The Best Creamy Pesto Pasta Recipe

September 8, 2022
creamy pesto pasta

Pesto pasta is one of my favorite ways to use pesto. This vegetarian pesto pasta recipe is easy and quick. It’s the perfect mixture of fresh herbs, garlic, salt, and parmesan. The lemon helps brighten the flavors. I made this delicious recipe with cashews instead of pine nuts and I couldn’t be happier. This is one of my favorite pasta recipes and I’m sure it’ll become one of yours!

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Pesto Pasta Recipe Easy

This is an easy basil pesto recipe. It takes about 10 minutes to make the pesto recipe and it’s ten times better than any store-bought version out there!

  1. Firstly, simply pop all the ingredients into the food processor and give it a blend on high for a few minutes. Blending it well ensures a smooth consistency.
  2. After that, I set the pesto aside, start cooking the pasta and sauteed half an onion in 2 tablespoons of butter and 2 tablespoons of olive oil.
  3. Once the onions are tender, I add the pesto and heavy cream to the pan and cook it on low.
  4. Finally, drain the pasta and add it to the creamy pesto pasta sauce.
creamy pesto pasta
Creamy Pesto Pasta

What to Add to Pesto Pasta?

Pesto pasta is a great base. If you’re wondering what meat goes well with pesto, you can easily turn it into a creamy chicken pesto pasta recipe by adding grilled chicken. Also, add tomatoes or another fresh ingredient like mushroom. Although this is a basil based pesto recipe, I added parsley and a little extra lemon to brighten up the flavor. Here is a list of things you can serve with your pesto pasta recipe. Below is a list of things to add to your pasta.

Creamy Pesto Pasta

To make this dish creamy, I used heavy cream and a little more parmesan than I would have for a regular pesto dish. I also used cashews instead of pine nuts. I did this because grocery prices are high these days and pine nuts are no exception! Cashews are cheaper and more accessible as well. I chose cashews that were raw and unsalted. However, I don’t think using roasted or salted cashews would affect the flavor.

Vegan Substitutions

I used heavy cream to create a creamy sauce. However, if you are making the vegan version, use creamy non-dairy milk. I like to use almond milk, but any non-dairy milk will do. Also, switching the dairy-based parmesan for vegan parmesan should do the trick as well. No matter what, taste everything and season it well.

creamy pesto pasta
Creamy pesto pasta

Pesto Pasta Ingredients

I had some leftover basil that accidentally froze in the back of my fridge. Of course, I refused to throw out good herbs because even wilted herbs like basil can be useful. I also had some leftover parsley so I popped that into the food processor as well. Below is a comprehensive ingredient list.

Basil- basil is such a fun and fresh ingredient. Basil is the base of most good pestos and this recipe is no different.

Parsley- I added parsley to give the basil a bit of an edge. Also, I didn’t want my fresh parsley to wilt. If you have a little of herbs left over and you’re feeling frisky, add a little at a time and see how the flavors change. 

Cashews- Pesto requires nuts. Pine nuts are what some people like to use, but I love cashews. They’re cheaper and more accessible. I use raw and unsalted cashews.

Garlic Cloves– What is pesto without garlic? I’m not sure but I know it isn’t right. I used 4 cloves of fresh garlic.

ParmesanA little goes a long way, but it’s the perfect binder for the pesto sauce. 

Lemon Juice- Fresh lemon juice adds the perfect amount of tang to this creamy pesto pasta recipe.

Olive Oil- You need good olive oil to help make the pesto smooth.

Salt- You don’t need too much but make sure to taste often and adjust the salt level.

Water- A splash of water goes a long way. It’ll help all the ingredients blend smooth.

Creamy Basil Pesto Pasta Recipe

Creamy Pesto Pasta

Deliciously flavorful creamy basil pesto recipe.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time25 mins
Course: Dinner, Main Course
Keyword: pesto, pesto pasta
Servings: 8
Author: johnniemay


  • Food Processor or Blender


  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves
  • 1 cup fresh parsley
  • 1 cup parmesan
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 2/3 cup cashews
  • 1/2 cup olive oil 2 extra tbsps to cook the onions in
  • 4 cloves of fresh garlic
  • 16 oz of pasta I used penne
  • a little water optional
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 diced white onion


  • Add basil, parsley, salt, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, cashews, and parmesan to the food processor or blender. Blend on high for 1-2 minutes or until the consistency is smooth. Add a little bit of water if it is dry, about 1 tablespoon at a time. Taste the pesto and adjust the salt accordingly.
  • Set the pesto aside. Start cooking the pasta. Dice half a white onion and cook it in 2 tbsps of olive oil and 2 tbsps of butter until the onions are tender and translucent.
  • Lower the heat and add the pesto and heavy cream. Combine well with a spatula or wooden spoon. Scrape the bottom of the pan gently.
  • Once the pasta is ready, drain it and add it to the pesto cream sauce. Taste it again and adjust the salt if needed.
  • Serve warm and enjoy!

Johnnie May McDonald

Hey, Y'all!

I'm Jae & welcome to my food blog! I'm a wife & mom of three from South Louisiana. Here you'll find yummy comfort foods with a healthy twist.

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