These delicious, easy side dishes are tried and true favorites! These tasty recipes pair with just about anything to make it a meal.
Looking for side dish recipes to round out your meal? You’ve come to the right place! Here at A Couple Cooks, we’ve been cooking up side dishes for years. That means, we’ve had years to weed out the bad ones and find the very best. To use, the best side dishes:
Are seriously tasty: It’s got to taste amazing, from crispy roasted Brussels sprouts to a tangy, crisp chopped salad
Are easy to make: Some of these are quick, some take longer, but all of them use simple methods and are accessible for cooks of all skill levels.
Each one of these side dish recipes has been tested multiple times in our kitchen, and eaten by our friends and family. And every single one of them has been a hit! A few more side resources, before we get started:
This really is the best broccoli side dish: it can be made in 10 minutes and it tastes amazing! Steaming it makes it bright green and crisp tender, and it's served with olive oil, red onion slivers and a sprinkle of feta cheese. It's always a favorite at our table! (Got a pressure cooker? Try Instant Pot Broccoli.) Another fave? Roasted Broccoli.
Next up in our favorite side dish recipes...our favorite chopped salad! This Italian-style side always gets rave reviews, featuring crisp romaine, chopped veggies, Parmesan cheese and our best Italian dressing. The kicker? Jarred pepperoncini, which add just the right tangy note.
These Parmesan potatoes are truly extraordinary. There’s the crunchy exterior, oven roasted to perfection. Of course the interior is velvety and tender. And you know how Parmesan gets all crunchy and savory when you heat it up? Yeah, those little crunchy bits are all over these potatoes, making them all the more irresistible. It's one of the most satisfying side dish recipes we've found. (Here's a vegan version: Baked Potato Wedges.)
Imagine: smoky Homemade Ranch Dressing drizzled over a crisp wedge of iceberg lettuce. Then it's topped with sundried tomatoes, blue cheese crumbles, chives, and the kicker: a few crumbled potato chips! Man, this wedge salad is a stunner! It's a side dish recipe that takes no time to put together, but seems elegant and classy.
Did you know cauliflower can be life changing? This lemon herb steamed cauliflower cooks in minutes and is so tasty, you won’t want to stop eating it! The lemon zest makes it bright, and it's mixed with Italian seasoning, salt and olive oil. Even better: it takes only 10 minutes to cook. (Got a pressure cooker? Try our Instant Pot Cauliflower.)
This Parmesan baked asparagus could not be tastier! Bake it in a hot oven until tender, then spritz with lemon: the way to make this healthy veggie taste over-the-moon good. The finishing touch: gooey melted Parmesan cheese. It’s a side dish that’s easy enough to whip up while you’re in the midst of cooking a main. For plant based, try Roasted Asparagus or Sauteed Asparagus.
Did you know frozen peas can taste incredible in 5 minutes? Yes, you can transform a bag of these frozen green spheres into an easy side dish that everyone around the table will love. The secret? A little olive oil, butter, garlic and lemon. That’s it! The Italian-style flavors transform a boring bag of peas into something beautifully delicious and fresh.
The best way to make kale taste AMAZING? Sauteed kale! The flavor of this kale is so good, it will have you wanting to make it daily. It takes only 10 minutes to make Tuscan kale into a side dish you won't want to stop eating. Also try Roasted Kale
This arugula salad is quite possibly the easiest salad recipe you’ll make! You don’t even have to make a salad dressing. In 10 minutes, you’ve got an elegant salad that goes with literally everything. Dress baby arugula simply with olive oil and lemon juice, then add Parmesan shavings and thinly sliced shallots. Done! Simple, understated, and so good.
This kale salad has the power to transform the minds of kale haters everywhere. After you taste this easy side dish, you’ll agree that kale smothered in a lemony, garlicky Parmesan dressing can only be one thing: over the top delicious. Add homemade croutons for a crunch.
Looking for a healthy and easy side dish that pairs with literally anything? These lemony steamed green beans go with almost any meal, from meatloaf to salmon to pasta. Even better: they take only 10 minutes to whip up! They're crisp tender and the zesty lemon flavor has made them a favorite side dish recipe in our house. (Got a pressure cooker? Try Instant Pot Green Beans with Lemon.)
These truly are the best sauteed mushrooms. They're tender, juicy, and meaty with a brightness at the finish. Fresh thyme and oregano give an herby punch. Take one bite and you'll exclaim "Wow!" This side dish recipe is plant based with not a lick of meat or dairy, but it has the feel of taking a satisfying bite of meat. It also takes only 10 minutes to make. Also try: Roasted Mushrooms
The best way to make carrots into a side dish? Roasted! They come out tender, lightly charred, and sweetly earthy. Roasting them with lemon wedges gives a brightness of flavor, and fresh thyme sprigs add a hint of complexity. Give that raw carrot a glamorous makeover! You’ll be glad you did.
This side dish is a total treat food! It goes well with pasta and has just the right savory flavor. It’s tender on the inside with a crust of crunchy Parmesan cheese. And, it’s only got less butter than most garlic bread recipes, so it’s a lighter spin on the classic.
This fennel orange salad features vibrant juicy oranges and a famous pairing: sliced raw fennel, which adds a subtle licorice essence. Throw it over greens with a few garnishes, top with a zingy homemade citrus vinaigrette, and wow! There’s so much going on flavor and texture-wise, it’s one of the most unexpectedly delicious salads you'll find.
Wow, this sauteed spinach really does taste amazing! Unexpected, we know. Scented with garlic, it's wilted until bright green in a bit of olive oil. Then it's finished off with lemon juice to give it a brightness. The flavor is fresh and vibrant, not lifeless and mushy as you might expect! It tastes so good, you'll find yourself sneaking seconds. Even better, this easy side dish takes only 10 minutes to whip up.
These really are the BEST Brussels sprouts: so crispy, you’ll think they were fried. But they’re baked! You know those crispy Brussels that you can get at a restaurant? These are just as good. They’re baked until impossibly crunchy, then tossed with a balsamic and honey sauce that brings in the tangy and sweet notes. (Try Spicy Brussels Sprouts if you love heat.)
Baking cauliflower in a hot oven transforms it into something transcendental. The flavor becomes sweet and buttery, and flavored with salt and garlic, it’s about as irresistible as french fries. This really is the perfect roasted cauliflower recipe! If you’re new to the roasted cauliflower train: it’s going to blow your mind.
This blackberry salad is classic and chic: it features baby greens, tangy berries, and soft goat cheese. Crunchy smoked almonds bring a nuance of smoky flavor, and it's topped with our famous creamy Best Balsamic Vinaigrette dressing. You'll hear "wow" murmured around the table if you serve this side dish (we certainly have!).
Here’s a refreshingly simple side dish that’s just begging to jump on your table: citrus salad! It stars all the beautiful, vibrant citrus: tangy grapefruit, navel oranges, and sweet blood oranges. They’re drizzled with a zingy dressing, then topped crushed pistachios and fresh mint.
This quick baked potatoes recipe shows you how to cook them in half the time! The easy trick will become your go-to for a perfect potato in just 30 minutes (it tastes better, too). Large potatoes can take 1 hour or more to bake, but in this quick and easy method the potatoes bake in about 30 minutes. Top with sour cream (or vegan sour cream) and chopped chives.
You barely have to do anything to rainbow chard to make it taste good! Just throw it in a hot pan with olive oil and garlic, then salt it to taste. It turns into an easy side dish in just 10 minutes. You don’t even need to mince the garlic: you’ll throw in the whole cloves to the pan. To take it over the top, add Parmesan cheese and toasted pine nuts.
If you haven’t tried the taste treat that is roasted fennel, stop right now and make yourself a pan! Its roasted self is something different altogether from its raw licorice flavor. It becomes sweet and caramelized: almost like roasted onions but even more irresistible! Baked fennel makes easy and elegant side dish, especially for a Mediterranean or Italian-style meal.
Protein-packed edamame is a fantastic easy side dish. Edamame are soy beans you eat right out of the pod, squeezing them into your mouth with a satisfying pop. This edamame recipe is basic but oh-so-tasty, mixed with garlic and toasted sesame oil and seasoned generously with salt. Also try 5-Minute Shelled Edamame or Spicy Edamame
Sure, you could go with simple roasted cauliflower as a side dish. But how about CRISPY breaded cauliflower? This cauliflower is baked and turns out totally crispy and crunchy on the outside and tender on the inside. It's so many things at once: savory, tangy, sweet, and spicy. Your palate is simply overwhelmed by the complexity.
Delicata squash is a variety of squash that's extraordinarily sweet and cooks quickly. The skin is edible, so you don't even need to peel! It's an oblong shape that makes it perfect for cutting into half moon-shaped "fries". Roast them in a hot oven, and they come out sweet and tender.
Why not mash your sweet potatoes, instead of roast them? This one is a perfect side dish recipe starring nutritious sweet potatoes combined with Yukon gold potatoes. It makes for the perfect fluffy texture and savory sweet flavor! (Try them in the Instant Pot: Instant Pot Mashed Sweet Potatoes.)
Looking for a summery side? This is really the best potato salad out there. And, it's got no mayo! (Want our secrets? Head to the recipe.) It's got perfectly tender potatoes, crunchy celery, and of course: dill pickles.
Yes, this really is the best coleslaw. It's totally balanced in sweet and savory flavors, and it has a healthy spin. There’s no refined sugar and less mayo than most coleslaw recipes. You'll find yourself going back for seconds and thirds!
What's better than a classic crispy fry as a side dish? This recipe tastes just like your favorite restaurant fries, except they're baked: not fried! Then they're drizzled with earthy, aromatic truffle oil. They're seriously satisfying. You'll never need takeout fries again! (Don't want truffle? Try them straight up with Restaurant-Style Baked Fries.)
These refried black beans are seriously simple. They take just 15 minutes and use only a few ingredients: beans, olive oil, and garlic. The amount of flavor that comes in the quick cook time is unbelievable! (Also try our Instant Pot Refried Beans.)
If it's corn season, this elote is one perfect side dish! The sweet corn is charred to smoky perfection on the grill. Then it's slathered in mayo and sour cream, seasoned with chili powder, and topped with feta or queso fresco cheese. The sweet crunch of the corn against the creamy, savory sauce is to die for.
This salad features raw shaved Brussels sprouts, which taste a bit like a sweeter version of cabbage. They have a feathery texture and are so seriously delicious, we had to include it in our favorite side dish recipes! Here it's served with tart pomegranate seeds, crisp apple and a tangy vinaigrette.
Here's a super easy dish trick: pesto quinoa! Whip up a batch of quinoa (we have two methods: Stovetop Quinoa or Pressure Cooker Quinoa). Then swirl it with a bit of basil pesto for a quick flavoring. It makes a tasty side dish in about 20 minutes. Score!
If using, thinly slice the onion. Place it in a bowl of water while you’re making the rest of the recipe, then drain. (This helps to reduce onion breath and remove some of the spicy bite. If you use green onion, skip this step!)
Place 1 1/2 cups water into a saucepan or pot and bring it to a boil.
Once boiling, add the broccoli in the steamer basket. Steam with the lid on 3 to 4 minutes until just tender (test with a fork). We like our broccoli on the crisp side: if you’d like it more tender, cook 1 minute more. Just be careful not to cook much longer or the color will immediately fade and it will be overcooked!
Carefully remove the broccoli to a bowl. Toss with the olive oil, kosher salt, feta cheese (optional), and drained red onions. Top with freshly ground black pepper.
Keywords: Side Dish Recipes, Best Side Dishes
Runner up sides
There are so many great sides, we didn’t even scratch the surface! There are lots more delicious recipes where these come from. Here are some more of our runner up favorites:
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.