This Creamy Pesto Pasta Recipe is so yummy and comes together in just 20 minutes! It's the perfect quick and easy weeknight dinner, that everyone in the family will love. Make it tonight!
Lazy meals are trending right now and I'm totally here for it. The kids just went back to school, which means about an hour less of sleep for me, and I'm ready to cut some corners on dinner prep.
Why You'll Love This Recipe:
- It is absolutely full of creamy pesto flavor
- The recipe only takes 20 minutes total with minimal chopping, making it a great lazy dinner
- It's a super simple recipe, and you can buy store bought pesto to save even more time
*Not pictured-Reserved Pasta Water
Pesto Sauce-The Star of the recipe. If you want the ultimate flavor experience, try my 10 minute healthy pesto recipe. It's super easy to whip up and has the perfect blend of basil, parmesan, garlic and pine nuts.
Heavy Cream-Brings in the creamy texture to the pesto sauce. It isn't super heavy like an alfredo sauce, but it does thicken the sauce quite a bit along with the parmesan cheese.
Parmigiano Reggiano- You want the real parmesan cheese for this recipe for the best results. A powdered parmesan will not work in this recipe. Grate it yourself for the best melt. Parmesan cheese brings a nice nutty flavor into the sauce.
Pasta- I used a Casarecce pasta noodle for this recipe, and it came out amazing. Spaghetti, Penne, and Rigatoni would also be great in this creamy basil pesto pasta.
See recipe card below for a full list of ingredients and measurements.
Substitutions and Variations:
If you don't want to make homemade pesto, just buy store-bought.
Most pasta works great with this recipe, I just wouldn't choose anything super small like orzo.
Need to make it dairy free? Just leave out the heavy cream and cheese and make pesto pasta.
How to Make this Creamy Pesto Pasta Recipe:
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Here are the Step by Step Instructions for this Pesto Pasta Recipe.
If you are making my homemade pesto sauce, start with that recipe first.
Step 1: Start by bringing a large pot of water to a boil. Add in the pasta and boil until just a minute past al dente, firm when bitten into. *Reserve 1 cup of pasta water from the pot and set aside.* Once the pasta is finished cooking, strain the water from the pot.
Step 2: While the pasta is boiling, heat a dutch oven or large skillet to medium low heat. Add in olive oil and allow it to warm up for about 2 minutes. Toss in the shallots and salt and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring every minute. Add in red pepper flakes and lemon juice and stir.
Step 3: Decrease the stovetop heat to low. Pour in pesto sauce and allow it to warm up for a few minutes. The oil will separate a bit, and that's perfectly normal.
Step 4: Add in heavy cream and stir to combine. Cook for 2 minutes to just warm it up. Toss in the cheese and stir gently until it is all melted into the sauce. If it get's too thick, add in a few tablespoons of reserved pasta water in, as needed. Don't water it down too much, because the pasta will have some water in it too. If the pasta is still cooking, keep the sauce simmering on low and stir every few minutes to keep it nice and hot.
Step 5: Toss the pasta and creamy pesto sauce together and serve immediately.
Step 6: Top with parmesan cheese and a sprinkle of black pepper, if desired, and enjoy!
- Use a real parmesan cheese, preferably parmigiano reggiano, and shred it straight from the block. This will give you the best texture and taste. Do not use a bottled parmesan or bagged parmesan for this recipe, or the sauce won't thicken correctly.
- Don't forget to save the pasta water! This is so important when making pasta sauces. It can help thin out a sauce, or just make it creamier, and it does a phenomenal job.
- When cooking the shallot, you want them to soften and become translucent, not brown. Turn down the heat if needed.
Creamy pesto just incorporates traditional pesto sauce and heavy cream, along with additional parmesan cheese. It's the most delicious sauce, and a must try on pasta!
There's a lot of good answers to this question. My favorite pastas with pesto are usually on the larger side, like Casarecce, Rigatoni, Penne or Spaghetti. These larger pastas tend to hold onto the pesto sauce really well, making these pastas an optimal choice for pesto.
If you're looking for protein, try my Parma Ham Wrapped Chicken.
For a nice salad, toss together some chopped romaine hearts and parmesan cheese with my Caesar Salad Dressing with no Anchovies.
Thinking bread? My Air Fryer Garlic Bread is a must try and pairs perfectly with any pasta!
More Weeknight Dinners You'll Love:
If you tried this Creamy Pesto Pasta Recipe or any other recipe on my website, please leave a 🌟 star rating and let me know how it goes in the 📝 comments below. I love hearing from you!Print