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How To Make a One-Pot Pasta with Any Ingredients

Created September 26, 2018
One Pot Pasta
One of our favorite weeknight no-fuss meals just got a lot more versatile—now you can make it with any ingredients you have on hand.

There’s no mystery why one-pot recipes are big hits with home cooks: they’re low on dishes and effort, but big on flavor. But here’s a secret: you don’t need to stick to a set-in-stone recipe to make one of these ultra-simple dishes—really! We’ve cracked the code on how to build a one pot pasta that uses up ingredients you have on hand, with no trip to the store necessary.

The Framework:

For a one pot pasta dinner, you need 1 to 1 1/4 pounds of protein, 1 1/2 to 2 cups of long-cooking vegetables, 1 container (32 oz) Progresso chicken broth, either 1 can (14.5 oz) Muir Glen organic fire-roasted crushed tomatoes or 1 cup of heavy cream and 12 ounces of pasta, 1/2 to 1 cup of short-cooking vegetables, and your choice of extras like cheese, herbs and panko bread crumbs.

Here’s how to put it all together:


The Ingredients

Whenever you’re craving a hearty pasta dinner, gather up your choice of the following ingredient types:

  • Cooking fat: Olive oil, butter, vegetable oil, bacon fat
  • Protein: Sausage, chicken thighs or breasts, extra-lean ground beef, ground pork
  • Long-cooking vegetables: Onion, bell peppers, broccoli, carrots, the white part of green onions
  • Cooking liquid: Broth, plus one of the following—crushed tomatoes, heavy cream
  • Pasta: Short shapes like penne, elbow, fusilli, cavatappi, gemelli, farfalle, ziti
  • Short-cooking vegetables: Baby spinach, baby kale, arugula, frozen peas, frozen corn, frozen edamame, canned beans, canned crushed tomatoes, jarred vegetables like artichokes, roasted bell peppers, pimientos, olives
  • Toppings/Stir-ins: Herbs, cheese, Panko bread crumbs

The Method

Method for One Pot Pasta

Once you’ve got your ingredients gathered, it’s time to get cooking. Use these guidelines that apply no matter what’s going in the pot:

  1. Brown your selected protein in 1 to 2 tablespoons of cooking fat with salt and pepper.
  2. Add your selected long-cooking vegetables and cook until they’re browned and/or softened.
  3. Stir in your broth, additional liquid and pasta. Simmer and stir often until the pasta is cooked through and the sauce thickens.
  4. Stir in your short-cooking vegetables and cheese and herbs if using.
  5. If using panko bread crumbs, top the finished pasta with them, without stirring them in.

Need-to-Know Tips

Familiarize yourself with these tips and you’ll be on your way to making foolproof one-pots every time:

  • Stirring is crucial, especially toward the end of cooking, when the cooking liquid has reduced into a sauce. If you don’t keep stirring, the sauce can stick and burn.
  • Using extra-lean ground beef (at least 90% lean) is a good idea because you won’t need to drain oil from a hot, heavy pot.
  • Smaller pasta shapes generally perform best in one-pot pastas. Spaghetti or fettuccine can work too, but we advise breaking them in half before adding; they’ll be easier to incorporate.
  • Angel hair pasta is too delicate for one-pot pastas—it ends up gummy.
  • For one-pot pastas, the pasta cooks in a flavorful liquid and thickens it as well. The cooking liquid turns into a sauce, so there’s no need to drain the pasta!

Try It Out

We created two one-pot pastas using this framework as a guide. If you’re more comfortable cooking from a failsafe recipe, give these a try!