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This three-ingredient, 20-minute pesto pasta recipe is as simple as it gets! It tastes restaurant quality, and you’ll marvel at how easy it is to make this irresistible pasta.

Try my Creamy Pesto Dressing or Creamy Chicken Pesto Pasta with Spinach and Sun-dried Tomatoes next.

a bowl of pesto pasta with a fork

Why you’ll love it

This restaurant-worthy pasta with a creamy pesto sauce works for everything from busy weeknights when you’ve got picky eaters to date night. It’s inexpensive since it has so few ingredients, and it’s also great when you have pasta cravings but don’t want to put in effort.

If you have a jar of pesto in your pantry, you’re going to want to make this simple pasta recipe. We’ve got a little bit of magic going on here. Ever had plain ‘ol pesto on pasta and felt something was missing? I’ve got you covered with this delicious creamy pesto sauce.

What you’ll need

  • Pasta – I chose rigatoni. Penne would also work great, but any pasta you have on hand is fine.
  • Pesto – since each ingredient shines, be sure to buy one that you love the taste of! DeLallo’s traditional basil pesto is my favorite. Or make my Homemade Pesto.
  • Heavy cream – the way it makes the sauce silky is a game changer
ingredients for pesto pasta in a prep bowl and measuring cups

Tools for this recipe

Check out Natasha’s favorite kitchen essentials, gadgets, and cookware!

  • I use these angled measuring cups to measure out the pesto and cream.
  • Here is my favorite cooking spoon for stirring the sauce.
  • If topping with parmesan, this Microplane zester will make a perfectly fluffy dusting.

How to make pesto pasta

This is an overview with step-by-step photos. Full ingredients & instructions are in the recipe card below.

making creamy pesto sauce in a cast iron skillet

Cook the pasta al dente. Meanwhile, in a skillet, add the pesto and cream. Simmer until thickened to your liking.

adding rigatoni to a skillet and stirring it into creamy pesto sauce

Drain the pasta, and toss with the sauce. Taste, then season with salt & pepper as needed. Top with freshly grated parm if desired.

Helpful Tip

Need to thin the pasta sauce out? Simply add a splash of the hot water the pasta is cooked in!

Substitutions and variations

  • Try adding in some uncooked shrimp while you’re simmering the sauce. Cooked/rotisserie chicken would work well too if you’re looking for a protein.
  • Add in a handful of fresh baby spinach towards the end of cooking time for some more greens.
  • You could add a squeeze of lemon juice for a pop of freshness.
  • Subbing the cream for a lower fat alternative might yield a thinner sauce that needs to be cooked down longer.

What to serve with pesto pasta

Leftovers and storage

  • Store this pesto pasta for 3-4 days in the fridge in a covered container, and reheat slowly over low heat to prevent the sauce from separating.
  • If you don’t plan on eating it all right away, don’t cook the full amount of pasta, and simply boil fresh pasta when reheating the sauce.
  • It may change texture when frozen due to the dairy, but it should still taste good.
a skillet with rigatoni in a creamy pesto sauce

If you made this simple pesto pasta, please leave a star rating and review below! Questions? Talk to me. You can also tag me #saltandlavender on Instagram if you make my recipes.

a bowl of pesto pasta with a fork
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Easy Pesto Pasta

This three-ingredient, 20-minute pesto pasta recipe is as simple as it gets! It tastes restaurant quality, and you'll marvel at how easy it is to make this irresistible pasta.
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 15 minutes
Total: 20 minutes
Servings: 4

Ingredients 

  • 8 ounces uncooked pasta I used rigatoni
  • 1 cup pesto click for my recipe or use your favorite jarred variety
  • 1 cup heavy/whipping cream
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • Freshly grated parmesan cheese optional, to taste

Instructions 

  • Boil a large, salted pot of water for the pasta and cook it al dente according to package directions.
  • Meanwhile, add the pesto and cream to a skillet, give it a good stir, and simmer for 5-7 minutes over medium heat or until it's thickened up to your liking. If the sauce gets too thick, simply thin it with some of the hot pasta water.
  • Drain the pasta and add it to the skillet and toss with the sauce. Season with salt & pepper as needed (go easy as some jarred pesto varieties can be salty) and top freshly grated parmesan if desired.

Notes

  • I love DeLallo’s pesto!
  • This pasta is quite rich and makes 4 reasonably sized (not huge) portions, so I suggest serving it with a side salad or starting with an appetizer. 

Nutrition

Calories: 653kcal, Carbohydrates: 49g, Protein: 12g, Fat: 45g, Saturated Fat: 18g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 6g, Cholesterol: 72mg, Sodium: 599mg, Potassium: 183mg, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 5g, Vitamin A: 2125IU, Vitamin C: 0.4mg, Calcium: 151mg, Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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Hi! I’m Natasha.

Salt & Lavender is a recipe blog with a focus on delicious comfort food using everyday ingredients. Beat the weekday grind with hundreds of easy-to-follow and hassle-free recipes!

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