19 Low-Carb Side Dishes to Round Out Your Healthy Meal

Red Cabbage and Radicchio Slaw
Photo: Blaine Moats

With grilled dinners and fresh seasonal produce, the classic foods of summer tend to be lower in carbohydrates. Keep things on the lighter side with this collection of healthy low-carb side dishes and salads that round out meals in a nutritious and delicious way. Each one rings in with fewer than 15 grams of carbohydrates per serving.

01 of 19

Cucumber-Corn Salad

Cucumber-Corn Salad
Carson Downing

Sweet, salty, citrusy, peppery, creamy, and crunchy. Yep, we say this one hits all the right flavor and texture marks. This low-carb cucumber salad with corn is just the thing to pack up and take to an informal outdoor gathering or your own backyard. Just be sure to bring the recipe with you, because this is one everybody will be asking you for.

02 of 19

Easy Roasted Broccoli with Pecorino and Lemon

sheet pan with Roasted Broccoli, Pecorino and Lemon
Blaine Moats

You need three things to make broccoli a star: a sheet pan, a squeeze of lemon, and some cheese. But not just any cheese. Umami-rich Pecorino Romano is salty and tangy in all the right places. And by roasting this oft-misunderstood veggie on a baking sheet, it gets an appealing char and delicious texture that can't be overlooked.

Buy It: Nordic Ware Naturals Baker's Half Sheet ($12, Target)

03 of 19

Air-Fried Mediterranean Vegetable Medley

Mediterranean Vegetable Medley
Antonis Achilleos

When the grill is overtaken by burgers and brats, turn to your air fryer to make the meal complete. A colorful tray of bright summer vegetables—perfectly tender, crisped at the edges, and infused with Mediterranean flavors—is just the thing for easy alfresco dinners.

Buy It: Power XL Vortex Air Fryer ($150, Bed Bath & Beyond)

04 of 19

Honey-Cumin Roasted Carrots

Honey-Cumin Roasted Carrots
Andy Lyons

Cumin seeds are the unexpected addition that give these carrots their complex and interesting flavor. Though they are delish on their own, we recommend blending them with some vegetable broth and turning them into a smooth, spiced soup that is perfect for sipping.

05 of 19

Red Cabbage and Radicchio Slaw

Red Cabbage and Radicchio Slaw
Blaine Moats

Not only are the regal purple and dark red hues of this classed-up slaw beautiful to look at, but the bitter-sweet vibe is just what you want to complement a meat-centric main dish. Although you can get your hands on pomegranate seeds year-round, fresh raspberries are a suitable replacement, providing the same sweet-tangy notes when it's not peak pomegranate season.

06 of 19

Greek Garden Pasta Salad

Greek Garden Pasta Salad
Scott Little

You think the perfect low-carb pasta salad doesn't exist? Oh, yes, it does! Creamy and filled with the fresh Greek seasonings you love, this summer pasta salad doesn't cut any flavor corners. Kalamata olives, juicy tomatoes, red pepper, and crunchy cucumber accompany cooked spiral or bow tie pasta for a fresh take on the familiar.

07 of 19

Cauliflower-Potato Mash

Cauliflower-Potato Mash
Aya Brackett

Craving mashed potatoes but not the carb load? Here's the recipe you've been looking for, complete with the best cauli-to-tater ratio plus simple spices. The secret is to whir the roasted cauliflower quickly in a food processor before folding it into creamy mashed potatoes. You'll want to bookmark this as one of your go-to low-carb sides.

08 of 19

Caesar Salad with Parmesan Croutons

Caesar Salad with Parmesan Croutons
Scott Little

This is a classic restaurant-quality Caesar salad, complete with anchovy dressing, a garlic-rubbed bowl, and Parmesan-infused croutons. The special touches are worth it, and you'll see why this recipe stands the test of time. Serve it on chilled plates with fresh cracked black pepper for a bit of effortless drama.

09 of 19

Broccolini with Peas & Seared Lemons

Broccolini with Peas and Seared Lemons
Blaine Moats

Lemons, butter, and crushed red pepper make a deliciously dangerous combo. Together, they make for a pretty broccolini dish that might just disappear before the main dish even arrives. Proceed without caution and file this one away as a winning low-carb dinner side.

10 of 19

Cucumber-Radish Slaw

Cucumber-Radish Slaw
Andy Lyons

Sometimes it's the simplest ideas that leave the biggest impression. And so it is with this seemingly plain yet perfect side dish. Fresh cukes meet bell peppers and peppery radishes for a refreshingly vibrant slaw reminiscent of those wildly popular refrigerator pickles.

11 of 19

Wilted Spinach Salad

Wilted Spinach Salad
Scott Little

If you are new to wilted spinach salads, let this recipe be your guide. Bacon drippings provide the base for a savory, flavorful dressing. And the nutritious mix-ins take it to the next level: mushrooms, chopped hard-cooked egg, and crispy bacon.

12 of 19

Herbed Dijon Marinated Veggies

Herbed Dijon-Marinated Veggies
Karla Conrad

Tender, raw veggies get a quick soak in a herbaceous wine-mustard marinade that you can serve today or make ahead for an easy tomorrow. The fresh infusion is a simple way to keep your summer garden bumper crop interesting. Serve them in a bowl or strung onto skewers for a fancied-up presentation.

Buy It: OXO Twist & Pour Salad Dressing Mixer ($22, Crate & Barrel)

13 of 19

Cucumber, Tomatoes, and Mint

Cucumber Tomatoes and Mint
Jason Donnelly

Looking for easy low-carb sides for burgers? Just five ingredients plus a dash of salt are all you need to bring this vibrantly simple salad to the table. The unexpected addition is fresh mint, which pairs amazingly well with the lemony vinaigrette and intensifies everything you love about fresh summer tomatoes.

14 of 19

Mediterranean Three-Bean Salad

Mediterranean Three-Bean Salad
Carson Downing

Beans are incredibly nutritious, but it can be hard to fit beans into your arsenal of low-carb side dishes. This dish combines summer shelling beans with fresh wax and green beans for a delicious take on the popular three-bean salad. A quick toss in a simple vinaigrette and a garnish of crumbled feta bring this one to the table.

15 of 19

Creamy Sweet Potato Salad

Creamy Sweet Potato Salad
Blaine Moats

This highly rated low-carb potato salad combines cubed and roasted sweet potatoes with hard-cooked eggs, dill, and picante peppers in a creamy mayo-yogurt dressing. While it isn't your traditional potato salad recipe, the sweet potatoes provide a cool pop of flavor and a significant nutrition makeover.

16 of 19

Blackberry Salad with Creamy Feta

Blackberry Salad with Creamy Feta
Sara Remington

The contrast of sweet fresh blackberries, salty feta, and tangy pickled onions make for one unexpected and very delicious low carb fruit salad. To get the feta the perfect creamy consistency, spin it quickly in a food processor with a small drizzle of spicy olive oil and a dash of crushed red pepper flakes.

17 of 19

Stacked Summer Vegetable Salad

Stacked Summer Vegetable Salad

This stacked salad is sure to elicit sighs of delight and awe at your next barbeque, but it is surprisingly easy to assemble. Use a mandoline or vegetable peeler to shave off evenly thin slices of zucchini, carrots, and onion before assembling and dressing everything in a 2-quart square dish. You can make the dish up to 12 hours in advance, so it's a great option for either a weeknight or weekend gathering.

18 of 19

Three-Melon Skewers

Three-Melon Skewers
REBEKAH PHOTOGRAPHY

In the hot days of summer, icy cold melon is nature's refreshing gift to you. Keep it low carb by threading large chunks of watermelon, cantaloupe, and honeydew onto short skewers and drizzling with a fresh mint-lime dressing or a sprinkle of chile-lime salt. To keep things cold, serve the tricolor skewers on an ice block set inside a rimmed tray.

19 of 19

Radicchio and Roasted Butternut Squash Salad

Radicchio & Roasted Butternut Squash Salad on oval white platter
Con Poulos

If grilled steaks or pork chops are on the menu, this bright salad is what you'll want to serve on the side. The bitter radicchio, sweet squash, and acidic vinaigrette provide the same effect as serving a robust red wine, balancing the palate and filling each bite with layers of flavor.

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