Here are all the best side recipes for what to serve with mac and cheese! Green salads, crisp tender vegetables, and zingy coleslaw make it a meal.
Looking for what to serve with mac and cheese to make it a meal? Ooey, gooey mac and cheese is the perfect comfort food. But making it into a meal can be tricky. You’ll need contrasting flavors, textures, and ingredients to balance out all that richness. And don’t forget about color! There’s nothing worse than a plate of yellow and beige. (Pretty please do not accessorize with cornbread and mashed potatoes.)
Here Alex and I have compiled our top ideas for what to serve with mac and cheese. There are crisp green salads that go with anything (feel free to use with lasagna or salmon, too). We’ve got crisp tender steamed green veggies that are flavored to perfection. Even zingy coleslaw is the perfect fit with a cheesy plate of pasta. Ready for those recipes?
Top recipes for what to serve with mac and cheese!
First up in our what to serve with mac and cheese: something that goes with anything. Meet our "Goes with Anything" salad! Crisp veggies the perfect pair against the rich cheese. This salad features a rainbow of veggies: radishes, carrots, red and green onion, and tangy jarred pepperoncini. The salad dressing is customizable: here we'd recommend Healthy Ranch, Best Balsamic Vinaigrette, Easy Honey Mustard, or Homemade Caesar.
Another great side to serve with mac and cheese: green veggies! This broccoli is seriously quick to whip up: it takes only 10 minutes total and it comes out bright green and crisp tender. Mix with olive oil, red onion and feta cheese (or skip the cheese if you don't want a cheese overload).
More green veggies to serve with mac and cheese: these lemony green beans! The bright, zesty lemon is a fantastic contrast to rich cheese. These bright green beans also take about 10 minutes to make and are a beautiful pair to pasta of any kind.
What to serve with mac and cheese if you're looking to impress? These best roasted vegetables take about 45 minutes total to make, but are perfect for a dinner party! The recipe makes 2 full sheet pans of colorful, healthy vegetables. This would look perfect on a plate next to pasta!
Back to the green vegetables: this kale salad really is the best! Dark green Tuscan kale is covered in a tangy, Italian-style lemon and garlic dressing that is out of this world good! It's flavored with a little Parmesan cheese for savory element. The zesty flavor is a fantastic contrast with gooey pasta.
These Brussels sprouts take no time at all to make, and come out bright green and crisp tender! You'll need a pressure cooker for this one, which is perfect for making a side while you have the stovetop or oven busy with mac and cheese. Mixed with a hint of butter, chives, and Parmesan cheese, they’re super flavorful and a healthy side to serve with mac and cheese.
This spinach apple salad is so simple to make, no one will believe it took minutes to put together. Even better, the crisp apple and juicy pear pair perfectly with rich pasta. Our best balsamic vinaigrette covers it in tangy sweet goodness, and the best part? Maple-glazed walnuts! Just 1 to 2 minutes in a hot skillet with maple syrup makes the nuts come out shiny and lightly sweet.
Can you serve coleslaw with mac and cheese? You bet. This refreshing, crunchy colelsaw is covered in a tangy creamy dressing that has a healthy spin. This recipe is totally balanced in sweet and savory flavors, and there's less mayo than most coleslaw recipes. Even better: it's sweetened with a touch of maple syrup instead of a load of refined sugar.
Here's another fall or wintery salad to serve with mac and cheese: this one starring beets! This beet salad has all the right elements: roasted beets, baby greens, creamy goat cheese and a tangy balsamic beet dressing. Basically, it's salad perfection! It's fastest to use storebought roasted beets here, or cook them in the Instant Pot for quickest prep. (Or, you can roast them in advance.)
And last up in what to serve with mac and cheese: radish chopped salad! This springy salad features radishes, crisp romaine and shredded green cabbage. It's jumbled with blue cheese crumbles and then topped with our Blue Cheese Dressing. Not a blue cheese fan? No problem. Omit the crumbles and top with Creamy Pesto Healthy Salad Dressing.
What to serve with mac and cheese? This “Goes with Anything” salad recipe is totally versatile, featuring colorful veggies, crunchy homemade croutons, and a variety of salad dressing options.
- 1/2 recipe Homemade Croutons (optional)
- 1 romaine heart (3 cups chopped)
- 5 cups mixed greens
- 1/4 small red onion
- 1 to 2 green onions (thinly sliced)
- 1/2 cucumber (1 cup peeled and chopped)
- 1 carrot (shredded)
- 4 radishes (thinly sliced and halved)
- 1/4 cup pepperoncini
- 1/4 cup sunflower seeds
- Sea salt, for garnish
- Salad dressing: Homemade Ranch Dressing, Best Balsamic Vinaigrette, Italian Dressing, or Honey Mustard Dressing
- If using, make the Homemade Croutons.
- Wash and chop the romaine. If necessary, wash the mixed greens. (You can use any mix of greens here; measure about 2 cups of greens per serving.)
- Thinly slice the red onion. Thinly slice the green onion.
- Peel and chop the cucumber.
- Shred the carrot (we used this Handheld Julienne Shredder).
- Thinly slice and half the radishes.
- Make the dressing: Homemade Ranch Dressing, Best Balsamic Vinaigrette, Italian Dressing, or Honey Mustard Dressing.
- Toss together the greens, red onion, green onion, cucumber, carrot, radishes, and pepperoncini. Top with sunflower seeds and croutons, and drizzle with dressing.
- Category: Salad
- Method: Raw
- Cuisine: American
Keywords: What to Serve with Mac and Cheese, Salad Recipe, Green Salad
Some favorite mac and cheese recipes
Wait, you want mac and cheese too? (We’re so glad you asked.) Here are all our favorite recipes:
- Pesto Havarti Mac and Cheese Swirling basil pesto into mac and cheese is a stroke of genius! The sauce uses creamy havarti cheese.
- Best Gouda Mac and Cheese This one is rich and creamy, and makes a huge 9 x 13″ pan for entertaining.
- White Cheddar Mac and Cheese Full of flavor, this creamy white cheddar mac and cheese features roasted tomatoes as a tangy balance.
- Creamy Mac and Cheese with Greek Yogurt This virtuous mac and cheese is swirled with Greek yogurt and spinach, but tastes anything but healthy.
More sides to go with…
We love helping you find great recipes to pair with main dishes! Here are a few more recipe collections:
- Sides to Go with Lasagna
- Sides to Serve with Enchiladas
- Sides to Go with Pizza
- Sides to Go with Salmon
- Sides to Go with Tacos
- Sides to Go with Chili
About the Authors
Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.
Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.