One-pot meals may seem like just another internet food trend, but they’ve been around since the invention of pots, and we expect that they’re here to stay. This simple, clever method of cooking means you’re able to get dinner on the table with the least amount of collateral (dish) damage possible, which has made them been a favorite among our editors and readers. They’re versatile, too, as evidenced by the fact that our team has made one-pan dinners six ways from Sunday, and we still haven’t grown tired of them.
From quick sheet-pan suppers to Dutch-oven masterpieces, there are so many different methods of “one-pot” cooking to consider. If you’re asking us to choose just one favorite, though, then one-pot pastas would be the all-seasons winner in the weeknight dinner category: Comforting carbs are perfect for warming up bellies on a chilly night, but they can also be great for the summer when you don’t want to overheat your kitchen. The Campanelle with Pistachio-Mint Pesto pictured here is the perfect example of a dish you’d want to dig into when the weather turns warm. Most of our recipes require just 15 or 20 minutes of simmering on the stovetop, and with only one pan to wash after dinner, these easy dinners will surely put a spring in your step.
And let’s talk about ease: Once you get the general idea of a skillet pasta down pat, you can make them whenever you want a homemade meal that doesn’t require a great deal of production (read: a tricky recipe with a mess waiting for you at the end). And there’s no need to lug out your giant stockpot just to boil some spaghetti when there’s a great recipe on hand to show you how to do it right in your skillet.
One last note before we get to the actual recipes. It’s important to understand the seemingly magical way that one-pot pastas manage to taste so great: it all comes down to the water. For a while now it has been an open secret of chefs and Italian grandmothers that ladling in a bit of starchy pasta water at the end of cooking a traditional pasta will make it better. This special starchy water can add body to a thin tomato sauce, or even become the actual sauce when a little butter and cheese is added at the same time. Skillet pastas take this idea even further, making it the key ingredient from the very beginning. Whether you decide to go tomato-based or cheese, the end result of a one-pot pasta will be a flavorful forkful of perfectly sauced and seasoned noodles.