31 Pasta Sauce Recipes That Are Way More Exciting Than Marinara

The coziest, most satisfying dinners almost always involve a big bowl of pasta, right? But how much spaghetti and marinara can one person abide? Add some diversity to dinnertime with any of these 31 pasta sauce recipes, all of which are much more exciting than your typical, plain old red sauce.

9 Simple Pasta Recipes You Can Make with 5 Ingredients

1. Spaghetti With Avocado Pasta Sauce

We already thought avocados were the best. Then we put them on our pasta and it became fact.

2. Cacio E Pepe

Six ingredients, 20 minutes and an authentic Italian dinner is yours. Pass the cheese, please.

3. Butternut Squash Carbonara

For as rich and decadent as this dish is, you’d be surprised to learn that there’s no butter or heavy cream involved. You can thank the squash for that.

4. Spaghetti In Poblano Salsa

When you’re looking to try something totally new, this herby, cheesy sauce is just the ticket. It’s got roasted poblano chiles for smokiness and Mexican crema for a creamy boost.

5. Spicy Bucatini Amatriciana

So you can’t part with your beloved red sauce. You can still try something new: This tomato-based dish is more spicy than saucy, thanks to Calabrian chiles and a little bit of pancetta.

6. One-pot, 15-minute Pasta Limone

This back-pocket dinner is bright, cheese-laced and impossibly easy to make. You likely have most of the ingredients in your kitchen already.

7. Greens Mac And Cheese

This dish has all the gooey goodness of traditional macaroni, plus a helping of green veggies for your health. See? You can have your cake and eat it too.

8. Antoni Porowski’s Moroccan-style Pasta Bolognese

This is not your nonna’s Bolognese. It’s made with lamb and lots of Middle Eastern spices for a sauce that’s kind of familiar and kind of not (and totally delicious).

9. Orzo With Spiced Tomato Sauce And Feta

This is as simple and enticing as any marinara, with a spice-laden twist to keep it feeling fresh.

10. Goat Cheese Pasta With Spinach And Artichokes

The secret to creamy pasta in less than 30 minutes? Goat cheese, which melts and coats each noodle in all the right ways.

11. Spicy Corn Carbonara

Imagine a plate of pasta that’s luscious but light, and you’ll find this spicy number waiting for you to dig in.

12. Soba Noodles With Peanut Sauce

The sriracha-spiked peanut sauce starts with peanut butter and comes together in a blender for a dish that’s ready in 25 minutes.

13. Curry Noodles With Broccoli Rabe And Purple Cabbage

In the same amount of time it takes to toss noodles with jarred sauce, you can spice up things up with coconut milk, red curry paste and stir-fried veggies. This is better than takeout.

14. Creamy Sweet Corn Pappardelle

Would you believe us if we told you this dish is plant-based? It is. Cashews add richness, while the sweet juice from the fresh corn makes everything saucy.

15. Lightened-up Fettuccine With Cauliflower Alfredo Sauce

Behold, the leaner, lighter version of one of our favorite indulgences. Cauliflower, we knew there was a reason we kept you around.

16. One-pot Tomato Basil Pasta

The best part of this dish, beyond having just one pot to clean? Once you’ve mastered it, you can customize the recipe with whatever veggies you please.

17. Zoodles With Avocado And Mango Sauce

This raw coconut milk sauce is tasty on zoodles, but we think it would taste even better as a cold pasta salad.

18. One-pot Creamy Chicken Alfredo

Normally, you’d cook this pasta and sauce in at least two different pans, but in this 35-minute version, everything comes together in a single pot. Better yet, it makes for the creamiest results imaginable.

19. Creamy Gochujang Zoodles

We’re using the zucchini noodles as an excuse to load up on as much of this kimchi-red pepper sauce as possible.

20. Creamy Vegan Pasta With Swiss Chard And Tomatoes

With non-dairy sour cream, no one will know it’s vegan.

21. Sweet Potato Gnocchi In Herbed White Wine Sauce

We highly recommend making homemade gnocchi, but if you’re not up for the challenge, don’t worry. This sauce requires just five ingredients and would pair just as well with any type of pasta.

22. Linguine With Bacon, Peaches And Gorgonzola

You’ve had bacon in pasta, but never peaches. There’s a first time for everything.

23. 15-minute Lemony Broccolini Pasta

When elegant yet easy is what you’re after, look no further than this beauty. It’s pretty enough for date night in, but not too fancy to serve on any weeknight.

24. Pasta Florentine With Grilled Chicken

Charring the chicken breasts for a few minutes adds a little je ne sais quoi to this classic French dish.

25. Pasta Alla Norma

Eggplant, basil and pecorino cheese are the stars of the show. Close your eyes, take a bite and you’ll be in sunny Italy.

26. Jalapeño-avocado Mac And Cheese

Regular mac and cheese is great. Spicy mac and cheese with garlic and avocado is even better.

27. Smoky Eggplant Pasta With Pounded Walnut Relish, Mozzarella And Basil

The sauce is made from pureed eggplant, which is unexpected, rustic and just as delicious as any restaurant dish.

28. Skillet Pasta With Summer Squash, Ricotta And Basil

When the fresh ricotta hits the warm noodles and mingles with the squash, that’s when you should dive in.

29. Roasted Cauliflower Macaroni And Cheese

We’d like to be covered in a blanket of cheese, cauliflower and breadcrumbs too, but we can’t all be as lucky as these noodles.

30. Keto Pasta With Lemon-kale Chicken

Yep, pasta is on your diet. (Shh, it’s all thanks to low-carb shirataki noodles.)

31. Five-ingredient Smoked Gouda-thyme Mac And Cheese

Mac and cheese from scratch with just five ingredients? You gouda be kidding us. (Sorry, had to!)


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...