This article was updated on 31/7/2023 for clarity and to improve text readability.
If you’re wondering what to serve with your manicotti, you’ve come to the right place. In this article, I list 39 of the most popular side dishes for manicotti.
In a rush? Here’s the short answer.
The best side dishes for manicotti are breadsticks, crispy eggplant, or a green salad. Try sauteed broccoli rabe, cauliflower mash, or stuffed mushrooms for veggie choices. Or chicken skewers, lemon pepper shrimp, or pork schnitzel for extra protein.
Ready? Let’s jump right in.
Italian chopped salad
Manicotti is already a filling meal on its own, but you have to admit that it’s lacking a fresh element.
And that’s where this Italian chopped salad comes in!
It features a combination of fresh lettuce, tomatoes, pepperoncini, olives, red onions, salami, and provolone cheese. But what really seals the deal for this salad is its zesty Italian vinaigrette that provides an excellent contrast to a dish as rich as manicotti.
A pro-tip for serving: while the salad holds well, consider dressing it just as your manicotti is nearly done to ensure the freshest, most vibrant flavors on your dinner table.
Garlic cheese breadsticks
Make pasta nights more special with a platter of these garlicky breadsticks.
These beauties are made from homemade pizza dough seasoned with garlic salt, making each bite extra flavorful. But what really makes these special is that cheesy topping you simply won’t get with frozen breadsticks.
Jocelyn serves these with a side of marinara, but who needs that when you can dip them into your manicotti’s sauce and filling? Yum!
Want something a bit healthier with your manicotti? This baked eggplant is a great pick.
It’s got a breadcrumb and parmesan crust that’s tasty and provides a satisfying crunch. Plus, it pairs perfectly with your manicotti’s sauce. It’ll be like enjoying an eggplant parmesan on the side!
Pssst… you can also fry your breaded eggplant slices if you don’t want to fire up the oven, but I prefer baking them because it’s healthier and requires less hands-on cooking.
Garlic parmesan brussels sprouts
Complete your manicotti meal by adding something green on the plate, like these air-fried brussels sprouts.
They’re like roasted brussels sprouts but better. They only take 15 minutes to make, but you’ll still get extra crispy sprouts with delightfully tender insides.
Eat Yourself Skinny seasons their sprouts with minced garlic, parmesan cheese, olive oil, and a bit of lemon juice before air frying. But I also like adding a pinch of red pepper flakes for heat.
Prosciutto arugula pizza
Go full Italian and serve a slice of this prosciutto arugula pizza as a starter before your manicotti.
It may not be authentic but this pizza packs a lot of flavor without being heavy, making it a brilliant accompaniment to a hearty manicotti meal. Although, you might still need a nap afterwards!
Michelle uses homemade pizza dough to make this, but ready-made dough also works.
Grilled chicken skewers
Chicken breasts usually get a bad rep for being bland and boring, but not these skewers.
They’re soaked in a zesty soy-based marinade, infusing them with savory, umami goodness. EatWell 101 also recommends adding a dash of hot sauce for a bit of a kick.
And once they’re grilled, they get an added smoky twist that makes them even more delectable.
Serve these delightful chicken skewers with your veggie-stuffed manicotti for a truly unforgettable dinner party.
Stuffed mushrooms are great bite-sized appetizers, but they’re also excellent as a side dish to manicotti.
They’re filled with a mixture of breadcrumbs and Romano cheese, bringing a crunchy twist and a sharp, salty flavor that would complement a creamy manicotti filling perfectly.
And the best part? They’re even better when made ahead of time, because the mushrooms dry up a bit which gives them a better texture.
Lemon pepper shrimp
If you’re looking to bulk up your manicotti meal without making it too heavy, this lemon pepper shrimp is the way to go.
Aside from generally being low in calories, the shrimp are flavored with lemon juice and zest, plus black and white pepper. This simple flavor combo gives you a delightfully zingy bite that cuts through the richness of your manicotti.
Psst… don’t leave these cooking for too long or you’ll end up with rubbery shrimp.
If you’re watching your calorie intake but still want a comforting side, mashed cauliflower is a life saver.
It’s just as creamy and luscious as the real deal, but you can eat it without any guilt! And if you want it to be extra rich and creamy to pair your manicotti, simply add a little grated parmesan cheese.
I like serving the pasta on top of this for a fancy feeling presentation.
Rocket and fennel salad
In the mood for a lighter salad? Stick with leafy greens and crunchy veg.
The rocket has a strong peppery taste, and the fennel a milder aniseed flavor. The radish adds a splash of color and some juiciness.
Lazy Cat Kitchen also used pickled onions for an added tang, but you swap these for raw onions in a pinch.
Sauteed broccoli rabe
Sautéed broccoli rabe is a nourishing side dish you can whip up in a flash to serve with your manicotti.
It has a natural sharp bitterness that may be off-putting, but that’s exactly what you want with a dish as decadent as manicotti. The Life of Jolie also adds crushed red pepper flakes for a bit of heat, but you can leave it out if you’re not a fan of spicy food.
Pro-tip: want to take the edge off a bit? Try blanching the broccoli rabe before sautéing them.
Traditional manicotti lack a meaty component, so why not serve it with pork schnitzel on the side?
It’s a breeze to make and the breadcrumb coating adds a nice crunchy texture.
I use pork cutlets when making schnitzel because they don’t have any bones, so they’re nice and easy to work with. You can also use pork chops, but you’ll have to remove the bones first.
Fries are a great food to serve alongside any main dish – just ask my kids!
But if you want to take things up a notch, make potato wedges instead. They’re thicker than your usual potato fries, and they carry more flavor too.
Love and Other spices serves these wedges with a spicy mayo aioli, but why make another sauce when you can use them to scoop up your manicotti’s marinara sauce and creamy filling?
What To Serve With Manicotti (39 Ideas)
- 1 portion pork schnitzel
- 1 portion cheesy garlic breadsticks
- 1 portion italian chopped salad
- 1 portion sauteed broccoli rabe
- 1 portion baked eggplant
- 1 portion lemon pepper shrimp
- … and more
- Prepare your manicotti according to your favorite recipe.
- In the meantime, choose one of the following sides to serve alongside it.
- Sides include: Italian chopped salad, breadsticks, crispy eggplant, garlic parmesan brussels sprouts, flatbread pizza, grilled chicken skewers, stuffed mushrooms, lemon pepper shrimp, frittata, oven-baked barbecue ribs, sauteed broccoli rabe, pork schnitzel, and potato wedges.
- Serve immediately and enjoy.