20 Quick Side Dishes That the Whole Family Will Love

Smashed Carrots
Photo: Jason Donnelly

There's plenty of deliciousness to go around in these healthy recipes that feed at least four. Whether you're looking for a quick weeknight side or something worthy of the next family potluck, these tasty recipes are on the table in just 20 minutes or less. Pair our crispy Smashed Carrots with your favorite pork chop recipe or add our Grilled Zucchini & Squash to the menu the next time you fire up the grill—your crew will definitely be going back for seconds.

01 of 20

Cheesy Spinach Fritters

Cheesy Spinach Fritters
Ted & Chelsea Cavanaugh

Using frozen spinach in these crispy pan-fried fritters saves you the steps of having to chop and cook the fresh greens down yourself.

02 of 20

Mexican Corn (Esquites)


This street corn dish, known as esquites, is served in cups instead of on the cob for all the flavor of elote without the mess.

03 of 20

Lemon Herbed Orzo Pasta


This quick and easy lemony and herb pasta dish makes a delicious side. Try adding chicken or shrimp for a more complete meal.

04 of 20

Grilled Zucchini & Squash

Grilled Squash and Zucchini
Photographer / Jennifer Causey, Food Stylist / Karen Rankin, Prop Stylist / Christine Keely

Grilled zucchini and yellow squash are tender off the grill with a hint of char, spicy garlic and a bit of zing from fresh lemon juice.

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Sautéed Brussels Sprouts

Sautéed Brussels Sprouts
Will Dickey

Fresh and tender sautéed Brussels sprouts have crispy leaves and a tender-crisp center. The sweetness from the caramelized shallots provides a great balancing flavor. Enjoy them with lemon, or try one of the variations below to better match your main dish.

06 of 20

Lemon-Garlic Green Beans

Lemon-Garlic Green Beans
Will Dickey

These tender-crisp lemon-garlic green beans have tons of flavor from shallots, garlic and the tangy lemon. It's the perfect simple green bean side dish that pairs well with everything.

07 of 20

Cheesy Broccoli

Cheesy Broccoli
Eric Wolfinger

Broccoli smothered in a Cheddar sauce makes an ideal baked potato topping, but we couldn't stop eating it as a side all on its own—so by all means.

08 of 20

Lemon Rice (Chitrannam)


Use up leftover rice and make it into something delicious with this healthy Indian recipe. Because cooked rice refrigerated overnight dries out a little, it's better suited to absorb all the flavors in this dish without getting sticky or mushy. In a pinch, use frozen or shelf-stable precooked basmati rice, available in many stores. Urad dal and roasted chana dal add texture and authenticity to the rice--look for both types of dal in Indian markets or online.

09 of 20

Broiled Tomatoes with Cheddar & Jalapeños

Cheddar-Jalapeño Tomatoes
Johnny Autry

Give at-their-peak summer tomatoes a Tex-Mex spin with this simple, melty topping.

10 of 20

Smashed Carrots

Smashed Carrots
Jason Donnelly

Smashing steamed carrots coated in curry powder then finishing them under the broiler lets the flavor set in and gives the carrots a light, crispy edge.

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Quinoa with Peas & Lemon

Quinoa with Peas & Lemon
Ted & Chelsea Cavanaugh

Green peas add a pop of color to this bright whole-grain side dish. Plus, choosing frozen saves you time—no shelling required! Want to save even more time? Use a pouch of precooked quinoa.

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Jalapeño Creamed Corn

Jalapeño Creamed Corn

Sweet and savory creamed corn gets a creamy kick from Cheddar cheese and jalapeño. We love the added spice sliced jalapeño adds as a garnish, but this is also great without it if you want to tame the heat. Try it alongside grilled steak or chicken or with your Thanksgiving spread.

13 of 20

Air-Fryer Sweet Potato Fries


Air-fried sweet potato fries are crispy, tender and delicately sweet. They're also made with less fat than traditional fries, so they're a healthier option when you're craving crunchy spuds. If the cinnamon-pepper spice is too intense, try thyme, oregano, paprika or garlic instead.

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Parmesan White Beans

Parmesan White Beans
Ted & Chelsea Cavanaugh

Stash mirepoix blend—a basic building-block combo of chopped carrots, celery and onion—in your freezer and save some serious prep time on this simple bean side dish.

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Microwaved Fresh Green Beans


Steaming green beans in the microwave is quick and convenient, helping you to get dinner on the table in minutes. This basic recipe is a great starting point for the seasoning of your choice--a little butter, toasted nuts or a creamy sauce.

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Loaded Baked Avocados

Loaded Baked Avocados

Avocado stands in for potato in this low-carb version of a baked potato! Sour cream, Cheddar cheese and bacon, combined with fresh chives and a sprinkle of pepper, make this a comforting treat.

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Southern Macaroni Salad


Bring this quintessential Southern macaroni salad, made with whole-wheat macaroni, celery, peas and ham, to your next picnic or barbecue. It's the perfect salad to feed a crowd!

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Grilled Brussels Sprouts with Bacon & Honey-Balsamic Glaze


This lightning-fast side dish produces deliciously sweet Brussels sprouts, thanks to honey that caramelizes and crispy, salty bacon. They're so good your kids will even eat them! If the Brussels sprouts are hard to skewer, consider microwaving them a minute longer and then try skewering again. If you'd like to make this Brussels sprouts recipe vegetarian, simply omit the bacon.

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Sautéed Broccoli with Peanut Sauce


Peanut butter, balanced with a little soy sauce and vinegar, makes a delicious and kid-friendly sauce for broccoli and other vegetables. Giving the broccoli a head start by steaming it before sautéing it with the other vegetables ensures that all the vegetables are nicely cooked at the same time.

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Green Beans with Parmesan-Garlic Breadcrumbs


In this easy green bean recipe, browning the butter before tossing it with the breadcrumbs produces a nice nutty flavor. Serve this green bean dish as a healthy alternative to green bean casserole or as an easy side with steak, chicken or fish.

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