25 Best Fried Chicken Sides

When it comes to eating fried chicken, picking the sides is the only hard choice you have to make. The main course is so popular that you already know nobody is getting anything different, so all your indecision and personal preferences get funneled into the abundance of side dishes.

Do you go all-in on comfort with a side of mac and cheese, or do you lighten it up with a salad? Or better yet, do you make a bunch of sides and split them all with your group?

The blessing and the curse of fried chicken sides is that so many of them are so good. Who really wants to choose between mashed potatoes and a fluffy biscuit? Well, we are sorry to say that we're about to make things even more complicated for you.

We have a big list of fantastic sides for you to choose from here. But the good news is that you don't have to choose just one of these sides to make for dinner; a lot of options will complement each other in addition to the chicken.

1. Green Chili Mac & Cheese

The best fried chicken sides bring something that the centerpiece is lacking. Mac and cheese offers something obvious (cheese), and is also a rich, gooey accompaniment to crispy chicken.

This green chili mac and cheese is not only one of the best versions of the classic dish, it also adds some extra spice and vegetal flavor that help balance out the fried entrée. Some canned green chilis are all you need on top of your standard mac and cheese ingredients, but the changes they bring are huge and very welcome.

Recipe: Green Chili Mac & Cheese

2. Oven-Baked Sweet Potato Fries

Baked sweet potato fries are a nutritious alternative when regular fries begin to feel a little redundant next to another salty fried dish. They are easy to make at home — all you need to do is slice them, toss them in a little oil, and bake.

The sweetness gets some savory elements from garlic powder, smoked paprika, and chili powder, giving your fries an enjoyable mild level of heat and a bit more of a kick. Light and tender, these fries are a great counterweight to the oily flavor of fried chicken.

Recipe: Oven-Baked Sweet Potato Fries

3. Buttermilk Belgian Waffles

Whether you are drizzling syrup or gravy over it, chicken and waffles is a soul food mainstay that's hard to beat. You'll need a waffle maker, of course, but when you get your hands on one, this recipe will be your ticket to fluffy, crispy waffles that frozen ones just can't compete with.

The use of buttermilk in the batter adds some extra tang that makes these waffles a little more complex — meaning they pair even better with sweet toppings, fried chicken, or both.

Recipe: Buttermilk Belgian Waffles

4. Lemon Garlic Green Beans

Every part of this dish is bright and lively — the perfect accompaniment for any heavier, meaty main course. Crisp, cool green beans get a quick blanch, which deepens their flavor and color while maintaining their crunchy texture.

The sauce — a simple mixture of butter, garlic, and lemon juice with salt and pepper – is prepared separately. Toss to combine the two at the end, and you have a ten-minute side dish that adds a shot of vegetable freshness and acidity to your meal.

Recipe: Lemon Garlic Green Beans

5. Classic Southern Potato Salad

This is a barbecue staple, and we aren't going to mess with it too much here — we'll just try and make the best possible version of this beloved side. Yukon gold potatoes bring the right mix of flavor and texture when they're boiled to a soft consistency that breaks up a bit without collapsing completely.

The mayo is joined by a healthy helping of mustard and a nice Southern twist with some sweet relish. Celery gives everything a fresh crunch, and the hard-boiled eggs finish it all off with some extra fat and body.

Recipe: Classic Southern Potato Salad

6. Easy Baked Acorn Squash

Squash isn't as common when it comes to sides for fried chicken, but it can do everything that sweet potato can do while also bringing some new flavors to the mix. This appealingly effortless recipe involves just a few spices like garlic and chili powder to balance out the squash's mild, lightly sweet taste.

You can even leave the skin on as you slice the squash — it roasts up in the oven, becoming delightfully edible and crispy. It's a great introduction to acorn squash and a nice alternative for your fried chicken spread.

Recipe: Easy Baked Acorn Squash

7. Easy Fried Green Tomatoes

Despite being fried, these green tomatoes have a light flavor, making them a wonderful side that's great for dipping. The seasoning is sparse, with just garlic powder joining salt and pepper, but this is ideal since you don't want too much to distract from the tasty tomatoes.

A buttermilk and egg mixture is the binder for the breadcrumbs, and it also adds a touch of sourness. After the quick assembly, the coated slices only need a few minutes of frying to become perfectly soft and tender on the inside and brown and crispy on the outside.

Recipe: Easy Fried Green Tomatoes

8. Super Slow-Cooked Loaded Baked Potato

Why make the tough choice of which sides to have with your fried chicken when you can just pick one that gives you everything? The secret to this recipe is the long cooking time, which may seem like an inconvenience until you taste the crunchy, flavorful skin of the slow-cooked spud.

Paired with cheese, sour cream, bacon, and chives, the creamy, melty side is also hearty and filling. You may have to wait three hours, but your patience will be rewarded.

Recipe: Super Slow-Cooked Loaded Baked Potato

9. Creamy Macaroni Salad

This macaroni salad hits all the notes you want it to, but also gets extra tasty and refreshing, thanks to a wide array of fresh vegetables. The creamy dressing is a mix of mayo, sour cream, and Dijon mustard, along with earthy celery seeds, some apple cider vinegar for a little acidity, and a touch of honey for well-rounded sweetness.

The base is decked out with onion, celery, bell pepper, tomatoes, and pickles, which bring great contrast to the dish by adding crunch and bright flavors.

Recipe: Creamy Macaroni Salad

10. Fabulous Yellow Squash Casserole

Cheese and potatoes in various forms always go well with fried chicken, but this side dish switches things up a bit by using summer squash instead of spuds. Baked in a cheesy mixture with eggs and sour cream, yellow squash becomes soft and fork tender, but still retains a meatiness that holds up to the other rich ingredients.

All you need to do is slice some squash, toss it in a casserole dish with the cheese filling and a seasoned breadcrumb topping, and bake it to get a warm, inviting side that can feed a crowd.

Recipe: Fabulous Yellow Squash Casserole

11. Easy Grilled Corn On The Cob And Garlic Butter

Corn on the cob is hard to top, but a few small tweaks to the usual butter and salt really elevate it. Mixing crushed garlic into the melted butter lends some real depth of flavor and a little acidity.

Parsley also brings a little bit of peppery brightness, contrasting the sweetness from the corn and fat from the butter. It's everything you love about corn on the cob — with just enough of a twist to make it special.

Recipe: Easy Grilled Corn On The Cob And Garlic Butter

12. Pan Fried Okra

This is a great recipe for okra lovers and haters alike, creating some herbal bite-sized morsels that are a natural pair for fried chicken. Cooking the okra in a pan before breading helps evaporate the slime that puts some people off.

The vegetable also gets fried right in the same pan, as all you need to do is mix in cornmeal and some seasonings, then toss everything to coat. A little oil will fry it up into a crunchy side dish that anyone will enjoy.

Recipe: Pan Fried Okra

13. Grilled Watermelon Salad

As good as salad can be, it's unlikely to be the star alongside fried chicken, but this unique watermelon salad just might pull it off. Grilling the watermelon makes it far more complex and interesting — with a combination of sweet, smoky, and savory flavors.

The rest of the salad is simple but tasty, with spinach, a homemade balsamic reduction, and some cooling herbs in the form of basil and mint. The crumbled cotija cheese added at the end is creamy and salty, yet mild enough to blend in and complement the other ingredients.

Recipe: Grilled Watermelon Salad

14. Slow Cooker Baked Beans

Baked beans are a cookout classic, and this slow cooker version lets you whip up a family-sized portion with little effort. Bacon brings the smokiness you want and doesn't even need to be cooked before going in the pot. But it should be placed below the other ingredients to make sure the fat is rendered.

The standard baked bean combo of barbecue sauce, molasses, vinegar, and brown sugar gets some unexpected help from gochujang, a Korean chili paste that adds just a little heat and tons of extra depth.

Recipe: Slow Cooker Baked Beans

15. Crispy Fluffy Hush Puppies

Sometimes, something crunchy and juicy just needs a fluffy friend. For that job, nothing can beat these fried pillows of flavor. In this version, tangy buttermilk gets replaced with apple cider vinegar, and the hush puppies gain some added spice from the addition of diced jalapeño.

You don't need any big pots to fry them either — a shallow pool of oil in a pan is all you need. Served alongside ranch, Thousand Island dressing, or any dip of your choice, these bites will be a real crowd-pleaser.

Recipe: Crispy Fluffy Hush Puppies

16. Creamy Instant Pot Mashed Potatoes

Mashed potatoes may be the go-to fried chicken side, and we are not going to argue with that wisdom. The soft richness that makes them such a good partner gains an extra boost here with the inclusion of just a little mayonnaise.

Sour cream, Parmesan, and plenty of butter ensure that the mash is tangy, smooth, and so flavorful that it doesn't even need a topping. And the use of an Instant Pot means perfectly cooked spuds, but you can still use this recipe with potatoes cooked the normal way if you don't have one.

Recipe: Creamy Instant Pot Mashed Potatoes

17. Mustard Green Salad

This is a simple salad that's perfect as a side dish, but it still has plenty of flavor, thanks to the main ingredient: peppery mustard greens. Massaging the greens with acidic lemon juice helps soften them up and make them easier to eat.

These then get tossed with a bright lemon dressing. Green apple and dill are the only other additions — lending pleasing crunch, sweetness, and some herbal depth.

Recipe: Mustard Green Salad

18. Air Fryer French Fries

Satisfy your french fry craving without the hassle of deep frying by busting out the air fryer. The secret is soaking the sliced spuds in an ice bath to draw out starch. This step helps them crisp up.

After 20 minutes of cooking, you end up with crispy-on-the-outside, tender-on-the-inside fries. They're also coated in avocado oil and some spices like onion and garlic granules for extra flavor, but it's their wonderfully crunchy texture that's so amazing.

Recipe: Air Fryer French Fries

19. Chopped Caprese Salad

Caprese may not be a typical fried chicken side, but is there really any better salad option for a summer meal? This is as easy as it gets, with just tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil being chopped up and tossed together.

The dressing is simple too: just olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper. It's a no-hassle, minimalistic yet satisfying side that's herbal, fresh, creamy, and a little sharp from the vinegar — everything fried chicken needs help with.

Recipe: Chopped Caprese Salad

20. Old-Fashioned Hot Water Cornbread

Hot water cornbread is an oven-free method that churns out extra-fluffy patties with a crispy exterior. Your standard Southern cornbread ingredients get mixed with boiling water to start, but instead of being baked in a pan, they're formed into rustic balls of dough that are fried on the stovetop.

The result is a cornbread with great contrast in textures and even more flavor than normal from being cooked in oil. It's a tasty twist on skillet cornbread and a great handheld side.

Recipe: Old-Fashioned Hot Water Cornbread

21. Lemony Roasted Potatoes

These roasted potato wedges are so delicious and full of flavor that you might not even need a main course. Lemon juice and zest get combined with a wide variety of spices — including basil, oregano, cinnamon, and nutmeg — for potatoes that are earthy, herby, and tangy.

Wedges give you an excellent ratio of crispy on the outside to creamy on the inside, and an hour-long roast in the oven makes them fork tender. It also doesn't hurt that they're roasted in butter, which soaks into the potatoes, making them delectably rich.

Recipe: Lemony Roasted Potatoes

22. Fluffy Southern Biscuits

No need to go too wide here – biscuits are an art that has basically been perfected. Butter, heavy cream, and buttermilk are the essential dairy mix that gives you the right balance of flavor, richness, and a soft texture. Freezing the butter and grating it also helps the biscuits get those flaky layers that are so important to their appeal.

The one trick here is the addition of cornstarch, which aids the tenderness of the biscuits. And brushing the tops with cream produces a picture-perfect golden-brown finish to match their yummy taste.

Recipe: Fluffy Southern Biscuits

23. Creamy Dill Potato Salad

One of the great things about potato salad is how easily you can riff on it while still maintaining its fundamental appeal. This recipe retains a base of mayo and Dijon mustard, but skips some standard ingredients like eggs or bacon and instead goes light and fresh with lemon, garlic, and dill.

It's still plenty rich and creamy but also cooling and zesty for a more balanced experience. If you want something robust yet bright with your fried chicken, this is it.

Recipe: Creamy Dill Potato Salad

24. Southern Collard Greens

Proper collard greens like this version take some time to make, but their irresistible mix of earthy and slightly bitter notes is something no fried chicken meal should be without. After the greens get washed and soaked, they get cooked in stock with a smoky, salty ham hock, which further tenderizes and infuses them with flavor.

Some apple cider vinegar at the end wakes up the greens just enough after the long two-hour simmer. Collards are a hearty, rustic side that bring big vegetal flavor.

Recipe: Southern Collard Greens

25. Simple Mac And Cheese (With Crunchy Topping)

The simple comfort of boxed mac and cheese meets the deliciousness of homemade with this easy recipe. A classic roux and milk mixture forms the foundation of a cheese sauce made from shredded cheddar.

Then the sauce gets combined with cooked macaroni and baked in a casserole dish until everything is bubbly, browned, and gooey. Tying it all together is a buttery cracker topping, which adds texture and crunch without getting too dry.

Recipe: Simple Mac And Cheese (With Crunchy Topping)