Macaroni and cheese or mac and cheese are among the most popular comfort foods in the United States and other places.
It’s a pasta dish with cheese sauce and typically baked in the oven, but you can cook it on a stovetop too.
Mac and cheese is a filling dish that can make you feel full for a long time.
It’s a stand-alone dish, but it’s also versatile. So, you can serve it with many items.
If you’re wondering what to serve with macaroni and cheese, you should know that there are many dishes like poached lobster, roasted mushrooms and vegetables, tofu nuggets, and chicken tenders.
Why Consider Serving Side Dishes with Macaroni and Cheese?
Even though mac and cheese is a warm and filling dish, it doesn’t make a complete meal when you look at it from a health point of view.
You need some side dishes to balance the meal and refresh your palate.
Veggie and meat dishes can make fine pairings and complete a meal.
Besides, you’re sure to need some extra items if you host a party and want to invite many guests.
You’ll have sufficient food and also be able to feed everybody.
What to Serve with Macaroni and Cheese? 10 BEST Side Dishes
There are so many yummy dishes to serve with mac and cheese, so check out below.
1 – Tomato and Cucumber Salad
A rich and warm dish like mac and cheese needs a fresh item to bring balance to the meal.
What can be fresher than tomato and cucumber salad? It’s crunchy, tangy, and juicy and complements mac and cheese nicely.
The salad contains three veggies, including cucumber, tomato, onion, and seasoning, but the combination is incredible, and you get to experience a burst of flavors in one bowl.
Tomato and cucumbers contain plenty of water and can get soggy when overripe.
So, when buying veggies, look for firm cucumbers without bruises.
Follow the same step with tomatoes.
2 – Roasted Broccoli
Besides salads, roasted veggies also match perfectly with mac and cheese.
Broccoli is one of the veggies that taste delightful when roasted and nutritious.
They complete a meal and also cleanse your palate.
Like most other veggies, broccoli cooks fast, too, so it isn’t challenging to make a dish using it.
If you can’t find broccoli, you can roast cauliflower florets; it’ll be even easier to make the dish because they look similar, taste similar, and belong to the same family of plants.
But veggies in the Brassicaceae family taste best only when they’re fresh.
So, look for broccoli with compact bud clusters, firm but easily breakable stalks, and dark green in color.
You’ll have the best flavors when you cook with fresh veggies.
3 – Chili Con Carne
Two comfort foods can also combine nicely.
Chili con carne meaning “chili with meat” in Spanish, is a perfect example of a warm dish that complements mac and cheese.
They’re both filling but different in flavor, as one is creamy while the other is slightly spicy.
The combo will be suitable if you have many guests since they’re hearty and will fill up everyone nicely.
Add a few salads and veggie dishes, and your menu will be perfect.
Chili usually contains ground beef, pinto or kidney beans, or both.
It can also have cheese, chili peppers, masa harina, and spices.
Most cooks use canned beans as they’re more convenient, but you can also use dry beans.
4 – Creamy and Tangy Coleslaw
Cabbage slaw is one of the most frequently served side dishes as it matches most items, including macaroni and cheese.
It adds a fresh element to your meal and also cleanses your palate.
You can make a slaw with one or different varieties of cabbage.
Either version will taste good, but it will look colorful and bright if you use all shades.
You can also use carrots and other veggies.
A mayo-based dressing and apple cider vinegar provide a tangy and creamy flavor.
But make sure to choose cabbages that are firm or hard to touch and avoid any that feel soft when pressed.
5 – Chicken Tenders
You can also add meat dishes to serve with mac and cheese.
Juicy chicken tenders make a suitable side dish with pasta, and you’ll feel full when you finish your meal.
Making chicken tenders is pretty simple because you must follow the same procedure as other dishes.
You only have to coat the meat in three mixtures and fry them.
When served with a yummy mayo-based sauce, your chicken will taste amazing and complement the mac and cheese nicely.
6 – Roasted Mushrooms
If you want a dish with a meaty texture without the meat, roasted mushrooms are the way to go.
Though they’re neither veggie nor meat, they can substitute both and complement most foods.
Roasted mushrooms taste great with macaroni and cheese, and the combo will complete the meal too.
Besides, the mushrooms will also bring down the richness of the pasta dish.
Along with the mushrooms, you can also add veggies such as tomato, onion, and cauliflower.
For this dish, you may use cremini mushrooms, a moderately mature version of the white button mushroom.
7 – Poached Lobster
Seafood like lobster also complements macaroni and cheese, and it adds variety to your menu as well.
Lobster is exceptionally delicious, so everybody will enjoy the combination.
Lobster, like most seafood, cooks fast, but you have to keep an eye on it, or it can overcook, and it won’t taste delicious.
When cooking lobster, follow the recommended time for best results.
While poached lobster is naturally delicious, the lemon garlic butter sauce binds the dish and enhances its flavors.
If you choose to buy fresh lobster, make sure that it is alive and healthy with its claws above its head.
Every part of the lobster should be moving; if not, it isn’t healthy.
8 – Tofu Nuggets
Tofu nuggets will be an ideal dish if you want to serve a vegan option along with mac and cheese.
They combine well, and you’ll have a complete meal.
Yummy tofu nuggets have umami flavors from soy sauce and apple cider vinegar.
Even if you have not tasted tofu, you’ll undoubtedly fall in love with it.
Many of your guests are sure to be vegan, so the tofu nuggets will be the correct side dish to serve alongside mac and cheese.
You can make a reasonable amount depending on the number of guests.
9 – BBQ Baby Back Ribs
You can also add a delicious BBQ ribs dish to your menu.
The dish is filling and rich and complements the mac and cheese well.
It will be a suitable dish for any meat lover.
Baby back ribs are meat portions taken from the upper part of the rib cage.
They’re leaner and tender with plenty of meat.
While it isn’t difficult making BBQ ribs, you have to keep a watch when the dish is cooking.
Take them out at the recommended time to enjoy juicy and tender meat, or they can become too dry.
10 – Meatloaf
Lastly, we have a meat dish to complete the list.
It’s meatloaf, one of the most popular meat dishes at various events.
It also complements mac and cheese, so you can add it to your menu.
Meatloaf isn’t tricky to cook, and you can experiment with your ingredients.
For example, instead of panko breadcrumbs, you can use crushed crackers.
If you have never cooked the dish and are afraid of making a mistake, follow the instructions correctly.
The perfectly cooked meatloaf is ready to be served with mac and cheese.
With the ten dishes in your hand, you can make mac and cheese whenever possible.
The side dishes will complement the pasta, and you’ll have a full meal too.
If mac and cheese is a regular feature in your events, rotate the side dishes so that it doesn’t get boring.
If you serve the same dishes, the excitement will go away.