Sides matter - Macphie

Despite often appearing at the bottom of restaurant menus, sides matter.

No longer an afterthought, side dishes are proving to be just as popular as the main event and operators are using them as a tactic to boost spending (FutureFoodservice, 2022).


With on-demand delivery and build-your-own dish options becoming more available, consumers are used to getting exactly what they want.

Offering the option to customise side dishes is one way to keep your customers happy as well as increase spend. Instead of just having fries on the menu – why not offer the option of fries loaded with nacho cheese? Or fries loaded with cheese and gravy? Or different dips and sauces to customise yet complement your main dishes?

Upselling on menus has increased by 15% year on year with burger and steak dishes being the most likely dishes to support increased spend through the addition of toppings or premium fry options (Lumina Foodservice, 2021).

Having a robust offering of sides can also allow customers to customise their main meals with their choice of extras whether they’re looking to indulge or eat healthily.

Try something new

With their smaller portion sizes and less expensive price point, customers are more likely to sample something new through ordering side dishes. When committing to a full course is too daunting, ordering a more adventurous side is an inexpensive way to sample new concepts. So don’t be afraid to be bold with your side dish options. Play around with plant-based recipes like this cauliflower bomb or charred corn ribs using our plant-based sauces to stay on trend. These sauces can be used across both plant-based and meaty dishes, delivering as much flavour as you’d expect from the original recipes, so you don’t need to double up on ingredients to cater to vegan diners.

This also works for encouraging more spontaneous consumption. When customers might not want to commit to a full meal while they’re catching up with friends for a drink, a couple of side dishes can prove to be the perfect platter to pick at. This supports the trend for tapas-style eating without adding complexity to your kitchen.

Seasonal sides

Keeping your sides seasonal is a great way to refresh your menu without regular overhaul. Think fresh, lighter options over the summer – like these smoky vegetable kebabs or asparagus tips with Hollandaise Sauce – but more indulgent and comforting come winter. Tap into seasonal produce this Christmas to satisfy regular customers looking for something different. These gratinated sprouts and maple-glazed carrots are easy to prepare Christmas crowd pleasers.

For recipe inspiration to spice up your sides menu, click here.