One-pot pasta recipes are among the biggest food trends in recent years. They’re effortless to make, requiring only basic cooking skills and a willingness to tweak flavors on the fly. They also come together in a single pot, so cleanup is fast and easy. The best ones need minimal prep work and just a few ingredients – usually, less than 10. What’s not to like? It’s no wonder they’ve become the go-to meal for many busy home cooks!
But if you thought these were only good for quick dinners at home, think again. These easy pasta recipes can also work for potlucks and special events. Count on them to deliver the most important thing in any holiday spread: flavor.
1. Classic Lasagna
Classic lasagna is famously complicated to make. It requires multiple layers of pasta sheets, at least two different sauces, and a lot of time in the oven. Most home cooks spend between two to three hours putting it together. If you don’t mind taking a less traditional route, then a one-skillet recipe is the way.
Start with a store-bought tomato sauce, then pile uncooked lasagna sheets on top. Break them up into one-inch strips so everything cooks evenly. Once the pasta is tender, top it with your creamy white sauce (bechamel). Finish with grated mozzarella.
At this point, it’s already scrumptious and ready to serve. But if you have a few extra minutes to spare, pop your skillet (make sure your vessel is oven-safe!) in a preheated oven. Bake it just enough for the cheese to melt, turn golden, and get crispy. Now, you have a legit lasagna – minus the hours-long cooking process!
2. Pinoy-Style Carbonara
Unlike traditional Italian carbonara, this local favorite uses cream in place of egg yolks to achieve a luscious sauce. Some recipes add Knorr Cream of Mushroom Soup for an even richer profile. These swaps make Pinoy-style carbonara closer to chicken alfredo pasta. It’s far from authentic, but that’s part of its charm as a Filipino comfort dish. It’s also one of the easiest things you can make in one pot.
Begin by sautéing bacon or ham chunks in oil until browned. Add garlic, onions, and mushrooms. Let this cook until fragrant before adding cream, a soup mix, and seasonings. Once the sauce components are well-combined, add your dry pasta. Choose among fettuccine, tagliatelle, or spaghetti.
Stir your noodles until they soften enough to sink into the sauce. Cover your pot, then let everything simmer. Check on it every five minutes to make sure the bottom isn’t burning. You’ll know it’s ready when your noodles are al dente. Top with shredded cheese and garnish with fresh parsley.
3. Sweet Birthday Spaghetti
Here’s another well-loved Filipino dish that throws the pasta rule book away. Kids and adults alike have a soft spot for this birthday party staple. It’s distinctly sweet, savory, and full of surprise ingredients, like banana ketchup and red hot dogs.
To make it in one pan, first, sauté garlic and onions until fragrant. Cook ground beef or pork until browned. Add hot dogs, tomato sauce, tomato paste, and sugar – or, optionally, banana ketchup for sweetness. Dry spaghetti noodles and water come last. From this point on, follow the same instructions as in the carbonara recipe. Top with lots of melty cheese.
4. Fresh Tomato and Basil
Before one-pot pasta was all over social media, there was Martha Stewart’s version. She first published the recipe in her namesake magazine in 2013 – a decade before TikTok caught on to the trend. Many have tried to do it better, but nothing beats the convenience of the original.
For this pasta, you won’t need to cook your ingredients in batches or do much prep work. The ingredients are simple: olive oil, fresh basil, cherry tomatoes, garlic, onions, Parmesan cheese, and basic seasonings. For the pasta, Stewart recommends linguine, but anything you have on hand will work, too.
Slice your aromatics thinly and chop your tomatoes in half lengthwise. That’s it for prep! Cooking starts with a pan big enough to hold the dry pasta in straight rows. Lay your noodles in the center, then surround them with the other ingredients (minus the Parm). Top with a glug of olive oil. Pour enough water to cover, then bring to a boil over high heat. Let simmer and stir with tongs frequently. In the end, you should have a glossy sauce that tastes of basil and tomatoes in perfect harmony.
5. Tuna and Mushroom
Canned tuna is a versatile ingredient that always comes in clutch. Use it to surprise your loved ones with creamy tuna pasta. The basics include flakes in oil, aromatics, tomatoes, and Knorr Cream of Mushroom Soup. Add spinach or broccoli, cream cheese for a richer sauce, and mushrooms for texture.
Sauté tuna with garlic, onions, and tomatoes. Add mushroom soup, water, and chili flakes. Finally, throw in your choice of pasta. For this, a short variety with ridges, like penne or rigatoni, will cook faster and absorb the flavors well. Finish with ground pepper and parsley. Voila! Your last-minute potluck contribution is ready to wow.
There’s a one-pot pasta recipe for everyone – meat lovers, vegetarians, and comfort food-loving Pinoys. Just take your pick! As a cooking challenge, see if there’s a pasta you love that you can transform into a one-pot creation. Love pesto? Try making it this way and see how you like it. Once you get the hang of cooking noodles in a single pot, you might never go back to traditional methods!