Pass The Parmesan

Homemade Fettucini Aflredo Pasta with Chicken and Parsley
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13 Hearty & Easy Pasta Recipes For Busy Weeknights

Because nobody has time for much else.

I would wager that 75% of the time, if my children ask me what’s for dinner, I say, “Pasta.” Pasta dinners are just so easy to throw together and there are so many options, especially if you have picky eaters or kids who aren’t quite ready for clam linguine. Pasta is (overall) a cheap dish to make, and even some of the best recipes just require pantry ingredients that you already have at home. So if you need some inspiration for pasta dinners, I’ve got you covered.

Weeknights are so incredibly hard when it comes to dinner. Between work, extracurriculars, homework, and overtired and overstimulated children, getting dinner on the table can feel like an impossible task. So let me make your meal planning adventure a little easier: put pasta on there at least twice. Just trust me. Knowing that you have two pasta dishes on the list for the week means you don’t have to panic about ingredients, cooking time, or if your picky kids will enjoy it. And these pasta dinner recipes can keep you extra inspired. So pick a couple, sprinkle them into your weekly meal plans, and get ready for super easy weeknight dinners that everyone (including you, the head chef) will enjoy.


Creamy Carbonara

Super easy, this creamy carbonara recipe can be doubled or even tripled for your family’s needs, and is incredibly customizable. Swap the pancetta for bacon if that’s all you have, add some crushed red pepper if you like the heat, whatever you want to do. But it’s a great pasta dish and only takes a few minutes to get out on the table.


Meatball Pasta Bake

As decadent as this meatball bake looks, it’s incredibly simple. Using frozen meatballs, jarred marinara sauce, and a box of ziti, you can dump everything together (add some cheese) and have a perfect hot pasta dinner done in less than an hour. Major crowd-pleaser.


Creamy Beef and Shells

You remember Hamburger Helper, right? Well this recipe for creamy beef and shells from Damn Delicious is like a homemade version of that and so, so much better. We make this at least twice a month, and the kids love it. Serve it with a salad or some veggies and even garlic bread for a full, delicious and easy meal.


Tuscan Chicken Pasta

I need a bowl of this Tuscan chicken pasta right now. If your family likes slightly elevated flavors, but you still want a simple weeknight dinner, this is the pasta dish for you. Sun-dried tomatoes, dijon mustard, and plenty of seasonings give this an incredible flavor, and it takes just 30 minutes to pull together.


Extra Cheesy Tortellini Bake

Tortellini might be my favorite type of pasta, so this tortellini bake is a must to try. This one doesn’t have any meat, but you could use meat-filled tortellini if you want, or even add in some cooked, crumbled sausage or ground beef for extra protein and flavor.


Cheesy Taco Pasta

Want a pasta dish that’s not so Italian? Then you want this cheesy taco pasta recipe. You can absolutely customize this to fit your family’s favorite taco seasonings, but it’s beyond easy and is on the table in less than 30 minutes.


Italian Chicken Casserole

With condensed cream soups, plenty of cheese, and Italian seasoning packets, this Italian chicken casserole could not be easier (or more flavorful) of a dinner. It’s hearty, it’s cozy, and it’s budget-friendly.


Spaghetti with Crispy Zucchini

I know, it’s a new flavor combo, but don’t sleep on cheesy, crispy zucchini over delicious spaghetti. This recipe from Pinch of Yum is unique, but still an absolute comfort food and a great weeknight pasta dish.


Cilantro Lime Shrimp Pasta

Pasta can feel really heavy sometimes, but lighter pasta dishes do exist, like this cilantro-lime shrimp pasta from A Spicy Perspective. It’s a nice change from tomato-based dishes or heavier proteins like chicken and beef, and it also works great for packed lunches. (It can also be made in an Instant Pot!)


Lemon Chicken Pasta

Lemon juice with pasta dishes is always a win, and this lemon chicken pasta combines that perfect tangy flavor with chili flakes, garlic, and white wine for an incredible flavor. You could totally prep the chicken for this in advance, too, and have a great pasta dinner ready on those busy weeknights.


One-Pot Cajun Alfredo Pasta

Kids who have a spicy-loving palate will go nuts for this one-pot cajun alfredo pasta. (And you’ll love how simple it is.) It sounds fancy, but pretty much every item in here, apart from the sausage, is a pantry staple. You can even customize it and add in chicken if you like, or leave out some of the extra spice for picky eaters.


White Cheddar Chicken Pasta

Like macaroni and cheese, but elevated. This white cheddar chicken pasta is loaded with flavor, and everyone in the family will want seconds.


Roasted Vegetable Pasta

This recipe is a marvelous one for cleaning out the fridge. Got some leftover roasted veggies? Throw it into this pasta dish, which also includes shallots and mushrooms for some added flavor.

Pasta is budget-friendly, easy to cook, and usually a pretty great crowd-pleaser. Which pasta dinner’s going in your meal plan rotation?