This garlic herb butter pasta recipe comes together in just 25 minutes, has everyday ingredients, and is wonderful for using up fresh garden herbs. It feels kinda fancy but is so simple to make!
Why you'll enjoy it
This summery recipe is made with my favorite technique for sauce, using pasta water to thicken it and melt the cheese right into it. It's super quick and easy, but the results are so impressive. The herb butter sauce here really shines with fresh basil, parsley, and chives!
In my home we love serving this garlic herb pasta on lazy summer evenings, when our garden herbs are in abundance, the sun sets late, and a carefree dinner on the patio with a glass of white wine is just about all you could want in life. You're picturing it too, right!?
Ingredients for it
- Pasta - I used shells since they make great pockets for the sauce, but any shape or variety you have on-hand is fine
- Butter - for the rich base of our sauce
- Garlic - if you're a garlic lover, you can always add more!
- Crushed red pepper flakes - to give it a little kick, but you can leave them out if you prefer. They don't make the sauce spicy or anything and really just give it a gentle warmth.
- Fresh herbs - we're using basil, parsley, and chives
- Parmesan cheese - it makes the sauce luxurious. Make sure to get a good-quality block and grate it yourself since it's such an integral part of the sauce.
How to make this fresh herb pasta
This is an overview, and full ingredients & instructions are in the recipe card below.
- Boil the water for your pasta, and cook it al dente according to package directions.
- When it's just about ready, melt the butter in a skillet, add in the garlic and red pepper flakes if using, and cook for about a minute. When the pasta is done, reserve some of the water it was boiled in just prior to draining it.
- To the skillet, add the drained pasta, chopped fresh herbs, the parmesan cheese, and a splash of the starchy water. Toss very quickly until the cheese has melted and the pasta is nicely coated, adding more of the starchy water as needed. Season with salt & pepper, extra parm on top, and enjoy immediately!
What to serve with it
- This butter and herb pasta is a hassle-free meatless main course, and it's great on its own or with a slice of crusty bread. If you're interested in a wine pairing, chardonnay or pinot grigio would be my pick!
- A light salad like this Super Simple Parmesan Arugula Salad is another option.
- It also makes a tasty side dish. Serve it with anything from Parmesan Crusted Chicken to my Smothered Pork Chops and Gravy for a heartier meal.
Leftovers and storage
- Leftovers will keep in the fridge for 3-4 days easily in a covered container.
- You can reheat in a small saucepan over a low heat, or you can microwave in 30-second intervals until warmed through (although we prefer the stovetop method for reheating).
- I wouldn't freeze leftovers since the sauce won't hold up well once thawed because of the cheese.
Questions about this recipe? Did you make it? Let me know in the comments below!
Garlic Herb Butter Pasta
- 8 ounces pasta I used shells
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes optional
- 2 tablespoons parsley chopped finely
- 2 tablespoons basil chopped/sliced thin
- 2 tablespoons chives chopped finely
- 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
- Salt & pepper to taste
- Cook the pasta al dente according to package directions. Note: you'll need to use some of the pasta water to make the sauce, so don't drain it until you've reserved some.
- Meanwhile, prep all ingredients, and when the pasta is close to being cooked, add the butter to a skillet over medium heat and let it melt. Add in the garlic and red pepper flakes and let it cook for about a minute, stirring often so the butter becomes infused with the garlic flavor.
- Just prior to draining the pasta, reserve a half cup or so of the pasta water.
- Add the drained pasta to the skillet as well as the parmesan cheese and the fresh herbs. Pour in a splash (a few tablespoons) of the pasta water. Turn the heat off and toss continuously until the cheese has melted and the pasta is well coated. Continue adding the pasta water as needed (you don't need to use it all up).
- Season generously with salt & pepper and serve immediately with some more parmesan cheese grated over top if you like.
- Serves 2-4 depending on how much people eat/what else it's served with (4 as a side dish).
- Omit the red pepper flakes if you'd prefer it to be mild.
- Nutritional information is provided as a courtesy only and should be construed as an estimate rather than a guarantee. Ingredients can vary and Salt & Lavender makes no guarantees to the accuracy of this information.