Our 31 Favorite Sauce Recipes for Pasta

They're Anything but Boring

Tuscan style ragu meat sauce recipe

​The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

Have you been staring at that box of pasta in your pantry, uninspired? You already know there is nearly a limitless number of options of what sauce to pair with it, but perhaps you just need something to stoke your creative culinary fire. This round-up will help you end the pasta box fixture in your pantry, once and for all.

  • 01 of 31

    Sage Brown Butter

    Sage brown butter sauce recipe

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

    Sage brown butter sauce will transform any pasta into a sophisticated dish. Its pourable texture makes it a great fit for more delicate pastas like capellini or spaghetti. 

  • 02 of 31

    Classic Bolognese

    A bowl of pasta topped with Bolognese sauce

    Davide Illini / Stocksy

    The classic Bolognese adds a touch of red wine and crushed tomatoes for a hearty dinner option. This recipe also contains several lovely suggestions on how to tailor it to your tastes, like adding minced chicken livers or ladling the sauce over gnocchi, instead of pasta.

  • 03 of 31

    Mascarpone and Gorgonzola Cheese Sauce

    Mascarpone and Gorgonzola Two Cheese Pasta Sauce

    The Spruce / J. Hackett

    This Mascarpone and Gorgonzola cheese sauce uses mascarpone as a buttery base that sets off the pungent taste of Gorgonzola. Because this sauce is so simple, you'll want to ensure you buy quality cheeses. Look for a Mascarpone made with a higher proportion of cream-to-milk to help maintain this sauce's texture.

  • 04 of 31

    Wild Mushroom Sauce

    Pappardelle with wild mushroom and tomato sauce (boscaiola)
    Pappardelle with wild mushroom and tomato sauce (boscaiola). Lea Lee/Getty Images

    Mushrooms are so diverse in color, flavor, and texture that they can lift you out of any cooking rut. This wild mushroom sauce includes porcini, a variety that's both nutty and savory. 

    Continue to 5 of 31 below.
  • 05 of 31

    Raw Vegan Alfredo

    White Asparagus with Lemon Bechamel Sauce
    Eising / Getty Images

    As much as we love cheese, we also love incorporating more plant foods into our diet. This raw vegan alfredo is superb, so you won’t miss a thing about the original alfredo. 

  • 06 of 31

    Classic Basil Pesto

    Classic basil pesto sauce.

     The Spruce

    Basil pesto is so good we could eat it off a spoon. But of course, that’s not necessary when you have plenty of beautiful pastas, breads, and vegetables to pair it with. This is a classic recipe but if you'd like something unconventional, try this spring herb pesto. 

  • 07 of 31

    Vegan Pesto

    Vegan Pesto

    The Spruce

    If you love pesto but you’re interested in nixing dairy, the nutritional yeast used in this vegan pesto is both healthy and marvelously cheesy in flavor. 

  • 08 of 31

    Fennel and Fennel Seed Pasta

    Fennel and Fennel Seed Pasta
    Fennel Pasta. Photo © Molly Watson

    With its fresh flavor and crisp aroma, fennel and fennel seed pasta is a delicious departure from the usual sauce routine. This recipe is also dairy-free, so it's great for both vegans and those looking for a lighter pasta dish.

    Continue to 9 of 31 below.
  • 09 of 31

    Butternut Squash Ravioli With White Wine Sauce

    Butternut Squash Ravioli

    The Spruce

    The key to the sauce in this recipe is to add the chopped sage last so its flavor stays fresh. Ladle it over top a bed of fettuccine, or a crisp and juicy roasted chicken. It's a lovely entrée for a small dinner party.

  • 10 of 31

    Creamy Spaghetti Carbonara


    The Spruce

    Classic carbonara sauce uses egg yolks, bacon, and a shower of pecorino-romano cheese. This cheese is made from sheep's milk which has a higher butterfat content than cow's milk, so it imparts a silky, yet subtle "oomph" to the dish.

  • 11 of 31

    Ragù di Carne

    Tuscan style ragu meat sauce recipe

    ​The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

    Tuscan cuisine is simple in approach but complex in flavor. This Tuscan ragù di carne also includes a few optional ingredients like tamari and Worcestershire sauce to increase its savoriness. If this appeals, you can also experiment with miso paste, minced olives, or even marmite.

  • 12 of 31

    Vegan Pumpkin Pasta Sauce

    Vegan pumpkin pasta recipe

    The Spruce Eats / Ulyana Verbytska

    This vegan pumpkin pasta sauce is delicious and great to make for a family meal since it blends together in under half an hour.

    Continue to 13 of 31 below.
  • 13 of 31

    Penne all'Arrabbiata

    Penne Allarrabbiata

    The Spruce

    All’arrabbiata translates to "angry" in Italian and this sauce backs up its claims. Tomatoes and chilis impart an acidic and spicy flair, though you can always adjust the recipe to fit your taste. 

  • 14 of 31

    Classic Tomato Sauce

    Tomato sauce recipe

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

    Basic tomato sauce is a timeless Italian food. You can put your spin on this recipe by swapping in fresh herbs or by playing with both chunky and smooth textures. 

  • 15 of 31

    Red Pesto Pasta

    Pasta with Sundried Tomato Pesto
    Pasta with Sundried Tomato Pesto. Katie Workman / themom100.com

    Sundried tomatoes are tart, meaty and oh-so-perfect in this red pesto recipe. You can also have fun tweaking proportions or using roasted garlic instead of fresh. 

  • 16 of 31

    Walnut Sauce

    Walnut sauce (salsa di noci) on tortellini
    Walnut sauce (salsa di noci) on tortellini. Lois Slokoski/Getty Images

    Walnut sauce is a unique complement to a variety of pasta or gnocchi dishes. As with all nuts, the fresher the better, so try to buy your walnuts in the shell before making this recipe.

    Continue to 17 of 31 below.
  • 17 of 31

    Lobster Sauce

    Lobster Fettuccini
    StockFood / Getty Images

    Certain occasions call for something both decadent and comforting. Enter lobster sauce, a true labor of love that’s worth the effort. This recipe calls for either New England or spiny lobsters, the latter of which has more meat.

  • 18 of 31

    Squid Ink Sauce and Pasta

    Spaghetti al nero di seppia recipe

    ​The Spruce Eats / Diana Mocanu

    The squid ink in this recipe not only provides a unique color but a slightly briny taste, as well. If you're interested in buying the freshest, most sustainably sourced squid, either check online when it's in-season for your area or speak with your local seller.

  • 19 of 31

    Eggplant and Sausage Pasta Sauce

    Sausage and Eggplant Sauce for Pasta
    Sausage and Eggplant Sauce for Pasta. Diana Rattray

    This eggplant and sausage pasta sauce is chunky and satisfying. Aside from pasta, enjoy it atop grilled portobello mushrooms or slices of roasted eggplant

  • 20 of 31

    Zesty Italian Sausage Pasta Sauce

    Italian sausage pasta sauce
    Italian sausage pasta sauce. Angela Sorrentino / Getty Images

    This zesty Italian sausage sauce has a hint of licorice flavor, thanks to the fennel seed that's traditionally stuffed into Italian sausage. That said, you can easily swap in almost any sausage variety, based on your preferences.

    Continue to 21 of 31 below.
  • 21 of 31

    Uruguayan Pasta With Caruso Sauce

    Pasta rigatoni with mushroom sauce and nuts
    Bartosz Luczak / Getty Images

    Uruguayan cuisine is a combination of both South American and European cooking traditions. This recipe for Caruso sauce melds cream, ham, and mushrooms for a tasty topping on pasta or sautéed greens

  • 22 of 31

    Penne all'Amatriciana

    Penne all’ Amatriciana Recipe

     Elaine Lemm

    Penne all’Amatriciana is an iconic dish from Amitrice, Italy that includes pork cheek, which turns tender and delicious when simmered. You can hunt for either cured or smoked varieties, which will change the flavor of your sauce, accordingly.

  • 23 of 31

    Chickpea Pasta

    Chickpea Pasta

    Anita Schecter 

    Chickpeas make for a lovely pasta sauce, believe it or not. If you want to add a bit of crunch, roast some additional chickpeas and crumble them over-top the finished dish.

  • 24 of 31

    Four Cheese Pasta Sauce

    Four-Cheese Pasta Sauce Recipe

     The Spruce

    This four cheese pasta sauce will coat your pasta dish in a luxuriously creamy coat. If you’re curious to swap out one of the cheeses in this recipe, first read up on how to effectively substitute cheeses.

    Continue to 25 of 31 below.
  • 25 of 31

    Greek Yogurt Pasta Sauce

    Greek Yogurt Pasta Sauce

    Leah Maroney

    Greek yogurt is high in protein, tangy in flavor, and thick in texture. It’s also the star ingredient this sauce, which is a lighter version of a classic Alfredo. It whips together in under 30 minutes, so it's great to make in batches and use throughout the week.

  • 26 of 31

    Creamy Tomato Pasta Sauce

    Creamy Tomato Pasta

    The Spruce

    This creamy tomato sauce uses cream cheese for a velvety texture and a zip of flavor. Sure it’s not quite authentic, but it’s delectable regardless. 

  • 27 of 31

    Vegan Mushroom Cream Sauce

    Vegan mushroom cream sauce

    The Spruce 

    This vegan mushroom cream sauce is delicious just the way it is, but you can also tailor it to your tastes. Try using silken tofu instead of soymilk if you’d like extra protein, or swap the margarine with olive oil for a more complex flavor. 

  • 28 of 31

    White Clam Sauce

    White clam sauce

    The Spruce

    The flavors in this simple white clam sauce speak for themselves. Pair it with a thin pasta noodle and a white wine for an uncomplicated and delicious meal.

    Continue to 29 of 31 below.
  • 29 of 31

    Vegan Pasta Puttanesca Sauce

    Vegan Pasta Puttanesca With Capers and Olives

     The Spruce

    This vegan pasta puttanesca sauce is briny and satisfying, thanks to its kalamata olives. That said there are plenty of olive varieties, so be our guest, and experiment!

  • 30 of 31

    Instant Pot Bolognese

    Pappardelle with Bolognese sauce.
    Diana Rattray

    This Instant Pot Bolognese adds a touch of milk for a luxurious mouthfeel. Don't have an Instant Pot? Don't worry, any pressure cooker will do.

  • 31 of 31

    Tahini Noodles

    tahini noodles

    Anita Schecter

    This tahini sauce is inspired by Asian cuisine, featuring grated ginger and a touch of honey. Ladle it over spaghetti, rice noodles, or even buckwheat pasta