14 Fall Pasta Recipes That Make Perfect Weeknight Dinners

Photo: Yunhee Kim

These hearty pasta dinners are packed with autumnal flavors, and they're just the types of cozy dishes you want when the weather starts to turn.

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orecchiette with broccoli rabe pesto and crisp salami
Julia Gartland

Both versatile and crowd-pleasing, pasta is one of those pantry staples that is quick and luxurious—that's why it's such a perfect candidate for weeknight dinners, entertaining, or just about any meal. As the weather cools and fall kicks into high gear, you can keep the pasta dishes coming by giving them an autumnal spin and exploring the heartier side of this favorite. Let our recipes guide you into the season.

Start by pairing pasta with plentiful fall vegetables. First, try our cheesy butternut squash shells; this dish is basically adult mac and cheese, and it's sure to please everyone at the dinner table. If you're looking to go with something a little different, a pink-hued gemelli with red cabbage and beets should fit the bill. Swap leafier herbs like basil for heartier herbs like rosemary in an orecchiette with chickpeas and olives. Give pesto a fall makeover by whipping up a more robust version with broccoli rabe in place of basil and walnuts in place of pignoli, as pictured here.

Move from outside grilling to oven baking with our creamiest baked ziti recipe yet—there's just something about letting the flavors meld in the oven then scooping out cheesy bites that you can't get from mixing it on the stovetop. For comforting, roasted flavor, make the sauce on a sheet pan in the oven—our cheese ravioli with roasted eggplant, tomato, and capers is pretty irresistible.

Then explore one of the best things about cooking pasta: It doesn't have to be complicated or full of fresh ingredients to be mouthwatering delicious. Dishes like cacio e pepper or our popular One-Pan Pasta bring sophisticated flavors to the table with minimal, easy to find ingredients and simple cooking techniques. Plus, these recipes are great excuses to use up items in the pantry.

Want to make pasta every night? Why not! Keep it exciting by switching up the noodles and accompaniments. One night you can enjoy Brussels and bacon with a long noodle like spaghetti. The next, cook up a dish with short pasta like Rigatoni with Sausage and Fennel. For an even different approach, bake orzo into a paella inspired dish topped with shrimp. Read on for more inspired fall pasta recipes.

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Butternut-and-Boursin Shells

Yunhee Kim

Fans of mac and cheese won't be disappointed by this decadent version. It's easier than making cheese sauce, and it's packed with vegetable so you can feel good about scooping up seconds. The sauce's bright orange color comes from sweet, nutty butternut squash purée and the luxuriously rich cheesiness is added with creamy garlicky Boursin cheese and pasta cooking water.

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One-Pan Pasta

one-pan pasta
Maxwell Cozzi

Minimal prep with maximum flavor? Yes, please. This fan-favorite linguine dish is one of our most popular recipes and sure to become your weeknight dinner go-to. Cherry and grape tomatoes are available in clamshells year-round, lending the dish a hint of tomato acidity without a long simmer on the stove.

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Spaghetti with Brussels Sprouts and Bacon

Yunhee Kim

Add pasta to the winning pairing of Brussels and bacon and you have a full meal. This 30-minute entrée pairs crispy bacon and lightly caramelized Brussels sprouts with everyone's favorite long noodle in an easy, cheesy sauce.

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Pasta with Salmon, Broccoli Rabe and Garlic


Try this bold, unexpected penne on a chilly fall night. Combine canned wild salmon with robust broccoli rabe, garlic, and Pecorino Romano cheese. For a milder taste, sub any fall hearty green such as kale or collard greens for the broccoli rabe and feel free to try canned tuna instead of salmon—it will be just as delicious.

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Cacio e Pepe with Lemon


Totally simple and absolutely irresistible, this classic pasta is made with elemental ingredients like cheese and freshly cracked pepper. It's dinner party-worthy and also one of the easiest pasta dishes to put together on a busy fall night. Simply put, this impressive dish never disappoints. Keep the ingredients on hand and dinner is just minutes away.

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Rigatoni with Sausage and Fennel


This simple sausage and fennel pasta brings plenty of rich fall flavor to the table. Give the dish a restaurant-style finish by drizzling it with olive oil and garnishing with fennel fronds, lemon wedges, and arugula. And don't skip the extra Parmesan!

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Spaghetti with Shrimp and Olives


Shrimp might seem light and summery—especially when paired with cherry tomatoes—but by adding rosemary, capers, and olives to the mix, the result is one hearty and totally delicious dish autumnal meal. Bonus points: This entrée will be on the table in just 20 minutes.

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Gemelli with Red Cabbage, Beet, and Prosciutto

Johnny Miller

Boiling pasta with beets lends a striking hue to gemelli, a short pasta, while also cooking the beets at the same time. Accentuate the pink pasta with sautéed red cabbage and onion and top it all off with rosy crisps of prosciutto—dinner will be very colorful and tasty.

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Skillet Shrimp and Orzo

shrimp orzo
Hector Sanchez

This paella-inspired, one-pan recipe is fancy enough for company but also easy enough for a quick dinner. Al dente pieces of orzo take the place of the usual rice in this dish; they soak up the tomato-based sauce and plenty of shrimp flavor.

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Creamy Baked Ziti

creamy baked ziti
Bryan Gardner

Feed a crowd with this creamy baked ziti, which is perfect for when the weather starts to cool and you want to get back to cooking in the oven. For a spin, instead of ricotta, this version uses a favorite ingredient: cream cheese. It's a total win.

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Test Kitchen's Favorite Spaghetti and Meatballs

meatball makeover spaghetti
Alpha Smoot

What's the secret to really delicious meatballs? The answer isn't breadcrumbs! Our test kitchen's favorite recipe swaps out some of the ground beef for chopped mushrooms, which adds rich umami flavor that's just right for fall. In addition to being totally delicious, these meatballs also reduce meat consumption and increase vegetable intake.

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Ravioli with Roasted Eggplant, Tomatoes, and Capers

Ravioli with Roasted Eggplant, Tomatoes, and Capers
Kate Sears

This easy weeknight riff on pasta alla Norma upgrades store-bought cheese ravioli by tossing it with a hearty mix of roasted eggplant, cherry tomatoes, shallots, and capers. Making the sauce in the oven frees you from attending to it on the stovetop and the ravioli cooks up in minutes.

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One-Pan Orecchiette with Chickpeas and Olives

Alpha Smoot

Another one-pan wonder, orecchiette's indented shape create the perfect cradle for a creamy pan sauce with bites of chickpeas and Kalamata olives. Woody rosemary lends hearty fall flavor and a fresh baby arugula adds a peppery green finish.

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