One-Pan Pasta


I am here to tell you about a recipe for pasta that you cook in one pan. One pan, people! Dried noodles, sauce ingredients, water—they all get thrown into a big pan and boiled for less than 10 minutes. You end up with a totally delicious dinner, and a party trick.


I know this recipe is making the rounds. I would even bet that it is blowing up in Pinterest (is it?). I imagine that anyone who saw this in Martha Stewart Living this month knew they needed to try it. It is such a simple idea that I am surprised we haven’t all been doing this the whole time.

I like the recipe because it allows you to get dinner on the table in less than 20 minutes. It is also fun for the cook. That first time you make it you wonder if it will all come together. Is this even possible? Then, the noodles begin to soften, the liquid reduces into a creamy sauce, and you know you’ve got a winner. The real brilliance of the recipe is that by cooking the noodles with the sauce, they absorb so much more flavor than a pot of salted water could ever provide.


Salt is your friend in this dish, don’t skimp! You need a big skillet, big enough for the linguine to lie flat across the bottom.

One-Pan Pasta (adapted slightly from Martha Stewart Living) The editors of MSL discovered the recipe while traveling in Puglia, so we have Italy to thank for another great pasta recipe!

  • 12 ounces linguine
  • 12 ounces cherry or grape tomatoes, halved or quartered if large
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced (about 2 cups)
  • 6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1/2- 3/4 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
  • 2 sprigs basil, plus torn leaves for garnish
  • 2-3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
  • kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 4 1/2 cups water
  • Lots of freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for serving

Combine pasta, tomatoes, onion, garlic, red-pepper flakes, basil, oil, 2 teaspoons kosher salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and water in a large straight-sided skillet. Bring to a boil over high heat. Boil mixture, stirring and turning pasta frequently with tongs, until pasta is al dente and water has nearly evaporated, about 9 minutes.

Season to taste with salt and pepper, divide among 4 bowls, and garnish with basil. Serve with oil and Parmesan.


***[5/12/2014] Hi folks, I had to close the comments on this post. While most comments were friendly or useful, I was getting too many people telling me/us that: a) this recipe was an insult to Italian culture (which is both insane and stinks of a sort of cultural superiority that I abhor) b) that recipes like this were for stupid, lazy people (which is also insane and classist). Anyway, as is often the case, a few assholes ruin the internet for everyone. And I’m just tired of moderating these comments. Thanks to everyone who contributed something useful!

158 comments to “One-Pan Pasta”

  1. Thanks for posting this!! As per Louise’s comment, I also looked up the Alan Ducasse recipe to see if I could get any inspiration since I was out of onions! Omitted said onion, but threw the sliced garlic in first with some butter and followed the rest of your recipe to a tee.

    Still delicious without the onion! Could not believe how well it turned out for such easy steps. I served it with an italian sausage from Bi-rite Market on the side and dinner was made!

  2. I made this the other day and although it tasted fine, it ended up being very rich. I’m not sure what I did wrong; I followed the instructions exactly but mine ended up being real starchy and the noodles clumped together. It didn’t look anything like yours :(

  3. Made it with whole wheat noodles and added some kale – it was absolutely amazing… will become a regular part of the rotation.

  4. Yes! it works, AMAZING!!! Just make sure you constantly stir the pasta or it will stick to the bottom of your pan as it thickens. Love it, will make it over and over.

  5. Just made this and my Italian genetics are drinking wine and dancing for joy! Yummy squared, and easy to the 10th power! My family adores it as well, which is great and all, but if they didn’t, I’d make it for just me, and wolf it all down in one sitting. In fact, it’s a shame I have to share…..

  6. Gluten free pasta (Tinkyada brand is the best) works well but it is a bit stickier. Love this recipe

  7. I was sad when I realised I’d left my cherry tomatoes at work and couldn’t follow the recipe to the letter as planned. Happy accident: I used a tin of chopped tomatoes and adjusted the water, and wow! With the tinned tomatoes it tastes just like cannelloni. As I used gluten free pasta too it really has the texture of that dish. Amazing. I really can’t wait to try the proper recipe as you posted it. Thanks!

  8. Making this on Wednesday (again). This was delicious and easy. I LOVE to cook, but some nights I don’t have a ton of time. Plus I love how fun, beautiful, and fresh this is… before and after!

  9. I love this recipe so much! I’ve made it 3 times since you posted it and it’s just amazing. Easy, doesn’t take up too much time, and most importantly, it’s absolutely delicious. My picky-eater husband loves it to and has asked me to make it for dinner… again. So thanks for sharing this one!~ :D

  10. This method works well for me, though i had fewer ingredients (onion, broccoli/calabrese)to go with the pasta. I used a volume of water about 1 1/2 times the measured volume of pasta, which produced a nice thick sauce, enhanced with pesto stirred in near the end. I also poached an egg in a silicone poaching ‘bowl’ in the 4 minutes before it was done. It made a tasty meal and I think uses less electricity than doing the meal in 2 pans… also less washing-up! Thank you for this. I like the rest of your blog too, thanks.

  11. Thank for posting this recipe Tim! Add me to the list of people who experienced the following sequence of events:
    1. Felt scepticism about recipe
    2. Looked at all the people who experienced success
    3. Tested the recipe
    4. Loved the recipe and posted a note of gratitude

  12. Literally just made this and it looks SO good! Pretty much exactly like the photo!! :D Its really yummy as well, thanks!

  13. I just finished making this! We added broccoli and chicken breast (cooked separately and added at the end). I love it, but the family thinks that onions are still too crunchy for them, so next time I may start them first before adding the rest.

  14. I was just going to opt with some ramen noodles for dinner, but when I stumbled upon this recipe, I COULDN’T resist.
    I was skeptical at first and gathered the ingredients with great reluctance, but it didn’t disappoint me at all! I loved every single part of it.
    I personally added a little bit of tomato sauce and some pre-cooked chicken from another night’s meal.
    It was great! Thanks for posting!

  15. thanks for the recipe! i have made it 3 times and loved it. i love how fresh it tastes. i didn’t add anything. i like it as-is. (okay, maybe a little extra garlic!) and i love the onions. i was skeptical about putting in a whole onion the first time. but if you slice them nice and thin, they just blend in with the long pasta, and they add a nice texture. however, as you might expect, this dish is only as good as your tomatoes. i think mine were too acidic 2 out of the 3 times i made it…especially this last time. anyway, when my tomatoes are good and ripe (and sweet, not acidic!), i will make it again. good for leftovers too…

  16. Hi Carol,

    Thanks for checking in. Sugar might help, and is worth a try. I am generally not a huge fan of adding sugar to tomatoes, though I know a lot of people do this. I feel like I can always taste the lie. I think your plan to hold out for sweet tomatoes is a good one.

  17. oh, i meant to ask: would adding a little sugar have helped in cutting the acidity??

  18. Made it last night, came out perfect! What a win!

  19. Well aware that I’m late to the table on this post. Saw this on Martha Stewart but did you happen to see Deb’s spin on this recipe at Smitten Kitchen? She uses farro instead of the pasta & it needs to cook just ten minutes longer. The farro version has become a staple this summer. The flavors of all the ingredients play so well together and the farro has just a bit of chew to make a really satisfying meal. Thanks for getting this post out there! Awesome dish!

  20. I saw this one pot dish in the beginning of the summer and loved it! I added thin sliced zucchini to the dish for added veggies. The recipe that I have calls for a can of diced tomatoes so I used a can of organic fire roasted tomatoes and added extra tomatoes from my garden. I also added extra cheese. So yummy!

  21. I guess I’m late to the party because I haven’t seen or heard of this recipe before now. Nevertheless, I can’t wait to try it! Based on the number of reposts and comments, it’s bound to be a winner!

  22. I’m italian, and this is simply shameful. This is not how we make pasta.

  23. Whoa, Giusy! You’re taking this very seriously. The recipe is Italian, the editors of the magazine discovered it while traveling in Puglia. So, apparently this is (at least sometimes) how Italians make pasta. Buon appetito!

  24. tried this last night using some minor alterations and it was delicious :)

  25. Hi Tim, SO glad I checked back into the comments section of this post. Ha. Not only did I make this (didn’t add anything extra, btw!) and it was fantastic, but I am living in Florence now and went out to a fabulous and traditional restaurant the other night, where I had pasta that I am 99% sure was cooked using this method. I could just tell–the noodles had absorbed so much flavor from the rest of the dish. Believe it, Giusy!

  26. Just made this for dinner. My mother and brother loves it! Whenever my mom makes any pasta dish, she uses her ‘secret sauce’ so I thought I’d give it a try with this one. It works too. Haha! So glad I found this on tumblr. [:

  27. This is actually the best thing for a lazy student like myself. Absolutely delicious!

  28. I made this tonight because I’m going on a super long run tomorrow and wanted something simple and carby. I’m just mad I didn’t make this sooner! It’s really good and not just easy (and also, thank you, inexpensive and simple to prep.) Whee!

  29. Tried this recipe with angel hair pasta and it came out delicious!

  30. I will definitely try this recipe this week-end. Such a simple idea – looks delicious!

  31. This is very good ans simple! I added shrimp for extra zing.

  32. Tim! Didn’t have time to read all the comments above, so not sure if someone already wrote this, but I made this dish (again, for like the tenth time) today but substituted two of the cups of water for chicken broth. Even tastier!!!! Just though I’d write it here in case anyone was looking for a way to mix things up.

  33. Thanks for letting us know, Anna! Will try!

  34. Tried this recipe when I was home from the Uni and it was sure hit! My mom,dad, sister and friends loved it! Can’t wait to make another batch soon.

  35. Made this for dinner tonight and loved it! I also added shrimp and used heirloom tomoatoes. Absolutely delicious! Next time however I’ll skip the red pepper – it was spicier than I would have liked. Thanks for the great recipe!

  36. I made this for my family tonight and it was so easy and fantastic! I’m 17, and making it was super easy. The only thing was that it was a little spicy and it needed something so next time I’ll have to make some chicken or something with it. But it was super uber good and easy.
    Thank you so much for sharing!!

  37. I can’t get cherry tomatos, could I just use regular ones instead? Obviously, they’d need more chopping but would it still be ok?

  38. It’s great to see so many people loving this dish. I’m intrigued but cannot eat raw or undercooked onions or garlic. Does this cook them to where someone such as I won’t be bothered by them?

  39. Made this as written the first time, delicious. The second time I replaced some of the water with chicken broth and added arugula at the end! Yummy!

  40. I tried this recipe last night. Both me and my boyfriend were hovering, thinking “Is this actually going to work?”. It did, and it was amazing! So simple and completely delicious.

  41. Tried it with gluten-free corn flour pasta… I would not recommend it, the starch in the pasta made the sauce very (ironically) glutinous and sticky. The taste was wonderful though! Will definitely have to try with regular pasta. :)

  42. OMG! Just made this and love it. So full of flavor….! I especially enjoy the creaminess of the sauce, which you usually only find in risottos. Thanks for sharing this and greetings from Germany :)

  43. We LOVE this recipe! Our family eats this almost once a week! Great find, thanks for sharing!!

  44. Would this recipe work doubled? It looks fabulous, but we have a large family.

  45. Also, this sounds a lot like a dish we often got when we lived in Italy, but it usually had asparagus tips in it as well. If I wanted to add something like that, would I have to add a bit of water, too–is the liquid figured that precisely for this?

  46. I’ve been looking for one pot meals for our camping trip next weekend and this fits the bill. Thanks, I can’t wait to try it.