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These pasta recipes are dinner ideas everyone will love! These crowd-pleasing recipes are full of bold flavor, from ziti to lasagna.

Pasta recipes for dinner, penne pasta in a bowl with red sauce
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It’s hard to find dinner ideas that please everyone at the table. Pasta to the rescue! Here we’ve narrowed down to a list of “greatest hits.” These pasta recipes for dinner are guaranteed to be crowd-pleasers at mealtime. There’s cheesy baked rigatoni with a zesty red sauce, and mac and cheese with a secret green ingredient. There’s pasta that takes only a few minutes to make, and showy lasagna that is absolutely worth the effort. Ready to get started

Want recipes by type? Go to Vegetarian Pasta, Vegan Pasta Recipes, or Pasta Salad Recipes.

And now…the pasta recipes and dinner ideas!

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.

More pasta recipes

Try these pasta recipes for more dinner ideas!

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Pasta recipes

40 Pasta Recipes for Dinner

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  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 45 minutes
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x


Penne pomodoro pairs the Italian classic tomato sauce with chewy penne pasta and Parmesan cheese. A dinnertime winner!



For the sauce (makes 7 cups; make in advance as desired)

  • 1 small yellow onion, minced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 celery rib, finely diced
  • 1 carrot, finely diced
  • 2 28-ounce cans high quality peeled whole tomatoes
  • 1 large handful basil
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 ½ teaspoons kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 1 ½ teaspoons sugar
  • Fresh ground black pepper

For the pasta (makes 4 modest servings)

  • 8 ounces penne pasta
  • Fresh grated Parmesan cheese
  • Finely chopped parsley, for garnish


  1. Place the minced onion, garlic, celery, carrots, whole canned tomatoes, basil, olive oil and 2 teaspoons kosher salt in a large saucepan. Simmer for 45 minutes with a lid ajar, stirring occasionally.
  2. Remove from the heat and rest 5 minutes. Discard the basil leaves. Carefully transfer the mixture to a blender. Add the sugar and several grinds black pepper. Blend until smooth (or pulse for a chunkier texture). Taste and add more salt as desired (we typically add another ½ teaspoon or more).
  3. Meanwhile, start a large pot of generously salted water to a boil. Add the penne and boil until al dente (check a few minutes before the package instructions indicate). Drain and return to the pot.
  4. Stir in 2 cups pomodoro sauce, then add more to taste if desired. Top generously with grated Parmesan or grated Pecorino cheese before serving (or, stir it into the warm sauce). If desired top with finely chopped parsley. Enjoy immediately or stores refrigerated up to 3 days.
  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: Baked
  • Cuisine: Italian
  • Diet: Vegetarian

More great pasta recipes

Looking for more inspiration? Here are a few more pasta recipes you’ll love:

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes and the joy of cooking! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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