Slow Cooker Spaghetti Sauce

Let the slow cooker do all the work for you when you make this big batch of freezer-friendly homemade spaghetti sauce.

The post Slow Cooker Spaghetti Sauce appeared first on Budget Bytes.

I’ve made a few variations of pasta sauce over the years, but this Slow Cooker Spaghetti Sauce is definitely one of my favorites. The long slow simmer caramelizes the sugars in the tomatoes and creates a depth of flavor that can’t be matched. Plus, what more could you ask for than to just throw some ingredients in a pot, forget about it for 8 hours, and then come back to a rich, delicious homemade sauce? Then you can divide the sauce into portions, freeze, and you’ll have delicious homemade pasta sauce on hand for quick busy weeknight dinners.

Originally posted on 11/4/2011, updated 1/12/2022.

Pasta sauce in a slow cooker with a spoon, garnished with parsley

Why make Homemade Spaghetti Sauce?

Pasta sauce can be bought premade really cheaply, so I think in a lot of cases it does make sense to just buy a jar and go with it. But if you want to have a little more control over the quality and ingredients of your pasta sauce while still keeping costs low, this Slow Cooker Spaghetti Sauce is a great option. 

What Size Slow Cooker to Use

This recipe makes about 2 quarts of sauce, so I would suggest using a 3 quart or larger slow cooker. You don’t need anything fancy, just a very basic slow cooker with basic functions like warm, low, and high. I do find that slow cookers made with a thick ceramic insert (or “crock”) cook much more evenly than metal inserts, like you’d have when using the slow cooker function on an Instant Pot.

Why Add Balsamic Vinegar?

The balsamic vinegar in this recipe adds a subtle depth and brightness to the sauce. It can seem strong at first, but it mellows out as the sauce is cooked. If you’re not a fan of balsamic vinegar or just don’t have any on hand, this recipe will still make a really amazing sauce even if you leave it out.

Can I Add Meat?

I’ve tried this sauce before with ground beef and I found the cook time to be far too long for the ground beef, so if you do want to add meat I suggest browning it separately and then just stirring it into the sauce after cooking. You can also check out my quick Weeknight Pasta Sauce for an easy and flavorful meat sauce option.

How to Freeze Pasta Sauce

This recipe makes about 7 cups. I suggest dividing the sauce into two or three cup portions before freezing so you can take out just enough for one recipe at a time to thaw. Let the spaghetti sauce cool completely in the fridge, then transfer to freezer-safe containers to freeze. The sauce will stay good in the freezer for about three months, but this can vary depending on the conditions in your freezer. If you use quart-sized freezer bags and freeze them laying flat they stack nicely in the freezer without taking up much space. 

You can thaw the sauce in the refrigerator overnight or just cut the bag away from the frozen sauce, place it in a saucepot, and heat over medium-low until it’s heated through (stir occasionally).

This sauce goes great with Homemade Meatballs (also freezer-friendly)!

A plate of pasta covered in sauce with bread on the side

Pasta sauce in a slow cooker garnished with parsley

Slow Cooker Spaghetti Sauce

Let the slow cooker do all the work for you when you make this big batch of freezer-friendly homemade spaghetti sauce.
Course Dinner, Sauce
Cuisine American, Italian
Total Cost $4.40 recipe / $0.63 per cup
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 4 hours
Total Time 4 hours 10 minutes
Servings 7 cups
Calories 77kcal
Author Beth - Budget Bytes

Equipment

Ingredients

  • 1 yellow onion $0.32
  • 4 cloves garlic $0.32
  • 2 28oz. cans crushed tomatoes $2.00
  • 1 6oz. can tomato paste $0.69
  • 1 Tbsp dried basil $0.30
  • 1.5 tsp dried oregano $0.15
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar $0.03
  • 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar $0.14
  • 4 Tbsp butter $0.40
  • 1 tsp salt (or to taste) $0.05

Instructions

  • Dice the onion and mince the garlic. Place both in a 3 quart or larger slow cooker.
  • Add the crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, basil, oregano, brown sugar, balsamic vinegar, and butter to the slow cooker. Stir everything together well.
  • Place the lid on the slow cooker and cook on high for four hours or low for eight hours.
  • After cooking, give it a good stir, then add salt to taste. Start with just ½ tsp of salt and add more if needed (I added 1 tsp). Use the sauce immediately, refrigerate, or freeze for later.

Nutrition

Serving: 1cup | Calories: 77kcal | Carbohydrates: 5g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 7g | Sodium: 393mg | Fiber: 1g

Homemade pasta sauce being spooned over a plate of spaghetti

How to Make Slow Cooker Spaghetti Sauce – Step By Step Photos

Onion and garlic in slow cooker

Dice one yellow onion and mince four cloves of garlic. Add both to a 3 quart or larger slow cooker.

Tomatoes added to slow cooker

Add 2 28oz. cans of crushed tomatoes and one 6oz. can of tomato paste to the slow cooker.

Seasonings added to the slow cooker

Also add 1 Tbsp dried basil, 1.5 tsp dried oregano, 1 Tbsp brown sugar, 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar, and 4 Tbsp butter to the slow cooker. 

Sauce ingredients being stirred together before cooking

Give the ingredients a good stir until they’re evenly incorporated.

Simmered pasta sauce in the slow cooker

Place the lid on the slow cooker and cook on high for four hours or low for eight hours. After cooking, it will look a little like the photo above (the white is just the milk fats from the butter). Give it a good stir.

Finished pasta sauce in the slow cooker garnished with parsley

Add salt to the sauce to taste. Start with ½ teaspoon and add more until the flavors pop. I ended up using one teaspoon total. 

Side view of pasta sauce in the slow cooker

Use the slow cooker spaghetti sauce immediately or refrigerate then freeze for long-term storage.

The post Slow Cooker Spaghetti Sauce appeared first on Budget Bytes.

Extra Cheesy Homemade Mac and Cheese

This incredibly creamy and cheesy homemade mac and cheese is great on its own or a jumping off point for your own customization.

The post Extra Cheesy Homemade Mac and Cheese appeared first on Budget Bytes.

I have several flavored macaroni and cheese recipes on Budget Bytes already, but I realized I didn’t have one single plain, classic homemade mac and cheese recipe. Like, nothing fancy or unique, just straight up creamy, comforting, cheesy goodness! So that’s what I have for you today. It’s a classic stovetop macaroni and cheese recipe made with a classic roux-based cheese sauce that will satisfy all of your cheesy pasta cravings. It’s amazingly delicious on its own, but I’ve also included a list of fun add-ins and other ways you can customize your mac and cheese and make it unique.

Overhead view of a bowl of mac and cheese with a fork

What Makes it Extra Cheesy?

For this extra cheesy homemade mac and cheese, I did use slightly more roux and added about 30% more cheese than I generally do to my simple stovetop mac and cheese recipes. And I’m not even sorry about it. The thicker sauce and extra cheese made this mac and cheese so lusciously creamy and cheesy that I couldn’t stop sneaking forkfuls between photographs. AND the best part is that it even stays smooth and creamy when reheated in the microwave. Mac and cheese heaven! 🙌

What is a Roux?

This classic stovetop mac and cheese recipe starts with a roux, which is a cooked mixture of flour and fat (in this case, butter). The roux thickens the sauce and helps the cheese melt smoothly into the sauce instead of clumping up as it melts. While there are ways to make a cheese sauce without a roux, taking this extra step definitely creates the creamiest, dreamiest cheese sauce for your mac and cheese.

What Kind of Cheese is Best for Mac and Cheese?

Cheddar is probably the most popular cheese for macaroni and cheese and sharp cheddar provides the most pronounced flavor. But if you want to experiment outside of the confines of cheddar, there are a ton of other cheeses that are great in macaroni and cheese! You can use one or a combination of cheeses to make your mac and cheese your own.

Here are some other cheeses that work great with macaroni and cheese:

  • Parmesan
  • Gruyere
  • Smoked Gouda
  • Parmesan
  • Chevre
  • Cream Cheese
  • Brie
  • Monterey jack or pepper jack

Avoid Pre-Shredded Cheese

I know it’s convenient, but the anti-caking agents used in pre-shredded cheese will, without a doubt, affect the creaminess of your homemade mac and cheese. Or in a worst-case scenario, it will leave your sauce super grainy and chalky in flavor. Buy cheese in block form and take a few moments to grate it yourself. The cheese will not be as dried out and it will create a truly smooth and creamy sauce.

Side view of mac and cheese in a pot

What Else Can I Add to Mac and Cheese?

Here’s where mac and cheese can get really fun. In addition to changing the cheeses, you can switch up the herbs and spices, add in some veggies, or your favorite protein to make your own homemade mac and cheese creation. Here are some other fun ingredients to add to your mac and cheese:

  • Cooked chicken
  • Broccoli
  • Bacon
  • Spinach
  • Kimchi
  • Pesto
  • Sausage
  • Taco meat or taco seasoning
  • Smoked paprika
  • Sriracha
  • Peas
  • Tuna
  • Salsa
  • Rotel
  • Jalapeños
  • Sour cream
  • Cauliflower
  • Ham

Need Some Inspiration?

If the list of add-ins was a little too much to choose from, here are some other Macaroni and Cheese Recipes that I’ve already created that might help get you started:

Overhead view of homemade mac and cheese in the pot
Overhead view of homemade mac and cheese in the pot

Homemade Mac and Cheese

This incredibly creamy and cheesy homemade mac and cheese is great on its own or as a jumping off point for your own creation.
Total Cost $4.19 recipe / $1.05 serving
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 4 about 1.25 cups each
Calories 610kcal
Author Beth – Budget Bytes

Ingredients

  • 8 oz. macaroni $0.67
  • 3 Tbsp butter $0.30
  • 3 Tbsp all-purpose flour $0.03
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder $0.05
  • 2 cups whole milk $0.84
  • 1/2 tsp hot sauce* $0.02
  • 1/2 tsp salt $0.03
  • 8 oz. block sharp cheddar, shredded $2.25

Instructions

  • Cook the macaroni according to the package directions (boil for 7-8 minutes, or until tender). Drain the macaroni in a colander.
  • Place the butter, flour, and onion powder in a medium pot. Whisk and heat over medium until the butter is melted and the mixture begins to bubble. Once bubbling, continue to whisk and cook for one minute.
  • After cooking the butter and flour roux, whisk in the milk. Continue to cook and whisk over medium heat until the milk begins to gently simmer, at which point it will thicken to the consistency of heavy cream or gravy.
  • Turn the burner off. Season the white sauce with the salt and hot sauce.
  • Begin to add the shredded cheddar, one handful at a time, whisking it in until completely melted before adding more. Continue until all of the cheese has been melted into the sauce. If the sauce becomes too cold to melt the cheese, place it back over low heat only briefly to continue melting the cheese. Overheating the sauce can cause it to break and become grainy.
  • Add the cooked and drained pasta to the pot with the cheese sauce and stir to combine. Serve the mac and cheese hot and enjoy!

Notes

*This amount of hot sauce does not make the macaroni and cheese spicy. It just  brightens the flavor a bit. You can also accomplish this with Dijon mustard (same amount).

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 610kcal | Carbohydrates: 53g | Protein: 26g | Fat: 32g | Sodium: 787mg | Fiber: 2g
side view of macaroni and cheese in a bowl with a fork

How to Make Homemade Mac and Cheese – Step by Step Photos

Shredded cheddar in a bowl

Start by shredding an 8oz. block of sharp cheddar. It’s very important to shred the cheese yourself instead of using pre-shredded cheese. For more information on that, see the section above the recipe titled “Avoid Pre-Shredded Cheese.”

boiled macaroni held above the pot with a pasta spoon

Next, boil 8oz. of macaroni according to the box directions (boil for 7-8 minutes, or just until tender). Drain the macaroni in a colander. (This is the Barilla elbow macaroni, which has a slightly unconventional elbow shape and texture.)

Butter flour and onion powder in the pot

You can start the cheese sauce either while the macaroni is boiling, or wait until it’s draining and just make it in the same pot to save on dishes. Add 3 Tbsp butter, 3 Tbsp all-purpose flour, and ½ tsp onion powder to the pot.

Roux being whisked in the pot

Place the pot over medium heat and allow the butter to melt. Whisk the butter, flour, and onion powder together as the mixture begins to get bubbly and frothy. Cook and whisk for about one minute after it becomes bubbly.

Milk being poured into the pot

Whisk 2 cups of milk into the butter and flour roux. Continue whisking as the milk begins to heat (keep the pot over medium heat).

Thickened white sauce on the back of a spoon

Allow the milk to come up to a gentle simmer, at which point it will thicken to the consistency of heavy cream or gravy. Turn the burner off at this point.

salt and hot sauce added to the white sauce

Season the sauce with ½ tsp salt and ½ tsp hot sauce, or the seasonings of your choice (other great options are dry mustard, pepper, smoked paprika, pesto, etc.).

shredded cheddar added to the pot

Begin adding 8oz. shredded cheddar to the pot, one handful at a time, whisking until it is completely melted before adding more. If the sauce cools down too much to continue melting the cheese, you can put it over low heat briefly, but avoid allowing the sauce to simmer again. Overheating cheese sauces will cause them to break and become grainy and oily.

Finished cheese sauce dripping off the whisk

When all of the cheese is melted into the sauce, the cheese sauce is complete. You can give it a taste at this point and adjust the seasonings if you’d like. Remember, you want the sauce to be seasoned well because the flavor intensity will be diluted a bit once the macaroni is added.

Cooked macaroni being stirred into the cheese sauce

Add the cooked and drained macaroni back to the pot and stir to combine with the cheese sauce.

Finished mac and cheese in the pot

And that’s it! Your homemade mac and cheese is done. Don’t tell me you don’t want to dive right into that pot of mac and cheese and swim around a bit. 😂

The post Extra Cheesy Homemade Mac and Cheese appeared first on Budget Bytes.

Baked Pumpkin Pasta with Pancetta, Gruyere, Kale, and White Beans

This Baked Pumpkin Pasta is made with pancetta, kale, and white beans and topped with gruyere and panko crumbs. Baked Pumpkin Pasta This healthy baked pumpkin pasta bake is total comfort food. I know it’s rare to hear the words “healthy” and “comfort food” in the same sentence but hear me out! The pumpkin, kale, […]

The post Baked Pumpkin Pasta with Pancetta, Gruyere, Kale, and White Beans appeared first on Skinnytaste.

This Baked Pumpkin Pasta is made with pancetta, kale, and white beans and topped with gruyere and panko crumbs.

Pumpkin Pasta with Kale
Baked Pumpkin Pasta

This healthy baked pumpkin pasta bake is total comfort food. I know it’s rare to hear the words “healthy” and “comfort food” in the same sentence but hear me out! The pumpkin, kale, cannellini beans, and whole-wheat pasta give this dish a ton of fiber, and the gruyere and pancetta give it that comfort-food element while adding protein. You can also try my Pumpkin Mac and Cheese with Roasted Veggies, and for a more pared-down version of this recipe, try my other Cheesy Baked Pumpkin Pasta.

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Instant Pot Mac and Cheese

The easiest, tastiest Instant Pot Mac and Cheese you’ll ever meet.   Creamy, delicious, and crazy good, homemade Mac and Cheese doesn’t get any EASIER or BETTER than this. On the table in 20 minutes!  Meet my guilty pleasure- Instant Pot Ma…

Instant Pot Mac and Cheese- creamy, delicious and crazy good, homemade Mac and cheese doesn't get any easier than this! #instantpot #macandcheese
The easiest, tastiest Instant Pot Mac and Cheese you’ll ever meet.   Creamy, delicious, and crazy good, homemade Mac and Cheese doesn’t get any EASIER or BETTER than this. On the table in 20 minutes!  Meet my guilty pleasure- Instant Pot Mac and Cheese. I have a confession -every once in a while I get a...

Simple Beet Fettuccine

Fresh pasta, you can do it! A beautiful, fun, and simple way to make homemade fettuccine noodles.

Continue reading Simple Beet Fettuccine on 101 Cookbooks

If you’ve never made homemade pasta before, this is a great beet-boosted take on fettuccine. Fresh pasta is a lot less time-intensive than you might think (really!). You knead the dough by hand, and you cut the pasta dough into fettuccine noodles in one of two ways – by hand, or with a pasta machine. The pasta machine is more precise, but there is a lot of charm in hand-cut noodles – both are special.

Simple Beet Fettuccine

I love this beet juice-spiked fettuccine, the beets lend a beautiful pink color, and you can play around with how pale or saturated your noodles are by adding more or less beet juice. You can, of course, substitute other liquids, or use yellow (or orange) beets. If you have success with these noodles, use the recipe as a jumping off point for other flavors.

Simple Beet Fettuccine

A couple of tips – don’t skimp on the kneading time. You want a silky, even-textured dough before wrapping it, and then letting it rest (and hydrate) a bit.

Simple Beet Fettuccine

One detail to emphasize here, I call for semola flour here (different from semolina) – semola is fine, powdery and talc-like durum wheat, semolina is often coarser. I blend it with either whole wheat pastry flour, or finely ground rye flour here.

Simple Beet Fettuccine

You can enjoy the noodles in endless ways. They are beautiful in a simple broth with herbs. We had them for lunch topped with lots of sautéed mushrooms, a splash of cashew milk, poppy seeds, scallions, toasted walnuts, and a big squeeze of lemon.

Simple Beet Fettuccine

Continue reading Simple Beet Fettuccine on 101 Cookbooks

One Pot Veggie Pasta

This one pot veggie pasta is an easy, satisfying, and quick dinner. Use whatever vegetables you have on hand and make it your own!

The post One Pot Veggie Pasta appeared first on Budget Bytes.

Here’s a quick little one pot pasta I’ve been making lately with my leftover veggies. You can literally add in whatever you have on hand and it creates a tasty one pot meal with tons of color, flavor, and texture. It may not be revolutionary, but I think sometimes it helps to see what quick meals other people are making and this One Pot Veggie Pasta is my latest go-to quick fix. :)

Overhead view of one pot veggie pasta in a bowl

Use Your Leftovers

As far as one pot pasta goes, this recipe isn’t that revolutionary, but I love it for one main reason—it’s perfect for using up leftovers. Got two carrots left? Or maybe a half of a bell pepper. A handful of mushrooms? How about that partial bag of broccoli florets hiding the back of your freezer? They can all go in this super quick one pot pasta! The more colors and textures the merrier.

Use Your Favorite Sauce

Convenience is the name of the game with this quick weeknight pasta dish, so I used a jar of pasta sauce instead of making my own this time around. You can literally use any red pasta sauce, as long as it’s one you know you like. …Actually, I bet you could also turn this into a really tasty alfredo! *jots down notes for testing next week*

How Are the Leftovers?

As with any leftover pasta dish, the rotini does get a little softer as it is stored in the refrigerator. Personally, that has never bothered me or stopped me from eating leftover pasta, but if you’re sensitive to textures, you might not enjoy the leftovers of this pasta.

Success with One Pot Pasta Recipes

Learning how to cook a one pot pasta can take a little practice. It’s all about observing and adjusting. The goal is to have the pasta simmer in a small amount of liquid so that by the time the pasta is tender, there is only a small amount of saucy liquid left in the bottom of the pot. You need to simmer with the lid on (to hold in the steam) and stir occasionally. Every time you stir, check the pasta texture and the amount of liquid left in the pot. If the pasta is almost tender and there is still a lot of liquid, let it simmer without a lid. If the liquid is almost gone but the pasta is not tender, add a splash more water. Here are some more tips for cooking one pot pastas:

  • Use a pot with a thick bottom. Thin-bottomed pots will create hot and cold spots that tend to cook the pasta unevenly.
  • Use a burner close in size to the bottom of the pot. If the burner is too small the outer edges will not simmer and the pasta will cook unevenly.
  • Make sure the broth is simmering the whole time. If it stops simmering, the pasta will stop cooking and will become mushy.
One Pot Veggie Pasta in the pot half scooped
One pot veggie pasta in a bowl with a fork

One Pot Veggie Pasta

This one pot veggie pasta is an easy, satisfying, and quick dinner. Use whatever vegetables you have on hand and make it your own!
Total Cost $7.99 recipe / $2.00 serving
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 461kcal
Author Beth – Budget Bytes

Ingredients

  • 2 cloves garlic $0.16
  • 1 yellow onion $0.28
  • 2 carrots $0.16
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil $0.32
  • 8 oz. mushrooms $1.49
  • 1 zucchini $0.90
  • 1 red bell pepper $1.50
  • 1/2 lb. rotini (not cooked) $0.50
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil $0.05
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano $0.05
  • 2 cups vegetable broth $0.26
  • 24 oz. pasta sauce $1.49
  • 4 oz. mozzarella, shredded (optional) $0.83

Instructions

  • Mince the garlic, dice the onion, and slice the carrots. Add the garlic, onion, and carrots to a large pot with the olive oil. Sauté over medium heat until the onions are soft and translucent.
  • While the vegetables are sautéing, slice the mushrooms. Once sliced, add them to the pot with the other vegetables and continue sautéing.
  • While the rest of the vegetables are sautéing, dice the zucchini and bell pepper.
  • Once the bell pepper and zucchini are diced, add them to the pot along with the rotini, basil, oregano, and vegetable broth. Stir to combine. It's okay if the broth doesn't fully submerge the pasta.
  • Place a lid on the pot, turn the heat up to medium-high, and allow the broth to come up to a boil.
  • Once the broth reaches a full boil, give the pasta a quick stir, replace the lid, then turn the heat down to medium-low. Let the pasta simmer over medium-low, stirring occasionally and always replacing the lid, for about 10 minutes, or until the pasta is tender.
  • Once the pasta is tender, add the pasta sauce to the pot and stir to combine. Top with the shredded cheese then place the lid back on the pot. Let the pasta heat for a few minutes, or just until the cheese is melted. Serve hot!

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 461kcal | Carbohydrates: 65g | Protein: 19g | Fat: 15g | Sodium: 1573mg | Fiber: 8g
Close up of one pot veggie pasta being lifted on a spoon

How to Make One Pot Veggie Pasta – Step by Step Photos

Onion carrot and garlic in the pot

Mince two cloves of garlic, dice one yellow onion, and slice 2 carrots. Add the garlic, onion, and carrots to a large pot with 2 Tbsp olive oil. Sauté over medium for about five minutes, or until the onions are soft.

Sliced mushrooms added to the pot

While the garlic, onion, and carrots are sautéing, slice 8oz. mushrooms (or you can buy pre-sliced). Add the sliced mushrooms to the pot and continue to sauté while you chop the rest of the vegetables. Chop one zucchini and one red bell pepper.

pasta, vegetables, and broth added to the pot

Add the chopped zucchini and bell pepper to the pot along with 8oz. rotini (not cooked), ½ tsp basil, ½ tsp oregano, and 2 cups vegetable broth.

Stirred but uncooked pasta and vegetables in the pot

Stir everything together. Don’t worry about the pasta not being fully submerged in the broth. I promise it still works. Place a lid on the pot and turn the heat up to medium-high. Bring the broth to a boil. When it reaches a full boil, give everything a quick stir, put the lid back on top, and turn the heat down to medium-low.

Cooked pasta and vegetables in the pot

Let the pasta and vegetables simmer, stirring occasionally and always replacing the lid, until the pasta is tender and there is very little liquid left on the bottom of the pot.

Pasta sauce being poured into the pot

Add a 24 oz. jar of your favorite pasta sauce and stir to combine.

Shredded cheese being added on top

Top the pasta with 4 oz. shredded mozzarella. Place the lid back on the pot and let the pasta sit for about 2 minutes, or just until the cheese is melted.

Finished one pot veggie pasta garnished with parsley

And then it’s done! I garnished with a little chopped parsley to make it pretty, but it’s totally unnecessary for flavor.

Close up side view of a bowl of veggie pasta with cheese

Enjoy!

Love One Pot Pastas? Try These Other Flavors:

The post One Pot Veggie Pasta appeared first on Budget Bytes.

One Pot Creamy Mushroom Pasta

This creamy mushroom pasta is a rich, umami-filled delight that cooks quickly and easily in one pot. The perfect dinner for busy nights.

The post One Pot Creamy Mushroom Pasta appeared first on Budget Bytes.

Where are all of my one-pot pasta lovers at? This one is for you! This One Pot Creamy Mushroom Pasta is a super-rich, umami-filled delight that is, as always, easily prepared in one pot. It’s the perfect comfort at the end of a long tiring work day. And don’t forget to make a little garlic bread to serve on the side. ;)

A fork twirling creamy mushroom pasta on a plate

What Kind of Mushrooms to Use

I like baby bella mushrooms for this pasta because they are not too expensive and they have a nice deep color that adds a lot to the plate. You can use white button mushrooms if needed, but they do have a slightly more mild flavor. You could also use full-sized portobello mushrooms, just slice them into smaller pieces before sautéing.

Can I Substitute the Heavy Cream?

I use heavy cream in this recipe which creates a super-rich and luscious sauce for the pasta. Because it’s so thick, it also helps the Parmesan to melt into the sauce without clumping. Milk, which has a much higher water content, will produce a thinner sauce and you may have difficulty getting the Parmesan to melt in instead of clumping. One way I’ve gotten around this in the past is to use a combination of milk and cream cheese. The cream cheese both emulsifies the Parmesan and thickens the sauce (see how the technique is used in Creamy Sun-Dried Tomato Pasta).

What Else Can I Add?

This creamy mushroom pasta is kind of a simple pleasure, but you can add more if you’re craving something more complex. Try adding in a few handfuls of fresh spinach toward the end for a little color. You could also top the pasta with some grilled chicken for a little more oomph.

What Kind of Pot to Use

I used a 3-quart deep skillet for this pasta, but you can use any pot or Dutch oven that has a wide bottom and a lid. Make sure to use a burner on your stovetop that is similar in size to the bottom of your pot or skillet to ensure even heating.

TIPS FOR COOKING ONE POT PASTAS:

Getting one pot pasta just right can take some practice, so if you find you’re having trouble, here are a few tips:

  • Stir every few minutes to keep the pasta from sticking to the bottom of the pot. Replace the lid each time to prevent excessive evaporation.
  • Make sure the pasta is simmering the whole time. If the liquid is not simmering, the pasta will not cook. The temperature setting needed to maintain a simmer can vary depending on your stove top and cookware.
  • Use heavy cookware. Skillets and pots that are thin on the bottom don’t heat evenly and do not yield good results with one pot pastas because some areas of the pot will be simmering, while other areas are not.
  • Keep the lid in place at all times when not stirring. This holds in the steam and helps the pasta cook more evenly.
  • Watch the pasta. One pot pastas are a little like riding a bike. You have to observe and adjust as you go. If the liquid is almost all absorbed before the pasta is tender, add a little more water. If the pasta is almost tender, but there is still a lot of liquid, allow it to simmer without a lid for the last couple of minutes.
pasta twirled around tongs in the skillet
Close up of pasta being twirled around the tongs in the skillet

One Pot Creamy Mushroom Pasta

This creamy mushroom pasta is a rich, umami-filled delight that cooks quickly and easily in one pot. The perfect dinner for busy nights.
Total Cost $3.74 recipe / $0.94 serving
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 388kcal
Author Beth – Budget Bytes

Ingredients

  • 4 cloves garlic $0.32
  • 8 oz. baby bella mushrooms $1.49
  • 2 Tbsp butter $0.20
  • 1/8 tsp salt $0.01
  • 1/8 tsp freshly cracked pepper $0.02
  • 8 oz. fettuccine $0.67
  • 2.5 cups vegetable broth $0.33
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream $0.26
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan $0.44

Instructions

  • Mince the garlic and slice the mushrooms.
  • Add the butter and garlic to a deep skillet and sauté over medium heat for one minute. Add the sliced mushrooms, salt, and pepper, and continue to sauté until the mushrooms have softened, all of their moisture has evaporated from the skillet, and the edges are beginning to brown.
  • Add the fettuccine to the skillet along with the vegetable broth and stir to combine. It's okay if the broth doesn't fully submerge the pasta.
  • Place a lid on the skillet, turn the heat up to medium-high, and allow the broth to come up to a boil. When it reaches a boil, give the pasta a quick stir, replace the lid, then turn the heat down to medium-low.
  • Continue to let the pasta simmer in the broth for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally (always replacing the lid), or until the pasta is tender. There should be a little saucy liquid left in the bottom of the skillet.
  • Add the heavy cream to the skillet and stir to combine. Turn the heat off then add the Parmesan and continue to stir the pasta until the Parmesan is melted. Give the pasta a taste and add salt or pepper if needed. Serve immediately.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 388kcal | Carbohydrates: 47g | Protein: 13g | Fat: 17g | Sodium: 829mg | Fiber: 2g
Overhead view of creamy mushroom pasta on a plate with a fork

How to Make One Pot Creamy Mushroom Pasta – Step by Step Photos

Sliced mushrooms on a cutting board

Mince four cloves of garlic and slice 8 oz. baby bella mushrooms.

Garlic and butter in the skillet

Add the garlic and butter to your skillet or pot and sauté over medium heat for about one minute.

Sautéed mushrooms in the skillet

Add the mushrooms to the skillet along with a pinch of salt and pepper. Continue to sauté until the mushrooms have released all of their liquid, it has evaporated from the bottom of the skillet, and the mushrooms begin to turn golden brown on the edges.

fettuccine in the skillet, broth being poured in

Add 8 oz. fettuccine to the skillet along with 2.5 cups of vegetable broth. Stir to combine. It’s okay if the pasta is not fully submerged. Place a lid on the pot, turn the heat up to medium-high, and allow the broth to come up to a boil.

Cooked Pasta being pulled to the side with a pasta spoon

When the broth reaches a full boil, give the pasta a quick stir to loosen any noodles that may have stuck to the bottom. Replace the lid, turn the heat down to low, or just above low, so that the broth maintains a simmer. Simmer the noodles, stirring occasionally and replacing the lid each time, until the pasta is tender. There should be a small amount of gravy-like broth on the bottom of the skillet.

heavy cream being poured into the skillet

Add ⅓ cup heavy cream to the pasta and stir to combine.

Parmesan being sprinkled over the pasta

Turn the heat under the skillet off. Add ¼ cup grated Parmesan to the pasta and toss to combine. The residual heat from the pasta should begin to melt the Parmesan.

Finished one pot creamy mushroom pasta in the skillet

Give the pasta a taste and adjust the salt or pepper to your liking. I usually like to add a little freshly cracked black pepper on top for a little pop!

Pasta being twirled around tongs in the skillet

Try These Other Creamy One Pot Pasta Recipes

The post One Pot Creamy Mushroom Pasta appeared first on Budget Bytes.

Fregola with Corn, Zucchini & Basil

A simple recipe for Fregola with Corn, Zucchini and Basil, sprinkled with pecorino. A fast and easy Italian-inspired meal that comes together in 30 minutes. What is Fregola? Fregola or Fregola Sarda is a pearl-shaped pasta, similar to Israeli Couscous…

Fregola with Corn, Zucchini and Basil, sprinkled with pecorino. A fast and easy Italian-inspired meal that comes together in 30 minutes.

A simple recipe for Fregola with Corn, Zucchini and Basil, sprinkled with pecorino. A fast and easy Italian-inspired meal that comes together in 30 minutes. What is Fregola? Fregola or Fregola Sarda is a pearl-shaped pasta, similar to Israeli Couscous, that hails from Sardina, Italy. It is made by hand, by rubbing semolina flour and...

The post Fregola with Corn, Zucchini & Basil appeared first on Feasting At Home

Thousand Layer Lasagna

My favorite and best lasagna recipe. Dozens and dozens of whisper-thin sheets of fresh pasta brushed with the most vibrant red tomato sauce imaginable all intersecting layer after layer of warm, oozy, fresh mozzarella.

Continue reading Thousand Layer Lasagna on 101 Cookbooks

If I told you this was the best lasagna recipe, would you believe me? Let’s give it a try. This is thousand layer lasagna. I first posted the recipe in 2006, and still make it all these years later. Imagine dozens and dozens of whisper-thin sheets of fresh pasta brushed with a simple, vibrant red tomato sauce, threaded with layer after layer of warm, oozy, fresh mozzarella. Where the sauce and cheese and pasta touch the pan, particularly in the corners, everything gets crunchy and caramelized. The corner pieces, omg.
Lasagna on a Table with a Piece on a White Plate
I should say, this isn’t a lasagna path for the faint-hearted. This lasagna takes commitment, patience, and lots of time. Think weekend project. This is in part because you’re using fresh pasta, and, well, there are a thousand layers. That said, I’ve streamlined the process a lot over the years. And will call out those tips in the recipe below.Lasagna in a Glass Baking Dish on a Marble Counter Top

How to Make Lasagna: The Basics

  • Start by making the sauce: the sauce I use for this lasagna is super simple, vibrant, and a wink spicy.
  • Prepare the pasta: You’ll either be using homemade pasta or purchase fresh pasta sheets. No dried pasta noodles for this lasagna. The key will be getting your pasta sheet extra thin before boiling.
  • Assemble the lasagna: You’re on the home stretch.
  • Bake:  Until golden, hot, and bubbly – serve!

Close up of a Baked Lasagna Unsliced with Cheese on Top

Homemade Pasta versus Store Bought

Originally, I would always make this lasagna with homemade pasta sheets. Eventually it dawned on me that I could buy pasta sheets and shave some time off the production. I’d say it cuts your time in half. The main thing, in either case, is that you want to get your pasta sheets super thin. So, even if I buy pre-made pasta sheets, I run them through my pasta machine at home a couple times to make them even thinner.
Thin Sheets of Fresh Pasta Flat on a Table
I’m using homemade pasta here, but the process is basically the same if you’re using store-bought pasta sheets.
Pasta Machine in Process of making Pasta Sheets for Lasagna

Can I Freeze Lasagna?

Yes! Absolutely. You can store it, assembled, either baked or unbaked.

  • To freeze an unbaked lasagna: Line your baking pan with a layer of parchment paper. Assemble the lasagna in the baking dish, allow to cool completely, and freeze until solid. Once frozen, transfer the frozen block of lasagna from the dish, wrap completely with foil and freeze for up to a month or two. 
  • To finish an unbaked frozen lasagna: Remove all layers of foil, you can decide if you want to leave the parchment or not, and transfer to the original baking dish. Allow to thaw completely before baking as directed.
  • To freeze baked lasagna: If you know you’re going to freeze your fully baked lasagna, line your pan with foil, and then a layer of parchment paper. Assemble the lasagna as directed, and then bake. I tend to undertake a shade here, knowing I’ll be reheating later.Let it cool completely after baking, and then freeze solid. Transfer the frozen lasagna out of the baking dish, wrap tightly in foil, and freeze for up to a month or two.
  • Reheating a baked lasagna: remove the lasagna from the freeze and remove the foil. Transfer to the original baking dish, and allow to thaw completely. Cover with foil and bake as directed until golden and bubbly. 

Assembling Lasagna in Glass Baking Dish with Pasta and Tomato Sauce and Cheese
This is a good photo (above) demonstrating the ideal thickness of your pasta for this lasagna. The photo above shows you the amount of sauce you’re aiming for, as well as mozzarella.
Pre-boiled Lasagna Noodles on Countertop
What you are seeing in the photo above is the pasta sheets boiled and ready for assembly. Because of the olive oil in the cooling water you use, overlapping the pasta sheets here isn’t a problem. They separate relatively easily.
Unbaked Lasagna in Glass Baking Dish
Ready for the oven! This is what it looks like fully assembled and ready to bake. Of course you can experiment with different pans and baking dishes. You can make extra pasta and sauce and go extra deep dish. Once you get the hang here, you can take the general idea and run with it.
Close-up Overhead Shot of Baked Lasagna

Thousand Layer Lasagna Variations

Today I’m sharing the tomato-based “starter” version of this lasagna, but feel free to experiment through the seasons. I’ve done roasted butternut squash + brown butter, or pesto and ricotta – play around, but keep the sauces + fillings simple and (key!) not too chunky. Part of the magic comes from the baklava-like layering of the pasta, one on top of the next. There’s just enough going on between each layer to keep it all moist, flavorful, and feathery-light. Well, as feathery-light as lasagna gets.Individual Shot of Lasagna on a White Plate

This is such a fun lasagna to make. Particularly if you’re not in a hurry. Have fun, it’s worth the payoff when it comes out of the oven! 

If you’re looking for more pasta inspiration, here’s where you can learn to make fresh pasta. Homemade cavatelli is a blast, and I love this pesto forever, especially with this gnocchi

Continue reading Thousand Layer Lasagna on 101 Cookbooks

Ranch Broccoli Pasta

This Ranch Broccoli Pasta just takes minutes to make and is full of deliciously creamy, tangy, herby ranch flavor!

The post Ranch Broccoli Pasta appeared first on Budget Bytes.

One of my all-time favorite no-brainer quick-fix meals is pasta + broccoli + butter + Parmesan (aka Bowties and Broccoli). But what I discovered this week is that sprinkling a little ranch seasoning mix over top really takes it to the next level! This Ranch Broccoli Pasta just takes minutes to make and is full of deliciously creamy, tangy, herby ranch flavor!

Overhead view of a pot full of ranch broccoli pasta

What Kind of Ranch Seasoning to Use

I used a half batch of my homemade ranch seasoning, but you can use a store-bought packet of ranch seasoning mix if you prefer. This recipe calls for 1.5 Tbsp of ranch seasoning, which is about ½ of a store-bought packet. Of course, you could always add more seasoning if you prefer!

Use Any Pasta

Another reason that I love this quick-fix meal is that you can do this with whatever shape pasta you have. So it’s a great way to use up odds and ends of boxes of pasta that you may have hanging out in your pantry (if you’re like me and rarely cook an entire pound of pasta at once).

What Else Can I Add?

As usual, this recipe is a great jumping-off point for a number of fun variations. Here are some other ingredients you can add to take this easy meal up a notch:

  • Diced grilled chicken
  • Bacon
  • Grated Parmesan
  • Grape tomatoes (sliced in half)
ranch broccoli pasta in a bowl with a fork
close up of ranch broccoli pasta in a bowl

Ranch Broccoli Pasta

This Ranch Broccoli Pasta just takes minutes to make and is full of deliciously creamy, tangy, herby ranch flavor!
Total Cost $1.71 recipe / $0.43 serving
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 296kcal
Author Beth – Budget Bytes

Ingredients

  • 8 oz. pasta (any shape) $0.50
  • 1/2 lb. frozen broccoli florets $0.72
  • 2 Tbsp butter $0.20
  • 1.5 Tbsp ranch seasoning $0.27
  • 1/8 tsp salt (or to taste) $0.01
  • 1/8 tsp freshly cracked pepper $0.01

Instructions

  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil for the pasta. Once boiling, add the pasta and continue to boil until the pasta is tender (about 7-10 minutes).
  • When the pasta is just tender, add the frozen broccoli florets to the boiling water with the pasta, and let it sit for about one minute. Reserve a ¼ cup of the starchy pasta water, then drain the pasta and broccoli in a colander.
  • Return the drained pasta and broccoli to the pot with the burner turned off. Add the butter and ranch seasoning and stir until the butter is melted and everything is coated in the seasoning. If the pasta becomes dry while stirring, add a splash of the reserved pasta water.
  • Finally, season the pasta with salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm.

Nutrition

Serving: 1.5cups | Calories: 296kcal | Carbohydrates: 49g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 7g | Sodium: 567mg | Fiber: 3g
close up of ranch broccoli pasta in a bowl

How to Make Ranch Broccoli Pasta – Step by Step Photos

Boiled pasta and broccoli florets

Bring a large pot of water to a boil for the pasta. Once boiling, add the pasta and continue to boil until the pasta is tender (7-10 minutes). Add the frozen broccoli florets during the last minute of boiling. Reserve a 1/4 cup of the starchy pasta water, then drain the pasta and broccoli in a colander.

butter and ranch seasoning added to the drained pasta and broccoli

Add the drained pasta and broccoli back to the pot (heat turned off) and add 2 Tbsp butter and about 1.5 Tbsp ranch seasoning mix. Stir until the butter is melted and everything is coated in butter and seasoning. If the pasta become dry while stirring, add a splash of the reserved pasta water.

Finished ranch broccoli pasta in the pot with a spatula

Taste the pasta and add salt and pepper to your liking. Serve warm! So simple, so delish. :)

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