10 Best Meatloaf Sides

Easy meatloaf side dish and serving ideas. From creamy mashed potatoes to perfectly seasoned vegetables, discover what to serve with meatloaf today.

homemade meatloaf

Made by mixing ground beef or pork alongside various seasonings, meatloaf is a classic that’s been enjoyed for centuries. Originally designed to bring a high volume of protein to a meal in a compact and easy-to-make form, homemade meatloaf recipes are now one of the most popular and cost-effective dinners for families worldwide.

But what side dishes should you serve to complement homemade meatloaf while still letting its tangy taste and moist texture shine through?

From glazed carrots to sauteed cabbage, these meatloaf sides will perfectly round off your dinner meal. Let’s get cooking!

Mashed Potatoes

mashed potatoes

Butter, milk, and potatoes – Is there a better combination? There’s a reason why mashed potatoes are one of the most popular side dishes out there (and it’s not just because it tastes divine). Besides being incredibly easy to make, mashed potatoes require little variation in ingredients — while still providing big flavors. 

Home cooks and professional chefs are bound to have their favorite ingredients to spice up their mashed potatoes or give them a unique texture. But there’s something so beautiful about embracing a simple recipe. Adding just a bit of spice and seasonings means the potatoes don’t distract from the taste of your meatloaf. 

Try This Recipe: These mashed potatoes taste just as simple and old-fashioned as you would want from this classic dish, just like how your grandma would make it. 

Mac & Cheese

macaroni cheese

Whether you’re cozying up on an evening in or craving something intensely cheesy, mac and cheese is one of those classic dishes loved equally by children and adults. You’re likely to already have your favorite pasta shape and cheese combinations, so add them into the dish as you prefer — its versatility is another point as to why mac and cheese is so beloved.

And while we’re at it, why not bake it in the oven once it’s prepared, after a generous topping of extra cheese? We didn’t say this dish was healthy, so sprinkle away to your heart’s content! The bubbling cheese, slightly burnt corners, and incredibly rich and moreish center makes mac and cheese a must-have if you want a decadent side dish for meatloaf. 

Try This Recipe: This baked mac and cheese recipe combines gruyere and medium sharp cheddar cheese for a nuttier, more complex flavor. 

Glazed Carrots

glazed carrots

Sure, raw carrots are great, but if you’ve ever had glazed and caramelized carrots you’ll know that there’s no coming back from that. Meatloaf is tasty on its own, but the flavor can be relatively one-dimensional if you’re eating it for your whole meal. Adding in a touch of sweetness with glazed carrots is sure to break up the natural salty/savory flavor of the meat while adding in a big dose of nutrients.  

The key to making exceptional glazed carrots is generously coating the carrots with brown sugar and butter, before sauteing them to the correct amount of time. Cooking them for too long results in burnt ends (nobody wants that!) and cooking them shorter than ideal results in a raw and cold center. 

Try This Recipe: These glazed carrots are incredibly quick and easy to make, and saves you effort by utilizing the oven instead of a stovetop.  

Herby Steamed Vegetables

steamed vegetables

If you’re conscious about calories or simply making meatloaf for younger children or older relatives, add on a side of herby steamed vegetables. Regular steamed vegetables are often misunderstood as bland or watery, so it’s crucial to incorporate numerous fresh herbs to bring the flavor. 

Apart from being super quick to make — seriously, just chop up your veggies and chuck them in a steamer, steaming vegetables can actually prevent them from losing important nutrients. To stop the dreaded mushy vegetables from occurring, make sure you take them out of the steamer the moment they’re cooked and refrain from leaving them in for hours. 

Try This Recipe: These herby steamed vegetables only take 15 minutes to make and add on a touch of butter to make it incredibly palatable. 

Vegetable Rice Pilaf

vegetable rice pilaf

A balanced meal often requires a serving of meat, vegetables, and carbohydrates, and vegetable rice pilaf can help address two of those factors, with meatloaf filling up the protein role. Unlike regular steamed rice, vegetable rice pilaf contains veggies seasoned with spices and cooked in a rich stock. Hello flavor!

While vegetable rice pilaf is usually mistaken with risotto or other flavored rice dishes, rice pilaf originates from the middle east, and has more defined rice grains. However, the depth of flavor from the various aromatics remain the same, and best of all, you can use up old veggies from the back of your cupboard.

Try This Recipe: This one-pot vegetable rice pilaf recipe is intensely flavorful due to the vegetables and rice being cooked together in vegetable stock, with a selection of fragrant spices. 

Sauteed Cabbage

sauteed cabbage

When you think of cabbage, coleslaw often comes to mind, but did you know that sauteing cabbage can help neutralize the bitterness of this vegetable, while ensuring a tender bite? Often prepared in this method across Asian populations, sauteed cabbage can be cooked quickly as your meatloaf is in the oven.

Cooking cabbage on the stovetop results in a slightly sweet flavor profile that develops due to the slight caramelization. While you can certainly go crazy with the different types of sauces or spices used in this side dish, the natural taste of cabbage really shines when incorporated with garlic or other aromatics.

Try This Recipe: This lemon garlic sauteed cabbage recipe includes a spritz of lemon to brighten up the dish and a generous helping of minced garlic. 

Southern Coleslaw

southern coleslaw

Creamy, crunchy, and oh-so-refreshing on a hot summer’s day, southern coleslaw only tastes better once it’s left to marinate in the fridge overnight. Coleslaw generally consists of mixed and chopped cabbage and carrot, which is then covered with a creamy dressing made with mayo, dijon mustard, vinegar, and seasonings. Once combined, coleslaw adds a tangy kick to any meat dish, including meatloaf. 

One of the best things about coleslaw is its convenience and versatility. It’s known as one of the easiest side dishes because you can whip it up beforehand and leave it in the fridge before serving. In fact, it tastes even better once the flavors get to marinate. Serve coleslaw on the side of meatloaf or even in a meatloaf sandwich. We said it was versatile! 

Try This Recipe: This Southern coleslaw can be prepared in just a few minutes and has a zingy dressing with celery seed and apple cider vinegar. 

Baked Potatoes

baked potato

The quintessential baked potato — comforting, warming, and the perfect accompaniment to a roast meat, like meatloaf. While classic recipes for baked potatoes call for baking whole potatoes until they become tender on the inside and crispy on the outside, why not take it one step further and top them with sour cream, bacon, cheese, and other condiments? 

While you can play around with the different types of potatoes, most chefs recommend large and starchy ones, like russet or Idaho. It also helps that one potato is plenty for each person, although we certainly won’t tell if you make two or three just for yourself. 

Try This Recipe: This baked potato recipe makes potatoes that are divinely soft and fluffy on the inside, with a crispy and crunchy outer skin layer. 

Fresh Green Salad

fresh green salad

During the warmer months or picnic season, a fresh green salad is a side worth savoring when it comes to adding a touch of cool refreshment to your meal. Plus, it’s a healthy vegetable side for dishes that are rich in protein, like meatloaf. The versatility of green salads are a big factor — simply chop and add in your favorite veggies and top with a homemade or store-bought dressing. 

You can also play around with the different tastes and textures in your salad. For example, adding in some fresh lemon zest or feta cheese for a sharp bite, or topping it with dried cranberries, pine nuts, or sunflower seeds for extra chew and crunch. 

Try This Recipe: This super simple green salad recipe is extremely customizable and tastes incredible, with an easy-to-whip-up 6-ingredient homemade dressing. 

Pasta Salad

pasta salad

Who says that salads have to just be a mix of different leaves? Pasta salad is just as refreshing and versatile as a regular salad, but with extra substance and satiety due to the pasta. Plus, unlike regular salads which can wilt if left in the refrigerator for too long, pasta salads often include tomatoes and cucumbers, so it can be made and stored ahead of time. 

Apart from bringing a much-needed dose of freshness and lively flavors to your meatloaf, pasta salad is one of those dishes that the whole family can take part in making. You’ll just need to boil the pasta shells ahead of time, before you assemble with all your favorite veggies and seasonings. 

Try This Recipe: This pasta salad recipe has contrasting tastes and textures, with salty feta cheese, juicy cherry tomatoes, chickpeas for bite, and pine nuts for crunch. 

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