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What to Serve with Pizza?

Here is everything you need to know about the different kinds of food that pair very well with pizza in terms of starters, side dishes, and soup along with desserts.

This is a pizza dinner along with other fried food.

Pizza is largely considered a standalone dish, but if you are serving it as part of a more diverse meal, you may be wondering what on earth goes well with it. While there are countless options, we have done a little digging and come up with some great suggestions for you.

If you are hosting hungry friends or family, there is no need to wonder what to serve you’re your pizza. With our helpful tips, you may just find yourself reaching for some tasty and healthy starters, sides, or desserts to go with it.

Pizza can pair well with various starters, sides, and desserts that don’t necessarily have to be Italian. You might wish to serve dishes that contrast in temperature, texture, or taste; however, it is also acceptable to serve dishes similar to the pizza you have provided.

If you are planning a menu for a large number of guests or feeding the pack of hungry wolves you call family, adding to your pizza is a great way to satisfy hunger and keep everyone happy. An added bonus is that if you serve a healthy side or starter, you will be well on your way to fulfilling those vegetable quotas for the day.

Come with us on a journey into the world of what to serve with pizza, but be prepared. Your stomach is about to rumble.

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What To Serve With Pizza: Starters

Serving a starter before a pizza is an ingenious way to get some vegetables into the meal. It’s also a good way to fill up those hungry stomachs, at least partially, before the main event. If you don’t have the budget to purchase a whole lot of pizza, serving a starter will ensure that nobody is left wanting more at the end of the meal.

Here Is Our Top 3 Selection Of Starters To Serve With Pizza:

1.      Soup As A Starter With Pizza

This is a whole pizza with a bowl of creamy soup.

Soup is a great starter to serve before pizza because it’s light enough to allow space for the main meal. Still, you can pack it full of goodness to ensure your family is getting all the nutrients to keep them at their best. You may wish to go with a tangy tomato, a creamy mushroom, or even a cold soup if you want the starter to contrast with the upcoming warm pizza.

Here are a few great soup ideas to serve with pizza:

  • Tomato soup
  • Creamy mushroom soup
  • Cold Gazpacho soup
  • Potato edamame soup
  • Corn cheddar chowder 

2.      Italian Bruschetta As A Starter With Pizza

These are small Italian Bruschetta freshly baked.

Suppose you have a few leftover cold slices of meat, dried fruits, delicious pieces of bread, olives, cheeses, and the like lying around. In that case, you have the perfect ingredients for a perfect Italian antipasto. Bruschetta is like tiny sandwiches from Italian heaven and pair perfectly with pizza.

Traditionally they are toasted Italian bread, but you can use most types of bread for this starter. Layer your toppings and drizzle them with olive oil for a perfect starter.

Here are our top picks of bruschetta variations for you:

  • Tomato and basil bruschetta
  • Mozzarella cheese and preserve bruschetta
  • Cranberry and pomegranate bruschetta
  • Olive tapenade and goat cheese bruschetta
  • Apple, brie cheese and honey bruschetta

3.      Salad As A Starter With Pizza

These are small pieces of pizza with a bowl of salad.

This might be the most widely known starter or side dish for pizza, but did you know that there are a few salads that are particularly divine with the combination? Something about the crisp crunch of the lettuce leaves, the tang of the dressing, and the tart flavor of the tomatoes and other vegetables adds just the right amount of similarity and contrast to a pizza meal.

Let’s have a look at our top few salads to serve before your next pizza:

  • Caesar salad
  • Greek salad
  • Citrus, fennel, and avocado salad
  • Tabbouleh salad
  • Waldorf salad

What To Serve With Pizza: Sides

If you are all about serving your pizza meal in one go, then serving a starter may be off the cards for you. If this is the case, you may need to consider providing a delicious side to go with the main attraction. Not only will a side dish add interest and flavor to the entire meal, but it will also help fill hungry bellies and get some added nutrients in. 

Your side dish can be Italian-inspired, contrasting to the pizza, or similar in nature. It truly depends on you and what your family and friends will enjoy eating.  

Deciding on a side dish may also come down to your available budget for the meal. We have put together a few ideas for sides that range from super affordable to a little more exclusive. We think you will love at least one of these and be able to make your meal great with a delicious side to your pizza.

Here Is Our Top 3 Selection Of Sides To Serve With Pizza

  1. Garlic Bread
  2. Salad
  3. Mozzarella Sticks

Let’s look at each of these in a little more detail to see what makes them the best choice for a pizza meal.

1.      Garlic Bread As A Side Dish With Pizza

Pieces of pizza on a plate with garlic bread.

Garlic bread may seem like a little too much bread to serve with pizza, but let’s be honest. Can there ever really be too much bread? In truth, it’s the perfect combination with pizza. Both garlic bread and pizza are hearty, dripping in oil, and covered in garlic.

You can choose to add cheese to the garlic bread to create an even better match, or keep it plain and leave the toppings for the pizza. Either way, garlic bread, and pizza are a great combination and will also help fill those hungry bellies.

2.      Salad As A Side Dish With Pizza

This is a vegetarian pizza with a bowl of salad on the side.

You have heard about salad as a starter for pizza, but have you considered serving it simultaneously with the pizza? Salad makes a fantastic side for pizza because it is so different. The lightness and crunch, the cool temperature, the tangy dressing, and a mixture of vegetables make it contrast beautifully with any warm, oily, hearty pizza. 

You can go with a light Greek salad or a heavier potato salad. Whichever you choose, it should be a great match.

3.      Mozzarella Sticks As A Side Dish With Pizza

This is a whole pizza with a plate of mozzarella sticks.

Ok, let’s put it out there. Mozzarella sticks are a great side dish for any meal. They are light yet substantial enough to warrant eating a whole bunch before feeling too guilty, and they go amazingly well with a bunch of sauces.

Try sweet chili sauce, mayonnaise, ketchup, or even something a little fancier, like a homemade dip. We find spinach artichoke dip to be a great one for mozzarella sticks and pizza alike.  

Another reason to love mozzarella sticks as a side dish for pizza is that they are in keeping with the Italian theme and the theme of cheesy goodness.

The options for sides to serve with a pizza are vast, but whatever you go with, consider the tastes of your guests, how hungry they are likely to be, and what flavors will pair beautifully with the main event, the pizza.

What To Serve With Pizza: Desserts

Dessert is not a must-have when serving pizza, but it’s definitely a nice-to-have! Suppose your pizza meal is part of a special occasion, or you are feeling particularly generous.

In that case, you may want to consider adding a dessert to the menu. It could even be that filler your guests need if you couldn’t purchase as much pizza as you may have liked.  

Let’s have a look at a few desserts that we think go particularly well with pizza. Some are in keeping with the Italian theme of the meal, and some are just divine, and we couldn’t leave them out.

1.      Tiramisu As A Dessert With Pizza

This is a set meal that has roasted chicken, pizza and tiramisu.

Tiramisu is a classic, well-loved Italian dessert. It is said that when an Italian child is sad, their mother will whip up a tiramisu to mend their broken heart. We don’t think you need a broken heart to enjoy one. Perhaps an awesome Italian pizza as a main is reason enough to indulge.

Tiramisu is a layered dessert. It’s made up of layers of ladyfingers, drenched in espresso, and given a rich filling of mascarpone.  It’s light, yet rich, and we think it’s the perfect dessert to serve with pizza.

2.      Ice Cream As A Dessert With Pizza

This is a small pizza with a bowl of strawberry ice cream.

Ice cream is one of those staples that most households keep on hand. It also just happens to be a great match with pizza for a perfect meal-dessert combo.  The contrast between the warm pizza and cold ice cream makes it delectable, no matter the flavor you choose.

We recommend basic vanilla with added elements, like sprinkles, grated chocolate flakes, chocolate chips, a hot chocolate or caramel sauce, or anything else your heart desires.  

Another reason to love ice cream as a dessert with pizza is that you can alter the serving sizes to suit how hungry or full everyone is.  This means less waste at the end of the day, and who doesn’t appreciate that?

3.      Cannolis As A Dessert With Pizza

This is a small cannoli on a wooden table.

Cannolis are another Italian option as a dessert with pizza. The idea of serving dough for the main and dessert may seem like overkill, but honestly, they are so different from each other that the pairing is still a great one.

Cannolis are fried dough with a cool cream center.  Imagine a plate of these drizzled with a warm, chocolaty sauce and perhaps a few crushed nuts to top it off. 

After a hearty pizza, this dessert will have you grinning for a week.

4.      Churros As A Dessert With Pizza

This is a medium-sized pizza with a set of churros.

Churros are a Mexican treat, and we think they make a great dessert after a pizza. If you are not so into ice cream or chocolate, churros make an excellent alternative.  

They are light, airy dough that is deep-fried until golden in color. The churros are then lightly powdered with cinnamon sugar. Picture pancake flavor in a more densely rolled treat.

Of course, if you are still after a fix of ice cream or chocolate, you can top it with whatever you like, from ice cream to cream, to a chocolate or caramel sauce.

5.      Affogato As A Dessert With Pizza

These are a couple of iced coffee affogato on plate.

The last dessert we will mention here is another Italian one. Affogato is a great dessert if you want to get your dessert and after-meal coffee done in one go.

This dessert consists of vanilla gelato or ice cream, complemented by a shot of espresso poured over the top. Not only does it taste like your own personal slice of heaven, but the combination of hot and cold is like angels dancing on your tongue.

Do you know the difference between gelato and ice cream? Gelato is so similar to ice cream it may be easy to confuse the two, but there is a way to tell the difference. Gelato is denser, thicker, and has more flavor than ice cream. This is because it is made with more milk and fewer eggs and cream than ice cream.

What To Serve With Pizza: Last Words

This is a whole pizza surrounded by various food.

The word pizza really does speak for itself. The warm, doughy goodness, dripping with oil, cheese, garlic, and all the toppings your heart desires, make it an irresistible meal.  There will, however, be times when you need to subsidize a pizza with a little more, and that’s where your starters, sides, and desserts come in.

The best idea is to imagine the meal in its entirety before deciding on which starter, side, or dessert to go with. Consider what tastes will complement the pizza and add dishes accordingly.

Whether catering for 4 or 40, we wish you a super successful pizza party filled with great tastes, happy stomachs, and joyful hearts. After all, as Andrew W.K so aptly stated: “Anyone who says that money cannot buy happiness has clearly never spent their money on pizza.”

Resources:

Insanely Good Recipes: Side Dishes for Pizza

Pure Wow: Side Dishes for Pizza

Insanely Good Recipes: What Dessert Goes with Pizza