Easy One-Pot Pasta Recipes to Make for Dinner Tonight

skillet macaroni and cheese with bacon and mushrooms
Photo: Christina Holmes

In addition to being quick, tasty, and comforting, these one-pot pasta recipes keep cleanup to a minimum. Start with our original one-pan pasta, then make all the other easy, delicious options, including skillet lasagna, shrimp with orzo, and stovetop mac and cheese.

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pasta pistachio mint pesto asparagus tomatoes

One-pot meals may seem like just another internet food trend, but they've been around since the invention of pots, and we expect that they're here to stay. This simple, clever method of cooking means you're able to get dinner on the table with the least amount of collateral (dish) damage possible, which has made them a favorite among our editors and readers. They're versatile, too, as evidenced by the fact that our team has made one-pan dinners six ways from Sunday, and we still haven't grown tired of them.

From quick sheet-pan suppers to Dutch-oven masterpieces, there are so many different methods of "one-pot" cooking to consider. If you're asking us to choose just one favorite, though, then one-pot pastas would be the all-seasons winner in the weeknight dinner category: Comforting carbs are perfect for warming up bellies on a chilly night, but they can also be great for the summer when you don't want to overheat your kitchen. The Campanelle with Pistachio-Mint Pesto pictured here is the perfect example of a dish you'd want to dig into when the weather turns warm. Most of our recipes require just 15 or 20 minutes of simmering on the stovetop, and with only one pan to wash after dinner, these easy dinners will surely put a spring in your step.

And let's talk about ease: Once you get the general idea of a skillet pasta down pat, you can make them whenever you want a homemade meal that doesn't require a great deal of production (read: a tricky recipe with a mess waiting for you at the end). And there's no need to lug out your giant stockpot just to boil some spaghetti when there's a great recipe on hand to show you how to do it right in your skillet.

One last note before we get to the actual recipes. It's important to understand the seemingly magical way that one-pot pastas manage to taste so great: it all comes down to the water. For a while now it has been an open secret of chefs and Italian grandmothers that ladling in a bit of starchy pasta water at the end of cooking a traditional pasta will make it better. This special starchy water can add body to a thin tomato sauce, or even become the actual sauce when a little butter and cheese is added at the same time. Skillet pastas take this idea even further, making it the key ingredient from the very beginning. Whether you decide to go tomato-based or cheese, the end result of a one-pot pasta will be a flavorful forkful of perfectly sauced and seasoned noodles. Keep this in mind as you make the wonderful recipes in this collection.

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Brothy Orzo and Pork Meatballs

Brothy Orzo and Pork Meatballs
Ryan Liebe

Here, meatballs are turned into the perfect springtime protein. Ground pork is mixed together with fennel seed and Parmesan (instead of the usual bread crumbs) then rolled into meatballs and cooked in a lemony orzo pasta that's flavored with dill.

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One-Pan Pasta

one-pan pasta
Maxwell Cozzi

This is the one that started it all. But before this recipe went viral, its method was discovered in the Puglia region of Italy, where a member of the Martha Stewart test kitchen watched in amazement as a chef placed all of the ingredients for this pasta—including the dried spaghetti—into a skillet with a fraction of the water it usually takes. Fifteen minutes later, they were given a bowl of perfectly al dente pasta enrobed in a creamy sauce of its own making; the rest is history!

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Cheater's Mac and Cheese

Cheater's Mac and Cheese recipe
Con Poulos

Some days call for a meal that soothes as much as it satisfies. On those nights call on this 20-minute mac-and-cheese cheat that cooks pasta and broccoli in one pot. Cream cheese, butter, Parmesan and some pasta water make a decadent sauce.

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Skillet Shrimp and Orzo

shrimp orzo
Hector Sanchez

Simmering the orzo in a garlic-laden broth along with sweet cherry tomatoes and briny shrimp infuses every noodle with bold and bright flavors.

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Three-Cheese Skillet Lasagna


When you want a plate of comforting lasagna, then think of this one-skillet recipe as your fast-pass to getting there as quickly as possible. Made with a triple dose of cheese—mozzarella, ricotta, and pecorino—and a simple garlicky tomato sauce, it's sure to be your new go-to.

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One-Pan Orecchiette with Chickpeas and Olives

Alpha Smoot

Toothsome orecchiette is simmered with bold Mediterranean ingredients like olives and rosemary for a quick and flavorful weeknight dinner. Chickpeas play well with the other textures in this dish and add a little extra protein, too.

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Pasta Alfredo with Lemon and Asparagus

Pasta Alfredo with Lemon and Asparagus
Ngoc Minh Ngo

Create a silky, buttery sauce with egg yolks and Parmesan cheese. The rest of the dish is simple: A bright, light blend of linguine, asparagus, and lemon zest come together to create the ultimate springtime entrée.

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Shrimp Scampi with Yellow Squash "Noodles"

yellow squash shrimp scampi
Armando Rafael

This one goes out to all the zoodle fans out there. In this recipe, summery yellow squashes are turned into silky strands of "pasta" and sautéed with shrimp, garlic, chili flakes, and lemon.

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Pasta with Pesto, Potatoes, and Green Beans

Pasta with Pesto, Potatoes, and Green Beans

The Ligurian region of Italy claims the inspired combination of pasta, pesto, potatoes, and green beans as their own. Considering the fact that it's also the birthplace of pesto, who are we to argue? Mangia!

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Greek Chicken One-Pan Pasta

Yunhee Kim

A recipe like this bright and lemony chicken pasta is the perfect choice when you want a balanced bowl for dinner. You don't have to start from scratch, either—there are instructions if you'd rather use cooked chicken instead.

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Tomato-Eggplant Gnocchi

tomato eggplant gnocchi
Ren Fuller

When temperatures climb in the summer, the goal is to spend as little time as possible in the hot kitchen—that includes cleanup, too. This skillet dinner can be made in about 30 minutes and uses a bounty of seasonal produce like eggplant and tomatoes.

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One Pot Pasta with Broccoli and Lemon

one pan pasta pot spoon
Bryan Gardner

This one-pot pasta keeps it simple with a pared-down ingredient list and method that boils the pasta and broccoli in the same pot. Staggering their time in the water ensures both come out perfectly cooked.

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One-Pan Creamy Tuna Pasta

one-pan creamy tuna pasta
Armando Rafael

We like this lighter take on classic tuna noodle casserole that uses the creamy, starchy simmering sauce to bind together fresh ingredients including asparagus and arugula with oil-packed tuna and pasta.

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Lemony Pasta with Goat Cheese and Spinach

Lemony Pasta with Goat Cheese and Spinach
Con Poulos

You don't need much to make a delicious sauce. Case in point? This recipe that uses nothing by goat cheese and a little bit of lemon zest to coat this spinach-and-walnut studded pasta. It's bright, creamy, nutty, and delicious.

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Skillet Macaroni and Cheese

Skillet Macaroni and Cheese
Christina Holmes

One could definitely make the argument that we saved the best for last. Stovetop mac and cheese was the original one-pot pasta before it was considered cool. Looking to add a little extra something to the mix? This recipe also boasts variations like mushroom-fontina and bacon mac.

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