mac and cheese sides

What To Serve With Mac and Cheese?

Eating mac and cheese is something we all remember fondly. Not only can it be a whole meal, but it can also be a tasty side dish or appetizer. Next time, do not ruin the batch of your favorite mac and cheese and choose what to accompany it with care.

In this article, we will discuss what to eat with mac and cheese. You will also find out when to prepare these recipes.

What Is Mac and Cheese?

Mac and cheese, or macaroni and cheese, is a traditional American dish. This meal consists of cooked pasta with a cheese sauce. For the most part, the cheese is cheddar, although it can also be Parmesan, Swiss, Asiago, or others. Sometimes, breadcrumbs are also incorporated as they add texture and crunch.

The original recipe for mac and cheese was a casserole in the oven. However, now you might find pre-packaged cheese mixes to prepare on the stovetop. In the United States, mac and cheese is considered a “comfort food” and part of Southern diners.

These days, mac and cheese might contain meat, like bacon, tuna, salmon, sausage, ground beef, roast beef, or hot dogs. It will also have some vegetables, such as onions, chives, mushrooms, tomatoes, peppers, leeks, peas, carrots, and broccoli. While mac and cheese contains cream and butter, you might also find healthier versions using olive oil and non-dairy products.

Some common pre-packaged brands for mac and cheese include Kraft Foods, Annie’s, Cabot, and Velveeta. Many children across the United States eat mac and cheese for various meals a week and might take it to school in a microwavable packet that only requires water.

Nutrition Facts

One cup of macaroni and cheese (230 g) has the following nutritional content (*):

  • 253 calories
  • 170 g water
  • 7.5 g protein
  • 4.28 g fat
  • 46.2 g carbohydrate
  • 1.15 g fiber
  • 5.36 g sugar
  • 218 mg calcium
  • 1.54 mg iron
  • 34.5 mg magnesium
  • 214 mg phosphorus
  • 228 mg potassium
  • 596 mg sodium
  • 31 µg selenium
  • 62.1 µg vitamin A
  • 4.6 mg cholesterol

Mac and cheese is a classic dish, whether homemade or in a restaurant. It is high in calcium, and other vitamins and minerals, and relatively high in protein. However, it can contain more carbohydrates and sodium than you want, so preparing it at home with reduced-sodium ingredients and less sugar is a good idea.

Here’s What Goes Well With Mac and Cheese:

Below are some macaroni and cheese side dishes that you can serve at any time!

#1. Caesar Salad with Grilled Shrimp

For some greens and crunch, why not try a Caesar salad? This recipe is a twist on the classic one and contains shrimp, which adds protein without too many calories or fat.


  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • ¼ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • ⅓ cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese
  • A bunch of romaine lettuce
  • 1 ½ cup croutons
  • 2 cups deveined and peeled shrimp
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Follow these steps to prepare your Caesar salad with grilled shrimp:

  1. Mix the garlic, Dijon mustard, Worcestershire sauce, and lemon juice. Set it aside.
  2. Wash and separate your romaine lettuce into smaller pieces. Place the pieces in a large bowl.
  3. Slowly add the vinaigrette to the lettuce and toss well.
  4. Add the croutons and toss again. Place about half of the Parmesan and toss again.
  5. Add half the olive oil to a grill pan and cook your shrimp until pink for about 5 to 7 minutes.
  6. Place the shrimp in the lettuce bowl too, and toss once more. Add the salt, pepper, and remaining olive oil.
  7. Toss once more and serve it cold with shaved Parmesan on top.

#2. Roasted Cauliflower

If you are looking for a vegetable that complements your mac and cheese, cauliflower is always a good choice. You can add more vegetables, like broccoli or mushrooms, as well.


  • 1 cauliflower head
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Follow these steps to prepare your roasted cauliflower:

  1. Start by preheating your oven to 375 to 400 degrees °F.
  2. Place the olive oil, garlic, thyme, paprika, and oregano in a large Ziploc bag.
  3. Wash and break your cauliflower. Place the pieces in the Ziploc bag. Shake it well.
  4. Line the baking sheet with tin foil. Place your cauliflower on the baking sheet and spread the remaining oil mixture on top.
  5. Roast your cauliflower for 20 minutes or until the top is golden.
  6. Serve your cauliflower warm with mac and cheese on the side.

#3. Classic Chili

You will likely serve your mac and cheese during a cookout or sports game, so why not accompany it with a classic chili. You can make it vegetarian if you like too!


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon ketchup
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 can kidney beans
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Shredded cheddar cheese and sour cream to top

Follow these steps to prepare your classic chili:

  1. Add the olive oil to a pot. Once hot, add the onion and garlic. Cook for about 5 minutes. 
  2. Add the tomato paste and ketchup. Stir for another minute.
  3. Place the ground beef and season with salt and pepper. Cook for about 5 minutes or until the meat is not pink anymore.
  4. Stir in the chili powder, cumin, oregano, and apple cider vinegar.
  5. Drain your kidney beans and add them. Mix well.
  6. Stir in the diced tomatoes. Set the heat to a simmer and cook for about 20 to 25 minutes.
  7. Serve warm with cheddar cheese and sour cream on top.

#4. Easy Meatloaf

Meatloaf is another classic dish that often comes with mac and cheese. While most people think it is hard to make, this recipe is really easy and equally tasty.


  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 egg
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 4 tablespoons ketchup
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Follow these steps to prepare your easy meatloaf:

  1. Start by preheating your oven to about 350 to 375 degrees °F.
  2. Mix your ground beef, egg, onion, milk, and breadcrumbs.
  3. Add salt and pepper, and continue to mix. Set aside.
  4. In another bowl, mix the brown sugar, ketchup, oregano, and cumin.
  5. Transfer your beef mix onto a baking dish and form it into a loaf.
  6. Spread your ketchup mix on top of the meat and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour.
  7. Serve warm with mac and cheese on the side.

#5. Green Beans with Almonds

Another great idea for your mac and cheese dish is serving green beans. Pairing your green beans with almonds gives your recipe some crunch too.


  • A bunch of green beans, trimmed
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ cup almonds, sliced
  • 1 shallot, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon parsley
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Follow these steps to prepare your green beans with almonds:

  1. Add your green beans to a large pot with water. Add salt and cook for about 5 minutes.
  2. Warm up the butter in a skillet and add the garlic. Once it is bubbly, add the shallot. Sauté for about 2 minutes.
  3. Cook your potatoes for about 10 to 15 minutes, or until soft. Drain them and set them aside.
  4. Drain your cooked green beans and transfer them to the skillet. Sauté them for a few minutes.
  5. Add the almonds and sauté everything for a couple more minutes.
  6. Season with parsley, salt, and pepper.
  7. Add the lemon juice and mix well.
  8. Serve your green beans with almonds warm.

#6. Mini Crescent Dogs

This is a great choice to serve with your favorite mac and cheese. These mini crescent dogs are easy to make and only take a couple of ingredients.


  • 2 cans or packages of crescent dinner rolls
  • 2 packages of cocktail sausages
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Ketchup to dip

Follow these steps to prepare your mini crescent dogs:

  1. Heat your oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. On a flat surface, roll out your crescent dough. Divide it into triangles.
  3. Place your sausage on one end and roll the triangle. By the end, your sausage should be covered in a blanket.
  4. Place each mini dog on a cookie sheet.
  5. Bake each mini dog for about 10 to 15 minutes or until the dough rises and turns golden.
  6. Serve your mini crescent dogs with ketchup and mac and cheese on the side.

#7. Mashed Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes are a great choice when it comes to your mac and cheese. You can add more herbs to change things up with your mashed sweet potatoes.


  • 6 to 8 sweet potatoes
  • ½ cup milk
  • ⅓ cup butter
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon parsley
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Follow these steps to prepare your mashed sweet potatoes:

  1. Wash and peel your sweet potatoes. Cube them and place them in a pot.
  2. Add the vegetable broth and salt to your pot. Add water if needed until the potatoes are covered.
  3. Bring the liquid to a boil and cook your potatoes for 25 to 30 minutes or until soft.
  4. Using a potato masher or a hand mixer, mash your potatoes while adding the milk at low heat.
  5. After the milk is mixed in, add the brown sugar, and season with salt and pepper.
  6. Continue mashing and mixing until the potatoes reach the right consistency.
  7. Serve your mashed sweet potatoes warm with fresh parsley on top.

How Can I Pick The Perfect Mac and Cheese Sides?

Mac and cheese is a classic dish in many households. Serving it on its own is not always satisfying, so why not accompany it with the right side dish? These recipes are all different yet delicious!

For a classic mac and cheese, try pairing it with a filling and high in protein recipe. Go with classic chili that is a good source of protein and fiber. You could also try the meatloaf, an all-American delicacy that pairs perfectly with your mac and cheese.

When your mac and cheese contains meat, like bacon or tuna, you could try a lighter recipe to go with it. One good option is roasted cauliflower, which takes minutes to make. You can also try the green beans with almonds that never disappoint.

For vegetable mac and cheese, you can always pick something filling or lighter based on your mood. The Caesar salad with grilled shrimp is a fantastic option that is very low in calories. The mini crescent dogs are always satisfying, as are the mashed sweet potatoes too.


Who says macaroni and cheese is a stand-alone? Now you can prepare one of your favorite side dishes and pair it with any of these choices. Choose one or more and complement your cheesy, delicious meal!

See more: Can you freeze mac and cheese?

*image by KyrBar/depositphotos

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