This creamy tomato pasta recipe comes together in only about 20 minutes! It's a fun and indulgent twist on a classic pasta with tomato sauce.
Are you craving pasta but looking for something a little more indulgent than typical jarred tomato sauce? BUT, you also don't want to do a ton of extra work or spend a ton of time? Yes, I totally hear that! If this is you, you need to try this recipe for creamy tomato pasta.
This recipe starts with a base of jarred tomato sauce, but takes it up about 1000 levels, by adding fresh garlic, onion, tomato paste, and of course, heavy cream and Parmesan for that silky smooth taste and texture.
And, this recipe takes only about 20 minutes to make, so you will be enjoying your special pasta dinner in no time!
- Pasta: I used tagliatelle, which is a long, flat egg pasta good for holding onto sauces. But, you can use any shape you prefer! Here is a great resource on finding a good pasta shape for different types of sauces.
- Basil: the fresh basil is optional, so if you don't have any you can still make the dish. You could also add some fresh parsley instead if you have that on hand.
- Kosher salt: kosher salt is coarse grained, so if you want to substitute fine-grain salt instead, just use a little less than what is called for in the recipe and add more if needed.
Step by step photos
1. Before you do anything else, set a large pot of water to boil for the pasta. Once the pasta water boils, generously salt the water and cook the pasta according to the directions on the box. While you're waiting for the water to boil, and while the pasta is cooking, proceed with the next steps:
2. Finely chop the onion.
3. Then, mince the garlic cloves.
4. Heat the oil in a medium sauté pan. Add the onion, salt and pepper. Stir and cook for about 2 - 3 minutes, until the onion is softened and translucent.
5. Next, add in the garlic. Continue to cook and stir, for about 1 more minute. You just want the garlic to become fragrant, not browned.
6. Add the tomato paste to the pan and cook for another 30 seconds to 1 minute, stirring continuously. You are just looking for the tomato paste to break down a bit and incorporate into the garlic and onions.
7. Now, pour in the tomato sauce and heavy cream. Bring the sauce to a simmer, making sure to turn the heat down if the sauce starts to boil.
8. Simmer the sauce for about 6 - 7 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the sauce thickens.
9. When the pasta is finished cooking, drain it and add it to the pan with the sauce.
10. Use tongs to help you toss the pasta together with the sauce.
11. Now sprinkle on the Parmesan cheese and gently stir it into the pasta.
12. If you like, you can also add in some torn pieces of basil to finish the dish!
Tips and tricks
- I like using a sauté pan to make the sauce; it has a wide, flat bottom and straight sides that are about 3 - 5 inches tall. A sauté pan works well because it contains the sauce well and gives enough room to easily mix in the cooked pasta with the sauce at the end. If you don't have a sauté pan, you can use a large saucepan.
- The amount of salt in the tomato sauce will vary by brand, so be sure to salt to taste. If you're not sure, you can always add a little less salt than called for in the recipe, and then adjust the seasoning at the end.
- Speaking of salt, be sure to generously salt the pasta water, this is the best way to get seasoning into the pasta itself!
- As I explained in my post for creamy pumpkin ravioli, the pasta will taste best if you serve it as soon as you can after it finishes cooking. So, take note of the cook time on the pasta you are using, and time accordingly.
- If you don't think you can nail the timing just right, I recommend erring on the side of finishing the sauce first, because it will keep just fine on the stove, set to low for a few minutes. Just give it a stir occasionally!
This pasta dish will taste best made fresh, but, if you have any leftovers they will keep in the fridge, tightly covered, for 3 - 4 days.
However, the pasta will continue to absorb the sauce, making the dish taste drier, the longer it sits in the fridge. So, I recommend enjoying the leftovers the next day if you can.
Alternatively, you can make just the sauce ahead of time and keep it covered in the fridge for 3 - 4 days. When you want to serve the pasta, just gently re-heat the sauce in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring occasionally.
Because this pasta sauce has cream in it, it will not freeze well. But, you can keep leftovers (either the entire dish or just the sauce) in the fridge, which I explain more about in the previous question.
This pasta is pretty filling because of the cream, so I would keep the sides light, such as a nice green salad and crusty bread, or even just a side of roasted veggies. For more protein, you can also try topping the pasta with grilled chicken or shrimp!
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This creamy tomato pasta is easy to make in only about 20 minutes, a more indulgent version of pasta with tomato sauce.
- 12 ounces (340 g) pasta, any shape (recommendation: tagliatelle)
- 1 cup (156 g) finely chopped onion (from about 1 small onion)
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste, plus more to salt pasta water
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper, or to taste
- 3 tablespoons (50 g) tomato paste
- 1 cup (237 ml) tomato sauce
- 1 cup (237 ml) heavy whipping cream
- ½ cup (14 g) finely shredded Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
- 5 - 6 fresh basil leaves (optional)
- Set a large pot of water over high heat to boil. When the water begins to boil, add a large pinch of salt and the pasta to the water. Cook the pasta according to the directions on the package. While waiting for the water to boil, and while the pasta cooks, proceed with the following steps (see note 1 re: timing for the pasta).
- Heat the tablespoon of oil in a medium sauté pan over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the finely chopped onion, kosher salt and black pepper. Cook the onion for 2 - 3 minutes, stirring frequently, until the onion is softened.
- Add the minced garlic to the pan with the onion. Continue to cook and stir for 1 minute, until the garlic is fragrant.
- Add the tomato paste to the sauté pan; stir and cook for an additional 30 seconds - 1 minute, just long enough for the tomato paste to full incorporate into the onions and garlic.
- Pour the tomato sauce and heavy cream into the sauté pan, stir to combine. Turn the heat up to bring the sauce to a simmer. Simmer the sauce for 6 - 7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sauce has thickened. If needed, turn the heat back down to maintain the simmer. Taste the sauce and add more salt and/or pepper if needed.
- When the pasta is finished cooking, drain it well. Add the drained pasta to the sauté pan with the finished sauce. Use tongs to toss the pasta together with the sauce.
- Add the finely shredded Parmesan cheese and gently toss the pasta with the tongs again to incorporate the cheese.
- If desired, tear the fresh basil leaves into small pieces and sprinkle over the pasta. Serve immediately with additional Parmesan cheese (optional).
To finish the pasta and sauce around the same time, check how long your pasta needs to cook and time accordingly; for pastas that take about 8 minutes, starting it around when you add the tomato sauce and heavy cream to the pan works well for me. If needed, you can always start the pasta cooking a little later in the process, since the sauce will keep well on the stove on the lowest heat setting while the pasta finishes cooking (just stir the sauce occasionally).
A sauté pan has a wide, flat bottom and straight sides that are about 3 - 5 inches tall. This pan is a good option for this recipe because it contains the sauce well and gives enough room to easily mix in the cooked pasta with the sauce at the end. If you don't have a sauté pan, you can use a large saucepan.
Kosher salt is coarse grained; if you want to substitute fine grain salt, add a little less than the ½ teaspoon called for, taste the finished sauce, and add more if desired.
The nutrition information below is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator, and should not be considered a substitute for professional medical, health, or nutritional advice. See our full nutrition disclosure policy.
- Serving Size: ¼ recipe
- Calories: 483
- Sugar: 8.3 g
- Sodium: 438 mg
- Fat: 17.1 g
- Saturated Fat: 8 g
- Carbohydrates: 72.7 g
- Fiber: 5.1 g
- Protein: 14 g
- Cholesterol: 44 mg
Keywords: creamy tomato pasta, creamy pasta