65 Healthy Side Dishes That Are So Good, They Might Steal the Show

Is a dinner really complete without one (or a few) sides? We don’t think so. While we love fluffy dinner rolls and buttery mashed potatoes with our whole heart, it’s good to have balance—namely, in the form of vegetables, which have lots of vitamins and plenty of fiber to fill us up. Luckily, these 65 healthy side dishes—including favorites like sriracha lime sweet potatoes and cacio e pepe Brussels sprouts—are so tasty, they just might steal the dinnertime show.

A Note About Pairing Sides and Mains

While there’s really no wrong way to create your dinner menu, some sides are more natural choices depending on main course you’re serving. Here, a few helpful guidelines:

  • If you’re making pasta or something carb-heavy, try a light, bright side dish to balance things out (like a Greek wedge salad or kale and Brussels sprouts slaw).
  • Meat entrées like beef, chicken and pork also pair well with salads, especially ones with citrusy, acidic dressings (like a roasted beet and citrus salad) to cleanse your palate.
  • Slow-cooked meals, like braises and roasts, partner well with hearty vegetables (like a roasted winter vegetable platter).
  • Seafood and fish like crisp, cool, raw veggie sides (such as a chilled cucumber salad or watermelon salad).

At the end of the day, though, it’s your dinner—make the side dish you want to eat!

1. Maple-cinnamon Squash Agrodolce

Agrodolce is Italian for ‘sour and sweet,’ aka the ideal flavor pairing for this Instant Pot winter squash.

2. Pan-roasted Broccoli ‘steaks’ With Garlic-sesame Vinaigrette

Roasted broccoli gets all caramelized and sweet in a way we can’t resist. This version is cooked on the stove, so you don’t even have to turn on your oven.

3. Melted Onions

We never though onions could serve as a side dish, that is, until we saw (and fell in love with) these beauties.

4. Ina Garten’s Roasted Broccolini & Cheddar

We’ll do anything the Barefoot Contessa tells us to, especially when it includes putting a little cheddar cheese on top of our virtuous broccolini side dish.

5. Cauliflower Stuffing With Pomegranate Seeds And Almonds

No bread, no problem. This gluten-free dish has all the same flavors of the Thanksgiving favorite, but fewer carbs.

6. Oven-roasted Sweet Potatoes With Crispy Chickpeas And Yogurt Sauce

If we’re being honest, we would eat this sheet-pan side as the main event, it’s that good.

7. Corn And Tomato Salad With Feta And Lime

This is the definition of “summer in a bowl.”

8. Chilled Cucumber Salad

All you have to do is slice some cukes, season them and then let it all marinate in the fridge for a bit. Voilà, your refreshing salad is done.

9. Melon Salad With Chili Powder, Mint, Lime And Flaky Salt

Fruit and chili powder? Yep, it’s delicious (and it takes like five minutes to make).

10. Roasted Sweet Potatoes With Sriracha And Lime

Sweet potatoes are always a crowd-pleaser, but when you add hot sauce and a spritz of lime juice, they become magical.

11. Baby Vegetables With Orange And Thyme

These veggies are cooked in a parchment packet, which means they come out of the oven perfectly tender and you don’t have to clean any dishes.

12. Shaved Spring Vegetable And Apple Salad With Ginger-dijon Dressing

After a long winter, there’s nothing more pleasing than reaping the benefits of a spring produce market. The dressing? It’s made in a blender—foolproof.

13. Minty-fresh Zucchini Salad With Marinated Feta

If you thought zucchini was just for zoodles, think again. In fact, it’s pretty tasty when served raw in a minty, orangey dressing.

14. Keto Instant Pot Greek Cauliflower Rice

You don’t have to be on the keto diet to appreciate this side dish. It takes ten minutes to make and goes with pretty much everything.

15. Roasted Beet And Citrus Salad

If eating greens sometimes feels like a punishment, you’ve never tasted this salad. The naturally sweet beets and citrus are like sunshine on a plate.

16. Charred Cauliflower With Crunchy Garlic Chile Oil

The more charred the better, if you ask us. You might want to make a double batch of the chile oil, just saying.

17. Crispy Smashed Potatoes With Horseradish And Sea Salt

To keep things on the lighter side, just dial it back on the horseradish cream sauce. (A little goes a long way.)

18. Turmeric-spiced Cauliflower And Broccoli With Capers

We might sing the praises of roasted veggies a lot, but that’s because it’s an easy method that yields delicious results. This version of roast cauliflower has turmeric and mustard seed for a boost of flavor.

19. Crisp Fall Green Salad With Benne Seed Ginger Dressing

Salad is not just for summer months, as proven by this autumnal salad. The bitter greens are complemented by a slightly sweet, salty dressing that’s impossible to mess up.

20. Alison Roman’s Roasted Squash With Yogurt And Spiced Buttered Pistachios

Two things we love: squash and yogurt sauce. Why not put the two together?

21. Cauliflower, Pomegranate And Apple Salad

For every occasion, there’s a cauliflower recipe to go with it.

22. Roasted Indian-spiced Vegetables With Lime-cilantro Butter

Vegetables need not be boring or plain. It’s all about the spices you use to season them (like fragrant cumin and coriander seeds).

23. Radicchio, Lentil And Apple Salad With Vegan Cashew Dressing

You’ll swear this dressing has dairy in it, but we promise it’s totally plant-based. Cashews are sneaky like that.

24. Roasted Winter Vegetable Platter With Miso Aioli And Romesco Sauce

Sure, this could serve as a crudité platter before the big meal. But we love it as a side dish too.

25. Antoni Porowski’s Cauliflower Steaks With Turmeric And Crunchy Almonds

The Queer Eye host clearly knows his way around a cauliflower. This has a little bit of everything: gochujang, dates, lime, juice, cilantro, almonds…stop us any time.

26. Kale And Brussels Sprout Caesar Slaw

We love kale, but a plain old kale salad? A snooze-fest. This slaw feels fresh and new (and it’s beyond easy to make).

27. Avocado, Radish And Walnuts With Carrot-miso Dressing

Listen, no one said “salad” had to be synonymous with lettuce.

28. Zesty Chargrilled Broccolini

If you don’t want to fire up the grill, just make this in a screaming hot cast-iron skillet.

29. Pearl Couscous With Chickpeas, Eggplant And Peaches

This dish is great cold, warm or at room temperature, and you can make it up to one day ahead.

30. Cauliflower, Olive, Pepper And Caper Salad (insalata Di Rinforzo)

OK, so we clearly love cauliflower. But have you ever tried it pickled? Game-changing.

31. Light And Tangy Coleslaw

Not today, gloppy mayonnaise-based dressing. Not today.

32. Broccoli Rabe And Burrata With Lemon

When you get tired of the usual suspects (glazed carrots, steamed broccoli), add this quick, easy side dish to your rotation.

33. Blistered Green Beans With Tomatoes, Pounded Walnuts And Raw Summer Squash

These beans are ready in about 15 minutes (and they’ll be devoured even faster).

34. Cauliflower With Roasted Tomatoes, Parsley And Breadcrumbs

Roasting the tomatoes brings out their natural sweetness, which is great if you’re working with off-season produce.

35. Harissa And Honey-roasted Carrots

We know we’ve said glazed carrots are boring but wait until you try these. They’re dressed in a spicy mix of honey and harissa that will have you hooked at first bite.

36. Easy One-pan Ratatouille

Normally, you’d have to dirty every pot and pan in your kitchen to make this French dish. That’s where our shortcut version comes in.

37. Zoodles With Avocado And Mango Sauce

This looks fancy, but it’s pretty effortless. Just zoodle your zucchini, then blitz the creamy raw coconut milk sauce in your blender and drizzle it on top.

38. Baked Sweet Potato Fries

No one at the table will suspect they’re healthy. (Spoiler: They are.)

39. Charred Broccoli With Sriracha Almond Butter Sauce

This one goes out the broccoli haters. We see you, and we offer you this side dish—you’ll love it, promise.

40. Salt And Vinegar Roasted Potatoes With Feta And Dill

They’re crispy like French fries on the outside but creamy on the inside. Need we say more?

41. Roasted Delicata Squash Salad

If you’ve never delicata squash, make this your introduction. It’s sweet and nutty, and you can eat the delicate skin (no peeling required).

42. Charred Sweet Potatoes With Pistachio-chili Pesto

The pesto is what really sets this dish apart from all the others. It’s spicy, tangy, salty and adds just the right amount of texture.

43. Dorie Greenspan’s Roasted Acorn Squash Wedges

The wedges are glazed in just a touch of pomegranate molasses, which adds a welcome dose of tanginess.

44. Roasted Cauliflower With Tahini Ranch

You really can have your ranch and eat it too, since it’s made from tahini and Greek yogurt.

45. Chrissy Teigen’s Garlicky Cauliflower ‘rice’

According to Teigen, this is one “healthy food in disguise” that she can get behind. Why? It’s genuinely delicious.

46. Julia Turshen’s Radicchio And Roasted Squash Salad

Hello, make-ahead salad. This one can be assembled an entire day before you want to eat it, and honestly, it tastes better that way.

47. Watermelon Salad With Almonds And Dill

The usual watermelon-feta pairing gets a slight upgrade, thanks to raw shallots, almonds and lots of dill.

48. Cold Sesame Cucumber Noodles

We have a major crush on this garlic-soy-tahini dressing.

49. Greek Wedge Salad

The classic wedge salad—blue cheese, bacon, tomatoes—is always good. But it’s kind of heavy, so we lighten it up with a tangy vinaigrette and Greek-inspired toppings.

50. Zucchini & Tomato Ragù

Save the leftovers and serve them with a poached egg for breakfast.

51. Sugar Snap Pea Salad With Chèvre Ranch

The most difficult thing you’ll have to do to make this refreshing number is chop the herbs.

52. Make-ahead Farro And Brussels Sprout Salad

This one lasts for up to four days in the refrigerator, fully assembled. Genius.

53. Cauliflower ‘potato’ Salad

Our favorite veggie has done it again.

54. Cauliflower Rice

It’s ready faster than you can say “low carb.”

55. Crispy Green Bean “fries”

No offense to spuds, but sometimes we want something lighter. These “fries” are easy to make, satisfying and not at all heavy.

56. Spicy Roasted Brussels Sprouts

We’re not sure why people turn up their noses at Brussels sprouts, but we think it might be because they’ve never tried this five-ingredient variation.

57. Turnip Fries

They’re baked in the oven (you know, for health) but no less crispy than a deep-fried fry.

58. Cacio E Pepe Brussels Sprouts

Did you know that Parmesan cheese is low in fat? That’s why we’re giving you permission to sprinkle it all over this glorious side dish.

59. Kale Salad With Persimmons, Crispy Chickpeas And Fried Shallots

When the salad is pretty enough to be the centerpiece, it better taste good too. Luckily, this one is delicious.

60. Rainbow Vegetable Skewers

Behold, our own healthy version of “taste the rainbow.”

61. Kale Salad With Crispy Chickpeas

Sometimes you can’t bother with a million different toppings, so the ones you do include should have impact. Enter crispy chickpeas.

62. Whole Roasted Radishes

Raw radishes have a peppery bite, but when you toss them in the oven they become sweet and irresistible.

63. Whole Roasted Carrots

This dish sounds simple, but it’s not lacking in flavor. The carrots are tossed in cumin and vinegar before roasting, then topped with lots of fresh lemon zest at the end.

64. Slow-cooker Garlic-herb Mashed Cauliflower

Would you believe that one serving contains just 94 calories and seven grams of carbs?

65. Coconut Creamed Spinach

It’s rich, creamy and completely plant-based. We’ll take seconds.


Senior Food Editor

Katherine Gillen is PureWow’s senior food editor. She’s a writer, recipe developer and food stylist with a degree in culinary arts and professional experience in New York City...