This cream cheese pasta is an easy one pan pasta recipe with only 7 ingredients! And, you can make it in only about 25 minutes. This indulgent and creamy pasta dish is equally perfect for a busy weeknight dinner or a romantic date night at home!
This cream cheese pasta recipe is exactly what you need when you're looking for something super indulgent, but don't have the energy or time to make a fuss in the kitchen. There is absolutely no chopping involved! (Although maybe a little grating, but if you buy pre-shredded Parmesan you don't even have to do that much!) You also only need one pot or pan, seven total ingredients, and about 25 minutes or less.
Although this pasta dish is ridiculously easy, it tastes so good - so creamy, so smooth, so indulgent! It's very similar to an Alfredo sauce, so if you like that, this pasta will be right up your alley.
This dish is also really versatile; it would make the perfect busy weeknight meal, or, the perfect date night entrée when you want to impress! And, it makes a great base for any type of topping you like. Try it with chicken or shrimp, roasted veggies, or maybe even slices of grilled steak?! Yum!
- Cream cheese: make sure to get a block of cream cheese, rather than whipped cream cheese that comes in a tub.
- Nutmeg: this is optional but I recommend it; it gives that "special something" to the sauce! Don't worry, the flavor is subtle, but it adds an interesting warmth to the dish. Bonus points for whole nutmeg that's been freshly grated!
- Milk: I have tested this recipe with both skim and 2% milk and they were both delicious. For extra creaminess, go for whole milk!
Step by step photos
1. The first step is to cut the block of cream cheese into small cubes. Then set the cream cheese aside for now.
2. Next, grab a large sauté pan. A sauté pan has a wide, flat bottom and straight sides that are about 3 - 5 inches (7.5 - 12.5 cm) tall. This type of pan works well for one-pan pastas because the lower sides help the water to evaporate. I also find it easier to get into the corners to stir the pasta. If you don't have one though, you can use a large pasta pot.
Place the pasta into the sauté pan or large pot. If the pan or pot you are using is not wide enough to fit the pasta flat on the bottom, you can break it in half. (Although I know some people are dead-set against ever breaking pasta - if you're one of those people, please forgive me!)
3. Along with the pasta, add in the milk and water. Also sprinkle in the kosher salt. Bring the liquid to a boil and cook for about 10 - 12 minutes, or until the pasta is tender.
While the pasta is cooking, you will need to stir it frequently. This is especially important during the end of the cook time, to keep the pasta from sticking to the pan.
4. While the pasta is cooking, you can take this opportunity to grate the Parmesan cheese (if you didn't go for pre-shredded Parmesan).
I prefer to grate my own cheese because it results in a smoother sauce, but if you don't have time you can use pre-shredded Parmesan.
5. Turning back to the pasta now - when it's done cooking, most of the liquid should be evaporated from the pan. It should look something like this:
6. At this stage, turn the heat off and add in the chunks of cream cheese, black pepper, Parmesan, and pinch of nutmeg. Mix everything together gently. The chunks of cream cheese should melt pretty quickly because the pasta and liquid will still be very hot.
7. Here is what the finished pasta will look like - nice and creamy and smooth! Now you can taste the pasta; if it needs it, add in a little bit more Parmesan, salt, pepper and/or nutmeg.
Tips and tricks
Use bronze-cut dried pasta for best results
- Most commercially produced dried pasta is extruded through either bronze dies (called bronze-cut pasta) or Teflon dies.
- Bronze-cut pasta has a rougher, more porous surface whereas Teflon extruded pasta has a very smooth, slippery surface. Here is a great article that explains more about how bronze-cut pasta is made.
- I have made this recipe with both types, and the bronze-cut pasta was so much better - the sauce really melded together with the pasta, so every bite tasted much creamier and more delicious! This is because the rough surface holds onto the sauce better than the Teflon extruded pasta.
- One of my favorite brands of widely-available bronze-cut pasta is De Cecco.
Other tips and tricks
- After mixing the pasta together with the sauce, you can serve the pasta right away. But, if you would like the sauce to be even thicker, let it sit in the pan for an additional 2 - 3 minutes. As the pasta cools down, the sauce will continue to thicken up.
- If you've let the pasta sit for too long however and it got a little dry, you can mix in a few splashes of milk to loosen the sauce up again.
I have also successfully made this recipe with dried fettuccine pasta. Depending on the brand of fettuccine, you will likely need to add an additional 1 - 2 minutes onto the cook time listed in the recipe. To compensate for the added cook time, you may also need to add in about ¼ - ⅓ cup extra liquid toward the end of the cook time (either water or milk) to prevent the pan from getting too dry before the pasta is done cooking.
Substituting dried fettuccine works here because fettuccine and linguine have similar cook times. I don't recommend trying to use a pasta that takes much longer or shorter to cook, because you will end up with either too much or not enough liquid in the final dish.
Store any leftovers in a covered container in the fridge. Stored properly, leftovers will last for 3 - 4 days in the fridge.
Much like any leftover pasta, the texture of this cream cheese pasta will get drier the longer it sits in the fridge. Therefore, my favorite way to reheat the pasta is to gently warm it in a small pan over low heat, covered with a lid. Before adding the lid, stir in a few tablespoons of milk to the pasta to help the sauce reconstitute.
Although I have recommended freezing some of my recipes that contain dairy (such as this recipe for red skin mashed potatoes), I don't recommend freezing this pasta recipe. Cream cheese tends to get grainy when frozen and thawed, and the silky smooth sauce is pretty much what this recipe is all about. Therefore, I think it's just not worth it to try and freeze this pasta. Trust me, this dish is so good, you're not likely to have many leftovers!
This dish is pretty rich and filling, so for side dishes, I recommend something lighter, such as a green salad or steamed or grilled vegetables. For added protein, you can top the pasta with grilled chicken, shrimp, or scallops.
If you would like to garnish the pasta, I recommend chopped parsley and a sprinkle of cracked black pepper and extra Parmesan cheese. If you like heat, you can also add some red pepper flakes on top.
If you’ve tried this recipe, please leave a star rating and/or review in the comments section below, I would love to hear from you! You can also follow me on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. And sign up for my weekly newsletter to get recipes delivered straight to you!Print
Cream Cheese Pasta
You can make this cream cheese pasta with only one pan and 7 ingredients! This creamy and indulgent pasta recipe can also be made in about 25 minutes or less.
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 12 minutes
- Total Time: 22 minutes
- Yield: 4 servings 1x
- Category: main course, entree
- Method: stove top
- Cuisine: American
- 8 ounces (226 g) cream cheese (1 block)
- 12 ounces (340 g) dried linguine (see note 1)
- 1 cup (237 ml) milk (either skim, 2%, or whole)
- 4 cups (946 ml) water
- 1 ½ teaspoons (5 g) kosher salt (see note 2)
- 1 ½ ounces (43 g) Parmesan cheese, grated (about ½ cup)
- ½ teaspoon black pepper, or to taste
- 1 pinch nutmeg (optional but recommended!)
- Cut the block of cream cheese into small cubes, set aside.
- Place a wide sauté pan (see note 3) or large pot on the stove. Add the linguine to the pot, along with the milk, kosher salt, and water. If the pasta is too long to fit flat on the bottom of the pan, you can break the pasta in half.
- Turn the heat on high and bring the liquid to a boil. Let the pasta boil for 10 - 12 minutes, stirring frequently, until the pasta is tender and most of the liquid has evaporated. Pay special attention to stir the pasta well toward the end of the cook time to prevent the pasta from sticking to the pan. If the pan is getting too dry but the pasta hasn't finished cooking yet, add in a small amount of additional water or milk. (While the pasta is cooking, you can grate the Parmesan cheese if not using pre-shredded Parmesan.)
- When the pasta is finished cooking, turn the heat off the stove. Add in the cubes of cream cheese, grated Parmesan, black pepper, and pinch of nutmeg. Stir the ingredients together until the cheeses have melted into the sauce. Taste the pasta and if needed, sprinkle in more Parmesan cheese, salt, black pepper, and/or nutmeg to taste.
- Serve the pasta immediately, or, if desired, let the pasta sit for 2 - 3 minutes to thicken the sauce further.
For best results, use bronze-cut pasta. Bronze-cut pasta has a rougher, more porous surface. This will help the sauce cling better to the pasta and it results in a much more satisfying creamy texture in each bite!
I used Diamond Crystal Kosher salt for this recipe, which is lighter and flakier than Morton Kosher salt. To substitute Morton Kosher salt or regular table salt, use only 1 teaspoon in the cooking water. Or, go by the weight measurement (5 g).
A sauté pan has a wide, flat bottom and straight sides that are about 3 - 5 inches tall. This type of pan works well for one-pan pastas because the lower sides help the water to evaporate more quickly and make it a little bit easier to stir the pasta well during cooking. But, if you don't have one, a large pasta pot works well also.
The nutrition information below is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator; the nutrition counts of your dish will vary based on the brand and exact amounts of ingredients used. This nutrition estimate should not be considered a substitute for professional medical, health, or nutritional advice. See our full disclosure policy.
- Serving Size: ¼ recipe
- Calories: 507
- Sugar: 2.9 g
- Sodium: 817 mg
- Fat: 25.3 g
- Saturated Fat: 15 g
- Carbohydrates: 51.4 g
- Fiber: 0 g
- Protein: 19.3 g
- Cholesterol: 137 mg
Keywords: cream cheese pasta, one pan pasta
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