15 Healthy Side Dishes That Complete Any Meal
Deciding to stay in and cook your dinner instead of dining out is already a step in the right direction if you're really focusing on eating healthier. There's no better way to know exactly what's going into the food you're eating than by making it yourself! Mastering a main dish is only half the battle though, and once you've perfected your chicken, steak, or fish, it's time to turn your attention to the ever-important side dishes.
A side dish can easily derail your health goals though, as sugar, sodium, fat, and calories can all get rather high quickly if you're not careful. But with our healthy side dish recipes, you won't ever run into that problem as our take on everything from broccoli, potatoes, corn, and stuffing are all 260 calories and under. Plus, they are super easy to make and don't require many ingredients or steps, so you won't have to devote more time cooking the side dishes than your main course.
Check out 15 healthy side dish recipes you'll immediately want to add to your dinner recipe rotation!
15-Minute Parmesan-Roasted Broccoli
There really is no better vegetable to roast than broccoli. It's low in carbs, high in vitamin C, vitamin K, folate, fiber, and water content (so it will keep you full), and it'll also help improve calcium absorption, fight skin damage, and prevent constipation. It's clearly amazing for your health, so we went ahead and jazzed the veggie up with a simple, 4-ingredient recipe that is ready in less than 15 minutes. A truly healthy side dish that takes practically no time at all? The perfect combination.
Get our recipe for a 15-Minute Parmesan-Roasted Broccoli.
Raw carrots make for a solid snack, but roasting the veggie elevates it to a perfect dinner side dish. It goes well with so many dishes and is very simple to make, too, so there really is no reason why you wouldn't think to roast carrots a few nights a week!
Get our recipe for Roasted Carrots.
Garlic Mashed Potatoes
When in doubt, deciding to make mashed potatoes is never a bad idea. You can customize the creamy side dish however you like, whether you add garlic, freshly chopped chives, bacon, sautéed spinach, roasted onions, or green peppers. The possibilities are endless!
Get our recipe for Garlic Mashed Potatoes.
Crispy Rosemary Potatoes
The great thing about a roasted potato recipe is that it makes for the perfect side dish with almost anything you decide to whip up for dinner. Plus, it's one of the easiest ways to cook up spuds, too—you just have to chop a few potatoes, toss them with olive oil, rosemary, and a little salt and pepper, and then cook them on a baking sheet. Simple and good for you? You can't beat that.
Get our recipe for Crispy Rosemary Potatoes.
Curry With Cauliflower and Butternut Squash
This Indian-style vegetable stir fry takes no more than 25 minutes to prepare. The balance of the creamy coconut milk, the sweet squash cubes, and the subtle heat of the curry powder work perfectly together, creating a dish that will even make the most devoted meat eater forget they're eating only vegetables.
Get our recipe for Curry With Cauliflower and Butternut Squash.
Grilled Mexican-Style Corn
This recipe was inspired by how corn is served on the streets of Mexico. It's covered in a thin layer of mayo (instead of the typical choice of butter) and is topped with a sprinkling of chili powder and cheese. It makes for a great side dish to an outdoor picnic and is an elevated way to eat the vegetable!
Get our recipe for Grilled Mexican-Style Corn.
Stuffing doesn't actually have to be cooked inside of a bird! In our recipe, we let you have more control, as you can cook this stuffing all on its own, combining the sausage, apples, and fresh sage into a stuffing that's much different than any you might've had before. This dish works well paired with garlic-rosemary roast beef, a bourbon-glazed ham, a roast chicken or yes, even a Thanksgiving turkey.
Get our recipe for Apple-Sausage Stuffing.
Yukon Gold ￼￼￼and Sweet Potato ￼￼￼Gratin Recipe
We make sure the gratin stays as the side dish it was meant to be in this recipe, letting the protein portion of the meal take center stage and keeping the side dish as, well, a side that just enhances the overall meal. We trade in lower fat milk instead of the traditional cream and add in some nutrient-dense, fiber-loaded sweet potatoes to the mix. Pair this with a roasted chicken or grilled steak, and your dinner guests will be nothing short of impressed.
Get our recipe for Yukon Gold ￼￼￼and Sweet Potato ￼￼￼Gratin Recipe.
Mitch Mandel and Thomas MacDonald
In this recipe for homemade coleslaw, you can expect a side dish that's crunchy and cool instead of the usual soupy, mayo-drenched, overly sweet coleslaw you're most likely used to being served at a diner alongside a sandwich or burger. This coleslaw has a vinegar tang and holds back on the mayo and other fatty ingredients, making it super low-calorie and, importantly, still so tasty.
Get our recipe for Coleslaw.
Roasted Parmesan Asparagus
Asparagus is one of those vegetables that seems to pair well with just about anything and can be prepared many ways, too, thanks to its mild flavor. You can wrap it in prosciutto and grill it up; blanch it briefly in boiling water and then top it with a fried egg; or even just enjoy it shaved raw in a salad. But nothing beats the classic roasted, Parmesan-dusted approach that makes for the perfect, ready-in-minutes side dish.
Get our recipe for Roasted Parmesan Asparagus.
Balsamic Zucchini Sauté
It's no secret zucchini is a solid veggie option, as it is known to have many benefits, such as improving energy, lowering your blood sugar and cholesterol, and stopping inflammation. So yes, incorporating it into your diet is crucial. This balsamic zucchini recipe is the easiest way to do that, as we use balsamic vinegar to heighten the sweetness of the zucchini, while adding an acidity, too, to create a burst of flavor.
Get our recipe for a Balsamic Zucchini Sauté.
Our pan-roasted mushrooms recipe results in a side dish that is soft and buttery, yet has a kick from the garlic, so it will add a punch to whatever you're serving up for dinner. This recipe freezes well, too, so it's great for meal prep if you want to take some as part of your lunch each day, or save it for dinner to pair alongside the dishes you cook up.
Get our recipe for Pan-Roasted Mushrooms.
Quinoa is hands-down one of the healthiest foods on the planet—it's rich in complex carbohydrates and healthy fats, and it has a healthy dose of protein. In this vegan-friendly pilaf recipe, salty, sweet, and tangy all join forces in one dish you're going to want to serve with just about anything.
Get our recipe for a Quinoa Pilaf.
Spicy Mashed Sweet Potatoes
Here, we turn to the sweet potato instead of the regular kind of spud for another take on the mashed side dish. We cut back on the fat, using just a few, whole ingredients including milk, butter, and some pepper. It's great to serve these as a tasty companion to our grilled pork and peaches recipe, or our turkey meatloaf, or any other grilled or roasted meat.
Get our recipe for Spicy Mashed Sweet Potatoes.
Smoky Baked Beans
Beans are extremely healthy, but baked beans are often bombarded with brown sugar, molasses, and honey, causing them to lose their nutritional value. In our recipe, we make sure to add flavor without incorporating unnecessary sugars, adding in cayenne, beer, and bacon. Prepare to dig in to the most addictive, healthiest, smoky baked beans.
Get our recipe for Smoky Baked Beans.