Meatloaf is one of those classic staples that’s made time and time again. You might have even been served it multiple times a week when you were a kid.
It’s also one of those dishes that can vary considerably. Meatloaf can be truly delicious when it’s made well with the right spices and enough moisture. But, care is needed, as it’s easy to make a dry and bland version of meatloaf instead. Thankfully, there are plenty of amazing recipes that help novices create stunning meatloaves.
Regardless of the recipe, your meatloaf is only part of the equation. We also need to think about what to serve with meatloaf. After all, the sides are really what makes a meal. The right sides can make even the most boring meatloaf seem amazing. The same is true for many other dishes, including ham, salmon, and steak.
There are plenty of foods to serve with your meatloaf as well, including the classic mashed potatoes and vegetables, to more creative options like mac and cheese, pasta salad, stewed tomatoes, or fresh bread. The best option depends on the type of meal you’re serving.
You can think about the flavor combos as you go. For example, a bland meatloaf might call for a flavor-packed side, while you might want a plainer side if the meatloaf includes ingredients like chili or teriyaki.
What To Serve With Meatloaf (14 Sides To Try)
Mashed potatoes are one of the most popular sides for meatloaf, one that people choose repeatedly. This isn’t surprising, given that the starchiness of potatoes perfectly contrasts the heaviness of meatloaf. This feature makes potatoes excellent with other protein-based mains too, like ribs or steak.
Mashed potatoes are also pretty bland, allowing the flavors of your meatloaf to shine. Of course, mashed potatoes can be a bit too bland sometimes. Using a few spices or perhaps some parmesan cheese can help you get around this issue.
You can also experiment with using alternative ingredients. Mashed sweet potatoes is an obvious option here. This starchy side offers a brighter color and more flavor than mashed potatoes. You could also try cauliflower mashed potatoes. These are surprisingly delicious and are much lower in carbs than regular mashed potatoes.
The Best Loaded Mashed Potatoes
Why stick with regular potatoes, when you can make something as stunning as The Best Loaded Mashed Potatoes? Okay, they mightn’t be the best potatoes in the whole world, but they’re pretty damn good.
One of the best things is that they rely on common decadent ingredients, including bacon and cheddar cheese. The final dish is much more interesting than plain potatoes, yet is still easy to prepare.
The potatoes are even creamier than most, as they include both sour cream and half and half. This might sound like going overboard, but it’s seriously not. You might never go back to regular mashed potatoes after trying this version.
Other Types Of Potatoes
While mashed potatoes are a popular meatloaf side, they’re hardly your only option. There are countless other ways to make potatoes, including potatoes au gratin, fries, baked potatoes, potato wedges, and more.
And, honestly, most versions work well with meatloaf. This makes it easy to go with your favorite potato recipe – or to experiment! You could try a decadent cheesy dish one night and a light potato salad another.
The time of year and occasion may also determine the dish you choose. For example, you’ll usually want a lighter side if you’re serving meatloaf in spring or summer. It’s time to roll out the heavier and more decadent versions in winter, especially those that rely on plenty of cheese or cream.
What could be better than these Slow Roasted Greek Lemon Potatoes to serve beside meatloaf in the spring? The recipe is authentically Greek, where the potatoes are drizzled with aromatic liquid and slow roasted. This liquid includes broth, olive oil, lemon juice, and more.
The broth approach is exceptional, as the potatoes take on plenty of flavors from the broth. This makes them much tastier than normal. Plus, they’re still very easy to prepare. What could be better?
Slow roasting the potatoes also ensures that they end up with a light and fluffy interior, contrasted with a crispy exterior. This could quickly become your new favorite way of cooking potatoes. Why not? The results are truly spectacular.
What about rice as a meatloaf side? The idea isn’t nearly as popular as serving potatoes, yet both ingredients are a relatively bland starchy side and complement your meals similarly.
Rice is also incredibly versatile. There’s no end to the dishes you can make with it, many of which are packed with flavor. You might pick one that relies mostly on rice or one that includes plenty of other ingredients. Both styles work well.
Why not try rice pilaf as a starting point? This meal involves cooking the rice in broth and adding spices to create a flavorful meal. You can also include mushrooms and vegetables to make the pilaf even more enjoyable. While protein is often added to a pilaf as well, you don’t need this, as you’re getting plenty of protein from the meatloaf.
The recipe also relies on toasted pecans and dried cranberries. The pecans are great for texture, while the dried cranberries provide little bursts of flavor (they also make the pilaf fantastic as a holiday dish). Of course, you could easily substitute these for other types of nuts and fruits.
There’s another advantage too – this meal can be prepared in advance or used for leftovers. This is fantastic, as you’ll probably have leftover meatloaf as well.
What could be more refreshing than a salad alongside your meatloaf? You get an excellent contrast of flavors and textures, plus plenty of fiber and antioxidants from the vegetables.
Salads are also incredibly versatile. You might use lettuce as the base ingredient, a dark leafy green, or something else entirely. Some versions even skip greens entirely.
Then there is the dressing. A vinaigrette is one of the healthiest options, but you could go with a creamy dressing if you prefer that style.
This Tuscan Artichoke Tomato Salad is the perfect example of a salad that doesn’t rely on greens. Tomatoes, artichokes, red onions, and chickpeas are the star ingredients instead – each adding to the flavor and texture of the salad.
Marinated artichoke hearts work especially well in the salad, as they provide extra flavor. However, these aren’t essential. The salad will still be delicious with regular artichokes.
The dressing here is a vinaigrette, which relies on red wine vinegar, olive oil, herbs, and spices. While the dressing is simple, it’s also a crucial part of the salad and seriously boosts the flavor.
If salads aren’t your thing, then roast vegetables might do the trick. There are plenty of options here, including the classics like potatoes, pumpkin, parsnip, and carrots.
You can also experiment with some of the more unusual root vegetables. Most of these will work well and provide some interesting flavors and textures.
That said, it’s hard to go wrong with vegetables. Most types of vegetables will work well as a side for your meatloaf, regardless of how they’ve been cooked. This allows you to focus on your favorites and play around with cooking approaches.
These Garlic Butter Roasted Parsnips are as good as the name suggests. They get plenty of flavor from garlic and herbs, plus the butter itself.
While the recipe only uses a handful of ingredients, it’s worth checking out for yourself. For one thing, where and how you use the ingredients makes a big difference to the finished dish. The recipe also gives you tips about preparing your parsnips so you get the best results.
Corn is one of those sides that goes with almost anything – meatloaf included. Corn on the cob is one of the easiest options, as you just need to boil the corn and then smother it in butter. You can grill it a little after boiling too. Doing so adds a smoky layer of flavor that makes the corn so much better.
You can experiment with other ways of serving corn too. Corn salad is another good one and some people simply serve cooked corn kernels alongside their meatloaf.
No matter how you serve it, the sweetness of the corn is a perfect contrast to the richness of your meatloaf.
Then there’s this Honey Butter Skillet Corn recipe, which takes an entirely different approach. It’s made using frozen corn, complemented with cream cheese, butter, and honey.
That collection of ingredients doesn’t sound like it should work, yet somehow the dish really does. You end up with a delicious, creamy, and sweet side that pairs well with many high protein meals.
Macaroni And Cheese
Macaroni and cheese really shines when it’s served as a side dish rather than an entire meal. And, what’s better than meatloaf as a complementary main? After all, both dishes are simple family staples that most kids will eat without hesitation (they’re great comfort foods for adults too).
The carbs in the pasta are actually an advantage here, as they help balance out all the protein in the meatloaf. Just make sure you’re getting some fiber in the meal, as white pasta and meatloaf aren’t great sources of this macronutrient.
It’s easy to mix up the macaroni and cheese recipe to make it more interesting. This might involve adding some interesting types of cheese or mixing unexpected ingredients in. Or, you could experiment with entirely different pasta dishes, like carbonara. You may be surprised at how many of these work well alongside meatloaf.
This Southern Style Baked Mac & Cheese was developed in an attempt to meet two competing desires – sufficient creaminess and a classic baked mac and cheese. The end result is a version of baked mac and cheese that is incredibly creamy, but is still easy to serve.
You can certainly change some aspects of the recipe. That goes without saying. However, the recipe creator warns that doing so is likely to change the texture of the sauce and give you a different meal.
There’s even an extensive FAQ to go along with the recipe, as many commenters had pressing questions. The short answer, though, is that you should follow the recipe exactly as written. It’s too difficult to predict which changes will have a good result and which won’t.
Then there’s cornbread, which is such a classic that it needs no introduction.
It’s an especially good side for meatloaf, as the light sweetness of your cornbread nicely offsets the heaviness of your meatloaf. That said, you might want some veggies as well.
You could stick with traditional cornbread or experiment with the recipe. Some people add chili flakes or other unusual ingredients to make the side even more interesting. Cornbread muffins are another option to consider.
Then there’s this Jalapeno Cheddar Cornbread. It’s a savory recipe that features jalapenos and also includes cheddar cheese and onions to make the texture and flavor profile even better still.
The combination of jalapenos and cheese creates a flavor hit with every bite. Ideally, you’d make this cornbread in a skillet, but you could use a baking dish if that’s all you have.
Honestly, any type of vegetable is going to work as a meatloaf side. Glazed carrots, though, are special enough to get an entry all of their own.
Once glazed and cooked, these carrots often have a stunning sweet and savory flavor profile, plus the perfect amount of crunch. You might serve them on their own as a side or with other types of vegetables. Why not try glazing a variety of vegetables and serving them with your meatloaf?
Instead of just glazing carrots, you could experiment with these Maple Bacon Carrots instead? After all, bacon just makes everything better, doesn’t it?
Then there’s that combination of maple and bacon. This provides a fantastic balance of sweet and savory that pairs beautifully with most mains. You could even wrap your meatloaf in bacon to tie the flavors together.
The other cool thing is that this is a very simple recipe. There are only three ingredients – the carrots, the bacon, and the maple syrup. Because of this, you’ll need to make sure that all three are high quality.
Who can go past mushrooms? There are plenty of types to choose from, including the common varieties you see in grocery stores, plus more exotic and unusual options. Just be wise if you’re foraging for mushrooms yourself, as some edible and non edible mushrooms look similar and are easily misidentified.
Mushrooms are also simply a unique ingredient. They offer a distinct savory flavor and interesting texture to any meal. Sauteed mushrooms are one of the easiest options, as you just need a frypan and a source of fat. You can also experiment with approaches like stuffing mushrooms and baking them or cooking your mushrooms in a rich sauce.
This Sauteed Asparagus and Mushroom dish basically gives you two sides at once, which is exceptional. It’s the perfect choice when asparagus and mushrooms are in season, as they’ll be easy to find and packed with flavor.
The recipe also works perfectly for most diets, including keto, vegan, and vegetarian. The ingredients list is incredibly simple, featuring olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic, asparagus, and mushrooms. This minimalistic combo allows the flavors of the mushrooms and asparagus to dominate the recipe.
If that feels too simple to you, no worries. The recipe includes details for extra ingredients or herbs that make it even more exciting.
Fresh bread is an uncommon, yet exceptional, meatloaf side. The main benefit is that you can use this to make meatloaf sandwiches or rolls at the dinner table.
Such sandwiches would taste much better than those made using cold meatloaf and store bought bread. You might include a few other delicious fresh ingredients, like brie, lettuce or dark leafy greens, and perhaps some chutney.
This approach also creates a more hands-on dinner, where everyone is building their own ideal sandwich. Doing so often works well for kids, as piecing together their own meal increases the chance that they’ll actually eat it.
These Homemade Crescent Rolls are one of the best possible bread recipes for your meatloaf. They are fluffy, soft, and look stunning, making them a great addition to your dinner table.
The dough recipe is also versatile and works just as well in different shapes. For example, you could form it into balls and create traditional rolls.
As Amber points out, these rolls require more work than simply relying on a tin of Pillsbury Crescents. However, you’re also creating a tastier, lighter, and more authentic product. Once you’ve tried these, they’ll quickly become your new favorite.
Then there’s pasta salad. This side is best when you’re serving meatloaf cold, like at a picnic. You could serve it with freshly cooked meatloaf too. If so, you might want to warm the pasta salad first.
Pasta salad has the same advantage as many other sides on this list – it contains plenty of carbs. You can also play with the other ingredients in the recipe and the dressing you use. Doing so creates endless opportunities for variation, including simple pasta salads, complex ones, and everything in between.
The shape of orzo makes it a fun type of pasta to experiment with. This Greek Orzo Pasta Salad is a fun example of this.
As the title suggests, the salad relies on key Greek flavors. It features ingredients like feta cheese, olives, cherry tomatoes, and cucumbers, which combine perfectly to create a fresh and vibrant salad. There’s also a vinaigrette-based dressing that brings the whole meal together and adds a distinctive flavor.
To get the most out of the vinaigrette, try leaving the salad to sit for at least an hour in the fridge before serving it. This allows the flavors to meld together beautifully.
Of course, this salad isn’t limited to orzo. You could easily make it with another type of pasta or even an entirely different ingredient like quinoa.
The flavor of tomatoes works excellently with meatloaf, so why not serve a dish of stewed tomatoes? These tomatoes have typically been peeled and cooked just enough to soften them and make them more flavorful. You’ll often add such tomatoes to sauces and stews, but they’re also something you can serve as a side dish.
Meatloaf, mashed potatoes, stewed tomatoes, and some type of vegetable would be a perfect way to take advantage of the flavor and texture of the tomatoes. Plus, you can do this with any type of tomato you like, including the heirloom varieties.
This Old Fashioned Stewed Tomato recipe is a great place to begin as the tomatoes are easy to prepare and are packed with flavor. There are also some interesting added ingredients, including bell peppers, onions, and even some sugar. These ingredients mean the dish has an extra depth of flavor, plus some extra texture.
Beyond this, the recipe offers tips for ways to vary the dish. One variation is to use canned tomatoes instead of fresh ones. This is a great option in a pinch, although it will give you a less flavorful dish. You can also add other vegetables, such as fresh okra or celery. Doing so gives you some more nutrients as well. That’s always a good thing.
Finally, we have green beans and similar vegetables. These are excellent for providing fiber, nutrients, and fresh flavor.
Sauteed green beans are a classic option here, partly because they’re easy to prepare. They also end up crispy, creating a fantastic texture contrast between these and your meatloaf. Air fryer green beans are a fun option too. These are often quite crunchy and can be tossed in parmesan cheese for extra flavor.
These Sweet & Spicy Green Beans are another style to consider. They do indeed have a sweet and spicy flavor balance, which is impressive, as the sauce only uses four ingredients and no sugar at all (in fact, this is a keto friendly dish).
To make things even more exciting, the recipe relies on garlic and bacon. These boost the flavor to a new level. The end result is much tastier than green beans on their own. If you’re not fond of spicy foods, you can simply leave out the red pepper flakes. Doing so would drop town the spiciness while still giving you a delicious meal.