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31 Side Dishes To Pair With Your Italian Meals

The Italian Side Dishes are a must try and is essential for when you want to bring a taste of Italy to your dinner tables. It is the flavor packed crusty and cheesy dish creating rich and flavorful recipes we love to eat.

The different and delicious recipes gives a different twist to the main course or side dish. 

Here is a table with the best Italian side dishes and how quickly you can prepare each recipe. 

Quick Table: Italian Side Dishes

RecipeCalories Per ServingPreparation Time
Potatoes2891 Hour 40 Minutes
Corn on the Cob26436 Minutes
Butter20210 Minutes
Pasta78720 Minutes
Rice Balls2021 Hour
Fried Calamari32030 Minutes
Cauliflower10030 Minutes
Pumpkin Puree501 Hour
Nuts46845 Minutes
Salads (Cowboy)19020 Minutes
Grilled vegetables9220 Minutes
Broccoli Rabe16215 Minutes
Green Beans9325 Minutes
Gnocchi1691 Hour 20 Minutes
Caponata36650 Minutes
Polenta36835 Minutes
Risotto3701 Hour
Slow Cooked Beans3368 Hours 10 Minutes
Swiss Chard3518 Minutes
Roasted Peppers14225 Minutes
Vegetable Soups1671 Hour
Zucchini with Tomatoes7145 Minutes
Sun-Dried Tomatoes2136 Hours 40 Minutes
Zucchini with Sausage20655 Minutes
White Beans31715 Minutes
Artichoke6071 Hour 15 Minutes
Minestrone Soup29955 Minutes
Crab Legs13020 Minutes
Tortellini68725 Minutes
Pasta Salad31315 Minutes
Garlic Bread19010 Minutes

The best way to enjoy Italian side dishes is to cook them yourself and make sure you get the most out of their flavor when indulging in them. Many of these side dishes are easy to make and can be made in advance to suit your serving needs.

They go well with soups, fish, salads, pizza, and many other Italian meals.

When it comes to picking out side dishes you can make in the kitchen, there is no shortage of options that will undoubtedly delight your guests.

If you’re planning to host an Italian-themed dinner party and want to whip up some dishes that will knock their socks off, then this post is for you!

From antipasto to zabaglione, these 31 Italian side dishes are sure to add a kick of flavor.

1. Potatoes

Boiled, fried, and baked potatoes, including salads, are essential to most Italian side dishes. This is due to their versatility and ease of preparation, which makes them a favorite among Italian food chefs.

Roasted potatoes with garlic and rosemary, mashed potatoes, boiled potatoes with parsley and tomatoes; the options are endless!

Calories Per Serving: 289

Preparation Time: 1 Hour 40 Minutes

2. Corn On The Cob

Corn on the cob is another popular type of side dish usually served hot in Italy. This dish is more common in areas where corn grows abundantly, like Sicily or Abruzzo. 

There are also several types of variations to choose from, including the cozzes alla Bianca, which features fresh mussels and scallops in white wine sauce.

Calories Per Serving: 264

Preparation Time: 36 Minutes

3. Butter

Traditionally, butter is used as a flavoring agent for many Italian side dishes. The spread is often used on bread as an accompaniment to various dishes, making it a versatile ingredient that can be used in cooking. 

In fact, traditional recipes call for butter to be mixed with tomatoes or oil and vinegar (known as sauce Macerata) and served with pasta or fish.

On the other hand, butter helps bring out the flavors of garlic, shrimp, and anchovies, making them delicious side dishes.

Calories Per Serving: 202

Preparation Time: 10 Minutes

4. Pasta

With all the Italian recipe books and magazines at our disposal, one should be able to learn some of the basics from them. 

The main part of pasta is usually a sauce made with onions, tomatoes, and meat. Most Italians go easy on the salt in their sauces as it also makes their meals heavy. Pasta can be served both with sauces and by themselves.

Calories Per Serving: 787

Preparation Time: 20 Minutes

5. Rice Balls

Rice balls or rice croquettes make great side dishes when served with tomato sauce or an optional cheese melting on top. 

They are typically made with rice flour, eggs, and seasonings. Let the filling sit in your fridge while you prepare your own sauce or use pre-made tomato sauce.

Calories Per Serving: 202

Preparation Time: 1 Hour

6. Fried Calamari

Although it’s not a vegetable, fried calamari is one of Italy’s most popular types of side dishes. 

Calamari rings also make an excellent starter for parties as they can be served hot and fresh right off the frying pan.

Calories Per Serving: 320

Preparation Time: 30 Minutes

7. Cauliflower

Cooking cauliflower is not as difficult as it seems as long as you cook it right. Since it can come in different sizes, your cooking time might take longer depending on which variety you are using. 

Most Italians prefer the white kind over the green because of its milder taste and whiter color. The vegetable is also great when served gratin style with cheese on top.

Calories Per Serving: 100

Preparation Time: 30 Minutes

8. Pumpkin Puree

The sweet taste of pumpkin is enjoyed by many Italians who incorporate it into all kinds of dishes, including pumpkin puree, which is often made for side dishes. 

This side dish pairs well with meat as well as pasta and pizza as a topping. Moreover, pumpkin puree can be used in making many desserts like cheesecake or even cakes.

Calories Per Serving: 50

Preparation Time: 1 Hour

9. Nuts

In addition to olive oil and vinegar, nuts are another typical Italian side dish that is enjoyed during the holidays. 

They can be served with bread or grilled to make them even more savory and delicious. You can even serve them with pasta and cheese as a starter or side dish.

Calories Per Serving: 468

Preparation Time: 45 Minutes

10. Salads (Cowboy)

If you love salads for the lightness of taste, then you will be happy to know that many of these salads can be made very quickly. 

The best thing about salads is that they are very healthy and low in calories. You can make salads to serve as light side dishes; they taste excellent and are very filling.

Calories Per Serving: 190

Preparation Time: 20 Minutes

RELATED: 10 Best Substitutes For Italian Seasoning

11. Grilled Vegetables

Grilling vegetables is a great way to enjoy them without too much oil. You can buy ready-to-eat grilled vegetables in the supermarket; the best ones are those which do not need to be marinated. 

On top of that, you can buy packaged salad greens with all the components of your salad already included, making it even easier to make a delicious salad without spending too much time on it.

Calories Per Serving: 92

Preparation Time: 20 Minutes

12. Broccoli Rabe

Broccoli rabe is a vegetable that is commonly served with pasta and can be used as a substitute for spinach to make pesto sauce

The strong taste of broccoli rabe often masks it from being eaten on its own, which makes it perfect for side dishes.

Calories Per Serving:  162

Preparation Time: 15 Minutes

13. Green Beans

One of the most common side dishes in Italian cuisine is green beans or beans. They are usually served as an appetizer by themselves but might be added to pasta or other dishes if you prefer them to be that way instead.

They are also a great way to get a little extra protein in your meal.

Calories Per Serving:  93

Preparation Time: 25 Minutes

14. Gnocchi

Similar to dumplings, this Italian side dish is also a staple in most Italian cuisine. With a crispy outer crust, the gnocchi has its sweet and savory goodness just underneath the skin. 

You can make your own gnocchi at home by combining flour and water until you achieve a doughy consistency.

Calories Per Serving: 169

Preparation Time: 1 Hour 20 Minutes

15. Caponata

When you think of Italian side dishes, caponata is one of the first things that comes to mind. 

This dish is excellent for passing around to family on a fall Sunday or just for eating by itself in front of the fireplace.

Calories Per Serving: 366

Preparation Time: 50 Minutes

16. Polenta

It’s difficult to choose between polenta and mac and cheese—if you’re an Italian—you have two pseudo-vegetarian options to choose from. 

Even though the texture may be different than what you’re used to, polenta is rich and flavorful enough that it doesn’t require a lot of seasoning to make it taste amazing.

Calories Per Serving: 328

Preparation Time: 35 Minutes

17. Risotto

Risotto may not be an Italian creation, but this creamy rice dish has undoubtedly found a home in the country’s cuisine. 

The Risotto is a low-cost dish perfect for passing around the family on a chilly winter Sunday.

Calories Per Serving: 370

Preparation Time: 1 Hour

18. Slow Cooked Beans

Slow-cooked beans are one of Italy’s most popular side dishes, and it’s easy to see why. They’re super cheap, tasty, and healthy—especially if you make them yourself instead of purchasing pre-made varieties. 

They’re great when served with meatballs or as part of a vegetarian meal like risotto or pasta.

Calories Per Serving: 336

Preparation Time: 8 Hours 10 Minutes

19. Swiss Chard

You may have never eaten Swiss chard before, but that doesn’t mean you won’t love it.

This green leafy vegetable is one of the best vegetables to eat during the colder months because its flavor intensifies when exposed to frost and other frozen weather conditions. 

It’s super cheap, available year-round, and only requires a few minutes to prepare. It’s rich in calcium, proteins, and minerals, so it’s great for a healthy salad or as a side dish on its own with some olive oil—delicious!

Calories Per Serving: 35

Preparation Time: 18 Minutes

20. Roasted Peppers

Roasted peppers don’t have a single Italian origin, but with their bold flavor and simplicity of preparation, this side dish is a favorite with Italian families. 

The best part about this side dish is that you can serve it in many different ways. Enjoy them alone, slice some up and add them to sandwiches, or use them as toppings for pizza or pasta.

Calories Per Serving: 142

Preparation Time: 25 Minutes

RELATED: 30 Italian Appetizers That Will No Doubt Impress You And Your Guests

21. Vegetable Soups

Vegetable soup makes for an excellent side dish and is perfect during the winter months when we’re looking for warm meals. 

Whether you’re looking for a hearty soup or something with a lighter taste, vegetable soups are an easy way to satisfy your hunger and add some variety to your meal.

Calories Per Serving: 167

Preparation Time: 1 Hour

22. Zucchini With Tomatoes 

Zucchini is an excellent side dish that can be eaten alone or combined with different vegetables and herbs such as capers, anchovies, basil, oregano, and olives. 

Many recipes use tomatoes instead of cheese sauce as the base of the dish, which results in a fresher tasting side dish that balances the natural sugars in the vegetable.

Calories Per Serving: 71

Preparation Time: 45 Minutes

23. Sun-Dried Tomatoes 

While they may not be as popular as they once were, sun-dried tomatoes have a special place in Italian cuisine. 

They’re much too flavorful to be kept for very long due to the intense flavors that they impart on dishes.

Calories Per Serving: 213

Preparation Time: 6 Hours 40 Minutes

24. Zucchini With Sausage

A classic Italian side dish, this dish consists of zucchini that has been cut into long strips and then sautéed in olive oil. 

The olive oil acts as a natural binder for the sauce and prevents it from separating. This meal can be simple or elaborate depending on what is used to replace the meat. It’s great served with pasta or used in other recipes such as pizza.

Calories Per Serving: 206

Preparation Time: 55 Minutes

25. White Beans

White beans are used extensively in Italian cuisine and make for a great vegan alternative to meat-based meals like risotto. 

White beans are cooked in various ways, but a few have become somewhat staples in Italian dishes.

Calories Per Serving: 317

Preparation Time: 15 Minutes

26. Artichoke

Artichokes are an essential part of Italian cuisine and are often eaten with leaves, hearts, and sometimes even stems! 

While they’re not always eaten as a side dish alone, they can easily complement any main course with their savory taste and texture.

Calories Per Serving: 604

Preparation Time: 1 Hour 15 Minutes

27. Minestrone Soup

This Italian soup will have you feeling warm and fuzzy inside (to say the least) after indulging in this soup. 

It’s a meal that reflects your sense of taste while simultaneously warming you up from within.

Calories Per Serving: 299

Preparation Time: 55 Minutes

28. Crab Legs

When you’re planning your next big meal, don’t forget this fantastic option! Crab legs are known for their delicious taste, affordability, and convenient serving sizes. 

They make great additions to pasta and casseroles and are the perfect snack with your favorite glass of wine for a relaxed evening at home.

Calories Per Serving: 130

Preparation Time: 20 Minutes

29. Tortellini

Tortellini is a popular Italian dish you can serve as an appetizer or as one of many side dishes at your next family-friendly gathering

Serve them with your favorite alfredo sauce or marinara sauce for the ultimate Italian experience!

Calories Per Serving: 685

Preparation Time: 25 Minutes

30. Pasta Salad

Who can resist pasta? Even if it’s just served plain, there is something about this tasty dish we all enjoy. 

Whether you enjoy a creamy version, a tangy one, or even one infused with meat and vegetables, pasta salads offer an irresistible option for Italian side dishes.

Calories Per Serving: 313

Preparation Time: 15 Minutes

RELATED: 15 Italian Beef Recipes That Are Easy To Make

31. Garlic Bread

This is another classic Italian side dish that pairs perfectly with creamy tomato or or Alfredo pasta dishes

When choosing your bread for this side dish, you can go with plain or garlic bread; either choice is delicious.

Calories Per Serving: 190

Preparation Time: 10 Minutes

Frequently Asked Questions

What Are Italian Side Dishes?

Italian side dishes are a type of course food made of vegetables, herbs, and other ingredients that typically accompany the main course at a meal. They’re served in different ways: raw, cooked, or both.

When It Comes To Dinner, What Do Italian Families Eat?

Pasta, meat, and vegetables are usually served at an Italian home for dinner around 8 p.m. A typical Italian dinner consists of several courses, wine, and a lot of talking. 

What Are Popular Italian Dishes?

  • Pizza
  • Bottarga
  • Lasagna
  • Risotto
  • Ribollita
  • Fiorentina Steak
  • Polenta
  • Ossobuco

31 Side Dishes To Pair With Your Italian Meals

Buckle Up And Have A Flavorful Taste Of Italian Side Dishes To Enhance Your Meal Flavoring.


  • Pick a recipe from the list above
  • Click the recipe name and visit the website
  • Collect the ingredients and cook the food
  • Enjoy – don’t forget to leave a review

Recipe Video

Jess Smith

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Sunday 31st of March 2024

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Monday 26th of February 2024

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Saturday 24th of June 2023

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