Who can turn their backs on salmon? It’s arguably the most famous type of fish, one with a rich flavor and plenty of healthy omega 3 fatty acids. However, as delicious as it is, salmon generally isn’t a meal on its own. You’ll still want to think about what to serve with salmon. After all, the sides you choose will make a huge difference to your meal.
There are plenty of delicious sides you can serve with your salmon, including classics like grilled asparagus, potatoes, or green beans, along with more imaginative entries, such as macaroni cheese or rice risotto. Your flavor preferences, the nature of the occasion, and the type of salmon will all influence the specific side you choose.
Of course, the general principle remains the same as for many other main dishes, like steak and chili – you’re trying to balance texture, flavor, and macronutrients. Because salmon is fatty and high in protein, you’ll often pair it with at least one type of vegetable, plus a starchy side. Doing so gives you a delicious and well balanced meal.
What To Serve With Salmon (17 Excellent Sides You Can’t Ignore)
Baked, Pan Fried, Poached, Or Grilled Salmon
As you’ll see, the best sides for your salmon are partly determined by how your salmon is cooked. Let’s begin with the classic cooking techniques, including grilling, baking, or pan frying your salmon. While these all produce slightly different results, the flavor profile is similar in most places, as are the sides you might consider.
Asparagus is an excellent place to begin, as it is one of the classic salmon sides. The green vegetable has a slight earthy and bitter flavor that’s contrasted by just enough sweetness to make it taste divine. It’s also low in fat, making it an excellent contrast to the richness of salmon.
You can also cook salmon and asparagus at the same time as part of a one-pan dinner. Doing so is a fantastic way to save time and energy, giving you a delicious weeknight dinner with barely any effort at all.
Also, you don’t need to focus on the classic green asparagus. You’ll also find purple, white, and wild asparagus, plus plenty of varieties within each type. Each variety has exciting features that make it worth trying.
This Caprese Roasted Asparagus shows how you can change the classic roast asparagus recipe and make it much more enjoyable.
Notably, the asparagus in this recipe is topped with mozzarella cheese, basil, and fresh tomatoes. The asparagus is drizzled with a balsamic glaze, nicely completing the caprese salad theme.
There’s a difference, though. Caprese salad is traditionally unheated and relies on fresh mozzarella. This recipe relies on shredded mozzarella instead (the type you’d typically use on your pizza). This type melts more easily than fresh mozzarella and gives you a gooey topping for your asparagus.
After asparagus, we have another familiar entry – potatoes. Serving potatoes with salmon is pretty much a given, as they have a mild flavor and allow the salmon to take center stage.
Potatoes are also highly versatile. You can prepare them in endless ways, including simple options like mashed or boiled potatoes and more complex ones, like scalloped potatoes.
Plus, because potatoes are basically a blank slate, you can easily experiment with flavors. Why not include some herbs and spices with your potatoes? Or perhaps parmesan cheese? Don’t forget about sweet potatoes either. They have many of the same benefits as potatoes and an even better flavor profile.
These Garlic Butter Smashed Potatoes show that simple recipes don’t need to be boring. The recipe begins with small Yukon gold potatoes that are boiled, seasoned, smashed, smashed, and then roasted.
That process of boiling and then roasting the potatoes gives them a brown and crispy top while keeping the interior fluffy and soft. The recipe just relies on unsalted butter, garlic, parsley, salt, and pepper for the seasoning, but those aren’t your only options.
You could easily experiment with your favorite seasonings to find a version that works for you. In fact, the techniques discussed in this recipe could be used for many smashed potato variations.
Orzo looks like small pieces of rice, but we’re actually talking about a type of pasta instead. The ingredient is a fantastic alternative to rice and regular pasta as a carb-heavy side.
Orzo salads are an especially good choice, as they often rely on a light dressing and can include plenty of vegetables. You could even include pieces of salmon in the orzo salad instead of having the salad as a completely separate side dish.
You can experiment with many common pasta salad styles here, including pesto-based salads, a caprese salad, a Greek version, or something entirely different. After all, pasta is the perfect base for countless flavor combinations.
This Sun Dried Tomato and Spinach Orzo recipe perfectly showcases the versatility of orzo. It’s also a great weeknight recipe, as the creamy meal only needs one pot and can be made in under 30 minutes.
The ingredients will all be familiar and you should have most of them on hand already. The selection includes chicken broth, cream, spinach, parmesan, and garlic (sounds amazing, right?). The sun dried tomatoes are perhaps the most unusual ingredient. They’re also the most exciting, as they provide a distinct ‘pop’ of flavor that brings the whole meal together.
The creaminess of the dish is always a nice touch. This should work well with the richness of your salmon, creating a dish that tastes truly decadent.
A Fresh Salad
If you want something lighter, what about serving a classic salad? This is undoubtedly a healthier side than creamy orzo pasta and provides plenty of nutrients from the vegetables.
There’s also something to be said for the contrast of fatty salmon with a crunchy and vibrant salad. The trick is to choose the right salad recipe. After all, some salads aren’t that healthy at all, especially if they rely on a creamy sauce and plenty of high calorie ingredients, like bacon and cheese (Caesar salad is an especially big culprit).
This Spinach Tomato Chickpea Salad is a very healthy choice to go alongside your salmon. The inclusion of chickpeas provides an interesting texture contrast while also increasing the protein content of your meal. This also means there’s more than just vegetables in your salad, which can be helpful.
Of course, chickpeas aren’t the only star of the show. The salad also features nutritious spinach leaves, tomatoes, spring onions, red pepper, and more. There are even some seeds to make the dish taste even better.
Finally, there is half of a hot pepper, sliced thinly. The hot pepper provides the salad with a stunning kick, making it even more exciting. However, this isn’t essential, so you can skip it if you’re not too fond of heat.
A quinoa salad has some of the features of an orzo salad, except that you’re getting considerably more protein and fiber. The fiber also makes quinoa a better choice for your blood sugar levels.
This type of salad is an excellent side, as you get your starches and veggies all at once. This is much easier than needing to prepare two separate dishes to go along with your salmon.
While quinoa salad is normally served cold, you can easily create a warm version to go with your salmon instead. As with most sides, there isn’t really a right or wrong approach. It all comes down to what you enjoy the most.
This Crunchy Thai Quinoa Salad really is the perfect way to get started with quinoa. The recipe includes plenty of vibrant and delicious ingredients, like red cabbage, bell pepper, cucumber, and green onions, plus a delicious almond dressing.
The almond dressing is partly why the salad is so special. This dressing brings together all the other flavors, creating a cohesive dish that’s easy to love. Besides, look at it. The bright colors mean that the salad will stand out on any dinner table.
There are many other sides to serve with baked or grilled salmon, but let’s change focus and talk about salmon patties instead. These are also known as salmon cakes or salmon croquets and are made using salmon, bread crumbs, onion, and a small selection of other ingredients.
The patties are an inexpensive way to enjoy salmon, especially as you can make them using canned salmon. Many of the sides we’ve already talked about will work with salmon patties (even if you’re serving them as part of a burger, rather than on their own). Still… the patties have a lighter salmon flavor than a salmon filet, so you might sometimes want a different dish to accompany them.
It’s hard to go wrong with potato salad. The simple side dish is always popular and pairs well with many meals, including salmon patties.
Potato salad is also a surprisingly versatile dish. There are countless ways to make it more exciting, including adding extra ingredients like peppers, fresh herbs, feta cheese, or even peas. Some recipes change the dressing too. For example, you might skip the mayo and use a vinaigrette-based dressing instead.
This Creamy Dill Potato Salad shines on many levels. The first stunning feature is the dressing, which includes mustard, pickle juice, and mayonnaise. While that combination of ingredients is certainly unusual, it works well, providing plenty of creaminess and a little tang.
Eggs are included in the potato salad as well. These boost the protein content while also giving you some texture contrast. They also work well with the pickle juice and mustard, which is another reason to try the salad for yourself.
There’s room for adjustment too, as you can add as much or as little dressing as you like. It’s best to start with a small amount, then you can easily just add more if the salad isn’t creamy enough.
Speaking of creamy salads, what about coleslaw? This is another crowd favorite that’s often popular at picnics and BBQs. There are plenty of options for variation too, as you can change the type of dressing you use and/or add extra ingredients.
Some slaw recipes even ditch the cabbage and rely on other types of vegetables, like one that relies on shredded Brussels sprouts. Changing the ingredients like this gives you an entirely new salad, yet one that is also surprisingly familiar.
This Creamy Southwestern Coleslaw is crispy, creamy, and features some Southwestern flavors not often found in coleslaw. In particular, the recipe includes jalapenos (for a spicy kick), radishes (for crunch), and cilantro (for extra flavor).
Yet, while these ingredients all provide flavor, they’re not enough to overwhelm the salad. This means it is still a creamy and fairly mild salad – and won’t overshadow your salmon.
Fresh Pasta Salad
Now we have pasta salads. These are another BBQ staple, which is one reason they work so well with salmon patties and salmon burgers.
The trick is to choose the right recipe here. If you’re serving salmon patties on their own, then your salad can use a decent amount of pasta. However, you’ll want a more veggie-heavy salad if you’re serving salmon burgers. After all, there are plenty of carbs in the burger buns already.
Words cannot explain just how exciting this Bruschetta Pasta Salad is. Just look at the combination of flavors, colors, and textures. The star ingredient of the salad has to be the juicy cherry tomatoes. The use of two colors makes the salad look even more vibrant, but you could stick with just one color if that’s all you have.
Another cool feature is the use of mozzarella cheese balls. These make the dish a little like a caprese salad and provide an excellent creamy contrast to the pasta and cherry tomatoes. It’s easy to see how perfect these flavors would be alongside salmon.
Like asparagus, green beans are commonly paired with salmon. They’re often crunchy, which is an excellent contrast against the rich fattiness of the salmon. The flavor profile is exactly right as well, plus green beans cook quickly, giving you an easy-to-prepare dinner.
However, it’s essential to focus on fresh green beans rather than those from a can. The canned versions aren’t nearly as crisp and don’t have the same fresh flavor.
These Air Fryer Parmesan Green Beans are a nice variation on the traditional way of cooking green beans. Preparing them in the air fryer keeps the beans very crisp, while combining garlic powder and parmesan provides extra flavor.
The simplicity of the recipe means that it’s wide open for interpretation. You could easily use different herbs and spices to change the flavor of your beans. Or, you might try the same flavor combo with a different type of vegetable.
Instead of contrasting your salmon with a refreshing or plain side, what about serving a rich side dish with it? This approach can work well with salmon patties or even full salmon burgers.
You could stick to the standard macaroni cheese recipe here. You know, the version that relies on pasta, milk, butter, cheese, and not many other ingredients. But, that’s not your only option. You could also try a more complex version, like smoked macaroni cheese or even one that relies on truffle oil.
This Tuscan Mac and Cheese should look familiar and unusual at the same time. It’s still your classic cheesy dish and even features three different types of cheese. However, the flavor has been ramped up through the use of sundried tomatoes, spinach, and Italian herbs. These ingredients provide a considerable flavor boost, without making the dish too complicated.
The recipe even includes a selection of tips to help you create a delicious dish each time. These include details about the type of pasta to use, which cheeses work best, and how to prevent the dairy ingredients from separating.
Interestingly, the dish also includes a tablespoon of hot sauce. This is just used to add flavor and doesn’t make the mac and cheese spicy at all.
Now, we’re moving on to smoked salmon. The sides are slightly different here, as the salmon has a distinct smoky flavor you don’t want to drown out. Plus, it’s often served cold rather than warm, which also changes matters.
Bagels And Cream Cheese
The combination of bagels, cream cheese, and smoked cheese is a classic, one that’s repeated time and time again. It’s easy to see why too, as the textures work together well and the taste of your salmon still shines through.
This combo doesn’t need to be boring, as there are plenty of different flavors for both cream cheese and bagels. Some companies even make special cream cheese flavors designed for bagels, along with other exciting toppings. If you’re interested in this area, why not try a bagel of the month club? Some of these are truly exceptional.
There’s no denying it: this Bagel Cream Cheese Spread makes your bagels much more interesting than they’d be otherwise. Think of this a little like loaded potatoes, as it includes plenty of familiar ingredients like cheddar, scallions, and bacon. There are even sun dried tomatoes in the mix.
Cream cheese like this would taste amazing when paired with rich smoked salmon. The recipe is also flexible, so you could easily add or remove an ingredient to tweak the flavor profile. Why not experiment and find your own version?
Caprese salad is fantastic, as it’s a fresh, delicious, and simple salad that can be made in a matter of minutes. It’s also perfect for people who don’t really like vegetables, as fresh tomatoes and mozzarella cheese are some of the star ingredients.
You can also make caprese salad skewers by threading the ingredients onto sticks. These are great treats for parties and would work perfectly alongside smoked salmon. You might even thread smoked salmon onto the skewers themselves. Why not?
The best caprese salads are often those that add extra ingredients, like this Avocado Caprese Salad. Avocado is the main extra ingredient, providing the salad with creaminess and extra flavor. There is also garlic, which bumps the flavor profile up a little more.
The recipe also takes an unusual approach, as it relies on basil leaves and basil pesto (while caprese salad normally just uses basil leaves). The pesto is optional, but is an excellent way to mix the basil flavor through the salad. And, why not? Traditional caprese salad does get a little boring after a while.
The combo of eggs and smoked salmon is most often served for breakfast, although it’s just as tasty later in the day. The appeal is easy to see, as eggs have a pretty mild flavor that complements your salmon without drowning it out.
Eggs are also extremely versatile. They can be prepared in many ways, giving you plenty of options, regardless of your flavor preferences. Using salmon with eggs benedict is a classic place to begin. Still, why not experiment? There are so many other options at your fingertips.
I won’t give away the secret ingredient in these Secret Ingredient Creamy Scrambled Eggs. The important thing is that the chosen ingredient really does keep the eggs creamy, even if you overcook them, which we all do on occasion.
The recipe calls for just four ingredients – bacon, eggs, chives, and the secret ingredient. Of course, you could easily skip the bacon and chives. The eggs would still be delicious without them.
Miso Salmon, Teriyaki Salmon, And Similar Dishes
We’ve mainly been focusing on relatively mild sides, ones that won’t drown out the flavor of your salmon. However, if your salmon has a strongly flavored sauce or marinade, you might want a more intense side to go along with it.
A list of side dishes wouldn’t be complete without a mention of mushrooms. Not only are these delicious, but they can also be cooked in many ways. That includes simply sautéing them in garlic butter or using more intensely flavored sauces and seasonings. You could even match the seasoning to the one on your salmon.
Remember that you can also experiment with the type of mushroom that you serve. Many of us stick to button mushrooms, as they have a mild flavor and are easy to find, but why not try something else?
Portobello mushrooms are a fantastic choice, as they’re large and have a rich flavor. They’re especially delicious when stuffed and baked. You could easily choose stuffing ingredients that pair well with salmon.
These Sesame Garlic Miso Butter Mushrooms are an ideal side for miso salmon, as they highlight the exact same flavor profile. A big part of the recipe is homemade miso butter, which relies on butter, miso paste, and garlic, and provides exceptional flavor.
You could easily use this butter with other ingredients too, including your salmon. There’s also an interesting comments section for these mushrooms, which provides ideas about ways to tweak the recipe, such as adding peanuts or walnuts for extra protein.
The versatility of potatoes means they can be an excellent side for any type of salmon, including teriyaki or miso salmon. You could make a flavor rich version to complement the intensity of this type of salmon. Creamy cheesy potato gratin would go down a treat as well.
Or, why not keep things simple with boiled new potatoes, perhaps served with a little butter? These small potatoes are flaky, tender, with a subtle taste, which means the flavor of your salmon should really shine through.
These Crispy Parmesan Potatoes are an excellent way to make new potatoes more exciting. They rely on a mixture of parmesan cheese and butter, providing much more flavoring than you’d get otherwise. Other seasonings can be added as well, such as garlic powder, rosemary, or oregano.
The crispiness is one of the best features of this recipe. It’s perfect when contrasted against the softness of your salmon, especially if you also serve some asparagus or green beans alongside.
While potatoes are the most popular starchy side for salmon, rice is often a better choice when your protein has Asian flavors already. As with potatoes, there are plenty of options for the flavor and style of your rice.
You might simply go with plain white rice and allow the flavors of your salmon to dominate the entire dish. Or, perhaps you’d turn to a complex risotto or even crispy fried rice cakes.
You could also experiment with rice alternatives, like cauliflower rice. Cauliflower rice is especially good if you’re trying to keep your carb intake low or simply want more vegetables in your diet.
This Caramelized Onion, Bacon, and Parmesan Risotto is an excellent alternative to regular rice risotto. The use of caramelized onions is an exceptional idea, as they provide an amazing flavor boost and lift the dish to an entirely new level.
The risotto also includes bacon, chicken stock, garlic, white wine, and parmesan cheese, all of which add to the recipe and make this a risotto that you won’t soon forget.
We’ve already talked about asparagus, green beans, and potatoes, which are the most popular vegetables served with salmon. However, you don’t need to stick with these. Most vegetables or combinations of vegetables will taste amazing with salmon. It’s simply a matter of considering which ones you enjoy the most.
Mixtures of vegetables work well too. This includes serving a cold green salad or perhaps having a dish of mixed roast vegetables instead.
Then there’s the flavoring to think about. You could stick with the natural flavor of your vegetables, perhaps with some herbs and spices to elevate them. Or, you might choose a richer sauce or dressing, one that complements the flavor of your salmon.
These Maple and Miso Roasted Carrots are the perfect example of carrying Asian flavors from your salmon to your vegetables. They use mellow white miso, butter, olive oil, and maple syrup. Those ingredients provide an interesting umami-sweet balance that’s hard to pass up (especially as carrots are naturally slightly sweet).
The recipe can be made using just regular orange carrots, but it’s even more exciting if you use a few different carrot colors instead. Purple carrots are especially good and bring the entire dish to life.