24 Pasta Recipes For Easy Weeknight Dinners

Pasta has long been a quick and affordable way to concoct a filling dinner without a lot of hassle. But if you're on a serious time crunch — or if you're newer to the kitchen — where do you start? Even folks without much culinary prowess can put together a pasta dish in no time at all, and we're sharing two dozen recipes that are the perfect inspiration for cooks of all skill levels. 

From iconic Italian classics like fettuccine Alfredo to summer-ready pasta salads to easy homemade mac and cheese that you can adapt into a signature meal, these incredibly yummy pasta recipes will keep your tastebuds satisfied (and even comforted) every night of the week. A few tips worth keeping in mind before you get started? Keep some high-quality olive oil on hand, don't skimp on the good Parmigiano Reggiano, and remember to salt your pasta water before boiling. 

Pasta With Gorgonzola

Buttery, cheesy, and sophisticated, this recipe comes together in under 20 minutes with only eight easy-to-find ingredients. Simply cook 6 ounces of your favorite shape of dried pasta in generously salted water, then gently heat some garlic, butter, cream, and Gorgonzola cheese together in a bowl. Once your pasta is done, add it to the garlic and cheese mixture, and toss to coat thoroughly. 

If Gorgonzola isn't your favorite, that's okay: Any other creamy textured cheese works well in this recipe as a swap, including Stilton, Roquefort, and even feta. All will still melt and blend with the garlic, butter, and cream. 

Recipe: Pasta With Gorgonzola

Bacon and Goat Cheese Orzo

A delicious blend of crispy bacon, soft goat cheese, and bite-sized orzo pasta, this is another time-savvy dish that doesn't require a whole lot of thought or skill in order to be both unique and tasty. 

Boil 1 cup of orzo in 3 cups of salted water until tender, then rinse the cooked pasta in cool water. Fry six slices of crispy bacon and two shallots in the same pan, then sauté them together before adding to the cooked orzo. From there, you only need a little red wine vinegar and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil mixed together until fully combined. Finish off this pasta recipe with some fresh parsley, a sprinkle of crumbled goat cheese, and a little salt and pepper. It can then be served either hot or cold.

Recipe: Bacon and Goat Cheese Orzo

Fettuccine Alfredo

This treasured dish is an Italian classic that got its name from the chef who created it in Rome. Alfredo di Lelio opened Ristorante Alfredo in 1914, and the same restaurant is still there today (now called Alfredo alla Scrofa). While the original recipe relied solely on pasta, butter, and Parmigiano Reggiano, the American version includes heavy cream for a rich sauce that's iconic for pasta lovers everywhere. 

This recipe is still perfectly simple, however, even for total beginners. Heavy cream and butter are melted together before Parmigiano Reggiano (or Parmesan, if you prefer) is slowly whisked in until melted. Add this cheese sauce to your cooked fettuccine, sprinkle some fresh ground pepper, top with a little parsley, and you're all set.

Recipe: Fettuccine Alfredo

Fettuccine and Asparagus al Burro

An easy (and quick) way to incorporate some tasty green veggies into your pasta dinner, this is another fettuccine recipe that doesn't take long at all to come together just in time for dinner. 

Al burro is an incredible buttery sauce made with Parmigiano Reggiano that is deceptively simple and easily combined with vegetables of all kinds. For this take, though, just cook some diagonally sliced asparagus cuts right alongside your pasta. Next, crisp some pancetta to add to butter, olive oil, and Parmigiano Reggiano with pepper, salt, and parsley before adding it to the pasta and asparagus. Voilà! 

Recipe: Fettuccine and Asparagus al Burro

Fettuccine alle Cipolle

Incorporating wine and lamb into your cooking repertoire might sound a little on the fancy side, especially if you're a novice, but such a skill doesn't need to be intimidating. In fact, this fettuccine recipe makes it headache-free. 

Sauté onions, carrots, and rosemary in olive oil until soft and slightly browned; then add ground lamb, frying over medium heat until brown and fully crumbled. White wine is next, followed by vegetable stock to create a heavenly sauce. Cook your fettuccine until just barely al dente, then add it to the lamb and wine sauce to finish cooking. Serve hot, topped with Parmigiano Reggiano (of course). 

Recipe: Fettuccine alle Cipolle

The Best Mac and Cheese

There are few things more comforting than a tried and true macaroni and cheese recipe. There are hundreds out there, but if you're looking for a good basic recipe to keep in your back pocket that's both delicious on its own and easy to customize, this is the perfect place to start. 

With just two types of cheese (though you can always add more), butter, flour, milk, macaroni, and breadcrumbs, this recipe starts with a simple bechamel sauce mixed with a pound of macaroni noodles. Then, it's topped with breadcrumbs and baked in the oven for a buttery, cheesy dish you'll be proud to serve at home any night of the week. 

Recipe: The Best Mac and Cheese

Sage and Arugula Pesto

A unique twist on classic pesto, adding sage and arugula makes this dish elegant and delicious, but still simple and quick. 

Traditionally made with fresh basil leaves, this pesto sauce uses arugula leaves and sage leaves instead. In place of traditional pesto's typical pine nuts, this recipe uses walnuts, but the garlic, extra virgin olive oil, and Parmigiano Reggiano are all still there to bring together a vibrant green sauce that is easily tossed onto any pasta for a no-stress dinner. 

Recipe: Sage and Arugula Pesto

Cobb Macaroni Salad

The perfect summertime pasta salad is easily tossed together with less than 10 ingredients. 

Macaroni, grape tomatoes, blue cheese, hard-boiled eggs, an avocado, chives, mayonnaise, a little salt, and some bacon bits are all you need to toss together for a quick meal that's perfect for sharing at a picnic, bringing to a potluck, or simply having at home for any weeknight dinner. Even better, it keeps very well in the fridge for a meal that's easily prepared in advance. 

Recipe: Cobb Macaroni Salad

Picnic Time Orzo With Peppers, Tomatoes, and Olives

Another great pasta salad pick is this classic Italian take on bite-sized appetizer veggies. 

Peppers, olives, and tomatoes are great snack food fare leading up to a meal, but this recipe seamlessly incorporates them into the meal itself alongside basil, lemon zest, garlic, hot chili flakes, and orzo pasta for a fresh salad with bright flavors and plenty of room to experiment. Try adding a little grilled chicken or enjoy this dish on its own.

Recipe: Picnic Time Orzo With Peppers, Tomatoes, and Olives

Tagliatelle With Asparagus and Parmesan Fonduta

A deceptively easy and mouth-watering recipe that's ideal for those who prefer a chunkier noodle, this tagliatelle recipe incorporates egg yolks and crème fraîche for a rich and creamy sauce that's similar to fettuccine Alfredo with just a little more natural sweetness. 

Parmesan cheese (though Parmigiano Reggiano is the tastier, more authentic choice), garlic, and a little salt round out this dish while asparagus adds some color and texture to the pasta. 

Recipe: Tagliatelle With Asparagus and Parmesan Fonduta

Cacio e Pepe

With cacio e pepe, the ingredients are right in the name: "cheese and pepper" in Italian. While this recipe can easily be used with any shape of pasta, spaghetti is the traditional choice. 

Once it's cooked, all you need to do is add olive oil, pepper, and some of the pasta water into a sauté pan, then add the cooked pasta before including grated Parmigiano Reggiano and Pecorino Romano cheese for a sumptuous, comforting meal.

Recipe: Cacio e Pepe

$4 Spaghetti

One of the many advantages of a hearty pasta meal is its affordability. This recipe takes a little more time than most others — you'll make a low and slow garlic confit and a simple mushroom stock — but it's still very accessible for new home cooks. 

A couple of cans of whole peeled tomatoes, some olive oil, fresh basil leaves, and some Parmigiano Reggiano — along with salt and pepper — are all that's required for this humble spaghetti dish to taste far more expensive than it really is.

Recipe: $4 Spaghetti

Farfalle With Gorgonzola, Ham, and Peas

This recipe couldn't be simpler or more tasty. Farfalle (sometimes also called bowtie) pasta is the bite-sized noodle of choice, but other shapes like orecchiette or cavatappi work well, too. 

Heat heavy cream and Gorgonzola cheese together in a pot large enough to hold all of the ingredients, then add peas and cook in the creamy sauce for about a minute. Add shredded ham, the cooked pasta, and a little pasta water, and that's it! Serve hot with a bit more cheese on top for a filling and delicious meal.

Recipe: Farfalle With Gorgonzola, Ham, and Peas

Roman-Style Spaghetti alla Carbonara

Guanciale is a delectable and succulent cut of cured meat from the jowls or cheeks of pigs. It takes a typical, more American carbonara dish that uses bacon or pancetta and elevates it to the real deal. 

Eggs and Pecorino Romano cheese are added to still-hot spaghetti and tossed together to create a simple yet delicious sauce. Cubes of sautéd guanciale add both saltiness and texture to a dish that's finished with a little black pepper. 

Recipe: Roman-Style Spaghetti alla Carbonara

Chicken and Broccoli Linguine

Pasta with chicken and broccoli can be as simple or complex a meal as you like, but this recipe is an excellent place to begin. 

Once your linguine is cooked, chicken is pan-fried, and broccoli is steamed, all that's left is to sauté shallots and garlic with a bit of white wine, chicken stock, butter, and Parmesan cheese for a lovely sauce that brings everything together in no time. A well-rounded meal that includes plenty of fiber, protein, and carbohydrates, this is the perfect dish to serve the night before a major event — or just to add to the weekly dinner rotation.

Recipe: Chicken and Broccoli Linguine

Linguine con Vongole

With a buttery white wine sauce made with garlic and olive oil, fresh parsley, and steamed cockles (a small but mighty type of shellfish), linguine con vongole can easily expand any home cook's seafood repertoire. 

Cockles only need about five minutes to steam cook in the sauce — with the pan covered, you'll cook them until the shells spring open to reveal the tasty meat inside. Toss this all together with the cooked linguine noodles, salt, pepper, and red chili flakes for a sea-inspired meal you'll make over and over. 

Recipe: Linguine con Vongole

Linguine With Cilantro and Chive Pesto

Another great way to give your pesto a bit of a twist is with fragrant and unexpected herbs like cilantro and chives instead of the usual basil leaves. 

Hazelnuts replace pine nuts in this unique take on the classic green sauce, and red pepper flakes give the whole thing a yummy kick. Garlic and olive oil keep it familiar alongside a healthy dose of Parmesan cheese, and once you've combined your ingredients in a food processor, all that's left to do is cook the pasta and toss it all together.

Recipe: Linguine With Cilantro and Chive Pesto

Pepperoni Pizza Pasta Bake

Pasta and pizza in one cheesy dish? Yes, please. Fusilli or rotini pasta is the perfect noodle shape to start with, and once it's cooked, all you need is some sautéd onions and mushrooms, your favorite tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, and pepperoni slices. 

All of the ingredients get mixed together and added to a casserole dish, topped with more cheese and pepperoni, and then baked in the oven until melted and golden with a nice, crispy edge. 

Recipe: Pepperoni Pizza Pasta Bake

Colorful Cauliflower and Scallop Pasta

Another great way to add a seafood dish to your skillset is with this eye-catching pasta recipe that stands out with its use of multi-colored cauliflower and large bay scallops. 

It only takes about a minute and a half for scallops to cook through on both sides in a well-oiled pan with a little seasoning. Cauliflower steams easily (in this recipe, with butter and white wine), and once both of those things are done, bringing the rest of this linguine meal together is only a matter of tossing everything together with lemon zest, lemon juice, and a few fresh herbs. 

Recipe: Colorful Cauliflower and Scallop Pasta

Perfect Pasta al Limone

For a bright flavor that brings both sharpness and tartness to your dinner, check out this very traditional Italian staple: pasta al limone, which simply means "lemon pasta." 

Garlic, olive oil, butter, and lemon zest are added to a pan to sauté gently while the pasta cooks separately — spaghetti is the noodle shape of choice here. Once the pasta is cooked and the lemon mixture is well-combined, toss them together with a splash of pasta water, salt and pepper, and naturally, a healthy dose of Parmigiano Reggiano. 

Recipe: Perfect Pasta al Limone

Perfect Pasta Puttanesca

Pasta puttanesca may sound fancy, but it's a straightforward enough recipe with a combination of briny seafood flavors and fresh vegetables. 

With anchovies, olives, diced San Marzano tomatoes (grown in the shadow of Mount Vesuvius in southern Italy), capers, fresh oregano, and fresh Italian parsley, this is a dish that will show off your culinary prowess to any dinner guest without being overly complicated or full of expensive ingredients. 

Recipe: Perfect Pasta Puttanesca

Upscale Tuna Casserole

This recipe has a somewhat longer list of ingredients than many others on this list, but it's still a very easy one to master without the need for any complicated techniques. 

With egg noodles, canned tuna fish, cherry tomatoes, onion, garlic, capers, lemon zest, white wine, and Parmesan cheese, this is an elevated take on your basic tuna casserole that adds vibrancy and plenty of delicious herbal notes to a meal that easily feeds a crowd without compromising on taste and style. 

Recipe: Upscale Tuna Casserole

Sopa de Fideo

A traditional Mexican soup (sopa de fideo is Spanish for "noodle soup"), this meal uses a flavorful kick of cumin alongside fresh cilantro, garlic, and Mexican oregano to create a lovely blend of herbal flavors that melds perfectly with the smoothness of what amounts to a very basic tomato noodle soup. 

Even better, this recipe simplifies everything by cooking the pasta directly in the soup with vegetable stock or chicken broth. The whole thing takes less than half an hour and tastes heavenly — perfect for a lazy day in. 

Recipe: Sopa de Fideo

Rigatoni ai Carciofi

Garlic and rosemary are common enough ingredients in plenty of pasta dishes, but artichoke hearts, Kalamata olives, and orange zest add a layer of ingenuity and flair to an outstanding, vegetable-forward recipe. 

Once the veggies and herbs are all sautéd in olive oil and butter, add a measure of white wine and cook for about two minutes so that the alcohol evaporates before seasoning with salt, pepper, and orange zest. Toss all of this with cooked rigatoni, and you have a dinner that's unique, quick, and deliciously simple. 

Recipe: Rigatoni ai Carciofi