Do you ever order pasta at a restaurant and wish you could make it at home? Now you can! With these 26 best Italian pasta dishes you can have a delicious and elegant dinner ready in no time.
Whether you like cheesy sauces, buttery sauces, or tomato sauces, these famous Italian pasta dishes are the perfect match.
Pasta is a wonderful main course for a casual weeknight dinner or a fancy date night.
All of these Italian pasta recipes are easy to customize. Swap out gluten-free noodles for the regular noodles to make them gluten-free.
Swap out Keto noodles or veggies noodles to make them Keto or vegetarian.
1. Fast Pasta with Spinach Sauce
This quick Italian pasta recipe is naturally vegetarian and vegan.
The secret to this recipe is dropping the Spinach into the boiling water with the pasta once it is almost cooked.
The sauce for this recipe is simple. It uses olive oil, garlic, olives, and red pepper flakes. For the best results use a high-end olive oil.
You can also add halved cherry tomatoes, artichoke hearts, sun-dried tomatoes, feta cheese, or grated Parmigiano Reggiano.
You can also swap out the spinach for another leafy green that wilts, such as kale, chard, or arugula.
2. Pasta Alla Gricia
This is one of the most delicious traditional Italian pasta dishes. The secret to this dish is making sure the guanciale pork gets nice and crispy. The rendering of the fat makes a delicious base for the sauce.
Another important step is to cook the pasta for about half the time in the boiling water. You then finish off the cooking in the pan that had cooked the pork along with a few cups of water.
The last step and the key ingredient is cheese.
You want to make sure it melts into the sauce making a creamy guanciale sauce.
3. Cacio e Pepe
This simple Italian pasta recipe only has four ingredients. You can always add more if you want, however, this will change the dish significantly.
The key to this recipe is using freshly grated cheese, preferably cheese you grate yourself. It is also important to use high-end imported cheese.
You don’t need much so it won’t be too expensive.
If you want to add some protein or vegetables to the dish you can.
Popular protein choices are chicken, shrimp, and bacon (or fried prosciutto). Popular vegetable options include olives, artichoke hearts, tomatoes, summer squash, zucchini, and more.
You will want to cook your protein or vegetables separately and then stir them in at the end.
4. Penne Arrabbiata
This authentic Italian pasta recipe has a delicious spicy tomato sauce. The key to this spicy sauce is using the right amount of crushed red pepper.
If you prefer a spicier sauce, use more. If you prefer a less spicy sauce, useless.
You can add ground beef, ground chicken, ground pork, meatballs, shrimp, or any other meat that you like.
If you want to add vegetables, add firm vegetables (such as zucchini or squash) before you add the tomatoes.
Add leafy vegetables (such as spinach, chard, arugula, etc) right before you remove the sauce from the heat.
5. Spaghetti Aglio e Olio
This quick Italian recipe is perfect for garlic lovers. The secret to making this dish pop is slowly toasting the garlic in olive oil until it is golden brown.
This infuses the olive oil and makes delicious crispy garlic. Be careful not to burn the garlic.
Another key ingredient is cheese.
It is important to use fresh grated Parmigiano Reggiano or pecorino. You can also add a little bit of butter when you add the cheese for an extra creamy sauce.
6. Pasta Pomodoro
This simple Italian pasta recipe incorporates the sweetness of tomatoes, the saltiness of Parmigiano, and the undertones of garlic. It is important to use high-quality ingredients as the ingredients make the dish.
You can use any type of pasta you want. You can use long pasta (like spaghetti) or shorter pasta (like rigatoni).
You can also add ingredients to the sauce such as olives, artichokes, sliced peppers, spinach, or meat. If you are adding meat, cook it ahead of time and stir it in when the sauce is done.
7. Pasta Napolitana
This popular pasta dish is a favorite at some Italian restaurants.
The secret to this delicious sauce is the variety of herbs used, dry white wine, mushrooms, and Worcestershire sauce.
This dish takes the longest of all the recipes on this list since you want enough time for the flavors to combine and meld.
The sauce takes about two hours to make. You can make it ahead of time.
You can also make a bulk batch and freeze the extra for future meals.
Manicotti is a delicious and fun popular Italian pasta dish. The secret to this dish is the manicotti filling.
You want just the right ratio of cheeses inside.
It is also important to use high-quality ingredients. Make sure you mix the cheese well before you pipe them into the pasta.
Another important part of this recipe is filling the pasta just right. You want them full, but not bursting.
You can add other herbs to the cheese mix as desired. Additionally, you can swap whatever pasta sauce you prefer.
9. Frutti di Mare
Frutti di Mare is one of the best traditional Italian seafood pasta.
This delicious seafood pasta showcases clams, mussels, shrimp, and squid. You can also add in white fish or any other fish you like, try to include at least one shellfish.
One of the key ingredients in this recipe is white wine. You add it early so that it cooks off but leaves behind a delicious undertone.
The recipe calls for arrabbiata sauce, however, you can use any tomato sauce that you prefer.
10. Italian Sausage Pasta
If you love Italian Sausage this is the best Italian pasta recipe for you.
The secret to this recipe is using your favorite Italian sausage. The key to a good sauce is browning the sausage in the pan and then deglazing it.
You can use chicken broth (as the recipe calls for) or you can use pork broth.
This pasta works best with small or medium pasta. Avoid spaghetti and instead use penne, elbows, rotini, etc.
This recipe calls for heavy whipping cream, a good substitute for this cream is coconut cream.
11. Italian Asparagus Pasta
This authentic Italian pasta recipe is best served with fresh asparagus.
You can use green or white asparagus. You can even use a combination of the two. White asparagus often needs to be peeled since the outside is tougher.
However, if you can find baby white asparagus it will not be as tough.
Two of the key ingredients in this recipe, besides the asparagus, are the Parmigiano Reggiano and the robiola cheese.
If you cannot find robiola, you can use high-quality cream cheese or Neufchatel cheese.
12. Italian Seafood Pasta
This authentic Italian pasta recipe can use any seafood. The key is to be aware of the different cooking times for different seafood. This pasta has a light olive oil-based sauce.
One of the secrets to making this is blistering the tomatoes in the pan.
In addition to the parsley and red pepper flakes, you can add fresh basil, mozzarella, Parmigiano Reggiano, or pecorino. If you are adding cheese, grate it fresh over the top of the prepared pasta.
You can also add olives, capers, artichokes, or any other vegetables that you like.
Remember that some (like zucchini) will need to be cooked ahead of time.
13. Authentic Italian Fettuccine Alfredo
This creamy Italian Fettuccine Alfredo is an authentic traditional Italian pasta recipe.
This recipe is quick and easy. the key is to use high-quality cheese and to grate it fresh. Do not use pre-grated cheese.
The secret to the sauce is to mix the cheese and butter and then melt it into a sauce using pasta water. As soon as the sauce begins to form, toss in the pasta.
You can serve this with chicken or seafood. You will have to cook the meat separately and add it on top or stir it in.
14. Italian Pasta Salad
This Italian pasta salad is the perfect dish for a summer picnic or barbecue.
The secret to this pasta is using a good salad dressing. This recipe has you make your own.
However, you can also use a premade one that you prefer or a favorite that you make at home.
This recipe calls for black olives. To make this more traditional, swap these for kalamata olives or green olives. High-quality olives give the best flavor.
Swap the Bell peppers for pepperoncini peppers. Make sure to use fresh authentic mozzarella and Parmigiano Reggiano.
15. Pasta e Fagioli
This delicious traditional Italian pasta recipe is pasta soup. If you like minestrone, you will love this easy recipe.
The secret to this pasta is to cook the carrots, celery, and onion first.
You want to soften them but be careful not to overcook them.
You want their flavor but you do not want them to be mush. One of the key steps in this recipe is that you cook the pasta in the soup. You do not cook it separately and add it later.
16. Lasagne al Forno
Lasagne is a quick and easy pasta dish. One of the great things about this delicious Italian pasta recipe is that you put it together and bake it.
The key to lasagne is layering it properly with the right amount between the layers
The sauce can be a traditional meat sauce, or you can leave out the meat and make a vegetable sauce. This recipe uses bechamel sauce instead of ricotta.
If you do not want to make a bechamel sauce you can use ricotta instead, just be aware that ricotta is not as liquid.
17. Pasta al Limone
This easy Italian pasta recipe only has 7 ingredients. The secret to this pasta is using lemon zest and then having fresh lemon slices for squeezing on top.
Another important ingredient is cheese. You may need to add pasta water in order to melt the cheese and turn it into a sauce.
When you serve the pasta, grate some fresh Parmigiano Reggiano on top.
This pasta pairs especially well with seafood. Cook the seafood separately and lay it on top of the pasta.
You can also lay it on the side of the pasta.
18. Pasta with Lentils
This easy pasta recipe is naturally vegetarian and vegan. The key is to use vegetable broth.
However, if you are not vegetarian or vegan, you can use chicken, pork, or beef broth.
If you want, you can add some Italian Sausage.
It is important to use a small pasta, such as elbow pasta. The secret ingredient in this pasta is the cumin in the lentil sauce.
This recipe keeps the lentils firm enough to tell them apart. However, You can cook them longer if you want and make them softer.
19. Italian Meat and Cheese Ravioli
The key to this popular pasta dish is using just the right amount of filling. If you overstuff your ravioli, they will burst in the pot while cooking.
Another key to making ravioli is making the pasta thin enough. Some stores sell pasta dough if you want to buy it, but freshly made is always best.
While this recipe calls for a pasta maker, you can also use a rolling pin.
However, if you do it this way you will need to work the pasta extra hard.
You can top this ravioli with olive oil and sea salt or your favorite pasta sauce.
20. Pasta Puttanesca
This wonderful Italian pasta takes common pantry ingredients and creates an elegant complex sauce. This is one of the best Italian pasta recipes.
Despite the elegant appearance and complexity of flavor, this dish is easy to make.
The secret to this delicious sauce is just a few key ingredients.
The olives and capers give the sauce a briny Mediterranean taste. The anchovies, garlic, and olive oil mixed with the creamy tomatoes make this dish complex and full of flavor.
21. Italian Pasta Bake
This Italian Pasta Bake is one of the best simple Italian pasta recipes. This recipe is perfect for a make-ahead meal. You can even freeze it (so long as it hasn’t been baked).
You can use any tomato-based pasta sauce you prefer for this recipe.
The recipe calls for ground beef. You can substitute ground chicken, ground pork, or ground Italian sausage. You can also add in any vegetables that you would like.
For most vegetables, you will want to pre-cook them. You do not need to precook things like olives, artichokes, or capers.
22. Creamy Italian Chicken Pasta
Creamy Italian Chicken Pasta is one of the best Italian pasta dishes.
The key to this recipe is marinating the chicken in milk and lemon juice. You want to marinate it for at least 2 hours.
You can put it in the fridge in the morning and take it out when it is time to cook.
Another important step is browning the chicken in the pan and then, while the chicken finishes cooking in the oven, use the pan to make the sauce.
The browned bits left by the chicken make a great base to the creamy sauce.
23. Tuscan Sausage Pasta
This easy Italian pasta recipe can be put together quickly and has great taste. A secret ingredient is a bit of Dijon mustard that adds depth to the cream sauce.
You can use any kind of pasta you want. The recipe calls for long pasta, but you can also use short or medium pasta.
You can use any type of ground Italian sausage for this recipe.
If the sausage is in link form, you will need to either take it out of the casing or slice it into small pieces.
This recipe uses flour to thicken the sauce, but you can substitute a small amount of cornstarch instead.
24. Basil Pesto Pasta
This classic Italian recipe provides instructions for making your own pesto sauce. The key to pesto is using fresh ingredients and high-quality cheese.
An important step in the process of making pesto is letting it sit in the fridge for at least an hour.
This allows the flavors to meld.
If you like this recipe, make a bulk batch of the pesto and freeze most of it into portions.
That way you don’t have to make it every time. Make sure to use it within a month (if frozen) or a couple of days (if in the fridge), any longer and it will begin to lose its freshness.
25. Baked Ziti
Baked Ziti is a great Italian pasta dish if you want to make the dish ahead of time. You can store it in the fridge or freezer until you are ready to make it. If you store it in the freezer, you will have to thaw it.
Thawing it in the fridge will take about a day.
This pasta recipe is great because you can use any pasta sauce you like. Tomato sauces work best but within that, there is a lot of variety.
You can also add vegetables, olives, artichokes, and more. If you want you can also add some chicken or ground beef to the sauce.
26. One-Pot Italian Chicken Florentine Pasta
This is the recipe for you if you are looking for a one-pot quick and simple Italian pasta recipe.
You can use any pasta shape you like. Small and medium work best.
The key to this recipe is browning the chicken and then toasting the flour in olive oil with garlic and sundried tomatoes.
You can also use corn starch, but you will want to use less because cornstarch thickens better than flour.
You can also use Italian sausage (chicken or pork) if you prefer. This recipe goes great on a bed of spinach, arugula, or baby kale.
26 Best Italian Pasta Recipes
- 1 lb thick spaghetti
- 8 ounces guanciale (smoked pork jowl), thinly sliced
- black pepper to taste
- 3 ounces finely grated Pecorino Romano cheese, divided
- Heat a large pot (crockpot size is best) with water and a pinch of salt over medium-high heat.
- Once water is boiling add in the spaghetti. Do not break the noodles. Place them in the pot. If necessary, twist them as you put them in so that they will all be covered with the water.
- Heat a nonstick skillet over medium heat while the pasta is cooking. Add the guanciale (pork) once the pan is warm. The meat should sizzle a little when it is placed in the pan.
- Cook the meat for 5 minutes or until tender.
- Once the meat is tender, add 1 ladle (about ½ cup) of pasta water. Put a lid on the meat and let it simmer in the pasta water.
- After a few minutes (2-3), add another ladle of pasta water. Place the lid back on the meat and continue to simmer over medium-low heat.
- Once the pasta has been cooking for 10 minutes, scoop out 1 cup of pasta water and drain the rest.
- Add the spaghetti noodles to the pan with the guanciale and sauce. Toss the noodles, sauce, and meat together. Add more pasta water if the sauce is too thick or if there is not enough.
- Turn off the heat and remove the pan from the burner.
- Toss the pasta, sauce, and meat with the cheese until a creamy sauce is created.
- Serve the pasta with fresh grated Pecorino Romano cheese and pepper.