This creamy pesto pasta recipe is a quick and delicious dinner! With just 7 ingredients and 15 minutes, this recipe is perfect for busy weeknights!

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Note: You can also watch this recipe video on YouTube

What Makes This Recipe Great

Too busy on weeknights, but still want a delicious dinner that is ready FAST? I’ve got you covered! From walking into the kitchen to walking out of the kitchen with a warm bowl of this creamy pesto pasta, it will take you 15 minutes or less. I promise you, I timed myself. And that even includes the boiling time for the water!

I use fettuccine pasta, but in the past, I’ve used faster cooking pasta like spaghetti, angel hair, or shells which take even less time. If you have some leftover chicken or veggies, throw it in as well. This quick and easy creamy pesto pasta dinner is so yummy and totally kid-approved! Pesto for the win!

Homemade Pesto vs. Storebought Pesto

In the summer, when my basis is overflowing, I love to use my homemade pesto recipe to make the creamy sauce. However, I have found that storebought works as well to make a creamy pesto sauce!

Pro tip: I find that refrigerated store-bought pesto has a better flavor than shelf-stable pesto. Trader Joe’s sells a delicious pesto in their refrigerated section that you can see in the ingredient photo above!

Ingredient Notes

ingredients of creamy pesto pasta

Homemade Pesto

  • Basil Leaves: For this recipe, you’ll need to use fresh basil.
  • Olive Oil: I like to use extra virgin olive oil because adds a great flavor to the pesto.
  • Roasted, Unsalted Pine Nuts: If you’re allergic to nuts, you can skip these, however, they really do add a lot of flavor, so if there is no allergy, make sure to use pine nuts.
  • Garlic Cloves: You can buy already peeled cloves or peel them yourself! The fresher the better.
  • Salt: Use whatever you have on hand. I love kosher salt!

Creamy Pesto Pasta

  • Milk & Heavy Cream: Feel free to sub these for non-dairy alternatives if you prefer.
  • Parmesan Cheese: Use grated or fresh, whichever you prefer.
  • Pasta: I use fettuccine pasta, but in the past, I’ve used faster cooking pasta like spaghetti, angel hair, or shells which take even less time.
  • Pesto: Either homemade or store-bought!

Recipe Step by Step

steps to making pesto sauce in a food processor

Homemade Pesto

  1. In a food processor, combine the basil, pine nuts, garlic, and salt. Pulse until all the ingredients are finely chopped. Add in the olive oil, and blend until combined. If needed, add in more olive oil until desired consistency.
  2. To prevent the top of the pesto sauce from turning brown as it sits in the fridge (oxidizing), pour on enough olive oil to cover the whole top. This will prevent oxygen from reaching the pesto sauce and will keep it green. Not necessary, for looks only.
  3. This pesto will keep in a wide mouth pint mason jar in the refrigerator for 2 weeks, or in the freezer for up to 1 year. I store my dairy-free pesto in wide-mouth pint mason jars since they’re freezer friendly!

*for more details & a how-to video for homemade dairy-free pesto, click here!

Creamy Pesto Pasta

  • Boil a large pot of water over high heat. Season the water generously with salt, and cook the pasta according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Heat a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add in the butter and garlic. Cook for 30-60 seconds until the garlic is fragrant.
  • Pour in the heavy cream, milk, and pesto. Stir and cook for 1 minute to warm through. Turn heat to low, then add in the parmesan cheese. Stir until it is melted.
  • Grab the cooked pasta with tongs out of the boiling water and add it directly to the sauce. Toss to combine. Add pasta water if the sauce needs to be thinned out.
  • Serve this creamy pesto pasta warm, garnished with parmesan cheese.

Expert Tips

Pasta: I love my creamy pesto sauce smothered over fettuccine noodles, but use whatever pasta you have on hand and love. You can also use gluten-free pasta if needed.

Dairy-Free & Vegan: You can make this creamy pesto pasta & sauce recipe dairy-free if needed.

  • Use ghee or plant-based/vegan butter in place of the regular butter.
  • Use dairy-free pesto (my recipe for homemade pesto is dairy-free!).
  • Substitute original flavor Nutpods in place of the cream and milk.
  • Measure the same quantities for all substitutions.

Storage: Leftovers will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for at least 5 days. Reheat in the microwave until warm.

Adding Protein: For extra protein, add your favorite meat or seafood to this pasta. Creamy pesto sauce goes great over chicken, shrimp, etc.

creamy pesto pasta in a white bowl with pasta swirled around a fork

FAQs

Can I freeze this fettuccine pasta with creamy pesto sauce recipe?

Yes! This recipe actually freezes super well. Put leftovers in an airtight, freezer-safe container and store them in the freezer for at least 6 months.

What else can I make with creamy pesto sauce?

Pesto by itself is amazing on eggs, avocado toast, and sandwiches, and makes a great dip. This creamy pesto sauce is the perfect topping for multiple types of meat and protein, and a variety of pasta dishes. It would even go great in a casserole! Pesto is so versatile!  

Is this recipe keto?

This recipe is not keto because of the Fettuccine pasta. However, you can make this creamy pesto pasta with Natural Heaven Hearts of palm pasta to make it low carb!

More Creamy Pasta Recipes!

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Creamy Pumpkin Alfredo Pasta

Keto Creamy Cajun Sausage Pasta

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Keto Creamy Tuscan Shrimp Pasta

Creamy Mushroom & Bell Pepper Pasta

Keto Chicken Cauliflower Alfredo Pasta

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The BEST Creamy Pesto Pasta

This Creamy Pesto Pasta Recipe is a quick and delicious dinner! Just 7 ingredients and 15 minutes. Perfect for busy weeknights!
5 from 123 ratings

Ingredients 
 

  • 1 pound pasta
  • 3 tablespoons salted butter
  • 4 cloves of garlic, grated or finely minced
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup pesto
  • 2/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • kosher salt

Equipment

Instructions 

  • Boil a large pot of water over high heat. Season the water generously with salt, and cook the pasta according to the manufacturers instructions.
  • Heat a large skillet over medium low heat. Add in the butter and garlic. Cook for 30-60 seconds until the garlic is fragrant.
  • Pour in the heavy cream, milk and pesto. Stir and cook for 1 minute to warm through. Turn heat to low, then add in the parmesan cheese. Stir until it is melted.
  • Grab the cooked pasta with tongs out of the boiling water and add it directly to the sauce. Toss to combine. Add pasta water if the sauce needs to be thinned out.
  • Serve warm, garnished with parmesan cheese.
  • See the Recipe Notes below for more tips, FAQ's and ingredient substitutions.

Notes

Pasta: I love this with fettuccine, but use whatever pasta you have on hand and love. Use gluten free pasta if needed.
Pesto: In the summer, I love to use my homemade pesto. But store bought works as well! I find refrigerated store bought pesto to have a better flavor than shelf stable pesto.
Dairy Free + Vegan: You can make this dairy free if needed. Use ghee or plant based/vegan buttery spread in place of butter, use dairy free pesto (my recipe for homemade pesto is dairy free!) and then original flavor Nutpods in place of the cream and milk. Same quantities for the substitutions.
Leftovers + Freezing: Leftovers will keep in an airtight container refrigerated for at least 5 days, or frozen for at least 6 months. Reheat in the microwave until warm.
Adding Protein: You can of course add in your favorite protein to this pasta. Great with chicken, shrimp, etc.
Calories: 726, Total Carbs: 92.4g, Protein: 24g, Fat: 28.5g, Fiber: 4g, Net Carbs: 88g
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