Basil Cream Sauce is so simple to make and is SO satisfying! Lots of fresh basil flavor in a creamy, luxurious sauce.
For as much as I love every individual ingredient in pesto, combine them all together and it is just a BIG swing and a miss for me.
I'm pretty sure it's a texture thing. I want it to be creamy! but it is always sort of gritty and I don't want grit on my pasta.
Basil cream sauce is my solution to the pesto problem. A lot of pesto-esque flavor, but in creamy form.
- Pasta, of course! Use whatever shape you like. This sauce has a similar texture to alfredo, so a fettuccini is nice, but it's hearty enough for a penne or a rigatoni. Whatever shape you choose, stick to the amount listed in the recipe.
- Cream. A key element in the creamy texture. You can dial it back to half and half, but your sauce won't be quite as creamy.
- Fresh basil. A full 2 cups of fresh leaves. This sauce is truly every basil-lover's dream!
- Parmesan. For a boost in creaminess and delicious parmesan flavor. I use 6 ounces from a wedge (it melts better than the pre-shredded variety). Just cut it into cubes and let the food processor do the rest!
How to Make Basil Cream Sauce
I need to tell you! This is my ideal meal in the amount of work it takes to make : fanciness ratio. It is basically just blending and cooking noodles and heating dairy products up. It takes maybe half an hour, but feels like a really special dinner.
Cook noodles in generously salted water according to package directions.
Melt butter in a large pan and add the cream to heat.
Pulse together the basil, garlic, and parmesan in a food processor until coarsely ground, then add it to the heated cream. Stir to combine, then add the cooked and strained noodles.
The heat from the noodles and cream will melt the parmesan without overheating the basil. Fresh basil flavor in creamy form. Yum!
Jazzing It Up
This is a filling meal on its own, but is also very good with add-ins! Grilled shrimp or chicken, roasted red peppers, or chopped tomatoes jazz things up. And parmesan. Always add more parmesan.
This is an easy sauce to make in advance as it reheats nicely. Remove the sauce from the heat after stirring in the basil, parmesan, and garlic. Transfer to an airtight container and store in the fridge for up to 3 days.
To reheat, transfer to a saucepan and bring to a gentle simmer over medium-low heat, stirring frequently. You may need to add a splash of cream to loosen it up. Stir in the hot noodles.
Serve this With:
- A caesar salad with this caesar dressing. You can make it ahead - it will get even creamier!
- A make-ahead or last-minute garlic bread. You can assemble this ahead, and toss it in the oven when you're ready.
Basil Cream Sauce
- 12 ounces pasta (see note)
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
- 2 cups fresh basil leaves
- 4 garlic cloves
- 6 ounces parmesan cheese, chopped
- Salt and pepper
- Cook noodles in generously salted water according to package directions.Melt butter in a large pan over medium-low heat. Add cream to heat.Combine basil, garlic, and parmesan in a food processor until coarsely ground. Add to the pan with the cream and stir to combine. Reduce heat to low and stir in noodles. Salt and pepper to taste.