Pasta Bar Party: pasta bar ideas for different pastas, sauces, and toppings to let your guests make-their-own, perfect for a party!
Last week my oldest daughter had a birthday, and we’re planning a party with friends in a couple of weeks. But we couldn’t let the special day go by without marking the occasion, so we had a special family party and celebrated with a Make Your Own Pasta Bar. This is such a fun way to serve a lot of people and we’re excited to share all our pasta bar ideas with you. It’s great for a party or even large family meals. And everyone loved choosing all their own perfect combinations, especially the picky eaters.
My daughter’s favorite food is pasta, so that’s why we choose a pasta bar for this celebration. It wasn’t too hard to put together and was a real crowd pleaser.
The Pasta Bar
It was so much fun to put together the pasta bar and I’m really excited to share it with you. It’s so perfect for entertaining, since it’s an easy way for everyone can find something they love, and all you have to do is set it up and let them help themselves, so you get a chance to enjoy your own party too.
We set ours up on our side buffet. You’ll want to keep in mind traffic flow when you’re setting a serve yourself buffet like this up. Think about how guests will move through the space, and the order of assembling their dish. If you don’t have room in your dining room, consider setting something like this up on your kitchen table. Or set up a side table in the dinning the space just for the buffet.
It’s always a good idea to think about different heights and try to incorporate some with different risers. Try to use matching serving bowls if you can, and choose a colour scheme. Remember to include serving pieces. You’ll need different serving utensils for different shapes of pasta. Tongs work well for long pastas like spaghetti, and large serving spoons are better for something like penne. You’ll also need ladles for the pasta sauces. We went with a rustic Italian theme, so some wood crates worked well on our buffet. Keep in mind that hot dishes may need a trivet under them to protect your table. We also added in some herbs potted in upcycled tins, some flowers in vases would be a good option too. Try to tie your buffet decor to your table decor for a cohesive finished look.
We also included a fun chalkboard sign with instructions for our guests. This is a nice addition for decor, but also helps any confused guests to understand exactly what they’re supposed to do, and what their options are.
I set it all up in the dining room. We did a combination of pastas, sauces, and toppings and everyone helped themselves.
We offered three different types of pasta -fettuccine, cheese tortellini, and rotini.
- cheese tortellini
Our trio of pasta options were a hit. You could include any types of pasta that you like. I wanted to include different pasta shapes. Remember that each different kind of past holds different sauces. Ridges on the pasta make it hold the sauces better. So consider your sauces when your choices the type of pasta, and be sure to have a variety of choices for pairings.
You might also include gluten-free pasta, or zucchini noodles might be a nice touch too when your thinking about different kinds of pasta options to include. I cooked the pasta right before serving. To help prevent it from sticking, you might stir in a bit of olive oil, or butter before serving.
Don’t underestimate how many large pots you will need to make this, and remember it takes a while to bring that much water to the boil, so keep that in mind as you’re working out your timings for serving and coming up with your pasta bar ideas. We cooked ours and served them immediately. You can also par-cook the pasta, and then put the cooked pasta into cold water to stop the cooking process. Then right before serving reheat it in boiling water. This will give you a quicker cooking time at the end, and may be a great way to get all the warm pasta served more quickly, depending on how many options you’re offering at your pasta party.
There were three pasta sauces we used; tomato, alfredo, and a blush sauce.
- tomato sauce
- Alfredo sauce
- blush sauce
Here’s some sauce ideas for your pasta buffet. It’s always nice to have a white sauce, a red sauce or marinara sauce, and our third sauce was a combination of both. Pesto is also a great option for your DIY pasta bar. A vodka sauce is another great option to include.
Then we made lots of fun toppings. We had a variety of meats including grilled chicken, Italian sausage, and meatballs. There was also sauteed veggies as a vegetable option. We also included some parmesan cheese and hot chilli flakes for those that like a little spice.
- grilled chicken
- Italian sausage
- veggies (mushrooms, peppers, onions)
- Parmesan cheese
- hot chilli flakes
The chicken and sausage were grilled on the bbq, and then chopped into bite sized pieces for serving. The meatballs were cooked from frozen in the oven, as per the package directions.
We sauteed our veggies in a large frying pan before serving. Prep all your veggies ahead of time, and cook until almost done. Just before serving finish off the cooking over a low heat. You could also grill the vegetables and chop into bite sized pieces before serving. Serve grilled veggies on large platter with rows of each kind so that everyone can pick their own vegetable options.
Another great addition to your variety of toppings would be artichoke hearts, kalamata olives, fresh cherry tomatoes and sun-dried tomatoes. We liked serving meatballs, but cooked ground beef is another option.
Our guests loved all the different options, and tried all kinds of different combos. It was perfect even for fussy eaters. I would definitely do it again, as it was a huge hit.
Keep It Simple
There were a lot of different components to the pasta bar, but they were all really simple to put together. I used store bought sauces, and frozen meatballs to cut down the prep time. I cooked the veggies ahead of time and just re-heated them. Before serving my husband grilled the sausage and chicken on the bbq, I cooked the pasta, and heated up the sauces.
Allergy, Vegan, Dairy-free, Gluten-Free Friendly
One of the great benefits of offering guests a buffet is that it’s very friendly for all. If you know you have a guest with a dietary restriction be sure to include some options that work for them, like gluten free pasta, or zucchini noodles, veggie options, and non-dairy sauces. This is such a great option also to make all your guests feel included, and like you’re all eating the same menu.
To serve our pasta bar I bought some matching simple white bowls of various sizes as serving dishes. We had guests serve themselves at the buffet we created. We were a relatively small party, so we didn’t have any issues keeping the food warm. If you had a larger group, you might consider using a slow cooker to serve some of the sauces, or food trays with warmers underneath instead of a serving dish.
We set the table, and guests brought their plates up to serve themselves. A pasta bowl would would a good option for guests too, if you have them instead of plates, since a bowl of pasta is a little easier to maneuver and spill anything, especially with a buffet set-up, where guests are walking back to their seats. You could also set up plates or large bowls at the beginning of the buffet.
Along with this we made a caesar salad, and cooked some mozzarella sticks. So it was pretty easy to put together. A green salad would be a great choice too. We also served some rolls. These options were all at the table and passed around.
- caesar salad
- mozzarella sticks
- garlic bread
- fresh bread rolls
- black olives
- salt and black pepper
I wanted the table to continue the Italian theme, so we went for a rustic Italian feel.
We used some tomato tins as herb planters and had fresh basil, thyme, and Italian parsley as the centrepiece. I set them up on a raised rustic wooden box. They were a great idea as a nice alternative to flowers. And I did a few more to add to the buffet to tie the whole look together.
We added some bread sticks, olives, and fresh tomatoes to the table for snacking, and they looked great too.
Each guest had their own roll, wrapped in parchment paper, waiting for them at their place setting. We served these with butter, but offering a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar for bread dipping would be a really great idea too.
I set up some Italian inspired drinks in the kitchen for our guests.
- lemon San Pellegrino
- orange San Pellegrino
- San Pellegrino sparkling water
The sparking drinks were a big hit with guests. Another option would be to set up an Italian soda bar, where guests could make their own, and try different flavors. This would be the perfect addition to our pasta bar ideas.
This was such a fun get-together with great food that everyone enjoyed. I highly recommend these pasta bar ideas to you for a party.
With a Make Your Own Pasta Bar and all these great pasta bar ideas, life really is a party!
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