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Penne is one of our favorite types of noodles to use in recipes. Whether it’s a hot pasta dish or a pasta salad, you’ll love these penne pasta recipes of all kinds!

More Collections: Chicken Pasta Recipes, Healthy Pasta Recipes, Vegetarian Pasta Recipes

Collage of most popular Penne Pasta Recipes displayed in a grid.

why we love penne pasta

Penne noodles are one of my favorite types of pasta to use in my pasta dishes!

I can cover them with a simple Marinara Sauce or use them to make a delicious Creamy Baked Penne Pasta – endless recipes and dinner ideas! I’ve gathered some of our favorite penne pasta recipes I know your family will love.

Penne pasta is particularly nice to use because its design invites a burst of flavor with every bite. The hollow tube shape allows the sauces and spices to seep into the center while the rigid texture helps coat the outside with delicious flavor.

Chicken and broccoli alfredo on a white plate with two garlic knots on the side.

cooking Penne Pasta

Boiling penne pasta. A good guideline to follow is to boil 2 ounces of dry penne per person. Once cooked it will equal about 1-1¼ cups of cooked pasta. 

  1. Fill a pot with water. Use 4 quarts of water for every pound of pasta. Add a lid and bring to a boil. (For added flavor, use chicken broth instead of water.)
  2. Optional salt. Once the water is boiling add salt. Add 1-2 tablespoons of salt for every pound of pasta.
  3. Add the penne to the boiling water. Boil, uncovered, until the desired tenderness. For al dente, boil for about 11 minutes. (See package directions for specific times.) Stir occasionally. The best way to test for doneness is to bite into a piece.
  4. Drain pasta in a colander. If you’re using it in a warm dish don’t rinse it. The starch on the warm pasta will help it stick to the sauce. Rinse it with water to cool it off when it’s going to be used in pasta salad.
Chicken penne pasta on a blue plate with two slices of bread.

penne Pasta tips + variations

Penne pasta substitutes. The great thing about pasta is that pasta of similar size and shape can often and easily be interchangeable. So whether you’re making penne pasta and don’t have penne, or another dish calling for a similar pasta but all you have is penne, you can still cook the recipe.

Any tube-shaped pasta of similar sizes such as mostaccioli, ziti, and rigatoni is the best substitute. However, farfalle, fusilli, macaroni, rotini, and rotelle can work as well.

Some of the following recipes can easily use penne pasta instead of what is listed:

Penne pasta dishes. Due to the shape, penne pasta works well with cream sauces like Alfredo and red sauces. It is often used to bake casseroles and in skillet recipes. Not only can you use different sauces, but many other ingredients taste great with this type of pasta as well.  

  • Herbs. Season with herbs and spices. Fresh parsley is a classic as-is, Italian seasoning, and garlic in any form.
  • Add spice. Easily add a little heat with red pepper flakes. 
  • Protein. Ground beef, ground chicken, and ground sausage taste great. Other proteins to add include cubed or grilled chicken, shrimp, and bacon bits. 
  • Cheese can be added to make the dish creamier or simply sprinkled on top for added flavor. Cheddar cheese, mozzarella cheese, and parmesan cheese are all great choices. 
  • Vegetables not only add flavor and texture but can add color as well. Mushrooms, onion, asparagus, broccoli florets, and bell peppers are great options.
Sausage penne pasta on a white plate topped with grated parmesan and garnished with fresh basil leaves.

Tips for Serving and Storing

How to thicken sauce. The type of sauce you are making may affect the thickening agent used. Often you can simply increase one of the ingredients already in the recipe, other times you can just add one of the following:

  • Roux: Scoop 1-2 tablespoons of the sauce into a separate bowl. Mix in an equal amount of flour until smooth. Pour the roux into the main dish and stir.
  • Increase ingredients. For creamy penne pasta, you can also add in cheese, cream cheese, tomato paste, or heavy cream.

Sides to serve with penne pasta dishes: 

STORE. Once the pasta has been cooked and drained, add it to your recipe right away or store it to be used later. Cook the pasta al dente. This will help keep the pasta from getting mushy when stored. Also, toss the pasta in olive oil to prevent the pieces from clumping together. 

Store in an airtight container in the fridge for 1-2 days then use it in any of your favorite recipes. It’s especially good in chilled pasta salads. 

FREEZE. Place the penne in a single layer on a baking sheet. Freeze for 1-2 hours or until the pasta is solid. Transfer to a freezer-safe container and freeze for 1-2 months. 

Store cooked dishes. Most of these penne pasta dishes can be stored successfully in the fridge and freezer to be heated up and used on a busy day. See the individual posts for more information. 


Favorite Penne Pasta Dishes

These penne pasta recipes have all kinds of different sauces, meats, and add-ins. They are easy, delicious, and perfect to feed a family!

Chicken Asparagus Pasta Bake

Deliciously cheesy chicken asparagus pasta bake a favorite dish topped with panko and baked to crispy perfection!!

1 Chicken Asparagus Pasta Bake Recipe

Main Course Chicken Asparagus Pasta Bake Recipe
Total Time: 45 minutes
4.94 from 15 votes
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Chicken Alfredo Bake

A delicious and simple casserole version of the dish every family loves – cheesy chicken alfredo casserole! Pasta, chicken, lots of cheese, and yummy seasonings make this pasta casserole a hit!

2 Creamy Chicken Alfredo Pasta Bake Recipe

Main Course Creamy Chicken Alfredo Pasta Bake Recipe
Total Time: 55 minutes
5 from 3 votes

White Sauce Recipe

This super simple and delicious white sauce recipe is packed with flavor. This dish is perfect by itself or you can add chicken too!

3 White Sauce Recipe

Main Course White Sauce Recipe
Total Time: 15 minutes

Recipe Video

4.98 from 865 votes
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Creamy Lemon Chicken Pasta

Simple & creamy lemon chicken pasta is bright, cheesy, and comforting. It is a flavorful dish the entire family will love!

4 Creamy Lemon Chicken Pasta Recipe

Main Course Creamy Lemon Chicken Pasta Recipe
Total Time: 50 minutes
5 from 9 votes
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Lemon Chicken Pasta

Flavorful lemon chicken pasta is covered in a delicious sauce made from lemons, whipping cream, cheeses, and fresh basil.

5 Lemon Chicken Pasta Recipe

Main Course Lemon Chicken Pasta Recipe
Total Time: 20 minutes

Recipe Video

4.96 from 21 votes
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Chicken Broccoli Alfredo

Cheesy chicken broccoli Alfredo pasta is a go-to dinner meal in our house. It’s a one-pot meal that the whole family will enjoy!

6 Chicken Broccoli Alfredo Recipe

Main Course Chicken Broccoli Alfredo Recipe
Total Time: 40 minutes

Recipe Video

5 from 5 votes
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Layered Pasta Salad

A dish that is appealing to both your taste buds and your eyes! This beautiful layered pasta salad is filled with your favorite ingredients including pasta, chicken, peas, lettuce, celery, and more.

7 Layered Pasta Salad Recipe

Salad, Side Dish Layered Pasta Salad Recipe
Total Time: 13 minutes
5 from 10 votes
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Creamy Sausage Penne Bake

Cheesy creamy sausage penne bake is a simple, delicious and hearty dinner recipe. It makes a tasty and filling weeknight meal!

8 Creamy Sausage Penne Bake Recipe

Main Course Creamy Sausage Penne Bake Recipe
Total Time: 40 minutes
5 from 4 votes

Chicken Penne Pasta

A delicious and simple chicken penne pasta that is the perfect family dinner. The entire family loves it!

9 Chicken Penne Pasta Recipe

Main Course Chicken Penne Pasta Recipe
Total Time: 15 minutes

Recipe Video

5 from 18 votes
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Sausage Penne Pasta

Savory creamy sausage penne pasta is quick, easy, and on the table in no time! It’s cheesy and sure to be a family favorite!!

10 Sausage Penne Pasta Recipe

Main Course Sausage Penne Pasta Recipe
Total Time: 20 minutes

Recipe Video

5 from 17 votes
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Sausage Alfredo

Creamy sausage alfredo packed with smoky sausage is a family favorite. This delicious meal is on the table in only 30 minutes!!

11 Sausage Alfredo Recipe

Main Course Sausage Alfredo Recipe
Total Time: 30 minutes
5 from 13 votes
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Pesto Chicken Florentine

Delicious pesto chicken Florentine is simple, yet packed with big flavors. Pesto and homemade alfredo combine for a tasty combination!!

12 Chicken Florentine Pasta Recipe

Main Course Chicken Florentine Pasta Recipe
Total Time: 35 minutes
5 from 3 votes
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cheesy chicken parmesan soup

One of your favorite Italian dishes turned into a delicious soup! This cheesy chicken parmesan soup is a creamy tomato-base soup filled with chicken, penne pasta, and of course cheese. The best part – it comes together in less than 30 minutes!

13 Cheesy Chicken Parmesan Soup Recipe

Main Course Cheesy Chicken Parmesan Soup Recipe
Total Time: 25 minutes
5 from 4 votes

use penne instead

These recipes are written using other pasta shapes, like bow tie pasta. However, you can easily substitute the pasta with penne pasta. 

Italian Sausage Pasta

Everyone loves this Italian sausage pasta recipe! Not only is it easy, cheesy, and delicious, but it is a hit with the entire family and can be made mild or spicy depending on your preferences.

14 Italian Sausage Pasta Recipe

Main Course Italian Sausage Pasta Recipe
Total Time: 20 minutes

Recipe Video

4.99 from 250 votes
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Easy Pasta Salad

Easy and delicious Italian pasta salad recipe that includes rotini pasta, olives, tomatoes, & cheese in Italian dressing! It takes minutes to make and is perfect for any get together including BBQs and holidays.

15 Pasta Salad Recipe

Side Dish Pasta Salad Recipe
Total Time: 2 hours 15 minutes

Recipe Video

5 from 249 votes
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Chicken Bacon Ranch Pasta

Easy chicken bacon ranch pasta – a creamy and delicious pasta dish filled with cheese, chicken and bacon all made in one pot! This pasta can’t be beat!

16 Chicken Bacon Ranch Pasta

Main Course Chicken Bacon Ranch Pasta
Total Time: 23 minutes
5 from 33 votes
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Taco Pasta Salad

Delicious taco pasta salad filled with beans, corn, tomatoes, avocado and more!!

17 Taco Pasta Salad Recipe

Salad Taco Pasta Salad Recipe
Total Time: 15 minutes
5 from 7 votes
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Garlic Butter Pasta

Simply dressed garlic butter pasta is filled with veggies and sprinkled with parmesan. It’s straightforward and so flavorful!

18 Garlic Butter Pasta Recipe

Main Course Garlic Butter Pasta Recipe
Total Time: 30 minutes
5 from 11 votes
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Sun-Dried Tomato Pasta

A copycat version of Cheesecake Factory’s Sun-Dried Tomato Fettuccine recipe. This flavorful and creamy dish is filled with chunks of chicken, garlic, whipping cream, spinach and sweet sun-dried tomatoes. It’s not only delicious but is a great way to change up the classic fettuccine recipe.

19 Sun Dried Tomato Pasta Recipe

Main Course Sun Dried Tomato Pasta Recipe
Total Time: 25 minutes
4.59 from 12 votes
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Chinese Pasta Salad

Chinese pasta salad is filled with lettuce, pasta noodles, chicken, fried wontons, and more, all tossed in a delicious homemade dressing.

20 Chinese Pasta Salad Recipe

Appetizer, Salad Chinese Pasta Salad Recipe
Total Time: 6 minutes
5 from 11 votes
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Chicken Pesto Pasta

This chicken pesto pasta is very flavorful and simple dinner idea that is sure to please. It’s filled with bow-tie pasta, chunks of chicken, cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, garlic and pesto making it a new go-to meal recipe. 

21 Pesto Pasta recipe

Main Course Pesto Pasta recipe
Total Time: 15 minutes
4.92 from 12 votes
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Chicken And Asparagus Pasta

This cheesy chicken and asparagus pasta is one the whole family will love. It’s flavorful and filled with everyone’s favorite ingredients!!

22 Chicken Asparagus Pasta Recipe

Main Course Chicken Asparagus Pasta Recipe
Total Time: 35 minutes
4.64 from 11 votes
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Caprese Pesto Pasta Salad

Caprese pesto pasta salad is a light dish with a bold flavor, making it perfect for potlucks, parties, BBQ’s, and get togethers!

23 Caprese Pesto Pasta Salad recipe

Salad Caprese Pesto Pasta Salad recipe
Total Time: 15 minutes

Recipe Video

5 from 1 vote
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Penne Pasta Favorites

With so many easy and delicious Pasta recipes to choose from your next pasta night is sure to be a big success! We’d love to know which ones are your favorites!

More Collections: Pasta Salad Recipes, Healthy Soup Recipes, Green Salad Recipes

About Kristyn

My name is Kristyn and I’m the mom of SIX stinkin’ cute kids and the wife to my smokin’ hot hubby, Lo. My mom’s maiden name is Luna, and I’m one of the many crafty “Lil’ Lunas” in the fam. On this site I like to share all things creative - from recipes to home decor to gifts and home decor ideas. Welcome!

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2 Comments

  1. My kids love pasta, but we all get tired of the typical red sauce so I’ve been going down this list. So far I’ve made the Lemon Chicken (all but one loved it), Chicken Penne (hit with everyone) and Garlic Butter recipe (loved the past but my kids left some of the veggies untouched) Overall I’ve had success and can’t wait to try more.

  2. Penne pasta….such a favorite! We love pasta dishes. Can make so many dishes with it and everyone loves it!