Easy One Pot Pasta for a Lazy Dinner

This [easy one pot pasta for a lazy dinner] is the first cooking video that went viral on my Tiktok and Pinterest page. Many people commented that it became a regular meal for them, but at the same time, an equal amount of people protested that it’s too much work to call it lazy. Admittedly, I spend a lot of time in the kitchen, and I’m used to cooking hot meals, but in fairness to the title, it took me a total of 8 minutes to shoot a video of me prepping this dish. Eight minutes including the time fidgeting with my camera. Once prepped and in the oven, most of the cooking is hands-off. Plus, there’s only one pot to wash!


You can use a large dutch oven or a casserole dish for this recipe. I use an 8 quart Le Creuset enameled cast iron Dutch oven. I got my dutch oven almost a decade ago and still frequently use it, even while complaining how heavy it is. Once you have a dutch oven, you’ll quickly notice that it’s an essential item in the kitchen.

Sneaky Zucchini

I grate one large or two small zucchinis into this dish, mainly for added nutrition but also for its creamy texture. I love adding grated zucchini to cheesy pasta (like this Green mac n cheese cups) because zucchini lightens the dish that is otherwise a bit heavy. Unless you cooked this meal yourself, you can’t tell if zucchini is in there or not, thus making this dish great for picky eaters. You may see specks of green from the zucchini skin, and if you’re worried about that, use yellow summer squash. It will completely disappear.

I am not trying to give you any feeding advice here. I’m aware of the debate whether to sneak veggies (or other ingredients) into your kid’s meal or not. That decision is up to you as a parent. I can only share how we approach meals in my family, and we sometimes blend in veggies and sometimes serve it whole or intact. My eldest would not eat zucchini on its own yet, but she doesn’t mind me mixing it into other foods. She often helps me cook in the kitchen, so she knows what’s going into her meals.

Good pasta sauce is a must

A good marinara sauce is a must in this recipe since that’s the main ingredient. We love Rao’s marinara sauce. 24 oz jar works great for this recipe, but if you shop at Costco, you can get 28 oz jars for a good price. I’ve made this pasta with 28 oz jar many times, and it works fine, just a little bit saucy. Whether you use 24 or 28 oz jars, use only 24 oz of water/broth. We want the pasta to absorb most of the liquid, which results in the best flavor.

Bone broth adds extra protein

An easy way to add extra protein to this easy meal is using bone broth. Kettle and Fire classic bone broth has 20g of protein in one box (16.9 oz).
To measure, pour broth into the empty 24 oz jar and fill the rest with water. Give a good shake, and add to the dutch oven. If using 28 oz jar, fill the jar up to 3/4 point. You’re gonna need to eyeball a bit.

Add uncooked pasta

The best part about this recipe is that you can add uncooked pasta straight to the dutch oven. You want the pasta to be soaked in liquid before baking. Shell, fusilli, or ziti pasta work best because they are easy to mix with the sauce.


Now cover and stick it in the oven for 25 minutes.

Almost done

After 25 minutes in the oven, take the dish out. Add garlic, heavy cream, and mix. I love heavy cream in this pasta to soften the acidity, but you can omit it. I often top the pasta with shredded Mexican-style cheese or Cheddar Jack. It’s simply because we always have a giant bag or two from Costco at home. Surprisingly, it goes well.

Return to the oven, uncovered, and bake for additional 10 minutes until the cheese is melted. Enjoy!

5 from 5 votes
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Easy One Pot Baked Pasta

Super easy one pot meal that only takes less than 10 minutes of prep time.

Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Servings 6
Author whiteblankspace

Ingredients

  • 1 large zucchini / summer squash or 2 small zucchinis
  • 24 oz or 28 oz jarred marinara sauce at room temperature
  • 24 oz water or broth at room temperature
  • 1 lb uncooked pasta short-shape pasta
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • shredded cheese of your choice

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 F
  2. Using a coarse grater, grate zucchini in a large dutch oven or a casserole dish. I used an 8-quart dutch oven.
  3. Add a jar of marinara sauce. To measure, pour broth or water into the empty jar, give a good shake, and add to the dutch oven. Add uncooked pasta. Mix well and make sure the pasta is soaked with liquid.
  4. Cover and bake for 25 minutes.
  5. Add minced garlic and heavy cream and mix. Top with cheese.
  6. Return to the oven, uncovered, and bake for additional 10 minutes.

Recipe Notes

  • You can taste and season with salt, pepper, or any other spices you prefer at step 5. I keep it mild for my kids.
  • You can use either 24 oz or 28 oz jar of sauce. 28 oz will simply be more saucy.
  • Some types of pasta may take longer to cook. In this case, mix the pasta and cheese with a spatula, and then bake for additional 5~10 minutes, uncovered.

Let’s Test Out This Recipe

I am happy to have an eager recipe tester, Kalya, on board, who tried out this recipe and shared her feedback. Kayla is a rookie home cook, understandably, still attending high school. I’m excited to have Kalya’s feedback, as I’m sure some of the readers here are also just learning to cook. I hope you find this section helpful and relatable.

photos by Kalya

Kayla: “This is probably the best pasta I have ever made in my life! Even though this was around the third time I have ever made pasta, it was a delight to make and I couldn’t even taste the zucchini. I used one zucchini, spicy marinara sauce, beef broth, rigatoni pasta, shredded mozzarella cheese, heavy whipping cream and two cloves of garlic. Using these ingredients, it ended up tasting perfect. For the zucchini, I ended up using a smaller grater that I had at my house and it still ended up really nice. I love the idea of stealthily incorporating vegetables into the recipes because it makes it feel healthier and more refreshing. The spice was also a perfect amount for my mom and I after I added chili flakes. The pasta was also very creamy which made the texture almost heaven-sent. Despite all this, the shredded cheese really sold it for me. It was stringy and tied together all the ingredients perfectly. The beef broth I used also made the pasta have a nice aftertaste as well. Fresh out of the oven, I knew this would taste amazing…It smelled so good and was fairly easy to make. I have faith that everyone could make this, regardless of cooking experience. I would absolutely make this recipe again! However, if I did make this again I would definitely add more broth or water to completely submerge the pasta. Some of the pasta was sticking out of the sauce which cooked into a more crunchy texture. Although delicious, I would have added a little more something to make sure the whole pasta was covered. This could also be because I didn’t use a dutch oven or a casserole dish. Instead, I used a glass baking dish I had at home that I just put foil on the top as a cover. Crunchy or not, this pasta was so tasty and perfectly matched my tastebuds!

Reviews: 

My dad was obviously very enthusiastic with his very  lengthy review of  “It was good. I would eat again.” 

My mom said, “Very good.” This is a reminder to never ask my parents again for reviews…”

Heejee: Thank you, Kalya, for testing out this recipe in a casserole dish! I cannot live without my trusty Dutch oven, but if you don’t have one at home, you can use a casserole dish and cover it with aluminum foil, as Kayla did here. To ensure the cover is tight, I suggest covering the dish with a double layer of foil during the first 25 minutes of baking. This will prevent liquid from escaping and the pasta from turning out dry. Also, by using smaller shaped pasta such as shells, you’ll be able to cover every bit of pasta in the liquid.
Still, if dry pasta is sticking out, add just enough broth or water to cover it. If you add too much, pasta might end up bland, and no one likes bland pasta.

Hello from Kayla: “My name is Kayla and I am currently trying out new recipes from this blog. From my own amateur baking and cooking experiences with making these dishes, hopefully, you guys can gain some insight and have a good laugh!”

10 Responses

  1. 5 stars
    Though I didn’t make the recipe exactly, it was a good starting point to inspire me to make a quick one pot pasta dinner.

  2. 5 stars
    Hi I am 13 and love to cook! I made this for my family and everyone loved it! I love to watch you cook on YouTube and Pinterest! Thanks for all the yummy recipes!!! ❤️❤️

    1. Hi Olivia, I’m beyond happy to hear this and truly appreciate that you took your time to leave this comment. Hopefully, my daughters can whip up a meal like you did at your age!

  3. 5 stars
    This is one pasta I can really stand behind. The flavors matched so well with each other and it was such an easy way to add vegetables into everyday meals. The fact that it only took one pot to make still surprises me. Keep up the good work!

    1. It makes me so happy to see that you enjoyed this recipe. Thank you for such a lovely review.

  4. 5 stars
    I’ve made this dish probably 8 whole times, that’s more than I’ve ever made any one dish in my life lol. Very yummy. I can always tell when I use the good pasta sauce. Zucchini really does lighten it up and makes it so the marinara sauce isn’t too much it causes heartburn. Thank you for your post, much love from one mama to another!

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