If you’re wondering what to serve with your carbonara, you’ve come to the right place.
In this article, I list 39 of the most popular side dishes for carbonara.
In a rush? Here’s the short answer.
The best side dishes to serve with carbonara are bruschetta, scallops, sauteed mushrooms, and parmesan chips. Try spinach, stuffed tomatoes, grilled zucchini, or veggie tart for healthier options. You can also serve Caesar salad, roasted salmon, Mediterranean chicken, focaccia, or cauliflower bites.
Ready? Let’s jump right in.
Breads and toppings
Carbonara is a complete meal on its own, but a side of bread or some toppings are guaranteed to take it up a notch.
Garlic bread is the go-to, but I like going the extra mile and baking crispy focaccia – it’s delicious, impressive, and easy to make!
And when it comes to toppings, you can’t go wrong with sauteed mushrooms for an umami kick.
Keep things simple and delicious with a plate of bruschetta.
It’s a classic Italian appetizer that works with any pasta dish – and carbonara is no exception.
Prp tip: I like to make the tomato topping ahead of time. Letting it soak for a couple of hours makes it even more delicious.
Easy Weeknight Recipes adds garlic to this tasty dish to amp up the flavors.
Make it low-carb
Make it from scratch
Homemade French bread
These delicate parmesan crisps will look oh so pretty on top of your carbonara.
They’re elegant and add a delicious flair to your dinner, making it dinner-party ready.
You’ll be surprised by how easy these are to make too!
All you need is some parmesan, flour, and a handful of fresh herbs. Then you’re good to go.
Just remember to use good quality parmesan cheese.
Crispy parmesan tomato chips
Make it dairy-free
Dairy-free parmesan cheese
Mushrooms are like sponges, they’ll soak up any flavors you put them in.
This recipe uses garlic, butter, and balsamic vinegar. YUM.
And if you want to reduce the amount of butter, simply swap some out with olive oil.
Psst… drizzle some of the sauce over the carbonara before you serve it for an extra boost of flavor.
Garlic balsamic sauteed mushrooms
Preheat the oven
Sheet pan garlic butter mushrooms
Make it crispy
Fried oyster mushrooms
Garlic bread is good, but focaccia is on another level.
It’s crispy and herby on the outside with a light and airy inside.
And it’s the perfect bread to soak up any remaining creamy carbonara sauce on your plate.
I keep the flavoring relatively plain when I’m serving the focaccia with carbonara, but you can jazz it up with various toppings.
Sun dried tomatoes are a popular addition.
Make it quick
Irish soda bread
Make it fancy
Sourdough country loaf
These homemade pickled jalapenos are an excellent addition to your carbonara.
They have a delightful tangy flavor with a hint of spice that helps balance out the rich and creamy sauce.
Plus the green color will look great against the beige background.
Psst… the jalapenos spice will mellow out the longer they sit in the fridge.
Why we love this recipe: it’s a foolproof recipe.
Add some sweetness
Crunchy onion rings
Carbonara is a versatile starchy dish, and you can pair it with any protein!
Chicken is a popular option, but you can also go with seafood like scallops or shrimp for lighter options.
Make your classic carbonara even fancier by preparing a handful of scallops.
These scallops will add the fresh flavor of the ocean to your carbonara.
Never cooked scallops before? Don’t worry, it’s easier than you think.
Wholesome Yum has a detailed recipe you can follow for perfect pan-seared scallops.
It also features a tasty lemon butter sauce you can drizzle over your carbonara.
Fire up the grill
Grilled lemon garlic scallops
Add a savory kick
Grilled Mediterranean chicken
Creamy pasta and delicious grilled chicken – who can say no to that?
This classic combination will be a hit among your dinner party guests.
I like to make a Mediterranean-style marinade for my grilled chicken when I serve it with carbonara.
It’s a fresh, light flavor that pairs well with the richness and creaminess of the carbonara.
Grilled Mediterranean chicken
Skip the grill
Lemon garlic baked chicken thighs
Make it crispy
Golden parmesan-crusted chicken
Roasted salmon is an excellent dish to serve with carbonara as a light protein.
I like to roast my salmon with lemon, butter, and seasonal herbs like thyme.
It’s a simple protein with a fresh, citrusy zing that complements the carbonara.
Pro tip: flake the salmon and mix it into your carbonara for a one-pot dish.
Lemon-thyme roasted salmon
Add an Asian twist
Back to basics
Baked blackened cod
Vegetables and salad
A plate of carbonara is loaded with carbs, so offsetting the richness with some veggies or a fresh salad is an excellent idea.
You can never go wrong with a classic Caesar, but for the ultimate Italian feast, go with a juicy Caprese salad.
If you want something warm, try grilled zucchini or a crispy baked eggplant.
Classic carbonara is pretty much a complete meal on its own – it’s just missing a veggie component.
Salads are easy to whip up and they add flavor and nutrition to any dish.
I like a good, crisp Caesar salad alongside my carbonara.
Throw in some garlic croutons, and you’ve got yourself a winner.
FoodieCrush’s recipe features a delicious caesar salad dressing that’ll knock your socks off.
Make it different
Maple bacon and walnut kale salad
Skip the leafy greens
Zucchini always tastes great, no matter how you prepare it.
That said, grilling zucchini is one of my favorite ways to cook it.
It gives the zucchini a smoky, subtly sweet floral taste that goes well with a creamy dish like carbonara.
And you can elevate the dish even further with a drizzle of garlic oil (here’s a recipe for homemade garlic oil).
Sounds great, right?
Skillet zucchini and mushrooms
Make it crispy
Panko parmesan zucchini fritters
Who says vegetables have to be boring?
If you have kids or picky eaters who refuse to eat cauliflower, this dish has a good chance of making them change their minds.
Thanks to the panko and parmesan, these cauliflower bites have a crispy exterior.
And you won’t even need a dipping sauce when you serve them with carbonara. You can simply dip these cauliflower bites in the creamy sauce.
Psst… this recipe uses an air fryer, but you can also bake your cauliflower bites if you don’t have one.
Parmesan cauliflower bites
Make it different
Roasted cauliflower steaks
Spinach usually goes well in a rich, creamy sauce.
That’s why it’s a no-brainer to have it as a side dish for carbonara.
And it’s super quick and easy to make.
All you need is spinach, garlic, and olive oil.
How simple! Great when you’ve left everything to the last minute.
Wilted baby spinach
Make it fun
Keep it fresh
Simple spinach salad
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).
I like to use mozzarella and basil for these stuffed tomatoes, but you can get creative and come up with any cheese and herb combo you can think of.
These stuffed tomatoes are usually grilled, but they can also be baked if you want less hassle.
Mozzarella and basil stuffed tomatoes
Make it heartier
Garlic bread bruschetta
Ditch the oven
Tuscan artichoke salad
The best carbonara side dishes
- Caesar salad
- Pan-seared scallops
- Parmesan crisps
- Grilled zucchini
- Grilled mediterranean chicken
- Sauteed mushrooms
- Cauliflower bites
- Wilted spinach
- Stuffed tomatoes
- Pickled jalapenos
- Roasted salmon
What To Serve With Carbonara
- 1 portion parmesan crisps
- 1 portion pickled jalapenos
- 1 portion grilled Mediterranean salmon
- 1 portion wilted spinach
- 1 portion roast salmon
- 1 portion stuffed tomatoes … and more
- Prepare your carbonara according to your favorite recipe.
- In the meantime, choose one of the following sides to serve alongside it.
- Side dishes include: bruschetta, caesar salad, pan-seared scallops, parmesan crisps, grilled zucchini, grilled Mediterranean chicken, sauteed mushrooms, cauliflower bites, wilted spinach, stuffed tomatoes, focaccia, vegetable spiral tart, and roasted salmon.
- Serve immediately and enjoy.