15 Great Side Dishes That Pair Perfectly With Ribs

These side dish recipes will perfectly complement that mouthwatering rack of meat.

Side dishes for ribs - great ideas for what to serve with ribs (corn on the cob)
Photo: Getty Images

Cooking ribs on the grill is great, but they do not a meal make. Just as pulled pork sides make a barbecue dinner much tastier, the right sides turn ribs into a well-rounded meal. And you can call a rib dinner healthy if you include a vegetable side dish, 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 else to serve, then? Fortunately, most side dishes pair well with ribs. We've rounded up 15 recipes that round out a ribs-based meal without detracting from the quality of the meat.

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 them up 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 admire your cooking (and pairing) abilities.

01 of 15

Fried Green Tomatoes

Fried Green Tomatoes
Lisa Hubbard

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.

02 of 15

Dill Pickle Relish Cornbread Muffins

Pickle Relish Corn Muffins
Caitlin Bensel

Nothing beats a good cornbread for a classic barbecue or cookout side dish. Pickle relish gives these muffins an added tang, and they get a creamy boost from grated Parmesan.

03 of 15

Perfect Tomato Salad

Perfect Tomato Salad
Lisa Cohen

There's a 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, simply 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.

04 of 15

Carrot-Apple Slaw

Carrot-Apple Slaw Recipe
Antonis Achilleos

Sauerkraut is a main ingredient in this punchy salad, though its intensity is tempered by shredded apples and carrots. Raisins sweeten the proceedings, while ginger gives it a little spice.

05 of 15

Corn on the Cob With Tarragon

Corn on the Cob With Tarragon
Kana Okada

Has anyone ever rejected corn on the cob with ribs? A messier—and tastier—food match may have never been made. A sprinkling of tarragon adds unexpected flavor.

06 of 15

Green Beans With Bacon Vinaigrette

Green Beans With Bacon Vinaigrette
Gentl & Hyers

Green beans have a reputation for being a bit "plain Jane," but this recipe makes them exciting. For one thing, bacon elevates any dish it's added to. And secondly, the tangy apple cider vinegar and spicy whole grain mustard in this vinaigrette will get your taste buds dancing.

07 of 15

Pasta Salad With Asparagus and Lemon

Pasta Salad With Asparagus and Lemon
Dana Gallagher

Take a breath, asparagus haters. This penne pasta salad matches the slightly bitter taste of asparagus with zesty lemon, nutty Parmesan, and crackling black pepper. Just give it a try...you'll see.

08 of 15

Beet-Radicchio Salad

beet radicchio salad

Christopher Testani

This colorful, restaurant-worthy salad features arugula, radicchio, beets, and blood orange segments. Top with maple and miso dressing and Parmesan cheese. It's easier than it looks, especially if you use pre-cooked beets and already shredded Parmesan.

09 of 15

Caramelized Veggies With Poppy Seed Dressing

Caramelized Veggies with Poppy Seed Dressing
Caitlin Bensel

Caramelized anything means you're in for something sweet, and this array of roasted beets, rainbow carrots, parsnips, and fennel is no exception. Drizzle them with a zesty poppy seed dressing that pairs perfectly with these crunchy-tender veggies.

10 of 15

Macaroni and Cheese

Macaroni and Cheese
Sang An

If you're one of those who can't imagine ribs without a side of mac and cheese, then you'd probably like a traditional recipe that hits all the right notes: creamy, a little sharp, and golden on top. This recipe uses Gruyere and cheddar to pull this off perfectly.

11 of 15

Minted Watermelon Salad

Spicy Beef Kebabs With Watermelon Salad
Christopher Baker

If it's warm enough for an outdoor barbecue with ribs, watermelon deserves a place at your table. This watermelon salad is extra refreshing, thanks to the torn, fresh mint that's sprinkled on top.

12 of 15

Wilted Sesame Spinach

Wilted Sesame Spinach
Greg DuPree

Long gone are the days when spinach was something Mom made us eat. Now there are so many delectable recipes for this healthy food, and this spinach dish is especially tasty. That's thanks to the assertive sesame oil it's cooked in—and the tahini, maple syrup, and tamari that make it creamy.

13 of 15

Smashed Cucumber Salad With Spicy Feta and Olives

Smashed Cucumber Salad With Spicy Feta and Olives
Jennifer Causey

Got a toddler around to help you smash the cucumbers? If not, take on this satisfying task yourself. It draws out the moisture, making for a crunchier salad. Feta and olives give this dish a distinctly Meditteranean flair (which means it's both delicious and healthy).

14 of 15

Charred Broccolini With Tahini Caesar And Crispy Chickpeas

Charred Broccolini With Tahini Caesar And Crispy Chickpeas

Jennifer Causey

Broccolini (a cross between broccoli and Chinese broccoli) has a slightly more mellow flavor than you're used to getting from broccoli. Here, it's roasted with chickpeas, plated over salad greens, and dressed with a creamy, Caesar-like dressing. Top with fresh Parmesan and homemade croutons.

15 of 15

Roasted Brussels Sprouts With Pancetta

Top View of Roasted Brussels Sprouts With Pancetta Served in a White Bowl on Top of Blue Fabric, with Metal Spoon and Small Metal Bowl of Peppered Oil to the Left
Anna Williams

Pancetta, a type of cured pork, brings a salty, bacon-like component to these sweet, caramelized Brussels sprouts. Make this easy recipe even easier by using pre-diced pancetta.

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