Cheesy Pesto Pasta Recipe (Ready in 20 Minutes!)

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Need dinner on the table in 20 minutes? This Cheesy Pesto Pasta is quick and easy to make, and you can throw in any extra veggies lying in your produce drawer!

The BEST Pesto Pasta Recipe

If you’ve got a need for vegetarian or gluten-free recipes, these basil pesto noodles is a great dinner option. You can add chicken to make it a heartier dish, but it’s actually really fantastic with just grape tomatoes. Heck, you could even throw in chopped zucchini, which would also be yummy. In fact, I think I will next time.

Our favorite way to serve this pesto pasta is actually straight from the pan. I know, that doesn’t seem very classy, but the pan is sizzling hot and to bring it out and serve it straight into bowls really is so fun and it keeps everything fresh and fragrant versus putting it into a cold serving bowl.

We started with our Classic Pesto recipe. You just can’t beat the taste of fresh pesto! It’s our favorite and I think it’s the toasted garlic that really takes things over the top. We actually add a little more to the pasta as well. It’s ridiculous, but true. Garlicky, cheesy noodles are kind of awesome.

I don’t know how healthy pesto pasta is considering that you dump a full cup of cheese in there, but it’s certainly better for you than a lot of other pasta dishes out there. It’s fresh, simple and a really fast pasta to serve as a main dish. Not to mention it is full of flavor!

a photo of cooked angel hair pasta in a large pot topped with a pile of pesto sauce, shredded mozzarella cheese, fresh basil leaves and whole grapte tomatoes

What’s Needed for Basil Pesto Pasta?

This pesto sauce pasta couldn’t be any easier to make! Here’s all you’ll need to make these pesto noodles:

  • Olive Oil
  • Garlic
  • Angel Hair Pasta
  • Basil Pesto
  • Shredded Mozzarella
  • Grape Tomatoes (or cherry tomatoes)
  • Black Pepper

The measurements for each ingredient can be found in the recipe card down below so keep scrolling for all the details.

How to Make Pesto Sauce Pasta

This pesto dish comes together in just 20 minutes! Here are the basic steps to mastering this recipe:

  1. Prep: Make the homemade pesto (if making at home) and prepare the pasta to al dente according to the package instructions (reserve the pasta water!).
  2. Sauté: Add the oil and garlic to a large skillet over medium heat and stir until fragrant. Reduce the heat then at the tomatoes and salt and sauté.
  3. Boil: Add some starchy pasta water and bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. You want the tomatoes to start bursting. You may need to help some of them by pressing on them with a wooden spoon.
  4. Drain: Drain the pasta and add it to the skillet as well as the spinach.
  5. Toss: Remove from the heat, toss the pasta, pesto, tomatoes and cheese.
  6. Serve: Serve immediately with red pepper flakes and toasted pine nuts.

These instructions in complete detail can be found in the recipe card at the end of this post.

a photo of a fork scooping up from pesto covered angel hair pasta from a large bowl full of pasta

What Pasta is Best for Pesto?

The general rule is that delicate noodles are for delicate sauces while heartier noodles are for heartier sauces. We recommend capellini pasta (aka angel hair pasta) for this basil pesto pasta recipe. Light and ethereal, these wispy strands do well with lighter, thin sauces.

Can I Make This Pesto Recipe Gluten-Free?

Yes, it’s very easy to make these pesto noodles gluten-free. Just use gluten-free pasta or zucchini noodles (also known as zoodles). We love any way to use up zucchini come the summer months.

Variations to Try

This pesto sauce pasta recipe is incredibly flexible and can be switched up so many ways. Here are a few pesto noodle variations to try:

  • Add extra veggies
  • Add diced chicken or shrimp
  • Use Cilantro Pesto instead of basil pesto
  • Use zucchini noodles instead of regular pasta
  • Use another type of cheese
a photo of a large bowl of pesto pasta with a smaller bowl of pesto and another bowl of toasted pine nuts.

Tips for the Best Pesto Pasta

We keep this cheesy pesto pasta simple with a cup of shredded low moisture, part skim mozzarella, but you could certainly use fresh mozzarella, you just have to be mindful of the water.

Low moisture mozzarella is packaged like normal cheese and is a drier variety, whereas fresh mozzarella is packaged with the water and a little of that water is going to come out in the cooking, which with pasta can make things a bit gloopy with the pesto.

Note that these pesto noodles is quite thick and cheesy. If you’d prefer a thinner sauce, add some of the pasta cooking water to the skillet until the dish reaches your desired consistency.

How Long Will This Pasta Dish Keep?

This pasta will keep for 2-3 days in the refrigerator in an airtight container. It can be reheated in the microwave or on the stovetop.

a photo of a large bowl full of cooked angel hair pasta tossed with pesto, grape tomatoes, basil leaves, mozzarella cheese and pine nuts.

This 20-minute cheesy pesto pasta is the perfect solution for a quick and easy dinner! With just a few simple ingredients, you can have a flavorful and satisfying meal on the table in no time.

More Pesto Dishes You’ll Love:

Looking for recipes using pesto? Here are a few of our favorites!

Servings: 4

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 20 minutes


Need dinner on the table in 20 minutes? This Cheesy Pesto Pasta is quick and easy to make, and you can throw in any extra veggies lying in your produce drawer! 

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  • Prepare the pesto according to the recipe linked above.

  • Prepare the pasta according to package instructions, reserving 1/2 cup pasta water.

    1 Pound Angel Hair Pasta

  • In a large skillet over medium heat, add the oil and garlic and stir continually until fragrant, about 20 seconds.

    2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil, 5 Cloves Garlic

  • Turn the heat to a medium-high and add tomatoes and salt to the pan. Cook two minutes.

    2 Cups Grape Tomatoes, 1/2 teaspoon Salt

  • Add 1/2 cup of starchy cooking liquid leftover from pasta. Bring the mixture to a boil and reduce to a simmer for five minutes — the tomatoes should be starting to burst. If they haven’t gently push on them using the back of a wooden spoon. You only want about half to burst.

  • Drain the pasta, and add quickly to the skillet along with the spinach.

    1 Cup Spinach

  • Turn off the heat, and give everything a quick toss with the pesto and the cheese.

    1 1/4 Cup [Pesto], 1 Cup Shredded Mozzarella

  • Serve the pasta and top with red pepper flakes and toasted pine nuts if desired.

    1/2 teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes, Pine Nuts

  • Gluten free pasta or zucchini noodles can be used in place of pasta.
  • Pasta will keep for 2-3 days in the refrigerator.

Serving: 1gCalories: 888kcalCarbohydrates: 96gProtein: 26gFat: 44gSaturated Fat: 10gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 28mgSodium: 1212mgPotassium: 513mgFiber: 6gSugar: 8gVitamin A: 3150IUVitamin C: 13mgCalcium: 313mgIron: 3mg

Author: Sweet Basil

Course: 50 of our Best Easy Pasta Recipes

Cuisine: Italian

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Need dinner on the table in 20 minutes? We've got a 20 minute cheesy pesto pasta recipe that's quick and easy to make and it's a great special diets recipe.
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