Jun 20, 2023

Creamy Pesto Pasta Recipe (Quick And Easy)

Get ready to indulge in a bowl of pure comfort and happiness with our creamy pesto pasta recipe! This mouth-watering dish features tender pasta smothered in a silky sauce that combines the savory flavors of fresh basil, pine nuts, and grated parmesan cheese.

It's like a hug in a bowl! And the best part? This recipe is super easy to make, so you don't have to be a master chef to whip up a delicious meal that will impress your taste buds. So what are you waiting for? Get your ingredients ready, and let's create some pasta magic!
Delicious creamy pesto pasta on a rustic serving tray, accompanied by two serving bowls filled with the same pasta, topped with vibrant fresh basil. A side of garlic bread completes the meal.

What does creamy pesto taste like?

Creamy pesto pasta is a comforting dinner recipe that combines creamy richness with vibrant and herbaceous pesto sauce. The velvety texture of the sauce, along with the fresh and tangy taste of pesto, creates a harmonious balance.

The addition of garlic adds savory depth, while the subtle cheesiness enhances the overall taste. This dish has a satisfying fusion of flavors, making it an excellent choice when you’re craving a creamy pasta dish!
Side view of creamy pesto pasta being lifted with tongs from a sizzling cast iron skillet. The pasta is beautifully coated in a rich and creamy sauce.

What I love about this recipe

I love so many things about this quick and easy recipe that's perfect for any night of the week. I mean, what’s not to love when, in under 20 minutes, you can have a flavorful dish on the dinner table that combines garlicky basil pesto and silky cream to create a mouthwatering creamy pesto sauce.

The al dente noodles add a perfect texture to this tangy pasta, leaving you craving more. The best part is, you can customize this dish to your liking by adding ingredients like roasted chicken, grilled shrimp, or sautéed vegetables, enhancing both the flavor and nutrition of your creamy pesto pasta. Try this recipe once, and you'll find yourself coming back for seconds and thirds.
An assortment of ingredients for preparing creamy pesto pasta displayed on a luxurious marble countertop. The ingredients include fragrant pesto sauce, creamy dairy, pasta, butter, flour, and a bunch of fresh basil leaves.

What is in Creamy Pesto Pasta?

  • Butter: Look for unsalted butter for this recipe. Butter adds richness and a creamy texture to the sauce, enhancing its overall flavor.
  • All-purpose flour: Flour is used as a thickening agent in the sauce, helping to create a smooth and creamy consistency. When mixed in equal amounts with butter, you make a roux (thickening agent) that serves as a base for this creamy pesto pasta sauce.
  • Heavy whipping cream: Heavy whipping cream is typically available in the dairy section of grocery stores. Look for containers labeled as "heavy cream" or "heavy whipping cream." Heavy cream adds a luxurious and velvety texture to the sauce, making it creamy and rich.
  • Pesto: I recommend making your own pesto using my Easy Pesto Recipe, however, in a pinch, Pesto can be found in jars or refrigerated sections of grocery stores. It is commonly available in various brands and flavors. You can choose traditional basil pesto or explore different options like sun-dried tomato pesto, arugula pesto, or spinach pesto. Pesto brings a burst of herbaceous and garlicky flavors to the dish, complementing the creaminess of the sauce and adding a delightful twist.
  • Pasta water: Reserve some of the pasta water before draining the cooked noodles to incorporate it into the sauce. Pasta water contains starch from the pasta, which helps create a silkier sauce and adds flavor too.
  • Pasta Noodles (e.g., linguine, fettuccine, or spaghetti): Various types of noodles like linguine or fettuccine are available in the pasta section of grocery stores. Choose your preferred shape or type, whether regular or gluten-free. Noodles serve as the base of the dish, providing a satisfying texture and absorbing the flavors of the creamy pesto sauce.
    Two white bowls filled with creamy pesto pasta, accompanied by a cast iron skillet in the background. In the foreground, two forks are placed invitingly, and fresh basil leaves are scattered artistically.

Optional Add-ins:

Cooked chicken, shrimp, or sliced sausage: Depending on your preference, purchase pre-cooked chicken, shrimp, or sliced sausage from the meat or seafood section of the grocery store. Alternatively, cook them at home according to your desired method. The addition of protein adds extra flavor and texture to the dish, making it heartier and more filling.
Roasted or sautéed vegetables (e.g., broccoli, asparagus, mushrooms, bell peppers): Choose your preferred vegetables from the produce section of the grocery store. Opt for fresh and vibrant vegetables or use pre-cut and pre-washed options for convenience. Vegetables add freshness, nutrients, and a variety of flavors to the dish, enhancing its overall taste and providing a colorful presentation.
Side view of creamy pesto pasta being lifted with tongs from a sizzling cast iron skillet. The pasta glistens with a creamy pesto sauce, while the tongs provide a glimpse of the texture. The skillet adds a rustic touch to the scene.

How to Make Creamy Pesto Pasta

To make creamy pesto pasta, follow these steps:
  1. Cook the noodles: Cook your preferred type of pasta noodles according to the package instructions until they are al dente. Drain the cooked noodles, reserving some pasta water.
    Tongs holding cooked pasta above a pot of steamy, boiling pasta water. The pasta is perfectly cooked and ready to be drained, creating a mouth-watering image of a classic pasta cooking process.

  2. Prepare the sauce: In a large skillet, melt unsalted butter over medium heat. Add all-purpose flour and whisk to combine, creating a roux. Slowly pour in heavy whipping cream, whisking continuously. Reduce the heat and simmer the sauce until it thickens to your desired consistency.
    A cook pouring creamy sauce into a cast iron skillet with melted butter. The rich cream cascades into the skillet, creating a velvety mixture that promises a luscious and flavorful dish.

  3. The cook skillfully whisking cream into a thickened sauce, creating a smooth and creamy texture. The whisk moves effortlessly through the mixture, incorporating the cream and enhancing the sauce's richness.
  4. Add pesto and pasta water: Once the sauce has thickened, remove the skillet from heat. Stir in the pesto sauce to combine it with the creamy base. For a silkier texture, add a quarter cup of pasta water or more as needed, and mix well.
    The cook whisking pesto into a thickened creamy sauce with skillful precision. The vibrant green pesto blends beautifully with the sauce, creating a flavorful and visually appealing mixture.
    The cook pouring pasta water into the sauce, creating a silky texture. The steaming water blends with the sauce, forming a smooth and velvety consistency that coats the pasta perfectly.
  5. Season to taste: Taste the sauce and season it with kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper according to your preference. Adjust the seasoning as needed.
    Pasta noodles delicately arranged on top of a flavorful sauce in the skillet. The al dente noodles rest atop the rich and inviting sauce, promising a delightful pasta dish.
  6. Combine the sauce and noodles: Add the cooked noodles to the skillet with the creamy pesto sauce. Toss the noodles gently to coat them evenly with the sauce.
    The cook expertly using tongs to gently mix the pasta into the sauce, ensuring even coating. The tongs delicately lift and fold the pasta, allowing it to become fully immersed in the flavorful sauce.
  7. Serve and garnish: Transfer the creamy pesto pasta to serving plates or bowls. You can garnish it with additional grated Parmesan cheese, fresh basil leaves, or a drizzle of olive oil for added flavor and presentation.
    A serving fork lies along the edge of a rustic serving platter, showcasing pasta beautifully wrapped around it. The creamy pesto pasta is elegantly presented, inviting the you to indulge in its flavorful allure.
Enjoy your creamy pesto pasta while it's still warm and flavorful!


Get creative and indulge in a variety of unique variations for this creamy pesto pasta recipe. For a protein-packed twist, add diced cooked chicken or grilled shrimp to the dish. Enhance the nutritional value by incorporating steamed vegetables or sauteed bell peppers, zucchini, or mushrooms.

Add a burst of tangy flavor with sun-dried tomatoes or savoriness with crispy bacon crumbles. For an extra touch of richness, sprinkle freshly grated Parmesan cheese over the creamy pesto pasta. Simply follow the easy instructions, adjust the seasonings to taste, and enjoy your customized and flavorful creamy pesto pasta creation.
A rustic serving tray showcasing creamy pesto pasta, served in two bowls. The pasta is garnished with fresh basil leaves, creating a visually appealing presentation. A side of garlic bread complements the dish.

What goes well with Creamy Pesto Pasta?

Creamy pesto pasta pairs well with a variety of complementary dishes and accompaniments. Here are a few ideas to get you started with your meal planning:
  • Garlic Bread or Breadsticks: Enjoy a side of garlic bread or crispy breadsticks. The garlic-infused bread adds a wonderful contrast to the creamy pasta and is perfect for sopping up any extra sauce.
  • Caprese Salad: Serve a fresh Caprese salad alongside the pasta. The combination of ripe tomatoes, fresh mozzarella cheese, basil leaves, and a drizzle of balsamic glaze or dressing complements the pesto flavors and adds a refreshing element to the meal.
  • Crispy Prosciutto or Bacon: Sprinkle crispy prosciutto or cooked bacon crumbles on top of the creamy pesto pasta. The salty and crispy texture of the cured meat adds a delicious contrast to the creamy pasta.
  • Mixed Green Salad: Serve a side salad with mixed greens, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, and a light vinaigrette dressing. The fresh and crisp salad provides a refreshing and light balance to the creamy pasta dish.
  • White Wine: Consider pairing creamy pesto pasta with a glass of white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay. The crisp and acidic notes of the wine complement the flavors of the pasta and enhance the overall dining experience.

These are just a few suggestions, and you can mix and match based on your personal preferences and dietary restrictions. Ultimately, the choice of accompaniments depends on your desired flavor combinations and the occasion.


Refrigeration: Transfer the leftover creamy pesto pasta to an airtight container or a sealable plastic bag and store in the fridge. Ensure that the container is tightly sealed to prevent air exposure.
Timing: Ideally, refrigerate the pasta within 2 hours of cooking to maintain its freshness and quality.
Shelf Life: Creamy pesto pasta can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3-5 days. However, it is recommended to consume it within the first 2-3 days for the best taste and texture.
Reheating: When ready to reheat, gently heat the pasta in a microwave-safe dish or on the stovetop, stirring occasionally to distribute the heat evenly. Add a splash of water or extra sauce if needed to prevent drying out.
Sauce Separation: Keep in mind that the sauce may separate slightly upon refrigeration. To restore the creaminess, you can add a small amount of milk, cream, or pasta water while reheating and stir well to incorporate.
Customization: Feel free to add extra pesto, a drizzle of olive oil, or grated cheese to refresh the flavors before reheating, if desired.
Note: Creamy pesto pasta doesn't freeze well due to the cream sauce, so it’s best to refrigerate any leftovers instead.

More Easy Pasta Recipes

Creamy Pesto Pasta Recipe (Quick And Easy)

Creamy Pesto Pasta Recipe (Quick And Easy)

Yield: 4
Author: Life Tastes Good
Prep time: 5 MinCook time: 15 MinTotal time: 20 Min
Here's an easy recipe for creamy pesto pasta that you can whip up in minutes. Fresh pesto sauce is also easy to make, and very versatile.


  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup Easy Pesto Recipe
  • 1/4 cup Pasta water or more to thin
  • 1 lb noodles like linguine or fettuccine


  1. Cook noodles according to package directions.
  2. While noodles are cooking, melt 3 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium heat.
  3. Add in 2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour and whisk to combine.
  4. Slowly pour in 1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream, whisking to combine.
  5. Reduce heat to mid-low and continue whisking. Simmer for a couple minutes until the sauce thickens.
  6. Once the sauce is thickened to your liking, remove from heat and mix in pesto and stir to combine
  7. Add 1/4 cup pasta water for a silkier texture and to thin the sauce as needed.
  8. Give it a taste and season with kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste.
  9. Toss with cooked noodles


  • Use a large pot of salted water to cook your pasta. This will help to prevent the pasta from sticking together and ensure that it cooks evenly.
  • Always salt your pasta water with at least a tablespoon of kosher salt. It is your one and only chance to infuse the pasta with salt to enhance the flavor.
  • Save some pasta water before draining the pasta. You will use this starchy water to thin out the sauce and create a silkier texture.
  • Whisk the flour into the butter before adding the cream to prevent lumps from forming in the sauce.
  • Use a whisk to stir the sauce while it’s cooking to prevent it from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
  • Simmer the sauce until it thickens to your desired consistency. Keep in mind that the sauce will thicken further as it cools.
  • Taste the sauce and season with salt and pepper to your liking. Keep in mind that the pesto sauce will already contain salt, so be careful not to over-season.
  • Mix the pasta and sauce together just before serving. This will help to ensure that the pasta doesn’t become too soft and mushy.
  • Garnish with fresh herbs, grated Parmesan cheese, or toasted pine nuts to add extra flavor and texture to the dish.

Nutrition Facts



Fat (grams)

53.96 g

Sat. Fat (grams)

28.23 g

Carbs (grams)

92.56 g

Fiber (grams)

4.22 g

Net carbs

88.34 g

Sugar (grams)

6.65 g

Protein (grams)

19.3 g

Sodium (milligrams)

322.73 mg

Cholesterol (grams)

125.9 mg

Nutrition label disclaimer: Nutrient values are estimates only. Variations may occur due to product availability and food preparation. To obtain the most accurate representation of the nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator. You are solely responsible for ensuring that any nutritional information provided is accurate, complete, and useful.

creamy pesto pasta, pesto pasta
Dinner, Lunch
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s)

Can I use a different type of pasta?

Yes, you can experiment with different types of pasta such as linguine, fettuccine, penne, or bowtie. Choose your favorite pasta shape or use what you have on hand.

Can I use store-bought pesto sauce for this recipe?

Absolutely! Store-bought pesto works well for convenience. However, I recommend my homemade pesto recipe to maximize flavor.

Can I make the sauce ahead of time?

While it's best to enjoy the creamy pesto sauce freshly made, you can prepare it in advance and store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-5 days. Reheat gently on the stovetop before tossing it with cooked noodles.

Can I freeze creamy pesto pasta?

Creamy pesto pasta doesn’t freeze well due to the cream sauce. It’s best to enjoy the dish fresh or refrigerate any leftovers for 3-5 days. 

Can I make this recipe vegan?

Yes, you can make a vegan version of this recipe by using a vegan butter substitute, and almond milk or coconut milk in place of the heavy cream. Be sure to use a vegan pesto made with nutritional yeast instead of Parmesan cheese.

How can I make this recipe gluten-free?

To make it gluten-free, simply use gluten-free pasta. There are many varieties available made from alternative flours like rice, corn, or quinoa.

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