Food & Drink

20 Delicious Pasta Recipes for Weeknight Meals

Source: Chungah Rhee | Damn Delicious
Source: Chungah Rhee | Damn Delicious

Pasta is a nourishing meal staple for a simple reason: convenience. Make some noodles and throw in some sauce, a protein, and veggies, and you’ve got a full one-pot meal. Plus, with what food other than pasta can you have the fun of selecting from a hundred and one different shape and size possibilities? And, of course, pasta is just delicious.

Even though pasta is usually a crowd-pleaser, with kiddos sometimes it’s hard to move past their preference for buttered noodles over anything else. We’re left having to get creative in order to find a way to add protein and veggies to their plates. Before we know it, we’re straying from what was intended to be a simple dinner by having to make several different dishes so everybody’s mouths are happy.

To help you and your family on days when you’re too busy to think, we’ve put together some of our favorite pasta recipes. Hopefully they’ll leave you with fewer dishes to clean up, less time spent on cooking (and thinking about cooking), and more time spent with your loved ones. Most allow for easy substitutions based on what you have in your pantry or fridge. And while you may still be tempted into leaving some of these recipes’ noodles on the side for buttering, perhaps their wonderfully-flavorful aromas will entice the whole family to give them a try!

So, get your favorite noodle shapes, saucepans, and colanders ready, because here are 20 pasta recipes you won’t want to miss.

1. Healthy Chicken Fajita Pasta

Recipes like this chicken fajita pasta are amazing because you can substitute in different proteins and veggies (tofu, spinach, asparagus), and still use the same spices. Its simplicity makes for a weekday-friendly meal, too.

Chicken Fajita Pasta
Source: Isabel Eats

2. Creamy Parmesan Tuna Pasta

This feels like an upgraded version of the quintessential tuna noodle casserole. This is a quick, 20-minute version that’s great on days when you’ve run out of fresh produce or proteins.

Creamy Tuna Parmesan Pasta
Source: The Salty Marshmallow

3. One Pot Vegetable Pasta

This is one of those recipes that’ll work with a lot of the leftover veggies in your fridge that are on the verge of expiration. Feel free to improvise with whatever you can get your hands on.

Veggie Pasta
Source: My Food Story

4. Summer Spaghetti with Tomatoes and Burrata

This fresh vegetarian pasta recipe only takes 25 minutes to make and tastes like summer in a bowl.

pasta recipes
Source: Chungah Rhee | Damn Delicious

5. Pesto and Feta Pasta With Shrimp

The recipe calls for a specific type of pesto and also includes shrimp. While fresh pesto is delightful, we don’t always have the herbs—or the time—to prep it. Store-bought will definitely work nicely, and you can also substitute in proteins as you wish.

Pesto Feta Pasta
Source: Closet Cooking

6. Creamy Mushroom Chicken Pasta

This is a really great comfort food that could be served over any kind of starch, pasta included. And since mushrooms can have somewhat of a pungent taste for some (especially kids!), the cream definitely softens their flavor. 

Creamy Mushroom Chicken Pasta
Source: Plated Cravings

7. Butternut Squash Carbonara Pasta

OK, this is a little more than a one-pot recipe, and for some folks, it’ll be more of a weekend commitment. But it’s a fun take on a hearty carbonara and brings some veggies into the mix to pack extra tastes, colors, and nutrients. 

Butternut Squash Carbonara Pasta
Source: Ahead of Thyme

8. Creamy Cumin Chicken Linguine

Cumin makes every dish more unique and exciting: plain potatoes, chicken, lentils, you name it! This linguine falls into the same category. As with most of these recipes, you can swap out the pasta. If you forget to marinate the chicken/substituted protein earlier, no problem; the dish will still be super flavorful.

Creamy Cumin Chicken Linguine
Source: Kaluhi’s Kitchen 

9. Five Ingredient One Pot Sausage Pasta

For a yummy Italian sausage-inspired dish, this is a straightforward recipe whose name says it all. It combines bell pepper, mozzarella cheese, and marinara sauce alongside the sausage (and the pasta, of course, if you were counting the ingredients). And even though it calls for penne pasta, feel free to swap in your favorite style!

pasta recipes
Source: Kristine’s Kitchen

10. Baked Ziti

There’s something about baked pasta that makes it extra comforting and delicious. With all of the flavors having a chance to really have time to sizzle together, it’s a great upgrade to pot-based pasta dishes and doesn’t require too much extra time or effort. With only 10 minutes of prep time, you’ll have this baked ziti creating mouthwatering smells as it bakes in no time! While it calls for sausage, you can always opt for an alternative protein or none at all since it’s plenty nourishing. 

pasta recipes
Source: Two Peas & Their Pod

11. Pasta with Turkey Meatballs

A list of pasta recipes wouldn’t be complete without a recipe for meatballs! Rather than use red meat, this one calls for turkey, which provides a healthier alternative as it’s lower in saturated fat. Pair your homemade turkey meatballs with your favorite pasta and sauce, and you have a wholesome meal ready in 30 minutes!

pasta recipes
Source: Well Plated

12. Easy Pasta Bake

If you’re looking for a flavorful pasta bake that’s ready in just over 20 minutes, this one’s a winner. By using pre-made pasta sauce and crescent dough, you can skip the labor-intensive prep time and focus on combining together fresh squash, zucchini, and onion with your favorite ground meat (or crumbled tofu!) and then align everything for baking.

pasta recipes
Source: Eazy Peazy Meals

13. Pasta with Creamy Zucchini Sauce

Zucchini has been a trendy source of inspiration for all kinds of recipes, from baked goods to smoothies to replacements in familiar dishes. This zucchini-based pasta sauce is a perfect example of the vegetable being given a tasty place to shine–upon tasting it, you would never believe no cream has been added!  

pasta recipes
Source: Skinny Taste

14. One Pot Pizza Pasta

If your family adores pizza, then there’s a good chance they’re going to be in favor of this pasta mimic. The secret to this recipe is boiling the pasta with a savory medley of broth, tomatoes, garlic powder, oregano, and milk until it evaporates. Then you stir in the pièce de résistance—the mozzarella—and your favorite pizza toppings like pepperoni or any veggies you might like (lightly sauté those separately beforehand).

one pot pizza pasta
Source: Julie’s Eats & Treats

15. One Pot Cheesy Taco Pasta

While we’re in the spirit of transforming our other favorite dishes into pasta, turn your next pasta into a taco fiesta with this recipe that uses fresh veggies, salsa, mozzarella and Mexican cheeses, and taco seasoning. You can follow its suggestion of using Italian sausage, or change it up with black beans, avocado, or another protein you enjoy when you eat tacos.

pasta recipes
Source: Savory Nothings

16. Southern Baked Macaroni and Cheese

Kraft or Velveeta has got nothing on this homemade macaroni and cheese recipe with a southern twist–it pulls out all the stoppers and combines several cheeses, cream, eggs, and complementary seasonings for a gooey, cheesy baked delight.

southern baked macaroni and cheese
Source: Grandbaby Cakes

17. Cacio e Pepe Pasta

This classic Italian pasta dish with origins in Rome translates to “cheese” and “pepper.” So, if you’re hoping to nudge your kids a step past butter and noodles, this is it! With only four ingredients, it’s one of the simplest ways to bring hearty Italian dining right to your table. If you were hoping to add more protein to this meal, its gentle flavors make it compatible with whatever meat or meat-substitute is easiest for you to whip up.

pasta recipes
Source: Just a Taste

18. Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad

For a pasta dish on the cooler side, we thought it was worth including a chilled pasta salad with a unique combination of flavors. While everyone might not be psyched about the inclusion of peas—they always seem to get a notoriously bad rep with kids!—you can always substitute in a veggie that everyone prefers. Still, the fact that this salad is nicely coated with ranch dressing should make it more appealing to those with pickier tastes!

pasta recipes
Source: Savory Nothings

19. Cheesy Ham Casserole with Bow Tie Pasta

This is a well-balanced and simple pasta casserole dish that only requires one pot for prepping. It doesn’t present any exotic seasonings or ingredients, so it’s definitely something worth introducing if you’d like to serve a bit of a glammed up pasta dish without any spicy or fragrant surprises. While ham is one way to go, the mild and creamy ingredients definitely complement all kinds of protein preferences.

pasta recipes
Source: Julie’s Eats and Treats

20. One Pan Chicken Parmesan Pasta

Chicken parm tends to be one of those no-fail, instant forever favorites once you try it. While this recipe isn’t the classic approach to the dish (chicken coated with panko bread crumbs), it preserves the essence of it by sprinkling panko bread crumbs generously across the top of a delightful chicken, mozzarella, Parmesan, and tomato sauce-based pasta creation. 

pasta recipes
Source: No. 2 Pencil
25 of the Best Under 30-Minute Weeknight Meals
Discover More