You’ve just brought home some delicious, wild-caught Alaskan salmon and you know exactly how you’re going to cook it. You’ve been thinking about it for days. You have all the ingredients on hand and you’re ready to get in the kitchen. You start to gather all of your prep tools — but then, you realize, you can’t serve your family only the salmon, no matter how delicious the end result.
You open the fridge and take a look around. What can you make to compliment your salmon — no matter how you’re planning to cook it — without overpowering it or filling your family’s plates with contrasting, uncomplimentary flavors? What sides go with salmon anyway?
Before we dive to our recommended sides for your salmon dishes, don’t skip this next part. It is necessary to create a thoughtful meal for your loved ones.
How to Choose a Side Dish for Your Salmon’s Flavor Profile
You shouldn’t choose just any of our favorite sides for salmon, based on whatever ingredients you have on hand or however much time you have in the kitchen on any given day. Not every recipe makes for a good side for salmon. You want to choose sides to go with salmon that will appropriately complement your salmon’s flavor profile.
There are a few ways you can go about picking a suitable side dish for your salmon entree.
Go with a theme
This is especially the case with salmon. While sometimes you can pair two menu items based on their differences (for example, a heavy pasta dish with a lighter salad dish), you don’t want to pair salmon with anything overly heavy. So, instead, go with a theme and weave some similarities throughout your menu. You can do this with recipes that incorporate lemon, for example.
Think of seasonal flavors! If it’s in the early spring or late winter months when fresh maple syrup is in season, you might want to pair your maple-basted salmon with an early spring vegetable like asparagus.
When in doubt, you can always pair your salmon with a vegetable side. Just remember not to go too heavy, so avoid starchy vegetables such as potatoes.
10 Good Homemade Side Dishes for Salmon
Ready to get cooking? Based on your plans for your salmon, choose the best side dishes for your meal from the 10 salmon dinner sides below.
1. Perfectly Cooked Green Beans
Green beans are an excellent choice for serving alongside your salmon. The delicate, fresh flavor of the beans will hardly ever contrast poorly with your salmon, no matter how you cook it. Better yet, cooking perfect green beans is easy and simple. (Recipe and photo by Kitchn)
2. Sautéed Mushrooms
If you’re simply oven roasting your salmon and looking for something to go alongside it that will pack its own punch of flavor, why not sautéed mushrooms? Whether you serve the mushrooms atop your salmon filet or on the side, the pairing provides a cozy, warm dish that’s ideal for the fall or winter months. (Recipe and photo by a couple cooks)
3. Creamy Lemon Pasta
If you do want to serve your salmon with something heavier, like pasta, you can do so in a way that makes the pasta work, without weighing it down further. This lemon pasta recipe is a nice, light pick, incorporating lemon juice, cream, for a side that comes together in just 30 minutes. Simply boil the noodle until it is ALMOST al dente (slightly undercooked). In a saucepan, cook some cream with lemon zest, salt, and pepper until the cream comes to a boil. Drain the undercooked noodle and put it to the sauce. Finish cooking the noodle until it is al dente and absorbs the sauce. (Recipe and photo by New York Times)
4. Roasted Asparagus
Like green beans, asparagus is a classic salmon side dish and is incredibly difficult to mess up. You just need some olive oil, salt, and garlic for the asparagus. Lemon zest is optional. Roast your asparagus right in your oven alongside your salmon for easy cooking and minimal mess in the kitchen. (photo and recipe by a couple cooks)
5. Thai Noodle Salad
Salmon is often used in recipes that incorporate Asian flavors, so if you’re looking for a suitable side with a matching flavor profile, you might want to consider this Thai noodle salad. It is packed with vegetables dressed with peanut sauce. It requires a little work to make the peanut sauce. But it is totally worth it. (Original recipe and photo by Feasting at Home)
6. Tangy Cucumber Salad
For a summer-fresh salmon side dish, this tangy cucumber salad ticks all the right boxes. Easy to make, fresh, light and best when cucumbers are in season, it’s especially yummy when served with grilled salmon. (Recipe and photo by Kitchn)
7. Cilantro Lime Rice
Cooking up some salmon tacos? Cilantro lime rice makes a tasty side dish — but don’t limit this rice side dish to your Mexican-inspired feasts. It also works well with Asian flavors. With only olive oil, garlic, lime zest, lime juice, and cilantro, you brighten up the taste of your rice to go with your Alaskan salmon. (Recipe and photo by Simply Recipes)
8. Bacon Pea Salad
Another summer-ready side dish, this bacon pea salad is best made with fresh, seasonal peas, but you can also use frozen, if needed. The side dish may take a little more slicing and dicing than some of the other side dishes for salmon on this list, but the effort is well worth it. (Recipe and photo by Delish)
9. Easy Bok Choy
If you’ve never made bok choy at home before, you’re missing out. This recipe breaks the process down into simple steps, so you get an excellent salmon side dish that's ideally served with salmon flavored with wasabi or soy sauce. (Recipe and photo by All Recipes)
10. Grilled Brussel Sprouts
Don’t dirty up more pots and pans than you have to. If you’re already grilling your salmon, go ahead and grill your side dish, too. Grill some brussels sprouts with olive oil, salt, balsamic vinegar, honey, and mustard. If you want some heat, add some red pepper flakes to it. Finally, parmesan cheese is always welcomed. (Recipe and photo by Delish)
Amazing Side Dishes to Serve with Salmon are Just a Few Minutes Away
All of the above side dishes to serve with salmon come together in very little time — meaning you’re just a few minutes from serving your family a delicious salmon dinner. For more tips on preparing salmon at home, be sure to check out our articles about cooking salmon, storing salmon, and using your leftover salmon.