meatballs sides

What To Serve With Meatballs: 7 Easy Side Dishes

Meatballs and spaghetti nights are a tradition in many families. You can prepare classic meatballs or go for a variation. Either way, meatballs are delicious and certainly need a side dish that compliments them well.

In this article, we will break down exactly all the best side dishes for meatballs. You can make any of these recipes easily, and they might become a staple at home.

What Are Meatballs?

A meatball is a ball of ground meat with other ingredients, such as breadcrumbs, herbs, and seasonings. Most meatballs contain ground beef, breadcrumbs, onions, eggs, and Italian herbs. You can prepare meatballs by frying, baking, braising, or cooking them in a sauce.

Although the meatball recipes you might find are Italian, various cuisines have included this dish for centuries. Chinese and Persian cuisines are both believed to have included meatballs as part of their cooking.

These days, you will find traditional meatballs in Eastern Europe, Italy, Germany, France, Turkey, Sweden, Poland, Mexico, Southeast Asia, China, the Middle East, and the United States.

You will likely see meatballs served with a pasta sauce, whether that is marinara or tomato-based sauce. In Italian cuisine, meatballs are made with ground beef or lamb and served with pasta. Other meatballs might have a cream-based sauce, broth, or light curry and may come with rice or potatoes.

Meatballs are such a part of American culture that they might be included in sandwiches, like the meatball sub, in soups, or stews. You can find meatballs frozen and ready to serve, which require only heating in the microwave or oven. Some grocery stores might also sell meatballs cooked the same day.

Nutrition Facts

One meatball with sauce (43 g) has the following nutritional content (*):

  • 79.6 calories
  • 29.1 g water
  • 7.75 g protein
  • 5.15 g fat
  • 0.056 g carbohydrate
  • 0 g fiber
  • 0.034 g sugar
  • 9.89 mg calcium
  • 0.77 mg iron
  • 6.45 mg magnesium
  • 62.8 mg phosphorus
  • 91.6 mg potassium
  • 349 mg sodium
  • 7.31 µg selenium
  • 7.31 µg vitamin A
  • 40 mg cholesterol

Meatballs are a classic homemade dish, and they are also relatively low in calories and high in protein. For best results, you should try to prepare your meatballs at home, so you can choose healthier ingredients and reduce the sodium content. Otherwise, if you are using pre-cooked meatballs, try to make a sauce that contains less sugar, fat, and sodium.

What Goes With Meatballs

Below are some options for side dishes that you can serve with meatballs at any time!

#1. Couscous With Raisins

Meatballs do not always have to be Italian, so they do not have to be served with pasta. Couscous with raisins is a fantastic choice, as it is savory and sweet, but also light letting your meatballs shine.


  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 cup couscous
  • ⅓ cup golden or regular raisins
  • 1 cup vegetable or chicken broth
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • ⅓ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Follow these steps to prepare your couscous with raisins:

  1. Add the oil to a skillet, and begin heating it. Once warm, add the garlic and the onion. Cook for about 5 minutes or until the onion browns.
  2. Stir in paprika, cinnamon, oregano, salt, and pepper. Stir for a couple of minutes.
  3. Add the couscous and raisins. Cook for about 3 minutes or until the couscous toasts more.
  4. Stir in the broth and ¼ cup of water. Allow the liquid to boil, then turn off the heat and cover the skillet.
  5. Allow the couscous to sit covered for 10 minutes or until all the liquid is absorbed.
  6. Finish off by sprinkling the lemon juice and fluffing with a fork.
  7. Serve your couscous warm with meatballs on top or on the side.

#2. Eggplant Parmesan

Nothing says Italian like meatballs, pizza, and eggplant parmesan! That is why you should consider serving it with your favorite meatball recipe.


  • 2 eggplants, sliced
  • 4 cups breadcrumbs
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream
  • 4 cups tomato sauce or marinara sauce
  • 1 tablespoon thyme
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • ½ teaspoon basil
  • ½ cup Parmesan cheese
  • 2 cups mozzarella cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Olive oil

Follow these steps to prepare your eggplant parmesan:

  1. Begin by setting your sliced eggplant on a plate or baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and let your slices sit for at least one hour.
  2. In the meantime, preheat the oven to 400 degrees °F.
  3. After an hour, wash your eggplant slices, and transfer them to a plate.
  4. Mix the breadcrumbs, oregano, thyme, basil, salt, and pepper.
  5. Whisk the egg and sour cream together in another bowl.
  6. Grab each slice of eggplant and dip it in the breadcrumb mix and then in the egg mix. Then transfer all of them to a baking dish.
  7. Bake your eggplant slices for 5 to 10 minutes or until golden.
  8. Remove the baking dish from the oven. Pour the marinara sauce, the parmesan cheese, and the mozzarella, arranging everything into layers.
  9. Return the baking dish to the oven and bake for another 25 to 30 minutes.
  10. Serve warm with meatballs on the side.

#3. Polenta With Mushroom Ragù

Polenta is another delicious side dish that does not get the credit it deserves. This mushroom ragù on top is just the missing piece to add even more flavor to the dish.


  • 2 cups mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons dry white wine or white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 cup polenta
  • ½ cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Follow these steps to prepare your polenta with mushroom ragù:

  1. Heat the olive oil and garlic in a large skillet. When warm, add the onion. Cook for about 3 to 5 minutes.
  2. Add the mushrooms for about 8 minutes or until tender.
  3. Pour the white wine, and allow the liquid to evaporate for about one minute.
  4. Stir in the tomatoes, tomato paste, Italian seasoning, thyme, and balsamic vinegar. Allow the liquid to boil, then reduce the heat to a low simmer. Cook for about 20 minutes.
  5. In the meantime, cook the polenta by adding 4 cups of water to a pot. Once it boils, add the polenta, and reduce the heat.
  6. Cover the pot, and continue stirring every few minutes. Do this for 25 minutes.
  7. Stir in the Parmesan cheese, butter, salt, and pepper.
  8. Serve your polenta warm with the mushroom ragù on top.

#4. Roasted Cauliflower With Pine Nuts

Cauliflower is always a great vegetable, and when it comes to adding crunch and flavor, there is no better way to do it than pine nuts. You can add more vegetables too if you want, like broccoli, asparagus, or zucchini.


  • 1 cauliflower head
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • ⅓ cup pine nuts
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • ½ teaspoon parsley
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Follow these steps to prepare your roasted cauliflower with pine nuts:

  1. Begin by preheating the oven to 375 degrees °F.
  2. Wash and clean your cauliflower. Break it into smaller pieces.
  3. Set your cauliflower pieces onto a baking sheet. Sprinkle it with a bit of olive oil, lemon juice, garlic powder, salt, and pepper.
  4. Roast your cauliflower for 20 minutes.
  5. Pour the rest of the olive oil onto a skillet.
  6. Add the pine nuts, parsley, and red pepper flakes. Cook them for a few minutes until they turn golden.
  7. Remove your cauliflower from the oven. Drizzle with olive oil and pine nuts mix.
  8. Serve your roasted cauliflower with pine nuts warm with meatballs on the side.

#5. Turmeric Rice Pilaf

Since meatballs can be Middle Eastern, why not serve them with a delicious turmeric rice pilaf? This is a great recipe that takes a few minutes to make and is aromatic and flavorful.


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 cup jasmine rice
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Follow these steps to prepare your turmeric rice pilaf:

  1. Add the olive oil and garlic to a saucepan. Once the oil is warm, add the onion and cook for about 5 minutes.
  2. Stir in the rice, turmeric, cumin, salt, and pepper. Mix well and add the chicken broth along with ½ cup of water.
  3. Bring the liquid to a boil, then cover. Reduce the heat to a simmer, and cook for another 20 to 25 minutes.
  4. Fluff using a fork.
  5. Serve your turmeric rice pilaf warm with meatballs on top or on the side.

#6. Tuscan-Style Roasted Asparagus

What better way to finish your pizza party night than with a delicious piece of dessert? This tiramisu recipe is easy yet delicious and always a good idea after some pizza.


  • A bunch of asparagus
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 yellow onion, sliced
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • ¼ cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon shaved almonds
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Follow these steps to prepare your Tuscan-style roasted asparagus:

  1. Begin by preheating the oven to 375 degrees °F.
  2. Line a baking sheet with tin foil.
  3. Wash and clean your vegetables. Chop and slice them accordingly.
  4. Spread your vegetables on the baking sheet. Sprinkle them with olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, oregano, shaved almonds, salt, and pepper.
  5. Toss everything well. Roast your vegetables for 15 to 25 minutes or until the asparagus is tender.
  6. Place your vegetables on a serving plate and sprinkle with the parmesan cheese.
  7. Serve your Tuscan-style roasted asparagus warm with meatballs on the side.

#7. Potatoes With Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Olives

These potatoes with sun-dried tomatoes and olives are a fantastic side dish to your favorite meatballs. This dish mixes the delicious citrus and sweet flavors of tomatoes with the saltiness of olives.


  • 8 to 10 red potatoes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • ½ cup Kalamata olives pitted and halved
  • ¼ cup sun-dried tomatoes, drained and sliced
  • 1 tablespoon basil leaves, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Follow these steps to prepare your potatoes with sun-dried tomatoes and olives:

  1. Clean and cut your potatoes into halves. Place your potatoes in a pot with water and salt. Cook them for about 15 to 20 minutes or until the potatoes turn tender.
  2. Drain your potatoes and transfer them to a plate to allow them to cool down.
  3. Add the olive oil and garlic to a skillet. Once warm, add the potatoes and cook for about 5-8 minutes or until they turn crispy.
  4. Stir in the Kalamata olives, sun-dried tomatoes, basil, oregano, thyme, salt, and pepper. 
  5. Toss well and cook for a few more minutes.
  6. Serve your potatoes warm with meatballs on the side.

How Can I Pick The Perfect Meatball Sides?

Meatballs are always on the menu when it comes to comfort food. While they go well with spaghetti and other types of pasta, there are so many more dishes out there that can complement meatballs well. Try switching things up next time you choose to prepare your favorite meatballs.

When preparing a classic Italian meatball dinner, choose a side dish that will go well with the herbs and spices. The polenta with mushroom ragù is the right choice because it is creamy, citrus, and sweet. You can also prepare Tuscan-style roasted asparagus for a mix of Italian flavors.

If you are cooking Middle Eastern meatballs with tons of aromas and flavors, try making something that is subtle. You can go with the couscous with raisins, which are sweet and aromatic. Another great option is the turmeric rice pilaf that is both easy to make and super delicate.

For all other styles of meatballs, you can make things more interesting with different side dishes. Try going with the roasted cauliflower with pine nuts for some crunch. You can also try the potatoes with sun-dried tomatoes and olives for a bit of sweetness and saltiness.

Finally, the eggplant parmesan also goes well with any meatballs and makes things more decadent.


Next time when you wonder what to eat with meatballs, consider any of these dishes. You can mix and match depending on the flavor profile. Serve your meatballs with a tasty side dish to complement them well!

See more: How to reheat meatballs

*image by mc.atolye/depositphotos

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