Dolly Parton Serves Mac And Cheese With This Unexpected Side Dish

Like pizza, mac and cheese is one of those foods that some people would say tastes pretty great no matter what. The combination of tender pasta and creamy melted cheese makes for an ultra-satisfying comfort food, and though some of us grew up eating the iconic blue box of mac and cheese that came with a little pouch of orange powder, others got to enjoy homemade versions of the dish. But it's often served as a side dish or as a stand-alone meal, so even people who have eaten lots of mac and cheese in their lives may be surprised when they learn about the side dish Dolly Parton always serves with hers.

It's not something green, like broccoli or spinach, and it's not something meaty, like chicken or sausage. The side dish Dolly Parton always serves with mac and cheese is a little sweet, a little tangy, and according to the star, makes for the perfect pairing.

Why Parton serves fried apples with mac and cheese

Parton first tried pairing fried apples and macaroni and cheese when she was hungry and didn't have a lot of food on hand. "I don't even know if it was some macaroni I'd made before or store-bought, but I just remember having some fried apples that had come out of another order of food from somewhere," she tells Insider. She put the apples on the same plate as her mac and cheese, and the rest was history. These days, Parton always pairs her mac and cheese with fried apples. "They're just so good together," the star said. "You'll like it!"

The country star explains to Insider that she always makes her macaroni and cheese with butter, shredded cheddar, Velveeta, and occasionally a third cheese, and seasons it simply with salt and pepper. As for the fried apples? They get jazzed up with a sprinkle of cinnamon. It seems like this sweet, tangy, fruity dish adds some much-needed balance to a meal of heavy, creamy mac and cheese, brightening up both your plate and your palate. It might be unconventional, but hey, so is Parton, and she's still going strong.