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What To Serve With Cacio e Pepe – 13 Delicious Side Dishes

If you’re wondering what to serve with your cacio e pepe, you’ve come to the right place.

In this article, I list 13 of the most popular side dishes for cacio e pepe.

In a rush? Here’s the short answer.

The best side dishes to serve with cacio e pepe are protein sides like grilled salmon, chicken cutlets, or meatballs. Salads like an arugula salad or a pear salad are for a lighter meal. Other options are vegetable sides like sauteed mushrooms or roasted peppers. And bread sides like focaccia.

Ready? let’s jump right in.

Arugula Salad


Craving a fresh, light dish to go with your cacio e pepe? 

Try this lemon arugula salad. 

It’s zesty, vibrant, and crisp. So provides a nice contrast to your soft, rich pasta dish.

And have I brought up how simple it is to make? 

You only need five ingredients and three minutes to get this lemon arugula salad on the table.

Italian meatballs

There’s nothing more Italian than pasta and meatballs.

You’d normally serve plain pasta with meatballs, but there’s nothing wrong with livening things up and serving them with some cacio e pepe. 

Add a cold glass of wine to the mix and you’re in for a treat.

Check out sprinkle some sugar for the full guide on making these meaty balls of goodness. 

Chicken cutlets

Want some quick comfort food?

Serve your creamy cacio e pepe with breaded chicken cutlets on top.

The chicken’s flavored with Italian seasoning and some optional red pepper flakes for a bit of a kick. 

And the panko breadcrumbs on the chicken will add some much-needed crunch to the meal.

Check out Leanna’s yummy recipe.

Sauteed mushrooms

These sauteed mushrooms are packed to the brim with umami flavors that will leave your taste buds tingling.

And the best part? They’re low-carb. Making them a perfect nutritious side dish to balance an indulgent plate of cacio e pepe. 

Sauteed mushrooms are normally drenched in butter (which is delicious).

But if you want to go the healthy route, you can reduce the amount of butter and substitute it with olive oil instead. 

Try it out with this recipe from The Kitchen Magpie

Garlic parmesan breadsticks

Never fear, the most delicious garlic parmesan breadsticks are here! 

These breadsticks are buttery and crunchy in the best way and they’ll add something different to your cacio e pepe without overwhelming the dish 

You could buy breadsticks from the store, but with these garlic parmesan breadsticks you can go as over the top with the flavorings as you like.

Psst… I also like these bacon puff pastry twists.

Sun-dried tomato focaccia

Focaccia is so light and airy, making it the perfect bread to mop up any leftover pasta sauce.

I like to keep it relatively simple when I serve focaccia with cacio e pepe, but you can jazz it up with any toppings you like. 

This tomato version from a year of yeast will help you get the basics down.

A drizzle of pesto can work wonders on top of the focaccia too.

Char siu

Add some Asian flair to your cacio e pepe with a serving of char siu. 

Also known as Chinese barbecue pork, it’s known for its moist and juicy meat and sticky sweet barbecue glaze.

Which tastes uh-maz-ing mixed in with the creamy pasta sauce (trust me).

This oven-baked char siu takes a while to prepare, but it’s so worth it!

Psst… Korean fried chicken is another fusion pairing worth exploring.

Pear salad

Another, slightly fancier, salad option is this scrumptious pear salad. It’s great for a dinner party.

The sweet and juicy pear will work well with the pepperiness of the cacio e pepe.

And the salty goats cheese will add another cheesy element to the dish.

Christi’s recipe also features a sweet but sour honey and balsamic dressing.

Grilled salmon

Grilled salmon with cacio e pepe is the perfect way to get your daily dose of omega-3s.

It’s nice enough to serve at a dinner party, but also easy enough that you can make it for a standard weeknight meal. 

This salmon with garlic and herbs can be grilled, baked, broiled, or pan-seared.

And don’t forget the squeeze of lemon to brighten everything up!

Zucchini noodles

These zucchini noodles will blend into your cacio e pepe so well that you’ll easily be able to hide them from fussy eaters.

But if you want them to stand out a bit more, simply cut them thicker!

Tip: add the zoodles at the very end of the cooking process to keep them crunchy. 

Maya has a great step-by-step guide on how to make zucchini noodles.

Roasted peppers and onions


This is going to be one of the best-looking dinners you’ve ever eaten.

It’s like a rainbow on a plate and an added bonus – it’s healthy! 

The slightly burnt edges of the veggies will add a bitterness to the meal, which will provide a nice contrast to the sweetness.

Check out this tasty recipe from eatingwell

Lemon pepper shrimp

Brighten up your cacio e pepe with a serving of these lemon pepper shrimp.

The citrusy flavors of the shrimp go superbly with the peppery pasta. 

And you don’t need and fancy ingredients to make this dish.

You can even use frozen shrimp if fresh ones aren’t accessible – just make sure to clean them thoroughly. 

Get the full lemon pepper shrimp recipe here.

Stuffed tomatoes

These stuffed tomatoes are filled with gooey cheese and herbs that will remind you of a margherita pizza, just without the crust. (and the guilt).

They’re the perfect starter to warm your guests up for their cacio pepe.

Let Simply Recipes guide you through making the best stuffed tomatoes you’ll ever taste.

The best side dishes for cacio e pepe

  • Arugula Salad
  • Italian meatballs
  • Chicken cutlets
  • Sauteed mushrooms
  • Garlic parmesan breadsticks
  • Sun-dried tomato focaccia
  • Char siu
  • Pear salad
  • Grilled salmon
  • Zucchini noodles
  • Roasted peppers and onions
  • Lemon pepper shrimp
  • Stuffed tomatoes

What To Serve With Cacio e Pepe

In this short recipe, I show you exactly what to serve with your cacio e pepe.
5 from 1 vote
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Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: cacio e pepe side dishes, what to serve with cacio e pepe
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 1 person
Calories: 181kcal


  • 1 portion cacio e pepe


  • Prepare your cacio e pepe according to your favorite recipe.
  • In the meantime, choose one of the following sides to serve alongside it.
  • Side dishes include: arugula salad, Italian meatballs, chicken cutlets, sauteed mushrooms, garlic parmesan breadsticks, sun-dried tomato focaccia, char siu, pear salad, grilled salmon, zucchini noodles, roasted peppers and onions, lemon pepper shrimp, and stuffed tomatoes.
  • Serve immediately and enjoy!


Serving: 100g | Calories: 181kcal

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