This 30 minute creamy pink pasta comes together in one pot and only using a handful of pantry ingredients! It's the perfect go-to weekday dinner on those really busy days. My kids are huge fans, and I love that I can customize it really easily too. Let's dive in!
What's the deal with "pink" sauce pasta?
First things first, this pink sauce pasta is the best of both worlds: a mix of tomato sauce and cream! It's what you make when you can't decide if you want alfredo creaminess or Bolognese tomato-ness. And to be quite frank, the colour ends up being more on the orange side most of the time, but we're going with "pink" because it sounds cooler.
The reason it works is because the cream really balances out the tartness of the tomato sauce and adds a level of decadence that you can't resist. The reason it works specifically in my household is because my son is a fan of white pasta and my daughter likes red pasta. They always end up accepting this pink sauce compromise!
Important notes to ensure "one pot" pasta works!
I usually make this pink pasta all in one pot. It doesn't mean you absolutely have to, you can definitely cook the pasta on the side then add it in when the sauce is ready. However, because the spirit of this dish is "quick easy and weeknight friendly", I started cooking it all together.
I absolutely love the texture of one pot pasta. The starch from the pasta that naturally releases when the pasta cooks ends up thickening the sauce really beautifully. The only thing you need to keep in mind with one pot pasta is to stir the pasta every 5 minutes or so to prevent it from sticking. Otherwise, the starch ends up making it stick to the bottom. You also need to check on it in case it needs more liquid!
Watch me make this pasta step by step
Ingredients you’ll need to make this recipe
This pasta dish is so easy and simple, you probably have most of the ingredients already on hand. Consider this a "base" recipe as well and I'll share more vegetables or protein that you can add. You'll need the following ingredients:
- Pasta - I love using penne, but any type will work.
- Onion - Be sure to dice it up finely, so you avoid having big chunks of onion in the sauce.
- Garlic - be generous!
- Butter and Olive Oil; a mix of these two I found gives you optimum flavour
- Tomato Paste - I prefer paste over sauce for a deeper flavour but tomato sauce can be a good replacement if you don't have it (keep in mind you'll need more of it)
- Heavy Cream or Whipping Cream - I use 35% whipping cream, but heavy cream works too (which is 38%). Both of these creams will not curdle when cooking.
- Chicken Stock - Don't skip this one! It's the key to making this recipe extra delicious, in place of water.
- Parmesan Cheese - Feel free to add in mozzarella or any preferred cheese
- Italian Seasoning
- Salt & Pepper
- Garnish if you like with basil or parsley
How to make Pink Pasta
The process of making this recipe can't get any easier. First, melt the butter in a medium sized non-stick pan, along with the olive oil. Then, add in the finely diced onions and cook them until soft and lightly golden. Once cooked, add in the finely minced garlic and cook for a few more minutes.
Add in the tomato paste and cook for a few minutes to deepen its flavour. Then add in the rest of the seasoning, the Italian seasoning, salt and pepper. Continue to stir for a few more minutes.
Add in the heavy cream, stir then add the chicken stock. Taste the sauce at this point and make any adjustments to salt and pepper. Then add in the pasta, stir well, cover and cook for 15-20 mins on medium heat, stirring every 5 minutes to avoid the pasta from sticking together.
Finally, add your cheese and stir. Now it's time to garnish it with basil or parsley, serve and enjoy! It's delicious with a piece of crusty bread to mop up the sauce.
How to customize this pasta
Consider this a base recipe for this pasta, which you can customize with different vegetable and protein add-ins. Here are a few great options that I rely on when I have them on hand (and when I think my kids will eat the green stuff!!).
These vegetables can all be added right after softening the onions and before adding the garlic. Keep in mind that when adding more vegetables, you need to season them when you add them in with salt and pepper.
- Mushrooms - sauté them until they build a bit of colour and soften
- Peas - you can add thawed out frozen peas here
- Bell peppers - use any colour you like, add them in with the onions and cook until softened
- Asparagus - cut them into 1-inch pieces and cook for a few minutes until softened
- Broccoli - add them cut into smaller sized pieces to ensure they have enough time to soften in the time the pasta cooks
- Zucchini - cut into half-moons and cook for a few minutes after onions
You can also add spinach, but I would add this at the end after the pasta has cooked so it wilts a little before serving.
Here are a few protein options:
- Chicken pieces - use 1-inch pieces, either thigh or breast, season and brown them in the skillet with a few teaspoons of oil before you start with the recipe instructions. Then remove the chicken, set aside, and start with the butter/olive oil and onions and continue on. When you add the dry pasta in, add the chicken back in and cook with the pasta for 20-25 minutes. Ensure the chicken is white on the inside before serving. Another option is to stir in cooked and shredded chicken if you have some leftovers right at the end.
- Ground beef - You can stir in cooked ground beef at the end. Or if you wish, you can cook and season the beef and set to the side, then add it in with the dry pasta.
- Shrimp - Using raw shrimp, season it with salt pepper and Italian seasoning then sear it for a minute on each side in some olive oil. Set aside, then start following the recipe directions
Other pasta recipes you will love
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30 Minute One Pot Pink Pasta
- 7.5 oz Penne Pasta or any other type
- 1 small onion finely diced
- 3 large garlic cloves finely diced
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoons pepper
- 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
- 4 tablespoons tomato paste
- ½ cup heavy cream 35% whipping cream, or you can use half and half
- 2.5 cups chicken stock (more if needed)
- 1 cup Parmesan cheese or cheese of choice
- ¼ cup Basil or parsley for garnish finely chopped
- Place a skillet on medium heat and start by melting the butter with the olive oil.
- Add the finely diced onions and caramelize them until soft and lightly golden. Add the garlic and cook for a few more mins.
- Add the tomato paste and cook for a few minutes to deepen its flavour.
- Add the Italian seasoning, salt and pepper.
- Add in the heavy cream, stir then add the chicken stock.
- Add the uncooked pasta, stir well, cover and cook for 15-20 mins on medium heat, making sure to stir every 5 mins to avoid pasta sticking.
- If while stirring you notice the liquid has completely evaporated, add a few splashes of chicken stock if available, or water.
- Add the cheese, stir, garnish and serve! Enjoy!
- I kept this recipe simple to create a base recipe. But feel free to add in any protein or vegetables as you like. When adding protein like chicken pieces, cook them off with the onions, then continue with the recipe.
- For vegetables to add in, you can use: spinach, peas, kale, mushrooms, peppers. Simply sautee the vegetable of choice with the onions, then continue with the recipe as directed.
- Make sure you stir the pasta every 5 minutes or so to avoid it sticking in the pot.