14 Quick and Amazing Side Dishes that Perfectly Complement Manicotti

Manicotti is a classic Italian dish that is perfect for a cozy dinner with your loved ones. This dish is a favorite of both vegetarians and meat lovers, as it can be made with a variety of filling options. 

These tube-shaped pasta shells are usually filled with cheese or meat and then baked with the marinara or sauce of your choice.

But have you ever thought about what to serve with manicotti? Manicotti needs a complementary side dish that can elevate the meal to another level. 

If you’re looking for some amazing and quick options to serve with your manicotti, you’ve come to the right place.

In this blog post, I am going to share ten quick and amazing side dishes ideas that you can serve with manicotti to make your dinner even more fulfilling.

What is manicotti? What does manicotti taste like?

Manicotti is a type of Italian pasta dish that is made with large tube-shaped shells filled with cheese and sometimes other ingredients such as spinach or meat. 

The shells are then covered in tomato sauce and baked until they are fully cooked. 

Manicotti has a mild flavor that comes from the combination of ricotta cheese, mozzarella cheese, and parmesan cheese. 


It also has hints of sweetness from the tomatoes and basil used in the sauce. Manicotti is best served hot with freshly grated parmesan cheese for added flavor. Enjoy this delicious Italian dish!

Manicotti can also be served cold as a side dish or appetizer. It is often paired with other Italian dishes, such as lasagna and spaghetti, making it perfect for any kind of gathering. 

The leftovers are great to take for lunch the next day, too! 

Manicotti is a tasty and versatile dish that can be enjoyed by everyone in the family. Give it a try today!

Best Sides to serve with manicotti

1. Caesar Salad

Caesar salad is a refreshing side dish that pairs perfectly with the richness of manicotti. 

Caesar Salad

It’s easy to prepare, and you can get creative with it by adding different toppings like grilled chicken, shrimp, or bacon bits.

2. Garlic Bread

Garlic bread is an ideal classic side dish that goes well with almost any pasta dish. It’s crispy on the outside, soft on the inside, and loaded with garlic buttery flavor that complements the flavors of manicotti.

3. Caprese Salad

Caprese salad is a staple in Italian cuisine. This simple yet elegant side dish consists of cherry tomatoes, fresh basil leaves, and mozzarella cheese. 

Caprese Salad

It is light and refreshing, making it the perfect complement to the rich flavor of manicotti.

Discover More: Complementary Dishes to Serve with Caprese Salad

4. Roasted Vegetables

Roasted vegetables can be the perfect side dish to add more flavor and nutritional value to your dinner. 

You can use any vegetables of your choice, such as zucchini, bell peppers, onions, or mushrooms.

5. Italian Green Beans

Green Beans are a classic Italian side dish that couldn’t be easier to prepare. All you need are green beans, olive oil, garlic, and a few simple seasonings. 

It’s a perfect way to add a dash of green to your plate.

6. Parmesan Roasted Potatoes

Parmesan Roasted potatoes are crispy and coated with parmesan cheese and garlic butter

Parmesan Roasted Potatoes

The saltiness from the cheese paired with the tender texture of the potatoes makes it an excellent side dish with the filling manicotti.

7. Pesto Pasta Salad

Pesto pasta salad is a refreshing side dish loaded with the bright flavors of fresh herbs, lemon, and Parmesan cheese. 

It is easy to prepare and can be stored for days, making it an excellent option for leftovers.

8. Grilled Asparagus

Asparagus is a nutritious vegetable loaded with antioxidants and fiber. Grilled asparagus is the perfect complement to the rich and creamy flavors of manicotti.

9. Antipasto Salad

Antipasto Salad

Antipasto salad is a combination of Italian salad ingredients like salami, olives, artichoke hearts, and pepperoncini. 

It’s a simple yet flavorful side dish that complements the flavors of manicotti.

10. Tomato and Cucumber Salad

Tomato and Cucumber Salad is an ideal refreshing side dish that is a match for hot summer days. 

The juicy tomatoes and crunchy cucumbers are combined with onions, olives, and basil, making them an excellent complement to the richness of manicotti.

11. Bruschetta

Bruschetta is a flavorful and light side dish that will have your guests asking for more. 


All you need are some sliced tomatoes, garlic, basil, balsamic vinegar, and of course, toasted bread.

Learn More: Creative Side Dishes to Elevate Your Bruschetta

12. Italian Sausage and Peppers

Italian Sausage and Peppers are a hearty side dish that is a great accompaniment to your manicotti. 

Sauté some sliced bell peppers and onions in a pan, and then add some Italian sausage. Cook until everything is browned and cooked through.

13. Spinach and Ricotta Stuffed Mushrooms

Spinach and Ricotta stuffed mushrooms are an excellent vegetarian option that you can serve alongside your manicotti. 

Mix some chopped spinach, ricotta cheese, garlic, and salt, then stuff them into button mushrooms and bake for about 15-20 minutes.

14. Spaghetti Aglio e Olio

Spaghetti Aglio e Olio is a perfect classic Italian pasta dish that is a perfect match for your manicotti. (Recipe)

Spaghetti Aglio e Olio

All you need is spaghetti, olive oil, garlic, and some red pepper flakes, and you’ll have a delicious side dish ready in no time.

Explore More: Perfect Side Dishes for German Potato Noodles

the best sauce for manicotti

1. Tomato Sauce

Tomato sauce is a classic option for manicotti, as tomatoes pair perfectly with creamy ricotta and mozzarella fillings. 

Make your own homemade tomato sauce, or opt for store-bought Italian crushed tomatoes and infuse it with herbs such as basil, oregano, garlic, onion, and parsley to give it an extra punch of flavor.

2. Alfredo Sauce

For a creamy option that’s sure to please the palate, opt for Alfredo sauce atop your manicotti. 

Alfredo Sauce

This rich white sauce pairs well with the stuffed pasta shells and can be flavored with garlic and Parmesan cheese for an added kick.

3. Pesto Sauce

Put a twist on your manicotti dish by topping it off with pesto sauce! 

This flavorful green sauce is made from fresh basil leaves blended together with Parmesan cheese and pine nuts, which will add a unique nutty flavor to your dish.

4. Meat Sauce

If you’re looking for something more hearty to accompany your manicotti dish, top it off with a savory meat-based sauce such as Bolognese or Italian sausage ragù. 

Simmer ground beef or sausage in tomato sauce along with onions, carrots, celery, herbs like oregano and basil, red pepper flakes (optional), and beef stock to get the perfect depth of flavor that will take your manicotti up a notch!

5. Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

If you prefer something sweet and spicy over traditional savory sauces like tomato or Alfredo sauce, try making your own roasted red pepper cream sauce! 

Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

Roast bell peppers in the oven until they are charred all over, then blend them together with freshly grated Parmesan cheese garlic cloves, olive oil and heavy cream until smooth—the result is an addictively delicious cream sauce that has just enough heat to spice up your classic manicotti dinner!

Find Out More: Best Dessert goes with Pasta

salad to serve with manicotti

Manicotti is a classic Italian dish that can be served as a main course or as an appetizer. 

To accompany the creamy pasta dish, try serving a simple salad made with fresh greens such as romaine lettuce, spinach, and arugula. 

For crunch, add vegetables like cucumbers, tomatoes, and bell peppers. To add a touch of sweetness, include apples and pears. 

salad to serve with manicotti

To bring out the flavor of the dish and give it a Mediterranean flair, top it off with olives and feta cheese. For added texture and flavor, mix in some pine nuts or sunflower seeds. 

A light vinaigrette dressing is perfect for bringing all these flavors together into one harmonious salad to enjoy alongside your manicotti.

What are the best flavors to go with manicotti?

One of the best flavor combinations for manicotti is a classic tomato-based sauce with garlic, herbs, and oregano. This classic combination pairs perfectly with the cheese-filled manicotti shells. 

To add a bit more depth to your dish, consider adding white wine or extra veggies like mushrooms and bell peppers. 

A creamy Alfredo sauce also works great when served over manicotti – simply combine butter, cream, Parmesan cheese, and herbs to create a delicious sauce that will coat each shell perfectly. 

For an even richer taste, try adding some Italian sausage or bacon to the filling before baking. 

Finally, don’t forget about topping off this cheesy dish with some fresh parsley or basil for added color and flavor!


How do you jazz up manicotti?

Manicotti can be jazzed up with a variety of different ingredients, such as vegetables, meats, cheeses, herbs and spices. 

You can also add a delicious tomato or cream-based sauce to your manicotti dish. Adding Italian flavors like oregano, basil and garlic is an easy way to spice up the dish even more. 

Another option is to top off your manicotti with melted cheese before baking it for an extra cheesy finish!

How do you display manicotti on a platter?

Manicotti is best displayed on a large, flat platter. Arrange the manicotti in rows across the center of the platter. 

Surround the manicotti with colorful vegetables such as bell peppers, carrots, and tomatoes to create an inviting presentation. 

For added color and flavor, sprinkle chopped fresh herbs or grated Parmesan cheese over the top of the manicotti. Serve with condiments of marinara sauce for dipping, if desired. Enjoy!

Wrap Up On what to Serve with Manicotti

Manicotti is a delicious and satisfying Italian dish that can be elevated to another level with the perfect side dish. The right-side dish can add nutrition, balance, and flavor to this comforting dish. 

In this post, we’ve talked about amazing and quick side dishes that you can serve with your manicotti, ranging from classic garlic bread and Caesar salads to more elaborate vegetable-centric options like roasted vegetables and spinach and ricotta stuffed mushrooms.

I hope that this blog has provided you with some excellent ideas for side dishes that can complement your manicotti beautifully. 

Try out these suggestions, experiment with your own ideas, and enjoy your perfect Italian dinner!


How many manicotti per person?

It is recommended to have 1-2 manicotti per person, depending on the size of the serving. 

For a standard-size serving, 2 manicotti per person is a good amount, as it is both filling and fulfilling. 

Manicotti also pairs well with other dishes such as pasta, salads, and meats, so it can be shared between multiple people as well.

What do Italians eat with manicotti?

Italians typically enjoy eating a salad, garlic bread, and a glass of wine or beer with a manicotti. 

Salads can include traditional Italian ingredients such as olives, tomatoes, onions, and cucumbers. 

Garlic bread is usually served with olive oil and herbs. As for drinks, Italians may opt for a glass of crisp white wine or a light beer to complement the pasta dish. 

Additionally, some may also enjoy topping their manicotti with Parmesan cheese or even pesto sauce for a more flavorful experience.

What wine pairs well with manicotti? 

Manicotti is a hearty Italian dish that pairs especially well with a full-bodied red wine such as a Barolo, Chianti or Brunello di Montalcino. 

These wines have bold tannins, which will pair nicely with the richness of the cheese and tomato sauce in manicotti, making for an enjoyable combination.
A lighter red like Pinot Noir also makes for a great match. Its subtle fruit flavors and lower tannin levels complement the creamy ricotta filling in manicotti without overpowering it. 

For white wine lovers, Sauvignon Blanc offers notes of citrus and herbaceousness that bring out the best in this classic Italian dish. 

Its crisp acidity helps cut through the creaminess of the ricotta and also stands up to a spicy marinara sauce. Serve these wines slightly chilled for optimal enjoyment. 

With this variety of options, there’s sure to be a wine that pairs perfectly with your next batch of manicotti!

Notwithstanding how you choose to dress it up, a classic Italian dish like manicotti is always better when paired with the right bottle of wine.

From bold Barolos to light Pinot Noirs, there’s something for everyone when it comes to pairing with this cheesy Italian favorite.

By sampling different wines and finding one that works best for your palate, you can make your manicotti experience even more special and enjoyable.

What do you serve with stuffed shells?

Stuffed shells are usually served with a sauce such as marinara or Alfredo. They also pair well with vegetables like broccoli, spinach, and peppers. 

A salad is also a great accompaniment to stuffed shells. Grated cheese like Parmesan or Asiago can also be sprinkled on top for added flavor and crunch. 

Finally, a crusty loaf of bread makes the perfect side to sop up all the delicious sauce from your stuffed shell dish!

What are some fun facts about manicotti?

– Manicotti is a traditional Italian dish made from large, cylindrical tubes of pasta filled with ricotta cheese, spinach, and other ingredients.

– The word “manicotti” comes from the Italian phrase for “little sleeve” or “little mitten”.

– In Italy, manicotti is usually served as a second course after the main course. It’s also often served as an appetizer.

– Manicotti can be cooked with either marinara sauce or Alfredo sauce – both are delicious!

– You can make your own manicotti by using a large pasta like lasagna noodles and rolling them around the filling

What is the difference between manicotti and cannelloni?

Manicotti and cannelloni are both types of Italian pasta dishes. 

The difference is that manicotti is made with thin crepes filled with a cheese mixture, while cannelloni is made with wide tubes of pasta filled, usually with meat or vegetable-based filling. 

Manicotti can be served either as an appetizer or main course, while cannelloni is usually served as a main dish. Both are typically topped with various types of tomato sauce and cheese before baking.

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