Pasta topped with a rich, tomatoey sauce makes for a warm, comforting, and satisfying meal. But who has time for a long, complicated sauce on a busy weeknight? One Pot Pasta with Tomato Sauce streamlines the process so you can get a pasta dinner on the table fast without compromising on flavor.

The Magic of One Pot Pasta

One pot pasta is a game-changer in the kitchen. It’s a method where you cook the pasta and sauce together in one pot, saving you time and effort. Not only does it simplify the cooking process, but it also allows the pasta to absorb all the flavors of the sauce, resulting in a delicious and comforting dish. No need to boil the pasta separately or worry about draining it. With one pot pasta, everything happens in a single pan, making it an ideal recipe for busy weeknights or lazy weekends when you want a satisfying meal without too much cleanup.

Ingredients for One Pot Pasta with Tomato Sauce

To make this easy one pot pasta, you’ll need just a handful of simple ingredients:

  • Pasta – penne, rotini, or rigatoni work well. Look for a short, sturdy shape that will hold up well when cooked together with the sauce.
  • Ground beef – lean ground beef provides protein and richness. Alternatively, you can use ground turkey or Italian sausage.
  • Onion and garlic – an onion and a few cloves of garlic provide an aromatic base for the sauce.
  • Canned tomatoes – crushed or diced tomatoes add fresh tomato flavor with less prep time.
  • Tomato paste – concentrates the tomato flavor.
  • Beef or chicken broth – provides moisture so the pasta cooks perfectly.
  • Italian seasoning – dried herbs give that classic Italian flair.
  • Parmesan cheese – stirred in at the end for a touch of creaminess.

One Pot Cooking Method

The beauty of one pot pasta recipes like this lies in the simplified cooking method:

Sauté the Aromatics

Start by sautéing the onion and garlic in olive oil for a few minutes to release their flavors.

Brown the Meat

Next add the ground beef, breaking it up with a wooden spoon as it cooks until no longer pink.

Simmer the Sauce

Stir in the canned tomatoes, tomato paste, broth, and spices. Let the sauce simmer while…

Cook the Pasta

You add the dry pasta right to the sauce! No need to pre-cook it. The pasta absorbs moisture from the sauce as everything bubbles away.

Finish with Cheese

When the pasta is al dente, remove from heat and stir in the Parmesan cheese before serving. So easy!

The one pot cooking method means less dishes to wash at the end too – just the pot and the plates.

Choosing the Right Pasta for One Pot Dishes

The best pastas for one pot cooking hold their shape well and have textures that stand up to the sauce:


With its short tubular shape, penne pasta withstands the stirring and simmering required for one pot pasta perfection. Ridges on the surface grab sauce flavor too.


Rotini has a firm twist shape that retains texture in saucy dishes. Its nooks and crannies catch delicious sauce.


Like penne, rigatoni has a short, sturdy shape designed for baking and casseroles, so it works nicely for one pot pasta dishes. The tubes become flavorful sauce carriers.

Go with one of these or another small sturdy shape like farfalle or gemelli. Avoid delicate pastas like spaghetti or angel hair that will turn to mush with prolonged simmering.

One Pot Pasta Sauce Variations

Once you master the simple tomato sauce, try these easy variations for new flavors:

Bolognese Sauce

For a meatier bolognese sauce, use a 50/50 blend of beef and Italian sausage. Add minced carrots, celery, and onion. Cook down with red wine and milk.

Alfredo Sauce

Skip the tomatoes and make a one pot alfredo! Use chicken broth, heavy cream, butter, garlic, and Parmesan. Stir tender farfalle or fettuccine right into the smooth sauce.

Vodka Sauce

For a restaurant-worthy vodka sauce, follow the tomato sauce recipe but replace some of the broth with vodka. Allow the alcohol to cook off before adding cheese. Toss with penne or rigatoni.

Pesto Sauce

Transform it into pesto pasta by leaving out the tomato and beef. Use chicken broth as the base. Stir in fresh or frozen pesto and Parmesan cheese just before serving hot over fusilli or campanelle.

One Pot Pasta Add-Ins

Take your one pot pasta from basic to fabulous with these easy mix-in ideas:

Sliced Peppers and Onions

For crunch and color, slice a red, orange, or yellow bell pepper and an onion. Sauté before adding tomatoes and pasta.

Fresh Spinach or Kale

Add a handful of spinach or kale leaves at the end to lightly wilt for an extra serving of greens.

Frozen Peas

Stir in a cup of frozen peas when the pasta is al dente for some added nutrition sneaked into this one pot meal.

Broccoli Florets

If you want more veggies, throw in some bite-sized broccoli florets to boil for the last few minutes the pasta cooks.

Italian Sausage

Replace some or all of the ground beef with sliced Italian sausage. The flavorful meat infuses the sauce as everything simmers.

Caramelized Mushrooms

Give your red sauce an earthy flavor boost by sautéing sliced mushrooms before adding tomatoes and pasta. They’ll caramelize nicely.

One Pot Pasta FAQs

Have questions about making this easy one pot pasta recipe? Here are answers to some frequently asked questions:

Does the Pasta Get Soggy?

Nope! As long as you follow recipe timing and use a sturdy pasta shape like penne rigate or rotini, it holds its texture nicely while soaking up just enough flavorful sauce.

Do I Preheat the Oven?

No preheating needed. Everything cooks right on the stovetop in one pot so you can skip heating up the whole oven.

What If the Sauce Gets Too Thick?

No problem, just stir in a splash more broth, water, or even wine if the sauce starts getting too thick before the pasta finishes cooking. Add a little at a time until it reaches desired consistency.

Can I Prepare the Sauce Ahead?

Absolutely! Make a batch or two of the tomato sauce on the weekend. Let cool completely before portioning out and freezing up to 3 months. Thaw sauce to toss with pasta on a busy weeknight.

What Sides Go Well with This Dish?

Bread and salad make classic pairings. Warm garlic bread or breadsticks are nice. For salad, try Caesar or Italian chopped salad. Steamed broccoli also makes a nice complement to the flavors.

One Pot Pasta with Tomato Sauce: An Easy, Versatile Family Meal

With minimal ingredients, effort, and just one pot to wash, One Pot Pasta with Tomato Sauce makes for an easy, budget-friendly way to get dinner on the table. You can rely on this recipe again and again, switching up pasta shapes, vegetables, and proteins for variety. Kids and adults alike will love tucking into generous bowls filled with pasta cloaked in rich, robust tomato sauce. This sauce also freezes well, so you can double it and have future quick meals ready-to-go.

One pot pasta delivers a comforting, homemade classic full of possibilities that will have the whole family asking for seconds!


For an effortless, hearty pasta dinner the whole family will love, One Pot Pasta with Tomato Sauce can’t be beat. The simple cooking method means easy prep and clean-up while still delivering big, crowd-pleasing flavor. Customize it with add-ins to give this weeknight staple even more variety. With endless possibilities for adaptations, you’ll want to make this simple recipe again and again!

“Did you enjoy this One Pot Pasta with Tomato Sauce recipe? Follow us on Instagram @ketotacosalad for more delicious keto recipes and mouthwatering food photos!

Myra Henry created the Keto Taco Salad blog to share my favorite delicious low-carb recipes without sacrificing flavor. when i started the keto diet 2 years ago, I discovered a love for making healthy Mexican dishes like keto taco salads. My blog features easy keto taco salad recipes and tips for keto success.

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