35 Easy Weeknight Pastas
When the workweek hits, simple and speedy fuel is exactly what you need—especially when you’re feeding a family. Luckily, pasta exists, and it's here to save the day. These recipes are easy and satisfying, and not one of them takes longer than 45 minutes to prepare.
Roasted Tomato, Salami, and Mozzarella Pasta
This recipe gives you all the favorite flavors of a baked pasta dish without heating up the oven. Round out this easy weeknight meal with a simple and satisfying dessert. When a recipe calls for a small amount of an ingredient, such as the cup of arugula in this recipe, save money and buy what you need from the salad bar at your grocery store instead of purchasing an entire package.
One-Pot Pasta with Tomato-Basil Sauce
This dish is a revelation. Throw all of your ingredients into one pot over medium-high heat, and about 25 minutes later you'll have noodles perfectly coated in a luscious tomato-basil sauce. This is any busy mom's weeknight dinner perfection. If entertaining, serve with one of our easy green salad recipes for the complete dinner experience.
Sausage and Mushroom Pasta With Butternut Squash
How’s this for a hack? Here we slice refrigerated lasagna noodles to get silky pappardelle-style ribbons of pasta that look like they’re homemade. Pick up pre-cubed butternut squash to save yourself peeling and chopping time.
Whole-Wheat Pasta Carbonara
Our double-boiler technique guarantees smooth success with this curdle-prone egg sauce for pasta.
Simple Lemon, Shrimp, and Prosciutto Pasta
Salty, umami-packed prosciutto complements the sweet shrimp and tomatoes in this streamlined 20-minute main.
Pasta with Miso Cream Sauce
This super creamy pasta dish gets nice umami depth from the miso. Cooking the grape tomatoes in a skillet and then stirring in the milk mixture gives the sauce the perfect texture, and the little bit of liquid that comes out of the spinach lightens it up. This recipe is quite flexible: Cavatappi, penne, or any whole-wheat version would work well. You could also substitute with mini mozzarella balls to save a step and time.
Pasta with Shaved Asparagus and Pea Pesto
Thick asparagus stalks are best for this dish because they’re easier to shave. The trick to this recipe? We cook the pasta in as little water as possible so the resulting pasta water becomes viscous with starch. Adding a little of the water to the sauce makes it extra creamy and helps it cling to the noodles. Pine nuts can be expensive—a good budget substitute is unsalted sunflower seed kernels.
Pasta with Shrimp and Tomato Cream Sauce
Smaller tomatoes, like cherry or grape, have brighter, fruitier flavors than larger ones. Look for colorful selections such as the orange Sun Gold and the purple Black Cherry. Cherry tomatoes need only a few minutes in a hot pan before they soften and release their naturally sweet juices. For the best flavor, use fresh shrimp, not frozen, and don’t overcook them, or the shrimp will become tough. Tarragon’s anise notes complement the cherry tomatoes and cream, but you can substitute basil or oregano.
Mostly Mushroom Pasta
If you’re a mushroom-lover, this is the pasta dish for you. It’s chock-full of three kinds of fresh mushrooms (2 pounds of them) that contribute their own flavors and textures—meaty, hearty portobello; super savory, tender shiitake; and earthy, chewy cremini. We cook them in stages so the tougher mushrooms cook longer and the more delicate shiitakes cook less so they hold their shape. The touch of crème fraîche in the sauce gives the dish a stroganoff-like flavor; substitute full-fat sour cream if you can’t find it.
Roasted Chicken and Bow Tie Pasta Salad
Creamy Kale and Pasta Bake
Even self-professed kale haters will fall in love with this cheesy baked pasta with crispy breadcrumbs. Round out the meal with a simple side of roasted carrots.
Pasta Aglio e Olio
A riff on the traditional Italian garlic and oil pasta dish, roasted walnut oil adds an unexpected gentle, nutty flavor. Cool the walnut oil slightly before adding the water to avoid splatters. We think bucatini pasta is the best choice for this dish; however, you also could use whole-wheat spaghetti or angel hair pasta to amp up the dish’s nuttiness. For a protein boost, add sautéed shrimp alongside or atop this dish.
Spring Vegetable Pasta Alfredo
Our seasonal pasta toss is made luscious and rich with a lighter take on alfredo sauce. Instead of using heavy cream, we employ flour-thickened 2% milk enriched with cream cheese. We also switch from traditional Parmesan to more robust pecorino Romano, which allows us to use less cheese while still achieving the same flavor impact. We love the flavor of Bionaturae brand whole-wheat pasta, which is milder than most other brands we’ve tried and doesn't overpower the vegetables.
Greek Pasta Salad
Spaghetti and Easy Meatballs
One-Pot Pasta with Spinach and Tomatoes
This pasta dinner is a game changer: You use just enough liquid to cook the pasta--no colander needed. Recipe adapted from our sister publication Southern Living. Cost for 4: $8.43
Classic Pasta Carbonara
This simple, classic pasta carbonara recipe is the perfect dish when you need a special night in. And with this foolproof method for nailing the signature creamy sauce, you can go into the kitchen with confidence. Traditionally, you would toss your hot pasta with the eggs and cheese right in the skillet you’ve used to cook the pork (over low heat) to create a smooth, emulsified sauce. However, this method takes practice to get right—and crossing the fine line between gently cooking the eggs and scrambling them is all too easy, even for a pro. With this smart test kitchen technique, you essentially create a double boiler to provide just enough heat to melt your cheese and emulsify the silky sauce, without running the risk of breaking it. Finally, drizzling pancetta drippings over the pasta disperses rich porky flavor throughout the sauce even without ever having the pasta in the skillet. We use pancetta for this recipe as it is easily found in most supermarkets, but guanciale is traditional and worth trying if you can find it. Gemelli pasta is a great noodle shape to pair with this rich and saucy dish, but feel free to use whatever noodle you prefer.
Deli-Style Tortellini Pasta Salad
Reminiscent of deli-style salads we’ve all ordered at one time or another, this easy and delicious recipe works overtime providing you with an effortless dinner and even-tastier leftovers the next day. Like most pasta salads, this one tastes best once chilled for 24 hours, and because of its large yield, can be enjoyed for lunch throughout the week. Enjoy it cold, or at room temperature.
Shrimp and Leek Spaghetti
Light and lemony, this pasta provides nearly a third of your daily fiber goal. Thanks to prepeeled shrimp and frozen peas, it’s the epitome of weeknight-fast. Dress it up with a glass of crisp white wine.
Spaghetti and Meatballs with Red Wine
Pretty "Parslied" Spaghetti
Leftover flat-leaf parsley is likely lurking in your crisper. This unassuming herb has a bright, grassy personality that, combined with cheese, garlic, and good olive oil, makes this dish sing. Try embellishing with lemon zest, toasted nuts, sun-dried tomatoes in oil, or even sardines.
Quick and Easy Spaghetti Bolognese
While we love the images of a cook standing over the stove for hours, stirring the family’s secret recipe for Bolognese until it is just right, we have simplified the technique so you can create a tasty meal in under 30 minutes. Create a satisfying meat sauce by cooking Italian sausage, peppers, sweet onions and garlic, then add a quality jarred pasta sauce, such as Barilla or Classico.
Family-Style Chicken Spaghetti
A family favorite swaps jarred sauce for fresh--which requires just a few ingredients and less than 10 minutes.
Pesto Shrimp and Broccoli Fettuccine
Put your knife away—store-bought pesto and precut broccoli florets mean no chopping required. Your Dutch oven pulls triple duty in this recipe by cooking the pasta, blanching the broccoli, and bringing the whole dish together, all in one pot.
Pesto Pasta Salad
Pasta salads are the ultimate summer move, especially when it’s too hot to use the oven. They’re easy yet delicious and come together quickly, plus they don’t require much heat. Adding an easy homemade pesto to pasta salad elevates it to much more than a picnic or barbecue side. If you need to use up some extra basil or just want to try a twist on a classic side, this pesto pasta salad will please everyone in a cinch.
Fettuccine Alfredo with Leeks, Peas, and Bacon
You will never buy jarred Alfredo sauce again when you see how easy it is to make homemade. Pasta with homemade Alfredo sauce is a simple weeknight meal that feels downright indulgent, especially when bacon is involved. Slowly simmer the cream and be sure not to boil it or it will scorch. Cook the vegetables in the bacon drippings for extra richness. To make sure the chopped leeks are free of sand, soak them in a large bowl of cold water for five minutes and then drain.
Sausage, Tomato, and Arugula Fettuccine
Alfredo Sauce (with fettuccine)
This quick and easy sauce makes for one of our favorite pasta recipes. This simple, creamy sauce is one that the whole family will agree on for any weeknight dinner. You can throw grilled chicken, shrimp, broccoli, asparagus, roasted peppers, sausage, or even mushrooms into the pasta to mix this recipe up a bit.
Tagliatelle with Shrimp, Tomato-Anchovy Sauce, and Chiles
Garlicky tomato sauce gets an umami boost courtesy of flavor-packed anchovy fillets. Garnish with fresh basil, some sliced Fresno chile, and copious amounts of Parm for a simple yet satisfying dish.
Pasta Primavera with Shrimp
Many healthy eaters are quick to cut pasta out of their diets, but dishes like this have plenty of good-for-you benefits. This Pasta Primavera is filled with colorful veggies and light shrimp, and the homemade sauce isn’t heavy like its jarred or cream-filled counterparts. To make this dinner vegetarian, simply nix the shrimp and use water or vegetable stock instead of chicken stock. You might not believe that you can prepare a wholesome family meal in 30 minutes and one pot, but trust us. The key to this one-pot dish is cooking the shrimp, vegetables, and pasta in stages. When combined, all of the ingredients will be perfectly al dente and coated in a tasty sauce that is slightly thickened by the starch in the pasta. Add more spring flavor by stirring in a tablespoon of chopped soft herbs such as parsley, dill, or basil into the pasta along with the cooked shrimp.
Caramelized Onion, Mushroom and Chicken Penne
Creamy, cheesy, chicken pasta—what’s not to love? This cozy 25-minute meal from The Food Gays is sure to become your new go-to this Fall.
Penne with Spicy Vodka Cream Sauce
Simple and delicious, Penne with Spicy Vodka Cream Sauce is perfect with a simple salad and a glass of red.
If you thought zoodles were good, wait until you give eggplant “noodles” a go. Swapping pappardelle pasta for long ribbons of eggplant makes for a stunning and flavor-packed, veggie-forward entree you’ll love to serve to guests. The key is to make sure you do not overcook the eggplant, as it should be tender, but still have some body to it. To do this, be sure to get the oil hot before adding your eggplant, and cook the eggplant undisturbed to promote browning. Turning the heat off when stirring in the pesto keeps the eggplant from burning. This dish is not ideal for reheating, so aim to eat what you make. However, on its own, the scrumptious pesto sauce is worth doubling to have leftovers you can use throughout the week.
Pea Pappardelle Pasta
Sugar snaps, green peas, and pea shoots enrich this dish with sweet flavor and a bounty of pleasing textures. Look for pea shoots at your local farmers market or Asian market, or substitute watercress.