Healthy Recipes




14 Healthy Sides for Ribs—From Smoky Sides to Salad

2 racks of ribs sitting on brown paper with barbeque sauce brush, sides of cole slaw, baked beans and garnished with fresh thyme herbs

14 Healthy Sides for Ribs—From Smoky Sides to Salad

Throwing a rack of barbecued ribs on the grill is one of summer's most highly anticipated culinary endeavors. Of course, ribs aren't a summer exclusive; they can be enjoyed all year round! Even better, they're typically accompanied by some stellar sidekicks that are filling, tasty, and even nostalgic—no matter the season. If you're searching for some healthy new side dishes to add to your rib-roasting repertoire, we've got you covered. Here are 14 healthy sides to accompany your next ribs feast—from fresh salads and roasted veggies to smoky selections that will have your mouth watering.

Spicy hot grilled spare ribs from a summer BBQ served with a hot chili pepper and fresh tomatoes on an old vintage wooden cutting board


The Classics

Collard Greens

There's nothing cozier than a giant pot of greens simmering on the stovetop, right? Here are several health-conscious ways to cook greens (did you know greens can be grilled?) without all of the extra sodium and calories.

Garlic Mashed Potatoes

Mashed potatoes are always a hit, and incorporating a bit of garlic only adds to the flavor profile. This recipe offers a healthier take than the typical butter-laden iterations, by using skim milk and avoiding butter altogether — a great way to enjoy a classic dish without all of the fat content!

Baked Beans

Baked beans have long been a go-to side dish when we're searching for something hearty and delicious. Not to mention, they pack a serious protein punch! This recipe uses maple syrup and Dijon mustard to replace the sugary condiments that often form the foundation of a baked bean dish.

Greek Yogurt Coleslaw

To be fair, any coleslaw that isn't chock full of mayonnaise and sugar is a step in the right direction when it comes to a healthy side dish. This particular coleslaw substitutes fat-heavy mayo with Greek yogurt, and sugar with honey. It also offers up some clean (low-carb, vegetarian, and gluten-free) eating with tons of veggies, parsley, apple cider vinegar, and more. Yum!

Gluten-Free Cornbread

Whether you're on a gluten-free diet or not, this cornbread recipe offers a healthier take on traditional cornbread by subbing in shortening and buttermilk and forgoing some of the sugar content. It's also vegetarian!

2 racks of ribs sitting on brown paper with barbeque sauce brush, sides of cole slaw, baked beans and garnished with fresh thyme herbs
Side dishes don't have to be overly calorie-heavy — whether we're talking baked beans, macaroni salad, or coleslaw. Image: Teri Virbickis, Shutterstock

©Teri Virbickis/Shutterstock.com


Potato Salad

For a healthy potato salad that celebrates tubers without drenching them in mayonnaise and other saturated fats, this recipe is perfection. Plus, dill and green onions add just the right depth of flavor.

Watermelon and Feta Salad

There's just something intriguing about the combination of crisp, summery watermelon and creamy feta. Throw in some fresh cucumber and top it with a mint-lime dressing, and you won't be disappointed.

Greek Salad

While there may be quite a number of ingredients in this salad, each one of them serves an essential (and tasty!) purpose. The ideal Mediterranean side dish, this healthy salad includes everything from tomato wedges, red onion rings, and green pepper to tangy Kalamata olives, creamy feta cheese, and homemade dressing.

Crunchy “Detox” Salad

Made with an abundance of fresh ingredients such as broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, almonds, sunflower seeds, ginger, and honey, this salad is an immunity-boosting, detoxifying, energy-intensifying side dish that happens to be delicious! Did we mention it's also vegetarian, gluten-free, and Paleo-friendly?


Roasted Asparagus with Feta Cheese

This side dish of crisp asparagus is seasoned with everything from lemon zest and parsley to red pepper flakes and garlic, then topped with feta and roasted. It's quick, easy, and tasty, too.

10-Minute Miso Corn on the Cob

Topped with flavorful, plant-based ingredients such as white miso, tamari, vegan butter, maple syrup, cilantro, and lime juice, this corn on the cob will add some unconventional umami to your meal!

Roasted Green Beans

A very simple dish that perfectly complements ribs, these green beans only have four ingredients. Talk about an easy accompaniment! Not to mention, green beans are an incredibly healthy addition to your diet, as they are chock full of protein, fiber, potassium, folate, and vitamin C.

Smoky Sides

Chipotle Honey-Roasted Carrots

Chipotle is a wonderful ingredient that'll put a little pep in your step. This wonderfully sweet and spicy side dish is both gluten-free and Paleo-friendly, and it's no secret that carrots are full of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.

Smoky Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Vegan, soy-free, and gluten-free, this dish is smoky, savory, and good for you, too! With smoked paprika, thyme, garlic, and a pinch of cayenne pepper balanced out by maple syrup, these Brussels sprouts offer just the right amount of heat.

Recipe Card

Now that you have some delicious sides, try a tasty recipe for ribs. Enjoy!

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A rack of delicious baby back ribs with barbecue sauce, french fries, coleslaw and beer.

Sweet and Sour Barbecued Baby Back Ribs

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  • Author: MomsWhoThink.com


Units Scale
  • 1 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 4 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 small onion, chopped
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1/2 teaspoon pepper
    6 pounds baby back ribs


  1. Mix together the ketchup, water, honey, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, onion, salt, and pepper.
  2. Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Prepare a charcoal grill, and cook ribs over medium-hot coals, turning occasionally. Brush ribs with sauce after each turn.
  4. Cook ribs until desired doneness.
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