A Southerner’s Guide to Perfect Sides

Choosing the perfect side can definitely be a challenging feat, especially for us Southerners. Here in the South, there are an unfathomable amount of delicacies that make for good sides. Being that we love our sides almost as much as we love our entrées, you can surely find most of our dishes plated with at least two or three hearty sides. I have written up a guide to help you pick the best sides for future meals.  

  Flavors and seasonings. If you are whipping up an entrée that has a spicy palette, create milder sides to balance out the spice. Fresh and light sides go splendidly with rich and savory entrées. 

  Your cooking method. If your entree is grilled or roasted, you may want to pair it with a cool, refreshing salad or slaw. Not only do refreshing sides pair well with these entrées, but so do grilled corn or green vegetables such as green beans and asparagus. If it’s a slow-cooked or braised dish, a heartier side such as potatoes or rice would complement it well.

  Textures. Pairing a crunchy side with a tender meat or vice versa can create a nice balance in your meal. Consider the texture of your entrée and select a side dish that balances it. 

  Give variety. Offer a mix of textures, flavors, and colors to make your meal more visually appealing and satisfying. Don’t be afraid to mix and match different Southern sides to create a unique and delicious meal.

  Consider the occasion: If you’re serving a meal for a special occasion, you may want to choose classic Southern sides that are traditional for that particular event. For example, family reunions usually tend to be potluck style. Casseroles are a must, and a fine mac and cheese will have everyone coming back for more.  

    Ultimately, the best way to pick out the best Southern sides for your entree is to experiment and have fun. Southern cuisine is all about bold flavors and hearty dishes, so don’t be afraid to try new things and create your own signature combination of sides. I’ve created a list of complimentary sides to help get you started.  

Grilled and Smoked Entrées
Smoked Green Beans
Lemon Apple Coleslaw
Homemade Baked Beans
Grilled Peaches
Corn on the Cob
Potatoes (Mashed, Baked, or Salad)

Fried Entrées
Creamy Mashed Potatoes (optional gravy)
Steamed White Rice
Mac and Cheese
Steamed Green Beans
Green Leaf Vegetables (turnips, collards, mustards, or cabbage)
Sautéed Squash
Creamed Corn

Seafood Entrées
Mango Slaw
Roasted Fresh Vegetables
Sauteed Swiss Chard
Rice Pilaf
Zucchini or Corn Fritters
Black Bean Salad

Steak & Beef Entrées
Loaded Hasselback Potatoes
Sautéed Asparagus
Charred Brussel Sprouts
Loaded Mashed Potatoes
Parmesan Fried Asparagus 

Chelsea Gieselmann is a mom, photographer, columnist, food blogger, and home-cook. Cooking has been a passion of hers since she was old enough to cut out biscuits with the mouth of a mason jar. Her great-grandmother taught her the basics and she is ever so grateful to have been able to learn from her. Since then, she has honed in her craft a great deal and continues to.

Instagram: @Southrngritskitchen

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