25 Best Sides to Serve with Mac and Cheese

updated Jan 12, 2024
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Photograph of garlic green beans on a white plate with kitchen towel on a marble countertop.
Credit: Meleyna Nomura

Mac and cheese is such a solid staple. You can make macaroni & cheese from scratch, find a favorite boxed variety, or go for pure nostalgia with the frozen kind that microwaves in minutes. While some might argue that mac and cheese is an entire meal (my second grader, for one), even on the most harried nights I still want a side dish to round out the table.

So, what goes with mac and cheese? Side dishes for mac and cheese can be as easy as carrot sticks or a bagged salad. Or you can steam a bag of frozen vegetables and call dinner done, too. When I have a little more foresight and time on my hands, though, I like to make mac and cheese feel more like a meal by pairing it with a vegetable side dish or two. Roasted vegetables and crisp salads really transform mac and cheese into dinner. Here are 25 sides that go well with mac and cheese.

1 / 25
Roasted Broccoli
Perfectly seasoned broccoli florets roasted until crisp and caramelized.
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2 / 25
Garlic Green Beans
This quick and simple way to cook green beans will become an instant favorite.
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3 / 25
Glazed Carrots
This classic side comes together in minutes.
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4 / 25
Easy Sautéed Spinach
Got five minutes? This is the easiest, most foolproof way to cook spinach on the stovetop.
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5 / 25
Easy 10-Minute Garlic Broccolini
Broccolini is even easier to prep and cook than broccoli florets — plus, you can eat it with your fingers (though you didn't hear that from me).
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6 / 25
5-Ingredient Kale Caesar Salad
An easy, anchovy-free version of classic Caesar salad, made with kale instead of romaine so it keeps for days in the fridge.
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7 / 25
Shaved Brussels Sprouts

It's a 10-minute side dish that easy to serve alongside absolutely anything.

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8 / 25
Spanakopita Kale Salad
With briny feta crumbles, crunchy toasted walnuts, and zippy herbs, this chopped kale salad tastes just like spanakopita, the iconic Greek savory pie.
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9 / 25
Cabbage and Apple Slaw with Honey-Lime Dressing
The slightly sweet honey dressing makes this fruit-and-veggie slaw a true crowd-pleaser. To ensure your kids love it as much as you do, chop the cabbage into extra-thin shreds.
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10 / 25
Green Beans Almondine

Crisp-tender beans are combined with sliced almonds and buttery shallots for a quick and easy side.

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11 / 25
Sautéed Broccoli Rabe
This step-by-step recipe for easy sautéed broccoli rabe involves quickly blanching the greens to reduce bitterness.
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12 / 25
Honey Butter Glazed Butternut Squash
This three-ingredient fall side goes well with almost everything.
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13 / 25
Apple-Bacon Slaw
This is everything I want in slaw served with cheesy pasta. It can be built on a base of cabbage or shaved Brussels sprouts, making it a versatile option for frozen mac and cheese night.
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14 / 25
Brussels Sprouts Caesar Salad
Somewhere between a salad and a slaw, this Brussels sprout Caesar is ideal for partnering with mac and cheese. The dressing is slightly tangy and the salad is crunchy in contrast to the creamy macaroni. Plus this makes excellent leftovers.
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15 / 25
Easy Skillet Kale with Lemon & Garlic
A quick recipe for sautéed kale flavored with lots of lemon and garlic.
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16 / 25
Asparagus Salad
Mint and dill make this salad extra refreshing.
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17 / 25
Melted Cabbage
Cabbage wedges are seared, then baked until the leaves become meltingly tender and caramelized just enough around the edges.
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18 / 25
Simple Arugula Salad
A quick and easy, unfussy arugula salad tossed in a lemon vinaigrette and finished with shaved Parmesan.
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19 / 25
Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad with Apples, Hazelnuts & Brown Butter Dressing
This salad takes a little more time to make than the usual shaved sprouts salad, but the extra work is worth the flavor and texture combination.
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20 / 25
Sautéed Asparagus
This super simple side hits the table in under 10 minutes.
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21 / 25
Air Fryer Cauliflower
Tender, golden brown air-fried cauliflower is the perfect side dish for any meal on your plan.
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22 / 25
Crispy Air Fryer Brussels Sprouts
Use the air fryer to serve impossibly crispy Brussels sprouts in a flash.
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23 / 25

Sweet corn and tomatoes makes for a colorful side. What's even better is you can start with fresh or frozen veggies, depending on what you have on hand.

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24 / 25
Roasted Mushrooms
Not only do these simple roasted mushrooms make a great side dish, but they're also the perfect thing to add to pasta, omelets, and more.
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25 / 25
Blistered Green Beans with Pickled Shallots and Toasted Breadcrumbs
This fancy looking side dish is way easier than it looks. Plus, once you make them, you'll never want to be without pickled shallots ever again.
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What is your favorite frozen macaroni and cheese partner?