Chicken wings are to casual parties what pumpkins are to Halloween.
Budget-friendly and easily prepared in large batches, chicken wings have become a natural staple of tailgates, picnics, and pot lucks.
With hundreds of sauce and seasoning combinations, this crowd-pleasing dish never gets old.
However, no matter how good they are, chicken wings alone don’t make a meal!
The right side dishes can elevate your gathering from good to picture perfect.
Choose dishes that complement the wings’ flavor, from teriyaki or barbecue to smoky or spicy.
Here are five of the best sides to serve with your favorite chicken wings:
1) Cucumber salad to bring down the heat
Even the most enthusiastic spice lovers need to cool down eventually.
Cucumbers contain 96% water, making them one of the most refreshing vegetables (according to Livestrong) and the perfect side dish to accompany spicy chicken wings.(1)
Cucumber salad also wins points for simplicity.
Many recipes contain only a few easily-accessible ingredients, like this recipe from Betty Crocker that only calls for cucumbers, water, vinegar, sugar, and seasoning.(2)
When your mouth is on fire from buffalo sauce, keep the saying “cool as cucumber” in mind and soothe your taste buds (and your stomach) with this refreshing salad.
2) Baked beans for tangy sweetness
If you prefer warm side dishes to salads, then it’s hard to say no to the convenience and taste of a hearty baked beans recipe.
The perfect match for barbecue wings, baked beans are easy to make in a slow cooker and require little prep time.
Make-ahead sides are a huge stress reliever, especially if you’re making wings for a large gathering. 100 Days of Real Food offers a wholesome recipe that takes five minutes to prepare, contains zero processed ingredients, and costs next to nothing.(3)
Bonus: this dish tastes great the next day, so keep the leftovers and enjoy the day after your wing feast.
3) Potato salad to satisfy hunger
Chicken wings don’t offer as much meat as other cuts, so don’t hesitate to serve sturdy sides to keep hunger pangs at bay.
As reported in the Chicago Tribune, potatoes were revealed to be one of the most satisfying foods on the University of Sydney’s Satiety Index.(4)
But scientific data aside, who doesn’t enjoy a good potato salad?
The dish’s versatility makes it a convenient option for special diets. Sugar-free, gluten-free, or dairy-free, it’s easy to adapt potato salad to please just about anyone.
Start with a basic recipe, then adjust or add mix-ins like turmeric, bacon or green peas to bring the dish up a notch.
4) Macaroni and cheese for the ultimate comfort food
Homestyle fried chicken wings call for a classic southern side dish. Macaroni and cheese might pack more calories than the other sides on this list, but its rich creaminess makes for a sumptuous treat adored by kids and adults alike.
For authentic southern mac, use high-quality ingredients and bake the dish in the oven as you would a casserole.
Southern Living’s recipe is a great place to start.(5)
Feel free to experiment with different cheese combinations or extra spice to please grown-up palettes.
The smooth cheese sauce complements crispy fried chicken with all the comfort of your favorite childhood memories.
5) Asian coleslaw for crunch and freshness
A modern alternative to the mayonnaise-based slaw, Asian-inspired vinegar slaw pairs well with teriyaki chicken wings.
Sweet wings, while flavorful, are often sticky and filling. Pairing them with rich, heavy sides can induce a food coma faster than you can say soy sauce.
Vinegar coleslaw’s sourness balances honeyed wings with cool, fresh crunch and keeps mouths watering.
Sesame oil and rice vinegar give a nod to the wings’ Asian flavors without overpowering the vegetables.
The below recipe adapted from Taste of Home is loaded with wholesome veggies, ensuring a balanced meal with minimal cleanup.
Asian Coleslaw adapted from Taste of Home (6)
Time: 15 minutes preparation + at least one hour for chilling
- 5 cups sliced red cabbage
- 2 sliced green onions
- 4 medium grated carrots
- 2 tablespoons minced mint
- 2 tablespoons minced cilantro
- 1 tablespoon sesame seed oil
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1/3 cup rice vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1/4 cup chopped cashews
- Toss the vegetables and herbs in a large salad bowl.
- Whisk the rest of the ingredients together in a smaller dish.
- Pour the dressing over the vegetables and toss.
- Refrigerate for at least one hour or until chilled.
- Serve topped with nuts.
- Add wontons, water chestnuts or ramen noodles for extra crunch.
- Prepare in advance to save time and reduce stress.
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While the suggestions listed above include relatively easy sides to serve with chicken wings, there’s nothing wrong with keeping it simple.
Supposedly, the first chicken wings were deep-fried and served with celery and blue cheese because that’s what Buffalo restaurant owner Teressa Bellissimo had on hand.
Whether you prefer sticking with tradition, trying something new, or something in between, don’t forget these golden rules:
- Choose sides that complement the wings’ flavor.
- Adapt recipes as needed for diners’ preferences and dietary requirements.
- Don’t be afraid to take your own spin on classic sides.
What’s your favorite side dish to serve with chicken wings?