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Cream Cheese Pasta

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Best cream cheese pasta recipe using just a few ingredients and ready in about 15 minutes.

white dutch oven full of creamy pasta with cream cheese and garlic.

I’ve been cooking this cream cheese pasta dish for over 15 years now. A truly tried-and-tested recipe, probably one of the most cooked dishes in our home. Everybody just loves it, it is super easy to make, I always have all the ingredients in the house and it takes about 15 minutes to cook it.

Creamy pasta coated in a rich cream cheese sauce with Parmesan, and flavored with garlic and basil. It can hardly get any better.

bunch of creamy noodles held by a black serving spoon.

What do you need?

  • Noodles: I use spaghetti or tagliatelle most of the time, but any other kind would be just fine, either long-cut or short.
  • Cheese – Philadelphia (or similar) in a tub.
  • Milk – to thin the sauce slightly.
  • Garlic – as much as you like, 2 cloves are the minimum, I usually take 3-4.
  • Parmesan – we love to add it, but the dish tastes just as good without it. Use freshly grated Parmesan, the already grated sort doesn’t taste the same and it will not melt nicely into the sauce.
  • Basil – definitely fresh, the flavor is incredible. Dried basil is not an option.
  • Some olive oil, fine sea salt, and pepper.
tagliatelle, cream cheese, oil, basil, garlic, milk, parmesan on a wooden board.

What could you add to the cream cheese sauce?

Tomatoes:

  • I did not add them this time because I wanted you to have the original/pure recipe for cream cheese pasta. But I do add one or two tomatoes at least half the times I cook this dish.
  • Remove the seeds from 1 or 2 tomatoes, and chop them finely.
  • Add to the dish after sauteing the garlic and cook gently for 1-2 minutes until very slightly softened.

Anchovies:

  • Another favorite addition of mine.
  • Chop 4-5 anchovy fillets very finely and let them melt in the pan together with the garlic.

Peas:

  • Something my children like me to add from time to time.
  • Add a handful of peas to the cooking noodles during the last two minutes of the cooking time.

Chili:

  • For a spicy version of the dish, saute a deseeded and finely chopped red chili with the garlic.
  • Or add some red chili flakes/ cayenne pepper to the sauce.

Other additions:

  • Cooked ham or bacon, you can saute them with the garlic for a couple of minutes.
  • Cooked mushrooms
  • Roasted vegetables, either freshly roasted or leftovers.
close up creamy tagliatelle with cheese and basil sauce.

How to make pasta with cream cheese?

  • Cook the noodles. If you want to speed up the process, boil the water in a kettle first and then pour it into a large pot. Add plenty of salt and cook according to the packet instructions. Before draining, reserve about one cup of the cooking water.
  • In the meantime, prepare the ingredients for the sauce, but only start cooking a couple of minutes before the tagliatelle or spaghetti are cooked.
  • Grate the garlic, set it aside. Grate the Parmesan. Cut the basil into strips. Keep the ingredients separated.
chopped basil, grated garlic and parmesan on a grey board.
  • In a bowl, whisk together the cream cheese and milk. Add salt and pepper.
  • Heat the oil in a large thick-bottomed skillet, Dutch oven, or non-stick pan.
  • Saute the garlic on low heat for just about 30-60 seconds, it should not get too much color or burn. (1) If using tomatoes, add them now and saute for 1-2 more minutes.
  • Add the cheese mixture. Stir well to melt the cheese and combine everything. (2)
  • Add the chopped basil and Parmesan and combine. (3)
  • Add drained pasta and a little of the reserved cooking water, not all of it, just enough to make the sauce creamy and help it coat the noodles thoroughly. (4)
  • If you like a stronger garlic taste, grate another clove on top of the dish and mix again. Adjust the taste generously with salt and pepper.
collage of four pictures of making cream cheese sauce for pasta.

How to serve cream cheese pasta?

The dish is best served immediately. Serve with a simple green salad with vinaigrette, Tomato and Avocado Salad, Broccoli Pea Salad, or Cucumber Salad. Just a plate of raw veggie sticks is delicious as well. Or serve with roasted broccoli, for instance.

Leftovers?

Leftovers keep in the fridge for 1-2 days and they can be reheated. Reheat in a non-stick pan and add a splash of milk to the pot. Stir often, taking care not to break the noodles.

overhead picture of a white pot with pasta with cream cheese sauce.

More super quick pasta dishes:

creamy tagliatelle with sauce and basil in a white pot.
creamy tagliatelle with sauce and basil in a white pot.

Cream Cheese Pasta

Yield: 4
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes

Best cream cheese pasta recipe using just a few ingredients and ready in about 15 minutes.

Ingredients

  • 450 g/ 1 lb pasta (Note 1)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3-5 garlic cloves, to taste
  • 300 g/ 10.6 oz/ 1 1/3 cup cream cheese (Note 2)
  • 200 ml/ 7 fl.oz/ scant 1 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan + more to sprinkle over the dish (Note 3)
  • good handful of fresh basil (Note 4)
  • fine sea salt and pepper

Instructions

  1. Cook the pasta al dente in plenty of salted water. Before draining, reserve about one cup of the cooking water.
  2. In the meantime, prepare the ingredients for the sauce, but only start cooking a couple of minutes before the pasta is cooked. Grate the garlic, set it aside. In a bowl, whisk together the cream cheese and milk. Add salt and pepper. Grate the Parmesan. Cut the basil into strips.
  3. Heat the oil in a large skillet. Saute the garlic on low heat for just about 30-60 seconds, it should not get too much color or burn.
  4. Add the cream cheese mixture. Stir well to melt the cheese and combine everything.
  5. Add the chopped basil and Parmesan and combine.
  6. Add drained pasta and a little of the reserved cooking water, just enough to make the sauce creamy and help it coat the pasta thoroughly.
  7. Adjust the taste with salt and pepper and sprinkle with more Parmesan, if desired. Serve immediately.

Notes

  1. I use spaghetti or tagliatelle most of the time, but any other kind of pasta shape is fine.
  2. Philadelphia (or similar) in the tub.
  3. It can be left out, the dish will still taste great.
  4. Only fresh basil, don't substitute with dried.

Customize:

  • Add 1-2 deseeded and chopped tomatoes and stir them with the garlic in the pan for 1-2 minutes until slightly softened, before adding the cream cheese.
  • Saute 3-4 finely chopped anchovies together with the garlic until “melted”.
  • Saute a finely chopped chili with the garlic or add some red chili flakes or cayenne pepper to the sauce.
  • Add a good handful of peas to the cooking pasta during the last 2 minutes of the cooking time.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1/4 of the dish
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 519Total Fat: 32gSaturated Fat: 17gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 12gCholesterol: 82mgSodium: 611mgCarbohydrates: 44gFiber: 2gSugar: 4gProtein: 15g

Nutritional information is not always accurate.

mjskitchen

Monday 1st of March 2021

It's hard to beat a garlicky, creamy pasta dish. This looks go good and I love the use of the cream cheese. Of course the 5 cloves of garlic aren't going to hurt either. :)

Adina

Monday 1st of March 2021

They never do! :) :) :) Garlic rules!

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