Meatloaf started out as a food made from fridge scraps and table scraps. The leftover cuts of meat were mixed with some cornmeal and baked to make a hearty, filling food that was a novel concoction for poor people in the Great Depression.
It was at that time that meatloaf became widely accepted and an iconic part of American cuisine. It started out as a cheap way to use leftover scraps and the unwanted parts of cows. The undesirable cuts of meat could be used to make a meal that kids and adults both loved, which altered the texture of those meat cuts so that they were more palatable and perhaps not as tough.
Meatloaf has been made tons of different ways over the years. In some parts of the world, they make it with wine and pine nuts. It’s commonly made with onions, liver, and garlic, but there are as many variations of meatloaf as there are places that serve it.
Restaurants like Cracker Barrel offer their own version of meatloaf and may pair it with specific sides. If you are making your own meatloaf at home, you may be thinking about what to cook up with it for dinner. What goes well with meatloaf? We have compiled a list of sides for you that will answer that question for you so that the next time you cook some meatloaf, you will have some good ideas for what to make to go with it.
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If you have eaten meatloaf only once in your life, then you probably had it with mashed potatoes. That’s the standard side dish, and it’s because they go so well together. Potatoes pair well with beef of any kind, which is why burger and fries are such a traditional pairing. For any kind of beef you can think of, there is a potato dish that is meant to go with it as standard.
You don’t have to make your potatoes in a standard way, though. You can add some pizzaz to them by making them super cheesy, adding breadcrumbs to the top, or making cowboy mashed potatoes with baby carrots and peppers.
For smooth and creamy mashed potatoes (which is our favourite way to have them with meatloaf), you just need to add extra milk and butter. The butter adds richness to the flavour and the milk makes them creamier. For chunky mashed potatoes, leave the skin on the potatoes rather than peeling them and don’t puree the potatoes completely. This will also give you a more fibre rich food that is healthier for you.
What goes good with meatloaf besides mashed potatoes? How about steamed asparagus spears with their slightly crunchy and tender texture? These are so easy to make in your microwave. You can steam them by adding a little water to a microwave safe dish and cover with plastic wrap. Cook for about three minutes and then season them when they come out. We like to keep asparagus simple when it comes to seasonings. Just a little salt and pepper and perhaps a dash of garlic powder.
Another simple and delicious way to make asparagus spears is to grill them. You want them cooked enough to be tender and to have black grill marks on them. This gives them a different texture and some added character.
Meatloaf isn’t bready enough that you have to forgo having bread as a side dish. If you make a really flavourful spiced meatloaf, you may want a simple-flavoured bread, like just plain white bread or homemade bread. If your meatloaf is a bit on the bland side, though, then a flavourful bread like garlic bread would be a good choice.
You can buy garlic bread already made and just warm it up, you can make your own from scratch, or you can take regular white bread and make it into garlic bread. This is really easy- just butter the bread and add some garlic powder, then bake for a few minutes. The bread comes out of the oven nice and crispy and ready to eat.
You can also play around with the toppings on garlic bread, adding anchovies, cheese, tomatoes, bell peppers, jalapenos, spinach, mushrooms, turkey, pizza sauce, and more. Usually, the toppings are best when you toast them with the bread.
What vegetable goes with meatloaf? While we like steamed cauliflower, that is kind of a boring choice for a side dish. If you want to spice things up and try something a bit different, then cauliflower tots or fried cauliflower are good variations.
To make these, you’ll need egg, chopped cauliflower, breadcrumbs and some seasonings. They taste excellent with some grated parmesan cheese mixed in as well as a little garlic powder. Fry them in light oil to keep them healthy and then dab them dry with a paper towel to cut down on how much oil you use. It’s not a bad idea to use a healthy oil, like olive or coconut. If you are frying up cauliflower instead of potatoes, you are probably looking for ways to make your food healthier anyway.
We were looking at some options for what goes with meatloaf besides mashed potatoes, and this seemed to us a similar but different enough choice that you might not think of. Creamed spinach is more filling and healthier for you than spinach dip but has a lot of the same ingredients. You can make this yourself with a few ingredients or buy it in the store. You can make yours as creamy or as thick as you like.
Not a lot of leafy vegetables go well with meat, particularly beef, but spinach is an exception. It has less of a watery flavour than lettuce, and that makes it a good pairing. When you make it rich and creamy like in this dish, you turn the veggie into a comfort food, which is a great way to appeal to kids and adults alike.
Macaroni and Cheese
If you ask kids what goes best with meatloaf, they will probably answer with mac and cheese. The two make a great combination, sharing a similar warmth and comfort but offering very different flavours.
Even if you make your mac and cheese from the box, you can add some ingredients to it that really bring out the best in the dish and give it some added texture and flavour. One way to do that is to melt or shred cheese on top of the dish. You can also add breadcrumbs, parsley, bacon bits or garlic powder to yours to make them stand out and to give your family something a bit different to eat.
Mac and cheese doesn’t have to be boring for adults. If you make it from scratch, it will be more flavourful and richer and not taste as processed as boxed mac and cheese. We have never tasted a boxed mac and cheese that was really special, so if you have the time, you should opt to make it for yourself.
Pasta goes well with meatloaf because it offers a starchy alternative to the protein-rich beef. We considered a lot of different pastas, but we think alfredo is a bit different and novel compared to some of the other options. While most people use spaghetti as their companion pasta to meatloaf, we find that there is too much sameness to these dishes. Alfredo offers some variety and changes up the flavour palette considerably.
When making alfredo to pair with meatloaf, we suggest leaving out the meat. Chicken and beef together seem like overkill to us, and we think most people would agree once they tried them together.
You can make this dish quickly using linguine or fettuccine noodles and some canned alfredo sauce, or you can make as much of it as you like from scratch. What goes with meatloaf besides potatoes? We don’t want to leave you with the standard selection, so we think fettucine is an overlooked option.
You can put a few veggies into your meatloaf to use up what is in your fridge and pantry, but you may still have some other vegetables you want to use before they go bad. What goes with meatloaf and mashed potatoes as a side dish that uses up multiple veggies? We suggest the humble coleslaw. This is a dish that seems difficult for many people to get right, because it’s rare to find a really good coleslaw. Sure, there are lots of okay coleslaws, but you want yours to be great.
The difference comes from using simple seasonings and fresh carrots, cabbage, and other vegetables to ensure the taste is right. Then, you also have to get the proportions right. If you use too much mayonnaise or not enough, your coleslaw can be too thick, too watery, or not very flavourful. Find a recipe you trust and follow it carefully if you are attempting this dish.
Saffron Rice and Raisins
This is a dish that’s foreign to a lot of people but is super simple and very nourishing and tasty. So, you make your rice like normal, boiling it and making sure it isn’t too mushy or too dry. Then, mix in a bit of saffron, about a teaspoon for each cup of rice. Add in some raisins and cook on low heat for a couple of minutes and you have a very yummy dish. It’s fast and simple and makes for a great dish when you are stuck for what goes good with meatloaf.
We understand that meatloaf can be a complex dish for someone who hasn’t made it before. As your side dish, you might want something that is simple to make and doesn’t take a lot of time. Could there be anything easier than sliced mushrooms? This is probably one of the best pairings for meatloaf, and it just requires that you slice mushrooms and cook them up in some butter for about five minutes. They will become tender and succulent and flavourful.
What goes with meatloaf that’s faster than that and still tasty? We can’t think of anything, and mushrooms have been a classic pairing with meatloaf and mashed potatoes for a very long time. The light chewiness of the mushroom stands out in comparison to the mushier meatloaf.
Try one of these great sides the next time you make meatloaf. Whether you want something healthy, made with veggies or just easy to do, our list has it all.
What are some vegetable side dishes that pair well with meatloaf?
Many vegetables pair well with the savory, hearty flavor of meatloaf. Roasted vegetables, like carrots, Brussels sprouts, or potatoes, have a depth of flavor that complements meatloaf nicely. Green beans almondine, glazed carrots, or a simple mixed salad can also provide a lighter, refreshing contrast. For something a bit unique, consider a tangy, pickled vegetable salad or a colorful, roasted beet and arugula salad.
Can these side dishes be made ahead of time, and if so, how should they be stored?
Yes, many side dishes can be prepared ahead of time to make dinner prep easier. Most cooked vegetables will keep well in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. If you’re making a salad, you can chop the vegetables ahead of time, but wait to add the dressing until you’re ready to serve. Store these prepped ingredients in air-tight containers in the refrigerator.
Are there any gluten-free or low-carb side options that would complement meatloaf?
Absolutely! Many vegetable sides are naturally gluten-free and low-carb. For instance, a side of roasted Brussels sprouts or a cauliflower mash would work well for both. A green salad with a vinaigrette dressing is another great gluten-free and low-carb option. Remember to always check labels if you’re using any pre-made sauces or dressings to ensure they meet your dietary needs.