17 Best Pasta Side Dish Recipes

Love pasta and looking for new ideas for your side dishes? Look no further. We’ve got you covered with these pasta side dish recipes.

Pasta Side Dishes

Love pasta and looking for new ideas for your side dishes? Look no further. We’ve got you covered with these pasta side dish recipes.

If you’re hosting a party and don’t know what to have for a side, switch it up and try these pasta side dish recipes.While veggie side dishes and salads are classic and ever popular, pasta side dishes can offer a meal a real step up in flavor and calibur. 

They can balance out or compliment the flavors of your entree. Plus, they’re easy to whip up, which allows you to focus time and energy on the main dish. Pasta side dishes don’t have to be simple spaghetti, pesto, or fettuccine alfredo.

There are a variety of pasta dishes out there (even easier to whip together than the classic recipes) that are waiting to be tried. These pasta side dish recipes are easy to make, delicious, and can go as a side with a variety of meals. 

Plus, if you want to add protein to your pasta, you can easily make your meatballs in a crockpot.

Pasta Side Dish Recipes

1 — Cacio e Pepe

photo of cacio e pepe plated pasta
Photo by Sugar & Cloth

This classic Italian pasta dish is made with just 4 ingredients: pasta, Pecorino Romano, butter, and black pepper. It’s a simple recipe that’s full of flavor, and it makes a great side dish to any meal!

2 — Baked Chicken Spaghetti

by top Houston lifestyle blogger Ashley Rose of Sugar & Cloth
Photo by Sugar & Cloth

Looking for healthy pasta side dishes? Try our baked chicken spaghetti recipe. Made with vegetable pasta, lean chicken, and a homemade tomato sauce, it is a healthier version of the classic spagetti bake.

Because it’s baked in the oven, it’s a set-it-and-forget-it meal that’s perfect for busy weeknights. It’s a one-dish meal that’s perfect for a weeknight dinner! It also is perfect for when you have leftover spaghetti

3 — Pasta Pomodoro 

Pasta pomodoro makes spaghetti and meatballs look plain. It is a fantastic way to highlight fresh summer tomatoes from your garden. The dish is even known for it since pomodoro means ‘tomato’ in Italian. The tomatoes get cooked down to where they form a very light sauce, but the tomatoes remain mostly intact.

4 — Creamy White Sauce Pasta

Creamy White Sauce Pasta
Photo by A Couple Cooks

If you’re looking for something quick and easy yet delicious and filling, this creamy white sauce pasta is a great recipe to have on hand. The white sauce takes 10 minutes and uses 2% milk instead of heavy cream.

You can eat it straight or add in some protein or veggies (such as sautéed onions and mushrooms or spinach) to give it additional flavor and nutrition. 

5 — White Wine Sauce

White Wine Sauce
Photo by A Couple Cooks

A variation of the regular white sauce above, this white wine sauce is savory from the dry wine and parmesan while being creamy beyond delicious. And while everyone will think you bought it from an authentic Italian restaurant, it comes together in only 15 minutes!

Why cook with wine (besides the fact that you can drink and cook at the same time, of course)? Wine deglazes the pan and adds acidic and complex flavors to dishes.

When buying for this recipe, stick to dry, crisp whites that aren’t sweet, such as a sauv blanc, chardonnay, pinot grigio, pinot gris, or dry vermouth. This doesn’t have to be a sauce just for pasta. Try it on fish or chicken too!

6 — Olive Tortellini Pasta Salad

Olive Tortellini Pasta Salad
Photo by I Wash You Dry

If you have less than 30 minutes to put together a side dish, this tortellini pasta salad is a great choice. Taking only 20 minutes to whip up, the olives offer a unique flavor that makes this salad recipe not only delicious but everyone’s new favorite dish. 

It can be served with a side of bread, a small salad, and, of course, red wine. Pair this pasta recipe with a Pinot Noir or Cabernet Franc to help blend the brininess and bitterness of the olives with the flavors of the wine. 

7 — Gnocchi Foil Packets

If you’re going camping or have a barbecue going, this is a great way to cook up a great pasta side dish. By wrapping the ingredients in a foil packet, the steam from the wine, cherry tomatoes, and corn infuses with the other ingredients and simultaneously cooks the gnocchi.

8 — Creamy Garlic Shells

Creamy Garlic Shells
Photo by Iowa Girl Eats

If rich, creamy, and garlicky is your style, this is pasta shells recipe for you. It is loaded with fresh garlic and takes only 15 minutes to cook up. To jazz it up or make it a main meal, add in some seafood or veggies to make it healthier and tastier. It’s a fancier version of mac’n’cheese (the ultimate comfort food).

9 — Orzo with Mushrooms, Scallions and Parmesan

Orzo with Mushrooms, Scallions and Parmesan for best pasta side dishes
Photo by A Family Feast

Good dishes don’t have to take a long time to make, and this orzo dish is no exception. The savory and rich flavors from this 30-minute recipe will quickly make it a family favorite. 

It’s full of mushrooms in a creamy sauce with flavors bursting out from the parmesan and scallions. Talk about pasta sides perfection! Since it has an earthy vegetable (mushrooms), this dish pairs perfectly with light red wines, dry rosés, and rich white wines. 

10 — One Pot Garlic Parmesan Pasta

Garlic Parmesan Pasta
Photo by Damn Delicious

If you like classic fettuccine alfredo sauce, you’ll love this. Not only is it tastier, but it’s a one-pot recipe and is healthier than regular alfredo because it doesn’t use cream cheese or heavy cream for the sauce. 

You start off by creating your own fragrant garlic butter. If you keep it as a side dish, pair it with chicken dishes and seafood dishes since the cream and garlic flavors from the pasta go splendidly with those meats. 

Imagine the perfect combination of cream, garlic, and pasta, and you’ll have this dish! It’s made by mixing parmesan cheese with your favorite type of pasta. 

11 — Pasta Primavera

Pasta Primavera
Photo by epicurious

Pasta primavera is the healthy pasta dish you’ve never had. It’s great for picky eaters and dieters alike. Plus, it’s ridiculously easy to customize.

You can throw in whatever veggies you want, such as broccoli, beans, or carrots, to the creamy sauce. The olive oil, basil, and garlic mixture with it will have you wanting seconds in seconds! It pairs well with fish and meat entrees thanks to its light but healthy nature.

12 — Mac n Cheese

Mac n Cheese
Photo by Shugary Sweets

If you’re looking for a classic, easy, and delicious recipe, it doesn’t get any more classic than macaroni cheese. This thick and creamy dish uses sharp white cheddar, which makes it ridiculously delicious and incomparable to other macs. 

It goes well as a side to meats like steak and Sloppy Joes. But if you want to make it a whole entree, add ground beef, chicken, bacon bits, or breadcrumbs. The possibilities are endless! You can also switch up the cheese to give it a sharper flavor, such as gruyere or swiss. 

Looking to drink and dine? Pair this Mac n cheese (or any very cheese pasta) with a Negroni, gin-based martini, gin, tonic, or gin spritz.The combination of the aperitif (sour, citrus, and sweet) intertwines well with the cheeses that are mixed in the mac n cheese.

13 — Chili Mac

Chili Mac
Photo by A Simple Pantry

Experience the perfect fusion of comfort and flavor with this chili mac recipe, a hearty, zesty delight that takes pasta side dishes to a whole new level. This one-pot wonder combines the richness of macaroni with a savory chili sauce, creating a mouthwatering side dish that’s sure to steal the spotlight at any meal. 

14 — Lobster Mac and Cheese

As if mac’n’cheese wasn’t good enough, adding lobster takes it over the top in flavor. Plus, it has not just one but two types of cheese. This lobster mac and cheese can be an easy side dish or an entire entree. 

Considering this is a cheesy dish and has seafood, pair this dish with a crisp, full white wine such as a Soave or Chardonnay or a dry rosé.

15 — Macaroni Salad

Macaroni salad is a classic that goes with almost every occasion, from outdoor parties to fancy Italian dinners. What’s more, this easy pasta recipe is easy to whip together in no time with ingredients you likely already have on hand.

Green pepper, celery seed, onion powder, pepper, salt, sugar, vinegar, mayonnaise, and of course, pasta noodles of your choice. It’s colorful, creamy, and can be made ahead of time, too!

Thanks to the fresh veggies in this recipe which give off a crisp flavor, sparkling wines or unoaked white wines go best with macaroni salad.

16 — Pasta with Pesto Cream Sauce

Indulge in the exquisite simplicity of this pesto pasta recipe that marries the vibrant flavors of homemade pesto with the luxurious creaminess that dreams are made of.

This delectable creation elevates any meal, turning a side dish into a culinary masterpiece. With fresh basil, Parmesan, and a touch of cream, every bite is a journey through a garden of flavors, leaving your taste buds craving more. 

17 — Garlic Parmesan Angel Hair Pasta

Savor the irresistible combination of simplicity and sophistication garlic parmesan angel hair pasta. Delicate angel hair pasta is generously coated in a velvety garlic Parmesan sauce, creating a symphony of flavors that perfectly complements any main course.

And the key is to slow boil all the ingredients together over medium heat for the flavors to infuse. Because this pasta dish boasts such savory and rich flavor profile, when pairing desserts, it’s a good idea to choose options that offer a contrast in taste and texture. So stick to something light like our mango sorbet.

Cocktails that Pair Well with Pasta

Regardless of what your entree is, there are pasta side dish recipes for every occasion. From creamy and garlicky to fresh veggies and olive oil-y, your next entree will be hard to beat these delicious side dishes. Bon appetit!

Check out a few of our favorite cocktails that you can pair with your dishes —

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