42 Perfect Pasta Recipes You'll Want to Make for Dinner Tonight (and Every Night)

Plus: Pasta dishes are a perfect place to squeeze in veggies you wouldn't normally eat.

Best easy pasta recipes - rigatoni noodle tout
Photo: Greg DuPree

Few pantry staples are as crowd-pleasing as pasta, and we have the easy pasta recipes with all different types of pasta to prove it. From kids to college students to Tuscans and everyone in between, pasta is always the right answer when someone asks, "What's for dinner?"

Why? Because pasta pairs well with so many different foods, flavor profiles, and types of cuisine. Here, we've rounded up the deliciously simple pasta recipes every home cook or pasta lover should have in their repertoire. Options range from crowd-pleasing classics like decadent macaroni and cheese and linguine with garlic and soppressata to fresh takes on pasta salad recipes (eggplant!) and healthier spins on nonna's noodle dishes.

Whatever type of noodle dish inspires your palette, we promise you'll have a delicious dinner on the table in minutes with these easy pasta recipes.

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Roasted Broccoli Pesto Pasta

Easy pasta recipes - healthy Roasted Broccoli Pesto Pasta
Caitlin Bensel

Broccoli pesto is a great way to use up a whole head of broccoli. Roasting broccoli stalks and florets brings out all of its best qualities. Most of it gets pureed into a nutty and cheesy pesto, but some florets remain to bulk up this green and vibrant pasta. Healthy pasta recipes don't get better than this.

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Pasta Primavera

Easy pasta recipes - Pasta Primavera
France Ruffenach

Pasta primavera recipes can get fancier or simpler, depending on your preference, but nothing beats the classic. This basic, easy pasta primavera recipe takes only a few minutes, and it's a shrimp pasta recipe, too: Shrimp, goat cheese, salsa, and asparagus make it a well-rounded, quick-cooking pasta dish.

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Classic Lasagna

Easy pasta recipes - Classic Lasagna
Natasia Hanratty

Few pasta recipes are as iconic as lasagna. It combines some of the best features of comfort food: cheesiness, creaminess, and ease of preparation. This classic lasagna recipe should be a staple for every home cook and is an excellent addition to any casserole rotation.

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Zucchini-Butter Spaghetti

Easy pasta recipes - healthy Zucchini-Butter Spaghetti
Jennifer Causey

Zucchini is the star of this luscious, creamy, and healthy pasta recipe show. This recipe is easy, too: All it takes is cooking down grated zucchini with garlic, shallots, olive oil, salt, and pepper until it's spreadably smooth.

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Chicken Spaghetti Casserole

Easy pasta recipes - Chicken Spaghetti Casserole
Greg DuPree

Lasagnas may be the tried-and-true pasta casserole (along with baked ziti, of course), but don't be afraid to add a new pasta casserole to your rotation: This chicken pasta recipe is like a baked fettucine alfredo, with a decadent sauce and creamy cheese topping.

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Pasta Carbonara

Easy pasta recipes - Pasta Carbonara
Gemma Comas

Trendy pasta recipes may come and go, but pasta carbonara recipes—and fresh interpretations of it—are forever. This classic pasta carbonara uses bacon, egg yolks, and Parmesan to create that classic carbonara dish at home.

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Chicken and Chard Dumpling Soup

Easy pasta recipes - Chicken and Chard Dumpling Soup
Greg DuPree

While technically a soup, this chicken pasta recipe uses gnocchi—a delightful noodle dumpling—with chicken and chard for a well-rounded pasta dish. Think of it as a grown-up chicken noodle soup, with plenty of pasta to go around.

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Pasta With Garlicky Yogurt Sauce And Roasted Cherry Tomatoes

Easy pasta recipes - healthy Pasta With Garlicky Yogurt Sauce And Roasted Cherry Tomatoes
Jennifer Causey

Eight ingredients is all it takes to make this creamy and garlicky pasta. Greek yogurt adds protein and creates a luscious sauce when combined with pasta water and a little garlic. Cherry tomatoes roast in the oven until they just burst for the perfect hint of sweetness. Consider this a healthy alternative to your regular dinner pasta recipe.

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Multigrain Mac and Cheese

Easy pasta recipes - Multigrain Mac and Cheese
Alexandra Grablewski

Using multigrain or whole-wheat pasta helps make this macaroni and cheese recipe a little healthier, but never fear: It still has plenty of butter, cheese, and cream to satisfy your comfort-food craving. This cheesy pasta recipe is pretty simple and straightforward. Serve it on its own, or add a side salad or steamed veggie to round out the meal.

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Linguine Carbonara With Cauliflower

Easy pasta recipes - Linguine Carbonara With Cauliflower
Marcus Nilsson

This take on pasta carbonara has all the flavors you know and love, just with some cauliflower to change it up a bit. Ready in just 30 minutes, this is an all-in-one, easy pasta recipe you can rely on for weeknight dinners (and you'll have leftovers for the next day, too).

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Shrimp Linguine With Chorizo

Easy pasta recipes - Shrimp Linguine With Chorizo
Caitlin Bensel

This is a Spanish-style shrimp pasta dish with a bit of a kick thanks to the addition of dry-cured chorizo. It uses three cloves of garlic, dry white wine, and lemon zest for even more of a flavor boost, promising a delicious explosion of taste with every noodle. With such hearty toppings and flavors, the pasta in this dish—linguine—is more of a vehicle for the other ingredients, but you'll still love every bite.

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Zucchini Pesto Pasta

Easy pasta recipes - Zucchini Pesto Pasta
Caitlin Bensel

You probably know and love a jarred pesto (or even a homemade version), but the version in this pesto pasta recipe might just blow those out of the water. Made with zucchini and cashews, it's a little nutty and a lot unique. Toss with spaghetti for a vegetarian pasta dish that's actually healthy and filled with vegetables, thanks to the zucchini sauce.

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Angel Hair With Spicy Shrimp

Easy pasta recipes - Angel Hair With Spicy Shrimp
Anna Williams

As far as shrimp pasta recipes go, this one is a classic. Simple and quick—it's ready in only 15 minutes!—it uses the natural flavors of shrimp, garlic, olive oil, and white wine for a delicious, rich pasta dish.

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Pesto Orecchiette With Chicken Sausage

Easy pasta recipes - Pesto Orecchiette With Chicken Sausage
Con Poulos

This pesto pasta recipe uses a store-bought pesto, so you can enjoy your favorite jarred option. Paired with chicken sausage for a little protein and peas and green beans for veggie-power, it's a great weeknight dinner that's ready quickly. Plus, if your household can't decide between chicken pasta recipes and those with pesto, this is a great compromise.

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Farfalle With Lemon, Shrimp, and Kale

Easy pasta recipes - Farfalle With Lemon, Shrimp, and Kale
Victor Protasio

Yes, this is a delicious shrimp pasta recipe the whole family will love, but it's also incredibly easy to make: You can make the whole dish with just one pot, so clean-up is easier and you don't run the risk of multi-tasking with multiple pots and pans on the stove at once.

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Beet Pasta With Hazelnuts and Beet Greens

Easy pasta recipes - healthy Beet Pasta With Hazelnuts and Beet Greens
Jennifer Causey

Fresh beets cooked until tender make the base for this colorful sauce. Richness and a cheese-like flavor come from miso and nutritional yeast, making this easy pasta recipe creamy, healthy, and effortlessly vegan.

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Broccoli and Three-Cheese Lasagna

Easy pasta recipes - Broccoli and Three-Cheese Lasagna
Quentin Bacon

Few pasta recipes or dishes are as beloved as lasagna. This lasagna recipe adds broccoli for a little variety, but it won't venture too far from your favorite flavors: Ricotta, mozzarella, and parmesan cheese maintain that lasagna flavor you know and love. Best of all, this lasagna recipe is ready in just 15 minutes of hands-on time, so it's easy enough to prepare and then put in the oven while you tackle other tasks.

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Pappardelle With Shrimp and Asparagus

Easy pasta recipes - Pappardelle With Shrimp and Asparagus
Johnny Miller

Pappardelle is a long, flat pasta noodle that works well with light sauces. In this shrimp pasta recipe, it goes nicely with shrimp and asparagus, with only a handful of ingredients for seasoning, leaving the dish feeling light and fresh. Serve this pasta dish in the spring or summer.

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Toasted Saffron Pasta Primavera

Easy pasta recipes - Toasted Saffron Pasta Primavera
Greg DuPree

This stunning pasta dish benefits from a few smart flavor-boosting techniques. Toasting the spaghetti adds nuttiness, and the acidity of the wine and lemon juice help cut the richness of the butter. Saffron offers subtle floral notes, but if you can't find it, substitute sweet paprika. By mealtime, you'll have a light, refreshing, and healthy pasta primavera recipe to serve, share, and enjoy.

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Cheesy Baked Pasta With Spinach and Artichokes

Easy pasta recipes - Cheesy Baked Pasta With Spinach and Artichokes
Tom Schierlitz

Cheesy pasta recipes are traditionally indulgent, but that doesn't mean you can't add a little nutritional value to your next noodle-based comfort meal. This easy pasta recipe has artichoke hearts and frozen spinach for a small feel-good health boost, plus parmesan and mozzarella cheeses for the cheesy texture and flavor you know and love.

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Lasagna-Style Baked Ziti

Easy pasta recipes - Lasagna-Style Baked Ziti
Petrina Tinslay

With the flavor of baked ziti but the texture and nuttiness of lasagna, this cheesy pasta recipe is sure to please the whole family. Prep time is pretty short—just 20 minutes—and the addition of lean ground beef and spinach helps this pasta dish offer some nutritional value.

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Slow-Cooker Spinach and Ricotta Lasagna With Romaine Salad

Easy pasta recipes - Slow-Cooker Spinach and Ricotta Lasagna With Romaine Salad
José Picayo

A slow-cooker pasta recipe that will make everyone happy: What's not to love? This slow-cooking but delicious pasta recipe cooks with minimal time and effort from you, so you can get on with other items on your to-do list and still have a rich, satisfying meal. Simply prepare your slow-cooker in a few minutes, and then let it work its magic.

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Gnocchi and Sweet Potatoes With Hazelnuts

Gnocchi and Sweet Potatoes With Hazelnuts
Greg Dupree

If you don't have time to make your own sweet potato gnocchi, you can get the next best thing: pillowy gnocchi with creamy pieces of sweet potato and a sprinkling of crunchy chopped hazelnuts. This dish looks simple—it comes together in just 20 minutes—but it still manages to be quite impressive if you need something you can cook to feed a friend, neighbor, or colleague in a hurry.

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Whole-Wheat Penne With Marinated Feta and Arugula

Whole-Wheat Penne With Marinated Feta and Arugula
Greg DuPree

The yogurt in this pasta dish makes it just creamy enough to feel indulgent, but not too heavy. All the ingredients work beautifully together: lemon zest, Aleppo pepper, peppery arugula, nutty whole wheat pasta, and tangy yogurt sauce. It just might become your go-to warm weather pasta dish.

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Spring Vegetable Pasta With Pistachios

Victor Protasio

If you don't already use this method for making pasta at home, it's time to add it to your weeknight repertoire. It's simple: Just save a cup of starchy pasta water, which you'll use to thicken the vegetable pan sauce. The result is a creamy, restaurant-worthy sauce. And, while there are a lot of vegetables involved—a whole bunch of asparagus as well as chopped zucchini—this hearty dish will also satisfy your inner carb monster. To finish it off is a cornucopia of flavorful garnishes, including earthy pistachios, fragrant lemon zest, salty Parmesan, and peppery basil leaves. Time-saving tip: Start the pasta water right away, then chop the vegetables.

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Decadent Mac and Cheese

Decadent Mac and Cheese
Jen Causey

If you're going to make mac and cheese from scratch, you might as well go all out. That means indulging in a super-creamy variety made with evaporated milk and six cups of freshly grated cheese. And yes, that includes American cheese: It adds irresistible gooey-ness.

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Pasta With Chicken Sausage, Corn, Leeks, and Mushrooms

Pasta With Chicken Sausage, Corn, Leeks, and Mushrooms
Greg Dupree

Nothing's better than a pasta you can whip up from ingredients you already have lying around. Ready in minutes, these "back-pocket pastas" are the best in our books. This recipe could easily become a go-to. It has a super short ingredient list because Italian chicken sausage adds a ton of savory flavor and spices. Plus it's pre-cooked so you just need to heat it up. Find pre-cooked sausages near the bacon at your grocery store. Any sort of short pasta will work, although we love twisted shapes such as gemelli or casareche that catch sauce in their nooks and crannies.

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Wild Mushroom and Spinach Stuffed Shells

This baked pasta dish (an elevated take on the classic stuffed shells) is hearty and satisfying, thanks to creamy, rich ricotta and meaty wild mushrooms. Get the recipe for Wild Mushroom and Spinach Stuffed Shells
Greg DuPree

This baked pasta dish (an elevated take on the classic stuffed shells) is hearty and satisfying, thanks to creamy, rich ricotta and meaty wild mushrooms. A quick homemade marinara sauce ties it all together, and the spinach and blanket of cheese keep the pasta shells from drying out as they bake.

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Bucatini With Kale and Ricotta

When preparing this recipe for Bucatini With Kale and Ricotta, you can substitute spaghetti for bucatini, but we really love the way the hollow tubes soak up olive oil and extra flavor.
Greg DuPree

This pasta dish is bright thanks to lemon zest, has a touch of heat from red pepper flakes, and is tied together with rich and creamy ricotta. Parmesan softens and gets trapped in the kale leaves, reminding us a bit of creamed kale. You can substitute spaghetti for bucatini, but we really love the way the hollow tubes soak up olive oil and extra flavor. Some quick tips: Run your fingers along both sides of the kale to remove the leaves from the stems quickly, and be sure to watch the pine nuts closely because they can burn quickly.

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Roasted Eggplant and Olive Pasta Salad

This pasta salad will satisfy all of your savory cravings. Get the recipe for Real Simple's Roasted Eggplant and Olive Pasta Salad.
Greg DuPree

Who doesn't love pasta salad? Salty olives and feta cheese combined with fresh tomatoes, chewy pasta, and tender cubes of roasted eggplant make this the perfect satisfying and healthy lunch or dinner. The longer it sits, the more the flavors meld together, so make extra and eat well all week long.

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Prosciutto Penne With Spinach

Prosciutto Penne With Spinach
Victor Protasio

The secret ingredient to an amazing, restaurant-worthy pasta recipe like this one is shockingly simple. It's just water! Pasta water, that is. Using just ½ cup of the leftover penne cooking liquid adds starchy body to the pan sauce, which helps the flavors to emulsify into a rich coating that's full of flavor and body. The liquid pulls the salty pan drippings from the prosciutto and the garlicky oil and slicks it onto each tube of pasta. That's why penne is great for a dish like this one—the ridges encourage sauce to stick and the tube traps delicious pockets of sauce.

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Pasta, Chickpea, and Chicken Soup With Pesto

Two bowls of Pasta, Chickpea, and Chicken Soup and a bowl of pesto on the side
Greg DuPree

Simmering a Parmesan rind directly in the broth deepens the flavor of this twist on chicken noodle, while the pesto adds a bright and fresh finishing touch. In fact, go ahead and double the pesto. Save the leftovers, then use later in the week on homemade pizza or bruschetta.

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Pasta With Parsley-Almond Pesto and Fried Onions

Pasta With Parsley-Almond Pesto and Fried Onions
Anna Williams

This pesto pasta idea is even better than the traditional variety, thanks to fried onions. Not only do you top the bowl of pasta with the onion, you'll also use the cooking oil to flavor the pesto—infusing the taste of sautéed onions in the sauce.

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Black Pepper Gnudi With Peas and Mint

Black Pepper Gnudi With Peas and Mint
Greg DuPree

Love gnocchi? Then you have to try your hand at gnudi—a lighter, fluffier, cheesier version of gnocchi. We serve our version with a simple pan sauce, vibrant spring peas, and fresh mint.

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One-Pot Shrimp and Asparagus Fra Diavolo

One-Pot Shrimp and Asparagus Fra Diavolo
Greg DuPree

Spicy pasta lovers, this one's for you—and it might just be the easiest one in the bunch. As the noodles cook, they release starches that thicken buttery, fiery sauce. Steaming the shrimp and asparagus with the pasta infuses them with the fragrant lemon and chiles.

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Linguine With Garlic, Soppressata, and Wilted Arugula

Linguine With Garlic, Soppressata, and Wilted Arugula
Jen Causey

This dish couldn't be easier: As your pasta boils, you'll cook the soppressata until crisp, then add the garlic and red pepper. Stir in the sour cream, lemon juice, black pepper, cooking water, and salt. Add the pasta and toss to combine.

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Spaghetti Salad With Avocado and Basil

Spaghetti Salad With Avocado and Basil
Victor Protasio

This easy pasta salad recipe makes a case for the long noodles to get top billing when paired with a tangy, no-cook dressing. To make the simple sauce, just blend up avocados, basil, and Greek yogurt plus apple cider vinegar for tart balance and honey to take the edge off raw ingredients. It makes the perfect coating for long swirls of spaghetti, which soak up every drop of the sauce. Chopped toasted almonds add crunch and cherry tomatoes add bursts of bright acidity. This makes a great casual weeknight dinner, and would pack particularly well for lunch on the go.

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Penne With Red Sauce, Radicchio, and Walnuts

Penne With Red Sauce, Radicchio, and Walnuts
Kate Mathis

After you cook the delicious penne and simple red sauce, you'll transfer to plates and top with walnuts and pecorino.

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Edamame Pasta Salad

Edamame pasta salad in a serving dish displayed with roasted lemons
Greg DuPree

When doubled, this recipe makes enough for your Easter spread and lunch the next day (trust us, it's that good: You'll be craving the leftovers before you finish your first helping). Use fresh farmer's market peas instead of edamame if you can find them.

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Lemony Cucumber-and-Herb Pasta Salad

Lemony Cucumber-and-Herb Pasta Salad
Greg DuPree

Some say that there's no such thing as an original recipe, but this pasta salad begs to differ. It's the summertime staple of the 90s returned to modern dinner tables with this fresh take. Each perfect bite is made up of a short pasta shape, vibrant fresh herbs, crisp Persian cucumbers—famous for their good skin-to-flesh ratio—salty feta, and a mustardy garlic-lemon dressing. This portion is meant to serve as a side and would taste delicious alongside grilled chicken or steak, but it could also make a delicious dinner for four.

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Penne With Tomatoes, Eggplant, and Mozzarella

Penne With Tomatoes, Eggplant, and Mozzarella
Christopher Baker

Instead of basil, sprinkle with fresh mint for an unexpected hint of cool, tingly flavor.

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Spinach Pesto and Pasta

Easy pasta recipes - Spinach Pesto and Pasta
Jonny Valiant

Pesto pasta is a lighter alternative to the richer, heavier tomato sauces often associated with pasta dishes. In this pesto pasta recipe, you'll make a homemade spinach pesto by blending walnuts, garlic, spinach, olive oil, and parmesan. It's incredibly easy with a food processor, and you'll be amazed at how your homemade pesto tastes as good as any you'd get at a restaurant. With wide, flat fettuccine noodles to carry the sauce, you'll delight in every bite.

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