This creamy tomato pasta is decadent, delicious, and so easy to make. It’s perfect for a quick weeknight meal when you need a comfort food dinner that everyone in your family will love.
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This creamy tomato pasta is my back pocket pasta recipe—it’s easy, everyone in my family enjoys it, and I can guarantee that dinner will be a win.
There are never any complaints when I make creamy pasta! In fact, my kids often ask for leftovers the next day. I have also been known to double the sauce just so there is extra. The creamy tomato sauce is irresistible and perfect for sopping up with some crusty homemade garlic bread.
Creamy Tomato Pasta Recipe
If you know how to boil water for pasta, then you will easily be able to make this creamy tomato pasta recipe. Sauté some onions and garlic, add your favorite canned tomato sauce, then mix in heavy cream and parmesan cheese. It’s that simple!
The whole recipe takes less than thirty minutes to make and a lot of the cooking time is hands-off. You can do some dishes, set the table, or just sit down and relax while the pasta sauce simmers on the stove. The creamy pasta sauce smells incredible as it cooks and will have everyone in your family asking when dinner will be ready. It’s hard to wait when you know that the meal is going to be so good!
Ingredients for Creamy Tomato Pasta
See recipe card below this post for ingredient quantities and full instructions.
- Penne pasta – Penne is a great pasta shape for thick sauces; the sauce can go inside the noodle and cover the pasta completely. You can choose to use just about any type of pasta but try to pick a shape that will hold the sauce well. Rotini, rigatoni, or even mini shells are all good choices.
- Olive oil
- Onion – I like to make the sauce with white onions because they deliver a nice strong flavor.
- Tomato sauce – Any brand of tomato sauce will work well. I like classic Barilla Tomato & Basil sauce as it has a good balance of flavors. You can use homemade tomato sauce to make this recipe if you feel like being extra fancy!
- Heavy cream – Heavy cream or heavy whipping cream can be used interchangeably. You can swap the heavy cream for milk to make a lighter sauce, but be sure to use whole milk.
- Parmesan cheese – Use freshly grated parmesan cheese rather than dry parmesan cheese. Fresh cheese will melt into the sauce evenly, making it thick and rich.
- Basil – Chopped basil makes the perfect garnish, giving the pasta a pop of color and fresh flavor.
- Use a jar of chunky tomato sauce to give the dish a little texture. Some tomato pieces in the sauce are quite good!
- Add some meatballs to the sauce. You can heat up pre-cooked meatballs right in the simmering sauce for the last five minutes of cooking time. This is a great way to bulk up the meal.
- Skip the sugar to make the sauce a little tangier and a little less sweet.
How to Make Creamy Tomato Pasta
- Make the pasta: Start by cooking the penne according to the package directions. You want to cook the noodles until they are al dente, which means they will be a little bit hard. Save 1 cup of the hot pasta water to use in the sauce.
- Sauté the veggies: Melt the olive oil and butter in a medium pot and cook the onions and garlic over medium heat. Cook until the onions are softened.
- Make the sauce: Add the jarred tomato sauce, salt, and pepper to the pot and stir. Let the sauce simmer over low heat for about 25 minutes. Stir the sauce occasionally as it cooks to prevent it from burning on the bottom of the pan.
- Stir in the cheese: Add the heavy cream and cheese to the sauce and stir. The cheese will melt as you stir. If the sauce is too thick, you can add a little of the saved pasta water to make it the perfect consistency.
- Add in the pasta: Stir the cooked pasta noodles into the creamy sauce and enjoy!
How to Store
If you happen to have leftover creamy tomato pasta, you can put it into an airtight container and store it in the fridge for up to 5-6 days. To reheat the pasta, simply pop it in the microwave and reheat it for about one minute. Give the pasta a good stir to make sure the sauce covers the pasta evenly.
While some pasta sauce does freeze well, sauces with heavy cream or milk should not be frozen. The cream will separate from the sauce when it is reheated, making the sauce look curdled.
My creamy tomato pasta recipe goes well with almost any Italian-style side dish. I love pairing it with my homemade garlic bread or soft dinner rolls. A chopped salad with Italian dressing is a nice light side dish, while adding some air fryer meatballs to the sauce will help make the pasta dish even more filling.
Adding milk or cream to tomato sauce makes it creamy and rich. You want to wait to add the milk until the sauce is completely cooked. Otherwise, the sauce will break and look separated. Whisk it in right before you are ready to serve the sauce and you will get a very tasty creamy tomato sauce!
High-fat kinds of milk and creams will hold up better in a hot sauce, while skim milk or low-fat milk alternatives will separate and look curdled. Sauces with milk should also never be allowed to boil; boiling milk will cause it to curdle. The trick is to use a high-fat dairy and stir it away from the heat. Adding the milk at a lower temperature and mixing it in slowly is the key!
Adding cream, parmesan cheese, freshly chopped basil, a splash of red wine or a pinch of hot red pepper flakes are all quick, easy ways to make your tomato pasta taste better. Sautéed garlic and onions are other tasty ingredients you can mix into your sauce. Of course, using my creamy tomato pasta sauce recipe is the best way to improve a jar of tomato sauce.
Creamy Tomato Pasta
- 12 ounces penne pasta
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 medium onion, finely diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 15 ounce cans tomato sauce
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- dash of sugar
- 1 cup heavy cream
- ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
- fresh basil, chopped
- Cook pasta according to package directions for al dente. Drain, reserving 1 cup of pasta water.
- Heat butter and oil over medium heat. Add onions and garlic and sauté for a minute until onions are transparent.
- Stir in tomato sauce, salt, and pepper. Simmer over low heat for 25 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Remove from heat and add heavy cream and parmesean cheese. Mix well.
- Add pasta and stir (thin with pasta water if needed).
- Add to pasta bowls and top with chopped basil and a sprinkle of parmesan cheese before serving.