15 Classic Italian Pasta Recipes Everyone Should Know How to Make
Make pasta night extra special or just add to your repertoire of traditional dishes by dipping into our collection of classic Italian pasta recipes. Here you'll find dishes you know from your favorite restaurants, from that spring vacation on the Amalfi Coast, or from Sunday nights spent sitting around your nonna's table. Yes, you can (and should!) make Bolognese sauce, especially Grandma's Bolognese sauce, shown here with homemade pappardelle, but be sure to try these other time-honored Italian pasta recipes, too.
Lasagna just might be one of the most comforting of Italian dishes, and our test kitchen's favorite Lasagna with Meat Sauce unpacks the process of making this classic baked pasta. With its layers of meat sauce made with ground beef and Italian sausage and a creamy cheese filling, everyone at the table will ask for seconds.
There are also several classic Italian pasta recipes that are much quicker to put together than either Bolognese sauce or lasagna. It truly doesn't get simpler or more elemental than Cacio e Pepe, a pasta dish made with cheese (Grana Padano), black pepper, and olive oil. We add a touch of lemon to our recipe, too. Another inspirationally easy dish is Spaghetti with Sicilian Pesto, which is a very different take on the sauce than the vibrant green basil-based topping you're likely used to. In Sicily they use almonds, not pine nuts, and roasted red pepper and tomatoes in place of the basil. Capers, anchovies, and golden raisins are added in, resulting in a delicious, salty-sweet pesto.
Of course, we've also included another well-known favorite: Carbonara, a classic pasta that's widely adored. It's the bacon (or any other pork product, such as guanciale or pancetta, that you have) and the rich sauce made with cream and eggs that make this dish so delightful.
These classic Italian pasta recipes are popular for good reason, so try making them all and you'll soon see why these dishes are such favorites.
Cacio e Pepe
Utterly simple, totally irresistible, and classically Roman—yes, this is that famed pasta with cheese and freshly cracked pepper. We opt for two types of cheese and add a squeeze of lemon to set our recipe apart. Don't be intimidated by the process; our step-by-step guide to cooking this classic makes it simple.
This is a revolutionary technique that hails from the region of Puglia. The dried pasta is cooked in a skillet, not the usual large pot, along with the other ingredients. The result is maximum flavor and minimal dirty pots.
In Italy this distinctive dish is called spaghetti all'ubriaco or "drunken" pasta. It's a quick recipe that combines thin strands of spaghetti with a reduced red wine-shallot sauce finished with pancetta and grated pecorino.
Pasta e Fagioli
You might just call this "pasta fagioli," but Italians would never drop the "e" in this hearty soup made with pasta, cranberry beans, and vegetables.
Bacon and eggs—and Parmesan—meet pasta. Spaghetti is the traditional choice for this velvety sauce, but feel free to go alla carbonara with other noodles.
Of course, we had to include this favorite. Depending on where your nonna is from, you might call this thick meat sauce a ragu. Our version uses both ground beef and ground pork, as well as the essential milk, nutmeg, and white wine.
Linguine with Clams
A combination of oil, clam broth, and white wine creates an almost creamy sauce for this pasta "con le vongole." The clams are left in their shells, and a generous sprinkling of parsley provides the finishing touch. If, like in Campania and the south of Italy in general, you prefer a red clam sauce, try this recipe.
Penne alla Norma
A hearty vegetarian penne recipe with eggplant, tomato, and ricotta from Sicily. It might have been inspired by the opera "Norma," by Sicilian composer Vincenzo Bellini.
Tortellini en Brodo
Legend has it that these little twists of filled pasta were inspired by the navel of the famous beauty Lucrezia Borgia as viewed through a keyhole by a curious cook. Here they are served simply in broth, a traditional festive first course.
Pomodoro, which is Italian for tomato, is a fitting name for this crowd-pleasing dish.
Spaghetti with Sicilian Pesto
Not the usual Genoese pesto, this Sicilian take uses roasted red pepper, fresh tomatoes, anchovies, capers, and golden raisins for sweetness. Toasted almonds replace the pignoli used in basil pesto but Parmigiano is a constant. It's quick to make and wonderfully flavorful
From Sardinia comes this elemental pasta with a true taste of the sea. It's made with just the pressed dried roe of tuna or mullet roe (bottarga) and a little oil, garlic, parsley, and breadcrumbs. Bucatini or perciatelli? Your choice.