This creamy pesto pasta is super fresh and creamy with a delicious herby, nutty flavor. It's ready in just 20 minutes and makes the perfect easy dinner that can take center stage or be served with your favorite entrees.
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Why You'll Love This Pesto Pasta Recipe
The flavor. Regular pesto sauce is pretty good, but this creamy one is so much better! It's rich and flavorful, coating the noodles of your choice perfectly.
Made with simple ingredients. You might already have some, if not all, of the ingredients you need to make this creamy pesto pasta! Plus, most of them are ingredients you can keep on hand for an easy dinner.
A quick and easy dinner. If you're looking for a quick dinner for busy weeknights that tastes delicious too, this creamy pesto pasta recipe is just what you need. As I mentioned, it takes 20 minutes to make and tastes like something from a high-end restaurant!
- Pasta- I used shells, but feel free to use your favorite pasta!
- Basil pesto- you can use my nut free pesto recipe for a homemade pesto or use any storebought pesto.
- Olive oil- I like to use extra virgin olive oil.
- Heavy cream- for that delicious creaminess that makes this dish so good.
- Salt and pepper- for more flavor.
- Pine nuts- optional for garnish.
How To Make Creamy Pesto Pasta
1. Cook the pasta. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta according to the package instructions. When the pasta is nearly done, reserve ½ cup of the pasta cooking water. The drain the cooked pasta and set it aside.
2. Make the pesto. While the pasta is cooking, heat the olive oil in a cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add the basil pesto of your choice and mix until combined with the oil. When the pesto starts to bubble, slowly stir in the heavy cream. Cook the creamy sauce for 5 minutes, and add some of the reserved pasta water to thin the sauce as needed.
3. Combine the ingredients. Add the pasta to the skillet with the sauce and toss everything together until the pasta is fully coated. Keep the skillet over low heat to keep that pasta warm.
4. Roast the pine nuts. Place the pine nuts in another skillet set over medium heat. Cook for about 2-3 minutes and stir the nuts often until they're golden brown. Remove them immediately from the heat, and transfer them to a plate.
5. Serve. Transfer the creamy pesto pasta to a bowl and serve warm with some toasted pine nuts on top. Enjoy!
Tips To Make The Best Recipe
- Cook the pasta al dente since it will cook slightly when it's mixed with the sauce.
- Use a hand mixer to make it easier to stir the sauce while it's cooking.
- Make sure you only roast the nuts until they're golden, and take them off the heat immediately. You don't want them to burn!
- Mix some grated parmesan cheese into the pesto and top the pasta with more parmesan for a cheesier flavor.
- Add some grilled chicken or rotisserie chicken to the pasta for a heatier meal.
How To Store and Reheat This Pasta
In the fridge: Transfer any leftovers into an airtight container and keep them in the fridge for about 4 days.
In the freezer: To keep for longer, transfer the cooled pasta to a freezer-safe bag or container and freeze for up to 6 months.
Reheating: To reheat the pasta quickly, microwave it in 30-second increments until it's heated through. You can also reheat it in a saucepot over medium-low heat, stirring frequently until it's hot. You can mix in some milk or heavy cream to thin out the sauce.
Frequently Asked Questions
What to serve with creamy pesto pasta?
What pasta is best with pesto?
Multiple varieties of pasta can work with pesto, especially those with twists, grooves, and curls. Cavatappi, shells, and bucatini are the best choices for this pesto recipe, but you really can't make a wrong choice.
How do you thicken creamy pesto sauce?
A cornstarch slurry easily thickens pesto sauce. Dissolve one teaspoon of cornstarch in two teaspoons of cold water in a bowl until the mixture is thick. Then add it to the sauce and mix.
More Pasta Recipes
- Chicken and Broccoli Pasta
- Creamy Salmon Pasta
- Gigi Hadid Pasta
- Prosciutto Pasta
- Chicken and Shrimp Alfredo
- Lobster Pasta
- 1lb. pasta (I used shells, but any works!)
- 1 cup basil pesto
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ½ cup heavy cream
- Salt and pepper
- 2 tablespoon pine nuts for garnish
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook pasta according to package instructions. When the pasta is nearly done, reserve ½ cup of pasta cooking water. Drain the pasta and set aside.
- Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add basil pesto and mix well into the oil. When the pesto starts to bubble, slowly stir heavy cream. Cook the creamy sauce for 5 minutes, and add some pasta water to thin out the sauce if needed.
- Add the drained pasta to the sauce and toss everything together until well combined. Keep warm over low heat.
- Place the pine nuts in a dry skillet over medium heat. Shaking the pan and stirring often with a wooden spoon until the nuts are golden brown, for 2-3 minutes. Remove immediately from the heat, and transfer to a plate to stop cooking.
- Serve the creamy pesto pasta while it is still hot, with a few toasted pine nuts on the top.
Serving Size:2 cups
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 707Total Fat: 32gSaturated Fat: 12gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 29mgSodium: 451mgCarbohydrates: 68gFiber: 3gSugar: 4gProtein: 15g