Turn your mac and cheese into an unforgettable meal with these tasty side dishes.
Mac and cheese is a spectacularly creamy pasta dish with ooey-gooey cheeses and soft, chewy macaroni. It’s the ultimate comfort food: cheesy, creamy, and always satisfying. But it needs some company to become a complete meal.
When thinking of what to serve with mac and cheese, you’ll want food items that will contrast those rich and creamy flavors. You’ll also want to think of colors that complement the yellow-orange hue of mac and cheese to get a vibrant and colorful plate.
If you’re having trouble coming up with entrees or side dishes that fit the bill, you’ve come to the right place. We’ll cover everything from protein to veggies to dessert. All you’ve got to do is take your pick!
Top 12 Side Dishes for Mac and Cheese
1. BBQ Ribs
To me, the entrée that pairs most beautifully with mac and cheese is some fall-off-the-bone barbecue ribs.
First of all, the color combination looks fabulous. The dark red hue of the ribs plus the warm yellow tones of mac and cheese makes for such a picture-perfect plate. Second, and more importantly, the smokiness of the barbecue complements oh so well with the richness of the mac and cheese.
Together, the two make a lip-smacking, finger-licking good meal. Serve them at your next barbecue party and your guests will talk about it for days.
Transform your mac and cheese into a full meal with sweet and savory meatloaf. These two dishes are excellent all by themselves. But when paired together, they create a magical symphony of taste and texture.
In fact, these two work so well together that there are many recipes online for mac and cheese stuffed meatloaf. Combining the two into one extra cheesy meatloaf. Who would’ve thought?
But… we’ll keep it simple with this classic pairing. Here’s one of our favorite recipes: Cracker Barrel Meatloaf.
3. Sloppy Joes
One bite of this deliciously messy sandwich will transport you back into childhood. Pair it up with mac and cheese and you’ve got classic comfort food on a plate. This combo is sure to please both kids and adults alike.
Is it just me, or are these two just meant to be together? Creamy mac and cheese with sweet and savory meatballs: it doesn’t get much better than that.
You can whip these up in the crockpot with grape jelly and Heinz chili sauce. Or you can go for BBQ meatballs in a wonderfully tangy sauce. Or keep it traditional with good ‘ol marinara. It’s totally up to you and your taste buds.
Here’s a creamy and crunchy side dish that will round out your meal perfectly.
Plus, it’s super easy to make. Just chop up some cabbage and carrots and mix it up with some diced onion, sugar, white vinegar, salt, and poppy seeds.
To save time, you can also buy a pre-made bag of coleslaw mix. It’s a simple shortcut that doesn’t sacrifice on taste.
Since mac and cheese is such a decadent dish, serve it with some green veggies to cut down its richness. And what better green veggie is there than broccoli?
Roast them to perfection to give it a smoky char and an enhanced flavor! It’s very simple, just top it with feta cheese, red onion slices, and drizzle with olive oil. Pop them in the oven, roast at 450 degrees F for 15-20 minutes and you’re all set! Make it extra cheesy by topping it with Parmesan cheese.
When it comes to veggie dishes, fresh is best; but, you can also use frozen broccoli if needed. In fact, you can pop it in the oven alongside the mac and cheese and they will finish cooking at the same time.
A simple salad goes well with anything, and mac and cheese is no exception. This light and colorful dish balances out the richness of the mac and cheese, making the two such a wonderful pair.
This refreshing side stars an array of veggies such as carrots, tomatoes, radishes, green and red onions, and pepperoncini peppers. You can also add bacon bits, ham, shredded chicken, or any of your preferred protein.
Give it a bit of sweetness by adding corn, mandarin oranges, and mangoes. Add nuts, such as walnuts, almonds, and cashews to the salad to add a nice crunchy texture. And finally, top it with your favorite dressing. Anything from creamy ranch and caesar dressings to tangy honey mustard and balsamic vinaigrette.
Pigs in a blanket are small hotdogs or sausages wrapped in bacon which are then covered in some pastry – such as pancake, biscuit dough, or croissant dough.
These little boys only take 1 to 2 bites to finish, so you’ll want a nice filling dish to go alongside it. The perfect partner to this sweet and savory snack? You guessed it! A warm bowl of creamy mac and cheese. Both dishes are soft and super savory, which is why it only makes sense to pair them up.
Speaking of sausages, little smokies are another bite-sized snack that always satisfies. And while these little guys are delicious on their own, make them even better by wrapping them in bacon. Here’s a simple recipe with just 3 ingredients.
Next, pop them in the oven to make a crisp on the outside and tender on the inside snack. The smoky and savory flavors of this dish complement the richness of mac and cheese, making you wonder why they ever lived apart.
As we’ve said earlier, mac and cheese is the ultimate comfort food. But you know what else is? That’s right, chili! And, when you pair up these two indulgent dishes, you’ll get a harmony of rich and creamy, meaty and hearty, and fiery and cheesy goodness. In fact, One spoonful of this medley is like getting a giant hug.
So, if you’re having a rough day, have a combination of mac and cheese and chili for dinner. It’s the perfect combo that just seems to make everything right in the world.
If you are like me, a meal is never complete without dessert. Sure, mac and cheese is already hearty, especially when paired with another side dish. But, as they say, you should always make room for dessert.
What’s a good sweet treat that complements the decadence of mac and cheese? A luscious, chocolatey piece of brownie, that is! Serve that sweet and chewy square warm and top it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. What a fabulous way to end out your meal.
12. Apple Pie
Not a fan of chocolate? No problem! A classic apple pie is equally delicious. Especially if you’re looking for something warm and comforting.
It’s a sweet and crunchy combo that can only be made better with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top. The combination of warm and cold is so wonderful, it’s like a party in the mouth. It’s the perfect way to end out this classic comfort meal.
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