15 summer pasta recipes that are guaranteed to inspire you

The best summer pasta recipes, from pasta salads to simple fresh sauces using seasonal ingredients

A selection of summer pasta recipes in bowls including Mexican corn pasta salad in the bottom lefthand side and tomato pasta on the right side
Summer pasta recipes, including balsamic tomato spaghetti, primavera pasta, an antipasti pasta, and a classic tuna niçoise with fusilli
(Image credit: Future/various)

Try our selection of summer pasta recipes, perfect for family dinners on warm evenings, and for serving at BBQs or summer parties. 

"Pasta is perfect as a main for a light lunch or summer Sunday dinner because it makes all the family happy. Kids love it as much as adults and a pasta salad is a healthy and balanced meal with proteins, carbohydrates, and veggies," says Italian chef Vittoria Veltri, who runs cooking classes for children and adults at Pasta & Play. "I also make it as a side dish for a summer BBQ in the garden or for a buffet party, serving mini-portions in boat-like plates."

Vittoria suggests keeping your summer pasta recipes easy. "My favourite is super simple but delicious because the ingredients are few but of high quality and taste," she says. "Cook the pasta al dente, then season with extra-virgin olive oil, chopped tomatoes (I use the one from my garden), and mozzarella cut into cubes. I chop some fresh basil leaves and dried oregano to add extra taste. Salt and pepper, a good mix, and it’s ready to be eaten,  or add smoked salmon, tuna in olive oil, anchovies, mackerel, olives, or capers."

Another simple one is to make fresh homemade pesto for a pasta salad. "My favourite pesto is made with sundried tomatoes, a few basil leaves, almonds, a bit of garlic, Parmigiano, and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and blend everything," Vittoria recommends.

Summer pasta recipes

Two bowls of balsamic tomato pasta on a cloth with pots of seasoning on the side

The clever addition of balsamic during cooking adds a new twist to a simple tomato pasta sauce

(Image credit: Rights unknown)

1. Balsamic tomato pasta

Serves: 4 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 15 mins

The simple things are always the best when it comes to Italian food in general, and this is the perfect example. Minimal ingredients mean you can spend a little more on the best quality, particularly when it comes to tomatoes. Buy them on the vine, because the flavour will be SO much better – try vibrant red, orange, and yellow baby plum tomatoes. The balsamic adds a rich sweetness. Serve the sauce with linguine and add fresh basil and shavings of Parmesan to serve.

Get the recipe: Balsamic tomato pasta

primavera pasta

Simple and packed chock full of goodness 

(Image credit: TI Media Limited)

2. Primavera pasta

Serves: 4| Skill level: Easy | Total time: 20 mins

Unbelievably fresh and simple, this dish makes the best use of seasonal veg, with asparagus, green beans, and peas in the mix – broad beans would be a great addition too. To up the protein, a handful of prawns wouldn't go amiss or, if you're partial to a creamier sauce, stir in a dollop of creme fraîche. This recipe is served with pasta bows, but they could be switched to fusilli, penne, or orecchiette. Don't be shy with a liberal sprinkling of Parmesan, to bring the flavour to the next level.

Get the recipe: Primavera pasta

antipasti pasta

A great use for all those Italian deli counter staples

(Image credit: Unknown)

3. Antipasti pasta

Serves: 2 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 15 mins

Get yourself down to support your local deli, or hit the picnic aisle in the supermarket, and grab fresh olives, artichokes in oil, sunblush tomatoes, and mini balls of mozzarella (or just tear apart a regular ball). Stir them all into cooked pasta with a glug of good quality extra virgin olive oil, some seasoning, and a handful of rocket and you've got the perfect sunny weather pasta dish – served warm or cold. Meat eaters might like to tear up some  Parma ham or salami to mix through as well. 

Get the recipe: Antipasti pasta

puttanesca sauce

A summer store cupboard winner

(Image credit: Getty)

4. Puttanesca pasta

Serves: 4 | Skill level: 30 mins | Total time: Easy

An excellent choice for busy days (which is every day amidst the summer school holiday-work juggle) when you haven't got much in the fridge, as a puttanesca can be cobbled together from store cupboard ingredients. It isn't any the poorer for it, either – it's one of our favourite pasta sauces. The saltiness of the anchovies and olives paired with the sweetness of the tomatoes is a flavour winner, and it's wonderful served with tagliatelle or spaghetti but can be paired to absolutely any shape of pasta to perfection, the sauce mopped up with hunks of crusty bread.

Get the recipe: Puttanesca pasta

chicken caesar pasta

Caesar salad, but not as we know it

(Image credit: TI Media Limited)

5. Chicken Caesar pasta

Serves: 4 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 1 hr 10 mins

A riff on a classic Caesar salad, with the tangy sauce and shredded chicken stirred through pasta and served in romaine lettuce boats. Perfect hot or cold, it can be made with freshly roasted chicken thighs, or is a perfect seasonal use for leftovers from a roast chicken, though it is perfectly tasty without the meat. Baked salmon also works well. This recipe uses long pasta, but penne would be great too. A brilliant one for dinner in the garden with a crisp glass of rosé or a cold beer.

Get the recipe: Chicken Caesar pasta

600 calorie meals Crab and chilli pasta

Fresh, simple, totally divine

(Image credit: Future)

6. Crab and chilli pasta

Serves: 4 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 25 mins

Crab pasta is an utter delight in the summer months, and is perfectly lovely made with tinned crab meat, though fresh will elevate it to the next level. A touch of heat from the chilli – remember, pasta dishes should be subtle with the heat, not blow your head off – pairs fabulously with the sharp tang of the lemon zest. Go heavy on the garlic too, and use a top-quality olive oil. Best served with spaghetti or linguine. 

Get the recipe: Crab and chilli pasta

Fiery asparagus and chicken pasta

A hot sauce for a hot day, cooled down with fresh summer veggies

(Image credit: TI Media Limited)

7. Fiery asparagus and chicken pasta

Serves: 4 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 25 mins

This spicy tomato sauce has a touch of the arrabbiata about it, but with added pancetta and chicken (though both could be left out for a veggie version) and plenty of fresh seasonal veg. Asparagus is a great touch, but once it's gone out of season, broad beans or runner beans are a marvelous alternative. The rosemary brings much depth of flavour so try not to leave it out (dried works if need be), and we think throwing in a few anchovies would do the same if you're a fan.

Get the recipe: Fiery asparagus and chicken pasta

Avocado and pasta salad

The best pasta salad recipe, hands down

(Image credit: Future)

8. Avocado and pasta salad

Serves: 4 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 25 mins

Some can be a tad dull, but not all pasta salads are made equal, and this one is a riot of health-giving flavour. The avocados provide the 'good' fats, and the dressing is packed with everything from lime zest to Dijon mustard and sprinkled with crushed flaxseeds. It will benefit from the addition of some protein. Try shredded chicken, salmon, or prawns, or even add some chunks of feta or griddled halloumi. 

Get the recipe: Avocado and pasta salad

Ranch pasta salad

A classic American dish fused with your favourite pasta

(Image credit: Future)

9. Ranch pasta salad

Serves: 6 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 20 mins

A super flavoursome salad famed in the US, made with soured cream, mayo, garlic, and stacks of fresh herbs, with sweetness from the corn and saltiness from the pancetta. Here it's turned into a pasta dish with penne, fusilli, or even a smaller shape like macaroni, stirred through. It would also be perfect alongside some leftover roast meat, but is pretty wonderful just as it is.

Get the recipe: Ranch pasta salad

Penne pasta arrabbiata

(Image credit: Future)

10. Penne pasta arrabiata

Serves: 4 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 25 mins

Did you know, language fans, that arrabbiata means 'angry' in Italian? Arrabiata is a brilliant store cupboard dinner to save some cash on yet another trip to the supermarket when the kids have fleeced you with endless days out over the summer holidays. It's big on flavour and fabulous for the whole family (just go light on the chilli for the kids, pasta sauce isn't meant to be crazy spicy anyway – this is not a Vindaloo situation). 

Get the recipe: Penne pasta arrabiata

Quick pasta Niçoise

A simple French-inspired pasta

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11. Quick pasta niçoise

Serves: 8 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 25 mins

A classic for a reason. Egg, tuna, olives, green beans, red onions, and tomatoes, all tumbled together with a sharp, tasty vinaigrette. And while a niçoise is commonly made with new potatoes by way of carbs, this version includes pasta shapes instead. We recommend using tuna in olive oil for maximum flavour or, even better, searing a  fresh tuna steak and slicing that through. Leave the egg yolks just very slightly under hard-boiled for more flavour, and throw some capers in too. 

Get the recipe: Quick pasta niçoise

Courgette pasta bake

Because pasta bakes aren't just for winter

12. Courgette pasta bake

Serves: 4 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 1 hr 

A pasta bake can be a wintery affair, like a big stodgy food hug on a cold evening – but that's not always the case. Using summer veg like courgettes, which are abundant at this time of year, is a great way to give one a seasonal twist. And we all love a one-pot dinner dish, whatever time of year it is. There's a hint of chilli in this one too, and, though this version is topped with a fromage frais, toasted mozzarella will add more taste and appeal to the whole family. 

Get the recipe: Courgette pasta bake

Vegetable macaroni cheese

Add seasonal veggies to a family dinner classic

(Image credit: TI Media Limited)

13. Vegetable macaroni cheese

Serves: 4 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 20 mins

Mac and cheese is a year-round family dinner staple, and this one is packed with veggies that can be adapted to the season. Summer it up by adding some seasonal veggies, from courgettes to fresh peas, as well as a pop of colour from some fresh tomatoes, thriving in the UK at this time of year. An absolute winner for everyone. 

Get the recipe: Vegetable macaroni cheese

One-pot tuna pasta puttanesca

A perfect summery pasta bake for a warm evening

(Image credit: Future)

14. One-pot tuna puttanesca

Serves: 4 | Skill level: Easy | Total time: 30 mins

Another one-pot dish that can be served faff free in the garden on a summer evening, this classic puttanesca sauce is mixed with tuna and pasta shapes (we recommend penne or rigatoni) and topped with cheddar and mozzarella mixed with breadcrumbs for maximum crunch and flavour. Add some mixed herbs to the crumb topping, throw some anchovy fillets in with the sauce, and use tuna in oil rather than brine, for max flavour. A perfect family dinner. Simple as that. 

Get the recipe: One-pot tuna puttanesca 

chocolate pasta

And we thought we'd seen it all when it comes to pasta

(Image credit: Future)

15. Chocolate pasta

Serves: 6 | Skill level: Medium | Total time: 45 mins

Who said pasta had to be savoury, huh? This is a brilliant novelty talking point for a summer dinner party and is great served with vanilla ice cream or creme fraîche. If you've got your own pasta machine, great, but the recipe has instructions for how to make without – and the best bit is that only four ingredients are required. If the kids didn't already love pasta enough, they'll be positively giddy over this offering.

Get the recipe: Chocolate pasta

Related Features:

Pasta makes the perfect side dish when hosting a BBQ this summer - and we've got plenty more inspiring healthy BBQ food ideas for you to choose from too.

Or if you're looking for something to serve after dinner, how about trying one of our mouthwatering summer dessert recipes - including cookie ice cream sandwiches and more?

Lara Kilner
Food Writer

Lara Kilner is a writer and editor with two decades of experience in national newspapers, magazines, and websites. She writes about food, lifestyle, travel, health and wellness, and entertainment, and regularly interviews celebrities and people with interesting life stories and experiences. Her foodie content has included interviews with Jamie Oliver, Rick Stein, Queer Eye’s food expert Antoni Porowski, the Hairy Bikers, Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall, Raymond Blanc, Andi Oliver, Paul Hollywood, Prue Leith, and Nadiya Hussain.