Ribs are one of those main entrees that can easily stand on their own. They are always the main event, the star of the dinner party. So what in the world should you serve with them, if it’s going to be overpowered anyway? Here are 27 simple sides to pair with ribs that will fill your guests, please your guests, and still allow the ribs to shine through. These Simple Rib Sides will show you just how varied but easy the dinner menu can be.
From creamy mashed potatoes to a simple green salad, these sides will stand up to a delicious rack of ribs perfectly. You can even choose a couple to round out your dinner party, there are a good amount of options to go around. Whether you want to showcase a side of veggies, or something more hearty such as quinoa, this list will give you the recipes you need to fill your table with delicious sides.
Mashed potatoes are definitely a staple when it comes to simple rib sides, and everyone needs a go-to recipe in their back pocket. This recipe for perfect creamy mashed potatoes clues you into a little secret: when making mashed potatoes use half Yukon gold and half Russet potatoes for the best results.
As far as simple rib sides go, corn on the cob is often a go-to. However, this recipe for blackened corn will show you how to vary it, so you’re not always serving the same buttery corn each time. Blackened corn is delicious and super easy to make. And the best part is you don’t need a grill - you can save the grill space for your ribs.
Coleslaw is a simple but refreshing side dish that goes with just about any BBQ meat. Making your own Coleslaw from scratch is as easy as pouring and mixing! All the ingredients are pantry staples, so you'll likely have them already at home. This particular recipe only takes about 5 minutes to make, so you can get it ready and then enjoy the party rather than slaving away in the kitchen.
A stove-top mac and cheese is a fantastic side for a rack of ribs because it doesn’t take up space in the oven or on the grill. You can save that for your ribs! This recipe for creamy mac and cheese is perfect as is, but you can switch up the ingredients as desired. Use gluten-free pasta, add veggies, use different cheeses, or omit the heavy cream.
For a hearty side dish, we’ve got to go with baked beans. The addition of bacon makes these beans extra savory and absolutely delicious. They pair so well with a sweet and sticky rack of ribs. A few drops of liquid smoke are the secret ingredient to these. It gives that BBQ flavor that is desired with a good baked bean dish.
You can’t get much better than a toasted, cheesy hunk of garlic bread. This garlic cheese bread is rich, indulgent, and easy to make. It makes the perfect side dish for pasta, soup, casseroles, and yes, ribs! Make extra, because this always goes first. The addition of mayonnaise really elevates this bread. It keeps it creamy, and to die for.
On the lighter side (with carbs, not flavor!) we’ve got grilled zucchini. Grilled zucchini is a quick and simple way to use up an overabundance of summer squash. It only takes a few minutes to prepare, and it’s a fantastic option in the spring or summer when you don’t want something as heavy as baked beans or garlic bread.
If you’re in the heat of summer, you’re not going to want to use your oven much. For simple rib sides that will cool you off, we’ve got to look at a creamy potato salad. This Dill potato salad tastes like summer in a bowl with all that fresh dill in the tangy creamy dressing. You’ll be making this for more than just ribs once you have a taste!
For those of us who like the low-carb living, we’ve still got a creamy, refreshing salad to share. But this one highlights cucumbers rather than potatoes. This classic summer salad is made with cucumbers, onions, and a simple creamy dressing. The dressing can vary from recipe to recipe, but the ingredients are the same: cucumbers, sour cream, lemon juice, sugar, and dill.
We’re keeping things on the light and healthy side with these sweet potato fries. These crispy fries will absolutely pair with a crack of ribs, but they won’t add a ton of deep-fried calories. By using the air fryer, you can still get crispy fries, but with a fraction of the calories. Save the calories for your rack of ribs!
You can easily make these flavorful, beer batter-coated slices of onions at home with just six ingredients and a pot of oil or deep fryer. They get ultra crunchy, and the sweet and salty flavor is the finishing touch you need for a simple rib side. The beer batter adds a subtle hint of malt and makes these moreish.
A classic Caesar recipe can be hard to make if you’re not used to making your own creamy dressing in a blender. This Caesar salad requires no blender and only takes 10 minutes to make. You can whip up a crunchy, salty salad to pair with a rack of ribs in under 15 minutes and impress yourself and your guests.
Roasted carrots and asparagus may sound simple, but this dish is packed with flavor. Carrots and asparagus in the oven are an easy side dish for any rack of ribs - they will easily stand up to the hearty meat flavor. The vegetables are roasted in a mixture of olive oil, lemon juice, black pepper, and salt. They are beautifully presented as well.
Super crunchy on the outside, yet light and fluffy on the inside, these crispy homemade hushpuppies will delight everyone at the table. You also don’t need any fancy or unique ingredients to make these - just plenty of spices such as onion powder, garlic powder, and black pepper. They all should be staples in the pantry, so you can whip these up anytime you’re grilling ribs.
This elegant and delicious Green Beans Almondine recipe will be a new favorite. It fits equally well in both a weeknight dinner, as well as a fancy dinner party. By elevating regular green beans to green beans almondine, you’ll elevate your rack of ribs as well. It’ll be less cook-out, and more date night with your significant other.
Roasted potato wedges are comforting (just like a rack of ribs) and make up a fantastic hearty side dish. They can be hard to get crispy though. This recipe gives you all the tips for the best crispy baked potato wedges, all while keeping it simple to make. You just need a good hearty potato, such as Russets.
Caprese salad is bright and refreshing and can offer a healthy, balanced side dish to a rich rib entree. Fresh and healthy, this Cherry Tomato Caprese Salad is full of juicy tomatoes, mellow fresh mozzarella, and fragrant basil leaves. It’s amazing in the spring and summer - perfect for any cookout!
Everyone loves a good copycat recipe, and the best thing about this one is you can make it healthier than the store-bought version. This Costco Quinoa Salad is light, refreshing, and full of plant protein. So in addition to the protein-packed ribs you’re serving, you’ll be giving a good dose of plant protein as well. Win-win!
The oven-roasted honey glazed magic creates the ultimate flavor in these Brussels sprouts, and the lemon zest and green onions add a bright and addictive finish. You’ll want to serve these with more than just ribs once you make it. If you don’t like Brussels Sprouts, it's because you’re not using this recipe. It's a crowd-pleaser, no matter who you’re serving.
Cornbread is a fantastic simple rib side, and this recipe details how to make cornbread into scrumptious, moist muffins. By making muffins, you’re ensuring equal individual servings, so that everyone gets a buttery bite. These are the perfect vehicles for soaking up all the extra rib sauce. It’s also a great make-ahead recipe, which will save you time.
Pasta salad can be served year-round with a rack of ribs, but this bruschetta pasta salad recipe highlights bright, tangy tomatoes. It adds a balanced bite when serving rich ribs, but also pairs well enough so that it’s not offsetting any flavors. The mild mozzarella adds a creamy component to this dish, and of course, the bright basil is amazing.
If you want something different than just a typical roasted potato, give these cheesy scalloped potatoes a try. Scalloped potatoes are layered with garlicky cream mixture and cheese and are an amazing rib side dish, but are totally worth making for an everyday occasion or Sunday dinner. They make it look like you spent a lot of time in the kitchen when in reality, the oven does the work!
For something lighter than mashed potatoes or scalloped potatoes, we’ve got a four-ingredient cauliflower mash. Simple rib sides don’t have to be heavy or plain as this recipe will show you. You’ll be surprised at what you can whip up with some cauliflower, cream cheese, butter, and a bit of garlic!
If you’re heading into the cold months, ribs are a great entree to serve as they are comforting and will warm you up from the inside out. To pair a no-cook side dish with the ribs, give this fall fruit salad a try. Apples, grapes, berries, and pecans are drizzled with a homemade cinnamon orange dressing to highlight the flavors of fall and to keep things delicious.
As we’ve seen throughout this list of simple rib sides, cheese pairs amazingly with vegetables, and this parmesan broccoli is no exception. By roasting the broccoli in the oven, you get a crunchy, caramelized flavor that pairs perfectly with the salty Parmesan. Both the parmesan and roasted broccoli will compliment a rack of sticky ribs.
Roasted root vegetables are a great option to serve alongside sweet sticky ribs if you’re heading into the fall or winter months. Roasted root veggies are hearty and dense, yet absolutely flavorful. Pairing these with fresh rosemary will highlight all the right flavors and leave you (and your guests) feeling satisfied.
This Sautéed Spinach cooks in under 5 minutes and goes with pretty much any protein you're serving. Extra virgin olive oil, minced garlic, fresh baby spinach, salt, freshly ground black pepper, fresh lemon juice, and crushed red pepper flakes are mixed together and cooked in a skillet. It’s easy to make, and packed with flavor!
Now that you’ve got this list of simple rib sides to choose from, grab your grill and tongs and get to cooking. These hearty, flavorful sides will be the perfect complement to your famous rack of ribs, no matter if you roast or grill them. They will make your guests feel like they are being served a meal fit for a king (or queen!)
And I'll leave you with one of the most popular mac and cheese recipes on the blog, Chick-Fil-A Mac and Cheese!
What to Serve With Ribs (27 Simple Side Ideas)
- 2 cups uncooked Macaroni elbows
- 1 ½ cups Skim milk
- 1 tablespoon Wholemeal flour
- 1 ¾ tablespoon Butter, salted
- ½ teaspoon Nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon Paprika
- ¼ teaspoon Tumeric
- Black pepper, ground, to taste
- Salt, to taste
- 1 ¾ tablespoon Parmesan cheese, grated
- ⅓ cup Romano cheese, grated
- ½ cup Cheddar cheese, grated
- ⅓ cup Breadcrumbs, panko
- Preheat oven 200C/350F. Bring a large pot of generously-salted water to a rolling boil. Add macaroni elbows and cook 14-15 minutes until very soft to the bite.
- Place a saucepan over a medium heat and add the butter. Melt until bubbling. Add the flour and whisk into a thick paste. Whisking constantly, drizzle in the milk until a smooth sauce. Season with the spices and stir. Add parmesan, romano and half the cheddar. Mix until smooth and set aside.
- Stir the pasta into the sauce and turn to coat. Add to a large, greased baking dish and sprinkle with the remaining cheese. Cover with tin foil.
- Bake 10-15 minutes then remove foil. Broil 2-3 minutes until golden brown and piping hot.