Planning a meal can be a challenge when your usual choices get boring. Vegetable sides are simple dishes that can help jazz up your regular routine and give you some healthy vitamins and nutrients.
There are many healthy and easy options to choose from and many different ways to prepare them. Below are 50 great side dishes that incorporate delicious veggies available nearly year-round.
When deciding what vegetable side dishes to make, there are a few things you need to consider. For instance, there are eight types of vegetables and nine categories of vegetables. Each of these may need to be prepared differently, and they will work best with different accompaniments.
Most vegetables tend to pair well with cheese. But some do particularly well with less common spices, like cinnamon during the fall holidays, or curry, if your tastes tend in that direction. Let’s take a look at the different vegetables out there and then discuss some ways to best prepare them.
The vegetable sides recipes below cater to different seasons and tastes, and you are sure to find something that suits your fancy.
What Are the 8 Types of Vegetables?
Not all vegetables are created equal. Each is classified by the edible part of the plant most often consumed. Flower vegetables, for instance, likely have leafy parts, but not ones people typically eat.
- Leafy Vegetables – Cabbage, Kale, and Spinach
- Stem Vegetables – Asparagus and Rhubarb
- Root Vegetables – Carrots, Beets, and Radishes
- Bulb Vegetables – Onions and Garlic
- Tuber Vegetables – Potatoes and Artichokes
- Flower Vegetables – Cauliflower and Broccoli
- Seed Vegetables – Peas and Soybeans
- Fruit Vegetables – Eggplant, Tomatoes, and Pumpkins
What Are the 9 Categories of Vegetables?
In addition to organizing vegetables by type, we also put them in categories based on the part of the plant most often consumed.
- Squashes and Gourds – Butternut and Acorn
- Greens – Spinach and Raddichio
- Roots and Tubers – Onions and Potatoes
- Brassica – Cabbages
- Fruit Vegetables – Avocado and Pepper
- Fungus – Mushrooms and Truffles
- Stems – Celery and Rhubarb
- Seeds and Pods – Peas and Okra
- Baby Vegetables – Baby Carrots and Squashes
What Are the Most Popular Vegetable Sides?
Some vegetables are more popular than others. They appear on our tables far more frequently because we like how they taste or how easy they are to prepare. Some are just great ways to get the kids to eat their greens (or reds or oranges).
What are a few of these perennial favorites?
- Baked Potato Wedges or Fries
- Broccoli with Cheese
- Green Bean Casserole
- Parmesan Asparagus
- Roasted Brussel Sprouts
- Cole Slaw
- Kale or Collard Greens
- Incredible Air Fryer Carrots
And of course, vegetable side dishes play a considerable role in our holidays. Whether it’s the Fourth of July, Thanksgiving, Christmas, or Hannukah, you can count on vegetable sides being on the table.
If you’re looking for some inspiration in this department, check out the list below.
Seasonal Vegetable Side Dishes
We have broken down these healthy veggie side dishes into 2 categories for you, so you can experiment with new recipes all year round.
Summer and Spring Veggie Sides
Summer and Spring are all about fresh and brightly colored veggies. There are more options than just the same old boring salads. Best of all, they are easy to make and take little to no prep time, so you can enjoy the lovely weather outside.
Best-ever Grilled Zucchini
If you are already having a grill day, why not try these delicious zucchinis alongside your mains? Skinny Taste shows us how to take ordinary zucchinis, prep them in just under 2 minutes, and then throw them on the grill.
Italian pasta salad
Delish deems this pasta salad a potluck must. You can prep the pasta the night before and toss together all the remaining ingredients the day of your potluck or meal. If you precooked your pasta, assembly only takes about 10 minutes.
Sautéed Broccoli Rabe
For a fresh, grilled garlicky sensation that can be made in only 10 minutes, you’ll want to try this sautéed broccoli rabe recipe from Love and Lemons. Rabe has a slightly more bitter taste than your average broccoli florets, but blanching it for a minute mellows that out.
Grilled Creamed Corn
Another vegetable side dish classic can be upgraded by adding one simple step: grilling. A Farmgirl’s Dabbles gives us this version of grilled cream corn that adds some Cayenne pepper if you want some heat added. And you can make it in less than 30 minutes.
Fall Vegetable Side Dishes
Fall and Winter seasons call for slightly more hearty, warm meals, with no exceptions for sides. We’ve gathered a few suggestions to make your meals even better on the crispest of days. And colder weather means more time to experiment with new recipes.
Pumpkin and Cauliflower Mash
For the ultimate replacement of your typical and all-too-common mashed potatoes, you’ll want to try this pumpkin and cauliflower mash with pecan burnt butter. It will take more prep time, but everyone at the table will thank you for the bold, robust flavors.
Roasted Broccolini & Cauliflower with Lemon and Pine Nuts
Wow Food gives us this recipe for roasted broccolini and cauliflower that can be prepared in one pan and less than 30 minutes. The pine nuts can be eliminated if they are not to your tastes or too tricky to find locally.
And because of the lemon in this recipe, it could work equally well in the Spring or Summer.
Korma Roasted Pumpkin and Cauliflower
Fall is the season of pumpkins. So what better way to utilize them than roasting them with a bit of Korma curry paste? Take ordinary to extraordinary with this simple recipe from Taste.
What Are the Most Popular Veggie Dishes for the Holidays?
Holidays can mean a lot of work when it comes to preparing meals for your friends and family. Below are some options to swap out traditional recipes for updated classics. Some of these take a bit more prep than you may be used to, but they will be worth your while.
Christmas Vegetable Side Dishes
We usually think of a large family meal with many different side dishes when we think of Christmas. The following vegetable sides recipes stood out to us and will surely pique the interest of family and friends at your next Christmas dinner.
Fall Harvest Salad
For a guaranteed show-stopper, try this recipe for fall harvest salad from Nutrition in the Kitch. While the ingredients are most readily available in the Fall and Winter, you could make this salad year-round.
The apples and dried cranberries will add a hint of sweetness to an otherwise savory feast.
Dill Pickle Pasta Salad
For a healthy salad that is made to look like a guilty treat, try this recipe for dill pickle pasta salad. You can swap out your regular pasta for gluten-free pasta to give your gut a break during this indulgent time of year.
It’s also dairy-free to suit the dietary needs of everyone at the dinner table. Plus, you can prep it the day before.
Herb and Garlic Tater Tots
Who doesn’t love potatoes, but they can get boring after a while. Why not put in the effort and try these great tots at your next Christmas meal? They are sure to please and surprise your guests.
Classic Crunchy Marinated Salad
Let’s be honest, salads will be plentiful at Christmas time, so ditch the boring lettuce and opt for this veggie-packed salad instead from Nutrition in the Kitch. Make it a day ahead to save some time.
Bang Bang Broccoli
To take a simple vegetable side from yum to scrumptious, give this plant-based recipe a try. You can make it gluten-free without compromising taste. That’s winning.
Thanksgiving Vegetable Sides
Thanksgiving, for most, means a stuffed turkey and colorful veggie side dishes. We’ve found some classics and old favorites, with a hint of change to make this year a show-stopper.
Crispy Parmesan Baked Potato Wedges
Buttery Your Biscuit swapped plain fried potato wedges for crispy baked wedges infused with parmesan cheese for a healthier alternative with loads more taste.
Horseradish-Sour Cream Mashed Potatoes
Country Living made mashed potatoes a treat by adding some spicy horseradish and tangy sour cream to replace butter in this Thanksgiving side dish.
Rainbow Oven-Braised Carrots
With rainbow carrots becoming more obtainable, why not swap out plain roasted or boiled carrots for these tasty rainbow oven-braised carrots instead? The orange zest gives it a beautifully refreshing kick.
Ditch the mayo and slaw this year and try this cabbage salad from Spend with Pennies instead. The tang from the apples and burst of sweetness from the cranberries are sure to be a crowd-pleaser.
Glazed Brussels Sprouts
If you’re growing tired of steamed Brussel sprouts with gravy, A Couple Cooks offers us these maple-glazed sprouts that are a great replacement option. These sprouts are irresistibly crispy, flavorful, and picky eaters might just fall in love with them.
What are Some Easy Side Dishes from Different Countries?
Easy doesn’t have to mean boring or something you have made countless times before. Why not experiment with different cuisines to impress your guests and yourself? Here’s a quick list of easy vegetable side dishes from all over the world:
Mexican Vegetable Side Dishes
Mexican cuisine usually incorporates lots of fresh, colorful veggies, perfect for any BBQ or hot summer’s day. Below are our favorites that are so easy to make.
Spanish or Mexican rice is the perfect side to any dish. With only 10 minutes of hands-on prep, Lil’ Luna shows us how to make this delicious Mexican veggie side dish.
Move over ordinary, bland slaw; this Mexican slaw is the new favorite in town. A Couple of Cooks shows us why this mayo-free slaw is perfect as a side to your dish and doubles as a taco topping.
You don’t need to wait to serve this slaw. It’s ready to serve once you’re done tossing it.
Elote Grilled Mexican Street Corn
For a classic grilled corn recipe with a lovely chili-cheese twist, try this side from Simply Recipes. The perfect companion for your BBQ, this recipe will replace your typical grilled & buttered corn.
It doesn’t take much more prepping than normal grilled corn, so give it a go next time you’re at a cookout.
We already love cornbread as is, but the Mexican version from Well Plated sets this classic over the top.
It has the perfect balance of sweet and savory with a hint of spice from the jalapenos. Pair this with your favorite soup in winter. It only takes 10 minutes to prep, and your soup is sure to have a lovely warm companion.
Asian Vegetable Sides
Asian cuisine doesn’t have to be time-consuming. Add an Asian twist to any of your dishes by accompanying it with one of these delicious veggie side dishes.
Stir-fried Baby Bok Choy
Don’t let this healthy vegetable side dish scare you. House of Nash Eats shows us how to prepare and serve this delicious stir-fried baby bok choy in under 10 minutes for a slightly garlicky, perfectly crisp must-have veggie.
Chinese Cucumber Salad
This vibrant, cool salad is your ultimate summer vegetable side dish. Prepped and served in under 10 minutes, you’ll love what China Sichuan Food has done with this cucumber salad recipe. The sesame oil and garlic taste like they are matched in heaven.
Spicy Asian Zucchini
Sweet and spicy, this zucchini side dish is another veggie option that can be prepped & cooked in no time. Follow To Simply Inspire’s recipe and see how you can make this delicious healthy side for your summer lunch or dinner.
Italian Vegetable Side Dishes
Italian cuisine is more than just pasta & pizza. We have a few recipes for amazing and delicious sides that won’t be too time-consuming or require years of culinary skills.
Angioletti Fritti con Rucola e Pomodori
Don’t be scared away from this Saveur recipe by its long name; it simply means fried dough with arugula and grape tomatoes. This easy recipe will make a great vegetable side salad for a protein-heavy main meal.
It is fresh and light with pieces of pizza dough that can be made in under 10 minutes.
Italian Green Beans with Tomatoes
With just 5 ingredients and 25 minutes, you’ll be able to make this yummy green beans with tomatoes side dish from My Life CookBook that is sure to convert any person who avoids green beans into a bean lover.
If you have some time to spare and have always wanted to try some pickled eggplant, this recipe is sure to impress you. It does call for a bit of time, but most of it is unattended; the active cooking time is only about 10 minutes.
You can use the leftover oil to drizzle over your bruschetta as a bonus.
Tuscan White Bean Salad
For a fresh and nutritious side dish that would be great along with any meal or even when you just want a little something with bread, this Tuscan white bean salad from The Wanderlust Kitchen is easy to prepare. Pair this salad with your favorite bread for dipping.
Greek Vegetable Sides
Greek cuisine is considered heart-healthy, with many lean meats, healthy oils, and fresh veggies. Get ready for a flavor sensation like never before with these side dishes.
Smoky Red Lentil Hummus
Take a classic chickpea hummus and turn it into a lentil-based dip for fresh veggies. There is no need to soak the lentils overnight; boiling them saves you some time. Whichever way you prefer, it’s a great high fiber alternative.
We couldn’t create this Greek side dish list without this creamy and refreshing tzatziki recipe from Cookie and Kate. Fresh and tangy, this side will give you an authentic taste from Greece in under 10 minutes and is a hit with young and old diners.
Greek-style Edamame Salad
Toss together all of the ingredients in a few minutes to escape to Greece in a bite. Master Cook shows you how easy this Greek salad with edamame can be, and you can even add finely diced red onions for a slight kick.
Tomatokeftedes Fried Santorini Tomato Balls
A taste of Santorini, Tomatokeftedes simply means tomato fritters, and they are great with any meal. Try these fried tomato balls instead of potato fritters, and dip them in your tzatziki dip if you made some too.
Breakfast Vegetable Side Dishes
Having breakfast side dishes seems a bit odd for the average person. What sides do you really need other than eggs, bacon, and toast? We have an excellent surprise for you – there’s much more to the classic morning breakfast than you might think.
Healthy Veggie Sides for Breakfast
Latkes are “pancakes.” Yummly shows us how to incorporate two veggies into one breakfast bite. Add another veggie like carrots or cauliflower into the mix to boost your nutritional intake for the day. These broccoli-onion latkes are ready in 30 minutes, so we approve.
Quinoa, Potato, and Cumin Hashbrowns
Up your fiber intake with these delicious hash browns. They may take an hour, but we promise they are worth it. Add some chili powder for a hint of heat, and you will impress your tastebuds, guaranteed.
Sauteed Swiss Chard
Swiss chard is a vibrant veggie that makes a great addition to any breakfast. Bon Appetit shows us how to create this vegetable side dish in under 10 minutes. So give it a try the next time you make a breakfast meal. Substitute spinach if you prefer a milder taste.
Best Vegetable Sides for Different Diets
We understand that not everyone has the same dietary needs. So we hunted down a few recipes to try the next time you’ve run out of ideas. Anyone with fewer or more dietary restrictions can swap out ingredients to suit their needs accordingly.
Keto Vegetable Sides
Keto means high fat, low carb, and that’s just what these recipes entail. If you want low carb only, read on to our next category, or swap out the high-fat ingredients for something low-fat instead.
Cheesy Cauliflower Puree
I Breathe, I’m Hungry claims this recipe for cheesy cauliflower puree is “better than potatoes,” and we couldn’t agree more. For a veggie side that cuts the carbs to only 4 grams per serving, you can enjoy this dish without worry.
Creamy Mushrooms with Bacon
If you want a dish that truly stands out with flavor, you need to try this creamy mushroom with bacon side. Mushrooms are known to soak up the flavors of the other ingredients they’re cooked with. What’s better than cream, garlic, and bacon?
It’s a vegetable side that would make a terrific alternative to baked baby potatoes.
Crispy Cauliflower Bites
You’ll need to follow this recipe’s breading exactly to ensure it’s still Keto, and it will be oh-so-worth-it. If you are on a Keto diet and miss crumbed anything, these crispy cauliflower bites from Kirbie’s Cravings are the way to go.
You can substitute the cauliflower with button mushrooms; just double-check your macros to ensure you stay within your daily limits.
Keto Garlic Bread
Oh yes, garlic bread can be Keto. Although it might not be as fluffy and bouncy as regular garlic bread, you will still get that buttery, garlicky goodness from this recipe. Plus, you can have it more cheesy than usual.
Keto Creamed Spinach
Keto or not, this is one of the best creamed spinach recipes out there. Serve as a side in any season, at any meal, and watch your guests devour their veggies. Only 15 minutes? We say yes to this recipe.
Low Carb Vegetable Side Dishes
Similar to the Keto diet, these side dishes are all low-to-no carb. If you are following the Keto diet, you can add more fats to these side dishes if you wish.
These are a healthy alternative to the classic carb-loaded potatoes & bread you find as sides at most meals. Even if you have no dietary restrictions, these are a great way to try new, healthy (and delicious) side dishes.
Cauliflower “Potato” Salad
For a recipe that actually caters to many more diets than just low-carb, and yet is still delicious, you’ll want to try this cauliflower salad. Wholesome Yum offers us this recipe that can be made in only 15 minutes, but it will likely be devoured in under a minute.
Keto Onion Rings
Kicking Carbs shows us how to make this Keto onion rings recipe that is also low-carb. We substitute the heavy cream for milk to ensure it’s low fat too, and we promise it tastes great. The nuttiness from the almond flour truly sets it apart from any other onion rings.
Another fantastic potato substitute recipe is for these cauliflower tots by That Low Carb Life. These tots are great as a side to any meal, including breakfast. They are also much quicker to make than traditional tater tots, at only 40 minutes in total.
Zucchini noodles are probably the best replacement for spaghetti noodles out there, and this recipe from Best Recipe Box makes the most of them. With garlic, butter, and cheese, what is not to love?
Vegan Vegetable Sides
Vegans, we see you. These healthy recipes have no animal products in them for you to enjoy guilt-free.
It can be challenging to find vegan dishes in general, so why not make these ahead of time and take them along to a friend’s cookout next time? We’re sure these will taste good to even the toughest meat-lover out there.
Air Fryer Carrots (Three ways)
If you’re wanting to make sure everyone around the table will be satisfied, then you should check out this recipe from Crumb Top Baking for air fryer carrots three different.
Even if you don’t have an air fryer, you can simply pop these into the oven and turn them over halfway through.
Vegan Potato Cakes
Little Sunny Kitchen offers us this recipe for vegan potato cakes that don’t need any eggs to hold up or cheese to taste good. The side is quick and easy to prepare – plus, who doesn’t love potatoes?
If you aren’t vegan, you could simply add cheese to it or try your favorite vegan cheese mixed in.
Roasted Baby Potatoes with Pesto
Make your own fresh pesto for this roasted baby potatoes side recipe from The Organic Kitchen to ensure no dairy products are included in this dish. The prep time is only 10 minutes, while the oven does the hard work.
Vegan Vegetable Side Salads
Israeli Couscous Salad
The Green Loot shows us how to make this Israeli couscous salad side that could also be made as a light meal. It is fresh, healthy, and quite filling for a summer side dish that can be served warm or cold and can be made in about 25 minutes.
Creamy Vegan Corn Salad
A go-to for outdoor summer meals. Prepare this creamy vegan corn salad a day ahead for maximum flavor. It only takes 10 minutes, and even non-vegans will love this version of a classic corn salad.
Moroccan Roasted Vegetable Salad
For a hearty side that is great to make for a small family dinner or an entire potluck, try this Moroccan roasted vegetable salad. If you are not a fan of quinoa, substitute it with some couscous if you wish.
Occasionally Eggs shows us how to prep and serve this vegetable side in 40 minutes.
Vegetable Sides FAQs
What Are the Healthiest Vegetable Sides?
Healthy sides add nutritional benefits to your meal. If you have a high-protein main dish, such as a steak, it’s essential to balance it out with veggies and some carbs. If you have a high-fat dish, try to pair it with some veggies with no fats added to them.
What is the Number One Vegetable to Avoid?
Not all veggies are created equal, and different diets and people need varied veggies. If you are on a low FODMAP diet, you should avoid veggies such as garlic & onions. If your diet is low carb, ditching potatoes might be best.
In general, most vegetables are considered healthy since they contain many different nutrients and vitamins. It’s a good idea to research what veggies to avoid in your diet.
If you don’t follow a specific diet, the best advice is to have everything in moderation and a wide variety of veggies throughout your day.
What Are the Unhealthiest Vegetable Sides?
Almost any veggie side can be made healthy if you have to. We recommend keeping carbs low as a general rule and avoiding adding dairy products if you can.
With veganism being a big movement, there are great alternatives to most dairy products if you can’t do without them.
How Many Sides Should a Meal Have?
This is mostly a matter of personal choice, but a few factors can make a difference. One is how many people you’re feeding.
The Tasting Table recommends 3 sides for 6 or fewer diners, 4 sides for 8-10 guests, and 5 sides if you’ll be serving 12-16. These don’t all have to be vegetable side dishes. But to keep things healthy and exciting, a few of them should fall into that category.
The other big factor is how many sides to serve with your meal? Your genes. Most people grow up eating a certain number of side dishes with their meals and continue that tradition once they are out on their own.
Of course, becoming involved with someone from a different background could mean blending what you both already do or creating new traditions altogether.
What Are the Characteristics of a Side Dish?
A side dish is an accompaniment to the main meal. The characteristics are as varied as the people preparing and eating the food.
However, they all tend to be items that are served in smaller portions than the main dish, and there are often several presents at a sitting. In contrast, one main dish tends to occupy the table at large.
What is the Most Popular Side Dish?
As in so many cases, this depends on where you’re from and your family traditions. But there are several perennial favorites of both the veggie and non-veggie variety.
Popular Veggie Sides
- Potatoes – Roasted, Mashed, or Smashed
- Roasted Brussel Sprouts
- Fries – Deep or Air fried
- Roasted Asparagus with Pancetta
- Roasted Broccoli with Lemon
- Mashed Cauliflower (for the low-carb folks)
Popular Non-Veggie Sides
- Crescent Rolls (or Croissants/Rolls/Bread, depending on where you live)
- Deviled Eggs
- Macaroni and Cheese
Vegetable Sides Conclusion
Side dishes can be a challenge, especially when aiming for variety. Finding healthy options can make the task even trickier. But you are now armed with an abundance of information about vegetables and vegetable side dishes and a slew of recipes to try out.
Most are readily adaptable, and many will work year-round, though the freshest options may be seasonal. You have the opportunity to go vegan, dairy-free, low-carb, or to adhere to just about any diet out there by choosing the right vegetable side dishes.
Hopefully, this list of vegetable sides has given you some enticing new ideas.