Italian Side Dishes

Italian entrees are a favorite in our home. I’ve rounded up some of our fav Italian side dishes to best compliment any dinner, but especially Italian!

More Collections: Italian Appetizers, Italian Dinner Recipes, Italian Soups

A collage of various Italian Side Dish Recipes.

More than just Breadsticks!

If you’ve been to an Italian restaurant, you may have been fed complimentary bread or breadsticks as a side dish to your Italian Dinner.

That’s the first thing I think of when I think of Italian sides, but there are SO much more than just bread!

Think green salads, roasted veggies, tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, and bold Italian flavors. There are more options than you realize!

And before we get into the list of recipes, I have some tips for making and serving your Italian side dishes.

Roasted tomatoes topped with fresh basil, served as an Italian Side Dish.

When to serve the sides

An Italian meal is an all night event. Each course is served with plenty of time in between for stomachs to settle and to enjoy each other’s company. 

Often the Italian main dish is divided into 2 courses. When this is the case, then Italian Side Dishes are served during the second main course which typically includes meats and/or seafood. If the courses are not divided, then the side dishes are set out along with the main presentation. 

The Primo, or first main course, is most often a soup, risotto, casserole, lasagna or another pasta dish. Secondo, or second main course, is considered to be the main dish. It will be heartier and most likely a delicious protein such as beef, pork, chicken/turkey, or seafood. 

As stated, the Contorni (side dishes) are served as small portions, on their own plate, during Secondo. They are most often seasonal produce or bread and the flavors complement the main dish.

Be mindful that if a pasta dish is served during primo, then you may not want to plan a contorni using pasta.  

Fresh focaccia served on a blue gingham cloth.

Perfect side dishes

I searched up some great side dishes, and here are a few:

  • Broccoli with Gremolata
  • Cooked Carrot Salad with Basil 
  • Pan Fried Eggplant and Tomato Sauce
  • Various Italian Salads like Burrata salad
  • Italian Green Beans with Tomato and Garlic
  • Sautéed Escarole or Radicchio
  • Pasta like Cacio e Pepe
  • Crusty breads like Italian Bread and Focaccia Bread

Prep ahead of time

Since Italian Dinners are quite the affair, it’s always nice to be able to prepare and even complete a dish ahead of time. Many of the sides can be prepped ahead of time so that all you have to do is heat them up or toss them together. 

Is your mouth watering yet? I can’t wait to try some of those recipes. In the meantime I have several delicious Italian Side Dish Recipes right here that will be perfect to bring the taste of Italy to your kitchen. 


best italian side dishes

Italian Side Dishes are to be a compliment to the main dish and kept light and served in small portions. Fresh produce is definitely utilized in dishes such as salads and are often deliciously roasted. 

The side not-to-be-missed, breads, are often served and used to help soak up those tasty sauces, oil and balsamic vinegar and even leftovers. 

Cheesy Garlic Bread – This is by far our favorite Garlic Bread recipe. It takes minutes to put together and is SO cheesy and delicious. It’s the perfect side dish for any meal, but especially for pasta and Italian dishes!

Sheet Pan Oven Roasted Vegetables – Simple, flavorful, and healthy roasted vegetables that take less than 10 minutes of prep work! Nothing beats yummy veggies roasted in the oven!

Olive Garden Breadsticks – Just like the originals, these copycat Olive Garden breadsticks are light and airy on the inside, and flavored with butter and garlic salt on the outside. You can never eat just one!

Italian Bread – It is so easy to make Italian Bread at home with just a few simple ingredients. Nothing beats a soft and crusty bread warm from the oven!

Roasted Tomatoes – Juicy roasted tomatoes are the yummiest and easiest appetizer or side dish. Roasting them (with a little olive oil, basil and parmesan) brings out every delicious flavor!

Quick Caprese Salad – Simple and Quick Caprese Salad is easy and delicious with pops of mozzarella, tomatoes, avocados and drizzled with a balsamic glaze!

Grilled Asparagus – Grilled asparagus is the best side dish alongside almost any dinner recipe! Sprinkled with salt, pepper, and a little parmesan cheese—this recipe is incredible!

Pasta Primavera – A tried and true dinner recipe! Delicious pasta full of vegetables like zucchini, squash, bell peppers, and tomatoes. 

Spinach Tortellini Salad – This cold tortellini salad is the ultimate side dish for bbq and potlucks! With tortellini, spinach, tomatoes, olives, and parmesan tossed in Italian dressing, this Tortellini Spinach Salad is packed with all the best flavors!

Focaccia Bread – Crisp yet fluffy bread topped with delicious herbs and seasonings. This flavorful focaccia bread is so easy to make, and is perfect for sandwiches, dipping in soups, or enjoying on its own!

Caprese Pesto Pasta Salad – Caprese Pesto Pasta Salad is a light dish with a bold flavor, making it perfect for potlucks, parties, BBQ’s, and get togethers!

Oven Roasted Red Potatoes – Oven roasted red potatoes are the perfect addition to any dinner! This crispy, seasoned side dish will add flavor and color to your meal.

Caprese Stuffed Avocados – Simple and Fresh Caprese Stuffed Avocados are a twist on classic flavors. This is a perfect appetizer or side to any meal!

Roasted Brussel Sprouts – Oven roasted brussel sprouts have a perfectly crispy outside, and a melt-in-your-mouth center. With only 5 minutes of prep time, you’ll want to make this delicious and healthy side dish every night!

Roasted Chickpeas – Roasted Chickpeas are full of flavor and perfectly crispy. Toss them in a salad or snack on them plain for a high protein and fiber snack.

Fresh Mozzarella Pasta Salad – Easy & Fresh Mozzarella Pasta Salad is light, delicious and flavorful. This simply dressed salad is a new favorite!!

Easy Garlic Knots – Buttery soft Easy Garlic knots whip up in under 20 minutes and make a perfect side for pizza, pasta, or salads!

Easy Tortellini Salad – Super YUMMY and easy Tortellini Salad filled with tortellini, salad, ranch, tomatoes and bacon bits – perfect for summer time!

Tomato Mozzarella Salad – Fresh, light, and healthy tomato mozzarella salad! Perfect for lunches with friends or a side salad to dinner!

Antipasto Salad – Antipasto Salad Is the perfect summer salad! It’s filled with tomatoes, cheeses, cured meats, veggies and more and can be topped with your favorite dressing.


the complete list

Here are the picture cards for all of the terrific Italian Side Dishes listed above.

Look no further for the perfect sides to accompany your next Italian dinner – they’re all sure to become new favorites!

Italian Bread Recipe
It is so easy to make Italian Bread at home with just a few simple ingredients. Nothing beats a soft and crusty bread warm from the oven!
Total Time: 2 hours 10 minutes
5 from 23 votes
Check out this recipe
Bread Garlic Bread Recipe
This is by far our favorite Garlic Bread recipe. It takes minutes to put together and is SO cheesy and delicious. It’s the perfect side dish for any meal, but especially for pasta and Italian dishes!
Total Time: 17 minutes
4.82 from 22 votes
Check out this recipe
Side Dish Roasted Tomatoes Recipe
Juicy roasted tomatoes are the yummiest and easiest appetizer or side dish. Roasting them (with a little olive oil, basil and parmesan) brings out every delicious flavor!
Total Time: 22 minutes
5 from 6 votes
Check out this recipe
Bread Olive Garden Breadstick Recipe
Just like the originals, these copycat Olive Garden Breadsticks are light, airy, and flavored with butter and garlic salt.
Total Time: 2 hours 27 minutes
4.95 from 38 votes
Check out this recipe
Side Dish Oven Roasted Vegetables Recipe
Simple, flavorful, and healthy roasted vegetables that take less than 10 minutes of prep work! Nothing beats yummy veggies roasted in the oven!
Total Time: 35 minutes
4.94 from 16 votes
Check out this recipe
Side Dish Grilled Asparagus Recipe
Grilled asparagus is the best side dish alongside almost any dinner recipe! Sprinkled with salt, pepper, and a little parmesan cheese—this recipe is incredible!
Total Time: 8 minutes
5 from 6 votes
Check out this recipe
Salad Spinach Tortellini Salad Recipe
This cold tortellini salad is the ultimate side dish for bbq and potlucks! With tortellini, spinach, tomatoes, olives, and parmesan tossed in Italian dressing, this Tortellini Spinach Salad is packed with all the best flavors!
Total Time: 20 minutes
4.79 from 14 votes
Check out this recipe
Main Course Pasta Primavera Recipe
A tried and true dinner recipe! Delicious pasta full of vegetables like zucchini, squash, bell peppers, and tomatoes. 
Total Time: 35 minutes
4.73 from 11 votes
Check out this recipe
Bread Focaccia Bread Recipe
Crisp yet fluffy bread topped with delicious herbs and seasonings. This flavorful focaccia bread is so easy to make, and is perfect for sandwiches, dipping in soups, or enjoying on its own!
Total Time: 8 hours 55 minutes
4.93 from 77 votes
Check out this recipe
Salad Quick Caprese Salad Recipe
Simple and Quick Caprese Salad is easy and delicious with pops of mozzarella, tomatoes, avocados and drizzled with a balsamic glaze!
Total Time: 5 minutes
5 from 1 vote
Check out this recipe
Appetizer, Salad, Side Dish Caprese Stuffed Avocados Recipe
Simple and Fresh Caprese Stuffed Avocados are a twist on classic flavors. This is a perfect appetizer or side to any meal!
Total Time: 5 minutes
5 from 6 votes
Check out this recipe
Side Dish Roasted Red Potatoes Recipe
With a handful of ingredients, and 30 minutes bake time – crispy, seasoned Oven Roasted Red Potatoes will add flavor to any meal!
Total Time: 35 minutes
5 from 18 votes
Check out this recipe
Salad Caprese Pesto Pasta Salad recipe
Caprese Pesto Pasta Salad is a light dish with a bold flavor, making it perfect for potlucks, parties, BBQ's, and get togethers!
Total Time: 15 minutes
5 from 1 vote
Check out this recipe
Side Dish Roasted Brussel Sprouts Recipe
Oven roasted brussel sprouts have a perfectly crispy outside, and a melt-in-your-mouth center. With only 5 minutes of prep time, you’ll want to make this delicious and healthy side dish every night!
Total Time: 40 minutes
5 from 67 votes
Check out this recipe
Snack Roasted Chickpeas Recipe
Roasted Chickpeas are full of flavor and perfectly crispy. Toss them in a salad or snack on them plain for a high protein and fiber snack.
Total Time: 32 minutes
5 from 6 votes
Check out this recipe
Salad Tomato Mozzarella Salad Recipe
Fresh, light, and healthy tomato mozzarella salad! Perfect for lunches with friends or a side salad to dinner!
Total Time: 8 minutes
5 from 6 votes
Check out this recipe
Salad Antipasto Salad Recipe
Antipasto Salad Is the perfect summer salad! It's filled with tomatoes, cheeses, cured meats, veggies and more and can be topped with your favorite dressing.
Total Time: 15 minutes
5 from 8 votes
Check out this recipe
Side Dish Easy Garlic Knots
Buttery soft Easy Garlic knots whip up in under 20 minutes and make a perfect side for pizza, pasta, or salads!
Total Time: 18 minutes
Salad Fresh Mozzarella Pasta Salad Recipe
Easy & Fresh Mozzarella Pasta Salad is light, delicious and flavorful. This simply dressed salad is a new favorite!!
Total Time: 15 minutes
5 from 10 votes
Check out this recipe
Salad Tortellini Salad Recipe
Super YUMMY and easy Tortellini Salad filled with tortellini, salad, ranch, tomatoes and bacon bits – perfect for summer time!
Total Time: 20 minutes
4.91 from 11 votes
Check out this recipe

More Collections: Easy Pasta Recipes, Vegetarian Pasta Recipes, Penne Pasta Recipes

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My name is Kristyn and I’m the mom of SIX stinkin’ cute kids and the wife to my smokin’ hot hubby, Lo. My mom’s maiden name is Luna, and I’m one of the many crafty “Lil’ Lunas” in the fam. On this site I like to share all things creative - from recipes to home decor to gifts and home decor ideas. Welcome!

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