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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 is 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 in 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.  

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 recipes. In the meantime, I have several delicious Italian sides right here that will be perfect to bring the taste of Italy to your kitchen. 

Fresh focaccia served on a blue gingham cloth.

Perfect Side Dishes

I searched for 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 bread like Italian Bread and Focaccia Bread

best Italian Side Dishes

Italian side dish recipes are meant to complement the main dish and are kept light and served in small portions. Fresh produce is definitely utilized in dishes such as salads and is often deliciously roasted. 

The side not-to-be-missed, bread, is often served and used to help soak up those tasty sauces, oil, 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!

1 Garlic Bread Recipe

Bread Garlic Bread Recipe
Total Time: 20 minutes

Recipe Video

4.89 from 36 votes
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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!

2 Oven Roasted Vegetables Recipe

Side Dish Oven Roasted Vegetables Recipe
Total Time: 35 minutes

Recipe Video

4.97 from 30 votes
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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!

3 Olive Garden Breadsticks Recipe

Bread Olive Garden Breadsticks Recipe
Total Time: 2 hours 27 minutes

Recipe Video

4.96 from 64 votes
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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!

4 Italian Bread Recipe

Bread Italian Bread Recipe
Total Time: 2 hours 10 minutes

Recipe Video

4.95 from 89 votes
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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!

5 Roasted Tomatoes Recipe

Side Dish Roasted Tomatoes Recipe
Total Time: 22 minutes
5 from 7 votes
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Quick Caprese Salad

Simple and quick caprese salad is easy and delicious with pops of mozzarella, tomatoes, avocados and drizzled with a balsamic glaze!

6 Quick Caprese Salad Recipe

Salad Quick Caprese Salad Recipe
Total Time: 5 minutes

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!

7 Grilled Asparagus

Side Dish Grilled Asparagus
Total Time: 8 minutes
5 from 6 votes
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Pasta Primavera

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

8 Pasta Primavera Recipe

Main Course Pasta Primavera Recipe
Total Time: 35 minutes
5 from 16 votes
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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!

9 Spinach Tortellini Salad Recipe

Salad Spinach Tortellini Salad Recipe
Total Time: 20 minutes
4.89 from 27 votes
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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!

10 Focaccia Bread Recipe

Bread Focaccia Bread Recipe
Total Time: 8 hours 55 minutes

Recipe Video

4.98 from 237 votes
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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!

11 Caprese Pesto Pasta Salad recipe

Salad Caprese Pesto Pasta Salad recipe
Total Time: 15 minutes

Recipe Video

5 from 1 vote
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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.

12 Roasted Red Potatoes Recipe

Side Dish Roasted Red Potatoes Recipe
Total Time: 35 minutes

Recipe Video

5 from 90 votes
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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!

13 Caprese Stuffed Avocados Recipe

Appetizer, Salad, Side Dish Caprese Stuffed Avocados Recipe
Total Time: 5 minutes
5 from 6 votes
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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!

14 Roasted Brussel Sprouts Recipe

Side Dish Roasted Brussel Sprouts Recipe
Total Time: 40 minutes

Recipe Video

5 from 203 votes
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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.

15 Roasted Chickpeas Recipe

Snack Roasted Chickpeas Recipe
Total Time: 32 minutes
5 from 6 votes
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Fresh Mozzarella Pasta Salad

Easy & fresh mozzarella pasta salad is light, delicious and flavorful. This simply dressed salad is a new favorite!!

16 Mozzarella Pasta Salad Recipe

Salad Mozzarella Pasta Salad Recipe
Total Time: 15 minutes
5 from 11 votes
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Easy Garlic Knots

Buttery soft easy garlic knots whip up in under 20 minutes and make a perfect side for pizza, pasta, or salads!

17 Garlic Knots Recipe

Side Dish Garlic Knots Recipe
Total Time: 20 minutes

Recipe Video

5 from 13 votes
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Easy Tortellini Salad

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

18 Easy Tortellini Salad Recipe

Salad Easy Tortellini Salad Recipe
Total Time: 20 minutes

Recipe Video

4.95 from 19 votes
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Tomato Mozzarella Salad

Fresh, light, and healthy tomato mozzarella salad with basil and a balsamic glaze drizzle! Perfect for lunches with friends or a side salad to dinner!

19 Tomato Mozzarella Salad Recipe

Salad Tomato Mozzarella Salad Recipe
Total Time: 8 minutes
5 from 10 votes
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Antipasto Salad

Antipasto salad Is the perfect summer salad! It’s filled with tomatoes, cheeses, salami, red onion, veggies and more and can be topped with your favorite dressing.

20 Antipasto Salad

Salad Antipasto Salad
Total Time: 15 minutes
5 from 8 votes
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Baked Zucchini Chips

If you’re looking for a tasty side, these baked zucchini chips are your answer! Sliced zucchini baked to perfection with a parmesan and bread crumbs crust. These bite-sized veggies taste amazing and are a great alternate to the classic fried zucchini recipe.

21 Zucchini Chips Recipe

Side Dish Zucchini Chips Recipe
Total Time: 40 minutes
5 from 12 votes
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Pizza Salad

Pizza salad is hearty & refreshing. All of the flavors of pizza are served on a bed of greens and topped with a homemade herb dressing!

22 Pizza Salad Recipe

Salad Pizza Salad Recipe
Total Time: 8 minutes
5 from 14 votes
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Pasta Salad With Italian Dressing

This Italian pasta salad takes just minutes to make. It’s a classic side dish, perfect for BBQs, picnics, or any night of the week!

23 Pasta Salad Recipe

Side Dish Pasta Salad Recipe
Total Time: 2 hours 15 minutes

Recipe Video

5 from 249 votes
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Cheesy Spinach Artichoke Bread

Deliciously cheesy spinach artichoke bread makes a perfectly yummy appetizer or side!! It whips up in only 20 minutes!

24 Spinach Artichoke Bread Recipe

Appetizer, Bread Spinach Artichoke Bread Recipe
Total Time: 20 minutes

Recipe Video

4.95 from 19 votes
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Cucumber Tomato Salad

Fresh, vibrant cucumber tomato salad with basil leaves is a simple salad perfect for summer and your bounteous harvest. It’s a quick side for any meal!

25 Cucumber Tomato Salad Recipe

Salad Cucumber Tomato Salad Recipe
Total Time: 5 minutes
5 from 6 votes
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Perfect Italian Sides!

Look no further for the perfect sides to accompany your next Italian dinner – they’re all sure to become new favorites! We’d love to know which ones you like the best!

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

About Kristyn

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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