low-calorie side dishes

19 Delicious Low-Calorie Side Dishes (Less Than 150 Calories!)

Calculating your first calories is intimidating. It might have even made you wonder if the low-calorie diet is worth pursuing. However, instead of drowning in the numbers and limits, focus on some bright sides.

For instance, this diet is an opportunity to try tasty yet fulfilling recipes, like these 19 delicious low-calorie side dishes. Although each one is less than 150 calories, they’re so good they might taste 150 times better than you first thought! Thus, be sure to save and make them – surrounding yourself with good food inspires you to stick to the plan!

1. Herb Roasted Acorn Squash With Parmesan

There are many squash variants, but as a follower of the low-calorie diet, acorn squash will become your favorite, or at the least, your go-to. Not only is it low in calories, but it’s also high in nutrients like vitamins and fiber. It’s usually roasted; however, this recipe stands out for its unique flavorings: parmesan, fresh herbs, butter, and garlic. Despite all those elements, each serving is only 143 calories!

2. Sauteed Broccoli & Kale with Toasted Garlic Butter

There are hardly any other sides that are more verdant – hence pleasing to the eyes – than this sauteed broccoli and kale. But beyond that, your tongue will be delighted with it, too, with the subtle garlicky, buttery, and spicy flavors. Despite such a delish taste, each serving has 105 calories only, and following the complete recipe will make 12 servings. Thus, this recipe is excellent for sharing with other low-calorie folks!

3. Refrigerator Pickled Beets

Pickled side dishes are perfect for bringing fresh flavors to the meal. The usual choices are dill pickles, carrots, and radishes, but while you can go for those, why not try these underrated pickled beets? Not only does it have a unique earthy flavor and feel, but it also brings an undeniable pop of color. Plus, it’s only around 77 calories, and you can use it for other dishes, like salads!

4. Marinated Mushrooms

Mushrooms are usually grilled, roasted, sauteed, or used in other dishes. If you want to explore new ways to prepare mushrooms – while keeping the calories low – check out this recipe! It marinates them in olive oil, vinegar, Italian seasoning, red chili flakes, parsley, garlic, salt, and pepper. You’ll need only 15 minutes to make the dish. Then, each serving, equivalent to half a cup, is only 137 calories!

5. Stir-Fried Spinach with Garlic and Parmesan

Consider serving this stir-fried spinach if you need a quick and easy, leafy green side dish. It takes only 13 minutes to make, even shorter if you prep the ingredients fast, as cooking time is only 3 minutes. It doesn’t call for much, just baby spinach leaves, olive oil, garlic, parmesan, and black pepper. Each serving is 110 calories only, and if you follow the recipe, you’ll make four servings!

6. Pan-Seared Turnips with Ginger Miso Glaze

In favor of veggies like broccoli, cauliflower, potatoes, and carrots, we hardly prepare turnips as a side dish. However, that’s more our loss than the veggies. When cooked right, they pack fantastic flavors that blend deliciously with Asian ingredients, like miso, mirin, shiso, ginger, and rice vinegar. If you want to test how well they come together, try this pan-seared turnips recipe. Each serving of it has 88 calories only.

7. Grilled Carrots

Once you’ve tried grilling your carrots, there’s no way back. You’ll seek the charred look, tender textures, caramelized sweetness, and smoky flavors distinct to this recipe. Moreover, you’ll fall in love with the many toppings you can put on your carrots to enhance flavor. This particular recipe tops them with harissa paste, lemon, and mint. Still, you can try other things like basil pesto or balsamic.

8. Charred Sugar Snap Peas with Sesame-Chili Sauce

You might have thought these sugar snap peas were grilled because of their charred look. Surprisingly, they’re not! They’re cooked over a skillet in medium-high heat until they get that effect. However, don’t worry – it won’t have that disgusting, burnt flavor you won’t like. Instead, this dish tastes deep, smoky, and complex, as the peas are flavored with sesame oil, scallions, soy sauce, chili garlic, honey, and toasted sesame seeds.

9. Roasted Zucchini with Parmesan

Each serving of this roasted zucchini recipe is only 122 calories, which is surprising considering the fantastic taste and quality. Besides the few calories, what makes this recipe impressive is its effortlessness. You don’t have to do much: just toss the zucchini pieces in olive oil, garlic, and salt, and top them with parmesan. Then, you’ll only have to wait for the cheese to melt and the veggies to tenderize.

10. Roasted Romanesco

Romanesco is a relative to cauliflower and broccoli; thus, it’s also called Romanesco broccoli or Roman cauliflower. Rest assured, though; it’s an entirely different species. Hence, while it shares a similar look with the bundled florets, it has unique flavors: an irresistible tandem of nutty and sweet notes. Such tastes are better emphasized in this recipe, with the seasonings purposely kept minimal: only garlic, salt, pepper, and olive oil.

11. Asian Caramelized Pineapple

These Asian caramelized pineapples are some of the few side dishes with the least calories – only 66 per serving! However, while it’s low in calories, it isn’t in flavor. Each chunk is an incredibly juicy complex of flavors. That’s because besides the fruit’s inherent sweetness – which was further enhanced by caramelization – this dish is flavored with onions, garlic, soy sauce, jalapenos, lime juice, ginger, and cilantro.

12. Eggplant Caponata

Eggplant caponata is a versatile relish you can serve as a side dish, dip, appetizer, sauce, or topping. It originated from Sicily, Italy, and is inclusive of many diets: low-calorie, vegan, paleo, and Whole30. It’s also free from dairy, nuts, gluten, grain, and refined sugars. The flavors are a fantastic blend of sweet, tangy, and salty, derived from eggplants, onions, garlic, tomatoes, bell peppers, white vinegar, capers, and basil.

13. Heirloom Tomato Salad

There are a ton of low-calorie salads you can enjoy, including this heirloom tomato salad. Each serving is only 138 calories, and you can already experience many flavors and textures. There are juicy heirloom tomatoes, refreshing cucumbers, creamy avocados, fresh onions, cilantro, and tangy lemon juice. This recipe is perfect for the summer, not just because of the moisture packs but also because that’s when heirloom tomatoes are in season.

14. Tomato Peach Salad

Another summer-perfect, tomato-packed salad you can make is this tomato peach salad. It has slightly fewer calories than the first, with only 97 per serving. As expected, it’s a refreshing blend of sweet, tangy, and juicy flavors from the tomatoes and peaches. The taste profile is further enhanced by hints of unique tastes and textures from other ingredients, which include balsamic vinegar, feta cheese, basil, and mint leaves.

15. Lemony Brussels Sprouts Salad

You can enjoy a crisp and crunchy salad without exceeding 100 calories and using only three ingredients. Technically, it’s five if you count the salt and pepper. However, if you’re happy with the blend of flavors the Brussels sprouts, lemon, and oil have already achieved, you won’t need those two. Also, you can add other ingredients for more taste and texture. Suggestions include parmesan, nuts, cherries, and pomegranate arils.

16. Greek Salad

This Greek salad, locally known as horiatiki or xoriatiki, offers authentic Mediterranean flavors, chunky textures, eye-catching colors, and incredible flavors. It is made with kalamata olives, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, feta, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, basil, oregano, black pepper, and parsley. All these contrasting flavors and textures might seem chaotic; however, they combine to render a delicious and complex dish low on calories – only 109 per serving!

17. Mashed Butternut Squash

Most mashed potato or root crop recipes are calorie-dense. Thus, here’s a light alternative: mashed butternut squash at only 109 calories per serving. Besides the low calories, you’ll love its bright yellow color, which is delightful to the eyes. Also, its flavor profile is unlike most mashed crops – it’s sweet, earthy, and creamy, with hints of nutmeg and cayenne. The downside is this dish does take time to make.

18. Mexican Cauliflower Rice

Cauliflower is the popular low-calorie alternative to rice. However, instead of keeping your cauliflower rice plain or lightly seasoned, brighten it with flavors. You have many options, such as Thai, garlic herb, and Mediterranean. However, if you want intensity, go for this Mexican cauliflower rice. It features bright colors, tangy flavors, and bold spiciness, achieved by a blend of onions, garlic, tomato paste, jalapenos, cumin, paprika, cilantro, and lime.

19. Asian Zucchini Noodles

Zucchini noodles sound like a bizarre concept to many. However, once you’ve given it a chance, you’ll find it works just like any classic pasta or noodles – a canvas for deep, intense flavors. For instance, the zucchini taste isn’t the focus of this recipe. Instead, it highlights Asian flavors, consisting of coconut aminos, ginger, green onions, coconut and sesame oil, almond butter, sesame seeds, and garlic.

AboutRibana Hategan

Ribana is a certified pastry chef and passionate home cook who curates and develops recipes that are high on nutrition. She develops and tests cost effective, nutritious meals using quality ingredients to help people better their everyday eating experiences.