What Goes With Mac And Cheese – 12 Side Dishes For Mac And Cheese

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Mac and cheese is believed to be the cheapest protein meal in the history of America. A food that some for survival, as staple main course food and others as a celebration of the American culture.

Fresh milk is transformed into cheese which lasts longer than fresh milk. Farm families long ago used it as a means of survival. That’s why we as adults recreate the same combination since we believe it is comfort food.

Today, more innovation has helped eliminate its natural flavor and make it a delicacy for many populations with different tastes. Pasta like macaroni was added to cheese to make a cheap, perishable dish and easy for a stomach fill.

Mac and cheese are a combination of milk products and pasta which are proteins and starch that build our bodies. In all the food that we eat, we aim at foods that are advantageous to us through nutrients and satisfaction.

Many of us like to accompany this delicious combination with other foods. That’s why in America, when one mentions mac and cheese, we ought to be careful not to be talking about a different dish.

People of different social status prepare and accompany it with different other dishes.

How to prepare mac and cheese

Mac and cheese is a combination of pasta soaked in salty and creamy cheese sauce. Cheese is usually frozen most of the time to prevent it from going bad, and that makes it harder for preparation, but at a household level, it still remains easy to make.

You use the following in the preparation so that there are zero leftovers.


Macaroni is the basic ingredient to this dish. These are short and cylindrical pasta like rigatoni, fusilli, or penne, just to mention a few. But it is in our best interest to avoid thin-shaped pasta like spaghetti and linguine.

It would help if you cooked the pasta in salty water to season them and ensure even cooking. It continues to cook when added into cheese which makes them thicker and increases their flavor.


The sauce includes ingredients like milk, cheese, thickener, and seasonings, giving the pastor the texture, creaminess, and flavor. Though it shouldn’t be too thick, again, if not soaked well, it would be left dry.

  • Cheese

When measuring the cheese to cook, ensure that you use at most two pounds of cheese per pasta. The style of mac and cheese affects the type of cheese to use due to the resulting texture and flavor.

For example, the cheddar melts well without breaking and not becoming greasy, with a comfortable taste of salt, and has a sharp and not sharp appearance in the combination, making it one of the best.

Fontina and gruyere are excellent for giving a bolster flavor. They are rich and fatty; hence easy to break a sauce if used singly. Colby and Monterey Jack should be avoided since they lack salt.

Grated pecorino is also a good choice due to its deep flavor and salt but shouldn’t be used on plenty as it becomes grainy upon mixing.

Whenever choosing the cheese to use, buy one that has not been pre-grated as it contains additives to prevent clumping in the bag.

So factors that drive us when buying the cheese include protein, fat, salt, and water content. That’s why I will choose a particular type of cheese and leave the other. Again, if your sauce seems broken, more milk can help it loosen up while warm.

But a broken sauce lowers our result expectations because though it’s sweet, it won’t be as creamy.

  • Milk

Many mac and cheese styles need to be saucy; hence milk is added to them. That prevents the combination from being too grainy by breaking the cheese and the pasta.

  • Thickener

Though milk and cheese are added to the mac and cheese to break the sauce, they don’t thicken it properly. So traditional bechamel sauce made of a mixture of milk and butter with flour is used as a thickener.

It should be thinner as it thickens as absorption into the pasta occurs and reduces the cooking process.

  • Seasoning

Seasoning is done by ingredients like salt, paprika, dried mustard, cayenne, turmeric, garlic, grated onion, and black pepper to give a certain level of heat, savoriness, and complexity.

Bread crumbs

Bread crumbs are optional, but they give a crunchy texture to the soft, creamy dish. Bread crumbs are mixed in ingredients like garlic, herbs, and Bacon before cooking for a better flavor.

A cup of bread crumbs with olive oil and seasoned is sprinkled onto the mac and cheese evenly to crunch. It should be a thin layer to prevent sogginess.

A cup of grated cheese can be used as a substitute for bread crumbs.

Baked vs. stovetop

Mac and cheese can be cooked over the stovetop instantly or prepared by baking into pies.

  • Bake

The essential ingredients for mac and cheese preparation are similar in the two methods. What differs is the sauce, time, and the method of cooking.

A bechamel-like sauce is used, but the mixing and adding ingredients are the same though the cheese layer is thinner. It is usually cooked till it can coat the back of the spoon due to the heavy cream.

That extra cheese and longer cooking time thicken the dish. The mixture goes into the oven after combining the mac and cheese with bread crumbs on the top. The dish is placed on a baking sheet with foil to prevent the cheese from dripping and catch the bubbles to enhance cleanliness.

A well-baked mac and cheese are characterized by deep golden brown bread crumbs and no runny cheese. The edges cook faster than the middle, making them crispier. Sometimes the cheese may seem to dry up faster and yet not cooked, increasing the heat for them to cook.

  • Stovetop

Cooking the mac and cheese with a stovetop requires a shorter time to cook, and that’s why it’s categorized as an instant cooking method. It takes less than half an hour, and no fancy additional ingredients are used.

Of course, milk, cream cheese, and cheddar are used. For example, cream cheese is what prevents the sauce from breaking by adding silkiness. The other advantage of a stovetop is the ability to reheat your leftovers instantly.

You can do that over low heat and add a splash of milk into the combination and stir to prevent burnt edges and bottom.

Dishes to serve with mac and cheese

There are side dishes that will make your dinner or lunch worthwhile. They add to the natural flavor of mac and cheese. They include foods like;

1. Roasted vegetables

Roasted vegetables

It is a classic dish for many children and adults where vegetables are sneaked into the combination to make the vegetables delicious for consumption and lose the fresh-farm taste. The combination also creates a colorful and bright attractiveness onto our tables.

Since mac and cheese is a comfort meal, healthy factors also come in hand as it is a critical factor that many people are searching for. Vegetables like red onions, zucchini, carrots, broccoli, and sweet potatoes are used.

For example, you can use a roasted vegetable recipe for potatoes cut into small pieces, mix them with zucchini and carrot cubes, then garlic herb to give it a seasoning flavor hence a delicious taste. Then you can now roast them for not more than twenty minutes.

Then it is mixed with the mac and cheese; hence no one can resist the aroma, sometimes the crispiness of the delicacy, and the attractiveness of the delicacy.

2. Apple-bacon slaw

Apple bacon slaw

Diced red apples add a sweet and crunchy taste to the meal when added into cabbage slaw, giving it an eye-catching appearance. On the other hand, Bacon gives the dish a salty flavor and a degree of smokiness due to its fat.

The Bacon could be chicken ribs, sausages, or pork chops. They are believed to pair well with the slaw.

This is a recipe that uses Bacon, apples, leeks, and flat-leaf parsley as ingredients. The oven is preheated to 350 degrees. The Bacon should be cooked over medium heat on a skillet and stir for eight minutes until the ingredients’ combination is crispy.

3. Tomato salad

Tomato salad

This is a dish for people that want to maintain their body calorie level low. The majority of dishes across the globe pair well with salad, and mac and cheese are dishes. The combination aims to keep the dish less boring on sight.

Ingredients used to make this recipe include tomatoes and cucumber, and a proper dressing with blue and ranch cheese.

4. Salt and vinegar cucumbers

Salt and vinegar cucumbers

They give refreshing sight and crispiness to any dish they are served alongside. Sliced cucumbers give a meal taste and a bright appearance. Furthermore, it is easy to prepare as you only need to chop the cucumber, which is not time-consuming.

Due to that, you will be done with your dish preparation so quickly and have a good home rest. So the quick-pickled cucumbers are the main ingredient. Then no cooking is needed.

The recipe preparation involves letting the salad ingredients rest for thirty minutes or more to mingle evenly and get soaked into the cucumber slices. The longer the absorption time, the better the quality.

5. Meatballs


Those who love to dip and eat are the best combination for your mac and cheese. There is no need for sauce preparation in advance.

You can prepare the combination by topping your mac and cheese with some meatballs before cooking so that you get a delicious top layer like cake. Follow this recipe to have the best flavored and tender meatballs.

6. Cowboy caviar

Cowboy caviar

It is a recipe that involves no cooking but just dipping and mixing of the ingredients in a bowl to achieve that unique flavor.

Cowboy caviar is a dish originally from Texas that factored using standard bean salsa that has since been upgraded. Nowadays, black-eyed peas are combined with black beans and crispy, fresh vegetables.

You can have plenty of that combination and keep it refrigerated to maintain its freshness, and always serve it on short notice when needed to dip. You can enhance the taste by marinating it with vinaigrette.

7. Roasted broccoli

Roasted broccoli

Broccoli is considered a healthy option and offers its splash color to the meal. Moreover, it is affordable and convenient. You can buy it in plenty, freeze it in the refrigerator, and then later roast it to serve alongside mac and cheese.

Broccoli and mac and cheese take averagely the same time to cook in the oven; hence you can multi-cook them both to spare some time. Cook at 450 degrees F to roast instead of steaming and top it with parmesan cheese and squeeze some lemon juice over it.

Broccoli recipe results in a rough edge on the surface which serves to clean patches of creamy cheese sauce. You can never go wrong with broccoli as an option.

8. Succotash


It originated from New England and was made of beans and corn. That is because corn, beans, and squash were native in the region. It’s mainly vegetables, but sometimes Bacon is added to it for more flavor.

It is a recipe prepared with seasoned vegetables. For example, ripe red tomatoes, tender okra, sweet corn, and beans fried briefly in smoky bacon drippings then a little vinegar of apple cider is splashed on it.

Since red tomatoes are seasonal, and you still want to prepare succotash, you will use small grapes or cherry tomatoes as substitutes. They still offer a fresh flavor like the red ones. Jalapeno is a favorable spice for seasoning.

A dish can be served hot, warm, or chilled with mac and cheese, and you will not have any leftovers on the table.

9. Bacon smokies

Bacon smokies

Many people go for the little smokies when they want a taste of meat in their dish, which gives the perfect retreat. They are usually wrapped with a blanket of sweet Bacon.

They are sweet, crunchy, and juicy such that when dipped in mac and cheese, they give it a delicious taste. Or they can be served solely so that you can dip one by one as you eat into the sauce. You can follow this recipe for the best combination.

10. Arugula salad

Arugula salad

In the dish, parmesan is used to tame the pepper flavor from arugula, which means more cheese is used. The recipe uses ingredients like ground black pepper, lemon juice, tomatoes, parmesan cheese, salt, and olive oil mixture, and the arugula is added to them.

Parmesan, as mentioned earlier, is used to top the dish before serving. You can dress the dish five days before the due day and store it in the refrigerator in an airtight container.

It is an undemanding recipe to make to serve with mac and cheese as no cooking is needed. It is just a one-bowl affair. Then, they should be served with mac and cheese by adding the sauce to add flavor to the vegetables.

11. Fresh bread

Fresh bread

Fresh bread is a simple combination since it is crusty. All you need to serve that delicious mac and cheese meal is spread melting butter between the bread layers.

You can also soak the fresh bread in the mac and cheese sauce to make it soft and tamper with the flavor by enriching it. This meal is mouth-watering, and you can never regret enjoying the combination.

The fresh bread recipe is simple to make, giving it a chewy and soft inside and a crispy ,golden outside.

12. Brussels sprouts caesar salad

Brussels sprouts caesar salad

The salad is the most suitable for serving with mac and cheese as it has a deep flavor and smell, and it is crunchy, which compliments the creamy mac and cheese.

Brussels sprouts are dressed with creamy parmesan to give them a seasoning flavor. Sometimes, you may have to weigh between buying a whole sprout or getting shredded ones while in the store.

Shredded ones are better as they relieve you of the task of shredding them. Watch out for non-brown or dried ones as they will not give you the results that you want.

The salad is prepared and cooked via the oven. You preheat it at 400 F degrees. The recipe involves placing meat pieces on the baking sheet, adding salt, pepper, and olive oil to the mix. Spread the mixture and bake till brown. Then dress it with zest, juice, and parmesan cheese. Blend till the combination breaks.

Get the Brussels and top with the sauce, then add more parmesan. You can now serve it alongside the mac and cheese, which is quite a delicacy.

13. Green beans

Green beans

Most people cook beans due to their convenience since you can quickly boil them. So for them to perfectly pair with mac and cheese, you should boil them slightly.

After boiling, mix them with melted butter, lemon juice, and some spices. Then combine that with the mac and cheese and roast for at most ten minutes.

If you follow this recipe,the resulting dish is a bit crunchy with acidity and a slightly sweet flavor that enriches your mac and cheese.

14. Roasted mushrooms and tomatoes

Roasted mushrooms and tomatoes

The preferred method of the recipe preparation for the dish is a sheet pan. Everyone is catered for as children get to eat the sweet and juicy tomatoes while the adults have a combination of roasted mushrooms and tomatoes.

The fresh earthy mushrooms and tomatoes are caramelized with garlic, fresh thyme, and a brightening vinegar to season and give the dish a delicious taste. These are served with mac and cheese, piling it over the sauce.

15. Grilled flank steak

Grilled flank steak

It is an easy recipe that easily compliments mac and cheese because it is simple to prepare as it does not demand a lot of chore and preparation.

The steak is heated at a medium temperature so that it is not fully roasted and still retains a slight pink color in its interior. That means that it is soft and easily compliments mac and cheese.

16. Lemon and ginger spinach

Lemon and ginger spinach

As the name suggests, it is a combination of spinach leaves, ginger, and lemon. You fry the spinach leaves on the stovetop with ginger, then add salt and vinegar, then stir when cooked with lemon juice.

The resulting combination has the sour and citric taste from the lemon and spicy taste from vinegar and ginger, and a little fresh farm produce from the spinach.For the best refreshing flavors you can follow this recipe.

Then you can serve your mac and cheese alongside the spinach delicacy, and you will eat your fill. Though, it is considered a quick midnight snack.

17. Slow cooker chili

Slow cooker chili

Some people believe eating chili alone is incredibly dull, so they opt to combine their meal with mac and cheese. That is because it reduces the intense heat from the chili, making it easy to eat.

So when preparing the recipe to serve, form a layer of chili on the mac and cheese, then add more cheese and sprinkle some breadcrumbs for crispiness. The results taste like a lasagna of Mexican origin.

18. Flavoured carrot slaw

Flavoured carrot slaw

Carrot slaw is sweet and has a sharp flavor. When the grated carrot is dressed with dijon mustard, it becomes bright with a brighter color.

The slaw is so sweet that you cannot resist it. But for it to be perfect, it has to be paired with a dish like mac and cheese to give it that creamy texture.

Ingredients like buttermilk, vinegar, and apple cider in the recipe, enrich the flavor. The slaw applies the rule of the longer the wait, the tastier it is, and that’s precisely aging like wine. So you can prepare and store it, till the day it is needed.

You can serve the combination by piling the mac and cheese over the carrot slaw or vice versa and still enjoy your food.

19. Sloppy joe

Sloppy joe

The combination of sloppy joe and meal brings some American flavor to any dish. The ingredients to come up with a sandwich are what you can never miss in any kitchen cupboard.

They include ground pork or beef, onions, sauce, and a bun. So you can follow this recipe to quickly fix them. Then use your mac and cheese to top the middle of the sandwich to create a creamy and thick layer. That will enhance your dinner flavor.

20. BBQ ribs

BBQ ribs

We love ribs from our beef or pork, and we never get enough of them because they are very delicious. So for us to eat our fill, we must combine them with another food, preferably mac and cheese.

When rotating the ribs, the recipe attempts to allow seasoning ingredients like salt, vinegar,paprika,chili and pepper to them. That enhances their taste which helps to compliment mac and cheese easily.BBQ ribs are believed to be one of the sweetest delicacies of all time.

Having that creamy white sauce sprinkled over the ribs even enhances its attractiveness, which increases our taste buds’ urge to have eat non-stop.

American mac and cheese

What Goes With Mac And Cheese


  • Roasted vegetables
  • Apple-bacon slaw
  • Tomato salad
  • Salt and vinegar cucumbers
  • Meatballs
  • Cowboy caviar
  • Roasted broccoli
  • Succotash
  • Bacon smokies
  • Arugula salad
  • Fresh bread
  • Brussels sprouts caesar salad
  • Green beans
  • Roasted mushrooms and tomatoes
  • Grilled flank steak
  • Lemon and ginger spinach
  • Slow cooker chili
  • Flavoured carrot slaw
  • Sloppy joe
  • BBQ ribs


Finding the perfect complimentary for mac and cheese is not very difficult. Most of the side dishes are a quick fix meal and universally loved by many.

Furthermore, we are controlled by the urge to ensure our taste buds have the best flavors.

Its mild flavor eases our task for the search of the most favorable dish to serve with. It helps neutralize some sharp flavor from some seasoning ingredients used in our food, hence a dish preferred by many.

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