19 Perfect Pasta Dishes You'll Want to Make for Dinner Tonight
Why? Because pasta pairs well with so many different foods, flavor profiles, and types of cuisine. Here, we've rounded up 19 deliciously simple pasta recipes. Options included range from crowd-pleasing classics like decadent macaroni and cheese and linguine with garlic and soppressata to fresh takes on pasta salads (eggplant!) and healthier spins on nonna's noodle dishes.
Remember, cooking pasta with the just-right texture—meaning chewy and firm without a hint of mushiness, also known as al dente—takes technique. We've outlined the best way to do it here.
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.
RELATED: How to Cook Pasta Perfectly Every Time
Gnocchi and Sweet Potatoes With Hazelnuts
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.
Get the Recipe: Gnocchi and Sweet Potatoes with Hazelnuts
Whole-Wheat Penne With Marinated Feta and Arugula
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.
Get the recipe: Whole-Wheat Penne With Marinated Feta and Arugula
Spring Vegetable Pasta With Pistachios
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.
Get the recipe: Spring Vegetable Pasta With Pistachios
Decadent Mac and Cheese
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.
Get the recipe: Decadent Mac and Cheese
Pasta With Chicken Sausage, Corn, Leeks, and Mushrooms
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.
Get the recipe: Pasta With Chicken Sausage, Corn, Leeks, and Mushrooms
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. 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.
Get the recipe: Wild Mushroom and Spinach Stuffed Shells
Bucatini With Kale and Ricotta
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.
Get the recipe: Bucatini With Kale and Ricotta
Roasted Eggplant and Olive Pasta Salad
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.
Get the recipe: Roasted Eggplant and Olive Pasta Salad
Prosciutto Penne With Spinach
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.
Get the recipe: Prosciutto Penne With Spinach
Pasta, Chickpea, and Chicken Soup With Pesto
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.
Get the recipe: Pasta, Chickpea, and Chicken Soup With Pesto
Pasta With Parsley-Almond Pesto and Fried Onions
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.
Get the recipe: Pasta With Parsley-Almond Pesto and Fried Onions
Black Pepper Gnudi With Peas and Mint
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.
Get the recipe: Black Pepper Gnudi With Peas and Mint
One-Pot Shrimp and Asparagus Fra Diavolo
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.
Get the recipe: One-Pot Shrimp and Asparagus Fra Diavolo
Linguine With Garlic, Soppressata, and Wilted Arugula
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.
Get the recipe: Linguine With Garlic, Soppressata, and Wilted Arugula
Spaghetti Salad With Avocado and Basil
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.
Get the recipe: Spaghetti Salad With Avocado and Basil
Penne With Red Sauce, Radicchio, and Walnuts
After you cook the delicious penne and simple red sauce, you'll transfer to plates and top with walnuts and pecorino.
Get the recipe: Penne With Red Sauce, Radicchio, and Walnuts
Edamame Pasta Salad
When doubled, this recipe makes enough for your Easter spread and lunch the next day (trust us, it's that good that 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.
Get the Recipe: Edamame Pasta Salad
Lemony Cucumber-and-Herb Pasta Salad
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 nineties 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.
Get the recipe: Lemony Cucumber-and-Herb Pasta Salad
Penne With Tomatoes, Eggplant, and Mozzarella
Instead of basil, sprinkle with fresh mint for an unexpected hint of cool, tingly flavor.
Get the recipe: Penne With Tomatoes, Eggplant, and Mozzarella