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Host a Pasta Bar Party

Pasta Bar – If you are looking for a super fun dinner party, then this pasta bar idea is it! Similar to the burger buffet I shared a while back, a pasta bar lets everyone get creative making their own personal pasta bowl.

pasta bar

Pasta Bar Ideas for your Next Dinner Party

Although they might not look it, both a pasta bar and burger buffet are not at all difficult to put together, by the way. But of the two, entertaining with a pasta bar is the easiest, mostly because you can prepare almost everything in advance. And, whether your guests are healthy or not, gluten free, vegan or Paleo, there’s something for everyone.

How to Host a Pasta Bar

Building your own pasta bar is so much fun and perfect for company. We’ve also made a pasta bar for close family on New Year’s Eve. Whenever you host one, trust me, it will be easy and fun. Here’s a few steps to get you started.

Step 1: Choose 3 to 4 Different Types of Pasta

Choose 3-4 different pastas for your pasta bar. To accommodate any dietary restrictions your guests may have you’ll want to have a selection of gluten-free, grain-free pastas. And for fun and variety, I think it is important to also have different shapes and sizes. Here’s what I suggest you offer:

#1: Gluten Free Pasta is perfect for your guests that are gluten free or free to eat gluten.

Gluten free pasta is easy to serve because most brands now are hard to tell the difference. We use a variety of brands when we’re cooking at home, but I do love serving gluten free pastas from the brand Jovial Pasta. They also makes a delicious line of cassava based pastas.

#2: Vegetable Pastas add a fun element!

You can now buy delicious vegetable pastas from places like Thrive Market, Whole Foods and your local grocery store may have some options too. However, you can also make your own butternut squash noodles or zucchini noodles. If you don’t have one already, you can buy a spiralizer here if you want to spiralize your own veggies!

Shrimp Scampi with Zucchini Noodles 2

Note: to cook vegetable-only pasta simply bring a large pot of water to a boil, add the vegetable pasta and cook for 1 to 2 minutes then drain and toss with extra virgin olive oil and salt. It is best to cook vegetable pasta 15 minutes before serving.

#3: Garbanzo Bean Pasta is delicious and hearty!

We just love the taste of Banza’s new garbanzo bean pasta. It adds a new dimension and tastes so delicious. But is quite filling, so you won’t need as much of it in your bowl.

QUICK NOTE: Tips on Cooking Pasta for Your Pasta Bar

Everyone knows pasta is just about one of the easiest foods on the planet to cook. However, if you are making 3 or 4 different pasta varieties for your pasta bar, serving them can get a little tricky. But here’s a great pasta bar idea that worked great for me…

#1: Cook the Pasta Al Dente Before Your Pasta Bar Guests Arrive:

About 3 hours before everyone arrived I cooked each pasta variety al dente and separately using one very large pot. It is important not to over cook the pasta because you will need to recook it for about a minute right before dinnertime (see #2 below.)  

To save time and avoid having to wait for the water to boil for each new pasta, I drained the pasta into another large pot and used the same water over and over. Transfer the cooked pasta to serving bowls, drizzle in some extra virgin olive oil, toss and cover with a wet paper towel. Note: If you are cooking for a guest who is gluten intolerant or has Celiac disease, you will want to cook the gluten-free pasta first. 

#2: Right Before Your Dinner Party Arrives, Quick-Cook Pasta for 1 Minute

About 15 to 20 minutes before serving dinner you will need to “freshen up” the cooked pasta by quick-cooking each one for about 1 minute in boiling water. Again, to save time, I cooked each pasta variety in one big pot and just drained the boiling water into another pot and used the same water over and over. Transfer the cooked pasta back to the serving dishes and cover each bowl with a hot, damp paper towel.

#3: Keep Your Pasta Warm in the Oven at 200 Degrees

Transfer the pasta to a 200 degree oven with the door slightly open to keep warm. Note: For best results, do not leave the pasta in the oven for more than 30 minutes. 

creamy shrimp pasta recipe

Step 2: Choose 3 to 4 cooked vegetables

A great pasta bar ideas is choosing a wide assortment of different vegetables, or even beans! When picking your vegetables, think color. It is most visually appealing to have something red, green and white on the pasta bar.

#1: Red Vegetables. Roasted cherry tomatoes or roasted red peppers.

#2: Green Vegetables. Steamed broccoli, sauteed spinach with garlic, or broccoli rabe (FYI: how to cook broccoli rabe perfectly!)

#3: White Vegetables. Roasted artichokes (I used frozen artichokes, tossed them in extra virgin olive oil and roasted them, without thawing, in a 400 degree oven for about 35 minutes), caramelized onions, steamed cauliflower or white beans.

Marinated Artichoke Heart Recipe 2

 Step 3: Choose at Least 2 Sauces for your Pasta Bar

I don’t think you need to go overboard with tons of different sauce options on a pasta bar. However, it is nice to offer at least 2 different sauce options. One of the great things about sauces is that just about all of them can be made several days in advance. I like the idea of having at least one tomato-based sauce and one non-tomato sauce….

#1: Tomato Sauce. You can’t go wrong with a Classic Marinara Sauce . If you like sauces a bit more chunky check out this Garlicky Cherry Tomato Sauce recipe.  Pasta All Vodka is also always a hit! If you have olive and anchovy lovers then Puttanesca sauce is a GREAT red sauce. And if you wanted to get a little creative you could also do my Hidden Vegetable Sauce (nobody will ever guess this recipe hides 8 different veggies)

#2: White Sauce. If you are trying to keep your pasta bar clean, then you will want to choose a dairy-free white sauce such as Garlic and White Wine Sauce, Mushroom Sauce, etc. (FYI: My Dairy Free Alfredo Sauce takes less than 10 minutes to make!)

#3: Meat-Based Sauce. This one is really optional but it’s a nice touch if you have the extra time. My Slow Cooker Bolognese (with LOTS of hidden vegetables) is always big hit but you could also do a more basic Tomato with Meat Sauce. 

Step 4: Offer 1 or 2 Meat / Protein Options

You don’t need to go too crazy with tons of meat, but you should offer at least one option. If you are not trying to do a clean pasta bar you could of course always add fatty meats like sausage, but if you are trying to keep it healthy here’s what I suggest:

#1: Meatballs. My Baked Turkey Meatballs  are just about the easiest meatballs in the world to make. Slow cooker turkey meatballs are also a great option. (FYI: For both recipes you can substitute grass-fed beef, bison, or lamb for the turkey.)

easy turkey meatballs

#2: Roasted or Rotisserie Chicken. It’s hard to go wrong with chicken!

#3: Pan-Fried Tofu. If you think you don’t like tofu, you might not have tried pan-fried tofu. 

Step 5: Set Up a Condiment Station for your Pasta Bar

You could go crazy with the pasta bar condiment station, but I think it’s a good idea to try to add between 5 and 8 options. Here are just a few ideas…

Step 6: Be Prepared for (Most) Everyone to Separate their Food Into Little Piles in Their Bowls

And finally, I couldn’t help but share what every single person did with their pasta bowls…

For some reason I thought everyone would “toss” their pasta and ingredients all together, but instead I noticed everybody (including myself!) ended up putting their food in neat little piles in their deep dish bowls.

Speaking of bowls, I would definitely do deep dish bowls over plates. There’s just something that seems more special about a “pasta bowl” than a “pasta plate” when serving a pasta bar.

So that’s it! It’s easy to set up a pasta bar and it really is a fun way to entertain. If you try it or if you have any suggestions for additions to the pasta bar item list above please leave a comment and let me know….


Host a Pasta Bar Party

Host a Pasta Bar for your next Dinner Party. You’ll find amazing Pasta Bar Ideas including pasta selections, pasta sauces and so much more!

pasta bar
Save Recipe
  • Prep Time: 60 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
  • Yield: 6-8


Pasta Suggestions – Try a variety of spaghetti, ziti, rotini, macaroni or angel hair pastas.

Cooked Vegetables

  • red vegetables: such as roasted cherry tomatoes or red peppers
  • green vegetables: such as broccoli rabe, spinach
  • white vegetables: such as marinated artichokes


  • tomato sauce
  • white sauce
  • meat-based sauce

Protein/Meat Options

  • meatballs
  • roasted or rotisserie chicken



  1. Put all of your varieties in glass bowls with serving spoons. Group together each of the sections. Provide large bowls or plates for your guests.
  2. Encourage your guests to start with pasta, vegetables, sauces, proteins and condiments.
  3. Then enjoy!

Last Step! If you loved our recipe, leave us a review below. This helps future recipe makers and ensures continued high-quality recipes for years to come!

© 2024 clean cuisine Recipe by:

Ivy Larson

In 2010, Clean Cuisine was launched because Ivy Larson wanted to share her anti-inflammatory lifestyle and delicious recipes using ingredients in their most natural and nutrient-rich state. In 2020, Ivy passed the website to Aimee and Madison. Since then, they have been adding new recipes and nutrition posts while updating old recipes and articles. Thanks for visiting Clean Cuisine!

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Tuesday 7th of September 2021

What an excellent idea. We hosted a pasta bar party over the weekend and it was so easy to put together. Thank you for sharing this amazing idea.

Aimee Harris Niedosik

Tuesday 7th of September 2021

Oh Sarah, this is wonderful. Thank you so much for sharing and letting us know!

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