When sitting down to a meal, sometimes pasta is part of the main dish, and other times pasta side dishes are served. For today, I have gathered 30 recipes using pasta in some way as a side dish.
Many American meals have a meat dish, a vegetable side, and a starch side which might be pasta, potatoes, or simply bread.
Maybe it is a four-course dinner or perhaps a backyard barbeque, but pasta side dishes can be used strategically to round out a meal or make it more filling.
A side dish with pasta may simply have a light sauce, or it may have other ingredients added.
A pasta salad side dish could be made from any variety of pasta and include any ingredients.
As chefs say, every pasta type does indeed have a different taste.
Sometimes for a splash of color or flavor, greens with pasta are combined, which also creates interesting textures.
Is a pasta side always made with pasta?
Sometimes not, especially if the recipe has been converted to be low-carb.
In this case, the “pasta” may actually be made with zucchini noodles or shirataki noodles, or even spaghetti squash.
For example, the Thai Peanut Zucchini Noodles and Zucchini Pesto Pasta Salad from our list are made with zoodles.
I would venture an educated guess that cold pasta side dishes are equally as common as warm pasta side dishes.
But there would be absolutely no way for me to determine the best pasta side since that is one hundred percent an opinion survey question.
What I do know is that the more creative pasta side dishes do become, they are able to fuel the conversation because people tend to be looking for something unique and different to enjoy instead of being served the expected.
Pasta side dishes are smaller serving sizes as compared to the main entree, so one recipe can go a long way in a meal for a family.
On with the list, let’s go!
To start off our list of pasta side dishes is this lovely combination of orzo and sweet peas in a parmesan sauce with onions and garlic.
It uses chicken broth to add amazing flavor.
The key to success is getting the liquid amount correct, so it is not runny or dry but just right to make the creamy sauce.
Best served immediately.
Look at the lineup in this side dish with pasta!
Garlic, cheese, and pasta can win over just about anyone!
It is as easy as boiling the pasta and then adding the flavorful ingredients of mozzarella cheese, butter, parmesan, parsley, garlic powder, salt, and pepper!
Mix till all melted, and now you won’t have to buy a mix ever again!
Dill is the bold flavor in this first of my cold pasta side dishes.
It uses spiral pasta, diced baby dill pickles plus juice, Colby jack cheese, and white onion.
The dressing is made of mayo, sour cream, dill pickle juice, fresh dill, salt and pepper.
After mixing it all together, it needs a few hours in the fridge to thicken and incorporate fully.
Here we have a pasta salad side dish that combines antipasto and charcuterie elements with rotini pasta and an Italian vinaigrette dressing.
The ingredients include red onion, bell peppers, black olives, hard salami, and provolone cubes.
There is a strategy for adding in the ingredients, including rinsing and drying the pasta a bit.
Lots of room for variations like broccoli, carrots, cherry tomatoes or pepperoni.
Surprisingly this creative pasta side dish is served warm.
Even the preparation is creative.
It all starts with boiling the penne pasta, but six minutes in, the asparagus is added, then a few minutes later, the peas are added!
After draining, the pesto, ricotta, and mayo are mixed with parmesan and cherry tomatoes.
A squeeze of lemon juice brightens the whole dish!
If bruschetta is a favorite appetizer, this Bruschetta Pasta Salad from my cold pasta side dishes list is a great choice!
The pasta of choice might be orecchiette, but any can be used.
The ingredient list includes cherry tomatoes, green onions, red onion, garlic, fresh basil, balsamic vinegar, and parmesan cheese.
When ready to serve, combine the pasta with the tomato mixture for everyone to enjoy!
Bowtie pasta is the adorable pasta sometimes used in cold pasta side dishes.
Here we have a broccoli pasta recipe with, you guessed it, broccoli which can be raw or blanched.
The dressing is a combo of mayo, sugar, and apple cider vinegar.
The ingredients that go with the broccoli are green onions, sunflower seeds, cashew pieces, raisins, and bacon bits.
Some pasta side dishes fit nicely in the Mediterranean eating plan, which means they are indeed tasty even if that is not your typical choice!
Gotta love a great side that can be prepared quickly.
This includes orecchiette pasta, cannellini beans, and homemade or store-bought pesto.
Other add-ins could be shredded cheese, toasted nuts, or chopped veggies.
This recipe uses fresh spinach as a splash of greens with pasta.
The ingredients include bowtie pasta, spinach, craisins, pine nuts, mandarin oranges, and cilantro.
The dressing that is mixed in is made of teriyaki sauce, rice wine vinegar, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, pepper, sugar, and oil.
It is lush with a sweet and sour flair adding a colorful pasta side dish to your table.
Next up is a rotini pasta salad side dish that calls for grilled zucchini, although roasted will work well too.
In a large bowl, combine corn, red onion, garlic, lemon juice and zest, olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt, and pepper.
The zucchini and pasta are added after preparing separately along with the parmesan.
Chill before serving.
This crunchy and bright pasta salad is amazing among my refreshing cold pasta side dishes!
I mean, who can resist a dish with crunchy coleslaw and comforting pasta?
Orzo pasta is used along with three cups of coleslaw, almonds, dried cranberries, and scallions.
The orange dressing is light and lovely and makes it a very different pasta salad!
I selected this side dish with pasta for this list because, with the chicken, it is a meal unto itself.
But without the chicken, it makes a lovely side dish!
Tex-Mex is the flavor profile using enchilada sauce, sour cream, lime, black beans, corn, red onion, jalapeno, olives, and cilantro.
Also, it’s super easy to make it more or less spicy.
Someone was eventually bound to make a pasta salad side dish with ranch dressing.
Especially since in some areas of the country, the ranch is as much a condiment as mayo or mustard!
After cooking and cooling fusilli, add mayo and ranch dressing and stir until coated.
Then add in cheddar cheese, green onions, bacon bits, and seasonings.
Lots of tips and tricks too!
Oh, and don’t forget the crumbled potato chips as a garnish!
This next greens with a pasta side dish are highly addicting, so I’m warning you now!
It is the perfect storm of spicy kale, delicious pasta, and a thick sauce.
Each element is wonderful alone, so you know that combining them will be fantastic!
Pasta boiled and kale sauteed in oil and garlic.
The romesco sauce is made in a blender and then warmed till bubbly on the stove.
Combine, serve, and enjoy!
When needing a low-carb creative pasta side dish, this recipe may help since it uses zoodles, which are spiralized zucchini noodles.
It also has shredded carrots, sliced bell peppers, cabbage, and green onion.
The peanut sauce is made to a pourable consistency.
Saute the veggies just enough and add peanut sauce.
This pasta side dish can be served warm or chilled.
This pasta side dish is made with pastina, which looks like little stars, and needs attending to as it cooks in broth or water.
Once the liquid is gone, milk and butter are added.
The last step is to add salt, pepper, and parmesan.
It is a luscious, savory pasta side dish.
Obviously, greens with a pasta side dish with the title of green goddess implies there are indeed many green veggies!
Not to worry, though; there is still lots of room for modifications to meet your preferences.
Whole wheat penne pasta is boiled with broccoli and spinach added towards the end.
The dressing is made of olive oil, garlic, salt, and lemon juice with the pasta mix added in.
The additional items are avocados, pumpkin seeds, and parmesan cheese.
A cold pasta salad side dish is lovely to have on hand for any meal or brunch.
Rotini pasta is the selected pasta.
The ingredient list has a little of everything from pepperoni, carrots, broccoli, and cubed mozzarella to Colby-jack cheese.
Other options could include olives or cucumbers.
Toss with your favorite pre-made or homemade Italian dressing.
There are many many recipes for macaroni salad and cold pasta side dishes.
Some are handed down through families for generations, and others are wildly innovative and different.
This one is more traditional and has a sweet profile using sweet pickles.
It starts with the famous elbow macaroni and red bell pepper, celery, red onion, sweet pickles, and hard-boiled eggs.
The salad dressing recipe is included, and I highly suggest sneaking in a tablespoon of sweet pickle juice.
Chill for several hours before serving.
May also try a Blue Zone recipe with this Mediterranean Pasta Salad side dish.
There are only six wonderful ingredients: bowtie pasta, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, kalamata olives, red onions, and feta cheese.
The lemon herb vinaigrette is flavorful and pulls it all together!
Zucchini is the highlight of this side dish with pasta.
It is spiralized to take the place of the pasta and is typically referred to as zoodles.
This salad includes fresh mozzarella, summer sausage, pepperoncini, and pesto.
This beautiful salad can be served at room temperature or chilled.
Sometimes a pasta side that is simple and straightforward is the perfect accompaniment to the main entree.
Sure, you could buy a mix or sauce, but fresh is so fun, and this recipe has only four ingredients with fettuccine, heavy cream, butter, and parmesan cheese.
Occasionally pasta side dishes come in the form of a soup.
Here is a recipe for pasta Fagioli soup.
The pasta of choice would be ditalini or macaroni.
It is full of veggies and beans, and meat with lots of room for flexibility with those bean and meat choices.
Excellent pictures to guide you through the steps.
Soup and pasta equal double comfort!
This lovely side of greens with pasta is quite flavorful and will especially delight fans of olives!
Pasta with bends or spirals is best for this dish, so every bite has lots of sauce.
Using a food processor, mix garlic, parsley, kale, green olives, walnuts, red wine vinegar, and olive oil.
Combine the cooked pasta with the olive mixture and top with parmesan cheese!
Another variation for a pasta salad side dish that is served cold is this BLT version!
You know what that means, BACON!
The recommended pasta is fusilli, mixed with bacon bits, cherry tomatoes, red onions, and Romaine lettuce.
The homemade dressing includes ranch dressing, mayo, mustard, salt, and pepper.
Give it a couple of hours to chill before serving!
26. Lemon Spaghetti
Lemon lovers will want to try this side dish with pasta!
Spaghetti with a lemon flavor, that certainly is different!
There is a lemon sauce made of oil, parmesan, lemon juice, salt, and pepper.
Then the magic happens when the spaghetti is combined with the lemon sauce, fresh basil, and lemon zest.
27. Sesame Noodles
When a decidedly Asian pasta side is what you want to complement the main entree, this recipe delivers a sweet and savory serving of sesame noodles.
The noodles could be thin spaghetti, dry ramen, or lo mein.
The sauce is made of water, cornstarch, soy sauce, sesame oil, honey, rice vinegar, peanut butter, and sriracha.
Several clearly explained steps to follow, and then it is ready to serve with green onion, peanuts, and sesame seeds.
Cold pasta side dishes are wonderful all summer long, and this one takes advantage of fresh veggies as well.
The pasta in this dish is tortellini which could be fresh or frozen.
The veggies include a lot of cherry tomatoes and fresh corn kernels cooked and sliced off the cob.
Basil leaves, parmesan, and pepper round out the salad!
The delightful vinaigrette pulls it all together!
Velvety smooth mac and cheese is a pasta side dish that Panera Bread excels at, so let’s make it at home, shall we?
Cook up your favorite small pasta.
The cheese sauce is butter, flour, milk, dijon mustard, and hot sauce.
Remove from heat and stir in white American cheese and Vermont extra sharp cheddar cheese, salt, and pepper!
The last pasta salad side dish is like a jalapeno popper turned into a pasta dish!
Very creamy, a bit spicy, and very crowd-pleasing!
The pasta is cooked, the mayo mixture is made and then the two are combined.
Other ingredients include diced jalapenos, green onions, bacon crumbled, and shredded cheese.
Make it more or less spicy to fit your taste!
The bottom line
There are indeed a great many pasta side dishes to choose from when meal planning.
- Parmesan Orzo & Peas
- Cheesy Garlic Butter Noodles
- Dill Pickle Pasta Salad
- Antipasto Pasta Salad & Italian Vinaigrette Dressing
- Creamy Pesto Pasta With Spring Vegetables
- Bruschetta Pasta Salad
- Broccoli Pasta Salad
- Pesto Pasta With White Beans
- Mandarin Pasta Spinach Salad With Teriyaki Dressing
- Grilled Zucchini Pasta Salad
- Coleslaw Orzo Salad
- Zesty Chicken Enchilada Pasta Salad
- Cheddar Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad
- Vegan Spicy Kale & Romesco Pasta
- Thai Peanut Zucchini Noodles
- Classic Italian Pastina
- Green Goddess Pasta Salad With Avocado & Broccoli
- Pepperoni Pasta Salad
- Classic Macaroni Salad
- Mediterranean Pasta Salad
- Zucchini Pesto Pasta Salad
- Fettuccine Alfredo
- Italian Pasta Fagioli Soup
- Green Olive & Walnut Pasta
- BLT Pasta Salad With Ranch Dressing
- Lemon Spaghetti
- Sesame Noodles
- Tortellini Pasta Salad With Tomatoes, Basil, & Corn
- Copycat Panera Mac & Cheese
- Jalapeno Popper Pasta Salad
- Have a look at our list of Pasta Side Dishes.
- Choose the dish you want to recreate.
- Start cooking your newly found recipe!
- Share your insights on our Facebook page!