One of the most popular traditional side dishes is pasta. Pasta can be served as a main course or as a side dish. It’s a versatile food that can be prepared in many different ways. Pasta is the perfect side dish to accompany meat, fish, and poultry.
If you want to have a wonderful Italian dinner, then you have to know your way around Italian side dishes.
Italians love to serve side dishes alongside their main course. It is a great way to add some extra flavor to a meal.
Side dishes can also be a great way to sneak in some extra veggies into your diet.
When it comes to choosing which side dishes to serve, there are a few things to consider. Firstly, which side dish will go best with the type of food you are serving.
Secondly, do you want something with a lot of ingredients or is a simple side dish going to do? And finally, how much time and effort will it take to make this dish?
So, what will make your mouth water? We’ve got a list of 39 traditional Italian side dishes for you!
In this article, we will be looking at traditional Italian side dishes, different types of side dishes, and how they all work best.
Why Consider Serving Traditional Italian Side Dishes?
Traditional Italian cuisine isn’t just one thing – it encompasses so many different flavors and ingredients.
This means that it’s impossible to limit yourself to only one type of side dish to accompany the traditional Italian meal.
In fact, the best way to enjoy traditional Italian dishes is to eat a wide variety of side dishes.
You’ll be able to sample many different types of flavors, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how many different foods you can eat at a meal.
So, whether you’re a beginner or an experienced cook, consider serving traditional Italian side dishes.
It will help you expand your culinary horizons and give you the chance to try new foods.
Plus, it’s a fantastic way to experiment with different recipes and food types.
52 Traditional Italian Side Dishes
There are a lot of great side dishes that have been around for generations. The best way to get a taste of them is to try some of the dishes listed below:
This dish is so delicious, I’m surprised no one invented it sooner!
With its blend of sweet and savory ingredients, it’s a perfect side dish for when you’re having a heavy meal.
Caponata, however, is a perfect side dish to make at any time, because you can always add a little more of whatever you have on hand.
Crostini is a simple, elegant side dish with a delicious crunch to it.
It’s a good side to serve to guests or to yourself after a meal. It’s also a great pairing for cocktails like the Spritz or a nice glass of Chianti.
And, since it’s a quick and easy recipe, it can be made ahead of time.
Gremolata is a spice mix typically used on seafood dishes to help add flavor. It’s very easy to make at home.
It usually consists of finely chopped parsley, oregano, and garlic, but I’ve also seen versions using lemon peel or thyme.
This delicious combination is perfect with just about any Italian pasta dish. It’s also amazing as a topping for grilled or baked fish or meat.
4. Italian Green Beans
Italians love their beans.
When they’re not eating pasta and pizza, Italians are enjoying the simplicity of a delicious bowl of beans with their meal.
They go well with just about anything!
5. Caprese Salad
A traditional Italian side dish known as caprese salad is a delicious combination of fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, and basil leaves.
I think the best way to enjoy this dish is by simply tossing everything in a bowl and drizzling some extra virgin olive oil on top.
It’s one of those foods that tastes amazing straight out of the bowl, but it also gets even better when paired with some pasta.
6. Italian Stuffed Tomatoes
Italian food, like other cuisines, tends to be very rich and heavy.
There are a lot of classic side dishes that have been enjoyed by Italians for centuries.
In fact, there are so many Italian side dishes that you can even make a meal out of them!
And one of my personal favorites is this savory stuffed tomato.
You don’t need a fancy recipe or fancy ingredients to make a delicious dish like friselle.
It’s basically a side dish that requires just three ingredients.
The best part? It’s simple and inexpensive to make. You can make it in advance and store it in the fridge for later use.
8. Italian Pickled Eggplant
The combination of sweet and sour is a classic Italian side dish that goes well with almost anything.
It’s the perfect way to use up an abundance of eggplant while providing the perfect contrast to the sweetness of the vegetables.
This pickled eggplant is an excellent way to add a twist to a classic dish.
9. Tuscan beans and spinach
A few years ago I was cooking with a local Italian chef who served a simple side dish of spinach and Tuscan beans.
I had never heard of Tuscan beans before and when I asked about them he said they were just white beans, cooked with lots of garlic and olive oil.
As the day went on, I asked him more about the side dish and he told me it was his mom’s recipe.
He was very proud of her.
And when I saw how simple it was, I knew it would be a good side dish for anyone’s menu.
10. Italian antipasto salad
As I’m sure you know by now, antipasto is one of the most traditional and simple side dishes you can make at home.
Italian antipasto is made up of different cured meats, salami, cheeses, and fresh veggies.
And it’s perfect for any get together or holiday meal.
11. Rice balls in tomato sauce
Rice balls are such a delicious side dish because of the texture, flavor, and versatility.
I love them so much that I keep a small container in my fridge for when I get hungry.
They’re a great finger food for a party, and they’re also very easy to make.
12. Italian Stuffed Artichokes
The stuffed artichokes are the perfect side dish to serve when a large family dinner is on the table.
They’re filled with flavorsome cheese and herbs, making them an excellent option for those who want to serve something delicious but a little different than the usual green vegetables.
13. Italian breadsticks
These thin, crispy, and flaky Italian breadsticks are the perfect match for your favorite pasta dishes.
They are perfect for dunking in your homemade tomato sauce, or drizzling with olive oil for a simple and tasty appetizer.
The best part about them is how easy they are to make – just mix the dough and let it rise.
You won’t believe how great they taste!
14. Italian macaroni and cheese
Italian macaroni and cheese – it’s one of those dishes that seems to be a favorite of most families when they’re having a special occasion.
This is a classic family recipe for a reason. It’s simple to make, yet it has a rich, creamy, cheesy flavor that you just can’t get from anything else.
And the best part is you don’t need any fancy equipment to whip it up. Just a bowl, a whisk, some milk, some pasta, and you’re ready to go!
15. Italian risotto
This traditional Italian side dish is a great accompaniment to almost any pasta, pizza, and even meat.
Risotto is rice that’s been cooked slowly until tender, creamy, and flavorful.
See Also: 39 Easy Seafood Risotto Recipes I Can’t Resist
And since it’s a dish that’s usually served in its own bowl, it’s easy to bring a delicious side dish to your next potluck or party!
16. Rosemary roasted potatoes
Italian cuisine is known for its rich and hearty flavors, so you don’t want to shy away from the dishes that showcase those flavors.
If you look at the classics, you’ll notice that most of them are hearty and meaty.
So I was very excited to learn about a new side dish that is just the perfect combination of light, healthy, and delicious.
It’s rosemary roasted potatoes, which are simple to prepare but will definitely take you out of your comfort zone with its bold flavor.
17. Italian ratatouille
A classic side dish in Italy is ratatouille, which is basically just vegetables layered and braised together.
The key is that the vegetables need to be cooked with the olive oil. The other trick is to cook them on the stovetop, not the oven.
So for this recipe, I’ve taken a traditional ratatouille recipe and added in some garlic, onions, and tomatoes for a delicious, savory, and very easy to make side.
18. Italian Giardiniera
Giardiniera is a traditional Italian side dish of fresh vegetables mixed with olives, capers, pickled peppers, and celery.
I like to use it as a topping on burgers or steak, but you can add it to anything! It goes great with grilled or roasted meats, pasta dishes, or salads.
And the thing I like best about this side dish is how it tastes similar to the ones my mother would serve when I was growing up in Italy.
19. Parmesan knots
Parmesan knots are an Italian side dish that go extremely well with your favorite pasta dishes.
They’re a perfect starter for an elegant meal, and they’re a great way to get kids (and grownups) excited about food.
20. Caprese Salad Skewers
I love this simple side dish because it’s so tasty, it pairs perfectly with almost anything, and it’s easy to make.
The idea of combining fresh tomatoes and mozzarella in a salad is quite old, but today it’s becoming more popular than ever.
So whether you’re a tomato lover or not, I guarantee you’ll find a way to enjoy this delicious side dish!
21. Tuscan White Bean Salad
What do you serve with pasta? Pasta and meat!
So, what do you serve with pasta and meat?
Well, the best answer would be salad of course!
In this case, we’re talking about the famous Tuscan white bean salad.
This is a perfect side dish for summer because it’s light, refreshing, and has just enough seasoning to make it taste amazing.
A few of my favorite brands include Biondi Sardo, Fior di Luna, and Santé.
The main ingredient in this recipe is the fabulously flavorful cannellini beans (See Also: Canned Cannellini Beans Recipes).
They’re creamy, smooth, and have that wonderful “bean flavor” that makes them the perfect complement to a rich tomato sauce.
22. Italian Greens with Sauteed Onions and Garlic
Although Italian cuisine can be very complex, it doesn’t need to be complicated when it comes to simple side dishes.
When you make simple sides such as this one, you don’t have to spend a lot of time on the recipe – just put all the ingredients together and let it cook.
The flavors will come out naturally and your guests will thank you for it!
23. Italian Garlic Bread
Italians have a wide array of delicious side dishes. Whether it be polenta, pasta, or just plain ol’ vegetables, it’s all delicious!
A simple side dish that I often make is Italian Garlic Bread. It takes minutes to prepare and tastes great served warm or at room temperature.
24. Italian Marinated Mushrooms
A traditional Italian side dish is mushrooms, which are often served raw.
That’s why I thought I’d include this recipe.
I like to marinate them in olive oil and balsamic vinegar, then serve them as an appetizer.
25. Radicchio Salad
The radicchio salad is one of my favorite traditional Italian side dishes.
It’s so flavorful and delicious, but also so simple to make.
The secret to this dish is in the way you serve it. It’s perfect with some crusty bread or maybe some creamy polenta.
If you have a vegetable garden, you can grow some radicchio for this recipe.
It has a peppery flavor that makes it a perfect complement to the creaminess of the cheese, the crunchiness of the nuts, and the sweetness of the caramelized onions.
26. Italian Farro Salad
I’m not really sure how this one got its name, but I can tell you it’s delicious.
The combination of the different textures of the grains, the cheese, and the tomatoes is simply amazing. You’ll love how it comes together once you try it!
27. Zucchini Bites
Zucchini is a versatile vegetable that goes well with just about anything.
You can slice it up and use it as a side dish, but you can also bake it to make it crispy and delicious!
And if you’re planning on grilling it, it works wonders when paired with grilled meat!
28. Italian Wedding Soup
There’s no question that this is one of the most popular traditional Italian dishes out there.
It’s easy to make, it’s delicious, and it always makes people smile.
I can’t think of a better side dish to serve alongside a pasta or risotto than Italian Wedding Soup.
29. Savory Parmesan Cookies
When it comes to Italian cuisine, most people know what to serve with spaghetti – it’s typically a plate of crusty bread.
But what about side dishes that don’t accompany pasta?
Well, when it comes to Italian side dishes, we’re talking about traditional Italian sides, such as bruschetta or antipasto.
Those are both great, but there’s one other side dish that’s often served on its own – Parmesan cookies!
30. Italian Chickpea Salad
A simple and classic side dish that goes well with anything – pasta or pizza, for instance.
You can always count on an Italian chickpea salad to deliver an impressive flavor boost and make your food taste better.
This dish packs tons of protein and healthy nutrients.
With a rich combination of tomatoes, olives, and garlic, it’s a tasty Mediterranean classic that you should definitely try!
31. Cacio e Pepe Brussels Sprouts
Brussels sprouts are an easy side dish that are full of fiber and vitamins and they are actually very delicious!
If you love brussels sprouts, you will absolutely love this simple recipe for cacio e Pepe Brussels sprouts!
They have that classic pasta flavor, so they can be enjoyed by everyone!
32. Italian Pasta Salad
Italian pastas salad is one of the most popular dishes in Italy. The ingredients are so versatile, you can make them for a large crowd.
Just be sure to add enough oil, vinegar, and seasonings to make them tasty.
33. Italian Roasted Potatoes
Whether it’s a family meal or a casual dinner for friends, I think Italian food tastes best when it’s served at its simplest.
The key to that simple recipe is a simple dish like Italian roasted potatoes.
That’s what I’m sharing today – and it’s definitely a crowd-pleaser!
34. Italian Pinwheels
Italian Pinwheel Pasta is one of the most common side dishes you’ll find at an Italian restaurant. It’s usually served with spaghetti and meat sauce.
You can easily make your own version at home. You’ll need a few simple ingredients and you’re good to go!
35. Burrata Salad
I’ve heard the phrase “Italian food is simple food done right.” Well, this burrata salad says the exact opposite. It’s a very fancy dish that seems like a lot of work for a simple combination of ingredients, but that’s what makes it so delicious.
It’s a fresh, colorful, and light salad with a unique flavor that will satisfy your guests and impress your taste buds.
36. Italian Bruschetta
Bruschetta is a classic Italian side dish. It is usually served as an appetizer and is made from slices of crusty Italian bread brushed with olive oil and garlic and topped with tomatoes, olives, and herbs.
This is the perfect time to use the Italian bread you’ve been hoarding in the freezer.
37. Focaccia Bread
Focaccia bread is an ideal side dish for Italian food because it is full of flavor and a bit on the chewy side. It’s also great because it goes well with so many different kinds of dishes.
It can be served warm or at room temperature. And if you use it with a pasta dish, it can even become a main course!
38. Italian Stuffed Zucchini Flowers
This Italian side dish is a classic and delicious combination that you should add to your menu rotation.
The recipe comes from one of my favorite Italian restaurants.
Not only is this recipe super easy to make, it’s also extremely inexpensive. Plus, it’s a beautiful dish to serve at any time of the year.
39. Italian Stuffed Artichokes
An iconic dish in Italian cuisine, these artichoke hearts are stuffed with cheese and served hot or cold.
And they make for a delicious and simple side dish that’s perfect with meat dishes.
40. Calamari Fritti
Fritti means “fried” in Italian.
Calamari fritti is traditionally served alongside risotto, but it can be enjoyed anytime as an appetizer.
The calamari is fried, then tossed in a simple marinara sauce.
I love this side for its simplicity.
41. Stuffed Mushrooms
Stuffed mushrooms are a delicious, traditional side dish that’s often served at Italian dinner tables.
See Also: What to Serve with Stuffed Mushrooms: 33 Easy Side Dishes
Whether you’re making them yourself or ordering them, they’re always an enjoyable side dish to accompany a meal.
They’re easy to make and they’re also a fun way to use some of your favorite mushroom varieties.
So why don’t you give them a try and add some new mushrooms to your repertoire!
42. Creamy Polenta
Polenta is one of my favorite dishes to serve with pasta. It’s not too heavy, but it’s really creamy and delicious!
This particular side dish is super easy to make and can be enjoyed warm or cold.
46. Caponata alla Siciliana
What do you get when you combine caponata and focaccia? You get a really tasty Italian side dish that makes the perfect addition to your holiday table.
It’s an amazing combination of fresh, ripe summer fruits and fresh, crispy bread.
44. Panzanella Salad
Panzanella is the quintessential Italian side dish. It’s a simple salad made of bread (usually stale) topped with tomatoes, cucumbers, and basil.
It’s light and refreshing and goes well with everything from pizza to pasta to seafood.
45. Risotto alla Milanese
Risotto is a traditional Italian dish that can be served on its own or as an accompaniment to other dishes.
There are hundreds of variations of risotto alla Milanese. But what’s most important is that it has to be made with arborio rice.
That’s why this classic side dish from Italy is the perfect match for your dinner table.
46. Tricolore Salad with Grapefruit Saba Vinaigrette
Whether it’s pasta or a delicious side dish like this one, Italy is known for its vibrant salads.
This recipe is a simple side dish that tastes just as great with pasta as it does on its own!
There are only three ingredients, and they are easily available at your local grocery store. You can find grapefruit saba vinaigrette in most of your favorite grocers, and you can even make your own!
47. Mortadella and Fontina Slab Pie
The quintessential Italian side dish, this cheesy pie is a true classic that pairs nicely with any type of meat.
The mortadella gives it a subtle hint of spice, while the nutty flavor of the fontina cheese balances it out.
48. Italian Sweet and Sour Cipollini Onions
Cipollini onions are tiny sweet onions that are great for side dishes or appetizers. They’re a perfect addition to almost any Italian meal.
Sweet, juicy, and a bit tangy – they’re definitely worth adding to your repertoire!
49. Cherry Tomato Tarte Tatin
The traditional side dish of my childhood was cherry tomatoes and bacon. I love how tender they are, and the sweetness that comes from the cherries is amazing.
I never thought I would ever include them in a recipe, but if you know me, you know how much I love to experiment.
50. Artichoke Risotto with Capocollo and Pecorino
This risotto is the perfect side dish for a holiday meal. It’s the ultimate comfort food and the perfect thing to bring to an Italian themed event.
Related: 17 Pecorino Cheese Recipes I Can’t Resist
It has all the flavors of Italian food without any of the guilt.
The artichoke adds a nice earthy flavor to the risotto.
And the cheese adds a creaminess to the dish that is so satisfying!
You can serve this with any entree, but I recommend it with anything that you want to be extra cozy and warm.
51. Carrot Salad with Burrata and Pomegranate
In Italian cuisine, vegetable side dishes are usually very simple and often include a salad-like preparation.
Carrots are a common ingredient used in such dishes, which are served alongside pasta or pizza.
They are one of my favorite vegetables to serve alongside the more complex meals.
Because they are so versatile and easily prepared, carrots can be included in any kind of dish.
52. Roasted Garlic Polenta with Herbs and Mascarpone
If you’re looking for something simple and tasty to make alongside a dinner of your favorite Italian cuisine, this dish is a perfect choice!
And speaking of mascarpone, don’t miss out on these easy mascarpone pasta recipes.
There are so many ways to prepare polenta, but this one takes it to a whole new level.
I know, I’ve been waiting to share it with you guys since the beginning of summer!
And it was worth the wait.
9 Tips for Choosing A Traditional Italian Side Dish
If you’re still not sure how to go about choosing a side dish, then follow these tips:
Tip 1: Avoid Any With A Lot Of Oil
While Italian side dishes tend to be very flavorful and loaded with olive oil, this is not always the case. If you’re looking for a traditional Italian side dish for your dinner party, then look for one that is seasoned with herbs and garlic. These dishes are also often lightly salted or seasoned with lemon juice.
Tip 2: Look For The Right Balance Of Salt And Pepper
When making traditional Italian side dishes, don’t be afraid to season them generously with salt and pepper. This is a good indicator that the dish has been properly cooked and seasoned.
Tip 3: Avoid Any That Have Added Dairy
Italian side dishes typically do not have added dairy, but if you want a traditional Italian side dish that has dairy, look for one that is made with ricotta cheese. This will give it a slightly tangy, creamy flavor.
Tip 4: Ask Your Guests What They Like
If you’re serving an Italian side dish, you’re probably going to want to serve something simple, like zucchini or eggplant parmigiana. If your guests aren’t familiar with Italian food, they might be intimidated by a more complex recipe like ravioli. Instead, ask them what they’re looking for in an Italian dish.
Tip 5: Go With Something Familiar
If you’re having a dinner and you’re serving a traditional Italian side dish, chances are your guests are already familiar with it. If you’re not, stick with something they’re more likely to enjoy, like stuffed artichokes or eggplant parmigiana.
Tip 6: Stick To The Classics
While you can always do something new and exciting, sometimes sticking to the classics is the best choice. Italian food is often considered to be one of the most sophisticated cuisines out there, and so if you’re serving something like ravioli, it’s going to be better received than something like spinach and ricotta ravioli or meat-filled ravioli.
Tip 7: Look for the Perfect Balance of Flavors
A side dish that has too much of one flavor or ingredient is not going to be that enjoyable. But when the dish is balanced, the flavors will be harmonious and the overall effect will be pleasing.
Tip 8: Don’t Be Afraid To Try Something New
There’s nothing wrong with trying a new recipe or ingredient. But don’t feel like you have to try something that everyone else is eating, or that’s already on your table. There’s no reason why you can’t experiment with a new dish. Just make sure you try it on a non-meatless night.
Tip 9: Pick a Dish That’s Easy to Make
When you’re trying to pick a side dish to serve at a dinner party, make sure it is one that you can easily make in advance and reheat.
What’s a good Italian vegetable?
Choosing a great Italian vegetable is a matter of personal preference. You’ll want to consider your family’s preferences as well as the season and availability of certain vegetables. Some of the most popular include: zucchini, eggplant, tomatoes, and peppers.
What are the best Italian pasta side dishes?
A simple yet delicious side dish is a nice touch to any meal. Pasta is the most popular side dish in Italy and is served as a main course or a side. While you have a wide variety of choices, the most common is probably penne. However, there are many other options, like rigatoni and fusilli, that are equally delicious.
Italian side dishes come in a variety of different shapes and sizes.
They also come in a variety of different flavors and tastes.
But which ones should you try?
Well, you don’t need to make the same thing twice.
So be creative and have fun experimenting.
There’s no wrong choice!
You’ll want to experiment to see what you and your guests like best.
But be careful not to overwhelm people with too many options at once.
Just pick one or two dishes and have fun.
The rest will just be extra for you and your guests.
Of course, if you’re having a party or serving a large group, you can serve a few of these dishes.
This way, people will still have something to munch on while they eat your main course.
52 Traditional Italian Side Dishes
- Italian Green Beans
- Caprese Salad
- Italian Stuffed Tomatoes
- Italian Pickled Eggplant
- Tuscan beans and spinach
- Italian antipasto salad
- Rice balls in tomato sauce
- Italian Stuffed Artichokes
- Italian breadsticks
- Italian macaroni and cheese
- Italian risotto
- Rosemary roasted potatoes
- Italian ratatouille
- Italian Giardiniera
- Parmesan knots
- Caprese Salad Skewers
- Tuscan White Bean Salad
- Italian Greens with Sauteed Onions and Garlic
- Italian Garlic Bread
- Italian Marinated Mushrooms
- Radicchio Salad
- Italian Farro Salad
- Zucchini Bites
- Italian Wedding Soup
- Savory Parmesan Cookies
- Italian Chickpea Salad
- Cacio e Pepe Brussels Sprouts
- Italian Pasta Salad
- Italian Roasted Potatoes
- Italian Pinwheels
- Burrata Salad
- Italian Bruschetta
- Focaccia Bread
- Italian Stuffed Zucchini Flowers
- Italian Stuffed Artichokes
- Calamari Fritti
- Stuffed Mushrooms
- Creamy Polenta
- Caponata alla Siciliana
- Panzanella Salad
- Risotto alla Milanese
- Tricolore Salad with Grapefruit Saba Vinaigrette
- Mortadella and Fontina Slab Pie
- Italian Sweet and Sour Cipollini Onions
- Cherry Tomato Tarte Tatin
- Artichoke Risotto with Capocollo and Pecorino
- Carrot Salad with Burrata and Pomegranate
- Roasted Garlic Polenta with Herbs and Mascarpone
- Pick any of these delicious side dishes.
- Prepare the ingredients according to the recipe.
- Be ready to serve in no time!
Hi, I'm Benjamin. I love cooking, long walks, and my girlfriend! Here you’ll find simple and delicious recipes that you can make in 30 minutes or less.