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Pasta in Coconut Milk Sauce

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Creamy pasta in coconut milk sauce with tomatoes and basil. This vegan recipe requires just a few ingredients but it’s so full of comfort and flavor.

bowl with noodles topped with basil

A simple pantry recipe ready in no time and so satisfying, this pasta in coconut milk dish has quickly become a staple in our kitchen. Why not? It is incredibly delicious, healthy and I always have noodles, coconut milk, canned tomatoes, and basil. No need to go shopping, especially not nowadays…

And I just love to combine coconut milk with tomatoes, this is how this dish was actually born. I often make a simple yet amazing curry or soup combining the two ingredients, so one day I thought about making a coconut milk sauce for pasta. My kids just love it!

And if you are looking for more easy vegan pasta dishes, have a look at the Vegan Cauliflower Mac and Cheese, Pasta Guacamole or the Vegan Lentil Soup.

overhead shot of a bowl of pasta with tomato and coconut sauce

What will you need?

Pasta:

  • Any kind you like, either regular or whole wheat.
  • I had pappardelle this time, but I’ve also cooked the dish with spaghetti, tagliatelle, fettuccine and so on.

Tomatoes:

  • Chopped tomatoes from a can. The best choice especially when tomatoes are not in season.
  • Fresh tomatoes can be used instead, just make sure that they are ripe, sweet, and juicy.

Coconut milk:

  • I prefer the full-fat version, it is creamier and it has more flavor.
  • However, if you prefer the light version, it works as well. In this case, you might want to cook the sauce slightly longer to help it thicken or you can thicken it with starch.

Garlic:

  • I use lots of it, it is just amazing in this dish.
  • About 4-5 large cloves, but of course, you can use garlic to taste.

Basil:

  • Fresh is best, I always have it on my window sill.
  • However, you can use frozen. In extreme cases, you can try the dried one as well, but I am not a fan.
  • If I don’t have basil at all, then I would rather use dried oregano instead of dried basil. Dried oregano imparts the dish a slight pizza flavor, my kids love it.

Otherwise, you will need olive oil, vegetable broth, salt and pepper.

vegan pasta with coconut milk and tomatoes

How to make coconut milk pasta?

  • Start cooking the water for the noodles. When boiling, add salt generously and cook according to the package instructions.
  • Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Add the grated garlic cloves and stir for 30 seconds, don’t let them burn.
  • Add the chopped tomatoes and stir for about 2 minutes.
  • Pour in the milk, vegetable broth and boil for 10 minutes or until the sauce is slightly thickened and creamy.
  • Add the chopped basil, salt, and pepper generously.
  • Once the noodles are cooked, drain and mix immediately with the sauce.
collage of 4 pictures of making coconut sauce for pasta

What could you add?

  • If you would like a cheesy flavor, add 2-3 tablespoons of nutritional yeast.
  • Should you not care about making keeping the dish vegan, you can add Parmesan or vegetarian hard cheese.
  • When I have it, I add 1-2 handful of fresh spinach to the finished sauce and just let it wilt for a minute or so.
  • For an even more filling dish, add one small drained can of chickpeas or small white beans to the dish together with the liquid ingredients. You can leave them whole or mash them very roughly with a potato masher at the end of the cooking process.
  • Definitely not vegan/vegetarian, but so delicious: fry a few very finely chopped tinned anchovies with the garlic.

Tips

You could thicken the sauce with starch if you like it thicker. It is recommended to do it if you cook the sauce with light coconut milk.

However, a word of caution: cornstarch might make the dish slightly slippery. I’ve heard tapioca starch might do a better job, I cannot say it, I’ve never had that.

In any case, I prefer to let the sauce thicken naturally on the stove, medium-high heat and no lid should do it.

coconut milk pasta in a large white bowl

What to serve with it?

I serve the pasta in coconut milk mostly with a light green salad with vinaigrette.

However, we’ve also had it with roasted mixed vegetables like peppers, onions, zucchini, carrots, and so on, whatever I happen to have in the pantry or fridge.

Boiled or roasted broccoli, cauliflower, or Brussels sprouts are great as well.

More coconut milk dishes:

Do you like this recipe?

Please leave a good rating in the recipe card below. Stay in touch through social media: Pinterest, Facebook, and Instagram. Don’t forget to tag me #whereismyspoon when you try a recipe!
overhead shot of a bowl of pasta with tomato and coconut sauce

Pasta in Coconut Milk Sauce

Creamy pasta in coconut milk sauce with tomatoes and basil. This vegan recipe requires just a few ingredients but it's so full of comfort and flavor.
4.80 from 15 votes
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Course: Pasta and Rice
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 4
Calories: 638kcal
Author: Adina

Ingredients 

  • 1 lb pasta of choice 400g, Note 1
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4-5 large garlic cloves to taste
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes 450 g/ 14 oz
  • 1 can coconut milk 450 g/ 14 oz (Note 2)
  • 1/2 cup vegetable stock 125 ml/ 4 fl.oz
  • small bunch of fresh basil Note 3

Instructions

  • Start cooking the water for the pasta. When it starts to boil, add salt generously and cook the pasta according to the package instructions.
  • Sauce: In the meantime make the coconut milk sauce. Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Add the grated garlic cloves and stir for 30 seconds, don't let them burn or get too much color.
  • Add the chopped tomatoes and stir for about 2 minutes. Pour in the coconut milk and vegetable broth.
  • Bring to a boil and cook for about 10 minutes on medium heat (without a lid) or until the sauce is slightly thickened and creamy. If the sauce is not thick enough, increase the heat to medium-high and let it boil for a few more minutes or until it achieves the desired consistency.
  • Add the chopped basil, salt, and pepper generously.
  • Combine: Once the pasta is cooked, drain it and mix it immediately with the coconut milk sauce.

Notes

  1. I had pappardelle this time (a wide pasta sort), but pretty much anything goes. Whole wheat or spelt pasta is great as well.
  2. Preferably full-fat (creamier, more flavor), but a lighter version should be fine as well. In this case, the sauce might need longer to thicken or you might want to help it thicken with some starch. Cornstarch makes the sauce slightly slippery.
  3. Substitute with frozen basil. If you don’t have fresh basil, try dried oregano, it imparts the dish a lovely flavor as well. I don’t like using dried basil, but you can, if you like it.

Nutrition

Serving: 1/4 of the dish | Calories: 638kcal | Carbohydrates: 80g | Protein: 16g | Fat: 29g | Saturated Fat: 20g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 8g | Sodium: 109mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 4g
Tried this Recipe? Pin it for Later!Mention @adinabeck or tag #WhereIsMySpoon!

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Recipe Rating




Stephanie

Friday 28th of October 2022

Delicious recipe! Perfect for our protein penne. My 1 year old couldn’t get enough of it, tomatoes and all! Thank you for sharing this delicious recipe! It will definitely be in our rotation:)

Adina

Friday 28th of October 2022

I am so happy to hear it, Stephanie; thank you for the feedback. I will try protein pasta as well; sounds great.

Lindsay

Thursday 10th of February 2022

My family (including the 3 kids) loved this and it really hit the spot for a creamy vegan dish! I used the whole wheat linguine I had on hand. I heated up some frozen veggies (Normandy blend) and added them towards the end, but I like the idea of adding spinach. I'll try that next time because I'm definitely making it again! I also doubled the sauce because I was adding a lot of vegetables. When doubling, I do not recommend doubling the broth bc it took a long time to thicken up. Next time I will add just slightly more broth than the original recipe calls for and will watch and add a bit more if it is too thick. I can't tell you how excited I was to have my kids praise this dish. I feel like they never like anything! I may have to start making this once a week! lol, Thank you!

Adina

Friday 11th of February 2022

Hi Lindsay. So happy to read your comment! It's great that your kids loved it; mine do too. Spinach is excellent, I added it a few times myself, and both kids love it despite the dish being a bit too green then. :) But then again, they are growing up; they get less resistant with age.

Yve

Monday 3rd of January 2022

That was easy and SO YUMMY! Thank you!

Adina

Monday 3rd of January 2022

So happy to hear it. Thank you for the feedback.

Rosie

Wednesday 29th of September 2021

Delicious,very light and easy meal for busy single person took leftovers to work ?

Adina

Thursday 30th of September 2021

Thank you for the feedback, Rosie. :)

mjskitchen

Sunday 17th of January 2021

Just the type of recipe I've been looking for. Love the idea of using coconut milk in place of a heavy cream. This would be a great dish to use up some of my garden tomatoes that are in the freezer. Definitely would finish it off with a handful of fresh spinach. Great dish!