35 Best Vegetable Side Dishes

Air Fyer brussel sprouts recipe

 The Spruce / Leah Maroney

When I was growing up, we had dinner together as a family almost every night. Meals always included a main protein, a vegetable, and a starch, except casseroles or stir-fries that included all of those in one dish. But because mom worked full-time, vegetables were usually frozen or canned, usually reheated in the microwave until slightly gray. It wasn't until I grew up and began cooking myself that I realized vegetable side dishes could be vibrantly colorful, come with rich textures and a variety of flavors. Now, I look forward to eating my veggies. With these versatile and delicious vegetable side dishes, your family will too.

  • 01 of 35

    Scalloped Asparagus

    Scalloped Asparagus Casserole

     The Spruce

    While not exactly a healthy dish, scalloped asparagus comes out cheesy and satisfying. This recipe calls for frozen asparagus, but you can use fresh, too. Just cook it until just tender, first. Pimentos add color and flavor, but red bell pepper makes a good substitute. Serve it as a special holiday side.

  • 02 of 35

    Braised Endive

    Braised Belgian endives recipe

    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska

    Cooking Belgian endive in butter and lemon juice transforms them from bitter little bundles into sweet, tender leaves that will melt in your mouth. It makes a unique and delicious side for a special roast, or even chicken and fish.

  • 03 of 35

    Baked Cauliflower With Cheese

    broccoli and cauliflower bake recipe

    The Spruce / Diana Rattray

    This simple five-ingredient cauliflower and parmesan cheese casserole will change the minds of those who think they don't like the humble crucifer. A breadcrumb topping adds crunch to the velvety veggie. You can also add broccoli for a different twist. Serve it as a hearty side for pork or steak.

  • 04 of 35

    Honey Glazed Baby Carrots

    Simple honey glazed baby carrots recipe

    The Spruce

    These sweet glazed baby carrots always show up on our Christmas and Thanksgiving menu, but they're easy enough to make on a weeknight as a perfect accompaniment to baked chicken or fish, pork chops, or a roast. Careful not to overcook the carrots so they don't get mushy.

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  • 05 of 35

    Broiled Tomatoes With Cheese

    broiled tomatoes with cheese recipe

    The Spruce / Elaine Lemm

    When summer brings a bounty of fresh, plump tomatoes, broil them with basil, balsamic vinegar, and parmesan cheese for a quick and satisfying side that tastes great with whatever grilled protein you have on deck. Choose firm tomatoes for this recipe, or they'll get too soft under the heat.

  • 06 of 35

    Southern Fried Corn

    Southern Fried Corn recipe

    The Spruce

    Late-summer sweet corn fried in butter or bacon fat makes the most of its sweet, starchy flavor. Hit it with a little flaky salt to showcase its natural deliciousness, or add some sautéed onion and bell pepper, some cracked red pepper flakes, or even minced jalapeno for a little heat. It tastes delicious with grilled chicken or fish.

  • 07 of 35

    Eggplant Fries

    Fried Eggplant Strips recipe

    The Spruce / Diana Rattray

    If you're craving French fries but want something a bit healthier, reach for these crispy eggplant fries instead. They'll melt in your mouth, by themselves, but also taste awesome with a garlic aioli dip or alongside grilled meat, gyro, or as part of a fried platter.

  • 08 of 35

    Classic Wedge Salad

    Classic Wedge Salad recipe

    The Spruce / Leah Maroney

    Get your vegetables covered in a decadent blue cheese dressing and bacon with a classic steakhouse wedge salad. It's easy to make at home to pair with your favorite cut of red meat, but it also makes a delicious lunch in and of itself, especially in warm weather.

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  • 09 of 35

    Baked Sweet Potato Fries

    Baked Vegan Sweet Potato Fries recipe

    The Spruce / Emily Hawkes

    Get the crunchy exterior and creamy interior of sweet potato fries but with less fat and quicker cleanup with this oven-baked version. They work well alongside chicken, hamburgers, or sausages. For those who avoid meat products, these are also completely vegan.

  • 10 of 35

    Roasted Artichokes

    Roasted Whole Artichokes recipe

    The Spruce 

    For an Italian-accented starter or side for a special Sunday supper, try this simple approach to roasted artichokes. This recipe uses the oven instead of the stovetop, resulting in tender artichokes complemented by tart lemon juice and zesty garlic that will fill your kitchen with an amazing aroma.

  • 11 of 35

    Cauliflower Cheesy Bread

    Cauliflower Cheesy Bread recipe

     The Spruce / Leah Maroney

    If you're craving garlic bread but want to get a hit of veggies, make this cauliflower cheesy "bread" instead. It pairs perfectly with any pasta dish where you'd usually want bread, with fewer carbs.

  • 12 of 35

    Air Fryer Brussels Sprouts

    Air Fryer Brussels Sprouts recipe

     The Spruce / Leah Maroney

    Using your air fryer to prepare these sweet and spicy Brussels sprouts give them plenty of crunch without the extra fat. They make a unique side for Thanksgiving or to add a slight Asian accent to chicken, fish, or any protein.

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  • 13 of 35

    Skillet Cabbage

    skillet cabbage recipe

    The Spruce

    Whip up this quick and easy skillet cabbage alongside corned beef for St. Patrick's Day or as a great side for ham or pork any time. It uses just a few seasonings and comes together fast, for a simple and budget-friendly weekday dish.

  • 14 of 35

    Sichuan Eggplant in Garlic Sauce

    Szechuan Eggplant in Garlic Sauce recipe

    The Spruce

    Put down the takeout menu and prepare this tongue-tingling eggplant side as part of a DIY Chinese feast. Use Chinese eggplant if you can find it; the long, thin eggplant usually shows up in supermarkets alongside the bulbous American version. Serve with white rice alongside your favorite Chinese meat dish.

  • 15 of 35

    Fried Onion Rings

    Crispy Fried Onion Rings recipe

    The Spruce / Diana Rattray

    You don't need to head to a restaurant to enjoy crispy fried onion rings. Make them at home with this easy recipe that uses cornmeal for extra texture. Vidalia onions work well, but red or yellow onions work too. Serve them with hot dogs or burgers for a summer treat.

  • 16 of 35

    Creamed Swiss Chard With Bacon

    Creamed swiss chard with bacon recipe

    ​The Spruce

    Cooking leafy swiss chard with a creamy white sauce, smoky bacon, and garlic mellows out its somewhat bitter flavor into a luscious side dish for a special Sunday supper. Use a non-reactive enamel, or stainless steel pan, for best results.

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  • 17 of 35

    Candied Sweet Potatoes

    Candied Sweet Potatoes with Toasted Pecans recipe

    The Spruce / Diana Rattray

    Candied sweet potatoes go with Thanksgiving almost as clearly as turkey, but you don't need to relegate them to your holiday table. These almost dessert-like potatoes work well with ham or pork too, even for kids who swear they hate vegetables. Add toasted pecans for texture.

  • 18 of 35

    Slow-Cooker Cabbage and Apples

    slow cooker cabbage and apples recipe

    The Spruce / Diana Rattray

    Cooking cabbage and apples low and slow, until tender and sweet, makes a lovely side for pork chops, ham, or tenderloin. You could also use it to top bratwurst, or even hot dogs, for a slightly different twist.

  • 19 of 35

    Old-Fashioned Scalloped Tomatoes

    scalloped tomato casserole recipe

    The Spruce / Diana Rattray

    For a comforting homey side, try scalloped tomatoes. Unseasoned breadcrumbs add crunch, and you can even make your own. Just dry stale bread in the oven or the toaster for 10 minutes or so, then pulse into fine crumbs in the food processor. Serve with a hearty roast for a traditional Sunday supper.

  • 20 of 35

    Maple Glazed Butternut Squash

    Baked Maple and Brown Sugar Butternut Squash recipe

    The Spruce

    Even those who think they hate squash will love this butternut squash glazed in maple syrup, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Its sweet, nutty flavor goes great with ham, sausages, or pork.

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  • 21 of 35

    Air Fryer Baked Potatoes

    Air fryer baked potatoes recipe

     The Spruce / Leah Maroney

    Using your air fryer to bake potatoes means you can have the spuds on the table much faster if you need a side for a weekday meal. They come out creamy on the inside, with a crispy skin. Just make sure you scrub them before cooking if you plan to eat the whole thing.

  • 22 of 35

    Roasted Broccoli Rabe

    Roasted Broccoli Rabe recipe

    The Spruce / Molly Watson

    Broccoli rabe gets tender and a little crispy when you roast it mellowing its bitter flavor without obscuring it with many additional seasonings. It tastes great alongside steak or chicken, and can also make a great addition to other roasted veggies. Feel free to sprinkle on your favorite herb blend, for a more assertive flavor.

  • 23 of 35

    Buttered Leeks

    Buttered Leeks recipe

    The Spruce / Molly Watson

    Gently cooking leeks lets them virtually melt into a soft and buttery texture for a springy side dish that will level up your Easter presentation. Leeks tend to harbor dirt in their many crevices, so wash them thoroughly in a large bowl of cold water before using, or the dish may end up gritty.

  • 24 of 35

    Peas With Sumac and Feta

    Spring Peas with Sumac and Feta recipe

    The Spruce / Anita Schecter

    For a Mediterranean side that works beautifully with gyro, grilled chicken, or kebabs, turn to these sumac and feta-sprinkled spring peas. Sumac has a unique, citrusy, and slightly sour taste that contrasts well with creamy, salty feta. If you don't want to shell fresh peas, use frozen ones instead.

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  • 25 of 35

    Roasted Cauliflower and Quinoa Salad

    Cauliflower and Quinoa Salad recipe

    The Spruce / Diana Rattray

    Roasting cauliflower gives it a toasty, slightly sweet taste that, along with fresh peas, green onions, and quinoa, makes a versatile side for chicken or steak. While it does require several steps, this salad tastes great warm or chilled, so it's also a good option for a make-ahead dish.

  • 26 of 35

    Green Bean and Garlic Saute

    Green Bean and Garlic Saute recipe

    The Spruce

    Withered canned green beans have nothing in common with these crisp-tender, flavorful, garlicky green beans. Saute or steam them until their color brightens to keep their structural integrity. Try serving them alongside lamb or shish kebabs, roasted chicken, or as part of a special spring meal.

  • 27 of 35

    Quick Thai Cucumber Salad

    Thai cucumber salad recipe

    The Spruce

    This sweet and spicy Thai cucumber salad takes just 10 minutes to make, so toss it together when you have to bring a dish to pass and don't have much time. Peanuts give it lots of tasty texture, while the soy, lime, cayenne, and fish sauce dressing gives it that signature Thai taste.

  • 28 of 35

    Skillet Spinach

    Sauteed Spinach recipe

    The Spruce

    Sautéing leafy green spinach until just wilted in a skillet retains its vitamin-rich nutrition, and takes just a few minutes. Cook it quickly over high heat so the liquid evaporates, rather than stewing it in its own juices. That will give it a bright flavor and vibrant color that pairs perfectly with red meat, chicken, or fish for a healthful meal.

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  • 29 of 35

    Broccoli Salad

    Broccoli Salad With Bacon recipe

    The Spruce / Diana Rattray

    For a cookout side dish, that has as much nutrition as it does taste, this fresh broccoli salad fits the bill. Cooked bacon adds a smoky element, while raisins lend a bit of sweetness. Serve it with burgers and dogs, grilled chicken, or whatever else you've got on the barbie.

  • 30 of 35

    Grilled Corn Salad

    Grilled Corn Salad recipe

    The Spruce / Anita Schecter

    Grilling corn brings out its natural sweetness and adds a bit of smoke that tastes great in this simple and delicious corn salad. Use up your garden's bounty by adding zucchini, grape or cherry tomatoes, fresh basil and chives, and garlic scapes if you have 'em. Feta adds a little salt to the party. Serve it for a cookout or outdoor gathering.

  • 31 of 35

    Slow-Cooker Baked Beans

    5 ingredient slow cooker beans with bacon recipe

    The Spruce / Diana Rattray

    You'll never crack open another can of baked beans again once you try to make your own. Using the slow cooker not only means you can set it and forget it but provides a serving vessel for a tailgate party, potluck, or any gathering.

  • 32 of 35

    Black Bean and Mango Salad

    Black bean and mango salad recipe

    ​The Spruce / Emily Hawkes

    Tropical mangoes and umami black beans pair perfectly in this summery, filling salad. Bell peppers give it a little crunch, while jalapeños turn up the heat. A lime juice dressing ties it all together. Serve it with grilled meats, pork, or chicken for a low-calorie side.

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  • 33 of 35

    Potato Salad With Eggs

    Potato salad with vegetables and eggs recipe
    The Spruce

    While we don't always think of potato salad as a veggie side, starch-lovers will contend that it counts. Hard-boiled eggs add a different texture and some protein to this classic barbecue side, while red onion gives it zest, and tomatoes and cucumber, add pretty color to the bowl. Try it with barbecue or cookout fare.

  • 34 of 35

    Cucumbers With Sour Cream and Dill

    Cucumber Slices With Sour Cream and Dill recipe

    The Spruce / Diana Rattray

    Use up those extra cucumbers you have hanging on the vine by tossing them with tangy sour cream and sprinkling it with the dill taking over the corner of your garden. They make a fresh-tasting and satisfying side for hot dogs, burgers, or any kind of protein. It also tastes great atop fresh greens for a salad.

  • 35 of 35

    Oven-Roasted Mixed Vegetables

    Oven roasted mixed vegetables recipe

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

    It doesn't get much easier than tossing root or mixed vegetables together and roasting them until they get a little charred around the edges and release their natural flavors. A sticky maple glaze makes them taste extra special for a side that pairs perfectly with pork chops, baked chicken, or whatever's on the menu.