serving a side of steamed vegetables or a salad with your mac and cheese will add vitamins, minerals, fiber, and other essential nutrients to the meal.
- Second, sides can help balance out the richness of the dish by providing contrasting flavors such as acidity from pickles or sweetness from fruit.
- Thirdly, sides can also help make the meal more visually appealing by adding color and texture contrast to an otherwise monochromatic plate of food.
What To Serve With Mac and Cheese – 30 Best Side Dishes
Mac and cheese is a beloved classic comfort food, but it can be challenging to decide what to serve on the side.
From fresh salads to hearty stews, here are thirty delicious side dishes that will perfectly complement mac and cheese:
1. BBQ Ribs
- What Is It? BBQ ribs are a classic side dish that pairs perfectly with mac and cheese. They are typically made from pork or beef ribs, which are slow-cooked in a barbecue sauce until they become tender and juicy. The sauce can range from sweet to spicy, depending on the recipe.
- Serving Ideas: BBQ ribs can be served as an appetizer or main course alongside mac and cheese. To make it a complete meal, serve the ribs with coleslaw, potato salad, cornbread, or other sides of your choice. For an extra kick of flavor, top the ribs with some freshly chopped herbs such as parsley or cilantro before serving.
- What Is It? Meatloaf is a classic comfort food dish made with ground beef, pork, or other meats mixed with breadcrumbs and seasonings. The mixture is then formed into a loaf shape and baked in the oven until cooked through.
- Serving Ideas: Meatloaf pairs well with many side dishes such as mashed potatoes, roasted vegetables, macaroni and cheese, green beans, cornbread, or even a simple salad. For an extra special touch, try serving it with homemade gravy or sautéed mushrooms. If you’re looking for something lighter to serve alongside your meatloaf, consider adding some steamed broccoli or roasted Brussels sprouts to the plate.
3. Sloppy Joes
- What Is It? Sloppy Joes are a classic American dish consisting of ground beef, onions, and tomato sauce served on hamburger buns. The mixture is usually seasoned with Worcestershire sauce, mustard, garlic powder, chili powder, and other spices.
- Serving Ideas: Sloppy Joes make a great side dish for mac and cheese. Serve the sloppy joes in individual bowls or on toasted hamburger buns for an easy meal that everyone will love. For added flavor and texture, top the sloppy joes with shredded cheese or diced pickles. You can also serve them alongside coleslaw or potato salad for a complete meal.
- What Is It? Meatballs are a classic side dish to serve with mac and cheese. They are typically made from ground beef, pork, or veal mixed with breadcrumbs, eggs, and seasonings. The mixture is then formed into small balls that can be fried or baked in the oven.
- Serving Ideas: Meatballs can be served as-is alongside mac and cheese for a hearty meal. Alternatively, they can be cooked in tomato sauce for an Italian twist on the classic comfort food combination. For a lighter option, try serving them with a simple salad of greens tossed in vinaigrette dressing. If you’re looking for something more indulgent, try pairing your meatballs with creamy mashed potatoes or roasted vegetables such as Brussels sprouts or carrots.
- What Is It? Coleslaw is a classic side dish made with shredded cabbage, carrots, and other vegetables. The vegetables are usually mixed with a creamy dressing made of mayonnaise, vinegar, sugar, and spices. This dish is often served cold or at room temperature as an accompaniment to main dishes such as macaroni and cheese.
- Serving Ideas: Coleslaw can be served alongside macaroni and cheese for a delicious combination of flavors. To make it even more interesting, try adding diced apples or raisins to the slaw for sweetness or chopped nuts for crunch. For a lighter version of coleslaw that still packs flavor, substitute plain Greek yogurt for some or all of the mayonnaise in the dressing. You can also serve coleslaw on top of your macaroni and cheese instead of on the side for an extra layer of texture and flavor.
- What Is It? Roasted broccoli is a simple and delicious side dish that pairs perfectly with mac and cheese. Broccoli is cut into florets, tossed in olive oil, salt, and pepper, then roasted in the oven until it’s lightly browned and crispy. The result is a flavorful vegetable side dish that adds texture to any meal.
- Serving Ideas: Roasted broccoli can be served as-is or topped with grated Parmesan cheese for extra flavor. It also goes well with other sides such as mashed potatoes or roasted vegetables like carrots or Brussels sprouts. For an even heartier meal, try adding cooked bacon bits or diced ham to the broccoli before roasting for added protein.
- What Is It? A salad is a dish consisting of a mixture of small pieces of food, usually vegetables or fruit. Salads are typically served at room temperature or chilled, with notable exceptions such as south German potato salad which is served warm.
- Serving Ideas: When serving mac and cheese, it’s important to choose a side that will complement the creamy texture and rich flavor. A simple green salad with vinaigrette dressing is an ideal choice for adding freshness and crunch to the meal. For something heartier, try roasted vegetables like Brussels sprouts or sweet potatoes. If you’re looking for something more substantial, serve your mac and cheese with a protein-packed side like grilled chicken or salmon.
- What Is It? Pigs in a blanket is a classic side dish made of small sausages wrapped in pastry dough. The sausages are usually hot dogs, but can also be cocktail wieners or other types of sausage. The pastry dough is typically puff pastry or crescent roll dough, although other variations exist.
- Serving Ideas: Pigs in a blanket are best served warm and fresh out of the oven. They can be served as an appetizer with ketchup, mustard, and other dipping sauces, or as part of a larger meal alongside macaroni and cheese and roasted vegetables. For an extra special touch, try adding some grated cheese to the top before baking for added flavor and crunch!
- What Is It? Little Smokies are small, bite-sized sausages that are usually made from pork or beef. They are fully cooked and smoked, giving them a smoky flavor and a tender texture.
- Serving Ideas: Little Smokies can be served as an appetizer with toothpicks or as part of a main dish. They pair well with macaroni and cheese because the smoky flavor complements the creamy cheese sauce. You can also serve them alongside roasted vegetables such as Brussels sprouts, carrots, or potatoes for a complete meal. For an easy side dish, try simmering the sausages in barbecue sauce until heated through and then serving over rice or mashed potatoes.
- What Is It? Chili is a hearty stew made with ground beef, beans, tomatoes, and spices. It is often served over macaroni or rice and topped with cheese and sour cream.
- Serving Ideas: Chili pairs well with many sides that can help to round out the meal. For a classic combination, serve chili with cornbread or biscuits. To add some crunchy texture to the dish, try topping it off with crushed tortilla chips or Fritos. If you’re looking for something lighter on the side, consider serving chili alongside a simple green salad or coleslaw. You could also opt for roasted vegetables such as broccoli or Brussels sprouts for an easy vegetable side dish.
- What Is It? Brownies with ice cream is a classic dessert combination that combines the rich, fudgy texture of brownies with the creamy sweetness of ice cream. The two flavors complement each other perfectly and create a delicious treat that’s sure to please any crowd.
- Serving Ideas: To serve this classic dessert, start by baking your favorite brownie recipe in an 8×8 inch pan. Once cooled, cut into squares and top each one with a scoop of your favorite ice cream flavor. For added decadence, drizzle warm chocolate sauce over the top or sprinkle on some chopped nuts for crunch. You can also get creative and add other toppings such as fresh fruit or caramel sauce for even more flavor combinations!
12. Apple Pie
- What Is It? Apple pie is a classic dessert that consists of a pastry crust filled with sweetened apples and spices. The filling is usually made from tart apples such as Granny Smith, but other varieties can be used to create different flavor profiles. The top crust may be latticed or solid, and the edges are often crimped for decoration.
- Serving Ideas: Apple pie pairs well with many sides, including vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, caramel sauce, cheddar cheese, or even a scoop of savory mashed potatoes. For an extra special treat, try serving it warm with a scoop of cinnamon-spiced ice cream or topped with crumbled streusel topping. If you’re looking for something lighter on the side, consider pairing apple pie with fresh fruit salad or yogurt parfait.
- What Is It? Applesauce is a sweetened puree of cooked apples, usually with added spices such as cinnamon or nutmeg. It can be served either hot or cold and is often used as an accompaniment to savory dishes.
- Serving Ideas: Applesauce pairs well with mac and cheese because it adds a sweet contrast to the creamy, cheesy dish. Try serving it warm alongside your mac and cheese for a comforting meal. You can also use applesauce in place of butter when making the cheese sauce for your macaroni and cheese, adding sweetness without overpowering the flavor of the dish. For a more creative side dish, try combining applesauce with diced onions, celery, and walnuts for an easy apple-walnut slaw that will add crunchy texture to your meal.
14. Garlic Bread
- What Is It? Garlic bread is a classic side dish that pairs perfectly with mac and cheese. It’s made by brushing slices of Italian or French bread with melted butter, olive oil, or garlic-infused oil and then toasting it in the oven until golden brown. The result is a crunchy, garlicky treat that adds flavor and texture to any meal.
- Serving Ideas: Garlic bread can be served as an appetizer before the main course or as a side dish alongside mac and cheese. For an extra special touch, try adding herbs such as parsley or oregano for added flavor. You can also top your garlic bread with grated Parmesan cheese for an even more indulgent experience.
15. Green Beans
- What Is It? Green beans are a type of legume that is related to the common bean. They have a mild, slightly sweet flavor and can be eaten raw or cooked. When cooked, they become tender and take on a bright green color.
- Serving Ideas: Green beans make an excellent side dish for mac and cheese because they are easy to prepare and pair well with the creamy cheese sauce. To serve them alongside mac and cheese, try roasting them in the oven with olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper, and Parmesan cheese until lightly browned. You can also steam them in a pot with some butter or olive oil for added flavor. For an even simpler option, you can sauté them in a pan with some garlic and olive oil until just tender-crisp.
- What Is It? Sweet potato fries are a popular side dish made from thinly sliced sweet potatoes that have been fried or baked until crispy. They can be served as an appetizer, snack, or side dish and are often seasoned with spices such as garlic powder, paprika, and cumin.
- Serving Ideas: Sweet potato fries pair well with mac and cheese because they provide a crunchy contrast to the creamy pasta dish. Serve them alongside your favorite dipping sauce for added flavor. For a healthier option, try baking the fries instead of frying them. You can also add some fresh herbs like rosemary or thyme for extra flavor. If you’re looking for something more substantial than just fries, try adding roasted vegetables like Brussels sprouts or broccoli to round out the meal.
17. Baked Beans
- What Is It? Baked beans are a classic side dish made from navy beans, molasses, brown sugar, and spices. The ingredients are cooked together in a slow oven until the sauce thickens and the beans become tender. The result is a sweet and savory side dish that pairs perfectly with macaroni and cheese.
- Serving Ideas: Baked beans can be served as-is or dressed up with additional ingredients such as bacon, onions, garlic, or herbs. For an extra special touch, try topping your baked beans with crispy fried onions or shredded cheese for added flavor and texture. Serve alongside your favorite macaroni and cheese recipe for a complete meal that will please everyone at the table!
18. Shepherd’s Pie
- What Is It? Shepherd’s Pie is a traditional British dish made with ground beef, vegetables, and mashed potatoes. The ingredients are cooked together in a casserole dish and then topped with a layer of creamy mashed potatoes before being baked until golden brown.
- Serving Ideas: Shepherd’s Pie pairs well with many different sides. For a classic pairing, try serving it alongside steamed green beans or roasted Brussels sprouts for some added crunch and nutrition. If you’re looking for something more substantial, try adding a side salad or roasted root vegetables to round out the meal. For an extra special touch, top your shepherd’s pie with crispy bacon bits or shredded cheese before baking!
19. Mashed Potatoes
- What Is It? Mashed potatoes are a classic side dish made by mashing boiled potatoes with butter, milk, and seasonings. The result is a creamy, comforting side that pairs perfectly with mac and cheese.
- Serving Ideas: To make mashed potatoes the perfect accompaniment to mac and cheese, try adding some extra flavorings like garlic or herbs. You can also top your mashed potatoes with crispy bacon bits or shredded cheese for an extra indulgent treat. For a healthier option, you can substitute some of the butter for olive oil or Greek yogurt. Serve your mashed potatoes alongside your favorite mac and cheese recipe for a delicious meal!
20. Buttered Corn
- What Is It? Buttered corn is a classic side dish that pairs perfectly with mac and cheese. It’s made by sautéing fresh or frozen corn kernels in butter until they are lightly browned and tender. The butter adds a rich, nutty flavor to the sweet corn, making it an ideal accompaniment to creamy macaroni and cheese.
- Serving Ideas: Buttered corn can be served as-is or dressed up with additional ingredients such as garlic, herbs, Parmesan cheese, or bacon bits. For a more substantial side dish, try adding cooked diced potatoes or crumbled sausage to the pan before adding the corn. You can also serve buttered corn alongside other vegetables like green beans or roasted Brussels sprouts for a complete meal.
- What Is It? Cinnamon Baked Apple Slices are a delicious and easy side dish that pairs perfectly with mac and cheese. The apples are sliced, tossed in cinnamon sugar, and baked until they’re tender and caramelized.
- Serving Ideas: Cinnamon Baked Apple Slices can be served as is or topped with a dollop of whipped cream or ice cream for an extra special treat. They also make a great topping for oatmeal or yogurt parfaits. For an even heartier side dish, try adding some chopped nuts to the mix before baking.
- What Is It? Fried green tomatoes are a Southern classic dish made by coating sliced, unripe tomatoes in cornmeal and then frying them. The result is a crunchy, savory side dish that pairs perfectly with mac and cheese.
- Serving Ideas: Fried green tomatoes can be served as an appetizer or side dish. They go great with mac and cheese when paired with other sides such as coleslaw, mashed potatoes, or roasted vegetables. For a heartier meal, try topping the fried green tomatoes with bacon or adding them to sandwiches or salads.
23. Carrot Cake
- What Is It? Carrot cake is a classic dessert made with grated carrots, spices, and nuts. The cake is usually topped with cream cheese frosting and can be served as a layer cake or cupcakes.
- Serving Ideas: Carrot cake pairs well with many different sides. For a light option, serve it with fresh fruit salad or yogurt parfaits. If you’re looking for something more indulgent, try serving it with ice cream or whipped cream. You could also pair the carrot cake with savory sides like roasted vegetables or a green salad to balance out the sweetness of the dessert.
24. Onion Rings
- What Is It? Onion rings are a classic side dish made from sliced onions that have been dipped in batter and deep-fried. They are usually served as an appetizer or side dish, but can also be used to top salads or burgers.
- Serving Ideas: Onion rings pair well with many different dishes, including mac and cheese. For a classic combination, serve onion rings alongside mac and cheese with a side of ketchup for dipping. If you’re looking for something more creative, try serving the onion rings on top of the mac and cheese for added crunch. You can also use them to make an indulgent sandwich by layering slices of fried onion ring between two pieces of bread with melted cheese in between.
25. Fried Okra
- What Is It? Fried okra is a classic Southern side dish made by coating sliced okra in cornmeal and deep-frying it until golden brown. The result is a crunchy, savory snack that pairs perfectly with mac and cheese.
- Serving Ideas: Fried okra can be served as an appetizer or side dish. For a light meal, serve it with some ranch dressing for dipping. For a heartier option, pair fried okra with mac and cheese and your favorite barbecue sauce for an indulgent comfort food dinner. You can also add fried okra to salads or tacos for extra crunch.
26. Baked Potatoes
- What Is It? Baked potatoes are a classic side dish that can be served with mac and cheese. They are made by baking a potato in the oven until it is soft and fluffy on the inside. The skin of the potato should be crispy, making it perfect for topping with butter, sour cream, or other toppings.
- Serving Ideas: Baked potatoes can be served as-is or topped with your favorite ingredients. Try adding bacon bits, shredded cheese, chives, or even chili for an extra flavor boost. For a healthier option, top your baked potato with Greek yogurt and fresh herbs like parsley or dill. You can also serve them alongside roasted vegetables such as broccoli or Brussels sprouts for a complete meal.
- What Is It? Asian cucumber salad is a refreshing side dish that pairs perfectly with mac and cheese. This simple salad is made with thinly sliced cucumbers, rice vinegar, sesame oil, garlic, and sugar. The combination of flavors creates a light and tangy dressing that complements the crunchy texture of the cucumbers.
- Serving Ideas: Asian cucumber salad can be served as a side dish to mac and cheese or as an appetizer on its own. For a more substantial meal, add cooked shrimp or chicken to the salad for added protein. To make it even heartier, serve it over steamed white rice or quinoa. You can also top it with chopped peanuts or sesame seeds for extra crunch and flavor.
28. Buffalo Wings
- What Is It? Buffalo wings are a popular appetizer or side dish made of chicken wings that have been deep-fried and then coated in a spicy sauce. The sauce is usually made with hot pepper sauce, butter, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, garlic powder, and other spices.
- Serving Ideas: Buffalo wings pair well with many different sides. Some classic options include celery sticks and blue cheese dressing for dipping; coleslaw; potato salad; macaroni salad; corn on the cob; French fries; and roasted vegetables such as carrots or Brussels sprouts. For a more unique pairing, try serving buffalo wings with sweet potato fries or waffle fries topped with melted cheese.
- What Is It? Biscuits and gravy is a classic Southern dish that consists of buttery, flaky biscuits smothered in a creamy sausage gravy. The gravy is made with cooked sausage, flour, milk, and seasonings. It’s hearty and comforting, making it the perfect side dish for macaroni and cheese.
- Serving Ideas: To make this classic comfort food even more delicious, try adding some extra ingredients to the gravy such as sautéed mushrooms or onions. You can also top your biscuits with shredded cheese or diced jalapeños for an added kick of flavor. For a lighter option, serve the biscuits and gravy alongside a simple green salad dressed with olive oil and lemon juice.
- What Is It? Cornbread is a type of bread made with cornmeal, flour, eggs, butter or oil, and milk. It is usually baked in a skillet or baking dish and can be either sweet or savory. The texture of cornbread varies from crumbly to cake-like depending on the recipe used.
- Serving Ideas: Cornbread pairs well with many dishes such as chili, soups, stews, and barbecued meats. It can also be served as an accompaniment to macaroni and cheese for a classic comfort food meal. To make it even more special, try adding some fresh herbs like rosemary or thyme to the batter before baking. For a sweeter version of cornbread that’s perfect for breakfast or dessert, add some honey or maple syrup to the batter before baking.
In conclusion, mac and cheese is a classic and beloved dish that can be served with a variety of sides.
From BBQ ribs to roasted broccoli, there’s something for everyone when it comes to serving mac and cheese.
The best side dishes to serve with mac and cheese are BBQ ribs, meatloaf, sloppy joes, meatballs, coleslaw, roasted broccoli, salad, pigs in a blanket, little smokies, chili, brownies with ice cream, and apple pie.
These sides are all delicious and will make your mac and cheese dinner even more special.
With these side dishes, you’ll never run out of ideas for what to serve with mac and cheese.
What To Serve With Mac and Cheese – 30 Best Side Dishes
- BBQ Ribs
- Sloppy Joes
- Roasted Broccoli
- Pigs in a Blanket
- Little Smokies
- Brownies with Ice Cream
- Apple Pie
- Garlic Bread
- Green Beans
- Sweet Potato Fries
- Baked Beans
- Shepherd’s Pie
- Mashed Potatoes
- Buttered Corn
- Cinnamon Baked Apple Slices
- Fried Green Tomatoes
- Carrot Cake
- Onion Rings
- Fried Okra
- Baked Potatoes
- Asian Cucumber Salad
- Buffalo Wings
- Biscuits and Gravy
- Select your favorite recipe.
- Organize all of the required ingredients.
- Prep a side dish in 30 minutes or less.
Jenny has always been passionate about cooking, and she uses her platform to share her joy of food with others. Her recipes are easy to follow, and she loves giving tips and tricks to help others create their own unique culinary creations.