Whether you're cooking for a family supper or entertaining with friends, these top-rated pasta recipes will never fail to impress.
In honor of our 25th anniversary, we compiled a collection of our readers' best-loved pasta recipes from the past 25 years.
Based on research from MyRecipes.com, we pulled the Cooking Light recipes that received the most votes and highest star ratings.
First up: Put ripe tomatoes to good use and make a fresh tomato sauce to top sweet Italian sausage and penne pasta. Reviewer sillybluestarr raves, "I didn't change a thing about the recipe and it's so amazing. I make this for guests when they come over!"
View Recipe: Fresh Tomato, Sausage, and Pecorino Pasta
Orzo pasta is a versatile base for dishes, and this one is chock-full of zesty ingredients. Red onions add crunch and the
combination of artichoke hearts, feta cheese, and kalamata olives all add fresh brininess to the salad.
View Recipe: Mediterranean Orzo Salad with Feta Vinaigrette
Nothing defines comfort food better than mac and cheese, and nothing gives "comfort" a bad nutritional name quite so deliciously:
A typical bowl can contain a half-day's worth of calories and two days' saturated fat. So, we gave the well-loved classic
dish a much needed makeover. Instead of the traditional buttery, heavy sauce, we turned to an unlikely hero for a boost: butternut
squash. Combined with nonfat milk and Greek yogurt, the squash adds a rich, nutty flavor, sneaks in some vegetable, and brilliantly
mimics the color and creaminess of cheddar sauce. Over fifty 5-star reviews agree: butternut squash is a delicious addition.
View Recipe: Creamy, Light Macaroni and Cheese
Add pops of color to baked ziti with fresh summer veggies like squash, zucchini, and tomato. This quick and versatile recipe
can be easily adjusted based on your favorite veggies or what you have on hand.
View Recipe: Baked Ziti and Summer Veggies
This farfalle recipe scored high in our Test Kitchen for its rich flavor and ultracreamy texture. The exotic mushroom blend,
a combination of shiitake, cremini, and oyster mushrooms, is sold in eight-ounce packages. If unavailable, you can use all
Reviewer evelyns agrees with our Test Kitchen, "This was by far the BEST pasta dish I have ever made. It was amazingly fast to prepare and was truly restaurant quality."
View Recipe: Farfalle with Creamy Wild Mushroom Sauce
The flavor and contrasting textures―crunchy celery, onion, and walnut, chewy pasta, tender chicken, and juicy grapes―make
an easy salad that can be made ahead and travels well, either for a dinner on the go or a workday lunch. Leftover chicken,
or deli ham or turkey can take the place of the store-bought rotisserie bird if you prefer.
View Recipe: Roasted Chicken and Bow Tie Pasta Salad
We love the bright flavor that lemon juice and fresh asparagus bring to this recipe. Pine nuts are particularly delicious
in this dish, but feel free to substitute walnuts if you have them on hand.
Reviewer cookfromsocal gave the dish 5 stars: "This was fantastic, lot of flavor and so easy. Next time will put in more pine nuts. Couldn't wait to have the leftovers for lunch the next day. A definite repeat."
View Recipe: Pasta with Asparagus, Pancetta, and Pine Nuts
When you're short on time and the ingredient list is short, make every ingredient the freshest and best you can find. A real
wood-smoked bacon imparts lots of flavor to this quick fettuccine alfredo: Applewood is mild and slightly sweet, while hardwood,
such as hickory, is more assertive.
Laurie18 says, "I found this recipe to be quite the guilty pleasure. Alfredo usually has a 1000 calories and this had less than 400 calories and included bacon!
View Recipe: Fettuccine Alfredo with Bacon
Instead of full-fat ricotta, which is used in traditional recipes, we combine low-fat cottage cheese and fat-free cream cheese
for just enough creaminess without all the heft. This tasty lasagna is a great make-ahead option. After assembling the lasagna,
cover and freeze for up to 1 month. Thaw in the refrigerator; bake as directed.
"This recipe will definitely be on repeat!" praises reviewer heidz23. "Sometimes eating something like lasagna leaves you feeling heavy, but this is a great, lightened version that is just as flavorful."
View Recipe: Tomato-Basil Lasagna with Prosciutto
This herby pasta salad is perfect for a picnic or potluck gathering; you can easily double the recipe to serve a crowd. Can't
find orecchiette? Medium shell-shaped pasta will also work in its place.
View Recipe: Orecchiette with Peas, Shrimp, and Buttermilk-Herb Dressing
You're reading the recipe correctly: There are green grapes in this dish. Their juicy, crisp, and bright sweetness complements
the tomatoes and provides a nice contrast to feta's creamy tang. Besides the pan-grilled asparagus shown, any green vegetable
sautéed or grilled with a little garlic, salt, and pepper makes a good side―try spinach, broccoli, or even kale.
View Recipe: Bow Ties with Tomatoes, Feta, and Balsamic Dressing
A large assortment of mushrooms, including luxurious dried porcinis, is the key to the huge earthy flavor of this dish. It's
meatless, but you'd never know it with all the savory flavor of mushrooms, Parmesan, and truffle oil. A generous splash of
cream gives the sauce its luscious texture.
View Recipe: Bucatini with Mushrooms
Herbes de Provence lends a hit of floral flavor to the dressing of this penne salad. Serve this dish immediately or cover
and chill for 2 hours for a cold pasta salad.
View Recipe: Roasted Asparagus and Tomato Penne Salad with Goat Cheese
Food journalist and author Mark Bittman retooled classic bolognese sauce giving it less meat, more flavor, and the same luxurious
creaminess as the traditional version.
"This smells incredible as it cooks, with a deep, earthy, mushroomy fragrance," praises Executive Food Editor Ann Taylor Pittman. "And the flavor lives up to the promise of the aroma."
View Recipe: Mushroom Bolognese
Pasta carbonara is traditionally made with raw egg yolks and whipping cream. This lighter version achieves the same texture
with egg substitute and fat-free evaporated milk. Egg substitutes are excellent to use in recipes that traditionally call
for raw eggs. Substitutes are pasteurized and have a low risk of containing bacteria.
Serve this dish immediately; if it stands, the sauce can become too thick.
View Recipe: Asparagus and Chicken Carbonara
Meaty breakfast sausage, earthy eggplant, and zesty feta complement each other in this hearty pasta dish.
"This was so amazingly quick, easy, and delicious. My husband does not like eggplant so he gave it the evil eye then proceeded to eat two huge servings!" said reviewer fittaraw.
View Recipe: Penne with Sausage, Eggplant, and Feta
Give your family a taste of the Mediterranean with this simple meatless pasta dinner.
"Tasted great as leftovers," said reviewer MeeshMech79. "The second night I tossed in some rotisserie chicken but it's certainly filling as a meatless meal as well."
View Recipe: Farfalle with Tomatoes, Onions, and Spinach
Shrimp Fra Diavolo recipes can often be very hot, but you can adjust the spice to your preference by adding more or less red
pepper. To save money, be sure to use inexpensive medium-size shrimp in this garlicky, spicy classic.
View Recipe: Shrimp Fra Diavolo
This 20-minute recipe has become a favorite among staff and readers alike for its ease to prepare and use of bold ingredients
like peppery arugula and savory sausage. A sprinkling of shaved pecorino Romano cheese gives a salty bite.
View Recipe: Sausage, Tomato, and Arugula Fettuccine
Smoky bacon compliments the richness of butternut squash in this casserole to create a dish that can be enjoyed right away
or prepared ahead for a party or weeknight meals. BeckiSue says, “This was just perfect!! The roasted butternut squash, rosemary, bacon, and cheese complimented each other so well...
Will be making again and again!!!”
View Recipe: Roasted Butternut Squash and Bacon Pasta
Sweet, sun-ripened tomatoes collapse into a beautifully rustic sauce. For the prettiest dish, use multicolored tomatoes from
the farmers' market or, if you're lucky, your backyard.
View Recipe: Quick-Roasted Cherry Tomato Sauce with Spaghetti
This 20-minute pasta salad is great as either an entrée or side and is packed with tons of flavor. Readers rave about the
dish's versatility; you can customize it easily by using whatever veggies you have on hand. For the pasta, we use acini di
pepe [ah-CHEE-nee dee-PAY-pay]: tiny pasta rounds resembling peppercorns. Feel free to use ditalini (very short tube-shaped
macaroni) or any other small pasta shape if you can't find acini di pepe in your supermarket.
View Recipe: Peppery Monterey Jack Pasta Salad
"Incredible flavor & texture. Simply delicious!" —PROMOGAL
Fresh pasta pairs well with a simple, barely-there sauce that will gently coat each noodle, highlighting the fresh pasta's uniquely soft, smooth texture without overwhelming it or stealing its shine. This dish makes for a satisfying meatless meal that is sure to please your taste buds.
View Recipe: Fettuccine with Mushrooms and Hazelnuts
This riff on spaghetti and meatballs uses rice-shaped pasta, ground lamb, and tangy feta cheese—a fitting complement to the
spiced lamb. To make ahead, brown the meatballs, freeze on a tray, and store in a zip-top bag for up to one month.
View Recipe: Greek Pasta with Meatballs
A light, flavorful pasta toss, accented with crumbled bacon, is a quick and easy dinner solution for any night of the week.
Use whatever veggies you have on hand to add to the colorful dish. Serve with a mixed greens salad.
View Recipe: Cavatappi with Bacon and Summer Vegetables