sides with ribs

What To Serve With Ribs for Dinner?

Who does not like a good cookout these days? Ribs are a staple in this case, and if you like them as much as we do, then you want a side dish that is up to par. Instead of serving the usual, why not try one of these options?

Here we will explore what goes well with ribs for dinner. Try any of these next time you are making your favorite ribs recipe.

What Are Ribs?

When we talk about ribs, we usually mean the rib meat of an animal. In most cases, it means pork, beef, lamb, or venison. You will often see the term ribs across when you order this part of the animal, prepared as a whole piece.

Ribs are common in barbecue-style recipes, which for the most part refers to pork, though may also be beef. Most restaurants serve BBQ ribs as a rack that you tear apart by hand and eat the meat directly from the bone. In barbecue style, the meat will come covered with a barbecue sauce, sometimes hot sauce, or another variation.

Other specialties, slow roast and cook the ribs for as long as 12 hours at a time. Ribs can also be prepared by baking, roasting, smoking, braising, or grilling. You can buy ribs in packs of many or smaller racks, sometimes pre-seasoned and ready to cook.

BBQ Ribs Nutrition Facts

One large rib of pork with barbecue sauce (52 g) has the following nutritional content (*):

  • 178 calories
  • 22 g water
  • 11.2 g protein
  • 11.6 g fat
  • 6.62 g carbohydrate
  • 0.156 g fiber
  • 5.4 g sugar
  • 23.4 mg calcium
  • 0.806 mg iron
  • 11.4 mg magnesium
  • 102 mg phosphorus
  • 159 mg potassium
  • 202 mg sodium
  • 14.4 µg selenium
  • 45.8 mg cholesterol

Serving ribs is common in various places, so you can enjoy them in a restaurant, at home, in a cookout, and more. For the most part, ribs are high in protein, but they may also have a high-fat content depending on the cooking method and toppings. You can cook ribs braised, baked, or grilled to save calories.

Best Side Dishes for Ribs

Below are some options for side dishes that you can eat with BBQ ribs at any time!

#1. Mac and Cheese

Nothing says ribs better than a plate of mac and cheese. This is a classic side dish to accompany your favorite type of ribs and make the meal even more decadent.


  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • ½ cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • ¼ cup Parmesan cheese
  • ½ box dry macaroni pasta
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Follow these steps to prepare your mac and cheese:

  1. Cook pasta according to box instructions.
  2. Place your milk in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil.
  3. Slowly whisk in butter until it melts entirely. Then slowly add the flour, and continue whisking.
  4. Add the salt, pepper, garlic powder, and cheese. Mix well.
  5. Stir in the pasta until the mixture fully covers it.
  6. Serve warm with fresh parsley on top and ribs on the side.

#2. Classic Coleslaw

Nothing says cookout or barbecue like a good bowl of homemade coleslaw. You can add or switch any of these ingredients for a new flavor profile and serve it with any rib dish.


  • 1 bag of coleslaw mix or shredded cabbage and carrots
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 3 tablespoons fresh parsley
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste

Follow these steps to prepare your classic coleslaw:

  1. Wash your coleslaw mix or cabbage and carrots.
  2. Place the vegetables and parsley in a large bowl, mixing well.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix the mayonnaise, apple cider vinegar, garlic powder, and Dijon mustard.
  4. Slowly add the prepared vinaigrette over the cabbage and carrots. Mix as you do so all the vegetables are fully covered.
  5. Taste, and add more vinegar or a touch of lime juice if you need more acidity.
  6. Mix in the salt and pepper.
  7. Transfer to the fridge for a few hours. Serve cold with ribs on the side.

#3. Grandma’s Potato Salad

Another classic dish to serve with ribs is a good potato salad. This grandma’s recipe is delicious, easy to make, and extremely versatile.


  • 3 lb or 15 Yukon gold potatoes
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • ½ cup chopped pickles
  • ½ cup chopped celery
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon cumin
  • ½ cup chopped chives
  • 2 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste

Follow these steps to prepare your grandma’s potato salad:

  1. Wash your potatoes and clean them. Add to a pot with water, and cook them for about 15 minutes. Drain them and set them aside.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the mayonnaise, red onion, Dijon mustard, lemon juice, pickles, celery, paprika, and cumin.
  3. Slowly add the potatoes, eggs, chives, salt, and pepper. Mix well.
  4. Set in the refrigerator for at least two hours.
  5. Serve cold next to ribs.

#4. Three Bean Salad

Beans go well with ribs any time, so this three-bean salad is a fantastic mix of flavors. You can add more or fewer ingredients, and this will be the perfect balance of flavors.


  • 1 can of kidney beans
  • 2 cups fresh green beans
  • 1 can of black beans
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • ½ cup apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ cup fresh parsley
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Follow these steps to prepare your three bean salad:

  1. Begin by cooking the green beans in a pot with water. Cook them for about two minutes or until tender. Drain them and set them aside.
  2. Drain the kidney beans and black beans. Add them along with the red onion and parsley to a large bowl. Add the green beans and continue to mix.
  3. In another bowl, mix the apple cider vinegar, sugar, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Pour this mix over the beans. Toss gently.
  4. Place the salad in the refrigerator for at least two hours, covered.
  5. Serve the dish cold with ribs on the side.

#5. Quick and Easy Pasta Salad

This is another dish that says summertime or cookout. You can make this pasta salad in minutes, and it will be anyone’s favorite. Enjoy it with a few or various ingredients.


  • 1 box rotini pasta
  • 1 cucumber, chopped
  • 15 cherry tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • ½ cup pitted kalamata olives
  • ¼ cup fresh parsley
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powde
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons dry Italian dressing
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons vinegar
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Follow these steps to prepare your quick and easy pasta salad:

  1. Begin by cooking the pasta according to instructions. Drain it and set it aside.
  2. In a bowl, combine the garlic powder, olive oil, Italian dressing, sugar, vinegar, salt, and pepper.
  3. In a larger bowl, mix the cooked pasta, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, red onion, kalamata olives, and parsley.
  4. Add the dressing slowly while you toss the ingredients.
  5. Cover the bowl and transfer to the refrigerator for a minimum of two hours (In a rush, allow the pasta to cool down entirely and only refrigerate for 30 minutes).
  6. Serve the pasta salad cold with ribs on the side.

#6. Cheese Grits

Ribs are a classic southern dish, so it makes sense to serve them with grits. This cheesy grits recipe is the perfect complement to the flavors of the ribs and sauce.


  • 3 cups milk
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 cup quick grits
  • 1 ½ cup cheddar cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Follow these steps to prepare your cheese grits:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Coat a baking dish with butter.
  2. In a saucepan, combine 1 cup of milk, water, butter, garlic powder, and salt. Bring the liquid to a boil and add the grits.
  3. Whisk continuously for about two minutes. Continue to simmer the grits for about five more minutes.
  4. Remove the grits from the heat, and add the cheese.
  5. Separately, mix the eggs, the remaining milk, paprika, cumin, salt, and pepper. Add this mix to the hot grits.
  6. Pour the grits onto the baking dish. Bake for 30 to 45 minutes or until the top is golden. 
  7. Serve warm with ribs on the side.

#7. Sweet Corn and Tomato Salad

Fresh flavors always go well with ribs, especially if you want to cut through the density of the sauce. This sweet corn and tomato salad is the perfect choice to prepare when you need a quick and tasty side dish.


  • 2 cups sweet corn
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Follow these steps to prepare your sweet corn and tomato salad:

  1. Wash your pepper and tomatoes. Drain the corn.
  2. Chop your vegetables.
  3. Mix the pepper, tomatoes, onion, and corn in a bowl.
  4. In a small bowl, combine the olive oil, red wine vinegar, lime juice, garlic powder, salt, and pepper.
  5. Cover the bowl and store it in the refrigerator for at least one hour.
  6. Serve cold with ribs on the side.

How Can I Pick The Perfect Sides for Ribs?

Ribs are popular year-round, but they are especially common during the spring, summer, and fall. If you are getting ready to share your favorite ribs with family and friends, then you may want to look for the perfect side dish. These options are all easy, relatively cheap, and very flavorful to try any time.

Sometimes you just want classic side dishes that go well in any scenario, especially when you prepare barbecue ribs. In this case, try the mac and cheese or classic coleslaw. You can always add more toppings, like bacon bits, and serve them together.

For a fresh side dish that is different, you may want to go with a salad. The three-bean salad, quick and easy pasta salad, or the sweet corn and tomato salads, are all great choices. If you like, you can also combine some of the ingredients for a different recipe.

If you want to go with a more filling dinner, or meal, then you may want to try something a little heavier. The cheese grits or the grandma’s potato salad are the right choices in this scenario. You can also add more topics to either to switch things up if you want to improvise.


Since ribs are such a staple of American cuisine, it is always best to know what to serve them with ahead of time. Do not ruin a perfectly delicious rack of ribs by making the wrong thing. Try any of these options, and serve them together for a tasty meal any time of day or year.

Also check these prime rib sides you can try.

*image by myviewpoint/depositphotos

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