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Top 7 Sides for Your Grilled Chicken Feast: Guide to Perfect Pairings

Top 7 Sides for Your Grilled Chicken Feast: Guide to Perfect Pairings

Feb 13th 2024

Grilled chicken is a staple in many households, especially during the warmer months when the grill becomes the center of culinary creativity. The smoky, juicy, and tender qualities of perfectly grilled chicken can be elevated to new heights with the right side dishes. Whether planning a casual family dinner or a larger barbecue gathering, the sides you choose can transform your meal from simple to spectacular.

This guide will explore a variety of side dishes, from vegetables and salads to the perfect use of marinades and seasonings, ensuring your grilled chicken is accompanied by flavors that are as rich and complex as the main course itself.

Vegetables and Salads

Grilled Vegetables: Grilled chicken's smoky flavor pairs wonderfully with grilled vegetables' charred, sweet, and tender qualities. Skewers of onions, peppers, zucchini, and tomatoes lightly brushed with olive oil, garlic, and herbs make for a colorful and delicious option. Remember corn on the cob, which can be perfectly grilled and seasoned with butter, salt, and a sprinkle of spices.

Salads: A fresh salad offers a crisp contrast to the rich flavors of grilled chicken. A simple mixed greens salad with a lemon-herb dressing or a more substantial Greek salad with cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, olives, and feta cheese provides a refreshing side.

Consider a vibrant potato salad with a mustard or herb dressing or a cucumber salad with dill, yogurt, and garlic for a cool, tangy complement.

Creative Carb Options

Rice and Pasta Salads: Rice or pasta salad can be a hearty addition to your meal. Incorporate grilled vegetables, fresh herbs, and a light vinaigrette to tie the flavors together. A lemony orzo salad with grilled asparagus, cherry tomatoes, and feta is a delightful choice.

Potatoes in All Forms: Beyond potato salad, consider roasted baby potatoes with rosemary and garlic or sweet potato fries seasoned with smoky paprika. These starchy sides offer a satisfying texture and flavor that complements grilled chicken.

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Marinades and Seasonings

Utilizing marinades and seasonings for your chicken and side dishes can create a harmonious meal. A marinade of olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, and herbs can infuse chicken and vegetables with flavor. When grilling, basting the chicken and veggies with the same marinade helps to maintain moisture and adds an extra layer of taste.

Top 7 Side Dishes For Grilled Chicken

After exploring the basics of pairing sides with grilled chicken, let's dive into seven specific side dishes that will elevate your grilled chicken to a gourmet level. Each side brings a unique flavor and texture, ensuring your meal is memorable and varied.

Quinoa Tabbouleh

A light yet nutritious side, quinoa tabbouleh is a twist on the traditional Middle Eastern salad. It combines cooked quinoa with fresh parsley, mint, tomatoes, cucumber, and a zesty lemon-olive oil dressing. This dish is delicious and offers a healthy boost of protein and fiber, perfectly complementing the lean protein of grilled chicken.

Balsamic Grilled Brussels Sprouts

Brussels sprouts transform into a caramelized delight when grilled and tossed with balsamic vinegar and a touch of honey for sweetness. These make for a slightly tangy and earthy side that contrasts beautifully with the smoky flavors of grilled chicken.

Cauliflower Steak

Thick cauliflower slices brushed with a flavorful marinade of garlic, herbs, and spices, then grilled until tender and slightly charred, serve as a hearty vegetarian option. Cauliflower steaks offer a substantial texture and complex flavor profile that matches grilled chicken well.

Charred Lemon-Garlic Broccoli

Broccoli florets quickly charred on the grill and then tossed with a dressing of lemon zest, garlic, and red pepper flakes to provide a bright and spicy side dish. The charred bits add a smoky depth, while the lemon and garlic brighten up the dish, making it an ideal companion to chicken.

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Smoky Grilled Sweet Potato Wedges

Sweet potato wedges become irresistibly smoky and tender on the grill. Season them with a blend of smoked paprika, garlic powder, and a hint of cayenne for heat. Serve with a cool cilantro-lime yogurt dip to balance the spices, offering a sweet and spicy side that complements the grilled chicken's savory notes.

Grilled Ratatouille

A medley of summer vegetables, including eggplant, zucchini, bell peppers, and tomatoes, grilled and tossed with a rich tomato sauce and fresh herbs. This French classic becomes a rustic, smoky side dish that pairs beautifully with grilled chicken, bringing a touch of Provence to your barbecue.

Cilantro Lime Rice

Light and fluffy rice seasoned with fresh cilantro, lime zest, and juice creates a simple yet vibrant side dish. Its freshness contrasts grilled chicken's smoky, savory flavors, and it acts as a perfect base for any grilled vegetable toppings or sauces.

Each side dish offers a unique set of flavors and textures that can complement grilled chicken. From the hearty and rustic to the light and refreshing, there's something in this list to suit any preference or dietary need, ensuring your grilled chicken meal is well-rounded and bursting with flavor. The key to a great meal is variety; you're sure to impress guests with these sides.


Pairing side dishes with grilled chicken is about balancing flavors and textures. Consider the seasoning of your chicken when selecting sides. A spicy marinade might pair well with a cooling salad, while a more subtle, herb-infused chicken could stand up to the bold flavors of grilled vegetables and tangy sauces. The perfect sides for grilled chicken extend beyond the traditional options. By incorporating a variety of vegetables, embracing salads with fresh and savory ingredients, and utilizing marinades and seasonings that complement the smoky, juicy flavors of grilled chicken, you can create a balanced and delicious meal. Remember, the best side dishes bring joy to your table and enhance the flavors of your main course, making every bite a celebration of taste and texture.