There are so many great Italian side dishes here for you to choose from; find delicious Italian sides like Caprese salad, ratatouille, and more.
You are going to want every single one of these Italian side dishes.
Preparing an authentic Italian dinner isn’t that complicated, especially when you’re following the rule of thumb in the feast preparation.
Italian get-togethers are all about connecting with family and friends while sharing scrumptious food and sparkling drinks (or wine!) around the table.
To assemble a meal in true Italian style, there should be at least five to eight courses: aperitivo (appetizers), antipasto (nibbles), il primo (first course), il secondo (main course), contorno e insalata (salad), il dolce (desserts), formaggi e frutti (cheese and fruit), and digestivo (digestives).
Though some of these menu items are optional, there’s nothing wrong if you complete all of them to ensure you’ll get that real Italian feast feel.
To give you a headstart, I’m going to share this recipe list that features 45 of the best Italian side dishes–all destined to add shape and definition to your main meal.
You don’t need to love mushrooms to enjoy these Tuscan Creamy Mushrooms.
This side item combines sun-dried tomatoes, parmesan cheese, milk, spinach, cornstarch, and garlic, resulting in a burst of great flavors.
What’s more, you can play around with its recipe by adding and subtracting ingredients here and there.
If you couldn’t find cremini mushrooms, the white button variety would be a great substitute.
Use it as a side or a topper for your meat-based dishes such as grilled steak and chicken.
Made in just 15 minutes and out of six pantry staples, there’s no doubt that this recipe is one of the best and easiest Italian vegetable side dishes out there!
Turn your ordinary side of green beans into an extraordinary accompaniment with the help of butter, garlic, Italian seasoning, bread crumbs, and parmesan cheese.
Thread red and orange cherry tomatoes, basil leaves, and mini-mozzarella balls on wooden skewers to create a side bound for endless entertaining.
Don’t forget to drizzle your skewers with balsamic vinegar and olive oil for more flavor.
You can make these Caprese Salad Skewers ahead of time but remember, wait until you’re ready to serve these Italian sides to drizzle the balsamic glaze over them.
Store-bought buttermilk biscuits, canola oil, parmesan cheese, garlic powder, oregano, and dried parsley flakes are all you’ll need to make this simple side dish.
You’ll know that these parmesan knots are fully cooked when they have a nice golden-brown look.
This recipe is best served warm next to your main Italian meal.
This potato salad gets an interesting Italian twist with an antipasti flavor from artichokes, sun-dried tomatoes, roasted red peppers, and basil.
It isn’t tossed in mayonnaise, so it’s an ideal treat for your Italian friends.
This recipe uses olive oil instead.
Served the salad warm or chilled alongside Italian meat favorites, or you can opt for baked pork tenderloin, broiled lobster, whole roasted chicken, and salmon.
You can make your dull salad more exciting (and tastier) by adding crisp lettuce, ripe, juicy tomatoes, olives, onions, radicchio, croutons, parmesan cheese, and zesty pepperoncini peppers.
Start the recipe by combining the ingredients.
Drizzle the mixture with the homemade dressing, then top it with freshly shredded parmesan cheese.
Make this Italian salad in advance so you can still feed your friends and family with little effort on your part.
Just don’t add the dressing until you’re ready to serve it!
When it comes to finding a delicious side to complement the main, nothing works better than a flavorful Italian ratatouille filled with fresh summer veggies such as tomatoes, zucchini, and yellow squash.
These vegetables get a kick from the flavors of garlic, dried basil, dried parsley, pepper, and parmesan cheese.
Simply place them in an airtight container, store the container in the fridge, and bring your ratatouille back to life the next morning.
Slow-cooking white beans with garlic, sage, and bay leaf release their rich flavor, creating a hearty and tender side dish that’s guaranteed to give your taste buds a treat.
Soaking the beans before cooking is the secret behind the tenderness of the dish–it saves you a lot of time and energy in the kitchen too.
To serve, drain the beans and drizzle with olive oil.
You can also serve them on crostini as an appetizer.
If you’re looking for a vegetable-based recipe that can serve as a side dish for Italian food or main, these green beans are for you.
A mixture of fresh vegetables such as collard greens, spinach, escarole, white onions, and garlic and condiments like salt, parmesan cheese, and hot red pepper flakes come together for a flavorful combo.
For a pretty finish, serve the recipe alongside freshly baked Italian bread.
You’ll never look back at your regular roasted potatoes again when you realize how easy, inexpensive, and delicious this recipe is.
These potatoes are seasoned with oregano, fresh rosemary, and salt and then baked to golden brown perfection.
A hearty side dish that’s bound to be loved by your family.
To reheat some leftovers (which should be impossible because these are so delicious), place them in a frying pan with a drizzle of olive oil.
Stir them occasionally until thoroughly reheated.
This recipe is excellent when paired with your favorite meat dishes such as fish, chicken, beef, and pork.
11. Italian Risotto
Make this simple yet scrumptious one-plate-wonder featuring butter, white wine, vegetable broth, garlic, onion, and oregano for a hearty Italian-inspired weeknight meal.
Remember that you don’t need to wash the rice beforehand so the natural starch will absorb the broth, resulting in a rich and creamy risotto.
If you’re new to this entire Italian thing, this is the best recipe to start with.
This Italian macaroni and cheese recipe is as pleasing to the eyes as it’s to the palate, thanks to the herbaceous parsley.
And the secret to its creaminess?
The combination of cheese blend, whole milk, and butter.
To create this luscious side dish, combine warm milk, salt, black pepper, and grated nutmeg, then whisk for several minutes until the sauce is fully thickened.
Once done, add in the cheese and wait until it melts before adding in the macaroni.
To make it extraordinary, garnish your macaroni and cheese with crispy pancetta or bacon, and freshly chopped parsley.
13. Italian Broccoli
Even the pickiest eater in your family will ask for a second batch when you serve this sauteed broccoli with an Italian twist.
And the exciting part doesn’t stop there–this recipe delivers on all fronts: basic ingredients, easy preparation, and full of flavors.
Make this Italian broccoli as a side for your upcoming Italian-themed party, or simply enjoy them on a casual occasion.
Add red chili flakes, anchovies, lemon, and Parmigiano Reggiano to the dish!
Whether you serve them as a side or an appetizer at your Italian-themed party, you can bet these bite-sized zucchini bites will be a crowd-pleaser.
These little treats take only 20 minutes from start to finish, so you can prepare them minutes before your guests arrive.
Just simply cook the chopped zucchini alongside garlic, water, and salt until the veggie is tender.
Squish the zucchini with a fork, then combine it with shredded mozzarella, parmesan cheese, egg, bread crumbs, parsley, and pepper in a large bowl.
Form the mixture into balls and roll them in the bread crumbs.
Then bake, bake, bake!
Whip up these Italian breadsticks, and I’m sure that these will become an instant favorite that you’ll enjoy for years to come.
Made in about two hours, these crunchy bites are made from all-purpose flour, virgin olive oil, barley malt or honey, durum wheat semolina, and active dry yeast.
You can shape them any way you prefer–make them straight and twisted or thin and thick.
Do as you, please!
Also, this recipe yields 40 servings, but I suggest making another batch as they will not last long at your dinner table.
16. Stuffed Eggplant
Eggplant lovers, this Stuffed Eggplant is for you.
This recipe looks impressive, but it only takes a handful of ingredients and isn’t too complicated to create.
Trust me; it’s easy!
The eggplant is sliced half lengthwise before scooping its flesh out with a spoon or knife.
While waiting for the eggplant shells to be cooked in the oven, mix eggplant flesh, garlic, Italian seasoning, salt, and tomatoes and cook the mixture in a skillet with oil.
Once done, fill the shells with the tomato mixture and top each shell with ricotta cheese and parmesan, then bake!
17. Garlic Bread
This classic favorite will complete your feast with its crusty texture and satisfying Italian flavor.
And once you put them on the table, you’ll be stunned as they’ll be gone in a flash.
The garlic powder gives the dish a garlic-y mouthfeel, while the shredded mozzarella cheese and butter lend creamy goodness to every bite.
Sprinkle extra cheese just before serving if your crowd prefers them to be more cheesy.
Pro tip: If you have a hard time finding mozzarella, replace it with parmesan cheese.
18. Panzanella Salad
It would be hard to find a more “summery” salad than this one, with its luscious tomatoes, juicy cucumber, and aromatic basil.
Lightly toasted bread pieces add both substance and flavor to the salad, making it a satisfying meal on its own.
This meal was first prepared in Italy to store garden vegetables during the colder months.
Vegetables absorb the mild fruitiness of a marinade made of white wine vinegar and water, which tenderizes them and keeps them fresh until they’re ready to be used.
The crispness and flavor of these pickled vegetables make them a helpful pantry staple.
Focaccia is an Italian bread that typically features olive oil, herbs, and salt in its ingredients.
The garlic cloves add an aromatic punch and savory flavor, while the olive oil helps make a crisp crust.
It is airy and fluffy within and has a crackly exterior.
Beautiful, fresh cherry tomatoes and mozzarella balls nestled inside a ripe, creamy avocado with a drizzle of balsamic sauce and some fresh basil—heaven!
And what a fabulous way to show off that salad—by stuffing it into avocado halves.
When eaten in its raw form, escarole has a bitter taste and a flavor reminiscent of chicory or curly endive.
The inner leaves are sweeter and more tender than the outer ones.
Sautéed escarole loses its sharpness and takes on a more subdued flavor as it cooks.
To start this dish, artichokes are boiled slowly in a small amount of water.
This method allows them to become supple while also soaking up the flavors.
It’s steamed till tender with a squeeze of lemon juice; the final result is garlicky, cheesy, and flavorful.
Tender, pillowy gnocchi is the star of this cozy dish, which is doused in a homemade, cheesy, herbaceous pesto sauce.
Gnocchi releases starch during cooking that helps to thicken the sauce and turn it velvety smooth and creamy.
25. Burrata Salad
Who doesn’t adore this decadent, rich cheese that is a fusion of mozzarella and cream?
The most enticing thing about burrata is how it feels in your mouth.
On the outside, it has the appearance and texture of a solid block of cheese, but once you slice into it, you’ll find a creamy, milky, soft texture that’s bound to impress.
26. Creamy Polenta
Savor the richness of the polenta and its delicious flavor.
Polenta’s mild sweetness and buttery, sleek texture make it a versatile base for savory toppings like spicy sausages, roasted chicken, vegetables, and herbs.
27. Peas & Pancetta
Some of you, I know, struggle mightily to figure out how to cook peas and how to give this underrated vegetable some much-needed flavor.
This recipe will solve both of your problems.
The peas are enriched with umami flavor from the Italian bacon (pancetta), which is enhanced by the shallots and pepper—that tastes so good!
28. Stuffed Tomatoes
Just look at how tasty, lively, and fresh these stuffed tomatoes are.
Mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses’ melty, cheesy goodness goes wonderfully with the plump tomatoes—yum!
In this traditional Italian meal, vibrant, sweet bell peppers are braised with onions, tomatoes, and garlic until fragrant and fork-tender.
Peperonata is a recipe for a side dish, but it works just as well as a pasta sauce or even as a spread over toast or bruschetta.
The Cipollini onion is far sweeter than the ordinary onion, making it an excellent choice for caramelization.
When mixed with tangy-sweet balsamic glaze, the mild onions’ underlying sweetness becomes more distinct, making for a decadent but low-calorie side dish.
31. Polenta Fries
Polenta, a type of cornmeal, is versatile since it can be eaten soft, cooked into thick grits, or formed into shapes and baked.
After baking, they take on a little dense and chewy consistency, with a fantastic sweet and savory maize flavor, such as these crispy polenta fries.
Try to dip them with Marinara or some homemade aioli for a real treat.
This recipe is more like lasagna, except that instead of pasta, meat sauce, and white sauce, it uses layers of delicate eggplant, a flavorful tomato sauce, and melty cheese.
Because of its spongy texture, eggplant can absorb a wide variety of flavors, making eggplant parmigiana one of the best ways to enjoy this versatile veggie.
Eggplant, onion, celery, capers, and Italian green olives, are simmered in a sweet and vinegary tomato sauce in this traditional Sicilian caponata.
Caponata’s powerful interplay between the sweet raisins, tangy red wine vinegar, and salty capers make for even deeper and more nuanced flavors.
Imagine exploding the garlicky flavor in your mouth by popping one of these flavor bombs in!
Roasting mushrooms in the oven typically requires less oil than sautéing them on the stove.
A slight coating of oil is all needed, and they come out of the oven basted in their juices and delightfully tender and juicy every time.
It’s a piece of sourdough bread spread with whipped ricotta and sweet, roasted tomatoes served open-face.
You’ll love it since it’s simple to prepare but seems elegant and sophisticated, like something you’d find in a café.
Additional flakes of salt, some crushed red pepper, and a sprinkling of fresh basil transform it into pure decadence.
The cheese and pepper taste of Cacio e Pepe pasta is perfectly captured in this risotto.
This dish’s warm and enticing risotto rice was infused with all the lovely cheesy, peppery goodness.
There may be too much pepper, but that is just the charm of this recipe.
Incorporate some crunch and milkiness into your earthy baked asparagus by spreading a layer of creamy mozzarella over the top before putting them in the oven.
Delicate but not mushy, asparagus retains its fresh grassy flavor and goes nicely with the creamy garlic-herb sauce as it bakes.
Cooking veggies like eggplants in vinegar before adding oil avoid spoilage, and what starts as a dish to lengthen shelf life becomes a delightful tradition withstood refrigeration.
Pleasantly mushy and flavorful, with a tinge of garlic and herbs, the final pickled eggplants were a delight to eat, especially alongside meat, sandwiches, and pizza.
Between romaine and iceberg lettuce chunks, there are many tasty, sugary, crunchy bits.
Plus, the drizzle of zesty, tangy, minty Italian dressing—this salad recipe offers everything crispness and tastiness.
40. Penne Pomodoro
Penne pasta covered with a sauce made from plump tomatoes, herbs, garlic, and vegetables simmered until the ingredients merge into a pure, rich sauce is exquisite.
This pasta’s cylindrical shape allows the sauce to permeate each piece, which maximizes and absorbs all the flavor of the Pomodoro sauce.
The citrusy oranges and the sweet, anise-flavored fennel make for a delectable combination.
This amazingly delicious Italian dish has a fantastic textural contrast between soft and luscious oranges and super-crunchy fennel.
If you’re looking for a salad that goes well with just about anything, go no further than this one
42. Orzo Pesto Salad
Orzo is a type of pasta that resembles rice and has a pleasant chewy mouthfeel when cooked and doesn’t get soggy like other pasta noodles.
This bright, festive, herby orzo pesto salad will satisfy your hunger for something hearty while still being on the lighter side.
To add complete plant-based goodness to your Italian meal, try serving white beans as a side.
It’s incredible how much flavor comes into life from a single can of beans with just a bit of Italian seasonings and a little simmering.
Using fresh sage leaves gives this dish a gorgeous flash of green color and a robust, musky taste.
44. Burrata Pizza
This dish is like a dream come true: a pizza, a salad, and a huge ball of luscious burrata all got together and created the ultimate food.
Every mouthful is a symphony of flavor thanks to the marriage of the melty cheese with the spiciness of the arugula, the olive oil and herbs, and the depth of the basil pesto.
Yes, those bright yellow flowers of the zucchini (or any other kind of squash) are actually edible.
They’re like tiny pouches, with no empty spaces between the petals, and when opened, they take on a bell form and have a sugary flavor.
As an alternative to regular flour, this recipe uses glutinous rice flour that makes the batter airier and crispier when deep fried.
The bottom line
There’s no need to be fancy when choosing Italian side dishes to serve on the table.
The general rule is to look for recipes that complement your il secondo (second course) or main course.
Don’t overcomplicate it. Just keep it tasty and simple.
In case you’re doubting your personal decisions again and feel stuck in picking the right sides for your Italian dinner feast, then take a quick revisit at this compilation to unlock all of the side items.
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45 Best Italian Side Dishes
There are so many great Italian side dishes here for you to choose from; find delicious Italian sides like Caprese, ratatouille, and more.
- Tuscan Creamy Mushrooms
- Italian Green Beans
- Caprese Salad Skewers
- Parmesan Knots
- Italian Potato Salad
- Italian Salad
- Italian Ratatouille
- Italian White Beans
- Italian Greens With Sauteed Onions & Garlic
- Rosemary Roasted Potatoes
- Italian Risotto
- Italian Macaroni & Cheese
- Italian Broccoli
- Cheesy Zucchini Bites
- Italian Breadsticks
- Stuffed Eggplant
- Garlic Bread
- Panzanella Salad
- Italian Giardiniera
- Caprese Stuffed Avocado
- Escaroles With Olives & Capers
- Italian Stuffed Artichokes
- Creamy Pesto Gnocchi
- Burrata Salad
- Creamy Polenta
- Peas & Pancetta
- Stuffed Tomatoes
- Cipollini Onions With Balsamic Glaze
- Polenta Fries
- Eggplant Parmigiana
- Sicilian Eggplant Caponata
- Roasted Italian Mushrooms
- Whipped Ricotta Toast With Roasted Tomatoes
- Risotto Cacio E Pepe
- Cheesy Baked Asparagus With Prosciutto
- Italian Pickled Eggplant
- Italian Chopped Salad
- Penne Pomodoro
- Sicilian Fennel & Orange Salad
- Orzo Pesto Salad
- Sauteed White Beans With Garlic, Sage & Tomatoes
- Burrata Pizza
- Fried Zucchini Flowers
- Have a look at our list of Italian Side Dishes.
- Choose the side you want to recreate.
- Start cooking your newly found recipe.
- Share your insights on our Facebook page.