What to Serve with Spaghetti (45+ Best Side Dishes) 

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What to Serve with Spaghetti (45+ Best Side Dishes) – In Italy, we serve pasta as a first course “primo”, followed by a “secondo” which is meat and seafood. Since I know much of my U.S.A based audience loves to combine flavors, this What to Serve with Spaghetti post gives you all the options, from appetizers to desserts.

I’ve separated this post by course so you can easily pick one from each category to complete the perfect Italian-style spaghetti feast! If you need some help with the basics, read my post on how long to boil spaghetti for perfect pasta every time.

bow with spaghetti and tomato sauce with tongs
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Sauce Recipes to Serve with Spaghetti

Every spaghetti needs to soak up a delicious sauce. If you need some inspiration for your spaghetti sauce you can start here and check out my recipes for some ideas on where to start. (Side note: these sauces also work great on any type of pasta!)

1. Authentic Italian Tomato Sauce – The “Mother Sauce” of Italian cuisine, this delicious and authentic tomato sauce (sugo) is the base for many of the most popular pasta dishes. 

2. Arrabbiata – called “the angry sauce” because it’s more than just your run of the mill tomato sauce because it has a spicy kick from the red pepper flakes that takes the flavor to the next level.

3. Tomato Cream Sauce – an easy recipe with only a few ingredients that everyone will love until the last bite, this is another dish you’ll want to add to your “easy dinners” menu and revisit it all the time.

4. Italian Ragu – every Italian nonna has their own special pasta recipe and this one is mine! Even picky eaters can resist this rich, meaty spaghetti Bolognese.

5. Puttanesca – this garlicky tomato sauce gets tons of extra flavor from anchovies, capers, olives, and red pepper flakes and is a tasty main dish to serve with a quick salad.

6. Black Truffle Cream Sauce – The savory flavor of truffles nestled in a velvety parmigiano cream sauce wrapped in perfectly al dente pasta is a luxurious meal you can make at home in 20 minutes.

7. Eggplant and Tomato Sauce A great choice to serve on your homemade spaghetti – but it’s so good people won’t even realize it isn’t a meat sauce recipe. (Also goes great on spaghetti squash!) 

8. Homemade Marinara Sauce – Embrace the spirit of summer with this tantalizing Italian tomato sauce, overflowing with the delectable flavors of sun-ripened tomatoes and topped with fresh basil and delicious olive oil.

Antipasti – Appetizers to Serve with Spaghetti

This course is commonly considered the “starter” or what most Americans would call appetizers. These are the perfect opener to a spaghetti dinner.

9. Focaccia bread – perfect crisp and bubbly, soft, and fragrant olive oil bread – bread is easily one of the easiest and best sides to serve with spaghetti.

10. Seafood Salad bright salad of gently cooked and marinated seafood, including shrimp, squid, scallops, and mussels, with lemon juice, olive oil, and parsley.

11. No Knead Italian Bread – only 6 ingredients come together to form the perfect bread with a crunchy crust and an irresistibly soft interior. This is a great recipe for inexperienced bakers!

piece of focaccia on parchment paper

12. Bruschetta –  a classic Italian dish consisting of bread, mozzarella, fresh tomatoes, and basil leaves.

13. Fried Cheese Balls – perfectly melty on the inside with a crunchy golden brown crust on the outside.

14. Calamari – a healthier version of the crispy Italian classic made in the air fryer or oven that’s a great addition to your dinner table.

PRIMI – Veggie Sides Dishes for Spaghetti

Primi is the first course with hot food but generally does not include meat. Here you’ll find some tasty veggie sides to serve with spaghetti. 

15. Sautéed Zucchini and Onion – zucchini and onion prepared in olive oil delicately sautéed and served over fresh ricotta.

16. Honey Glazed Carrots – a quick and easy side that comes together in only 30 minutes of mostly hands-off cooking as they roast in the oven.

17. Green Beans with Garlic and Lemon – super simple dish to serve along with your spaghetti that makes sure everyone (kids included) wants to eat their veggies.

18. Roasted Balsamic Mushrooms – delicious mushrooms with an earthy flavor baked with balsamic vinegar, thyme, and garlic, this is a perfect side dish for any meal but compliments spaghetti especially well.

19. Italian Flat Green Beans – This Italian green beans with cherry tomatoes and garlic are one of the healthiest, tastiest and easiest side dishes.

Italian flat green beans on a plate with a fork

20. Crispy Brussels Sprouts – These sweet and spicy sprouts are perfectly tender with crispy edges and are a simple side dish to serve with your spaghetti of choice. 

21. Stuffed Peppers – This delicious side dish is made with simple ingredients that make eating veggies both tasty and fun. (suggestion: omit the rice if serving with pasta to avoid your meal being too heavy)

SECONDI – Meat Dishes to Serve with Spaghetti

This is the course served after pasta (in this case, spaghetti) and at this time, you’ll be served meat and seafood dishes. 

22. Seared Scallops – Incredibly soft, full, rich, and tangy from the butter and lemon sauce.

23. Crispy Baked Cod – Flaky cod with a herby panko crust. Mix and match this cod with one of these easy sides and some spaghetti for a variety of nutritious meals. 

24. Traditional Italian Meatballs – Isn’t this what everyone thinks of when you say spaghetti? These are made with simple ingredients, rolled by hand, then simmered in a hearty marinara sauce.  

25. Grilled Tri-Tip with Chimichurri – Tender tri-tip grilled and covered with flavorful chimichurri made with bell pepper, tons of herbs, and red wine vinegar. Goes perfectly with a creamy, cheesy spaghetti sauce – you’ll love how the different flavors complement each other. 

26. Braciole – one of my favorite comfort foods made of thinly sliced steak stuffed with herbs, cheese, prosciutto, and breadcrumbs then slow cooked in a rich homemade tomato sauce. 

Sliced braciole with sauce on a cutting board

27. Orange Steak Stir Fry – Prepare some extra sauce and throw in some cooked spaghetti for a different way to enjoy pasta – you’ll be shocked it’s not takeout!

Chicken Dishes to Serve with Spaghetti

28. Stuffed Chicken Thighs – These chicken thighs filled with mascarpone and sliced meat are perfect served with crispy veggies and a simple spaghetti with olive oil and parmesan. 

29. Breaded Chicken Cutlets – Smother them in a rich red sauce, a little bit of mozzarella and  parmesan, bake until the cheese is bubbly. Paired with spaghetti it makes the perfect combination for a delicious meal.

30. Creamy Chicken Skillet – This recipe features chicken and mushrooms in a creamy garlic herb sauce. Throw some spaghetti in the sauce and serve with garlic bread = dinner is done!

31. Roast Chicken – This chicken is a healthy main course made with fresh veggies that can be paired with spaghetti to make a great meal. Adding stock during the roasting process steams the veggies and leaves you with a pan sauce great for dipping bread into.

32. Garlic Honey Lemon Grilled Chicken – A great way to add protein to your pasta meal. This sweet and spicy marinade features lemon juice, fresh garlic, honey, olive oil, and black pepper.

INSALATA – Salad Recipes to Serve with Spaghetti

Spaghetti can be a heavy meal so a salad course is a refreshing way to lighten it up. Choose a salad recipe to showcase some of the different ways you can experiment with flavors and textures.

33. Arugula and Apple Salad – perfect combination of salty, spicy, and sweet, served in a crispy parmesan cheese cup.

34. King Crab Salad – Succulent king crab served over a bed of romaine lettuce with a simple vinaigrette.

35. Orange and Fennel Salad – this Italian salad featuring fennel, orange, pomegranate and hazelnuts will brighten your table any time of the year. 

36. Salad with Pears, Walnuts, and Gorgonzola – Delicious salad with a unique flavor that is a great side dish for any variety of spaghetti you want to make.

Italian Green Salad Pears, Walnuts, Gorgonzola Orange Honey Vinaigrette on a plate

37. Classic Cesar Salad – One of the best side dishes for any meal. Plus, it’s a great option for a busy weeknight dinner because it’s so easy to put together!

38. Peach and Mozzarella Salad – Serve this salad and all your guests will think this it’s the best part of the meal! Featuring in-season peaches, fresh basil, mozzarella, and a delicious dressing, this will quickly become your favorite dish.

DOLCE – Desserts to Pair with Spaghetti

Dessert options are plentiful when you’re serving spaghetti because Italians love their sweets! Try one of these to finish your meal on a sweeter note.

39. Lemon Yogurt Cake – A soft, light, and sweet cake made with yogurt and lemon zest. It whips up in no time and makes for the perfect anytime treat.

40. Vanilla Roll Cake with Berries and Cream –  A soft, light, sponge roll with whipped cream and berry filling to bring it to the next level. You can substitute the whipped cream for cream cheese or mascarpone to suit your taste. 

41. Strawberry Rhubarb Biscuit Cobbler –  Strawberry and rhubarb with flaky, slightly salty biscuits. Serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

42. Creme Caramel Custard Flan – An irresistibly smooth, silky, and sweet creme caramel custard baked in a caramel sauce. It looks fancy, but it’s so simple to make.

Flan on a plate

43. Crumb Cake with Jam Filling – The soft butter crumble and sweet sticky jam filling make it a tempting treat that’s a great place to finish off a spaghetti dinner. 

Cookies to Serve after Spaghetti 

44. Italian Fig Cookies – Italians call them Buccellati or Cucciddati, and these cookies look like homemade fig newtons with frosting and sprinkles!

45. Heart Thumbprint Cookies – Buttery cookies with a heart-shaped impression filled with your favorite jam. Your kids will love helping you make this simple recipe.

46. Pignoli Cookies – These pine nut cookies are chewy almond-based cookies rolled in pine nuts and baked until golden brown – undeniably amazing to serve with spaghetti.

pignoli cookies on a plate with a bite taken out of a cookie.

47. Old Fashioned Cinnamon Snaps –  This old fashioned molasses cookie is chewy, soft on the inside, and crisp on the outside.

48. Chocolate Spice Cookies – This family recipe is an easy chocolate cookie that’s soft and cake-like with a hint of warm spice.

49. Soft Amaretti Cookies – These are so deliciously soft and tender! It’s a chewy cookie with a sweet almond flavor and a crunchy crust. (Surprisingly gluten free!).

No matter if you’re going with tomato or cream sauce, this What to Serve with Spaghetti (45+ Best Side Dishes) will help you choose a tasty option to have with your pasta. The possibilities are endless when it comes to creating your own spaghetti spread!


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How do you cook spaghetti?

Read my guide here for precise directions on how to boil the perfect pasta every time.

Is spaghetti a main dish?

That’s totally up to you! You can serve spaghetti as a main dish with some garlic bread or as a side dish to your favorite meat recipe.

Why aren’t you supposed to break spaghetti?

Long pasta is eaten by wrapping it around a fork so, if you break spaghetti it may not be long enough to do so.

Why don’t you rinse spaghetti after cooking?

The starch in pasta water helps sauce stick to spaghetti. When you rinse cooked pasta in water, it removes the starch and cools the pasta, preventing the sauce from sticking.

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About Elena

My dream is to share delicious wholesome recipes that you will share around the table with all your loved ones. The memories surrounded by food are the heart and soul of CucinaByElena.

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