What Goes With Mac and Cheese

Did you know that mac and cheese is one of the most beloved comfort foods in America? With its creamy cheese sauce and tender pasta, it’s no wonder that people can’t get enough of this classic dish.

But have you ever wondered what to serve alongside your mac and cheese to create a well-rounded meal? Look no further! This article will guide you through a variety of delicious side dishes, protein options, vegetarian additions, salads, breads, soups, and even beverage accompaniments that perfectly complement your mac and cheese.

Get ready to take your mac and cheese game to the next level!

Key Takeaways

  • Crispy garlic bread and grilled chicken or shrimp are great side dishes to serve with mac and cheese for added texture and protein.
  • Roasted vegetables and fresh salad with creamy Caesar dressing or balsamic vinaigrette can provide a refreshing and healthy contrast to the richness of mac and cheese.
  • Bacon, shrimp, ground beef, grilled sausage, or grilled salmon can be added as protein options to enhance the flavor and make the mac and cheese more filling.
  • Vegetarian additions such as grilled vegetables, sautéed mushrooms, or creamy vegetable additions can be included to cater to vegetarian preferences.

Side Dishes

You can’t go wrong with some crispy garlic bread on the side of your mac and cheese. Not only does it add a delicious crunch, but it also complements the creamy and cheesy flavors of the mac and cheese perfectly.

But if you’re looking to incorporate some protein options and vegetarian additions into your meal, there are plenty of other side dishes that can elevate your mac and cheese experience.

One option is to add some grilled chicken or shrimp. The juicy and tender chicken or succulent shrimp can provide a nice contrast to the rich and cheesy mac and cheese. Simply marinate the chicken or shrimp with some herbs and spices, then grill them until they’re cooked through. You can chop them into bite-sized pieces and serve them on the side or mix them directly into the mac and cheese.

For vegetarian additions, consider adding roasted vegetables. Roasting vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, or Brussels sprouts brings out their natural sweetness and adds a nice charred flavor. You can toss them with some olive oil, salt, and pepper, then roast them in the oven until they’re tender and slightly caramelized. These roasted vegetables will not only add a pop of color but also provide some extra nutrients to your meal.

Another great vegetarian addition is a fresh salad. A simple green salad with mixed greens, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, and a tangy vinaigrette can provide a refreshing contrast to the rich and cheesy mac and cheese. The crispness of the salad will add a nice textural element to your meal.

Protein Options

Consider adding some grilled chicken or tofu to your mac and cheese for a protein boost. Mac and cheese is a delicious comfort food, but sometimes you may want to add a little something extra to make it more satisfying and nutritious.

Here are some meat and seafood options that pair perfectly with mac and cheese:

  • Bacon: Crispy and savory, bacon adds a smoky flavor that complements the creamy cheese sauce. It adds a nice crunch to each bite.

  • Shrimp: For a touch of elegance, toss some sautéed shrimp with your mac and cheese. The tender shrimp pairs well with the rich and cheesy pasta.

  • Ground beef: Brown some ground beef with onions and garlic, then mix it into your mac and cheese. The beef adds a hearty and satisfying element to the dish.

  • Grilled sausage: Slice up some grilled sausage and mix it into your mac and cheese. The smoky and flavorful sausage enhances the overall taste and texture.

  • Grilled salmon: Flake some grilled salmon over your mac and cheese for a boost of omega-3 fatty acids. The rich and buttery salmon complements the creamy pasta perfectly.

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Vegetarian Additions

Adding some grilled vegetables or mushrooms to your mac and cheese can provide a delicious and nutritious vegetarian option. If you’re looking for vegetarian protein alternatives, incorporating creamy vegetable additions to your mac and cheese is a fantastic way to go. Not only does it add a burst of flavor, but it also boosts the nutritional value of your meal.

Grilled vegetables, such as bell peppers, zucchini, and eggplant, are not only packed with vitamins and minerals, but they also add a delightful smoky flavor to your mac and cheese. Simply toss them in some olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and grill until they are tender and slightly charred. Then, mix them into your mac and cheese for a delightful combination of creamy cheese and smoky veggies.

Another excellent option is to add sautéed mushrooms to your mac and cheese. Mushrooms are known for their meaty texture and earthy taste, making them a perfect addition to any vegetarian dish. Sauté them in butter or olive oil until they are golden brown and tender. Then, mix them into your mac and cheese for a rich and indulgent experience.

Salads and Greens

If you’re looking for a lighter option, incorporating a side salad with fresh greens can complement your mac and cheese meal. Adding a salad to your plate not only provides a refreshing contrast to the rich and cheesy mac and cheese but also adds a boost of nutrients and crunch.

To make your salad even more enticing, consider trying different salad dressings and vegetable toppings. Here are some ideas to elevate your mac and cheese experience:

  • Creamy Caesar dressing: The tangy and creamy flavors of Caesar dressing pair perfectly with mac and cheese, adding a burst of flavor to every bite.

  • Balsamic vinaigrette: The sweet and tangy notes of balsamic vinaigrette can balance out the richness of mac and cheese, creating a harmonious combination.

  • Honey mustard dressing: The sweet and tangy flavors of honey mustard dressing can add a delightful contrast to the savory mac and cheese, making each forkful a delightful experience.

  • Crispy bacon bits: Crumbled bacon bits can add a savory and smoky crunch to your salad, creating a satisfying texture alongside the creamy mac and cheese.

  • Roasted vegetables: Roasted vegetables like cherry tomatoes, bell peppers, and zucchini can add a burst of color, flavor, and nutrition to your salad, making it a wholesome and well-rounded meal.

Bread and Biscuits

When it comes to bread and biscuits, there are a few key points to consider.

First, let’s talk about crusty baguette pairing. A crusty baguette is the perfect accompaniment to soups, salads, or charcuterie boards. Its crispy exterior and soft interior provide a delightful contrast of textures.

Next, we have flaky buttermilk biscuits, which are a staple in Southern cuisine. These buttery treats are great on their own, but they also make a fantastic addition to any meal. Whether you’re serving them with fried chicken, sausage gravy, or even as a base for strawberry shortcake.

Lastly, if you’re looking for a garlic bread alternative, consider using roasted garlic knots. These savory bites are packed with flavor and make a wonderful side dish or appetizer.

Crusty Baguette Pairing

The perfect complement to mac and cheese is a crusty baguette that’s warm and buttery. It’s the ideal accompaniment to this creamy and cheesy dish.

However, if you’re looking for some crusty baguette alternatives or creative bread pairings, here are some options to consider:

  • Garlic Naan: The soft and fluffy texture of garlic naan provides a delightful contrast to the richness of mac and cheese.

  • Rosemary Focaccia: The aromatic rosemary-infused bread adds a unique and savory flavor to every bite.

  • Jalapeno Cornbread: For a touch of heat and a hint of sweetness, jalapeno cornbread is a perfect choice.

  • Cheesy Pull-Apart Bread: This gooey, cheesy bread is a fun and delicious twist on traditional baguette.

  • Pretzel Rolls: The chewy pretzel rolls bring a salty and tangy taste that pairs well with mac and cheese.

These alternatives and creative pairings will elevate your mac and cheese experience, giving you different flavors and textures to enjoy.

Flaky Buttermilk Biscuits

You should definitely try making those flaky buttermilk biscuits to accompany your mac and cheese.

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These biscuits are a perfect addition to your meal, providing a delicious and satisfying contrast to the creamy mac and cheese. The flaky pastry of the biscuits adds a delightful texture that complements the smoothness of the cheese sauce. And when you spread a generous dollop of honey butter on top, it adds a touch of sweetness that enhances the overall flavor profile.

To make these biscuits, you’ll need simple ingredients like flour, buttermilk, butter, and baking powder. The key to achieving that perfect flakiness is to handle the dough gently and not overmix it. Once baked, serve the biscuits warm with a side of honey butter, and watch as they disappear from the plate in no time.

Garlic Bread Alternative

An alternative to garlic bread is using roasted garlic butter on a warm baguette. This delicious twist on a classic favorite adds a rich, savory flavor that will elevate any meal.

Here are five mouth-watering garlic bread alternatives to satisfy your cravings:

  • Cheesy garlic knots: These soft and fluffy knots are smothered in melted cheese and garlic butter, creating a gooey and irresistible treat.

  • Garlic parmesan breadsticks: Crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, these breadsticks are coated in a blend of garlic, butter, and Parmesan cheese for a delightful burst of flavor.

  • Garlic naan bread: This traditional Indian bread is infused with garlic and cooked to perfection in a hot oven or skillet, resulting in a fragrant and delicious accompaniment to any meal.

  • Garlic herb focaccia: With its crispy crust and aromatic blend of herbs, this Italian flatbread is a wonderful alternative to garlic bread, perfect for dipping in olive oil or serving alongside pasta dishes.

  • Garlic rosemary rolls: These fluffy rolls are infused with the flavors of garlic and rosemary, adding a fragrant and savory touch to any meal.

These garlic bread alternatives will satisfy your cravings and add a delicious twist to your next meal.

Soup Pairings

If you’re craving a warm and comforting meal, try pairing your mac and cheese with a delicious bowl of tomato soup. Soup pairings can elevate the flavors of your mac and cheese, creating bold and satisfying flavor combinations.

Tomato soup is a classic choice that complements the creamy and cheesy nature of mac and cheese perfectly. The tangy and slightly sweet flavor of tomato soup balances out the richness of the mac and cheese, creating a harmonious blend of flavors in every bite. The smooth and velvety texture of the soup also adds a comforting element to the meal, making it even more satisfying.

To make this pairing even more exciting, you can experiment with different variations of tomato soup. For example, adding a hint of spice with some red pepper flakes or a dash of hot sauce can give your meal a kick. Alternatively, you can try a roasted tomato soup for a deeper and more intense flavor profile.

Spicy and Savory Combinations

Are you looking to add some excitement and boldness to your meals?

In this discussion, we will explore the world of spicy and savory combinations. Get ready to discover bold flavor pairings that will take your taste buds on a thrilling journey.

From unexpected spice combinations to classic comfort foods with a kick, we’ll delve into the art of creating dishes that are both satisfying and adventurous.

Bold Flavor Pairings

You can’t go wrong with adding a touch of spice to your mac and cheese. It’s a simple way to elevate the classic dish and create a bold flavor experience.

Here are some unexpected spice combinations that will take your mac and cheese to the next level:

  • Jalapeno and Bacon: The heat from the jalapeno peppers pairs perfectly with the smoky and savory flavor of bacon, adding a kick to every bite.

  • Black Pepper and Garlic: The sharp and bold flavors of black pepper and garlic add depth and complexity to the creamy mac and cheese.

  • Chipotle and Lime: The smoky heat of chipotle combined with the tangy freshness of lime zest brings a unique and zesty twist to the dish.

  • Cayenne and Paprika: A combination of cayenne pepper and paprika will give your mac and cheese a spicy and smoky flavor profile that is sure to impress.

  • Curry and Turmeric: For a unique and exotic twist, try adding curry powder and turmeric to your mac and cheese. The warm and aromatic spices will add a burst of flavor that complements the creamy cheese sauce perfectly.

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Experimenting with these bold flavor pairings will add excitement and depth to your mac and cheese, making it a truly memorable dish.

Unexpected Spice Combinations

Adding unexpected spice combinations to your mac and cheese will elevate the flavors and create a truly unique and memorable dish.

By experimenting with different spices, you can take your mac and cheese to a whole new level.

One unexpected flavor combination to try is adding a pinch of cayenne pepper and a splash of lemon juice. The heat from the cayenne pepper will add a subtle kick, while the lemon juice will bring a refreshing acidity to balance out the richness of the cheese.

Another unique ingredient pairing is combining nutmeg and sage. The warm, slightly sweet notes from the nutmeg complement the earthy, herbal flavors of sage, adding depth and complexity to your mac and cheese.

Don’t be afraid to get creative and explore unexpected spice combinations to create a mac and cheese that will surprise and delight your taste buds.

Classic Comfort With a Kick

Mixing spices into your creamy pasta dish can give it a flavorful twist that will leave you craving more. When it comes to classic comfort with a kick, adding bold flavors to your mac and cheese can take it to a whole new level.

Here are five spice combinations that will elevate your mac and cheese experience:

  • Smoky Chipotle and Paprika: The smoky heat of chipotle and the earthy sweetness of paprika create a perfect balance of flavors.

  • Garlic and Herb: Aromatic garlic and a medley of herbs like thyme, rosemary, and parsley add a burst of freshness to your mac and cheese.

  • Cajun Seasoning: Infused with the flavors of paprika, cayenne, and thyme, Cajun seasoning brings a spicy and savory kick to your dish.

  • Truffle Salt: Indulge in the luxurious flavor of truffles with a sprinkle of truffle salt, elevating your mac and cheese to gourmet status.

  • Mustard and Dill: Tangy mustard and zesty dill create a bright and refreshing taste that complements the richness of the cheese sauce.

These spice combinations will transform your classic comfort dish into a bold and unforgettable culinary experience.

Beverage Accompaniments

Don’t forget to pair your mac and cheese with a refreshing beverage like a cold soda or a glass of iced tea. When it comes to beverage options, it’s all about finding the perfect flavor contrast that complements the rich and creamy goodness of your mac and cheese.

If you’re looking for a classic pairing, a cold soda can be a great choice. The effervescence and sweetness of the soda can cut through the richness of the cheese, creating a delightful balance of flavors. Whether you prefer cola, lemon-lime soda, or even a fruity soda, the carbonation and sweetness will add a refreshing touch to each bite of mac and cheese.

On the other hand, if you want a more subtle flavor contrast, a glass of iced tea can be a fantastic option. The earthy and slightly bitter notes of the tea can complement the creamy and cheesy flavors of the mac and cheese. Whether you opt for black tea, green tea, or a flavored herbal tea, the coolness and subtle flavors of iced tea can enhance the overall dining experience.


So there you have it, friend. A plethora of options to accompany your beloved mac and cheese.

From side dishes like roasted vegetables and coleslaw, to protein options like grilled chicken or bacon, the possibilities are endless.

For our vegetarian friends, consider adding some sautéed mushrooms or roasted garlic for a burst of flavor.

And don’t forget about salads and greens to balance out the rich and creamy mac and cheese.

Whether you prefer bread or biscuits, there’s nothing quite like a warm, buttery slice to complete your meal.

If you’re in the mood for a heartier pairing, why not try a comforting soup alongside your mac and cheese?

And for those who like a little kick, explore the world of spicy and savory combinations with hot sauce or jalapenos.

Finally, don’t forget to wash it all down with a refreshing beverage of your choice.

Cheers to the perfect mac and cheese companion!