What To Serve With Mac and Cheese: 11 Sides You’ll Love

Mac and Cheese is a deliciously creamy pasta dish that consists of macaroni pasta smothered in a cheese sauce. It can easily be rustled up from scratch using a few basic ingredients that you are likely to have readily available in your pantry. 

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Whilst mac and cheese is delicious when eaten alone, it can be served with sides as part of a filling meal. When thinking of the best sides to serve with this dish, you must consider the richness of the flavors as you don’t want them to overpower the taste of the mac and cheese.

From fruits to vegetables and salad, you will find that practically any side will go with this dish and complement the taste. 

What Goes with Mac and Cheese?

If you are struggling to think of a side to go with your mac and cheese, we are here to help. Below, we have listed 11 of our favorite, great tasting side dishes. 

Sweet and Savory Meatballs

Mac and cheese tastes great when paired with a meaty side. The savory and sweetness of these meatballs works very well against the creaminess of the cheese sauce. A great thing about meatballs is that you can tailor the taste to suit your preferences.

Whilst some may prefer traditional meatballs that have been cooked in an ol’ marinara sauce, others may opt for meatballs that have a barbeque or chili flavor. 

A great thing about meatballs is that they are fairly easy to make from scratch, but you will likely find pre-made varieties at your local grocery store too. If you are going to be making your own meatballs, you simply need to combine the ingredients before frying or baking them. 

Broccoli and Feta

The taste of mac and cheese and green vegetables complement one another very well. Broccoli is a versatile vegetable that can be served with a number of dishes. It tastes particularly nice when roasted until it is slightly smokey.

Combine with some feta cheese and onion slices before drizzling some olive oil on top, roast in the oven for a little longer and it will then be ready to eat. If desired, you can add a touch of garlic to enhance the flavor a little more. 

Although fresh ingredients tend to work best, you can use frozen broccoli. Put the desired amount onto a tray and then pop it in the oven alongside the mac and cheese. It will take a similar amount of time as the broccoli to cook. 

Creamy Coleslaw

Now, this may not stand out as an obvious side dish for mac and cheese, but it is a great choice for those who are looking for something a little healthier. The selection of ingredients are refreshing with a crunchy texture and the delectable dressing ties it all together nicely. 

This creamy coleslaw is easy to make. All that you need to do is chop up your ingredients into digestible pieces before mixing them in a bowl.

Add a sprinkling of onions, a dash of mayo, and season with a touch of sugar and some salt. If you are in a hurry, but don’t want to miss out on a great tasting dinner, this could be the go to side for you.

Rich Green Salad

Simple but effective, salad is another side dish that goes well with practically any main. It isn’t going to be overly intense so it will balance out the flavors of the mac and cheese. A great thing about salad is that you can make it how you want it.

Whilst some people may choose to go all out and add lots of different ingredients, others may only add a couple. 

We would recommend adding some tomatoes, a mixture of onions, peppers, carrots, and maybe some corn if you prefer a salad with a sweeter taste. You may also like to add some meat to it. To finish your salad, drizzle over your favorite dressing. 

Fiery Chilli 

When served alone chili is a hearty, comforting meal, much like mac and cheese. Instead of serving a large portion, why not have some chili as a side.

Each dish has a distinct flavor. Whilst the mac and cheese is going to be creamy, the chili is going to have a fiery kick and the combination of both creates a meal that is full of goodness. 

The method for making chili is pretty straightforward. Chop up some peppers, tomatoes, and onions and mix with chili powder and the meat. For a vegetarian option, you may wish to use some pinto beans instead. 

Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes and macaroni cheese are a perfect combination. Whilst you can enjoy the sweet potatoes as they are, why not add some garlic to enhance the flavor.

When cooked, the crispy exterior of the potatoes will complement the softness and richness of the macaroni cheese. You can also sprinkle some cheese onto the potatoes before cooking them. Doing so will make their coating taste even better. 

This side is also an ideal option for those looking for a healthier alternative to regular potatoes as they are packed full of vitamins and fiber. Sweet potatoes are also versatile as they can be cooked in multiple ways. Depending on your preference you can boil, roast, or bake them.

Bite Size Sausages

Bite sized sausages, also referred to as ‘little smokies’ are another meaty side option that can be cooked in multiple ways. Depending on what you will find easier, you can fry, bake or prepare them in a slow cooker. They are also available in beef or pork variations so you can select your preferred option. 

Although they are bound to satisfy when served as they are, you can wrap them in bacon and cook them until it becomes crispy. The smokey flavor of these sausages is also going to pair very well with the mac and cheese. 

Sloppy Joes 

Sloppy Joe is a side dish that can easily be made in a matter of minutes. It is recommended for those who want a side that is a little more substantial and will likely be enjoyed by adults and children alike. This dish consists of ground beef, onions, sauce, and seasoning which is then sandwiched between a hamburger bun. 

To make this dish you will require very few ingredients. Of course, you will need your meat of choice, along with tomato sauce, ketchup, Worcester sauce, mustard, brown sugar, and some garlic and onion powder for seasoning. 

Sweet and Savory Meatloaf

Meatloaf is a simple dish made of ground beef that has been shaped to look like a loaf and combined with several other ingredients. Often this dish is eaten as a main meal but the taste goes very well with the flavors of mac and cheese. Again, this is a side dish that is super easy to make and doesn’t call for a lot of ingredients. 

If you enjoy both dishes, you can even make your own mac and cheese stuffed loaf. This is going to be a dinner that you won’t be able to resist. You may find that this dish requires a little more effort to make but if you have the time to spare it is certainly worth a try.

Smokey BBQ Ribs

BBQ flavored ribs and mac and cheese are an excellent combination. In regards to appearance, the color of each dish complements the other very well and the smokey flavor of the ribs gives the mac and cheese a slight kick without being too overpowering. 

Preparing these ribs is a straightforward process. Season both sides with the bbq flavoring and salt and pepper before putting them into the oven and waiting for them to cook.

It is worth noting that ribs can take a while to cook so you will need to account for this when planning your meal. Cook until tender and the meat falls off the bone.

Pigs in Blankets

Sticking with the meaty side dishes, our next suggestion is pigs in blankets. These are small sausages that have been wrapped in a pastry and cooked. They are super moreish and can be rustled up within minutes. 

To begin you will need to roll out the pastry dough before cutting it into slices and wrapping it around the sausages. Pop into the oven and allow them to cook for around 15 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown. 

Green Beans

As mentioned, green vegetables are a great tasting accompaniment to mac and cheese, and green beans are no exception. If you don’t like them plain, why not squeeze some lemon juice on top before serving. The zestiness of the lemon is going to balance out the richness of the creamy macaroni cheese. 

If you don’t have a lot of time to dedicate to making a slightly challenging side dish, green beans are a perfect choice. Simply add them to a pan of water and let them boil for approximately 10 minutes. Sprinkle some black pepper on top and they will then be ready to serve. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What meat goes best with mac and cheese?

There are several meat based dishes that compliment the taste of mac and cheese very well. Ground beef in particular is a favorable option and creates a meal that is packed full of flavor. 

Final Thoughts

There you have it, 11 delicious sides that can be served with your creamy dish of mac and cheese. Whilst we have listed many that contain meat, there are also multiple options that are meat free and great for those with dietary requirements.

Furthermore, we have also provided you with some side dishes that require a lot of effort to make on your behalf and others that can be rustled up and served in a matter of minutes. You can also customize the flavor of your sides so that they cater to your taste preferences.

Although the dishes that we have mentioned above are of the savory variety, why not pair your mac and cheese with a sweet side dish. This doesn’t mean that you have to eat both at the same time, but feasting on a dessert afterward is a great way to finish your meal. 

So, what goes with mac and cheese? Really any roasted veggies will go with your baked macaroni cheese recipe. Throw in some panko breadcrumbs for added texture and flavor to your homemade macaroni.

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Cassie brings decades of experience to the Kitchen Community.
She is a noted chef and avid gardener. Her new book "Healthy Eating Through the Garden" will be released shortly. When not writing or speaking about food and gardens Cassie can be found puttering around farmer's markets and greenhouses looking for the next great idea.
Cassie Marshall
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