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These pasta side dishes are tasty and versatile, pairing with almost any meal! The sides are easy enough to whip up with an entrée.

Pasta side dishes; pasta sides
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Stuck in a rut with side dishes? While vegetable side dishes have our heart, it’s easy to forget about a no-fail way to round out a meal: pasta! Pasta side dishes can be some of the tastiest out there. What to look for in pasta sides? Recipes that are fast and easy to whip up so you can give your focus to the main dish. Often we simply sauté garlic in some butter, add it to pasta with Parmesan and call it a day. But if you’re looking for something more creative…here are our top easy pasta recipes to pair with a meal! (Also, see our top pasta recipes for dinner!)

And now…12 great pasta side dishes to pair with a meal!

More side dish recipes

Pairing sides with a meal is an art form, and we’ve got all the resources you need to study it! Outside of these pasta side dishes, here are a few more recipe collections to browse:

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White sauce pasta

12 Easy Pasta Side Dishes: Creamy Parmesan Pasta & More!

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5 from 1 review

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: 6 to 7 1x


This white sauce pasta has an amazing basic cream sauce that everyone will love! Eat it it straight up or customize with more veggies or protein.


  • 1 pound pasta noodles of any shape: spaghetti, bucatini, penne, riagotni, cavatappi, etc.
  • 2 tablespoons salted butter
  • 2 garlic cloves, grated
  • 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 2 cups 2% milk
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ cup shredded Parmesan cheese


  1. Start a pot of well salted water to a boil. Boil the pasta until it is just al dente (start tasting a few minutes before the package recommends: you want it to be tender but still a little firm on the inside; usually around 7 to 8 minutes). Drain.
  2. Meanwhile, measure out all ingredients in advance; the cooking process happens fast!
  3. Right after you add the pasta to the pot, start the sauce: In a small or medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the grated garlic and cook 30 seconds until fragrant but not browned.
  4. Add the flour and whisk constantly for 1 minute to 90 seconds, until bubbly and golden. Do not overcook it: the flour can turn brown within a few seconds. Keep an eye on it!
  5. Add a splash of milk and whisk it in: the sauce will instantly turn chunky. Constantly whisking, continue to add splashes of milk and whisk them in until the entire quantity is incorporated and the sauce is smooth.
  6. Reduce the heat and whisk until the sauce thickens and no longer tastes like raw flour, about 5 minutes. Add the salt and Parmesan cheese. Taste and add a pinch or two more salt if desired.
  7. Drain the pasta, then add the sauce. Add a splash or two of milk to loosen the sauce and stir until you have the right consistency. Taste and a few more pinches of salt, if necessary. (The sauce is best freshly made, so we don’t recommend making it in advance). Serve with additional Parmesan cheese if desired.
  • Category: Side dish
  • Method: Pasta
  • Cuisine: Pasta
  • Diet: Vegetarian

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes and the joy of cooking! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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1 Comment

  1. Sonja Overhiser says:

    Let us know if you have any questions!