Fried chicken is a popular dish in the United States, known for its crispy, juicy texture and savory flavor. It is commonly served as an entree, side dish or appetizer. Fried chicken is most often paired with certain classic Southern side dishes that complement its flavors and textures. Here we will explore the most popular accompaniments that Americans eat with fried chicken.
What do Americans Typically Eat with Fried Chicken?
Biscuits are one of the most quintessential sides served with fried chicken in American Southern cuisine. Fluffy, buttery biscuits are the perfect vehicle for soaking up the juices and flavors from the crispy fried chicken. They provide a starchy base that balances the richness of the chicken. Biscuits can be served plain, or with honey, jam, or sawmill gravy on top.
Creamy, tangy cole slaw is another classic fried chicken pairing. The cool crispness of the cabbage provides contrast to the hot, crunchy crust of the chicken. It also helps cut through some of the oiliness. Cole slaw adds vegetables to help balance the meal. Most Southern-style cole slaws contain mayonnaise or vinegar dressing, shredded cabbage, carrots and onion.
Mashed potatoes are a popular starchy side dish that provides comfort along with fried chicken. Fluffy mashed potatoes help soak up the delicious juices and flavors. They provide a neutral base that allows the flavors of the chicken to shine. Mashed potatoes can be made plain, loaded with butter and cream, or tangy with sour cream, cheese or garlic.
Macaroni and Cheese
Macaroni and cheese is a delicious accompaniment for fried chicken, combining cheesy and starchy flavors. The creamy pasta casserole provides a rich counterpoint to the crispy, browned chicken skin. Mac and cheese is a beloved side dish in the American South. Southern-style macaroni and cheese is often extra creamy and cheesy, made with eggs, milk and cheese like cheddar or American.
Cornbread is a signature Southern side made from cornmeal that pairs perfectly with down-home fried chicken. It can be served sliced or as muffins or sticks. The combination of crumbly, grainy cornbread and crispy fried chicken is an amazing match. Cornbread provides great texture contrast and soaks up savory juices. It may be flavored simply with cornmeal, or made more complex with creamed corn, chilis or cheese.
Green beans, slow cooked with pork fat or bacon, are a classic accompaniment to fried chicken in the South. They provide a hearty vegetable side dish and pop of color. Southern-style green beans are most often prepared cooked low and slow until extremely tender and flavored with smoked meat. The smoky, fatty flavor complements the fried chicken.
Cool, creamy potato salad is another refrigerated Southern staple that pairs perfectly with fried chicken. Much like mashed potatoes or coleslaw, it provides a neutral, cooling base for the chicken. The potato chunks and mayonnaise-based dressing soak up chicken juices and sauces nicely. Potato salad also balances the richness of the dish.
Other Popular Fried Chicken Accompaniments
While the above sides are the most traditional, other common pairings for fried chicken include:
- Fries or tater tots
- Hushpuppies (fried cornmeal batter)
- Baked beans
- Collard greens
- Corn on the cob
- Macaroni salad
- Dinner rolls
- Cucumber salad
- Tomato salad
Essentially, fried chicken goes well with an array of comforting, hearty, and fresh-tasting sides that provide contrast in flavor, texture and temperature. Cool, creamy sides help cut through the richness of the chicken, while starchy bases soak up the juices. Crunchy, fresh sides brighten up the plate. Southern sides specifically complement fried chicken’s crispy, savory qualities.
Most Popular Fried Chicken Side Dishes by Region
Different regions of the United States have some differences in the most popular fried chicken accompaniments based on culinary tradition:
|Region||Most Popular Fried Chicken Sides|
|American South||Biscuits, mashed potatoes with gravy, coleslaw, green beans, cornbread, macaroni and cheese|
|Midwest||Mashed potatoes, baked beans, potato salad, corn, dinner rolls|
|Northeast||Coleslaw, biscuits, mashed potatoes, corn on the cob, fries|
|West Coast||Coleslaw, macaroni salad, fried okra, collard greens, cornbread|
While there are some variations, biscuits, mashed potatoes, coleslaw and cornbread show up as favorites nationally. Macaroni and cheese, baked beans, collard greens, and potato salad are other widespread choices.
In the American South, fried chicken is traditionally accompanied by starchy sides like biscuits, mashed potatoes, and cornbread that soak up the delicious juices. Cool, creamy sides like coleslaw, potato salad and macaroni salad help cut through the richness. Regional variations exist, but classic Southern sides like these remain the most popular national pairings. Fried chicken with biscuits, mashed potatoes, coleslaw and cornbread is an iconic American meal.