25 High-Protein Pasta Recipes That Are Nutritious and Delicious

Pasta: Not just for carbo loading

high protein pasta recipes 1
Katherine Gillen/Liz Andrew

Dinnertime is never more appealing than when you’re tucking into a bowl of al dente pasta—but if you’re trying to add more protein to your diet, you might think it’s all chicken breasts and hard-boiled eggs from here on out. Not quite! These 25 high-protein pasta recipes are proof that you can have your cake bowl of noodles and eat it too. From simple combinations (like one-pot spaghetti Limone) to complex flavors (smoky eggplant pasta with walnut relish), there’s a dish for everyone on this list. Best of all, they all have at least 18 grams of protein, with vegetarian and meat-filled options alike.

27 Simple Pasta Recipes Anyone Can Master

1. 15-Minute Lemony Broccolini Pasta

  • Time Commitment: 15 minutes
  • Why I Love It: <30 minutes, vegetarian
  • Protein Content: 26g

While there’s nothing wrong with dumping jarred marinara onto a plate of spaghetti, you can make something a little more elegant with minimal effort. This pasta dish is gorgeous enough to serve at your next dinner party, but not too fancy for a weeknight.

2. Skillet Gnocchi with Sausage and Broccoli Rabe

  • Time Commitment: 30 minutes
  • Why I Love It: one pan, beginner-friendly
  • Protein Content: 31g

It’s hearty, delicious and it tastes like you spent all day making it. (But really, you only need 30 minutes and a skillet.) If broccoli rabe is too bitter for your tastes, try subbing in broccolini or regular broccoli instead.

3. Spicy Corn Carbonara

  • Time Commitment: 45 minutes
  • Why I Love It: <10 ingredients, kid-friendly
  • Protein Content: 22g

It’s lusciously creamy without weighing you down, and the secret is using egg yolks and just a touch of heavy cream. This high protein pasta recipe could be vegetarian, too, if you want to omit the bacon.

4. Pasta with Burst Cherry Tomatoes, Fresh Corn and Burrata

  • Time Commitment: 20 minutes
  • Why I Love It: vegetarian, <30 minutes, <10 ingredients
  • Protein Content: 25g

The trick here to getting a glossy, saucy result is all in the pasta water. Make sure to save some before draining the noodles—it’ll cook down with the vegetables to coat the strands of pasta just so. Bonus points if you grow the cherry tomatoes yourself.

5. Pasta Florentine with Grilled Chicken

  • Time Commitment: 40 minutes
  • Why I Love It: beginner-friendly, <10 ingredients
  • Protein Content: 47g

Classic pasta Florentine doesn’t contain meat, but the smokiness of grilled chicken adds a little je ne sais quoi to the French dish (plus tons of protein to keep you full, of course).

6. Creamy Sweet Corn Pappardelle

  • Time Commitment: 30 minutes
  • Why I Love It: vegetarian, vegan, kid-friendly
  • Protein Content: 20g

Even if you don’t always eat vegan, it’s a fun bonus when a creamy, delightful dish just so happens to be plant-based. This one gets its decadent sauciness from cashews and corn, if you can believe it.

7. Goat Cheese Pasta with Spinach and Artichokes

  • Time Commitment: 25 minutes
  • Why I Love It: beginner-friendly, <30 minutes
  • Protein Content: 19g

If you think you don’t like goat cheese, try this high-protein pasta recipe and think again. The tangy cheese melts into the noodles, creating a sauce without any extra effort. (And if you want to switch up the spinach and artichokes for other vegetables, go ahead.)

8. Sausage and Fennel Pasta

  • Time Commitment: 25 minutes
  • Why I Love It: <10 ingredients, <30 minutes
  • Protein Content: 21g

The Italian sausage does a lot of the heavy lifting here—because it has so much built-in seasoning, you can achieve a flavorful pasta dish with fewer ingredients (six, to be precise). You can use boneless, skinless chicken thighs cut into pieces or andouille sausage, too, if that’s more your style.

9. Scallion Oil Bucatini with Runny Eggs

  • Time Commitment: 50 minutes
  • Why I Love It: low sugar
  • Protein Content: 26g

Scallions aren’t typically the star of the show, which is why this pasta is unusually delicious. The aromatic alliums flavor the pasta in a few ways, but if you want to add crushed red pepper flakes for another dimension, go ahead.

10. Pasta alla Norma with Eggplant, Basil & Pecorino

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour
  • Why I Love It: vegetarian, beginner-friendly
  • Protein Content: 26g

Is this the next best thing to a sunny Italian getaway? I’ll let you be the judge. If you are able to find ricotta salata, that’s a more traditional cheese topper—but pecorino will also work just as beautifully.

11. One-Pot, 15-Minute Pasta Limone

  • Time Commitment: 15 minutes
  • Why I Love It: <30 minutes, one pot, vegetarian
  • Protein Content: 22g

This bright, citrusy high-protein pasta recipe is like dinner in your back pocket: You likely have most of the ingredients in your kitchen already, and it comes together in practically no time. And since all you do is throw all the ingredients into a pot and boil them, it’s completely hands-off.

12. Gluten-Free Cauliflower Gnocchi Pomodoro

  • Time Commitment: 50 minutes
  • Why I Love It: gluten free, vegetarian
  • Protein Content: 22g

What’s sneakily full of veggies and high in protein? This cauliflower-based pasta, is what. Once you’ve nailed the recipe as it’s written, you can riff on sauces to your heart’s desire. (I suggest pesto next.)

13. 30-Minute Brussels Sprouts and Bacon Orecchiette

  • Time Commitment: 30 minutes
  • Why I Love It: one pot, <10 ingredients
  • Protein Content: 19g

It’s salty from the bacon, savory from shallot, garlic and Brussels sprouts, plus it has a bit of tang from a secret ingredient. (Spoiler: It’s apple cider vinegar.)

14. Bucatini Verde with Tuscan Kale Pesto and Walnuts

  • Time Commitment: 40 minutes
  • Why I Love It: vegetarian, low sugar
  • Protein Content: 24g

Pasta can seem like an indulgence and nothing more, but if you pack a ton of green vegetables and herbs into your bowl (like kale, basil and parsley), it can actually be as nutritious as it is delicious. Stored in an airtight contain, the pesto freezes beautifully for one to two months.

15. Orecchiette with Burrata, Tomatoes and Almond Pesto

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour, 50 minutes
  • Why I Love It: vegetarian, special occasion–worthy
  • Protein Content: 19g

Leave it to a generous heap of burrata to make an otherwise simple pasta recipe feel special occasion–worthy. If possible, use a mix of red and yellow tomatoes for a nice color and flavor contrast.

16. Creamy Dijon Penne with Kielbasa

  • Time Commitment: 25 minutes
  • Why I Love It: gluten free, dairy free
  • Protein Content: 25g

This dish calls for gluten-free penne, and using something like chickpea pasta is an easy way to add more protein to your bowl. But if you’re not avoiding gluten, you can use wheat pasta without a problem. (You can also use Swiss chard or spinach in place of baby kale.)

17. Skillet Pasta with Summer Squash, Ricotta and Basil

  • Time Commitment: 55 minutes
  • Why I Love It: vegetarian, one pan
  • Protein Content: 28g

You don’t need a heavy, meat-laden sauce to get your fill of protein. This pasta, which is packed with summer squash and creamy ricotta, is proof. (Almost 30 grams per serving, hello!) Add a glass of wine and you’re golden.

18. Sungold Spaghetti Carbonara

  • Time Commitment: 45 minutes
  • Why I Love It: <10 ingredients, special occasion–worthy
  • Protein Content: 29g

Sungolds are the golden-orange cherry tomatoes you may have seen at your grocery store. They have a lot more sweetness than the red ones, so they’re worth seeking out (but you can use any cherry tomato in a pinch). Don’t skimp on the black pepper; it’s key to balancing the dish.

19. Smoky Eggplant Pasta with Pounded Walnut Relish, Mozzarella and Basil

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour, 2 minutes
  • Why I Love It: vegetarian, special occasion–worthy
  • Protein Content: 32g

This inventive recipe uses puréed, grilled eggplant to infuse every bite with creamy, smoky flavor. The end result is an easy, rustic dinner that’s every bit as delicious as the pasta at your favorite Italian restaurant.

20. Pasta Puttanesca

  • Time Commitment: 15 minutes
  • Why I Love It: <30 minutes, beginner-friendly
  • Protein Content: 66g

A 15-minute pasta that contains 66 grams of protein? If that won’t convince you to start keeping canned tuna in your pantry, I don’t know what will. If you’re worried about the anchovies, the little guys practically melt into the sauce and infuse it with umami flavor (but not fishiness).

21. Instant Pot 2-Cheese Pasta with Cauliflower

  • Time Commitment: 35 minutes
  • Why I Love It: vegetarian, Instant Pot recipe
  • Protein Content: 21g

Pasta in the Instant Pot? Believe it. Don’t be tempted to chop the cauliflower into small pieces before cooking it, or you’ll end up with a mushy mess. By keeping it in four larger pieces during the cooking time, it will retain some of its crispy texture by the time it hits your plate.

22. Garlic Shrimp Mafaldine

  • Time Commitment: 40 minutes
  • Why I Love It: special occasion–worthy, pescatarian
  • Protein Content: 51g

Wavy ribbons of mafaldine or the curly nooks and crannies of trumpet-shaped campanelle allow the flavorful garlic sauce to nestle into every bite of this dish, but you can use any type of noodle you prefer—yep, even angel hair.

23. Easy Roasted Tomato Bucatini

  • Time Commitment: 55 minutes
  • Why I Love It: <10 ingredients, pescatarian
  • Protein Content: 18g

This isn’t your typical plain red sauce. It starts with roasting canned tomatoes in the oven to concentrate their jammy flavor, with a small addition of butter that works wonders for richness. Add sausage if you want a bit more protein.

24. Beachy Alfresco Linguine alle Vongole

  • Time Commitment: 30 minutes
  • Why I Love It: special occasion–worthy
  • Protein Content: 61g

Briny and garlicky, this clam-heavy pasta is surprisingly easy to make. If you get your fishmonger to clean the seafood, all you have to do is toss it into the broth to cook and add the noodles.

25. Slow Cooker Bolognese

  • Time Commitment: 6 hours, 45 minutes
  • Why I Love It: slow cooker recipe, make ahead
  • Protein Content: 28g

This ragù makes a lot, so plan to store half of the sauce in the freezer. It will come in handy when you’re short on time but need a pasta fix, stat. (You’re welcome.


Senior Food Editor

Katherine Gillen is PureWow’s senior food editor. She’s a writer, recipe developer and food stylist with a degree in culinary arts and professional experience in New York City...