10 Must-Try Sides for Chicken Tortilla Soup

Are you making a cozy batch of chicken tortilla soup but wondering what to serve alongside it to round out your meal? You’ve come to the right place.

Chicken tortilla soup is a hearty, satisfying dish, but some tasty sides can elevate your dinner.

After testing dozens of options, we’ve narrowed it down to the ten best side dishes to pair with chicken tortilla soup.

These sides add delicious complementary flavors and textures that will have your taste buds singing.

By the end, you’ll have everything you need to create an unforgettable Mexican-inspired feast that will wow your family and friends.

Let’s jump in and find the perfect pairings for your next batch of chicken tortilla soup!

1. Mexican Salad

Mexican Salad

When looking for a light, refreshing side dish to balance out a hearty bowl of chicken tortilla soup, look no further than a vibrant Mexican salad.

It is piled high with crisp greens, creamy avocado slices, sweet corn kernels, juicy tomatoes, and crunchy tortilla strips, bringing various colors, textures, and flavors to the table.

Some tips for the perfect Mexican salad pairing:

  • Use a mix of crunchy romaine and soft butter lettuce for textural contrast
  • Add drained and rinsed black beans for extra protein and fiber
  • Include orange or grapefruit segments for a juicy pop of sweetness
  • Sprinkle with cotija or queso fresco cheese for a salty kick

With a Mexican salad by its side, a comforting bowl of chicken tortilla soup transforms into a complete, nourishing meal that satisfies every level.

2. Polenta Fries 

Polenta Fries

Looking for a unique alternative to traditional fried potato sides? Crispy, golden polenta fries are just the ticket.

It is made from cooked cornmeal that’s cooled, sliced into batons, and fried until delightfully crunchy. They’re a gluten-free option that’ll make you forget all about French fries.

Polenta fries are perfect for dipping into a hearty chicken tortilla soup bowl. Their firm texture holds up well, allowing you to scoop up chunks of tender chicken, veggies, and beans without falling apart.

Pro tips for perfect polenta fries:

  • Use a high-quality, stone-ground cornmeal for the best flavor and texture
  • Spread the cooked polenta in an even layer so your fries are uniform in size
  • Chill the polenta thoroughly before slicing and frying for easy handling
  • Serve immediately while hot and crisp, with your favorite dipping sauce

With a big bowl of chicken tortilla soup and a pile of piping hot polenta fries, you’ve got a match made in Tex-Mex heaven. 

3. Black Bean Salad 

Black Bean Salad

For a protein-packed side dish that’s equal parts hearty and healthy, a zesty black bean salad is a fantastic choice to round out a meal centered on chicken tortilla soup.

It is economical and endlessly adaptable; it always satisfies.

The key players are black beans; from there, you can mix and match ingredients to your heart’s content.

Some favorites include:

  • Sweet corn kernels, fresh or frozen and thawed
  • Diced red bell peppers for crunch and color
  • Thinly sliced scallions or red onion for a savory bite
  • Chopped cilantro for an herbal note
  • A simple vinaigrette spiked with lime and cumin

Toss it all together, and you have a filling salad that can stand up to a bowl of boldly spiced soup. The beans offer a creamy textural counterpoint, while the veggies bring freshness and vibrancy to each spoonful.

Consider these tips for an awesome black bean salad:

  • Drain and rinse the beans well to avoid a soggy salad
  • Allow the beans and veggies to marinate for at least 30 minutes for the flavors to meld
  • Taste and adjust the seasoning just before serving, adding salt or an extra squeeze of lime as needed
  • Serve chilled or at room temperature alongside hot tortilla soup

The beauty of this black bean salad is that it can be made ahead, making it perfect for potlucks or busy weeknights.

4. Roasted Corn

Roasted Corn

Is there anything more quintessentially Mexican than sweet, smoky roasted corn? This classic street food is hard to beat as the perfect side dish for chicken tortilla soup.

The high heat of roasting concentrates the corn’s natural sugars, giving the kernels a lightly charred, caramelized flavor that’s impossible to resist.

You can serve the roasted ears whole or slice the kernels off the cob to create a chunky salsa-like topping for your soup.

For the full elite experience, slather the roasted corn with a creamy mixture of mayonnaise, sour cream, lime juice, and spices like chili powder and cumin.

Then, roll the coated ears in crumbled cotija cheese and serve with extra lime wedges on the side – heavenly!

Tips for sensational roasted corn:

  • Choose the freshest corn possible for optimal sweetness
  • Soak the ears in water for 15 minutes before roasting to prevent burning
  • Grill or broil the corn until lightly charred all over, turning frequently
  • Brush with butter or oil and season generously with salt and pepper

Nestled alongside a warm bowl of chicken tortilla soup, roasted corn adds a pop of color and smoky sweetness.

5. Guacamole and Chips 

Guacamole and Chips

No Mexican-inspired meal is complete without the iconic duo of creamy guacamole and crispy tortilla chips.

As a side dish or appetizer, this classic combo is a crowd-pleaser that invites everyone to dig in and enjoy.

However, the show’s star is the guacamole, a luscious blend of ripe avocados, zesty lime juice, diced onion, chopped cilantro, and salt.

Mashed together until smooth or left chunky for texture, it’s a healthy, flavorful, and satisfying dip.

You can serve it alongside a bowl of warm, comforting chicken tortilla soup, guacamole, and chips to offer a cool, refreshing contrast.

The chips provide a satisfying crunch, while the guacamole adds a rich, creamy element that complements the soup’s spicy, savory flavors.

Guacamole and chips are also incredibly easy to customize. Try these variations:

  • Add diced jalapeños or a dash of hot sauce for heat
  • Stir in chopped tomatoes or roasted corn for sweetness and texture
  • Sprinkle with crumbled cotija or feta cheese for a salty kick
  • Experiment with different chips like blue corn, sweet potato, or even plantain

Guacamole and chips are perfect as a side dish for a laid-back dinner party or a cozy night in with family. They encourage communal snacking and casual conversation.

And because they’re so easy to prepare, you can whip them up immediately.

So the next time you serve chicken tortilla soup, remember the guacamole and chips. 

6. Mexican Rice 

Mexican Rice

When it comes to hearty, satisfying side dishes, it’s hard to beat a steaming pot of fragrant Mexican rice.

It is studded with tomatoes, onions, and garlic and spiked with warm spices like cumin and chili powder. It’s a carb-lover’s dream come true.

Also known as Spanish rice or arroz rojo, Mexican rice gets its distinctive red hue from adding tomato sauce or paste.

The rice is sautéed in oil until toasty and golden, then simmered with broth and seasonings until tender and fluffy.

The result is a flavorful, filling side dish that pairs perfectly with a bowl of chicken tortilla soup. The rice absorbs the soup’s savory broth, creating a comforting and satisfying texture in every spoonful.

Insider tips for restaurant-worthy Mexican rice:

  • Rinse the rice thoroughly before cooking to remove excess starch
  • Toast the rice in oil until it smells nutty and turns golden for maximum flavor
  • Use a flavorful broth like chicken or vegetable for cooking the rice
  • Let the rice rest, covered, for 5-10 minutes after cooking to absorb excess moisture

Mexican rice is also an excellent canvas for mix-ins and toppings.

Try folding in black beans, corn, or diced bell peppers for added nutrition and color. Or sprinkle with chopped fresh cilantro and a squeeze of lime juice just before serving.

With its warm, comforting flavors and versatile nature, Mexican rice is a must-have side dish for any chicken tortilla soup occasion.

It’s a guaranteed crowd-pleaser that’ll have everyone asking for seconds.

7. Mexican Cornbread 

Mexican Cornbread

Looking for a side dish that’s equal parts comforting and exciting? Look no further than Mexican cornbread, a spicy, cheesy twist on a classic Southern staple.

It is overtopped with jalapeños, cheddar cheese, and kernel corn; this cornbread is moist, tender, and packed with bold flavors.

The cornmeal gives it a delightfully grainy texture, while the additions of sour cream and melted butter make it rich and indulgent.

The cornbread’s slight sweetness balances the soup’s spicy, savory notes, while the jalapeños add an extra kick of heat.

Here are some tips for making the best Mexican cornbread:

  • Use a cast-iron skillet for a crispy, golden crust
  • Mix the batter just until combined to avoid tough, dense cornbread
  • Let the cornbread cool slightly before slicing for cleaner cuts
  • Brush the top with melted butter or honey for a glossy, flavorful finish

Mexican cornbread is also incredibly versatile. You can easily customize it to your liking by adjusting the amount of jalapeños, cheese, or other mix-ins.

Some tasty variations include:

  • Bacon and green onion for a savory, smoky flavor
  • Diced red bell peppers for a pop of color and sweetness
  • Pepper Jack cheese for an extra spicy kick
  • Chopped fresh cilantro for a bright, herbal note

Whether serving it as a side dish or enjoying it on its own, Mexican cornbread is a treat that’s hard to resist.

8. Baked Cheese Taquitos 

Baked Cheese Taquitos

Crispy, crunchy, and oh-so-cheesy, baked cheese taquitos are a fun and festive side dish perfect for dipping into a bowl of chicken tortilla soup.

These rolled-up corn tortillas are filled with a savory mixture of cheese, spices, and sometimes shredded chicken or beef.

They’re then brushed with oil and baked until golden brown and crispy on the outside, with a gooey, melted center.

As a side dish, baked cheese taquitos add a playful, interactive element to your meal.

They’re perfect for dunking into the soup, scooping up chunks of tender chicken and veggies, and adding a satisfying crunch to every bite.

To make the best-baked cheese taquitos, keep these tips in mind:

  • Warm the tortillas before rolling to prevent cracking and splitting
  • Use a mix of melty cheeses like cheddar, Monterey Jack, and queso fresco
  • Secure the taquitos with toothpicks to prevent unrolling during baking
  • Brush with oil and sprinkle with salt for a golden, crispy finish

Baked cheese taquitos are also incredibly customizable. You can experiment with different fillings and toppings to create your signature version.

Some tasty ideas include:

  • Adding diced jalapeños or green chiles to the cheese mixture for heat
  • Mixing in some refried beans or black beans for extra protein and fiber
  • Topping with salsa, guacamole, or sour cream for added flavor and creaminess
  • Sprinkling with chopped fresh cilantro or green onions for a pop of freshness

Whether you serve them as a side dish or an appetizer, baked cheese taquitos are guaranteed to be a hit. 

9. Nachos 


As a side dish for chicken tortilla soup, nachos bring a fun, interactive element to the table that encourages sharing and conversation.

Start with a base of crispy tortilla chips, then pile on the toppings. Melted cheese is a must – a blend of cheddar and Monterey Jack is classic, but feel free to experiment with other varieties like pepper Jack or queso fresco.

From there, the possibilities are endless. Black beans, refried beans, or seasoned ground beef add heartiness and protein. Diced tomatoes, sliced jalapeños, and pickled red onions bring freshness and acidity. And don’t forget the finishing touches – a dollop of sour cream, a sprinkle of chopped cilantro, and maybe even a drizzle of smoky chipotle sauce.

To ensure your nachos are a success, keep these tips in mind:

  • Use sturdy, restaurant-style tortilla chips that can stand up to toppings without getting soggy
  • Layer the cheese between the chips for even melting and distribution
  • Add any wet toppings like salsa or sour cream just before serving to prevent sogginess
  • Serve the nachos on a large, shallow platter or baking sheet for easy sharing and access to toppings

With their irresistible combination of flavors, textures, and toppings, nachos are the ultimate side dish for chicken tortilla soup.

10. Spicy Cabbage Slaw 

Spicy Cabbage Slaw

Regarding side dishes for chicken tortilla soup, it’s hard to beat the refreshing crunch and zesty flavor of a spicy cabbage slaw.

This colorful, crispy salad is a delicious way to balance the soup’s richness. It adds a bright, acidic note that cuts through the savory broth and tender chunks of chicken.

The base of the slaw is cabbage—both green and red varieties for a pop of color and subtle difference in flavor. Shredded carrots and sliced green onions add sweetness and depth, while chopped cilantro brings a fresh, herbal note.

But what sets this slaw apart is the dressing. A tangy, spicy blend of lime juice, honey, and minced jalapeño coats the vegetables in a flavorful, fiery sauce that’s impossible to resist.

To ensure your spicy cabbage slaw is a success, keep these tips in mind:

  • Shred the cabbage and carrots as finely as possible for a delicate texture
  • Salt the cabbage lightly and let it sit for 10 minutes to release excess water and soften slightly
  • Adjust the amount of jalapeño to your desired level of heat
  • Let the slaw sit for at least 30 minutes before serving to allow the flavors to meld

With its bright colors, bold flavors, and satisfying crunch, it’s the perfect way to round out your meal and add excitement to your plate. 


Pairing your main dish with the right sides can make all the difference when crafting the perfect meal. And when that main dish is a steaming bowl of chicken tortilla soup, you have a world of delicious possibilities.

From classic Mexican rice and cheesy quesadillas to fresh, zesty salads and spicy slaws, the side dishes we’ve explored today offer something for every taste and occasion.

Each one brings unique flavors, textures, and colors to the table, elevating your chicken tortilla soup from a simple meal to a festive, satisfying feast.

The beauty of these sides is that they’re endlessly customizable. Mix and match them to create your signature spread, tailored to your family’s preferences and dietary needs.

Experiment with different ingredients, seasonings, and toppings to keep things fresh and exciting.

So gather your loved ones, grab a spoon, and dig in—the perfect meal awaits!

Jamie Oliver
Jamie Oliver

Jamie Oliver is a culinary maestro with over 25 years of experience who brings a wealth of knowledge to our culinary section. He graduated with honors in Culinary Arts and Food Service Management, which laid the groundwork for his illustrious career. He holds a Master’s in Gastronomy and has enriched our culinary content since 2017. His prior experience includes executive chef positions at high-end eateries and authoring several cookbooks. And his approach to cooking emphasizes sustainability and locally sourced ingredients. He is a great gardener as well.

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