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15 Frozen Pasta Dishes Ranked From Worst To Best

To those who have time or desire to prepare home-cooked pasta meals from scratch several times a week, we salute you! But if we're being honest, that's likely not the case. If standing over a stove isn't your idea of fun, the next best option can be found in the frozen food aisle. We're talking frozen meals that give you the heartiness and tastiness of delicious pasta, with a lot more convenience and a lot less cleanup. 

If you're a pasta lover, you're not alone — Americans eat 9 kilos of pasta a year, according to Food Business News. And as a frozen meal, pasta is a perfect dinner for one, but it can also feed a whole family. Just add a simple fresh green salad or some steamed vegetables to create a complete meal in minutes.

These frozen pasta dinners can be cheesy, gooey, and delicious, but there are some you should steer clear from because they miss the mark when it comes to flavor and texture. We've rounded up frozen pasta dishes so you can know exactly where to turn the next time you're craving a quick carb.

15. Stouffer's Italian Sausage Pasta

Stouffer's has been a household name for decades. According to Stouffer's website, what started as a Cleveland, OH restaurant in 1924, morphed into a frozen entrées endeavor by 1954. Once the company was acquired by Nestlé in 1973, Stouffer's has been on a mission to feed hungry bellies across America. You would expect them to have a good grasp on what qualifies as delicious. But sadly, no, they don't. At least not according to this Stouffer's Italian Sausage Pasta. This dish, which is available in family size or as a meal for two is interesting, to put it nicely. 

Pasta shouldn't be mushy. At home, if you've made your own pasta and accidentally overcooked it because you were juggling too many things, you'd be able to at least throw on another batch. But there's no re-doing this Stouffer's version. It is mushy indeed, which wouldn't be soo horrible if it wasn't also completely lacking in flavor. One Goodnes.com reviewer said, "The pasta is gummy and the sauce has very little taste. The sausage is almost non-existent and very bland. This was one of the worst frozen dinners we've ever eaten, and I've been eating frozen dinners since the late 1950s." It's in your best interest to skip this dish and put together your own more flavorful version, even if you're short on time.

14. Birds Eye Voila! Alfredo Chicken

Birds Eye is another authority in the frozen food space. Clarence Birdseye was the father of it all and the man who invented "what we think of as frozen food", according to Business Insider. He would revolutionize how we freeze food by creating a standardized way to do it with machines. The purpose was to lock in flavor and keep foods fresh until they were ready to eat. That's an admirable mission, but where Birds Eye falls flat is in another area completely. Birds Eye Voila! Alfredo Chicken is supposed to be loaded with pieces of juicy grilled white meat chicken in an Alfredo cheese sauce along with tons of colorful veggies. The flavor delivers, but the ingredients and composition don't.

Somewhere along the way, Birds Eye let its customers down with this Alfredo chicken. The sauce is far too thin to be considered an Alfredo sauce and they skimp on the chicken and vegetables, including only a few pieces of each. One Birds Eye reviewer found no carrots, and said, "It looked a bit bland, then I realized there were no carrots, not one small piece. May I remind you that on your contents list, that carrots are listed first." If you love your pasta packed with veggies, you may want to look elsewhere.

13. Aplenty Rigatoni with Braised Beef Ragu and Meatballs

There's plenty that Amazon does well, including getting packages to your doorstep quickly. So when it ventured into food, naturally it was cause for some excitement. The company's proprietary brand, Aplenty, was added to the megastore's grocery offerings in April 2021, according to Supermarket News. Among other products, there are chips, dips, crackers, condiments, and frozen food meal kits. It is admirable that there are no artificial flavors in the Aplenty pasta and it really sounds quite delicious — rigatoni in a rich tomato sauce with Calabrian chilis and beef and pork meatballs? That should be the tastiest dinner you've ever had ready in 8 minutes. Except it's not. 

It's a meal kit, so if you want to feel as though you're actually cooking, this involves slightly more assembly than just popping a tray into the microwave. The flavor is not absolutely horrible. But really, it's not great. The meat is chewy and the noodles have an odd texture. Said one Amazon reviewer, "The meatballs are rubbery and spongy in texture and there's only a mere 8 1" meat marbles in the kit. The oversized noodles are ridiculously large. The noodles are also chewy like Swedish fish candy. Sauce ... minimalist both in quantity and flavor profile. Will NEVER buy again." If you throw this into you Amazon cart on your next online shopping spree, you will feel a pang of regret after you've taken your first bite.

12. Stouffer's Spaghetti with Meatballs

By default, spaghetti and meatballs is good. It is warm, it is hearty, but the most important components are the meatballs and the sauce. There are no compromises that can be made in regards to those two. So when Stouffer's tries to pass off its spaghetti and meatballs as, well, "spaghetti and meatballs", we have to scratch our heads, as it doesn't deliver on its promises. 

In this single-portion meal, there are noodles, sauce, and meatballs, but the quantities of each are confusing. The noodles are chewy and there's a lot of them. Or maybe there's not enough sauce. And there are a few meatballs thrown in, but they're not the right size. A Goodnes.com reviewer said, "The noodles were slightly slimy and overcooked, the meatballs seemed to have gotten smaller (they were about half the size of a normal meatball), and there was only about a tablespoon (at the most) of sauce."

11. Bertolli Shrimp Scampi & Linguine

According to Bertolli, the brand got its start in 1875 when it became the "pioneer of olive oil in the USA." It's a pedigree that screams authenticity. 

The taste of Bertolli's Shrimp Scampi & Linguine is spot on. It's the ratios that are a disappointment. While some Target reviewers seemed to disagree on whether or not this actually contained 2.5 servings, as it claims, they seemed united on the fact that this just doesn't contain enough shrimp for two adults. Said one reviewer, "The Shrimp Scampi & Linguini contains only 8 tiny shrimp for two adult diners! I had to buy a bag of large frozen shrimp to make it an entree instead of a side dish. If you add frozen peas it helps make it a complete meal." You may have to jazz this up a bit if you want a satisfying dinner. A few more shrimp and veggies can bulk it up, and at least the sauce tastes good. It's still faster and more convenient than making your own shrimp scampi from scratch.

If you don't expect tons of shrimp, you may actually be pleasantly surprised by this Bertolli Shrimp Scampi & Linguine.

10. Lean Cuisine Butternut Squash Ravioli

We respect Lean Cuisine for being a mainstay in the healthy frozen food space. The brand was created under Stouffer's as a more health-focused option that lined up with the weight loss and fitness craze of the 1980s. The brand now has vegan options, protein bowls, and dishes made with cauliflower pasta (via Lean Cuisine). The single-serving Butternut Squash Ravioli is a fan favorite and features ravioli in a creamy sauce with an assortment of colorful veggies. 

Coming in at only 270 calories, it's a great option for those who want to limit portion size. Freezer Meal Friendly reviewed the meal and had many good things to say, including compliments on texture and flavor. While it's hard to get a knockout frozen meal, this is tasty enough, all things considered. The only downside of this meal is the texture of the pasta. Said Freezer Meal Friendly, "The ravioli is a little on the chewy side, but the filling is excellent. The vegetables definitely make this feel like a healthier choice." So whether you're watching your caloric intake or not, this is a tasty lunch option. 

9. Manini's Gluten Free Spinach & Cheese Manicotti

To all the celiacs and gluten-averse individuals out there, we don't want to forget you. You should also have a quick frozen pasta lunch option. That's where Manini's comes in. The brand has a range of heat & serve meals, all Italian-inspired (via Manini's). This one, Manini's Gluten-Free Spinach & Cheese Manicotti, looks particularly delicious and according to Amazon reviewers, it actually is. But what it isn't, is hearty. For many reviewers, the single-serve portion size was too small, with one taster comparing it to the size of their hand.

If you skew towards the hungrier side or want a meal that will be several portions, keep looking because this isn't a great option. However, there are all kinds of appetites out there, so if you eat less or just want a (quick and gluten-free) accompaniment to a simple, homemade salad, you have a great option right here.

8. Marie Callender's Garden Tomato Four Cheese Ravioli Bowl

A frozen pasta dish is a great compromise for those days you don't have the time or energy to cook and don't want to order takeout. Marie Callender's Garden Tomatoe Four Cheese Ravioli Bowl is a perfectly portioned pasta dish for one. It is a great answer for quick, hearty lunches, and with a simple mixed green salad would make the easiest weeknight dinner. 

The flavor of these is quite nice, but the sauce ratio is a bit off. Said one Amazon reviewer, "It is tasty, but there is too much sauce and too few raviolis." That is far from a dealbreaker. If you find these over-sauced, just take a few scoops of sauce out, and the problem is solved. It's much better than not having enough sauce (we're looking at you, Stouffer's). As long as a meal delivers on taste, which this does, the rest is easily fixable with a little quick thinking.

7. Udi's Gluten Free Chicken Parmesan

How does breaded white-meat chicken with rich marinara and hints of nutty parmesan cheese sound? Did we mention that this is gluten-free too? This is a great modification of a dish that those avoiding gluten normally can't eat. Udi's Chicken Parmesan Penne Frozen Skillet Meal is all that it aims to be. It is indeed easy to throw together and makes a quick dinner. It is also really delicious. The chicken is tender and the sauce is flavorful. The gluten-free pasta defies any negative thoughts you may have about its texture because it is not chewy or dense like some gluten-free pasta can be. One reviewer on the Udi's website said, "It tastes just like homemade — is very cheesy, not too much tomato in it, and the chicken pieces are good sized and seem like "fresh."

This two-portion pasta is a choice dinner option whether you are gluten-free or not. It's even better for those who have both gluten-eaters and gluten-avoiders in the family because it's a great way to please everyone.

6. Stouffer's Fettuccini Alfredo

Stouffer's makes the lineup yet again with its classic fettucini Alfredo. Let us warn you — this dish is super simple. It is rather basic, consisting of just fettuccini noodles and Alfredo sauce, but it is super creamy and very rich. It is not the most exciting offering you will ever have for dinner, but that doesn't matter when the dish is so well-executed.

One Stouffer's reviewer said, "The sauce was so savory and way better than I had anticipated. It reminded me of Alfredo from a restaurant, not a frozen meal. I strongly recommend this as an alternative to cooking the pasta and sauce yourself, especially since it's faster." You may want to doctor up the sauce a bit — you can add some pepper and salt and chili flakes if you're feeling extra snazzy. But this single-portion pasta serves as a great base. Add chicken, spinach, or shrimp, and you'll feel like you're at Olive Garden.

5. Scott & Jon's Shrimp Scampi with Linguini Pasta Bowl

Scott & Jon's might be your answer to finding a sustainable and flavorful frozen meal. They offer sustainably-sourced seafood, fresh veggies, and phosphate-free frozen meals that claim to be as natural as they are delicious. They also like to make strategic ingredient substitutions, like using Neufchâtel cheese instead of heavier cheeses, to create dishes that are as healthy as possible. Each meal in the company's lineup is under 300 calories (via Scott & Jon's). 

Their single-serving shrimp scampi is pretty straightforward — linguini-based, with sweet tomatoes and tender shrimp. As promised, it is only 290 calories for a one-serving portion. The simple ingredient list is also very attractive — it's easy to decipher what is in here and nothing is too foreign. But the best news of all? It's good! Really good. One Reddit reviewer said, "I tried this one for the first time the other day — I can honestly say if someone served that to me without telling me it's a frozen dinner, I would never know. It was so flavorful and fresh tasting!"

4. Evol Ziti & Meat Sauce

Next up we have a deliciously simple dish, the beloved ziti with meat sauce. According to its website, Evol is a brand that prides itself on using no artificial colors or flavors, sourcing cage-free eggs, using meat raised with no antibiotics, and never compromising on flavor. They actually make a range of frozen goods like breakfast sandwiches and frozen burritos, so frozen meals seem to be a specialty of the brand.

They really stayed true to their "better food" mission with this ziti. Evol's Ziti & Meat Sauce is a single-serve pasta bowl that tastes like a homemade dish. One Evol.com reviewer said, " A perfect mix of pasta, sauce, and tiny meatballs which add a beefy flavor to each bite." You could add some fresh basil and parmesan to take it to the next level, but even if you're short on time and have to eat this pasta bowl as is, you're in for a treat.

3. Amy's Pesto Tortellini

Amy's Pesto Tortellini is great for the whole family. And that's exactly what Amy's saw for its business when it got its start making organic and vegetarian pot pies in 1987. According to INC., the family business grew to a $500,000,000 operation by staying true to its old-school values of keeping the business in the family.

And while there's a whole range of Amy's products like macaroni and cheeses, pizzas and burritos, the pesto tortellini, with its rich and decadent sauce is a great introduction to the brand (via Amy's). These tortellini are stuffed with ricotta and coated in a zingy pesto that you'll want seconds and thirds. One Target reviewer said, "Loved this pesto bowl! I've had it time and time again and it's really good for a frozen meal. Family members have enjoyed it as well & there is a good amount in there as well."

You'll want this bowl for lunch and maybe dinner and then maybe lunch again the next day.

2. EVOL portabella and goat cheese ravioli

This one's for the mushroom lovers. These Evol Portabella and Goat Cheese Ravioli have mushrooms inside the ravioli along with goat and ricotta cheese. There are also crimini mushrooms in the basil sauce, along with spinach and peppers. 

As a frozen dish, this is balanced and utterly hearty. Some other frozen pasta dishes don't necessarily seem worth it because they're easy to replicate if you just boil some pasta and heat up a jar of sauce. So we love that this dish is a bit more layered. It's not easy to quickly whip up some fresh ravioli or make your own creamy basil sauce. This dish is hard to replicate from scratch, and for the ease and portion size, you just can't beat this. 

One Evol reviewer was head over heels for the dish and said, "Wow, this was indulgent, satisfying, and filling! The goat cheese added the perfect salty balance to the garlic and veggies. I loved the amount of veggies too, not too much and not too little."

1. Rao's Made For Home Penne Alla Vodka

Rao's is known for being the "most difficult reservation to get in NYC" according to Gotham Magazine. Fortunately, Rao's owner spilled the beans to Mashed about how he makes amazing pasta at home. If that's still too much effort for you but you want a taste of that famous red sauce at home, look no further than Rao's Made for Home Penne Alla Vodka

This took the top spot for several reasons — the first is that it's just really tasty. It's a succulent pasta that is made with no preservatives, artificial colors, or artificial flavors. It isn't easy to get perfect pasta in the form of a frozen dish but Rao's shows it is indeed possible. That's no surprise at all, coming from a restaurant that has had every table booked each night for the past 38 years.

This single-serve dish should be your next weekday lunch — delicious sauce and al dente noodles, no reservation required.