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What To Serve With Mac And Cheese – 60 BEST Side Dishes

If you’re wondering what to serve with your mac and cheese, you’ve come to the right place.

In this article, I list 60 of the most popular side dishes for mac and cheese.

In a rush? Here’s the short answer.

The best side dishes to serve with mac and cheese are BBQ baby back ribs, meatloaf, lemon butter broccoli, and Autumn crunch salad. You can also serve hot dogs, Italian roasted veggies, or garlic swirl rolls. For holiday dishes, try bourbon glazed ham or butter poached lobster.

Ready? Let’s jump right in.

Great flavor pairings for mac and cheese

Mac and cheese typically has a rich and creamy flavor with a subtle tanginess from the cheese.

It’s decadent flavors pair well with: 

  • Zesty, sharp flavors: adding a touch of spice or sourness can help liven up your mac and cheese and cut through all the richness. Try adding jalapeños, hot sauce, lemon juice, or pickles.
  • Sweet flavors: while not a traditional pairing, sweet flavors can create an interesting twist on mac and cheese and balance out any salty flavors. Try ingredients like caramelized onions, roasted butternut squash, or sweet peppers.
  • Smoky flavors: smoky flavors like bacon or smoked paprika add depth and complexity to mac and cheese. Mac and cheese also pairs really well with anything BBQ’d.

BBQ classics

Mac and cheese is a staple at cook-outs. I don’t think I’ve been to one where mac and cheese wasn’t served!

I love mixing it with saucy pulled pork, but it’s also amazing paired with a rack of juicy ribs. 

You can also enjoy it with a side of steak for a more elegant meal. 

BBQ baby back ribs

The combination of fall-off-the-bone ribs with luscious mac and cheese is a classic, and for good reason!

All you need is a good-quality rack of ribs and a spice rub made up of all your favorite flavors (this recipe uses brown sugar, paprika, and cayenne pepper).

Pro-tip: I prefer pork ribs, but you can also use beef for a more robust flavor. 

Why we love this recipe: you can cook the ribs on the grill or use the oven.

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Oven-roasted pulled pork

I love traditional smoked pulled pork, but this recipe is my go-to when I’m making it from scratch.

It requires zero hands-on cooking – just slather the pork butt/shoulder with the spice rub, let it rest for about an hour, and roast it in the oven low and slow.

After five hours, you’ll have a perfectly tender hunk of meat that you can shred and toss in your favorite BBQ sauce. Easy peasy, right?

Why we love this recipe: it’s perfect for beginners. 

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Spiral hotdogs

Mac and cheese with hotdogs is an easy weekend dinner for a game or movie night.

You can spoon the mac and cheese over the hot dogs to make a loaded dog, or just serve them side by side.

And don’t forget the other toppings for your hotdogs like pickle relish, mustard, ketchup, sour cream, and crispy onions.

Why we love this recipe: who doesn’t love hot dogs?!

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Beef brisket

Not in the mood to fire up the grill? This brisket recipe is for you!

Cafe De Lites utilizes a slow cooker to get this typically tough cut of meat extra tender and juicy. 

And once the brisket is cooked, just slather the remaining BBQ sauce and broil it in the oven to get a lightly crisp crust and those irresistible caramelized edges. 

Why we love this recipe: it’s impossible to mess up. 

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Cajun blackened catfish

Blackened seasoning is one of my favorite spice blends to use with catfish. 

It infuses the mildly sweet fish with a zesty flavor and adds a lightly crisp crust to contrast the tender meat. 

You can easily buy this blend almost anywhere, but you can also follow Flavor Mosaic’s lead and make it from scratch using basic spices like onion powder, cayenne, and paprika. 

Why we love this recipe: it’s low-carb. 

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Comfort food

Mac and cheese is the epitome of comfort food.

Pair it with a slice of meatloaf or chicken nuggets for a meal that’ll take you back to simpler times. 

Want a meatless alternative? Try crispy tofu nuggets!


Your creamy mac and cheese will go superbly with a hearty meatloaf.

The tangy ketchup glaze tastes great once it’s mixed into the cheesy sauce!

This recipe involves an extra step of cooking a sofrito base made of chopped onions, carrots, celery, and garlic.

You can skip it if you’re in a rush, but I always make time because it adds so much flavor.

Why we love this recipe: it turns simple ingredients into something delicious.

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BBQ bacon-wrapped tater tots

Jazz up your plain old frozen tater tots by wrapping them in smoky bacon.

And a brushing of homemade barbecue sauce makes these treats even tastier. 

They’re the perfect finger food for snacking, but it’s undeniable they round off a mac and cheese lunch perfectly.

Why we love this recipe: it’s an easy modification that really elevates your standard tater tots.

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Crispy tofu nuggets

Ease your way into meatless Mondays with a meal of mac and cheese and these tofu nuggets. 

They’re extra crispy, with an almost meat-like texture that can fool anyone into thinking they’re eating chicken! 

The key lies in pressing your tofu. 

Why we love this recipe: they’re baked, not fried.

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Lemon pepper chicken tenders

These tenders are irresistibly crispy, and the buttermilk brine does wonders in keeping the chicken meat juicy. 

Psst… you can dip these in a honey butter sauce or use them to mop up your mac and cheese’s creamy sauce. YUM.

Why we love this recipe: these homemade chicken tenders taste waaaay better than the fast food version.

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Double chocolate chili

Chocolate may be the furthest thing on your mind when it comes to savory food, but it’s the secret ingredient that’ll take your chili to the next level.

The cocoa powder and dark chocolate add depth and a hint of sweetness that offsets the heat from the spices in your chili. 

Imagine smothering your mac and cheese with that dark, flavorful broth? Yum! 

Why we love this recipe: it has a 4.5 rating from 95 reviews. 

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Garlic swirl rolls

If you love garlic knots, these rolls are a must-try.

They’re like cinnamon rolls, except they’re filled with garlic butter and parmesan.

Serve them with your mac and cheese for an easy and comforting meal. 

Psst… make enough because these are incredibly moreish. 

Why we love this recipe: it’s a fun way to enjoy garlic bread.

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Mac and cheese has become a staple side dish at family gatherings and holiday dinners, as it brings both comfort and a touch of indulgence to any meal.

It pairs well with everything from lobster, to steak, to pork tenderloins, to mushroom wellingtons.

Mini mushroom wellingtons

Making a full-sized wellington can be intimidating, so why not start small with this mini version?

They’re easier to assemble, and take way less time to cook.

Serve these mini mushroom wellingtons with mac and cheese for a luxurious meat-free dinner.

Why we love this recipe: it’s highly detailed and has visuals to guide you through the entire process.

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Bourbon glazed ham

This glazed ham is an excellent show-stopping dish for a holiday dinner.

The bourbon glaze adds depth of flavor, and a creamy mac and cheese side is all you need to make it a complete meal.

Psst… save enough for leftover ham sandwiches the next day.

Why we love this recipe: it’s an impressive-looking dish that doesn’t require a lot of hands-on cooking.

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Butter poached lobster

Elevate your humble mac and cheese by serving it with poached lobsters. 

You can poach these in plain water, but using butter will make your lobsters even more decadent. 

Pro-tip: they don’t need to cook long – five minutes is enough to infuse them with tons of buttery goodness. 

Why we love this recipe: lobster makes any meal feel and taste luxurious.

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Vegetables and salads

A bowl of mac and cheese is pure carbs, and a light vegetable side can help lighten it up.

You can never go wrong with a crisp, fresh slaw but steamed broccoli is also a tasty (and easy) option.

Got extra time? Fire up the oven and roast your favorite vegetable medley.

Lemon butter broccoli

This broccoli dish is the perfect healthy addition to your mac and cheese. 

The florets are bright and buttery, with a satisfying crisp-tender texture. 

You can serve them on the side, but I like tossing them in with the mac and cheese for a one-pot meal. 

Psst… make this even healthier by using coconut oil instead of butter. 

Why we love this recipe: this dish only takes 10 minutes to prep and cook.

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Autumn crunch salad

With how rich and decadent mac and cheese is, sometimes all you want is a light leafy salad on the side.

And salads aren’t just for summer!

This one has a more wintery feel with ingredients like radicchio, fennel, and radish.

It also features a fabulous tart champagne vinaigrette that brightens the whole dish.

Why we love this recipe: it adds a delightful burst of colors and flavors to your main dish.

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Parmesan zucchini and corn

This zucchini and corn dish is an excellent nourishing addition to your mac and cheese. 

This dish is packed with salty flavors from the parmesan, plus a mild sweetness from the veg.

It also has a slight zesty note, courtesy of the lime juice, that prevents your meal from getting too heavy. 

Why we love this recipe: it’s ready to serve in 10 minutes, so perfect for busy weeknights.

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Red cabbage and carrot slaw

Looking for a veggie dish to complete your barbecue spread? 

You can’t go wrong with this colorful slaw. 

It’s crisp and has a vibrant, tangy flavor, courtesy of the apple cider vinaigrette, which perfectly contrasts the creaminess of your mac and cheese.

Why we love this recipe: it’s an insta-worthy BBQ side.

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Red cabbage and carrot slaw
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Italian roasted mushrooms and vegetables

This recipe features a medley of juicy mushrooms, tomatoes, and cauliflower florets roasted with classic Italian herbs. 

It’s sweet, savory, and nutty all at the same time.

Not a fan of this vegetable medley? Swap it out for your favorite veg (or for whatever you have handy in the fridge!). 

Why we love this recipe: it’s a tasty no-frill dish.

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Spicy collard greens

Making Southern-style mac and cheese? Complete the meal with a serving of these collard greens!

The greens are braised in a mixture of vinegar, hot sauce, and broth, which makes them oh-so-tender and infuses them with a tangy, spicy kick. 

You’ll have to cook  these collard greens for an hour, but trust me – they’re worth the wait.

Why we love this recipe: everyone will be lining up for second helpings.

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The best side dishes for mac and cheese

  • BBQ baby back ribs
  • Oven-roasted pulled pork
  • Beef brisket
  • BBQ bacon-wrapped tater tots
  • Garlic swirl rolls
  • Double chocolate chili
  • Meatloaf
  • Spiral hotdogs
  • Crispy tofu nuggets
  • Lemon pepper chicken tenders
  • Mushroom wellington
  • Bourbon glazed ham
  • Butter poached lobster
  • Cajun blackened catfish
  • Lemon butter broccoli
  • Autumn crunch salad
  • Parmesan zucchini and corn
  • Italian roasted mushroom and vegetables
  • Red cabbage and carrot slaw
  • Spicy collard greens

What meat goes well with mac and cheese?

Mac and cheese is fabulous with baby back ribs and chicken tenders. For holiday meals, try bourbon glazed ham, roast beef, or poached lobster. For a quick weeknight meal, try meatloaf. 

Here are some more options:

What vegetables go well with mac and cheese?

Lemon butter broccoli is my go-to vegetable side for mac and cheese. If you want something vibrant, try corn succotash or blistered tomatoes. Parmesan zucchini or Italian roasted vegetables are good options too. 

Here are some more options:

What To Serve With Mac And Cheese (60 Ideas)

In this short recipe, I show you exactly what to serve with your mac and cheese.
5 from 2 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: mac and cheese sides, what to serve with mac and cheese
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 1 person
Calories: 164kcal


  • 1 portion pulled pork
  • 1 portion red cabbage slaw
  • 1 portion lemon butter broccoli
  • 1 portion butter poached lobster
  • 1 portion meatloaf
  • 1 portion lemon pepper chicken tenders … and more


  • Prepare your mac and cheese according to your favorite recipe.
  • In the meantime, choose one of the following sides to serve alongside it.
  • Side dishes include: bbq baby back ribs, oven-roasted pulled pork, beef brisket, bbq bacon-wrapped tater tots, garlic swirl rolls, mushroom wellington, meatloaf, spiral hotdgs, crispy tofu nuggets, lemon pepper chicken tenders, bourbon glazed ham, butter poached lobster, cajun blackened catfish, double chocolate chili, lemon butter broccoli, autumn crunch salad, parmesan zucchini and corn, italian roasted mushroom and vegetables, red cabbage and carrot slaw, and spicy collard greens.
  • Serve immediately and enjoy!


Serving: 100g | Calories: 164kcal

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