3 Easy Pasta Recipes the Kids Will Love

Kids Smiling Laughing Eating Spaghetti And Meatballs

It’s one of those run-around-town kind of weeknights and you need to get dinner going pronto. What do you reach for? An easy pasta recipe, one with a lotta sauce and zero sass.

We’ve pulled three weeknight pasta recipes from our cookbook that are quick, simple, and definitely kid-approved. Comforting Spaghetti and Meatballs. Creamy No-Bake Mac and Cheese. And no-fuss, so-delicious Penne With Meat Sauce. Each dish features a few recipe notes to help you zhuzh things up. Dig in!

Ronzoni Spaghetti And Meatballs Pasta Being Served From Large Bowl
Joyful Kids Side By Side At Dinner Table Eating Spaghetti Pasta

Twirl Up Homemade Spaghetti and Meatballs

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  • Prep Time: 25 Minutes
  • Cook Time: 25 Minutes
  • Serves: 6

Saucy and fun to eat, our Spaghetti and Meatballs is an easy pasta recipe on weeknights you need a quick-enough fill-up. In less than an hour, you’ll have a silky homemade tomato sauce seasoned with garlic, basil, and oregano to swirl up twirls of spaghetti. Topped with baked meatballs, a warm welcome on every size plate.

Quick Tips To Make It Yours

Want to speed up the cook time? Here are a couple ways:

Switch out handmade meatballs for frozen Italian meatballs cooked to package directions (and skip to step 5 in the recipe). If you go this route, consider throwing a bit of olive oil in the pan before cooking your onions and garlic. The oil brings a silky smooth finish to the sauce that would come from cooking the meatballs.

Trade fresh onions for either 1.5 Tbsp of minced onions OR ½ Tbsp of onion powder. Swap fresh garlic for 1/8 tsp garlic powder. Skip step 5 in the recipe altogether when making these changes, and add the seasoning during step 6.

Ideas To Make It a Meal:
  • Add a side of garlic bread
  • For littles, cut up carrots or celery sticks 
  • Small side salad with ranch or Caesar dressing
Ronzoni Easy Macaroni And Cheese In Bowl For Weeknight Dinner
Smiling Girl With Spoonful Of Mac And Cheese Pasta

Skip the Bake With Easy Mac and Cheese

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  • Prep Time: 10 Minutes
  • Cook time: 15 Minutes
  • Serves: 6

It’s mac and cheese — of course kids of all ages will clean their plates. And, there’s no need to preheat the oven. Meal makers, rejoice! Cheddar and gouda melt into a deliciously creamy sauce that clings to each tubular elbow pasta. Simple spices like black pepper make this 25-minute dish your new happy place.

Quick Tips To Make It Yours

Want to get creative with this recipe? Here are some ways to switch it up:

Gouda isn’t good to everyone. Try Monterey-Jack or Colby-Jack cheese instead, equally mild flavors to Gouda but can please more palettes. 

Have fun with pasta shapes! There are so many unique and tasty pasta shapes to pair with mac and cheese. Give one of these 5 fun pasta shapes a try.

Lightly seasoned, this mac is an easy pasta recipe to spice up. Add garlic or onion powder to enhance the savory. Sprinkle a dash of chili powder for depth. Or bring a bit of heat with red pepper flakes. Season individually for custom plates!

Ideas To Make It a Meal:
  • Add a side of steamed broccoli florets
  • Cook peas and toss them in with the pasta and sauce
  • Throw in some chopped or shredded chicken breast. Add less pasta so your recipe stays cheesy.
Ronzoni Quick Easy Pasta With Meat Sauce Serving In Dish
Smiling Child Eating Bite Of Pasta With Red Sauce

Make a Savory Quick Penne and Meat Sauce

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  • Prep Time: 5 Minutes
  • Cook Time: 25 Minutes
  • Serves: 6

Finely ridged penne rigate pasta. A jar of your favorite pasta sauce. And perfectly browned ground beef. That is one tasty forkful. Or, for little ones, a tasty handful. Done in just 30 minutes using ingredients many of us have at hand, this is one of those extra-hectic weeknight pasta recipes to bookmark.

Quick Tips To Make It Yours

Want to make the most of this simple recipe? Try these few tips:

Pasta sauce and browned beef go with so many pasta shapes. Try Mostaccioli Rigati. Ziti or its ridged sibling, Ziti Rigati. Or even Rigatoni. Most pasta shapes lying around the house will work deliciously.

When picking a jarred sauce, look for ones that use whole tomatoes rather than puree or paste, and fresh herbs rather than dehydrated. It might surprise you to learn that many store brand sauces scored high in taste tests!

Pasta water is so handy. Combine a little with your sauce to make it extra silky. The starch in the water helps sauce cling to each piece of pasta.

Ideas To Make It a Meal:
  • Sauteed zucchini strips lightly seasoned with garlic powder and black pepper
  • Sliced red peppers and dipping ranch
  • Add in an extra veggie to the recipe like sliced mushrooms (add in during step 3)

With easy pasta recipes like these, the only thing reaching the boiling point is your pasta pot — not your schedule. For more scrumptious dinner ideas, check out our ever-expanding cookbook.