26 Fried Chicken Sides for When You’re Wondering What to Serve with That Crispy Bird

·9 min read

For most, fried chicken is a delicious treat. For us, it’s one of life’s greatest pleasures. But you can’t make it a meal without a full spread of side dishes to nibble on between bites of crispy skin. If you’re wondering what to serve with fried chicken, start with any of these 26 side dishes—ranging from beloved classics like macaroni and cheese, biscuits and mashed potatoes to new favorites like watermelon salsa, broccoli salad and smashed Brussels sprouts.

The 101 Best Chicken Recipes for When You’re in a Dinner Rut

1. Mac and Cheese with Crispy Parmesan-Phyllo Crust

Photo: Nico Schinco/Styling: Erin McDowell

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour, 20 minutes

  • Why We Love It: crowd-pleaser, kid-friendly, special occasion–worthy

Fried chicken and mac and cheese are like two peas in a pod. Sure, it’s a rich side dish to pair, but why not go all out? (Your other side can be something green and virtuous. See? Balance.) To save some time, you can either skip the phyllo rosettes or lay them in a simple layer on top.

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2. Smoked Gouda and Scallion Mashed Potatoes

Ty Mecham/Delicious Gatherings

  • Time Commitment: 45 minutes

  • Why We Love It: crowd-pleaser, vegetarian, special occasion–worthy

Again, we say: More is more. A hint of smoky cheese and savory onion makes for the most exciting mashed potatoes you’ve ever tried. Try swapping the smoked gouda for another cheese, like cheddar or Gruyère, too.

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3. Light and Tangy Coleslaw

Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

  • Time Commitment: 30 minutes

  • Why We Love It: <10 ingredients, <500 calories, no cook, make ahead

A crisp, refreshing slaw is just the thing to balance out this meal. Instead of gloppy mayo, this one is made with vinegar and a bit of Greek yogurt. (Wanna use bagged coleslaw mix? Be our guest.)

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4. Sprightly Biscuits

Robert S. Cooper/A Real Southern Cook

  • Time Commitment: 20 minutes

  • Why We Love It: <10 ingredients, ready in <30 minutes, crowd-pleaser, kid-friendly

These biscuits have a fizzy secret: lemon-lime soda. It’s the key to a feathery-light end result. Double the recipe for leftovers (hello, breakfast).

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5. Instant Pot Boston Baked Beans

Ghazalle Badiozamani/Instant Pot Miracle Vegetarian Cookbook

  • Time Commitment: 50 minutes

  • Why We Love It: Instant Pot recipe, <500 calories, vegetarian

Whether you’re making homemade fried chicken or ordering takeout, the last thing you need is an extra pot bubbling on the stove. Time to break out your trusty Instant Pot, which will cut down on cooking time and keep your kitchen mess-free.

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6. Cast Iron Cornbread

Katherine Gillen

  • Time Commitment: 45 minutes

  • Why We Love It: crowd-pleaser, one pan, kid-friendly

Whether you’re in the savory cornbread camp or you like it on the sweet side, we can all agree on one thing: It’s at its finest when baked in a cast iron skillet—the magic ingredient to a crisp, toothsome edge. Serve it with tons of salted butter and honey for drizzling.

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7. Baked Sweet Potato Fries

Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

  • Time Commitment: 40 minutes

  • Why We Love It: crowd-pleaser, kid-friendly, <10 ingredients

These spud sticks are proof that baking can be just as good as frying for crispy results. We like to season our fries with fresh rosemary, but crushed red pepper flakes would be equally tasty.

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8. Celery Salad with Walnuts and Pecorino

Nicole Franzen/To the Last Bite

  • Time Commitment: 10 minutes

  • Why We Love It: ready in <15 minutes, <10 ingredients, <500 calories

Celery salad? It’s a thing, and it’s pretty delish. When coupled with a Dijon dressing, it’s crunchy, creamy, punchy and just the thing to pair with fried chicken.

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9. Corn and Tomato Salad with Feta and Lime

Photo: Tyler Mauk/Styling: Anne Mauk

  • Time Commitment: 20 minutes

  • Why We Love It: ready in <30 minutes, <10 ingredients, vegetarian

Corn is a given when you’re serving thighs and drumsticks, no? For a twist, serve this quick-cooking succotash. The corn is lightly caramelized, and the feta adds a hint of briny flavor.

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10. Green Beans with Garlicky Pistachio Vinaigrette

Taylor Peden and Jen Munk/Cook This Book

  • Time Commitment: 35 minutes

  • Why We Love It: <10 ingredients, <500 calories, make ahead

Green beans are typically served hot and—let’s face it—a little mushy. These guys, on the other hand, are quickly blanched for a crisp-tender tender texture, then served cold in a delightfully pungent dressing.

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11. Ranch Potato Salad

Katherine Gillen

  • Time Commitment: 30 minutes

  • Why We Love It: crowd-pleaser, make ahead, vegetarian

Yep, we went there. The fresh herbs in this potato salad are reminiscent of the bottled salad dressing that everyone secretly adores. (You could substitute the dry dressing mix for the herbs, but it won’t taste quite as fresh.)

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12. German Potato Salad

Katherine Gillen

  • Time Commitment: 45 minutes

  • Why We Love It: crowd-pleaser, make ahead, <500 calories, gluten free

If you’re more team tangy than team creamy, allow us to introduce you to German potato salad. It features bacon and a lightly sweet, vinegar-based dressing, and as a bonus, can stand up to picnic temperatures.

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13. Easy Homemade Pickles

Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

  • Time Commitment: 48 hours

  • Why We Love It: <10 ingredients, beginner-friendly

There’s just something about crispety-crunchety fried chicken that begs for a mouth-puckering accompaniment to refresh your palate. Homemade pickles will get the job done nicely.

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14. Crunchy Broccoli Salad

Katherine Gillen

  • Time Commitment: 20 minutes

  • Why We Love It: <500 calories, gluten free, make ahead, ready in <30 minutes

Never had broccoli salad? It’s a satisfying mix of crispy bacon, sunflower seeds, dried cranberries and a just-creamy-enough dressing, plus a little cheese for good measure. Even better, it can be made ahead.

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15. Chilled Cucumber Salad

Erin McDowell

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour, 35 minutes

  • Why We Love It: no cook, crowd-pleaser, <10 ingredients, low carb

Enter the easiest, most refreshing foil to all that fried chicken. All you have to do is slice some cukes, season them and then let it all marinate in the fridge for a bit. You won't even break a sweat.

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16. Heirloom Tomatoes with Basil and Olive Croutons

Graydon Herriott/Simple Pasta

  • Time Commitment: 25 minutes

  • Why We Love It: ready in <30 minutes, <10 ingredients, vegetarian

A plate full of succulent tomatoes and savory basil-olive croutons is always welcome at our table. For an even more luscious salad, add a few pieces of fresh mozzarella.

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17. Baked Mac and Cheese Bites

Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour

  • Why We Love It: crowd-pleaser, kid-friendly

What’s better than macaroni and cheese? Not much…but these mini mac and cheese bites are up there. Make a batch ahead of time and reheat them in the oven for a super convenient side.

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18. Brussels Sprouts Skillet with Crispy Pancetta-Garlic Breadcrumbs

Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

  • Time Commitment: 30 minutes

  • Why We Love It: one pan, <10 ingredients

We’re suckers for a crispy Brussels sprout, but it’s hard to get that craveable crunch without plenty of time in the oven or a deep fryer. Here, the aromatic breadcrumb topping brings that extra bite.

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19. Watermelon Cucumber Salad with Feta and Honey-Lime Dressing

Yumna Jawad/Feel Good Foodie

  • Time Commitment: 5 minutes

  • Why We Love It: ready in <15 minutes, no cook

Juicy, sweet watermelon and cukes are like a tall glass of water after chowing down on fried wings. To maximize this recipe’s potential, make sure to pick a ripe watermelon and skip the pre-cut stuff.

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20. Watermelon Salsa

Katherine Gillen

  • Time Commitment: 15 minutes

  • Why We Love It: no cook, crowd-pleaser, beginner-friendly, <10 ingredients

Hot tip: This salsa can double as a sweet and spicy topper for your fried chicken, if you’re into that sort of thing. (We are.) Adjust the heat level to your own taste, adding as much or as little jalapeño as you like.

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21. Smashed Brussels Sprouts

Katherine Gillen

  • Time Commitment: 40 minutes

  • Why We Love It: sheet pan recipe, <10 ingredients, <500 calories

These six-ingredient sprouts might be nutritious, but they taste like a crispy, cheesy dream. Smashing them flat makes for better caramelization and texture in the oven, so don’t skip that step.

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22. Sweet Potato Biscuit Rolls with Honey Butter Glaze

Renée Kohlman/Vegetables: A Love Story

  • Time Commitment: 2 hours, 30 minutes

  • Why We Love It: crowd-pleaser, special occasion–worthy

If you’re trying to impress a crowd, look no further than pillowy soft homemade rolls. These are like a combination of biscuits and buns, with plenty of sweetness from that honey glaze. If it drips on your fried chicken, consider yourself blessed.

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23. 15-Minute Microwave Mashed Potatoes

Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

  • Time Commitment: 15 minutes

  • Why We Love It: ready in <15 minutes, crowd-pleaser

You could order a side of mashed potatoes with your bucket of chicken, but you know homemade always tastes better. Find the middle ground with these miraculous microwaved taters, which come together in almost no time at all.

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24. Smoky Barbecued Corn

Kristi Perers/Round Ours

  • Time Commitment: 30 minutes

  • Why We Love It: ready in <30 minutes, <10 ingredients

Take your backyard picnic to the next level with this elote-inspired recipe for corn on the cob. As if grilling the vegetable didn’t add enough flavor, the cobs are slathered in mayonnaise, chili powder and Parm for an OTT side dish.

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25. Marinated White Bean and Tomato Salad

Chelsea Kyle/For the Table

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour, 5 minutes

  • Why We Love It: make ahead, <10 ingredients, gluten free

Have we found the ideal salad? It’s less than ten ingredients, can be made in advance and doubled for a crowd, plus, it’s vegetarian and gluten free…so we’d say yes.

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26. 5-Minute Bean Salad

© Heidi Swanson/Super Natural Simple

  • Time Commitment: 5 minutes

  • Why We Love It: ready in <15 minutes, <10 ingredients, no cook

This simple salad is a little elegant and shockingly easy to make. If you like mixing highbrow and lowbrow, serve it alongside your takeout fried chicken and watch the crowd go wild.

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How to Reheat Fried Chicken to Juicy Perfection

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 restaurants. She used to sling sugary desserts in a pastry kitchen, but now she’s an avid home cook and fanatic baker.