Here are the best pasta recipes that are sure to wow everyone around the table! These crowd-pleasing recipes are full of big flavor.
Looking for pasta recipes? It’s hard to find dinners that please everyone at the table. Pasta to the rescue! Over here, we’ve spent years of testing recipes on our family and lots of dinner guests. And what can we say? Pasta is almost always a hit.
Here we’ve narrowed down to a list of “greatest hits”: all of our very best pasta recipes are guaranteed to be crowd-pleasers. There’s cheesy baked rigatoni with a zesty red sauce, and mac and cheese with a secret ingredient (pesto! so good). There’s pasta that takes only a few minutes to make, and showy lasagna that is absolutely worth the effort. Let’s just get to the recipes, shall we?
And now…the best pasta recipes to try!
How to cook pasta to al dente
In all of these pasta recipes, cooking pasta to al dente is absolutely key. Promise us that you’ll make sure not to over cook your pasta. Say it! OK, good.
What’s al dente? In Italian it means “to the bite.” This refers to pasta that has a tender exterior balanced by a firm bite with a fleck of white at its core. No wimpy noodles, here! Here’s how to cook pasta to al dente:
- Boil: Boil the pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water.
- Add pasta & check often! While cooking, check pasta continually for doneness.
- Pull it with a fleck of white at its core. As soon as the pasta has a tender exterior but a fleck of white at its core, drain it! Even a few seconds can be the difference between al dente and limp noodles.
This easy baked rigatoni pasta recipe is all about crowd pleasing flavor! Bake this popular pasta with garlicky tomato sauce, fresh basil, and gooey mozzarella.
- 1 pound rigatoni pasta
- 24 ounce jar marinara sauce
- 15 ounce can crushed fire roasted tomatoes (or best quality tomatoes)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
- 1/2 cup basil, chopped, plus more for garnish
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 pinch red pepper flakes
- 8 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese (or shredded)
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for sprinkling.
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Brush a 9 x 13″ baking dish with olive oil.
- Start a pot of well salted water to a boil. Boil the rigatoni until it is just al dente (start tasting a few minutes before the package recommends: you want it to be tender but still a little firm on the inside; usually around 7 to 8 minutes). Drain.
- Meanwhile, mince the garlic. In a separate pot, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Add the garlic and fennel seeds and cook for 1 to 2 minutes until fragrant. Add the basil, marinara sauce, and tomatoes and stir for 1 minute. Stir in 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, 1/2 teaspoon onion powder and 1 pinch red pepper flakes and the 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese. Remove from the heat.
- Pour the sauce and the drained pasta into the baking dish. Top with torn pieces of mozzarella. Sprinkle the entire top with generous sprinkles of Parmesan cheese.
- Cover with foil and bake 15 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for an additional 10 minutes until browned.
- Remove the pan from the oven and top with 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided over the top. Let stand 5 minutes. If desired, garnish with chopped basil. (Make ahead instructions: Make the pasta through Step 4 and cover with foil. Refrigerate until baking, up to 24 hours.)
- Category: Main Dish
- Method: Baked
- Cuisine: Italian
Keywords: Pasta Recipes
More great pasta recipes
Looking for more inspiration? Here are a few more pasta recipes you’ll love:
- Vegan Pasta Primavera Full of beautifully green spring veggies and lots of flavor.
- Creamy Cavatappi Pasta Mixed with a tasty Parmesan cauliflower sauce: so good!
- Butternut Squash Pasta The creamy squash sauce accents rigatoni perfectly.
- Tomato Basil Pasta Full of fresh summery flavor, with ripe tomatoes and peppery basil.
About the Authors
Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.
Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.