Easy pasta recipe ideas for dinners, pasta bakes, salads, and more.
Pasta is one of those ingredients that can be used in so many different ways. There are so many varieties that a single recipe can change just by swapping the type of pasta you use.
Whether you choose penne or spaghetti, these dishes demonstrate how easy it is to make a delicious meal with items you already have in your kitchen. Here are fifteen incredible ideas to show you thatthe world is a better place with pasta in it.
Cheesy Taco Pasta
This is a Mexican twist on a classic with spicy ingredients. Ground beef, taco seasoning, salsa, cheese, and pasta shells. Serve with crunchy tortilla chips and dinner is ready!
Creamy Gorgonzola Orecchiette
Pancetta and Gorgonzola cheese are the main ingredients in this creamy orecchiette, which both provide a lot of flavor. The Gorgonzola melts to form a creamy sauce, while the texture comes from the orecchiette and pancetta.
Creamy Roasted Red Pepper Pasta
This simple Rigatoni recipe is the best way to use up your leftover roasted red peppers. Blend heavy cream, chicken stock, and spices. Blend until smooth, add cooked Rigatoni, fresh basil, and grated parmesan.
Stovetop Macaroni and Cheese
No baking required here, only four ingredients and total cooking time is under 15 minutes! While your pasta is cooking, make the sauce using heavy cream, cheddar and parmesan cheeses. Mix it all together and top with your favorite hot sauce. You’ll never buy boxed mac-n-cheese again!
Creamy Pesto Pasta
Healthy yes, but also simple with only three ingredients! Pasta, pesto and plain Greek yogurt. Using Greek yogurt instead of heavy cream puts the ‘healthy’ in this recipe. The pesto used is basil, but the author includes an almond pesto recipe as well. Make your own pesto, or buy some at the store or farmers market. Pesto is available in most markets in a variety of brands/styles to choose from.
Instant Pot Chicken Alfredo
Using an Instant Pot means you can use frozen chicken and dinner is still ready in under an hour! The recipe calls for boneless chicken, olive oil, garlic, pasta and store bought Alfredo sauce, so prep time is minimal. No Instant Pot? Get out your cast iron skillet and do it the old fashion way; simple!
Blistered Tomato Pasta
Don’t let the name turn you away; cherry or grape tomatoes are cooked in butter and olive oil until they swell and burst! Add in some garlic and crushed red pepper, then toss with pasta and some grated parmesan cheese. The addition of some reserved pasta water provides the dish a lovely sauce..
Smoked Sausage Cajun Alfredo
Smoked sausage is already cooked so you have already saved some prep time! While your pasta is cooking, slice and saute the sausage, then add heavy cream and Cajun seasoning. Add your cooked pasta and some grated parmesan cheese and your dinner on the Bayou is ready. The recipe calls for smoked turkey sausage but any smoked sausage will do.
Bacon & Spinach Gnocchi
Bacon and crumbled Blue Cheese make a great flavor combination in this dish. Gnocchi is like a little dumpling. They are often made from potatoes, but some is made like traditional pasta, with semolina. Briefly saute the cooked Gnocchi in the bacon drippings, then add some reserved pasta water, chicken stock and spinach. Toss in the crispy bacon and crumbled blue cheese; say no more!
Italian Sausage & Kale Baked Ziti
Hot and spicy Italian sausage gives this dish its flavor and the kale provides a vitamin rich punch, and a beautiful color. After sauteing the sausage with fresh garlic, toss it with the cooked pasta and kale. Place it all in a casserole dish, add lots of mozzarella cheese and pop it in the oven until the cheese is bubbly.
Simple Green Pasta Salad
This pasta salad gets it’s green from spinach, basil pesto and green beans. The green beans are lightly fried with garlic, then chilled with the cooked pasta. When chilled, add the basil pesto, fresh spinach and parmesan cheese. It’s called a salad but it’s definitely a meal!
Only pasta, butter, garlic, spinach, and parmesan cheese are required to make the dish. The cooking time is only 10 minutes. Spinach is low in calories and rich in nutrients. Serve with garlic bread, a salad, or roasted asparagus.
Pesto Pasta Salad
This quick and easy recipe contains whole wheat pasta, fresh arugula, fresh mozzarella, roasted red peppers, and basil pesto. Whole wheat pasta is classified as a whole grain product and is healthier than white pasta, which is stripped of fiber and nutrients in processing.
Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto
This savory dish is gluten-free and makes the perfect vegan pasta recipe. It has just six ingredients: gluten-free pasta, sun-dried tomatoes, olive oil, basil, garlic, and dairy-free parmesan cheese. It’s high in protein (14.5 grams per serving) and fiber (10.4 grams per serving). Sun-dried tomatoes are rich in lycopene, an antioxidant.
Lemon Garlic Asparagus
Packed with flavor and healthy ingredients, only five minutes of prep time and 20 minutes of cooking time is needed. Half a cup of asparagus contains more than 50% of the recommended daily intake of Vitamin K and more than 30% of the RDI of folate. The asparagus can be substituted for broccoli florets.
Pasta salad makes the perfect side dish, emergency potluck gift, or even dinner. You can even make this in advance for an even easier meal.
To make pasta salad, cook the pasta according to package instructions and toss in olive oil. Chop up your choice of veggies (this recipe uses tomatoes, cucumbers, and parsley). Make the dressing out of olive oil, mustard, and lemon juice, crumble up some feta, and toss everything together. Get the recipe here.
Tomato Bacon Pasta
This savory pasta dish comes together in minutes with only a few ingredients, perfect for busy nights. It is also the perfect base for customizing the recipe as you can add anything else that you want to the pasta, such as chopped up veggies.
To make this recipe, cook the pasta until just al dente. Make the sauce by frying bacon, onion, and garlic, then adding canned tomatoes and a cup of pasta water. Finish cooking the pasta in the sauce. Get the recipe here.
Spaghetti with Garlic & Olive Oil
This traditional recipe, called aglio e olio in Italian, is very easy and comes together using only pantry ingredients, making it an affordable weeknight dish. Plus, you can call it by its Italian name and feel fancier!
To make this recipe, cook the spaghetti until al dente. Fry sliced garlic and chili flakes in olive oil, then finish the sauce with a cup of reserved pasta water. Toss the spaghetti in the sauce and serve with chopped parsley. Get the full recipe here.
This recipe is an easy weeknight dinner that also helps you get your daily serving of veggies in. Use plenty of sliced mushrooms for a rich, creamy sauce.
To make this recipe, start by cooking the pasta according to box instructions. Sauté the mushrooms in butter along with garlic and onions, adding rosemary, tomato paste, and wine to build more flavors. Toss the finished pasta in the sauce along with generous servings of Parmesan. Get the full recipe here.
Lemon Ricotta Pasta
This super-simple pasta sauce comes together with only a few ingredients and no extra cooking necessary. The simple preparation yields a pasta rich in bright Mediterranean flavors.
While your pasta is cooking according to package instructions, mix ricotta cheese, pecorino Romano, lemon juice and lemon zest in a bowl. Season to taste, then toss the pasta in the sauce along with enough reserved pasta water to thin it out. Get the full recipe here.
This Italian-American classic is super easy to make at home, so you don’t have to rely on takeout to hit those cravings. The creamy sauce only needs butter, heavy cream, plenty of shredded cheese, and seasonings to come together.
Cook the fettuccine according to package instructions. Meanwhile, melt butter, then sauté minced garlic. Stir in heavy cream and shredded parmesan. Season the final dish with salt, pepper, and parsley. Get the full recipe here.