Everyone has always got a bag of penne pasta lingering in their kitchen cupboards. It’s an absolute kitchen staple – problem is, you might not know what to do with the pasta.
Sure, you can smother it in cheese or a tomato sauce, but surely there are more ways to cook with penne pasta, right?
Luckily for you, we’ve got you covered. Here are 26 amazing penne pasta recipes (see also ‘26 Tasty Farfalle Recipes‘) that are perfect for a quick weeknight meal or even a romantic date night on the weekend!
Chicken alfredo is the perfect comfort pasta dish enjoyed by everyone. This recipe is easy to follow and ideal for those starting in the world of cooking, or simply those looking for a quick weeknight meal.
It’s creamy, buttery, and protein-heavy – everything a good Italian pasta dish should be.
Serve your chicken alfredo alone or with chunks of garlic bread, with a generous sprinkle of Parmesan cheese.
If you’ve never tried penne alla vodka, be prepared for your life to change. This is the perfect excuse to use up the remains of a vodka bottle left in your cupboard (or the best excuse to buy another bottle!).
This recipe is easy to follow and makes a creamy, tomato pasta sauce with a distinctive tangy flavor, thanks to the vodka.
Serve this alone or with a chunk of bread to mop up the sauce after.
While jambalaya is traditionally a rice dish, the flavors of the iconic Creole and Cajun (see also ‘28 Easy Cajun Recipes‘) dish can be easily implemented into a pasta dish! It’s not complicated to make – in fact, this recipe only takes 30 minutes to complete.
This recipe features chicken breast and Italian sausage as the key ingredients, though these can be substituted with shrimp.
This recipe is a great way to use up every type of vegetable in your refrigerator.
Cheeseburger pasta? You read that right. Cheeseburger pasta is bound to be a family favorite dish that the kids will beg for every night.
Just like the iconic American burger, this dish consists of ground beef, cheddar cheese, mustard, and ketchup – except with pasta instead of between a burger bun.
To make the melted cheese slightly more crispy, put this pasta under the grill for a few minutes once done.
Sometimes, the simplest meals are the best. No combination works better than tomato and basil, especially in a pasta dish.
This recipe is extremely easy to make and fast to complete, making it perfect for a last-minute weeknight meal. Plus, it mostly uses up ingredients already found in your cupboard or refrigerator.
If you’re vegan, substitute the mozzarella and other cheeses for vegan alternatives.
Lemon and chicken is another highly popular flavor combination, and for good reason. When met with a creamy lemon sauce, the once-mild chicken bursts with flavor and creates a beautiful, juicy meat – perfect for incorporating into a pasta dish!
Plus, as the name suggests, this recipe can be cooked in a single pan, which is ideal for minimal washing up.
To top it all off, make sure to serve this pasta with a sprinkle of lemon zest and a lemon wedge.
Who said that penne pasta has to be served warm to be enjoyable?
Pasta salads are the perfect lunch to have throughout the week, and it doesn’t take too long to make – great for batch cooking at the weekend in preparation for the working week!
This recipe consists of penne, olives, cucumbers, tomatoes, and a light dressing.
This pasta salad can be eaten for a quick lunch or served as a side dish at a barbecue.
You know that awkward time after Halloween when you’ve the innards of pumpkins lying around? Time to use up the leftover pumpkin with this pumpkin pasta sauce recipe!
This recipe is effortlessly comforting thanks to its creamy and savory sauce, which works beautifully with a generous amount of Parmesan.
You can also use pumpkin purée if you don’t have access to a fresh pumpkin.
If you’re a lover of fish and spice, you have to try this spicy shrimp pasta recipe. This is a highly flavorful dish that is bound to become a family favorite, especially when you need to be warmed on a cold winter’s evening. Plus, this recipe is so versatile that you can substitute the shrimp for chicken, and you can alter the spiciness according to your preference.
It’s the awkward period after Thanksgiving when everyone is trying to creatively use up their leftover turkey. One highly underrated way to do this is by making a creamy turkey pasta dish.
This particular recipe is incredibly quick and easy to make, especially when you’ve got leftover turkey in the refrigerator anyway.
While this recipe calls for fusilli pasta, you can use penne pasta instead.
If you’ve got fussy eaters in the family who don’t like mushrooms, this recipe might just change their minds.
The combination of mushrooms and bacon in a creamy sauce works to reduce the earthy tones of mushrooms that some dislike, instead making them savory and delicious. Plus, this pasta is super healthy!
If you wish to make this dish vegetarian-friendly, you can substitute the bacon for smoked tofu or tempeh bacon.
This is a potentially rogue recipe, but bare with us. This pasta salad features penne pasta, feta cheese, baby spinach, balsamic glaze, and most uniquely, strawberries.
You’ll be surprised how the flavors and textures of the strawberries and pasta work together, making for a refreshing summer lunch. It’s sweet and savory – the perfect flavor combo!
Vegans and lactose intolerant folks, look away. This penne recipe is filled with all things dairy, including five different types of cheeses, making for a pasta dish absolutely oozing with cheesy goodness (for more of our favorite cheesy pasta recipes, read here).
It’s also ridiculously easy to make, and simply involves boiling the pasta and combining everything together in one pot.
The key to this recipe is to bake the pasta at the end to encourage the cheese to melt and provide a crispy top.
Time to combine two of Italy’s best dishes – pizza and pasta. While it sounds ridiculous, this pizza penne casserole recipe incorporates everything that makes pizza and pasta so delicious.
It’s also very versatile and easy to make, because it simply consists of combining the penne pasta with your favorite pizza toppings!
This recipe might include a lot of meat, but this can be easily substituted for vegan or vegetarian options.
If you’re on a budget or looking for a pasta recipe with limited ingredients, check out this ricotta and basil penne pasta recipe. This recipe takes about an hour to bake, making it the ideal easy meal during the week.
The combination of marinara sauce with ricotta and basil makes for a flavorful and delicious pasta dish – especially when baked to perfection.
You can’t go wrong with penne and pesto. This recipe takes only 20 minutes to make and is ideal for a quick lunch or dinner.
While you can use a jar of pesto if you’re in a rush, this recipe comes with instructions on how to make your own pesto, which is always a handy recipe to know. Plus, this dish can be served both warm or cold!
17. Rasta Pasta
If you love a range of flavors, check out this Rasta pasta recipe (see also ‘33 Tasty And Easy Pasta Recipes‘). This recipe features Caribbean-style jerk chicken, colorful bell peppers, and a creamy sauce that helps to mute the spicy flavors of the jerk seasoning.
You’ll be surprised how much flavor this dish holds, despite the fact that it only takes 30 minutes to cook!
Salsa verde is a notorious green salsa that is easy to make and full of flavor, which is perfect for pairing with penne pasta.
While you can buy pre-made salsa verde at the grocery store if you’re in a rush, this recipe includes instructions on how to make the sauce in a food processor. Just keep in mind that it includes anchovy paste, which isn’t vegan-friendly!
Red peppers are flavorsome enough as it is – but there’s something so special about roasted red peppers.
Roasted red peppers can be turned into an effortlessly flavorful pasta sauce, making for a creamy, comforting, and incredibly nutritious pasta dish for everyone to enjoy.
You can either roast the red peppers yourself, or buy them in a jar to make it easier.
If you’re not in the mood for something spicy, check out this French onion penne recipe (see also ‘33 Traditional French Recipes‘). Inspired by the beloved French onion soup, this pasta dish is delicate and divine – perfect for a romantic date night dinner.
The key is to caramelize the onions along with the mushrooms to provide a satisfying combination of sweet and savory.
There’s something so good about sun dried tomatoes. When incorporated into a pasta dish, the tartness of the sun dried tomatoes becomes slightly milder – especially in a cheesy, creamy sauce.
This recipe is really easy and quick to make, featuring sun dried tomatoes alongside a bell pepper, baby spinach, Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, garlic, and seasoning.
There’s something so warming about a bowl of spicy sausage pasta. This recipe uses spicy Italian sausages, with the optional addition of cayenne pepper or chili flakes to add more spice, to make for a hearty and delicious meal.
We all know the best way to cook vegetables is to roast them. This recipe brings in all the wonderful flavors of roasted vegetables to make for a simple and effortlessly delicious pasta dish.
This is a great way to use up vegetables in your refrigerator. Of course, serve with a generous sprinkle of Parmesan cheese.
There’s something so beautiful about cooking with salmon. It’s tender, juicy, and so flavorful – especially when incorporated into a pasta dish with a creamy sauce.
This recipe is great for random weeknights and date nights alike – especially the latter if you take the time to make it presentable!
If you’ve got leftover ham from a roast dinner, it’s time to use it up in a pasta dish! This recipe is highly flavorful thanks to its creamy, garlic-heavy sauce and salty baked ham, making it perfect for soothing those savory cravings.
Be warned – this is the type of dinner your kids will demand every week.
Last but not least, this recipe is great for using up ingredients found in your cupboard. Pasta bakes are great for their quick preparation and fairly long cooking time, allowing you to do chores around the house while it’s cooking.
This tuna pasta bake is particularly delicious and bound to be a family-favorite for years to come.
So, there you have it! Turns out, there are countless ways to cook penne pasta. Hopefully, this guide has given you some inspiration to explore new pasta dishes. Enjoy!
Frequently Asked Questions
What Sauce Goes Well With Penne?
Due to the tube-like shape of penne pasta, this type of pasta (see also ‘13 Delicious Types Of Pasta & Their Uses‘) works best with thick sauces like cheesy sauces or ragu. This is because the shape captures thicker sauces better than thinner ones.
Just keep in mind that the sauce stored inside the penne can be hot as a result of the tube shape!
Pasta shaped with ridged edges or curves, such as fusilli, are better for capturing oil-based and thinner sauces due to their shape.
Why Is Penne Pasta So Popular?
Penne pasta is so popular because it is affordable, highly accessible, and very versatile to cook with! There are countless ways to make an interesting penne pasta dish, making it a popular choice for households around the world.