36 Light Pasta Recipes That Are Full of Flavor

lightened up pastas cauliflower alfredo recipe
Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

You’ve been trying to keep it healthy, but after a long day, you’re not exactly craving salad. Enter these light pasta recipes that have all the flavor and comfort of classic carb-centric bowls, but with a little less guilt. From a creamy macaroni and cheese with a secret veggie substitute to peanut noodles under 400 calories that tastes like takeout, keep these dishes on-hand during busy weeknights or for summer barbecues.

lightened up pastas lemon broccolini pasta recipe
Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

1. Lemon Broccolini Pasta

Infinitely more elegant than spaghetti with tomato sauce.

lightened up pastas carrot gnocchi recipe
Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

2. Carrot Pasta

These pillowy gnocchi clones use carrots instead of potatoes, which means more vitamins and fewer calories.

3. Grain-Free Mushroom, Spinach and Leek Pasta

You can use any variety of grain-free pasta, but we’re a big fan of the Cappello’s brand: fresh pasta that’s both gluten- and grain-free..

lightened up pastas sundried tomato red lentil pasta recipe
Half Baked Harvest

4. Golden Sundried Tomato Red Lentil Pasta

This bright red pasta is packed with fiber and healthy carbs—plus, it’s so much prettier than the regular kind.

5. Skinny Pasta Primavera

Half pasta, half veggies and topped with creamy almond milk sauce.

lightened up pastas skinny fajita shrimp recipe
Pinch of Yum

6. Skinny Fajita Shrimp Pasta

Make it with whole-wheat pasta for a little extra virtue.

lightened up pastas vegan spaghetti squash mushroom marinara recipe
Spoon Fork Bacon

7. Vegan Spaghetti Squash with Mushroom Marinara Sauce

Psst: Subbing in veggies for pasta means you can have two bowls.

lightened up pastas vegan creamy pesto recipe
Oh My Veggies

8. Creamy Vegan Pesto Pasta

Need an easy weeknight dinner? Use store-bought pesto.

9. Easy Balsamic Veggie Pasta

This fresh mix of vegetables and balsamic is filling and healthy at the same time.

lightened up pastas whole grain pesto recipe
Kajakiki/Getty Images

10. Whole-Grain Pasta with Pesto, Mozzarella, Pine Nuts and Tomato

The perfect not-sad-desk-lunch option.

lightened up pastas baked zucchini ziti recipe
Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

11. Baked Zucchini 'Ziti' Spirals with Mozzarella

Even the kids will love this one.

lightened up pastas vegan zucchini spaghetti puttanesca recipe

12. Vegan Zucchini Spaghetti Puttanesca

This recipe from Coterie member Ali Maffucci is little bit spicy, a little bit briny and a lot delicious.

lightened up pastas vegan butternut squash carbonara recipe
Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

13. Butternut Squash Carbonara

Add in some mashed butternut squash and cut down on the butter and your favorite decadent dish is officially healthy.

lightened up pastas cauliflower alfredo recipe
What’s Gaby Cooking

14. Cauliflower Alfredo Pasta

Our favorite veggie saves the day. It’s rich and creamy, without all the calories.

lightened up pastas peanut ginger noodles recipe
The Recipe Critic

15. Peanut Ginger Noodles

It tastes just like takeout but will set you back only 400 calories.

lightened up pastas zoodles lentil bolognese recipe
Minimalist Baker

16. Zucchini Pasta with Lentil Bolognese

Bonus: It’s ready in just 30 minutes.

lightened up pastas mushroom kale lasagna rolls
Skinny Taste

17. Mushroom Kale Lasagna Rolls

It’s basically a green juice wrapped in pasta.

light pasta recipe cauliflower mac and cheese
Damn Delicious

18. Cauliflower Mac and Cheese

Thanks to the world’s most versatile veggie, a bowl of this stuff is under 500 calories.

19. 15-Minute Limone Pasta

This one-pot, pasta limone 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 (well, 15 minutes, to be precise).

lightened up pastas skinny alfredo ziti with broccoli recipe
Ambitious Kitchen

20. 30-Minute Skinny Alfredo Ziti with Broccoli

Bonus: It’s totally dairy-free.

21. Skillet Pasta with Summer Squash, Ricotta and Basil

We love a one-pan wonder. But we *adore* one that puts sweet, nutty summer squash front and center.

lightened up pastas zucchini noodles turkey meatballs recipe
Damn Delicious

22. Zucchini Noodles with Turkey Meatballs

Prep them on Sunday and eat them all week.

23. Cold Sesame Cucumber Noodles

Cucumber noodles are so refreshing on a hot day and a breeze to make with a spiralizer or peeler. And the sesame-soy tahini dressing is one for the books.

lightened up pastas healthy mushroom alfredo bake recipe
Pinch of Yum

24. Healthy Mushroom Alfredo Pasta Bake

Cauliflower strikes again.

lightened up pastas sweet potato zoodles almond sauce recipe
Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

25. Sweet Potato Noodles with Almond Sauce

Tastes sinful. (Spoiler: It isn’t.)

26. Italian Zucchini Pasta Salad

Bring this light pasta salad to your next potluck.

lightened up pastas turkey bolognese lasagna recipe
Foodie Crush

27. Turkey Bolognese Lasagna Toss

This deconstructed recipe replaces beef with turkey and cuts way down on the cheese, without sacrificing flavor.

lightened up pastas skinny baked shrimp scampi recipe
Pineapple and Coconut

28. Skinny Baked Shrimp Scampi

Don’t worry—there’s still a little butter, and plenty of garlic.

29. Kelp and Zucchini Noodle Pad Thai

If you haven’t cooked with kelp noodles, they don’t need any cooking—just soaking—and taste a bit like al dente glass noodles. They’re gluten-free, paleo and rich in nutrients like iron, vitamin K, calcium and fiber.

lightened up pastas roasted red pepper recipe
The Minimalist Baker

30. Roasted Red Pepper Pasta

It’s vegan and gluten-free. Win-win.

31. Easy Shrimp Pasta Salad

Shrimp and farfalle glistening with honey-Dijon dressing? Scampi could never. The fresh dill is a game changer, adding grassy freshness and a pop of green to the bowl.

32. Castelvetrano Olive, Lemon and Parmesan Capellini

Briny olives are an unexpected addition to pasta, but with lemons, garlic and cheese, it totally works.

light pasta recipes beef ragu

33. Beef Ragu with Sweet Potato Noodles

Make this one on Sunday and enjoy leftovers all week. Psst, it only takes 20 minutes in total.

34. Avocado and Black Bean Pasta Salad

If we’re going to eat a giant plate of pasta, it might as well be filled with satisfying protein, too (and creamy avocado, because duh).

35. Creamy Vegan Cajun Pasta

Cashew cream replaces traditional hearty cream sauce, in this protein-packed pasta dish.

36. Spring Pea Pasta with Burrata

Creamy burrata is balanced with fresh peas, mint and lemon zest.