Easy One-Pot Pasta

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This one-pot pasta recipe combines spaghetti with ripe fresh tomatoes and herbs. Nobody likes to clean dishes, so the noodles cook in the same pan as the light and flavorful sauce. It’s an easy dinner any day of the week!

One Pot Pasta with Tomatoes and Basil

Sometimes you need a quick weeknight meal that’s low stress and minimal mess. That’s where this tasty pasta dish comes in handy. This recipe transforms cherry tomatoes into a fragrant sauce to coat tender strands of spaghetti. What makes this dish easy is that you can cook everything all in one place, and in under 30 minutes.

A gourmet one-pot meal starts with using a combination of fresh ingredients with simple pantry items. The fruit, vegetables, and herbs saute first, then simmer in a savory stock with the dried pasta. I’ll show you the proper ratio for cooking the noodles to get successful results each time. Once you master the base recipe, feel free to throw in any additional chopped vegetables or proteins for extra fiber or protein.

compilation of four photos of tomatoes and pasta cooking

Use fresh tomatoes for the sauce

You can use any type of fresh tomato to make the sauce. I use cherry tomatoes because they are typically very sweet and their skin is thin. When cut in half, briefly sauteed and simmered, their flesh bursts to create a light tomato sauce. The tender skin remains which adds an interesting texture to the dish.

You can use any ripe diced tomatoes you have on hand, just keep them in larger ½-inch chunks. Avoid using the canned version as they sometimes contain calcium chloride which doesn’t break down like we want for the sauce.

Pasta selection

Use long and slender types of pasta like spaghetti or bucatini. They both hold up well while boiling and get nicely coated in the sauce. Angel hair will work also and cooks faster. Other shorter cuts like penne are a good option, however, you may need to adjust the water and cook time.

For this recipe, I use 8 ounces of dried pasta. You can easily double that amount, although if you do, increase all of the other ingredients proportionally and keep an eye and adjust the cooking time as necessary.

Spoon stirring a pot of spaghetti noodles

Water amount needed to cook the pasta

What’s enticing about making one-pot pasta is not having to set up a separate boiling station for the noodles. I always like the idea of not wasting water and having less to clean up. The key is the ratio of water-to-pasta.

For every 8 ounces of dried noodles, you need at least 4 cups (1 quart) of liquid. I use a combination of water and chicken stock for a more flavorful sauce. If you’re making a bigger batch, make sure the pot is large enough to hold the volume of additional liquid, at least 5 to 6-quart sized.

Freshly grated parmesan cheese and chopped basil on top of pasta noodles

How to make one-pot pasta

To elevate the flavor of the sauce, first saute the onions, garlic, and dried herbs in hot olive oil. If you like a spicier taste, sprinkle in some red peppers flakes as well. Cooking the herbs and peppers in the fat releases more fat-soluble flavor compounds before adding in the liquids.

Saute the cut tomatoes for a few minutes with salt and pepper to soften and season the fruit for better flavor development. Add the pasta, chicken stock, and water then bring the ingredients to a boil. The hot liquids will soften the pasta and cook the tomatoes in about 10 minutes.

Ways to serve this dish

For simplicity, add freshly grated parmesan cheese and freshly chopped parsley or fresh basil on top. Plus an extra drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil adds richness to the dish. To get creative, I’ll add in slices of sauteed mushrooms, zucchini, or chicken breast for a nutritious boost. I also like to make chicken parmesan or meatballs to pair for a heartier meal.

Close up of a one pot pasta with cherry tomatoes

How starches help to create a better pasta sauce

There are benefits for cooking all of the ingredients together in one pot. Instead of being left behind in a separate pot of water, the starches released from the pasta remain and swell to become more viscous and sticky. This helps to create a slightly thickened tomato sauce. Frequently stir the pot to keep the noodles from sticking together and evenly distribute the starches for better coating.

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One-Pot Pasta

This one-pot pasta recipe combines spaghetti with ripe fresh tomatoes and herbs. It's an easy dinner to make any day of the week!
4.93 from 52 votes
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time15 minutes
Total Time30 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Course Entree
Cuisine Italian


  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • ½ cup yellow onion, ¼-inch dice
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
  • teaspoon red pepper flakes, optional
  • 1 pound cherry tomatoes, about 3 cups, halved
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 8 ounces spaghetti, dried
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 cup unsalted chicken stock, or broth
  • ¼ cup parmesan cheese, freshly grated, plus more for sprinkling
  • 1 tablespoon basil, thinly sliced


  • Heat a large high sided skillet or dutch oven over medium heat. Add ¼ cup olive oil, once hot add the onion. Cook until fragrant and begins to turn translucent, about 2 minutes.
  • Add the garlic, Italian seasonings, and chili flakes (if using), stir, and cook for 30 seconds.
  • Add the tomatoes, salt, and pepper. Stir and cook until the tomatoes start to soften, about 2 minutes.
  • Add the pasta, water, and chicken stock. Bring the liquid to a boil over high heat. Cook and stir frequently, until the pasta is tender and water has mostly evaporated, keeping a small amount in the pan to create a light sauce, about 10 to 12 minutes. Add more water if needed, ½ cup at a time for a softer pasta. Turn off the heat.
  • Add parmesan cheese and basil, stir to combine. Drizzle pasta with a little extra-virgin olive oil.
  • Taste and season with more salt and pepper as desired.
  • Garnish with more cheese, basil, and black pepper. Divide among plates and serve warm.

Nutrition Facts

Serves: 4 servings
Calories 397kcal (20%)Carbohydrates 51g (17%)Protein 12g (24%)Fat 17g (26%)Saturated Fat 3g (15%)Cholesterol 4mg (1%)Sodium 436mg (18%)Potassium 454mg (13%)Fiber 3g (12%)Sugar 5g (6%)Vitamin A 648IU (13%)Vitamin C 28mg (34%)Calcium 120mg (12%)Iron 2mg (11%)

Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000-calorie diet. All nutritional information is based on estimated third-party calculations. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods, and portion sizes per household.

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Jessica Gavin

I'm a culinary school graduate, cookbook author, and a mom who loves croissants! My passion is creating recipes and sharing the science behind cooking to help you gain confidence in the kitchen.

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Reader Interactions

39 Comments Leave a comment or review

  1. Dr. K says

    One Pot Pasta is Fantastic. O did not have cherry tomatoes, used Arkansas Travellers from my garden (little bigger than cherry), they broke down more, but delicious anyway.
    Recipe for four, two finished off three serving. Fourth warmed up well for lunch the next day,
    Definitely repeat, with cherry tomatoes!

  2. Emily Simpson says

    I made this last week for my family – it was a big hit! Even my tomato-hating husband enjoyed it. I recently injured my left hand, so this one pot meal was also a life-saver because there was less heavy lifting and dishes!

      • Emily says

        Just made this recipe again…it really is soooo good! I had been trying to make fresh tomato sauce using the abundance of tomatoes we grew this year, but finally decided to try this as an easy one pan dinner AND use up the tomatoes. It did not disappoint! Thank you!!

  3. Felecia B says

    Jessica, kudos on this recipe! I didn’t change a thing! Your directions and tips are very helpful. One Pot Pasta has become a staple in my house. Very easy to make and so delicious. My family is happy to take leftovers (smile) so I always make extra!

  4. Clara Wheeler says

    This recipe was delicious! I generally dislike tomatoes, but loved this dish. Thanks for all your great recipes, Jessica! l’ve tried five or six of your recipes so far and they’ve all turned out great.

  5. Julie Deal says

    I made this last night. It comes together so simply and in no time. It was delicious and my husband loved it. Definitely making again!

  6. London says

    I am 13 years old and love to cook but not anything to hard and this recipe was great ! it was super easy and simple and easy to follow . It was so good very tasty! thanks so much for sharing this recipe

  7. RuthAnne Leibman says

    After following the recipe to the letter, I ended up with pasta soup. After adding another package of pasta the moisture seems to have been appropriate absorbed by the pasta. We will see how things taste now but we are a little frustrated with the result.

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Thank you for your feedback! Were the noodles tender with the excess liquid? I cook until most of the water has mostly evaporated, and as the pasta sits it will continue to absorb some of the water. Let me know how it ended up tasting, would love to hear.

  8. Dee says

    Delish! Subbed vegetable stock for chicken as we are plant based and omitted cheese. My 5 year old had two adult size servings ?

    Definitely keeping on the weeknight meal rotation.

  9. Patti says

    I made this tonight and it was amazing! I always use more garlic and tore it in the garlic twistie thing because it gives me larger irregular pieces. I used fresh reggiano and frsh linguini. I had quite a bit of sauce left over which is what I wanted. It was so so good, so much flavor. I used Italian seasoning as you said and added some very nice Greek oregano, dried, because it tastes so good.
    I had a loaf of sourdough with roasted garlic I had made, so after the pasta was gone I took a piece and cleaned the bowl with that! Too delicious.
    Thank you for this recipe. A new favorite.

  10. Amanda says

    Flavor is good, but the pasta gelled together making it really mushy. I would make this again, but prepare the noodles separately and then add to tomatoe mixture.

    • Jessica Gavin says

      I appreciate your feedback, Amanda! Perhaps next time if you want to try the one pot stye again, perhaps use a little more water to dilute some of the starches as the pasta expands?

      • Barbara says

        Jessica, I am hoping to make this for supper tonight with some fresh pasta that I made and froze. Since forest pasta cooks faster, I suspect that the liquid might need to be adjusted. Over the last year have you played around with using fresh pasta with this recipe or do you have some suggestions?

        I have made a similar dish before and it was delicious.

        • Jessica Gavin says

          Hi Barbara- I have not tried making the one pot pasta with fresh noodles. I agree that you will likely need less liquid and it will cook much faster. I would start with 1 cup broth and 1 cup water. Gradually adding more water one it’s almost absorbed, cooking until the pasts is al dente. Let me know how it goes!

  11. Terrie says

    The one pan spaghetti is delicious. Will be one of my favorite new recipes. I did add some crushed pepper flakes. I think it’s a must to cook the pasta in the pan with the spices, tomatoes, onions and garlic. Added so much flavor to the spaghetti.

  12. Maria T. says

    I picked grape tomatoes and basil in my garden this morning and made this dish for dinner. The flavor was really intensified by reducing the liquid. More delicious that I thought it would be. Really easy too. It was H O T outside so I appreciated one pot and no oven. Husband really enjoyed it along with me. I have so many grape tomatoes I’ll make this again and again.

  13. Michelle says

    A new favorite!! Delicious and easy to make! I used angel hair pasta instead of spaghetti and it worked fine. Instead of 3 cups of water and 1 cup of unsalted chicken broth, I used 1 can of low sodium chicken broth (14.5 oz) and cooked for app 10 minutes.

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