10 Great Side Dishes That Pair Perfectly With Ribs
Ribs are great, but they do not a meal make—at least on their own. Just as pulled pork sides make a barbecue dinner so much tastier, the right sides for ribs simply turn ribs into a well-rounded meal. They add extra flavors to complement the ribs and offer more nutritional variety: If you include a vegetable side dish, you can call a rib dinner healthy, right?
Most backyard party or cookout hosts instinctively know not to serve ribs alone: Guests will want something else to polish off the meat-heavy meal. But what to serve with ribs, then? Fortunately, the answer isn’t difficult to find. Most side dishes do pair well with ribs, but we’ve rounded up 10 recipes that go supremely well with ribs, rounding out a ribs-based meal without being so heavy as to detract from the quality of the meat.
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From veggie-based salads to bread rolls to coleslaws, these are some of the best sides for ribs. They’re low-commitment, too, so you can easily whip up a batch of your preferred side dishes while the meat cooks. (If you have picky eaters, this is also your chance to make sure there’s something they’ll like on the table.) When it’s time to serve your full ribs spread, everyone will be admiring your cooking (and pairing) abilities. When it comes to figuring out what to serve with ribs, you can’t go wrong with these tasty side dishes.
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Fried Green Tomatoes
Take the classic route when picking sides for your ribs with these irresistible fried green tomatoes. Making them at home is easier than you might think, and you and your guests are sure to enjoy the fried indulgence.
Get the recipe: Fried Green Tomatoes
Honey Corn Bread Muffins
For a classic barbecue or cookout side dish, nothing beats a good cornbread. These muffins are already perfectly portioned for a crowd, and the addition of honey makes them a little bit sweeter—perfect for serving with a sweet rib sauce.
Get the recipe: Honey Corn Bread Muffins
Perfect Tomato Salad
There’s good reason summer tomatoes are so adored: They carry enough natural flavor to practically be a dish on their own. For something to serve with ribs, simple find the highest-quality tomatoes you can, drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle salt on top. You’ll be surprised at how delicious the humble tomato can be.
Get the recipe: Perfect Tomato Salad
Coleslaw With Caraway and Raisins
Never tried caraway? Get ready to love it, thanks to this twist on coleslaw, which has a slightly earthier taste than your classic slaw recipe. Guests at your next rib cookout won’t know what hit them—and they’ll be begging for the recipe.
Get the recipe: Coleslaw With Caraway and Raisins
Corn on the Cob With Tarragon
Has anyone ever rejected corn on the cob with ribs? It’s possible that a messier—and tastier—food-match has never been made. A sprinkling of tarragon adds unexpected flavor.
Get the recipe: Corn on the Cob With Tarragon
Baby Potato and Watercress Salad
For a larger gathering, try this big side dish recipe, which serves eight and is almost guaranteed to leave no leftovers behind. Subbing yogurt for mayonnaise, a classic in potato salads, helps keep the dish a little on the light side, and watercress adds a delicious peppery tang.
Get the recipe: Baby Potato and Watercress Salad
Pasta Salad With Asparagus and Lemon
Love the flavors of mac and cheese—a classic side for ribs—but seeking something lighter? Look no further than this pasta salad, which uses cooled pasta, asparagus, and lemon for a healthier noodle dish that still packs plenty of flavor (and a few veggies, too).
Get the recipe: Pasta Salad With Asparagus and Lemon
Grilled Zucchini Salad With Lemon and Scallions
The grill’s already hot: You might as well pick a side dish that takes advantage. This grilled salad combines tasty zucchini and scallions for a tangy, lightweight side dish that will have you thinking of summer cookouts and outdoor parties.
Get the recipe: Grilled Zucchini Salad With Lemon and Scallions
Spicy Avocado and Black Bean Salad
If you’re serving up a rack of ribs with a hot barbecue sauce and you want to turn up the heat even more—or you’ve used a mild sauce and want something extra to serve with the ribs—try this spicy salad, which bell and jalapeño peppers for a bit of a kick.
Get the recipe: Spicy Avocado and Black Bean Salad
Snow Pea and Red Onion Salad With Sesame Vinaigrette
This side dish for ribs comes together pretty quickly and easily, with just 10 minutes of cooking time and only six ingredients. If you need something simple to serve with ribs, this side salad is a great option, particularly when paired with a bread or other starch.
Get the recipe: Snow Pea and Red Onion Salad With Sesame Vinaigrette