42 Side Dishes for a Traditional (or Nontraditional!) Easter

Whether or not you eat ham, you'll need other stuff on the table.

March 22, 2021
Photo by James Ransom

Main dishes tend to steal the show when it comes to the Easter table—be it the classic honey-glazed ham or an impressive leg of lamb. But with this spring’s festivities affected by the pandemic for the second year in a row, some traditions may have shifted. Regardless of what your Easter (or Passover) looks like, or how many you’re feeding, this year, the holiday provides an opportunity to appreciate spring’s bounty. And really, I’ll take any excuse to celebrate and cook for those I love.

Consider this a master list of both traditional and nontraditional side dishes for Easter, some old standbys and others that are sure to become instant classics. There’s something on here for the whole family, from your vegan sister to gluten-free aunt to picky cousins. Here are over 40 recipes that put side dishes in the limelight, so you’re guaranteed to have your best Easter spread yet.

Small Bites

Minty Pea Purée on Toast

What’s better than minty, garlicky peas in springtime? Minty, garlicky peas...on toasted rustic bread, sliced into perfect triangles.

Fluffy, Buttery Dinner Rolls

Set the bar high for your Easter meal with these perfectly golden brown, super-buttery rolls.

Black Pepper Popovers With Chives & Parmesan

If baking rolls from scratch feels a little too daunting, try popovers. They’re deceptively simple, and this recipe has extra spring flair thanks to chives and Parmesan.

Roasted Feta With Thyme Honey

I want this baked feta on my table for any and all occasions. It’s sweet and salty, warm and comforting, and my favorite way to kick off any meal.

Virginia Willis' Deviled Eggs

The Easter table wouldn’t be complete without deviled eggs. Not only can these be made ahead, they’re arguably better that way. I like to prep the filling the night before and store it in a zip-top bag. When I’m ready to serve, I just snip the tip of the bag’s edge to turn it into a piping bag to quickly fill the eggs!

Honey-Glazed Brioche Hot Cross Buns

If you’re an Easter traditionalist, your table’s not complete without hot cross buns. These start with a brioche base and end with a honey glaze.

Easter Bread

Another traditional dish from Eastern European Easter tables, especially in Greece and Italy. It’s a sweet yeasted dough, similar to challah, brioche, or Japanese shokupan, but with colorful dyed eggs braided right in! It also doubles as an impressive centerpiece on your Easter table.

Sweet Pea Hummus

Half chickpea, half pea, 100 percent delicious. Serve with radishes, baby carrots, and endive, and this springy dip is sure to whet your family’s appetite.

Springy Salads

Shaved Asparagus Salad With Feta & Peas

Shaving asparagus into ribbons transforms them into crunchy vessels for salad dressing and fun mix-ins like briny feta, fresh mint, and peas. Make this salad right before serving to ensure it doesn’t get soggy.

Radish, Snap Pea & Burrata Salad

Another simple salad that tastes like so much more than the sum of its parts. Sweet snap peas, peppery radishes, and creamy burrata come together in perfect harmony with a little squeeze of lemon and drizzle of olive oil.

Shaved Brussels Sprout Salad With Red Onion, Lemon & Pecorino

This simple brussels sprouts salad provides the perfect acidic contrast to the richer dishes on your Easter table.

Carrot Avocado Salad

One of my favorite salads from ABC Kitchen in NYC by way of Serious Eats, it’s a master class in balance: sweet roasted carrots, cool avocado, toasty sesame seeds, and a citrus dressing to tie it all together.

Northern Spy's Kale Salad

A classic kale salad that is endlessly adaptable to seasonal produce, tastes better when made ahead of time, and is beloved by all? This one ticks all the boxes.

Citrus Salad With Goat Cheese-Stuffed Dates

Bring some color (other than green) to your table with this citrus salad. It shows off the best end-of-season citrus and, thanks to the additions of goat cheese and balsamic vinegar, is savory enough to sit on your dinner table, though if you want it for dessert I wouldn’t blame you.

Fergus Henderson's Red Salad

If you typically add pickled cabbage or a similar vinegar-based salad to your Easter table, try this colorful recipe from British culinary pioneer Fergus Henderson.

Romaine & Avocado Salad With Anchovy Garlic Vinaigrette

When in doubt, keep it simple with this romaine salad that’s dressed in a punchy vinaigrette bolstered by lots of garlic and anchovy (the picky eaters at the table don’t need to know what’s in it.)

Verdant Veggies

Skillet Scallions From Edna Lewis

Take scallions from decorative garnish to the main attraction with Southern cooking powerhouse Edna Lewis’ genius technique for sautéing them in butter, then steaming until tender and sweet.

Absurdly Addictive Asparagus

You don’t have to take it from me, but 300 glowing reviews kind of speak for themselves—this asparagus rocks. Perfectly balanced with fatty pancetta, zippy orange zest, and crunchy pine nuts, yes, they are totally addictive.

Lemon-Mint Peas With Burrata & Breadcrumbs

While this recipe was originally written for frozen peas, it’s the perfect vehicle for fresh spring peas. Check your local farmers market if you can’t find any at the grocery store.

Miso Butter Onions

If it's chilly on Easter Sunday, add this recipe to the menu. As one reviewer says of this Yotam Ottolenghi dish, “They feel like a wonderful warm hug during the cold winter months.” Enough said.

"Pot-Stuck" Brussels Sprouts

Blanching Brussels sprouts before roasting ensures they can get crispy and crunchy, yet totally cooked through.

Roasted Carrots With Carrot Top Pesto & Burrata

Carrots get roasted simply and quickly on high heat, then their frilly tops (totally edible, if you didn’t already get the memo!) are blended into a fresh, verdant pesto. The whole dish is crowned with a ball of creamy burrata cheese.

Paper-Thin Asparagus With Butter & Soy Sauce

Shoutout to Eric Kim for adapting this recipe from a passage in James Beard’s memoir. This dish is simple and satisfying, and endlessly adaptable for whichever green spring veggies you can find, from asparagus to snap peas, haricots verts, or fava beans.

Roasted Spring Root Vegetables With Horseradish-Thyme Butter

A simple butter sauce with horseradish, sherry vinegar, and thyme transforms this dish from run-of-the-mill roasted veggies to a zippy side welcome on any dinner table.

Laurie Colwin's Creamed Spinach

This creamed spinach doesn’t actually contain any cream, but rather evaporated milk (though regular milk or cream can work in a pinch), and according to author Laurie Colwin, the first time she tasted this recipe, “It was so good it made me want to sit up and beg like a dog.”

Michel Richard's Glazed & Glistening Haricots Verts

Once you master this genius technique for green beans, you can adapt it to any flavor combinations you like. I love adding herbs like tarragon or sage, and topping with toasted nuts like slivered almonds or chopped hazelnuts.

Braised Leeks

Here’s a perfect recipe if you find plump, in-season leeks at the farmers market. Braise them until tender and sweet, and these alliums may become the unexpected star of your Easter table.

Beets With Almonds & Horseradish Crème Fraîche

As author Jody Williams (of famed NYC restaurant Buvette) writes, “The almonds enhance the beets’ earthiness, and the bracing, creamy horseradish dressing offers not just richness but also a bit of a bite.” All I know is that this is the kind of dish that feels restaurant-quality with only home-cook effort required.

Hearty Grains & Legumes

Persian-ish Rice From Samin Nosrat

Samin Nosrat’s take on tahdig is your introduction to crispy-edged, golden rice. If you’re feeling confident, flip it in front of your family at the table for maximum effect.

Maria Speck's Shortcut Polenta

Creamy polenta is one of my favorite accompaniments for rich meats and bright spring veggies, and this genius technique makes perfect polenta not only achievable, but easy. You’ll see.

White Bean With Cucumber & Sumac Salad

Creamy white beans, crunchy cucumbers, and floral sumac make for a fresh salad that won’t distract from the main event, but rather complement it.

Olive Oil–Braised Chickpeas From Joy the Baker

Though known for her sweets, Joy the Baker’s easy savory recipe yields chickpeas so flavorful, tender, and complex, no one will suspect the beans came from a can.

Freekeh Salad With Fennel & Mint

Add this herby grain salad to your spread for a bright contrast to richer dishes like braised meats and creamy pastas.

Spring Vegetarian Cassoulet

This veggie-forward take on French cassoulet makes for a hearty side or doubles as a main for any vegetarians at your Easter table.

Radish Couscous

Reviewer caninechef writes, “I found this recipe about a month ago and have eaten more radishes since then than in the previous 5 years.” Need I say more?

Pasta & Potatoes, Please!

Barbara Kafka’s Creamy Lemon Pasta

Barbara Kafka’s perfect pasta lives in permanent rotation at my dinner table. The only risk with adding this to your menu is it may steal the show from the mains—a risk I’m typically willing to take.

Crisp-Smashed Yellow Potatoes With Sour Cream & Vinegar Dill Sauce

Here’s my platonic ideal for potatoes: creamy centers, and bristled, crunchy edges. But it’s actually the tangy sour cream and dill sauce that takes these taters from good to great.

Lemon-Dill Orzo Pasta Salad With Cucumbers, Olives & Feta

This orzo salad is packed with salty feta, briny olives, and grassy dill, and tastes particularly good when paired with lamb.

Diane Morgan's Classic Mashed Potatoes

If you want mashed potatoes on your Easter table, look no further than Diane Morgan’s simple yet effective recipe. Her technique yields the creamiest, smoothest potatoes possible.

Salt & Vinegar Mashed Potatoes

Looking for a creative spin on the old holiday table standby? This recipe brings together the best of mashed potatoes and potato chips, more specifically the puckering-yet-addictive salt and vinegar ones.

Pantry Pasta With Anchovies, Olives & Capers

If you want to throw together another dish for your Easter table without having to add an extra trip to the grocery store, pull this pantry pasta out of your back pocket.

Pasta With Spring Vegetables, Bathed in Cream

Here’s a pasta recipe “bathed in cream” that’s also done in one pot (yes!) and chock-full of spring herbs, peas, and Parmesan (yes please!), but let’s be real—you were sold at “bathed in cream,” right?

What's always on your Easter table? Will you try something new this year? Let us know in the comments!

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

I want to eat everything crackly, chewy, salty & sweet.