20+ Gut-Healthy, High-Protein Side Dish Recipes

Pair one of these flavorful side dishes with dinner tonight. These recipes have at least 7 grams of protein per serving from foods like beans, vegetables and whole grains to help you stay full for longer, regulate digestion and support bone health. Plus, these dishes feature ingredients rich in gut-healthy prebiotics—like garlic, barley and potatoes—to offer at least 3 grams of fiber in every serving. Not only does fiber promote a healthy gut microbiome, but it can also support heart health and lower your risk for certain diseases. You’ll love recipes like our Grilled Broccoli with Smoky Yogurt Sauce. And our Spiced Chickpea Confit goes great with any meat, fish or plant-based mains.

Grilled Broccoli with Smoky Yogurt Sauce

Blanching broccoli florets before charring ensures the broccoli’s tender all the way through, helping it crisp up quickly in a very hot pan. Firing up the grill? Cook the blanched broccoli in a grill basket over medium-high heat instead.

Spiced Chickpea Confit

Ali Redmond


This endlessly versatile side dish pairs beautifully with any grilled meat or fish and can also be a wonderful plant-based main dish. You can serve it over rice or pasta to round it out, or pair it with whole grains or whole-wheat pasta to reinforce the nuttiness. You can also turn it into a terrific salad by serving it over baby spinach, escarole or arugula. Leftovers can be blended into a chunky dip that is great with pita wedges or crostini. Or make leftovers into a soup by reheating with an equal volume of vegetable or chicken broth.

Crispy Parmesan-Crusted Cabbage Slices with Gremolata

Photographer: Morgan Hunt Glaze, Food Stylist: Julia Levy, Prop Stylist: Josh Hoggle


These cheesy, tender-crisp cabbage slices will make anyone fall in love with the vegetable. Arranging the cabbage around the perimeter of the baking sheets is crucial as it ensures the most even browning and the crispiest Parmesan crust. The lemony gremolata adds a dash of freshness and brightness to balance the salty cheese.

Kale & Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad with Avocado Caesar Dressing

Photographer: Jen Causey, Food Stylist: Margret Monroe Dickey, Prop Stylist: Christine Keely

This salad combines the flavors of a Caesar salad with tender green lacinato kale and the crunch of raw, shaved Brussels sprouts. The brown-butter breadcrumbs add additional crunch and a nutty, toasted flavor. Serve with grilled chicken for an added boost of protein.

Caramelized Broccolini & White Beans

Photographer: Jen Causey, Food Stylist: Margret Monroe Dickey, Prop Stylist: Christine Keely

Broccolini takes on a smoky char from the cast-iron pan before it’s combined with white beans and aromatics in this savory side dish. A vibrant parsley and hazelnut sauce finishes the dish with a bright and nutty flavor.

4-Bean Salad with Herbed Tahini Dressing

Photographer: Rachel Marek, Food stylist: Annie Probst

This vibrant twist on the classic salad uses fresh green beans and nutty, earthy tahini plus a ton of herbs that you can use based on your preference. Tahini can get bitter, but we balance that with a bit of honey. We liked the combination of parsley, tarragon and dill for the herbs.

Cheesy Spinach & Mushroom Casserole

Photographer / Brie Passano, Food Stylist / Annie Probst, Prop Stylist / Holly Raibikis

Both homey and healthful, this cheesy dream of a casserole is loaded with nutrients from spinach, and super savory and lip-smack-y from all the sautéed mushrooms. Any ‘shroom will do, so pick your fave.

Creamy Corn Soup with Jalapeños & Cotija

Greg DuPree

This creamy corn soup has underlying earthiness from the hominy and heat from the jalapeños. Fresh corn adds sweetness, which works well with the salty cotija cheese and other fresh and tangy garnishes.

Black Bean, Corn & Avocado Pasta Salad

Jen Causey

Serve this colorful, veggie-packed pasta salad at your next outdoor gathering. From creamy avocado to crunchy bell peppers, this pasta salad is full of texture and flavor. A homemade herb-lime vinaigrette ties everything together.

Instant-Pot Pinto Beans

Photographer: Jen Causey, Food Stylist: Emily Nabors Hall

These quick and easy Instant Pot pinto beans offer a subtle heat from dried chiles, with scallions and garlic bumping up the savory flavor. Enjoy them on their own or as part of a taco or topping for nachos.

Mashed Potato & Roots Casserole

Rutabaga and/or celeriac give this casserole a more nuanced flavor, but you could also use turnips or kohlrabi—or make it with all potatoes instead.

Slow-Cooker Overnight Barley Porridge

Ted & Chelsea Cavanaugh

At 6 grams per 1-cup serving, barley is high in fiber compared to many other whole grains. And it has high levels of prebiotic fiber, making it great for promoting healthy gut bacteria. Like oats, barley contains beta-glucans, a type of soluble fiber that’s been shown to improve blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

Baked Potato Latkes

Making this your best Hanukkah dish starts with choosing the right ingredients, such as the potatoes (russets are tops for their high starch and low moisture content). We’ve also found that a small amount of baking powder makes them lighter and airier than using eggs alone. Finishing these baked latkes in the oven ensures they come out hot and crispy.

Broccoli Casserole

This lightened-up broccoli casserole is sure to be a hit. Learn how to make this classic side dish healthier.

Grilled Asparagus Parmesan

Caitlin Bensel

Grilled asparagus gets a light and flavorful coating of finely grated Parmesan cheese and a hint of lemon in this easy grilled side dish.

Creamy Broccoli & Mushroom Casserole

Will Dickey

This creamy broccoli and mushroom casserole is as comforting as it gets. A cheesy sauce filled with mushrooms coats tender-crisp broccoli, and a panko breadcrumb topping adds a crispy finish. Serve this crowd-pleasing side with roasted chicken, pork or steak.

Stewed Lima Beans

This lima bean recipe is the creation of Mable Clarke, a South Carolina cook and activist. This side dish is on the menu for Clarke’s monthly fish fry that she started to save the Soapstone Baptist Church. No need for ham hocks with this recipe–her onion-rich roast turkey stock gives these humble beans a rich, savory flavor, but store-bought will also do the trick. A long, slow simmer coaxes the creaminess out of the limas.

Slow-Cooker Dal Makhani

Using a slow cooker for this dal curry recipe is brilliant—the lentils cook until they’re perfectly tender. For the creamiest results, use whole urad dal (versus split), which you can get online or at Indian markets. This particular bean breaks down beautifully, giving the dish its rich, creamy texture. For a stovetop variation, see below. Serve it over rice with Indian-style green chutney and a side of plain yogurt.

Parmesan White Beans

Ted & Chelsea Cavanaugh

Stash mirepoix blend—a basic building-block combo of chopped carrots, celery and onion—in your freezer and save some serious prep time on this simple bean side dish.

Fresh Southern Succotash with Bacon

Andrea Mathis

This Southern succotash is packed with flavor and fresh ingredients, including okra, tomatoes, corn and bacon—so much goodness in one bite! If you can’t find fresh okra, feel free to use thawed frozen okra. Read the author’s story behind the recipe: Nothing Says Summer to Me More Than My Mom’s Southern Succotash.

Gruyère Potato Casserole

Will Dickey

The potatoes are perfectly tender in this easy Gruyère potato casserole. The cheese gets brown and crispy on the top and sides and the herbs add a nice accent to this savory dish.

Slow-Cooker Cheesy Rice with Broccoli

This dish is sure to be a kid favorite that adults will crave, too. Broccoli and cheese is a classic pairing for a reason, and when served with rice and umami-rich mushrooms, the combo is even more comforting. Garnish with shaved Parmesan and additional kosher salt and black pepper, if desired.

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