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 the best pasta recipes? It’s hard to find dinners that please everyone at the table. Pasta to the rescue! 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!
Here’s a pasta recipe that marries basic Italian flavors into a mess of garlicky, gooey goodness: baked rigatoni! It’s a pasta bake that’s got all the comfort of tomato sauce and cheese, but has intrigue and uniqueness in the flavors. The tomato sauce is full of garlic and a little fennel for meatiness, and it’s got lots of fresh peppery basil for a herbaceous kick. Cover it in gooey mozzarella cheese and you’ve got a dish that’s hearty enough to please any eater.
Some pasta recipes stand a head above the rest, and this is one of them. Try this cheese tortellini in creamy marinara sauce! In just 15 minutes, you’ve got a pasta skillet that’s a literal symphony flavor. The fresh basil-infused marinara sauce is perfectly complimented with pillows of tangy goat cheese. (In fact, it’s like this baked goat cheese dip made into a main dish.)
Also try: Tortelloni with Tomato Cream Sauce
Burrata cheese is one of life’s greatest pleasures. One of the best ways to make it into a meal? This Burrata Pasta, a beautiful example of Italian-style culinary simplicity. The majestic balls of fresh mozzarella sit atop a pasta twirls entwined with a rustic tomato basil sauce. Breaking into the cheese releases its creamy, rich interior into each bite.
Here’s an Italian pasta recipe that’s simple, hearty and pleases a crowd: Stuffed Shells! Stuff pasta shells with ricotta, mozzarella, Parmesan and spinach, then bake them up in a bath of garlicky tomato sauce. It makes your kitchen smell heavenly, and the first bite into one of those jumbo shells confirms it’s just as tasty as the smell.
There are recipes that taste good…and then there are recipes that taste amazing. Sometimes, that amazing flavor doesn’t take much effort at all. Such is the case with this mushroom pasta recipe! It is so seriously good, it's become a fan favorite recipe. Truth: my mom makes this almost every week! It pairs savory mushrooms with bright lemon, creamy goat cheese, and fresh thyme and oregano. And it’s done in less than 30 minutes. Boom!
Try whipping up a pan of lasagna roll ups! This unique spin on the iconic Italian dish is a fun way to put a spin on dinner. This recipe features a comforting vegetarian filling of spinach, basil and ricotta, topped with a garlicky easy homemade tomato sauce. Roll up the noodles and cover them in melty mozzarella cheese, and it’s fun, a crowd-pleasing dinner recipe.
Looking for a cozy, easy dinner idea where you barely have to think? Try this Baked Tortellini! This one is so simple, you don’t even have to boil the pasta. That’s right: throw the refrigerated tortellini into a dish with a tomato pasta sauce and top with melty cheese. It comes out bubbly and warm, with perfectly tender pasta pillows.
Ready for the best ever homemade mac and cheese? We promise: it’s really worth pulling out the superlatives here! Making this comfort food from scratch makes it taste infinitely better than the kind from a box. Want to impress everyone? This homemade mac and cheese tastes homey and cozy, with the best gooey, cheesy sauce and crunchy breadcrumbs. It's a family favorite!
Here’s a dish that will be a winner any day of the week: Baked Ziti! This Italian American casserole is packed with savory flavor and cozy nostalgia. Its surface is filled with pockets of seasoned ricotta, lakes of garlicky tomato sauce, and punctuated by strands of gooey mozzarella. Side benefit: the wafting aroma makes your kitchen smell like a dream!
Dinnertime just got easier. This vegan fettuccine alfredo is a winner with everyone from kids to meat lovers: it’s just that good! The impossibly creamy sauce is a healthy spin on the traditionally rich pasta recipe. It’s made with nutrient-dense cauliflower and protein-packed cashews instead of dairy. Make it with any type of noodle you choose (legume noodles, zoodles, etc) and it’s an easy 30-minute plant based dinner. Ready for all the secrets?
This 20-minute creamy goat cheese pasta recipe is so tangy and creamy, sweet from the tomatoes and lightly peppery from the fresh basil. The secret to the creaminess is that goat cheese, which brings a body to the sauce that’s almost like a vodka sauce. Combined with chewy penne, it’s out of this world! And best of all, you barely have to think to make it.
You’ll want to bookmark this recipe: Creamy Shrimp Pasta! It’s ultra classic: juicy, savory shrimp and al dente pasta swimming in a creamy sauce. Because we love options, we’ve got two sauce ideas for you: a white wine sauce, bursting with tangy flavor. Or try our easy cream sauce, a creamy Parmesan sauce that’s actually made with no cream at all. Dinner time win.
Also try: Cajun Shrimp Pasta
Oh hey there, creamy pesto mac and cheese! This seriously cozy comfort food is just as gooey as it looks, and adding a swirl of bright green basil pesto is a total genius move. The way the Havarti cheese melts into the creamiest sauce makes it our new favorite. Suffice it to say, this one is a serious winner.
Meet your new favorite pasta recipe. Yes, this eggplant pasta has got it all! It’s packed with savory and zesty flavor: tender roasted eggplant, zesty marinara sauce, and peppery basil. It’s 100% plant-based, but lacking nothing in the flavor department. Even better, this Mediterranean-style dinner is incredibly versatile: it works for weeknights and for serving to company! There’s something about it that’s cozy but elegant at the same time.
Hello, pasta lovers. You never need to make box mac and cheese again. Enter this basic White Sauce Pasta! This pasta recipe is a staple recipe in our house. The simple cream sauce is so creamy and full of flavor, and get this: it doesn’t even use cream! All you need is a handful of ingredients you probably already have on hand. It takes just 10 minutes: enough time to make the pasta. Eat it straight up, or add more raw or cooked veggies to the sauce. A quick dinner idea made in minutes!
Also try: Pasta with White Wine Sauce
Here’s a meal that’s simple, stunning, and highlights the very best summer ingredients: Cherry Tomato Pasta! (Yes: it tastes as good as it looks.) This easy dinner idea stars blistered tomatoes, a technique of cooking tomatoes in a hot pan until the skin blisters and blackens. Mix the tomatoes with tangy balsamic vinegar, then add al dente pasta and peppery fresh basil.
Here’s a stunning dinner recipe that’s elegantly easy to whip up: Scallop Pasta! Whether you want to impress dinner guests, have a romantic dinner, or just feed your family on a weeknight: this pasta recipe is the perfect fit. The seared scallops are sweet, buttery and delicate, set atop tender noodles and accented with flavors of lemon, garlic and herbs.
Is there any thing better than roasted cauliflower? Over here, we can eat an entire tray in just a few minutes (oops!). So why not make it into a main dish? Meet this roasted cauliflower pasta recipe. It’s got tender, caramelized cauliflower: sweet, lemony and garlicky. Then it’s got al dente pasta that’s covered in a quick Parmesan pan sauce. Top it all off with crunchy basil breadcrumbs and toasted pine nuts and well: it’s an explosion of flavor.
Here’s a lusciously creamy pasta that will become the meal of your dreams. Try this Lemon Pasta! It’s rich and silky, with just the right balance of sharp citrus from loads of lemon zest. Don’t consider this a health food or even a healthy spin: it’s here for when you need a properly indulgent bit of pasta.
When it comes to lasagna recipes…well, this one is tops. Meet our best vegetarian lasagna with ricotta! This one is the culmination of all of our research: and damn, is it good (if we may say so ourselves). The tomato sauce has just the right zing and garlic nuance, and the spinach ricotta cheese filling is classic and creamy. It’s scented with fresh thyme and a little lemon zest, which takes it to over the top status. There’s no one who will turn down a piece!
Also try: Gluten Free Zucchini Lasagna or Favorite Vegan Lasagna
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.
20 Pasta Recipes: Baked Rigatoni & More
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 35 minutes
- Total Time: 45 minutes
- Yield: 8 1x
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
- ½ teaspoon fennel seeds
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
- ½ cup basil, chopped, plus more for garnish
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- 1 pinch red pepper flakes
- 8 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese (or shredded)
- ½ 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 ¾ teaspoon kosher salt, ½ teaspoon onion powder and 1 pinch red pepper flakes and the ½ 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 ¼ 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
- Diet: Vegetarian
Keywords: Pasta Recipes
More great pasta recipes
Looking for more inspiration? Here are a few more pasta recipes you’ll love:
- Burrata Pasta with Tomato Basil Sauce A stunning meal in under 30 minutes. Dreamy!
- 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.