What to Serve With Fried Chicken: Side Dishes You Need to Try

Introduction to Fried Chicken Sides

Fried chicken, a dish celebrated worldwide for its crispy exterior and juicy interior, is more than just a culinary delight; it’s a canvas for creativity. The versatility of fried chicken lies not only in its preparation but also in how it harmoniously pairs with a myriad of side dishes. Each side dish, whether it’s a classic southern comfort or a modern, healthy twist, plays a pivotal role in elevating the overall dining experience.

Choosing the right sides for fried chicken is an art in itself. It’s about striking the perfect balance between textures and flavors. While the chicken serves as the star of the meal, the side dishes are the supporting cast that can turn a simple meal into an extraordinary one. They add layers of flavor, texture, and nutrition, making the meal more satisfying and well-rounded.

From the creamy smoothness of mashed potatoes to the crisp freshness of a garden salad, each side dish offers a unique contrast or complement to the rich and savory notes of fried chicken. The right combination can transform a humble plate of fried chicken into a symphony of flavors, making each bite a delightful experience. This guide will explore the vast array of side dishes that can accompany fried chicken, ensuring your next meal is not just delicious, but also perfectly balanced and complete.

Classic Sides to Serve With Fried Chicken

Buttery Biscuits

A staple in Southern cuisine, buttery biscuits are the perfect companion to fried chicken. Their flaky, soft texture and rich, buttery flavor make them ideal for sopping up gravy or enjoying on their own. A warm biscuit alongside a crispy piece of chicken creates a comforting, homestyle meal that’s hard to beat.

Creamy Coleslaw

Creamy coleslaw is a quintessential side for fried chicken, offering a refreshing crunch and tangy flavor. The creaminess of the slaw dressing beautifully contrasts the crispy chicken, while the cabbage and carrots provide a delightful texture and a pop of color to the plate. It’s a classic combination that balances richness with lightness.

Macaroni and Cheese

Rich, creamy, and cheesy, macaroni and cheese is a beloved side that pairs wonderfully with fried chicken. The gooey, melty cheese and tender pasta offer a comforting and indulgent complement to the crunchy, savory chicken. It’s a duo that pleases both kids and adults alike, making it a family favorite.

Mashed Potatoes

Mashed potatoes are a must-have with fried chicken. Smooth, creamy, and buttery, they serve as the perfect backdrop to the chicken’s crispy texture. Whether topped with gravy or enjoyed plain, mashed potatoes add a heartwarming and satisfying element to any fried chicken meal.


Sweet, savory, and slightly crumbly, cornbread is another classic side that pairs excellently with fried chicken. Its subtle sweetness and moist texture make it a comforting addition to the meal, complementing the savory flavors of the chicken and providing a unique taste experience.

Green Beans

Green beans offer a healthy and crunchy counterpoint to fried chicken. Lightly seasoned and cooked to tender-crisp perfection, they bring a fresh, vegetal element to the meal. Green beans not only add a pop of color but also a nutritious balance, making the meal feel more complete. For more classic fried chicken recipes and side ideas, visit Taste of Home.

Healthy and Light Side Options

Cherry Tomato Salad

A cherry tomato salad is a vibrant and healthy choice to pair with fried chicken. Bursting with juicy sweetness, cherry tomatoes add a refreshing burst of flavor. Tossed with a light vinaigrette and fresh herbs, this salad is not only a feast for the eyes but also a delightful palate cleanser.

Fresh Cucumber Salad

Fresh cucumber salad is the epitome of lightness and refreshment. Thinly sliced cucumbers, often mingled with dill and a light vinegar dressing, offer a crisp and cooling contrast to the warm, crispy chicken. This salad is perfect for adding a hydrating and low-calorie option to your meal.

Grilled Sweet Corn

Grilled sweet corn brings a smoky sweetness that complements fried chicken wonderfully. The kernels, charred to perfection, provide a delightful texture and a hint of summer barbecue flavor. This side is a great way to add a touch of rustic charm to your fried chicken feast.

Heirloom Tomato Salad

An heirloom tomato salad is a celebration of flavors and colors. These tomatoes, known for their rich and varied tastes, create a salad that’s both simple and sophisticated. Drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with fresh basil, it’s a side that’s as healthy as it is flavorful.

Crunchy Lemon-Pesto Garden Salad

The crunchy lemon-pesto garden salad is a refreshing mix of garden greens, tossed with a zesty lemon-pesto dressing. The brightness of the lemon and the aromatic pesto bring a lively freshness, making it an excellent counterpoint to the rich flavors of fried chicken.

Lemony Green Beans

Lemony green beans are a light and zesty side dish. The beans, cooked until just tender, are tossed with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, adding a vibrant citrus note. This side is not only healthy but also adds a colorful and flavorful twist to your meal. Discover more healthy side dish options at EatingWell.

Unique and International Sides

Asian Coleslaw

Asian coleslaw transforms the traditional slaw with an infusion of Eastern flavors. This variant incorporates ingredients like sesame oil, rice vinegar, and a hint of soy sauce, offering a tangy and slightly sweet taste. The addition of ingredients like ginger or cilantro adds a unique twist, making it a refreshing accompaniment to fried chicken.

Mexican Street Corn Bake

The Mexican street corn bake is a delectable side that brings the flavors of Mexico to your plate. It combines sweet corn with creamy cheese, a hint of chili, and a squeeze of lime, creating a rich and flavorful dish. This bake is a hearty and vibrant side that perfectly complements the crispy chicken.

Garlic-Herb Pattypan Squash

Garlic-herb pattypan squash is a delightful side that adds a Mediterranean flair. These small, scallop-shaped squashes are sautéed with garlic and a mix of herbs, resulting in a dish that’s light yet flavorful. This side is not only visually appealing but also offers a subtle, savory complement to fried chicken.

Three-Bean Baked Beans

Three-bean baked beans are a hearty and nutritious option, combining different types of beans in a rich, tomato-based sauce. Seasoned with herbs and a hint of sweetness, this dish provides a comforting and satisfying addition to your meal, bringing a home-cooked feel to the table alongside fried chicken.

Hasselback Sweet Potatoes

Hasselback sweet potatoes offer an elegant and tasty twist on the traditional baked potato. Sliced thinly and roasted until crispy on the outside and tender inside, these potatoes are often drizzled with a mix of butter, herbs, and spices. They provide a sweet and savory balance that pairs wonderfully with fried chicken.

Veggie-Stuffed Tomatoes

Veggie-stuffed tomatoes are a colorful and healthy side dish. Hollowed-out tomatoes are filled with a mixture of vegetables, herbs, and sometimes grains or cheese, then baked until tender. This dish is not only nutritious but also adds a burst of freshness and flavor, making it a perfect light companion for fried chicken. Explore international cuisine inspirations at Saveur.

Comforting and Hearty Sides

Creamy Macaroni and Cheese

Creamy macaroni and cheese is the epitome of comfort food. With its rich, velvety cheese sauce enveloping tender pasta, it’s a side dish that brings warmth and heartiness to any fried chicken meal. This classic favorite is not just a hit with kids but with adults too, offering a satisfyingly cheesy complement.

Traditional Mashed Potatoes

Traditional mashed potatoes are a must-have side for fried chicken. Their smooth, buttery texture makes them the perfect comfort food. Whether you prefer them with a dollop of butter, a sprinkle of herbs, or a lavish helping of gravy, mashed potatoes are a versatile side that pairs beautifully with the crispy crunch of fried chicken.

Parmesan Potato Wedges

Parmesan potato wedges are a delightful twist on traditional fries. Baked to crispy perfection and tossed with grated Parmesan and herbs, these wedges are a savory treat. Their crispy exterior and fluffy interior make them an irresistible side that complements the textures and flavors of fried chicken wonderfully.

Honey Cornbread

Sweet and comforting, honey cornbread is a southern classic that pairs perfectly with fried chicken. The honey adds a subtle sweetness, balancing the savory notes of the chicken. Its moist, cake-like texture makes it an excellent side for soaking up sauces or enjoying on its own.

Black-Eyed Peas with Collard Greens

Black-eyed peas with collard greens is a soulful dish that brings a taste of the South to your plate. This hearty combination, often simmered with smoky flavors, provides a nutritious and flavorful side. It’s a comforting addition that adds depth and a home-cooked feel to your fried chicken meal.

Healthy Potato Salad

A healthy potato salad can be a lighter alternative to the classic version. Made with a mix of potatoes, crisp vegetables, and a lighter dressing, it offers a refreshing and less heavy option. This salad is perfect for those who want a hearty side without the added richness, making it a balanced addition to fried chicken.

FAQs About What to Serve With Fried Chicken

What are the best sides for a summer fried chicken meal?

For a summer fried chicken meal, the best sides are those that bring a light and refreshing balance. Consider options like:

  • Grilled vegetables such as zucchini, bell peppers, and asparagus, which add a smoky flavor.
  • Summer salads with fresh greens, fruits, and a light vinaigrette.
  • Cold pasta salads, which are refreshing and can be made in advance.
  • Fruit salads or watermelon slices for a sweet and hydrating touch.

How can I make healthier sides for fried chicken?

To make healthier sides for fried chicken:

  • Opt for steamed or roasted vegetables like broccoli, carrots, or Brussels sprouts, seasoned with herbs.
  • Prepare salads with a base of leafy greens, adding nuts, seeds, and a light dressing.
  • Use whole grains like quinoa or brown rice in your side dishes.
  • Consider baked sweet potato fries or oven-roasted root vegetables as healthier alternatives to traditional fried sides.

What are some quick and easy sides for fried chicken?

Quick and easy sides for fried chicken include:

  • Coleslaw, which can be quickly tossed together.
  • Store-bought dinner rolls or garlic bread.
  • Instant mashed potatoes or microwave-steamed vegetables.
  • Canned baked beans heated with added spices for extra flavor.

Can I pair international dishes with fried chicken?

Absolutely! Fried chicken pairs well with a variety of international dishes. Try:

  • Mexican-style elote (grilled corn) or taco salad.
  • Italian caprese salad or bruschetta.
  • Asian-inspired cucumber salad or stir-fried vegetables.
  • Middle Eastern tabbouleh or hummus with pita bread.


In conclusion, the side dishes served with fried chicken are more than just accompaniments; they are integral to creating a memorable and balanced meal. The right sides can enhance the flavors of the chicken, add nutritional value, and cater to a variety of tastes and dietary preferences. From the comfort of creamy macaroni and cheese to the freshness of a summer salad, each side dish offers a unique contribution, ensuring that every bite is enjoyable. Whether you’re looking for classic pairings, healthy alternatives, quick solutions, or international flavors, there’s a side dish to complement every fried chicken meal. Remember, the key to a great dining experience lies in the harmony of flavors and textures on your plate.

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