23 Mouthwatering Side Dishes for Stuffed Shells – Perfect Pairing

It’s hard to think of a dish that’s more comforting than stuffed shells. Stuffed shells are a classic Italian dish that’s sure to wow your dinner guests.

Stuffed shells are filled with a cheesy filling, covered in a savory tomato sauce and topped with cheese. But what to serve with stuffed shells? 

If you’re wondering what to serve with stuffed shells, you’ve come to the right place! This blog post will give you some of the best side dishes that go perfectly with this delicious pasta dish. 

Read on to explore the best side dishes to serve with your stuffed shells that will complete your meal and give it a boost of flavor. 

What are stuffed shells? What do stuffed shells taste like?

Stuffed shells are a classic Italian dish made of large pasta shells that have been filled with a savory cheese and vegetable mixture, then baked in a rich tomato sauce. 

The filling can vary depending on the recipe but typically includes ricotta, mozzarella, Parmesan, and spinach. 

The combination of soft, creamy cheese and flavorful vegetables creates an irresistible taste sensation. The tomato sauce adds even more flavor, making stuffed shells a delicious meal that’s sure to satisfy any craving. 

Serve these comforting shells for dinner with a side salad or some crusty bread for an easy yet elegant meal. Enjoy!

20+ Sides to serve with stuffed shells

1. Salad 

Salads are great side dishes to serve with stuffed shells because they are light and make a great contrast to heavier pasta dishes. 


Plus, salads add lots of flavor and texture when topped with fresh vegetables like tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and olives. 

You can also add some protein by including cooked chicken or tuna. Or, make a simple vinaigrette using olive oil, lemon juice, garlic and fresh herbs like oregano or basil. 

2. Roasted Vegetables 

Roasted vegetables are another great option for serving alongside your stuffed shells. 

Roasted Vegetables

Vegetables like Brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes and squash pair beautifully with the flavors of the dish. 

Simply toss them in some olive oil and season with salt, pepper and herbs before roasting at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for about 25 minutes. The veggies will be tender on the inside and slightly crispy on the outside – delicious! 

3. Crusty Bread 

If you want to keep things classic yet simple, try serving some crusty bread with your stuffed shells. There is nothing better than dipping freshly baked bread into that delicious tomato sauce! 

Or even better – top it off with some melted butter before baking it in the oven until golden brown for an extra special treat. 

Explore More:Best ideas of Meals to Serve with Crusty Bread

4. Garlic Bread 

Is there anything better than garlic bread? We think not! Whether it’s store-bought or homemade, garlic bread is an absolute must when serving stuffed shells. 

Garlic Bread

It adds an extra layer of flavor (not to mention carbs!) that complements the cheesy pasta dish perfectly. 

Slice up some crusty French bread or baguette and brush it with melted butter before scattering over some minced garlic and freshly chopped parsley for extra flavor. Yum! 

5. Grilled Asparagus

Grilled asparagus offers a healthy side dish option that is full of flavor and complements the creamy cheese filling in the pasta shells.

6. Focaccia

Focaccia is a traditional Italian flatbread that makes a great addition to any Italian dinner, including stuffed shells. 

Focaccia Bread

The crispy texture is especially delicious when dipped into marinara sauce or extra cheese from the stuffed shell recipe.

7. Caprese Skewers

Colorful caprese skewers made from cherry tomatoes, basil leaves, bocconcini balls, and olives make for a tasty appetizer or side dish with plenty of fresh flavors that pair perfectly with stuffed shells.

8. Green Beans Almondine

Green beans almondine adds a nutty flavor to stuffed shells, the Italian dinner by mixing fresh green beans with slivered almonds sautéed in butter and garlic.

9. Baked Zucchini Sticks

Kids will love these zucchini sticks baked in panko crumbs for added crunchiness! (Recipe)

Serve them on the side of your favorite version of stuffed shells for a kid-friendly spin on this classic dish.

Discover More: What to Serve with Sausage Stuffed Zucchini

10. Spinach Parmesan Dip

Softer than regular spinach dip but still full of cheesy goodness, spinach parmesan dip tastes amazing when served alongside warm dishes like stuffed shells. It helps cool down the heat while still offering lots of flavor. 

11. Steamed Broccoli

Nutrient-rich steamed broccoli provides a crunchy texture along with its fresh taste, which pairs well together with cheesy pasta dishes like stuffed shells!

12. Sautéed Mushrooms

Sautéed mushrooms are packed full of umami which goes great when paired up with creamy pasta dishes like stuffed shells! 

Sautéed Mushrooms

Add some butter and parsley while sautéing them for an even tastier result!

13. Roasted Cauliflower

Roasted cauliflower offers wonderful caramelized flavors that enhance any meal, like pasta-filled recipes like stuffed shell dishes! 

Simply season it up before roasting it for maximum flavor results!

14. French Fries

Whoever said potatoes have no place at an Italian feast? Thinly sliced fries cooked until golden brown make for fantastic finger food, which goes great when served alongside any kind of pasta, like creamy-filled recipes such as those featuring turkey-stuffed ones!

Learn More: What to serve with Chili Cheese Fries

15. Garlic Knots

Garlic knots get their wonderfully garlicky flavor thanks to lusciously melted butter mixed together with minced garlic spread over each knot right before baking them off until crispy golden perfection! 

Garlic Knots

A great partner when served alongside warm entrees such as those featuring flavorful fillings within their shell-shaped pasta!

16. Candied Carrots

Don’t forget about this sweet-savory side which combines freshly cut carrots simmered in buttery sweet syrup until they become tenderly soft while still having some bite left in them. (Recipe)

Perfect for enjoying when served alongside scrumptious dishes such as classics like those featuring turkey-stuffed ones within its shell-shaped pasta!

17. Bruschetta


Enjoy a tasty appetizer such as bruschetta made from diced tomatoes, garlic, basil, balsamic vinegar, and extra virgin olive oil, which makes for a vibrant mix that goes great when eaten alongside creamy poultry-based recipes like stuffed shells.

18. Chunky Tomato Sauce

Get creative with your topping options by making your own chunky tomato sauce for that classic Italian flavor. It’s easy to make and pairs wonderfully with the creamy, cheesy flavors of stuffed shells!

19. Roasted Garlic

Roasting garlic really brings out its sweetness which is a great addition when sprinkled over pasta dishes like stuffed shells. 

Just be sure not to overpower your dish by adding too much, as a little goes a long way!

20. Parmesan Cheese Shavings 

Top off your stuffed shells with thin shavings of Parmesan cheese for that extra cheesy kick! 

The salty, nutty flavor pairs wonderfully with the creamy filling and is sure to be a crowd-pleaser!

21. Balsamic Glaze

Balsamic Glaze

Drizzle some balsamic glaze over your finished dish as it helps add a bit of sweet-tart flavor, which really brings out all the amazing flavors in recipes like turkey stuffed shells. Plus, it adds a nice visual touch too!

22. Marinated Olives

Enjoy marinated olives as an accompaniment to your stuffed shells for a hint of briny saltiness that goes great when eaten alongside warm pasta dishes! 

This classic Mediterranean ingredient provides a unique taste that really pops when served with stuffed shells.

Explore More: Delicious Sides to Serve with Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms

23. Hot Peppers

Add some heat to your stuffed shells with finely chopped hot peppers! 

Whether you prefer jalapenos, serranos, or habaneros, these fiery ingredients add a nice kick that goes great when paired with creamy-filled recipes such as the ones featuring turkey-stuffed shells. Enjoy!

What to serve with ricotta stuffed shells?

Ricotta stuffed shells are a delicious and hearty Italian dish. They can be served with a variety of sides to make the meal complete. Some great options include:

-Garlic bread – A classic Italian side that pairs perfectly with the ricotta stuffed shells.

-A fresh salad – A light and fresh green salad is a great way to add extra vegetables to your meal while also providing a contrast to the cheesy pasta dish.

-Roasted vegetables – Roasted vegetables such as zucchini, peppers, tomatoes, or eggplant are a tasty accompaniment to the ricotta stuffed shells.

-Marinara sauce – Adding some marinara sauce on top of the ricotta stuffed shells adds extra flavor and brings out the best in the dish.

-Crusty bread – Serve some crusty bread on the side to sop up any extra sauce or cheese.

-Fresh fruit – A simple bowl of sliced fresh fruit is a great way to end your meal on a sweet note.

Dessert – Finish off your meal with an Italian classic such as tiramisu, cannoli, or panna cotta for an indulgent treat.

What goes with jumbo stuffed shells?

Some great side dishes to go with jumbo stuffed shells include roasted vegetables, a simple salad, garlic toast, steamed broccoli, or crusty Italian bread. 

You can also serve some other comfort food classics such as mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, or green beans. 

For a lighter option, you could add a fruit salad or grilled asparagus. You can also get creative and experiment with different sauces and toppings to really make your jumbo stuffed shells stand out! 

Whatever you choose to serve alongside your jumbo shells will be sure to make it a hit. Enjoy!

best salad to serve with stuffed shells

1. Mediterranean Salad

Mediterranean Salad is a great accompaniment to stuffed shells and combines fresh romaine lettuce, tomatoes, feta cheese, olives, artichoke hearts, and cucumbers tossed in a light vinaigrette dressing. 

The combination of flavors creates a savory contrast to the cheesy pasta dish.

2. Caesar Salad

Rich and creamy Caesar salad is a classic pairing for stuffed shells and features crisp romaine lettuce drizzled with homemade or store-bought Caesar dressing and sprinkled with Parmesan cheese and croutons.

3. Spinach Salad

Spinach Salad

Packed with iron-rich spinach leaves, this hearty salad features bacon bits, red onions, mushrooms, walnuts, goat cheese crumbles, and hard-boiled eggs, all topped off with an apple cider vinaigrette dressing.

4. Beet & Arugula Salad

Colorful beets are combined with peppery arugula leaves in this vibrant dish that’s dressed with a lemon garlic vinaigrette. 

To give it even more flavor and texture, you can add walnuts for crunch or feta cheese for creaminess.

5. Watermelon Feta Salad

Watermelon Feta Salad brings together sweet watermelon cubes with salty feta cheese crumbles for a balanced flavor profile that pairs nicely with the rich filling in stuffed shells. 

Add some spicy arugula leaves and mint leaves to round out the flavor palette even more.

What to serve with Mexican stuffed shells?

To complement Mexican stuffed shells, you could serve a salad or side dish such as black beans and rice, sautéed vegetables, or a simple romaine lettuce salad with avocados and tomatoes. 

To add some extra flavor to the meal, top off your Mexican stuffed shells with sour cream, guacamole, salsa, shredded cheese, diced onions or jalapenos. 

Additionally, if you are looking for more protein options to go alongside your Mexican stuffed shells, grilled chicken or steak would be great additions to round out the meal. Enjoy!

What to serve with taco-stuffed shells?

When it comes to what to serve with taco stuffed shells, there are plenty of delicious options. You could try a side salad, such as a light coleslaw made with cabbage and jicama or crunchy romaine lettuce topped with diced tomatoes, green onions and cilantro. 

Taco-stuffed shells

You could also include some Mexican-style rice or Spanish-style potatoes on the side. Other tasty accompaniments would be roasted vegetables like bell peppers or corn, refried beans, guacamole and/or salsa. 

For those looking for something simple yet flavorful, tortilla chips and queso dip can make a great addition to the meal.

What to serve with stuffed crab shells?

Stuffed crab shells are a delicious and flavorful option for a seafood-inspired meal. They make a great appetizer or main course. 

To complete your dish, some classic side items that pair nicely with stuffed crab shells are green salads, cole slaw, roasted potatoes, French fries, garlic bread, grilled asparagus spears and steamed vegetables. 

A light white wine or beer is also an excellent accompaniment to the flavorful stuffing in the crab shells.

For dessert, something light like fruit sorbet is a perfect way to finish off this savory seafood dinner. Enjoy!

What to serve with spinach stuffed shells?

Spinach stuffed shells are a delicious and versatile dish that can be dressed up or down for any occasion. 

spinach stuffed shells

To complete this delicious meal, serve it with a side of garlic bread and a fresh green salad loaded with crunchy vegetables such as cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, radishes, carrots, and red onions. 

Another option is to make a creamy pasta bake using the leftover spinach stuffed shells.

Finally, round out the meal with some refreshing fruit skewers or slices of cantaloupe for dessert. Enjoy!

What are the best flavors to go with stuffed shells?

The best flavors to go with stuffed shells are tomato-based sauces like marinara or arrabbiata, creamy sauces like Alfredo, pesto sauce, and bolognese. 

You can also vary the flavor by adding toppings such as cheese, herbs, vegetables, bacon bits, and even different types of meats. 

Try layering flavors by combining two or three sauces together for a unique dish. Experimenting with different ingredients is sure to bring out some delicious combinations! 

Additionally, you can mix and match fillings like ricotta cheese and spinach for a more flavorful take on this classic Italian dish.

Stuffed shells are also great for meal prepping – make a big batch ahead of time and freeze them for easy weeknight dinners. Enjoy!

How do you jazz up stuffed shells?

Stuffed shells are a classic Italian dish that can easily be made into something special. To jazz up this delicious comfort food, consider adding some of the following ingredients:

– Sauteed vegetables such as mushrooms, peppers, and onions

– Chopped fresh herbs such as basil or parsley

– Grated Parmesan, Romano, or Asiago cheese

– Crumbled sausage or ground beef

– Olives or capers for an extra salty punch

– Sundried tomatoes for a boost of sweetness

– Spinach for a nutritional boost

– Garlic for an added layer of flavor

For even more zest, try adding flavored cheeses like feta or blue cheese to the mixture. 

Experiment with different herbs and spices, or use your favorite marinara sauce instead of a plain tomato sauce. The options are endless when it comes to stuffing shells! Have fun and get creative!

Once you’ve added the ingredients, bake them in the oven until the cheese is melted and bubbly. Serve up these tasty stuffed shells with some crusty Italian bread and a flavorful salad for an easy weeknight dinner that will have everyone going back for seconds. Enjoy!

How do you display stuffed shells on a platter?

To display stuffed shells on a platter, start by spreading a layer of sauce over the bottom of the plate. Then arrange the stuffed shells in an attractive pattern on top of the sauce. 

stuffed shells

Finally, sprinkle some grated cheese or chopped herbs over the top for extra decoration. 

For an even more impressive presentation, you can also surround the stuffed shells with colorful vegetables like bell peppers, tomatoes, and olives. Enjoy!

Wrap Up on What to Serve with Stuffed Shells

Stuffed shells are a delicious Italian dish that everyone loves. But it can be tricky figuring out what goes best with them as a side dish – do you go for a salad or roasted vegetables? Garlic bread or something else? The good news is there are plenty of options, all of them equally delicious! 

From salads to roasted vegetables or even garlic bread, these side dishes will take your stuffed shell game to the next level. 

With these ideas in mind, you can now create a delicious Italian feast at home without any fuss or fuss! Bon Appetit!


How many stuffed shells per person?

This will depend on how many people you’re serving, as well as the other items that are being served.

Typically, for a full meal with sides, allowing for about 4-6 stuffed shells per person is a good rule of thumb.
If you’re serving them as an appetizer or part of a larger buffet-style meal, 2-3 shells per person would be sufficient. Regardless of the amount, it’s always nice to have some extra in case someone wants seconds!

Assembling stuffed shells can take a bit more time than other Italian dishes, but they are definitely worth the effort and delicious when done right. 

With these tips, your next batch of stuffed shells should turn out perfect every time! Bon Appetit

How long do stuffed shells last in the fridge?

Stuffed shells can last up to four days in the refrigerator when stored properly. To store them, wrap them tightly in aluminum foil or place them in an airtight container. 

Be sure to label and date the container before placing it in the fridge so you know exactly how old the dish is.

Reheat your stuffed shells on a stovetop or microwave until they reach an internal temperature of 165°F (73°C). Enjoy!

What meat pairs well with stuffed shells?

Meatballs are a classic pairing with stuffed shells. Ground beef can be used to create savory, Italian-seasoned meatballs that pair perfectly with stuffed shells. 

Chicken is another great option for stuffing the shells, such as in a chicken and spinach filling. Chorizo sausage is also an excellent choice for giving your stuffed shells a spicier kick.

Shredded rotisserie chicken or cooked, crumbled bacon also make delicious additions to any stuffed shell dish. 

The possibilities are endless when it comes to finding the perfect meaty accompaniment for this comforting pasta dish! 

Enjoy experimenting with different combinations of meats and seasonings to find the perfect flavor combination for you and your family.

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