3-Ingredient One Pot Pasta
Just 3 ingredients is all you need to make this easy One Pot Pasta recipe! It’s a cozy, comforting dish that you can make in just about 45 minutes with very little effort. A delicious meat sauce with your favorite pasta is cooked together in one pot for a flavorful, hearty, no-fuss meal!
WOW!!! This one pot pasta came out GREAT! A “keeper” 3-ingredient 1 skillet meals like this are always a winner in my book! Thanks for posting 🙂 , this came out delicious and could not be easier or less mess!— Vicky
Pasta and meat sauce is one of those go-to dinners that we enjoy often, especially on busy weeknights! The whole family loves this meal and it’s easy enough, but sometimes it can be a bit of a hassle. There’s always at least two large pots and a colander to clean, which can feel like a lot of work at the end of the day.
So, I decided to do some experimenting with my traditional pasta and meat sauce recipe. And I’m so glad I did – the end result was this one pot pasta meal! It’s unbelievably easy: just one pot, three ingredients and about 45 minutes are all you need!
Dinner is a warm, hearty, satisfying pot of pasta with meat sauce, minus all the fuss. My family loves it and we can’t wait to hear what you think!
Why you’ll love this dish
- It’s straightforward. There’s nothing complicated about this meal. You brown the meat, add in the sauce and then cook the pasta in the meat sauce. No need to boil the pasta separately. So easy!
- It’s freezer friendly. We love to make a double batch of this, so we can freeze half of it for later. You’re already putting in the time, so you might as well double your bounty!
- It’s super tasty. There’s nothing better than a warm delicious beefy marinara sauce over some noodles. It’s the perfect cozy meal during the colder seasons!
This one pot pasta recipe is extremely versatile! All you really need for this dish are three basic ingredients – ground meat, marinara sauce and pasta. We love to garnish our bowl of pasta with parmesan cheese and fresh basil. Here’s a note on each key ingredient:
- Ground meat. You can really use any ground meat, you have on hand. I typically use either lean ground beef or turkey. For a bolder, zesty taste, try using Italian sausage.
- Marinara sauce. Chances are you have a favorite store-bought marinara sauce. We love Rao’s Homemade Marinara Sauce, but if you’re feeling extra fancy, try my easy homemade marinara.
- Pasta. I typically use rotini, rigatoni or farfalle noodles, but feel free to use any pasta shape you’d like. Gluten-free pasta works, too.
- Optional. If you feel that your sauce needs more flavor, add in a teaspoon or two of oregano, thyme, italian seasoning and/or rosemary.
How to make this recipe
This one-pot meal is very simple and straightforward. You only need one pot and just about 10 minutes hands-on time! Here’s a quick rundown of the process, but for full instructions, reference the recipe card at the bottom of the post.
- Cook ground meat. In a large pot or dutch oven over medium-high heat, brown ground meat, breaking into small pieces.
- Add marinara. Reduce heat and stir in marinara and water.
- Simmer pasta. Add pasta, stir and simmer for about 15 minutes. Add 1 cup of water, stir again and continue to cook about 15 minutes longer and until pasta is tender and cooked al dente.
- Serve. Garnish with parmesan cheese and fresh basil leaves. Serve and enjoy!
Customize this recipe
This dish is delicious as-is, but feel free to change things up to customize it to your family’s preferences and what you have available.
- Pasta. I love using rigatoni in this dish because the tube-shaped noodles with ridges on the outside hold all of the delicious meat sauce. If you can’t find rigatoni at your local grocery store, penne is a good substitute. Really any pasta, even fettuccini or regular spaghetti noodles work great.
- Protein. Instead of using lean ground beef, try this recipe with ground turkey, bison or Italian sausage.
- Herbs. Not a fan of basil? Garnish with fresh parsley instead.
- Vegetables. Want to sneak in some veggies? The addition of sautéed veggies in this dish would be great. Try adding sautéed mushrooms, zucchini, onion or bell pepper. Wilted spinach, olives, sun dried tomatoes or artichoke hearts would also be tasty additions.
- Other options. If you’d like to make a creamy sauce, feel free to add in about 1/2 cup heavy cream to the sauce mixture about 5 minutes before removing from the heat. And if you’re a garlic lover, throw in one or two cloves garlic that have been minced.
Love spicy food? For just a little kick of heat, add about 1/4 teaspoon (or more) crushed red pepper flakes to the sauce.
This one-pot pasta recipe really couldn’t be any easier, but I do have a some tips, so you have the best results every time:
- Meat. I use 90% lean ground beef – it has plenty of flavor, but is not overly greasy. If you use meat with a higher fat content, just be sure to drain off any excess fat before adding in the marinara sauce.
- Sauce. Use a high quality marinara sauce. My favorite store-bought brand is Rao’s Homemade Marinara Sauce.
- Cheese. If adding a garnish of parmesan cheese, I suggest using freshly grated parmesan cheese. Pre-shredded cheese often contains stabilizers and anti-caking agents. Also, a high-quality parmesan cheese will add such wonderful flavor to this meal. I typically shop the speciality cheese counter of my local grocery store. Here’s a short article on why you should grate your own cheese.
Frequently asked questions
If you want to best capture hearty sauces, like this one with meat, serve them with traditional tube-shaped pasta, like Rigatoni and Tortiglioni, or deep scoopable shapes like Shells and Orecchiette.
To elevate your plain pasta sauce, try adding meat like in this recipe. You can also add spices, seasonings and fresh herbs.
You can add quite a few things to marinara sauce and still call it marinara sauce, however once you start adding in vegetables, meat, or cheese it becomes more of a bolognese or spaghetti sauce.
This easy pasta dish is great on it’s own, but you can also serve it with a variety of side dishes! We love it served with my favorite Italian salad and crusty garlic bread! You could also whip up a simple green salad. Just toss mixed greens with lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. Feel free to add toppings to your salad such as red onion, cherry tomatoes, and croutons.
- Storage leftovers. Place any leftover one pan pasta in an airtight container in the fridge for up to about 4 to 5 days. Reheat in the microwave or in a pot on the stove. The noodles may have absorbed some of the liquid, leaving it dried out. Feel free to add a bit of water, oil or chicken broth before heating.
- Freezing. Let the pasta cool completely, and then transfer it to a freezer-safe container. Write the date on the container and freeze for up to 3 months.
- Reheating. When you’re ready to enjoy, allow the pasta to thaw completely and reheat in individual servings in the microwave or in a large pot on the stovetop. You’ll most likely want to add a bit of water to revitalize the sauce.
If you try this recipe, let me know! Leave a comment and if your family loves it as much as mine does, be sure to give it a five star ⭐️ rating! Also, tag @kimscravings on Instagram with a picture of your creation. Be sure to subscribe to our mailing list to receive more healthy delicious recipes straight to your inbox.
3-Ingredient One Pot Pasta
- 1 pound lean ground beef or turkey
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 jar (approx. 25 oz.) marinara sauce
- 12 ounces pasta, we like rotini, rigatoni or farfalle
- Optional garnish: grated parmesan cheese and fresh basil leaves
- Heat a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add beef. Cook, breaking beef into small pieces with a wooden spoon, until browned and cooked through, about 6 minutes. Add salt.
- Reduce heat to medium and add marinara sauce to pot with beef. Fill empty marinara jar with water (approx. 3 cups) and add to the pot as well. Stir to combine. Add pasta and stir again.
- Bring pasta and sauce to a simmer (just barely bubbling). Cook, for 15 minutes, stirring frequently to ensure pasta does not stick to the bottom. Add 1 more cup water and continue cooking, stirring frequently, until pasta is tender, about 15 minutes more.
- Garnish with parmesan and fresh basil. Serve immediately.
Did you make this recipe?
Tag @kimscravings on Instagram and be sure to subscribe to our mailing list to receive more healthy and delicious recipes straight to your inbox!
This was a huge hit with my teenage son and husband! And I loved the super easy prep and clean up. This recipe was promptly added to our weekly meals list! Just because, I added 2 tsp of minced garlic, 1 tsp oregano, 1/2 teaspoon rosemary, and then 1/2 cup of light cream at the end. I love how versatile this recipe is. Thank you!
That makes me so happy to hear and I love your additions!
came out great. easy to make and clean up is a breeze. I used mild Italian sausage to make it kid friendly. I didn’t need to add the second cup of water. none of the noodles stuck to the pan. will definitely be making this again
That’s so awesome to hear! Thanks so much for your feedback!
Question – doesn’t all that water water-down the sauce?
No, the sauce will not be watered down at all. It will help cook the pasta.
We’re in the beginning of a heatwave in my area so I thought I’d try this since it doesn’t involve a lot of prep or heating up the house with the oven. Perfect recipe as written. The only thing I added were a half bag frozen peas and carrots because they needed to be used up, two chopped garlic cloves, and a half chopped onion that was sitting in the fridge. I had a half box of chicken stock in the fridge and added that to the cooking water. I also used whole wheat penne pasta because that was what I had in my pantry. It’s only my husband and I so I was able to clean out the fridge, use what was in my pantry and had leftovers for the freezer too, at least 2 more meals each. I will be adding this to our meal rotation. Thanks!!!
Love that you were able to add in extra veggies! So happy this recipe turned out to be a winner for you!
This was so good and so easy! My new go-to weeknight dinner!
One of mine too! So glad you loved!
WOW!!! This came out GREAT! A “keeper” 3-ingredient 1 skillet meals like this are always a winner in my book! Thanks for posting 🙂 , this came out delicious and could not be easier or less mess!
So happy to hear you enjoyed!!