Turn your mac and cheese into an unforgettable meal with these tasty side dishes.
Mac and cheese is the ultimate comfort food: cheesy, creamy, and always satisfying. But it needs some company to become a complete meal.
What Goes With Mac and Cheese
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 mac and cheese to get a vibrant plate.
If you’re having trouble coming up with main dishes and sides that fit the bill, you’ve come to the right place.
We’ll cover everything from protein to vegetables to dessert. All you’ve got to do is take your pick!
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 meal.
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 perfect meal with sweet and savory meatloaf.
These two 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.
But… we’ll keep it simple with this classic oven baked recipe.
3. Sloppy Joe
One bite of this deliciously messy sandwich will transport you back into childhood.
Pair up your sloppy Joe with any mac and cheese recipe 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 an easy side dish that will create a perfect meal with mac & cheese.
Plus, it’s super easy to make with simple ingredients. Just chop up some cabbage and carrots and mix them up with some diced red 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 taste.
Since mac and cheese is such a decadent dish, serve it with some green vegetables to cut down its richness. And what better green veggie is there than broccoli?
Coat them in olive oil and salt, and pop them in the oven. This’ll give them a smoky char and a much-enhanced flavor.
When it comes to roast veggies, fresh is best; but, you can also use frozen broccoli if needed.
You can even 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 macaroni, making the two a wonderful pair.
This refreshing dish stars an array of veggies such as carrots, tomatoes, radishes, green and red onions, and pepperoncini peppers.
Then, toss the ingredients with dressing – anything from creamy ranch to tangy vinaigrette will work.
Pigs in a blanket are small hotdogs or sausage wrapped in bacon and pastry and baked in the oven.
These little boys only take 1 to 2 bites to finish, so you’ll want a nice filling side dish to go alongside it.
The perfect partner for this sweet and savory snack? You guessed it! A warm bowl of creamy macaroni.
Speaking of sausage, little smokies are another bite-sized golden brown snack that always satisfies.
And while sausage is delicious on its own, it’s even better when wrapped in bacon.
The smoky and savory flavors of this dish complement the richness of the gooey cheese, making you wonder why they ever lived apart.
As we’ve said earlier, mac and cheese is a classic comfort food.
But you know what else is? Chili! And, when you pair up these two main dishes, you’ll get a harmony of rich & creamy, meaty & hearty, and fiery & cheesy goodness. One spoonful of this medley is like getting a giant hug.
So, if you want something to turn your frown around, this pairing is a great option. This combo makes everything right in the world.
There are few things more satisfying than a juicy pulled pork sandwich, except maybe when it’s paired with mac and cheese.
The tender, smoky flavors of the pork complement the richness of the macaroni, creating a perfect meal.
It’s like a delicious symphony where the pork is the funky beat and the mac and cheese is the smooth melody.
Grilled chicken tenders and mac & cheese is the ultimate duo sure to tickle your taste buds.
The juicy grilled chicken tenders taste wonderfully with the creamy mac & cheese.
Plus, the meat adds a little protein kick to your meal, making it a well-rounded feast.
It’s a match made in foodie heaven you won’t want to miss.
Pro-tip: want a simpler alternative? Make air fryer chicken tenders!
13. Hot Dogs
Hold onto your buns, because I’m about to introduce you to a terrific tandem that’ll make you drool – hot dogs and mac & cheese!
The soft and snappy texture of the hot dog blends perfectly with the creamy and velvety mac & cheese, creating a mouthfeel that’s nothing short of magical.
Get ready to sink your teeth into this comfort food combo!
This slow-cooked beef brisket is a meaty masterpiece that tastes incredible with cheesy macaroni.
It adds a depth of flavor that elevates the cheesy macaroni to new heights of deliciousness.
The creamy mac and cheese blends perfectly with the tender slow cooker meat, creating a heavenly balance of flavor and texture.
Picture this: a plate full of tender and flavorful BBQ pulled chicken paired with a heaping bowl of mac and cheese. Talk about mouthwatering!
The smoky and smoke taste of the BBQ chicken complements the rich and cheesy goodness of mac & cheese.
Balancing each other out, it’s like a culinary yin and yang.
Say hello to the unsung hero of comfort food – cornbread!
This sweet and savory recipe will have your taste buds dancing with joy. The crispy crust and soft, fluffy inside make for a perfect texture combination that’s simply irresistible.
And when paired with sauce rich mac and cheese, it’s a flavor explosion that’ll blow your mind.
17. Pork Tenderloin
Now it’s time to talk about the lean, mean, and oh-so-delicious machine that is pork tenderloin. This juicy crowd-pleaser will have you licking your fingers clean.
With its tender, melt-in-your-mouth texture, pork tenderloin is like a flavor bomb that explodes in your mouth with every bite.
And when paired with homemade mac and cheese, you’ll be treated to a fun and satisfying dinner.
This easy recipe is a delightful mix of pineapple & oranges, creamy whipped topping, and shredded coconut. It’s a cold and refreshing dish perfect for any occasion.
This colorful salad is like a taste of paradise that’ll transport you to a tropical island with every bite. When paired with mac & cheese, it’ll take your taste buds on a wild ride.
19. Broccoli Salad
Creamy broccoli salad is a delicious mix of broccoli florets, bacon bits, red onion, and raisins tossed in a delectable mayo dressing.
Bright and creamy, this salad will awaken your taste buds and add some much-needed greens to your mac & cheese dinner.
Sure, mac and cheese is already hearty, 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’s what!
Serve it warm and topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream for a satisfying way to end your meal.
21. Apple Pie
Not a fan of chocolate? No problem! A classic apple pie is a great option especially if you want something warm and comforting.
It’s a sweet and crisp combo that can only be made better with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top.
The contrast between warm and cold is so wonderful, it’s like a party in the mouth. It’s the perfect way to end this classic comfort meal.
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