Olive Garden is a staple in my restaurant rotation. Anytime I’m craving pasta and breadsticks, there’s no better option – mostly because the latter is unlimited. But with a menu full of classic Italian dishes, it can be hard to decide which one is best. From traditional pastas to cozy, creamy soups to desserts, I’ve ranked the best Olive Garden menu items to date, so you don’t have to give the menu a second look.
Bonus: we have copycat recipes for several of these items, so you can make them at home whenever pulling up Uber Eats sounds like too much work.
It’s not out of the ordinary for me to go to Olive Garden for the breadsticks and the breadsticks alone. These garlicky, buttery masterpieces are the best part about visiting the Italian restaurant chain – partly because I love carbs, and partly because you can dunk them in anything on the menu. If you dine in at an Olive Garden, you can order unlimited breadsticks and salad to enjoy before your entree comes out. Sure, it’s a lot of food, but isn’t that the reason anyone chooses OG when it’s their turn to pick dinner?
Dipping sauces include:
- Homemade Alfredo
- Five Cheese Marinara
Most people don’t even look at the appetizer section of the menu after ordering the salad and breadsticks, but one of these days I’d highly recommend changing up your routine and getting an order of the Lasagna Frittata. Olive Garden offers a host of fried appetizers – all of which look to die for – but the Lasagna Frittata is unlike anything I’ve ever tasted. It’s fried parmesan-breaded lasagna, sprinkled with parmesan cheese and drizzled with marinara sauce and alfredo sauce. Perfect for sharing, the Lasagna Frittata may be the only thing on the menu to make you rethink starting every OG meal with breadsticks and salad.
Olive Garden’s Zuppa Toscana is quite possibly the best soup on the menu. It’s creamy and slightly spicy with hearty ingredients like Italian sausage, potatoes, and kale. It makes for a great dinner all on its own, but if you’d like it as a starter, you won’t have trouble finding a dish to pair it with. It’s also gluten-free, which is hard to find at a pasta place.
This is the perfect soup to make this winter – if you’d like to attempt your own Zuppa Toscana at home, try out copycat recipe.
I don’t know about you, but Fettuccine Alfredo is always my go-to meal when I can’t figure out what I’m craving. It’s a no-fail option, especially at Olive Garden. You can order this classic entree on its own or topped with chicken, shrimp, or scallops and shrimp. The beauty of Alfredo pasta is that is pairs well with pretty much anything, too, so whether you decide to order it with a Famous House Salad or Minestrone, you won’t be disappointed.
Oh, and if you ever want to skip the waiter tip or delivery fee, you can make this dish at home with our Olive Garden Alfredo recipe.
Gnocchi is all the rage these days, but for those of you who don’t know, it’s basically a small dumpling made from potatoes. It’s delicious in soup, and Olive Garden takes full advantage of this comfort food in their Chicken Gnocchi dish. The traditional soup is creamy and comforting, made with roasted chicken, Italian dumplings, and spinach.
Shrimp Scampi is the perfect balance of nutritious and indulgent. To make this dish, Olive Garden sautés shrimp in their signature garlic sauce and adds it to a plate full of angel hair pasta and fresh veggies like asparagus and tomatoes. This flavorful entree is one of the most-ordered options on the menu – and for good reason. We even have a copycat Shrimp Scampi recipe you can try to make this one at home.
Pasta e Fagioli
As the colder weather starts to set in around most of the country, cozying up to a warm, hearty bowl of soup may be the only way to get through. Pasta e Fagioli (loosely translated to pasta and beans) is a classic Italian soup made with white and red beans, ground beef, tomatoes, and tubetti pasta. If those ingredients sound familiar, it may be because the dish often goes by a different name in the States – pasta fasul.
In fact, pasta fasul was originally created way back when because it was made with the cheapest ingredients, so anyone could afford to make it. If you’d like to try, check out this Pasta e Fagioli recipe.
When I think Italian food and booze, wine is the first thing that comes to mind (and OG’s wine list is huge), but Olive Garden’s Watermelon Margarita is the perfect alternative if you’re not into vino. It’s made with Sauza Silver Tequila, watermelon juice, and simple syrup with a lime. Plus, this tasty marg is on Olive Garden’s list of $5 drink deals, next to the Green Apple Moscato Sangria, Spiked Strawberry Lemonade, and Blue Hawaiian.
Tour of Italy
Sometimes, choosing between the lasagna, chicken parm, and fettuccine alfredo is too big of a decision – I get it. The Tour of Italy is one of the pricier options on the menu ($18.79 at my local OG), but it’s well worth the cost for getting three plates in one. And in case those three portions won’t fill you up, Tour of Italy also comes with a soup or salad to start with.
Warm Italian Doughnuts
Olive Garden serves up some classic Italian desserts like Tiramisu and Sicilian Cheesecake, but the one I always make room for – even after eating four breadsticks and clearing my Shrimp Scampi plate – is the Warm Italian Doughnuts. This order of bite-sized doughnuts are fried and coated in a sweet vanilla sugar. The best part is dunking them in warm chocolate or raspberry sauce, you’re choice. And if the top button of your pants is already unbuttoned by the time you wrap up dinner, these make a great late night snack when you take them to-go.
Speaking of Minestrone Soup, Olive Garden’s is some of the best. It’s one of the most popular soups on the menu and is made with tons of veggies, beans and pasta with a tomato broth. And on the days you don’t want to carb load on pasta, try the Soup, Salad, and Breadsticks meal. It’s just as filling but won’t leave you feeling like a log for five hours.
OG’s Minestrone is one of the only vegan-friendly dishes on the menu, too.