Ridiculously Easy 5 Ingredient Pasta Recipes

You want to survive a long winter without delivery apps draining your wallet dry? Feeling so lazy you’re borderline comatose? Craving something comforting during lockdown? It’s 5 ingredient pasta time.

You and I already know a good bowl of Pasta is criminally satisfying, and anything you can make with 5 ingredients or less is almost like cheating, so when these are combined a 5 ingredient pasta recipe is basically magic.

From time immemorial, our bodies crave the basics of survival: salt, fat and starch. And studies show that this seeming endless COVID-19 crisis leads to more carbo-loading to help regulate our moods. So these recipes are pretty much perfect.

But let’s be real, if you’re reading a list of 5 ingredient pasta recipes, you’re probably not looking for something complicated or to solve a deep emotional need.

You want big flavours and easy instructions. We got you.

These 5 ingredient pasta recipes are super simple, satisfying and use easy to find ingredients and require barely more effort than calling for delivery.

Before we start: yes, you’ll need some basics like butter, salt, pepper, olive oil and water. The rest of these can be stashed away in your pantry or fridge all winter long, so next time you’re out in the world, make note and take stock and next time your carb craving hits, you’ll be ready.

1.) Penne Arrabbiata

Image by Engin Akyurt from Pixabay

Literally “Angry” in Italian, Arribbiata is a simple, spicy Tomato sauce that’s dead simple to make and still packs big flavour.

Got Penne or Rigatoni kicking around your cupboards? Use it: This is perfect 5 ingredient pasta for any ridged pasta or even tortellini in a pinch…just don’t use Spaghetti.

But the key to a great Arrabbiata? Don’t cheap out on your canned tomatoes.


  • 1 28 ounce can whole peeled San Marizano tomatoes (yes they really are worth it)
  • 1 Hot Pepper, sliced thinly
  • 3 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 6 fresh basil leaves chopped
  • 200g Penne or Rigatoni


  1. Fill a pot with 6 cups salted water and bring to a boil
  2. Add 3 tbps olive oil to a pan on medium heat.
  3. Add 100g per person of pasta to your pot, cooking until al dente (9-11 minutes on rolling boil)
  4. While your pasta cooks, add your garlic and peppers to the pan, cooking 2-3 minutes until the garlic begins to brown
  5. Add your tomatoes (with puree) and smush up with a wooden spoon, stirring until sauce beings to simmer
  6. Add red pepper flakes, salt and pepper to taste and let simmer uncovered
  7. When pasta finishes, drain and return to pot with 1 tsp oil to prevent sticking, cover and set aside
  8. When Sauce has cooked 7-10 minutes, you’re ready to rock
  9. Add pasta to your bowl, top with chopped basil (cheese optional for this one). Boom: perfect 5 ingredient pasta!

2.) Brown Butter Gnocchi with Walnuts

Image by Umbe Ber from Pixabay

A perfect 5 ingredient pasta recipe for a winter movie night, ready made Gnocchi is cheap and shelf stable, making it a no-brainer to grab a package for your pantry next time you’re around an Italian market. Paired with this incredible simple, savoury sauce, you’re guaranteed a satisfying meal that puts delivery to shame.


  • 6 tablespoons salted butter
  • 1 tablespoon red pepper flakes
  • 4 sage leaves, thinly sliced
  • 1 Tbsp Chopped Walnuts
  • 1/2 Cup Grated Parmesean


  1. Fill a pot with 6 cups salted water and bring to a boil.
  2. Melt the butter in a large skillet over high heat. Cook, stirring, until the butter develops brown flecks and smells nutty.HEADS UP: Watch it closely to keep the butter solids from burning.When ready, immediately remove from heat.
  3. Add Gnocchi to pot, they wont take more than 60 seconds to float to the surface. Test one to ensure it’s done.
  4. Return the brown butter to medium-low heat and scoop the gnocchi from the pot with a slotted spoon into your pan and toss until some of the brown-butter flecks stick to the gnocchi.
  5. Add the red pepper flakes, sage and a few tablespoons of the gnocchi cooking water; toss again.
  6. Remove from the heat and add half of the cheese and your walnuts.
  7. Divide among bowls and top with the remaining cheese.
  8. Cry because it’s so good. (it’s okay, we all have)

3.) Cacio E pepe

Image by Waldrebell from Pixabay


A classic 5 ingredient pasta (well, 4 technically) where the cheese is the star, this one’s deceptively easy and packs a magically, satisfying sauce over top of simple spaghetti.


  • 6 oz. spaghetti, or anything, really.
  • 3 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cubed, divided
  • 1 tsp. freshly cracked black pepper
  • ¾ cup finely grated Grana Padano or Parmesan


  1. Bring 3 quarts water to a boil in a 5-qt. pot. Season with salt; add pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until about 2 minutes before tender. Drain, reserving ¾ cup pasta cooking water.
  2. Meanwhile, melt 2 Tbsp. butter in a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Add pepper and cook, swirling pan, until toasted, about 1 minute.
  3. Add ½ cup reserved pasta water to skillet and bring to a simmer. Add pasta and remaining butter. Reduce heat to low and add Grana Padano, stirring and tossing with tongs until melted.
  4. Remove pan from heat; stirring and tossing until cheese melts, sauce coats the pasta, and pasta is al dente. (Add more pasta water if sauce seems dry.)
  5. Transfer pasta to warm bowls and serve.

4.) Spaghetti Carbonara

Image by Jan Vašek from Pixabay

Another 5 ingredient pasta recipe perfect for winter, this smokey, creamy pasta (that NEVER actually uses cream) will warm up your cockles on a cold day.


  • 8 ounces spaghetti
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • 4 slices bacon, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced


  1. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta according to package instructions; reserve 1/2 cup water and drain well.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together eggs and Parmesan; set aside.
    Heat a large skillet over medium high heat.
  3. Add bacon and cook until brown and crispy, about 6-8 minutes; reserve excess fat.
    Stir in garlic until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  4. Reduce heat to low.
    Working quickly, stir in pasta and egg mixture, and gently toss to combine; season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  5. Add reserved pasta water, one tablespoon at a time, until desired consistency is reached.
  6. Serve immediately.

5.) Creamy Butternut Squash Penne

Image by Nick Collins from Pixabay

Another option for those craving something rich but with slightly less guilt, our final 5 ingredient pasta is a dark horse contender that uses an oven to deliver a rich caramelized flavour to your pasta sauce.


1 Butternut Squash, Peeled and cut into cubes
1 cup parmesean
1 onion
200g Penne or Rigatoni


  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F.
  2. Toss the squash cubes in a bowl with 1 tablespoon of the oil and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt (if using) and mix well. Spread onto a lined baking pan in a single layer and roast for 20 to 30 minutes until soft. Increase the oven temperature to broil and broil the squash for 2 minutes more to get a nice dark edge on the outside.
  3. When the squash is almost done, bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat.
  4. Add 1 tablespoon of the salt (if using) and the penne and cook according to the package instructions until al dente. Reserve 1/3 cup of the cooking water and drain the pasta.
  5. Place half of the squash into a blender along with the reserved pasta water and puree until it is smooth. It should have the consistency of tomato sauce.
  6. Put 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large pan over low heat. Add the onion and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt (if using) and cook until the onion is softened.
  7. Add the squash puree and roasted squash cubes to the onion, and sauté for 1 minute.
  8. Stir in the drained pasta, and remove the pan from the heat.
  9. Stir in the Parmigiano, parsley, and pepper, and drizzle with the remaining 3 tablespoons of oil.
  10. Serve and eat like a champion.
Biz is a writer & producer from Toronto. He loves food, film and the quiet obsessions of exceptional people.
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