Quick, Easy, and Delicious Pasta Recipes Ideal for Weeknight Dinners

Spaghetti and Fresh Marinara with Basil
Marcus Nilsson

Pasta: It's possibly the world's most perfect comfort food. What could be more soothing and satisfying than a gooey bowl of mac and cheese or a plate of creamy spaghetti carbonara laced with chewy, smoky bits of pancetta?

It's also possibly one of the world's greatest convenience foods. Pasta is quick to cook and can serve as the base of a million and one quick and easy dinners. Just add a bit of protein (leftover chicken, diced ham, a can of chickpeas, or olive oil-packed tuna), some vegetables (frozen ones work great here), and a little bit of sauce (red sauce, pesto, cream, or the quick fresh tomato sauce with basil, garlic, and a few glugs of good olive oil that's shown here) and dinner is done.

Of course, one of our other favorite things about pasta is that it's such an excellent vehicle for cheese—fluffy piles of finely grated Parmesan; luscious sauces loaded with cheddar and Gruyère; sweet, creamy dollops of fresh ricotta. But high-quality pasta is truly exquisite even without burying it mounds of cheese, so it's worth your while to spring for the good stuff. Choose pasta that's made with 100 percent semolina flour, and look for a rough texture, which will grab the sauce better and is usually an indicator that the pasta has been made in small batches.

There's also a huge selection of gluten-free and wheat-free pasta in most grocery stores now, made from rice, quinoa, chickpeas, corn, or almond flour. A common complaint about non-wheat pastas is that they can be mushy, so watch that cooking time carefully and begin tasting it a few minutes early so you can drain it as soon as it's perfectly al dente.

Now, let's get a pot of water boiling and whip up something delicious for dinner! The recipes ahead are guaranteed to inspire many incredible meals.

01 of 19

Spaghetti with Spinach, Peas, and Herbed Ricotta

Spaghetti with Spinach, Peas, and Herbed Ricotta
Ryan Liebe

Here's a 30-minute vegetarian pasta dinner you'll want to make on the regular. It's packed with vegetables but tastes like comfort.

02 of 19

Penne with Garlicky Tomatoes and Salmon

Penne with Garlicky Tomatoes and Salmon
Ryan Liebe

While the penne cooks in its own pot, sauté juicy cherry tomatoes with garlic and then steam the salmon right in the same pan. The result is a fresh and flavorful seafood pasta dinner that comes together in under 30 minutes.

03 of 19

Brothy Orzo and Pork Meatballs

Brothy Orzo and Pork Meatballs
Ryan Liebe

A one-pot meatball and pasta dinner in just 35 minutes? Sign us up! These easy pork meatballs come together fast; once you've formed them, they'll cook in chicken broth along with the orzo.

04 of 19

Baked Broccoli-and-Artichoke Shells

Baked Broccoli-and-Artichoke Shells
Ryan Liebe

Any night can be a pasta bake dinner night with this cozy recipe! There's cheese sauce, bacon, and vegetables in this crowd-pleasing recipe. Best of all, it takes just 45 minutes to prepare.

05 of 19

Prosciutto Carbonara with Spinach

Prosciutto Carbonara with Spinach
Kate Sears

What's not to like about a dairy-free take on carbonara that creates a luscious sauce from egg yolk, eggs, Parmesan, and that magical ingredient, pasta water? This lighter take on a pasta classic is on the table in just 30 minutes.

06 of 19

Test Kitchen's Favorite Mac and Cheese

test kitchen mac and cheese
Armando Rafael

You can stop searching: You've finally found the ultimate macaroni and cheese recipe. A simple cream sauce blends with three kinds of cheese—sharp cheddar, Parmesan, and American cheese for unparalleled creaminess.

07 of 19

Ravioli with Roasted Eggplant, Tomatoes, and Capers

Ravioli with Roasted Eggplant, Tomatoes, and Capers
Kate Sears

Upgrade store-bought cheese ravioli with this tasty combination of roasted eggplant, cherry tomatoes, capers, and shallots which make a luscious sauce for this easy vegetarian pasta dinner.

08 of 19

Pasta with Salmon, Broccoli Rabe, and Garlic


Penne is dressed to impress with canned salmon, broccoli rabe, a good dose of garlic, and plenty of Pecorino Romano in this boldly flavored weeknight dinner.

09 of 19

Sausage-and-Peppers Pasta with Almond Frico

Sausage and Peppers Pasta with Almond Frico
Kate Sears

Orechiette is one of our test kitchen's favorite pastas because the little "ears" hold sauce so well. In this 35-minute minute pasta dinner, the orecchiette holds crumbled Italian sausage and chopped jarred roasted peppers with a crunchy Parmesan-almond frico and a healthy side order of arugula.

10 of 19

One-Pot Pasta with Broccoli and Lemon

one pan pasta pot spoon
Bryan Gardner

Super simple, this penne dish is also a real crowd-pleaser: tender steamed broccoli florets are brightened with lemon, garlic, and plenty of Parmesan. Mix things up by adding a little shredded roast chicken or crisped bacon if you like.

11 of 19

Thai-Curry Shrimp Linguine

Thai-Curry Shrimp Linguine
Kate Sears

For this easy and different shrimp linguine we use Thai green curry paste and light coconut milk to create a creamy but dairy-free sauce that's finished with lime juice and cilantro.

12 of 19

Herbed Spaghetti with Tomatoes and White Beans

Sharon Radisch

Perfect for Meatless Monday—or any day at all—this quick and easy vegetarian spaghetti dish will become one of your go-to dinners.

13 of 19

Bacon Pasta with Cheese Sauce and Thyme

bacon pasta cheese sauce thyme
Linda Pugliese

How can you possibly improve cheesy pasta? With bacon, of course.

14 of 19

Creamy Lemon Pasta with Pistachios

creamy lemon pasta with pistachio
Johnny Miller

The rich crunch of pistachios and butter-crisped breadcrumbs stands in for bacon in this vegetarian twist on spaghetti carbonara.

15 of 19

Bucatini with Cauliflower, Capers, and Lemon

James Ransom

This boldly flavored one-pot pasta dinner starts on the stove top and finishes under the broiler to achieve a toasty topping.

16 of 19

Greek-Chicken One-Pan Pasta

Yunhee Kim

A heartier, fusilli-based riff on the classic Greek soup avgolemono, this easy one-pan chicken pasta dish gets its bright, fresh flavors from lemon and dill.

17 of 19

Pasta with Cilantro-Almond Pesto

Carrot-and-Feta Pasta with Cilantro Pesto
Marcus Nilsson

Perk up your pesto game by switching up the herbs and nuts you use! Cilantro and almonds are a perfect pair, especially when tossed with pasta, sweet roasted carrots, and salty feta.

18 of 19

Pasta with No-Cook Puttanesca Sauce

Fresh Cherry-Tomato Pasta Puttanesca
Marcus Nilsson

This quick, fresh take on traditional pasta puttanesca is based on fresh, juicy tomatoes that marinate in olive oil with capers, garlic, and green olives.

19 of 19

Pasta with Preserved Lemon and Anchovies

Anchovy and Preserved-Lemon Pasta
Marcus Nilsson

Almost as good as a direct flight to the Mediterranean, this quick pasta dinner is painted in bold strokes of anchovy, preserved lemon, garlic, parsley, and Parmesan.

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