10 BEST Side Dishes to Serve with Mac and Cheese
Italy is known for being the origin of many culinary delights, and, as you’ve guessed, it’s the home of everyone’s favorite– mac & cheese.
While mac & cheese is a staple in many cuisines worldwide, you may find it challenging to find side dishes that best complement it.
Now, if you’re a fan of this satisfying cheesy dish, you know it’ll be much better to have a list of side dishes to rely on now and then.
So, this article will discuss what to serve with mac & cheese and why you should consider serving them.
Why Consider Serving Side Dishes for Mac & Cheese?
Side dishes are a staple when serving mac and cheese.
They balance the flavor and nutrients without making the meal too fatty.
Most people like to follow a 1:1 ratio, but a 2:1 cheese-to-pasta ratio is another common measurement among cheese lovers.
So, it’s only natural to want something light and refreshing for your sides.
Pairing side dishes with mac and cheese ensures that your palate consistently stays refreshed.
After all, you don’t want to feel squeamish by overeating on your favorite dishes.
What To Serve with Mac & Cheese? 10 BEST Side Dishes
There’s no limit to what you can serve with mac and cheese because it goes well with just about anything except for overly cheesy dishes.
So here are ten of our favorites that you might want to try.
1 – Herbed Zucchini Chips
Zucchini is a refreshing ingredient to add to meals.
You’ve likely always eaten them raw, but they’re delicious even with their moisture extinguished, that is, when you bake them.
Coating the zucchini with olive oil and fresh herbs before baking them into chips gives it more flavor.
It is crunchy and sweet, contrasting with the cheesy and chewy mac and cheese.
Herbed zucchini chips are healthier than potato chips, which are usually high-sodium and high-calorie.
So, it is a must-try when you have access to fresh zucchini produce in plenty.
2 – Bacon Wrapped Jalapeno Poppers
Jalapeno poppers are spicy, crunchy, and flavorful, especially when battered and breaded.
When you pair them with mac and cheese, everything from texture and flavor to aroma complements each other.
But instead of serving regular jalapeno poppers, consider wrapping them with bacon strips; it’ll enhance the flavors and give them a smoky aroma.
You can dip the poppers into the cheesy gravy as a serving option.
Using minimal seasoning is the trick to achieving delicious jalapeno poppers that don’t overwhelm the entrée.
So, something simple like salt and pepper should do the trick.
3 – Citrusy Cauliflower Rice Salad
White rice is a no-no when considering healthy eating, but they make great bases for many complex salads.
So, the trick to getting a similar result without compromising on nutrition is using cauliflower rice, a healthy alternative.
Cauliflower rice is simply ground cauliflower florets and has a minimal flavor of its own.
And like white rice, it tastes excellent when paired with vibrant and flavorful veggies.
This side dish is low in calories and brings high-fiber ingredients that refresh your palate as you eat your cheesy pasta treat.
The citrusy elements, in particular, act as palate cleansers and are a significant part of this dish.
4 – Mediterranean Tuna Salad
When serving something heavy on dairy, consider incorporating plant-based side dishes to balance the flavors and nutrition.
And there’s no diet better than the Mediterranean when you need powerful ingredients in your diet.
Tuna is a healthy base for a salad as it is protein-rich and packed with essential vitamins and minerals, with omega-3 fatty acids being a significant plus point.
Remember to drain the tuna well before adding it to the other ingredients to achieve a firm salad texture.
For a flavorful finish, consider adding other Mediterranean ingredients like olives, tahini, parsley, lemon juice, and feta.
5 – Spicy Pickled Radish
Radish is quite a neglected item on the markets, but they make delicious pickles.
So, the next time you walk past some radish at the grocery store, take some home to make a tangy side dish for mac and cheese.
Despite the mild astringency, the radish doesn’t overwhelm the flavor of mac and cheese.
Instead, they help refresh your palate so you don’t feel squeamish from consuming the cheesy flavors.
Radish pickle is effortless to make yet full of antioxidants and a treat for your gut health.
They’re not just for your palate to enjoy; your liver will also experience some good detoxification.
6 – Avocado Bell Pepper Salsa
Salsa is refreshing and vibrant and perfect to pair with anything heavy.
For mac and cheese, consider serving a tangy and earthy salsa by combining bell peppers and avocadoes with seasonings and fresh lemon juice.
This low-carb and high-protein side dish can refresh your palate with each cheesy bite.
The avocadoes bring out a mild flavor that combines all ingredients in your meal without creating too much polarity in flavors.
While some may consider mac and cheese as ‘unhealthy’ because of the high amount of cheese, avocadoes provide healthy fats to counteract the nutrient imbalance.
7 – Farro and Arugula Salad
Pairing a nutty grain like farro with a cheesy dish like mac and cheese brings mild elements to the meal without one flavor overwhelming the other.
Farro has a warm and comforting taste that is perfect for toning down the heavy cheese.
Meanwhile, the arugula introduces peppery and tart flavors to make the meal more rounded while providing antioxidants for your body.
A farro and arugula salad are primarily carbs, so they’re quick to fill you up.
However, you might need to consider your dietary restrictions before pairing them with the carb-rich mac and cheese.
8 – Quinoa Stuffed Peppers
Quinoa is a go-to ingredient when considering plant-based protein.
While there are plenty of ways to eat them, turning them into a filling is quite exciting.
The peppers provide a sharpness that contrasts the cheesy mac and cheese, keeping the flavors balanced.
Before assembling the peppers, cook the quinoa, peppers, and any additional vegetables separately so they get uniformly cooked while baking.
Besides the preparation process, this dish is relatively easy, as the oven does most of the work.
Garnishing the stuffed peppers with crumbled goat cheese and fresh herbs gives it a refreshing and tangy accent.
9 – Bok Choy Chicken Soup
Bok choy makes a prominent part of Asian cuisine and has become a favorite worldwide because of its distinct taste and rich nutrition profile.
While there are many dishes to make out of this cruciferous leaf, soups always stand as a classic.
High-protein and low-calorie side dishes never disappoint, just like a Bok choy chicken soup.
Its broth is rich and comforting, while the chicken adds meaty elements.
Everything from the texture to flavor and aroma of this soup complements the savory and heavy mac and cheese.
It is also a great way to use leftover chicken and veggies.
10 – Roasted Beet Salad with Goat Cheese
Roasted beets release a smoky flavor and are perfect for people who dislike munching on raw veggies in their salads.
And it’s also a great way to use up leftover beets.
To make the beet salad better suited for mac and cheese, consider including arugula and avocadoes for some sharp and nutty undertones.
The mild earthy flavor of goat cheese also complements the sweetness of mac and cheese.
In addition, using crushed nuts as garnish provides a crunchy bite to the salad, balancing the entire flavor profile of the meal.
When considering serving side dishes with mac and cheese, always look for sides with contrasting flavors.
You want to include more plant-based dishes or meats with lesser fat content.
Also, incorporating spicy flavors always help with keeping your palate refreshed.
While cheeses in side dishes may seem taboo, you can never go wrong with using something like goat cheese with an earthy flavor.
Although mac and cheese are perfect when eaten as is, they’re much better with sides, so remember to have fun while experimenting with the combinations.
10 BEST Side Dishes to Serve with Mac and Cheese
- 1 – Herbed Zucchini Chips
- 2 – Bacon Wrapped Jalapeno Poppers
- 3 – Citrusy Cauliflower Rice Salad
- 4 – Mediterranean Tuna Salad
- 5 – Spicy Pickled Radish
- 6 – Avocado Bell Pepper Salsa
- 7 – Farro and Arugula Salad
- 8 – Quinoa Stuffed Peppers
- 9 – Bok Choy Chicken Soup
- 10 – Roasted Beet Salad with Goat Cheese
- Choose your favorite recipe from the article.
- Gather all necessary ingredients and utensils.
- Follow the step-by-step instructions in the recipe to prepare the side dish.
- Serve and enjoy your delicious meal.