Pasta is one of the easiest foods in the world to enjoy.
It takes very minimal time to prepare and can be served in countless ways, combined with countless other ingredients, and even better, served as a perfect side dish, to accompany other foods!
But, given that there are so many amazing ways to serve pasta, it can be difficult to tell which ones are most worthy of your time, and which ones you should try out for yourself.
There are so many amazing ways to serve up pasta, so many amazing sauces, and so many amazing extra ingredients, meaning that there are countless perfect pasta side dishes to try out alongside your favorite meals.
Want to know what 28 of these best pasta side dishes are? Then make sure to read on down below, because we are going to take a good look at some of our absolute favorites!
1. Parmesan Orzo Pasta
Orzo is a very unique type of pasta that can be closely compared to rice in terms of its shape and its texture. This means that it can be cooked in a very similar way, to create a perfect accompaniment for a larger recipe.
This is one of our favorite orzo recipes on the internet, it comes out incredibly creamy, and the taste of the parmesan gives it an incredible richness. Best of all, it only takes a few minutes to cook up!
This dish would be perfect when served alongside some chicken, or other meat dishes, as it is easy to eat, and has a very simple but rich flavor.
2. Fettuccine Alfredo
This recipe makes use of Fettuccine pasta and mixes it up with a delightfully creamy sauce that is packed full of ingredients like garlic, black pepper, nutmeg, and plenty of chopped parsley.
It’s a simple flavor combination, but it is so delightfully fulfilling and satisfying.
The immense creaminess of the Alfredo sauce means that this dish pairs perfectly with more savory main dishes. The creaminess provides a contrast that helps to make the taste of the main dish more distinct.
3. Cheesy Taco Pasta
If you’re serving up a Mexican food feast (see also ‘13 Delicious Mexican-Style Side Dishes‘), then you definitely need to try out this recipe!
This particular one makes use of large pasta shells that can easily be stuffed with mince, taco seasoning, and cheese, to create mini tacos that can easily be served out.
This recipe makes for a very unique twist on ordinary tacos! Perfect for a social gathering!
4. Pesto Tortellini Pasta Salad
Tortellini is a perfect pasta option if you want something that is already naturally stuffed with flavor, and that can easily be paired with countless sauces or other ingredients.
Tortellini is stuffed with parmesan cheese, making each bite an enriching experience.
This salad recipe will help you to draw out this inherent flavor and pair it with mozzarella, pesto, tomatoes, and basil. This makes it a perfect side dish for any Italian main course!
5. Mac And Cheese
We couldn’t possibly do a list of the best pasta side dishes without ever mentioning mac and cheese, right? There are so many ways to make it, but this recipe is clearly the very best.
The creamy but iconic taste of the mac and cheese means that this dish is perfect when served alongside some American staples, like cheeseburgers or hot dogs!
6. Lobster Mac And Cheese
If you’ve had enough of ordinary mac and cheese, why not try spicing it up a little bit by making some decadent lobster mac and cheese? We are totally obsessed with this recipe.
The rich and complex flavors of lobster merge so perfectly with the taste of mac and cheese that it almost seems like they were made for one another.
This recipe also takes barely any time to make, so you can enjoy rich flavors in no time at all!
7. Strawberry Balsamic Pasta Salad
You may not have ever noticed it before, but balsamic vinegar and strawberries actually go together surprisingly well.
And when further combined with some farfalle pasta, crumbled feta, and baby spinach, you very quickly have a tangy and refreshing salad that pairs beautifully with other staple Summer foods!
8. Angel Hair Pasta
This is a pasta dish that was practically designed to be a side. The recipe makes use of incredibly thin pasta that, of course, is compared to angels’ hair.
This thin shape gives it an interesting texture, and an incredible mouth feel that is sure to satisfy.
This recipe uses very simple flavors so that this side dish can make for a subtle accompaniment to a larger dish!
9. Magic Gnocchi
This totally magical recipe is very easy to follow and will result in expertly cooked gnocchi that is made all the better thanks to the inclusion of mozzarella, bacon, and spinach.
The salty taste of the bacon easily soaks into the gnocchi, making every bite a revelation!
10. Everything Bagel Pasta
Do you love everything bagels? Wish you could eat them all the time? Well, this recipe will certainly allow you to enjoy the flavors of an everything bagel, without actually needing any bagels!
The dish makes use of all of the usual ingredients you expect from your favorite bagels and crashes them together in a dish full of delights.
11. Creamy Garlic Shells
Pasta shells are totally perfect for creating amazing pasta side dishes, thanks to their ability to hold onto flavor effortlessly. This recipe shows this off best, with a simple and garlicky sauce that is so creamy and satisfying.
Best of all, this recipe will easily pair with a massive number of other dishes, making it one of the most versatile recipes on this list.
12. Macaroni Salad
If our previous mac and cheese favorites proved a little too calorific, then you may also want to try out this macaroni salad that is purpose-designed to easily pair with just about any main dish.
This particular salad is designed to be served cold, which not only makes it perfect for the Summer months, and for outdoor gatherings with friends and family, but the coldness directly contrasts with the heat of a main dish, to create unique sensations in the mouth that only serve to further heighten the taste!
13. Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad
We simply adored what the inclusion of black olives and chopped bacon brought to this pasta salad.
The entire salad is drenched in a delightfully creamy sauce that gives it a refreshing mouthfeel, while the bacon and the olives give it a hit of savoriness that gives the entire salad a three-dimensional flavor profile.
This dish is so simple but so incredibly satisfying. You have to try it.
14. Avocado Pasta
We couldn’t believe that we had never thought to combine the creamy taste of avocado with pasta before, so suffice it to say that this recipe blew our minds with its potential.
It truly makes the most of the taste of avocado, to create a side dish that will definitely pair with some Mexican food (see also ‘28 Mighty Mexican Side Dishes‘), to create an Italian-Mexican fusion!
15. Gigi Hadid Pasta
Model Gigi Hadid went viral on TikTok with this incredibly spicy pasta recipe that also makes use of vodka among its ingredients! However, you can also easily remove the vodka if you so wish.
The inclusion of vodka gives this dish an intense and fiery flavor that makes it totally perfect to serve alongside a larger dish, to provide an extra kick to heighten the flavor!
16. Butternut Squash Linguine With Fried Sage
This recipe takes a little bit of extra effort to really make the flavors work, but we cannot impart just how worthwhile it is!
The creamy taste of the butternut squash sauce sets it fully apart from other recipes, because it is actually rather complex, and its flavors slowly release as you enjoy the dish.
The fried sage also gives the dish an extra sense of flavor, and texture, making this one of the fanciest recipes on this list, and one that is definitely worthy of your time.#
17. Parmesan & Snap Pea Pasta
Parmesan and sugar snap peas were practically made for one another.
The creaminess of the parmesan helps to make up the sauce that blends beautifully with the angel hair pasta, and the sugar snap peas help to give it all an extra dimension of flavor.
Super simple, and super quick!
18. Asian Spaghetti
Tossing up some spaghetti alongside some soy sauce and plenty of fresh vegetables, as well as a large helping of mushrooms, can create a totally unique take on pasta that pairs perfectly with a more diverse selection of main dishes.
We were surprised at how well this recipe managed to work out, and how delicious it tasted!
19. Greek Pasta Salad
This Greek pasta salad is totally perfect if you’re looking for a pasta dish that will work alongside a freshly cooked steak (see also ‘30 Amazing Side Dishes For Steak‘).
The richness of your steak will pair beautifully with this Greek pasta salad and the interesting combination of ingredients that it combines.
It’s a perfect side dish to enjoy during the summer because it is refreshing and best served cold!
20. Quick Broccoli Pasta
If you’re finding yourself very pressed for time to create a side dish, then we strongly recommend opting for this recipe.
It takes mere minutes to make, and yet comes out tasting so good.
It also pairs perfectly with more meaty main courses such as steaks (see also ‘7 Best Side Dishes To Serve With Smoked Tri Tip Steak‘), or grilled chicken, thanks to its creaminess that is also complemented by the fresh texture of the broccoli.
21. Dilly Bean Pasta Salad
Dilly beans are definitely the star of the show with this recipe that is definitely one of the most distinct on this list.
The recipe makes use of two distinct types of pasta, and they combine with plenty of interesting ingredients that each have distinct textures, making this easily one of the best recipes in terms of mouthfeel, the combination of textures is so satisfying!
22. Sweet Potato Gnocchi
This recipe will show you, not only how to make your very own handmade gnocchi, but will also show you how to make it using sweet potato!
We’re quite surprised that it has taken this long for someone to combine the flavors of sweet potato with gnocchi, but this masterful recipe does it with total panache!
23. Mac And Cheese Cups
If you want some easy hors d’oeuvres that everyone at a party will love, then you should definitely give this awesome recipe a try.
These adorable mac and cheese cups are totally easy to make, taste delicious, and can be easily served out.
Best of all, you can easily produce massive yields of them, so that everyone can get a chance to enjoy the pure splendor of this recipe.
This is definitely one of our favorite recipes that we have found on the internet!
24. Tangy Chickpea Pasta Salad
The title of this recipe could not possibly be more accurate. It is incredibly tangy, and the end result will pair so well with some of your favorite summertime recipes.
This dish feels like eating pure sunshine, and its combination of flavors will quickly excite your taste buds and will make you feel like you’ve taken a vacation to a beachside resort.
This recipe also makes use of honey, to give it an incredible sweetness that spreads through your mouth, and then also releases slight hints of tanginess from the fresh lemon juice!
We could spend countless hours taking you through some of the delightful and complex flavors that this recipe boasts, but we’ll let you try it for yourself instead!
25. Chili, Prawn, And Tomato Spaghetti
This spaghetti recipe is another fiery treat for those amongst you that love your spicy food, and that love unique and interesting flavors.
This recipe is incredibly easy to make, takes very little time, and results in incredibly tender and well-cooked shrimp that take perfectly to being wrapped up in the spaghetti.
The chilis used throughout the recipe are so warming and fresh, and this recipe shows you how to use just the right amount to keep the dish from becoming overbearing!
26. Olive Tortellini Pasta Salad
Tortellini’s parmesan stuffed filling can be made all the more awesome by mixing them up with some olives, some salami, and the perfect dressing.
This recipe for tortellini salad will help you to create a savory dish that will easily accompany main courses of just about any size or taste.
We simply adored how easy this dish was to make, and how easy it was to serve at dinner parties!
27. Pasta Primavera
This vibrant, colorful, and incredibly fresh fragrant pasta recipe is a perfect side dish to serve up when the sun is shining, or even during the harsher winter months.
No matter when you serve it, we guarantee that it will always go down as a total treat!
This recipe is also a great excuse to eat more vegetables, as it makes them all taste ten times better, thanks to the Italian dressings that are lovingly poured atop the end result!
28. BLT Pasta Salad
Let’s close off this list with a twist on the world-favorite sandwich (see also ‘The Best 20 Recipes For Sandwiches‘): the BLT!
This awesome and fun recipe employs the full power of its three central ingredients to create an awesome salad that tastes even better thanks to the inclusion of pasta!
Alongside the big three ingredients are extra goodies like onions, carrots, and plenty of ranch dressing. If you love BLTs, then you will love this pasta salad just as much.
It is not only incredibly fulfilling, and tastes just like you would expect, but it is also easy to whip up in a manner of minutes, and can easily be served as a side dish, come rain or shine!
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Pasta A Side Dish Or Main Dish?
Pasta can easily be both a main dish and a side dish. Pasta can very easily be enjoyed by itself, and lathered in sauces, such as tomato or pesto, or as a base for another recipe, such as meatballs.
As well as this, pasta can also easily be used as a side dish, such as in the form of a pasta salad, which is perfect alongside a sandwich or a hot dog!
Is Pasta Good For Weight Loss?
Pasta can actually be very beneficial for weight loss because it is full of carbs that help to keep your stomach fuller for longer, which helps to prevent snacking.
However, it is important to exercise moderation when using pasta to lose weight, because the carbs can very easily contribute to weight gain if consumed in high quantities.
Is Pasta Healthier Than Rice?
It is difficult to ever claim that one of the two is definitively healthier than the other.
Both pasta and rice can be used very effectively as part of weight loss regimens, but both are also full of high concentrations of carbohydrates, which can make them fattening in high quantities!
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