Cheesy Basil Pesto Pasta

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Deliciously flavorful basil pesto, ricotta cheese & cream cheese are combined to make a creamy, cheesy sauce. The sauce is tossed with pasta shells in this easy 20 minute pesto pasta recipe!

Cheesy pesto pasta shells in large white bowl with copper forks in the bowl

To say that I’m a big fan of pesto would be the understatement of the century!

I make half a dozen different types of homemade pesto and use them in tons of different recipes! Basil Pesto is delicious on Baked Salmon. And Sun Dried Tomato Pesto is perfect in this One Pot Vegetarian Tortellini dish!

Pesto can be used on everything from sandwiches to pizza to grilled chicken. But its most popular use is tossed with pasta!

Instead of simply tossing pasta with pesto, in this recipe I made a creamy, cheesy pesto sauce. It’s rich, creamy and decadent! It can be served as a side dish with an entree like Italian Meatloaf or Bruschetta Chicken Parmesan.

It can also be served as a main dish. If you want a more complete meal, add a protein like grilled chicken or steak to this delicious Pesto Pasta!

Cheesy pesto pasta shells in white bowl

How to Make Pesto Pasta

  • Boil water. Bring a large pot of water to boil on the stove. Add medium pasta shells and cook until al dente, 8-9 minutes. Drain the pasta and set aside.
  • Make the cheesy pesto sauce. While the pasta is cooking, prepare the sauce. Add cream cheese, ricotta cheese, basil pesto and vegetable broth to a large sauce pot on the stove over medium heat. Once the cheeses have melted together into a smooth sauce, add garlic powder, salt and pepper. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes.
  • Toss it together. Add the cooked pasta shells to the cheesy pesto sauce and toss everything together.

How to Serve Pesto Pasta

Serve it as a side dish.

This cheesy pasta dish is like Italian mac and cheese. It’s the perfect side dish to go with your favorite Italian entree. In America, we like to serve mac and cheese with fried chicken. For a similar concept, serve this Cheesy Pesto Pasta with crispy Chicken Parmesan!

Serve it as an entree.

This pasta dish is rich and hearty! It’s perfect if you’re in the mood for an extra creamy, cheesy bowl of comfort food. Just go ahead, grab a fork & dig right into this bowl of goodness!

If you’d like to complete the meal with a protein, I highly recommend chicken or steak. Toss the chicken or steak with basil pesto, then grill it, slice it and place it on top of the pasta. For a healthy addition to this dish, add fresh cherry tomatoes or sauteed spinach. You can also add steamed broccoli, bell peppers or zucchini.

What pasta is best with pesto?

I love making this Pesto Pasta with medium shells. All of the creamy pesto sauce gets caught up in the shells for maximum creamy, cheesy pesto goodness in every bite! Orecchiette, macaroni or cavatappi pasta would also work well in this recipe.

How to reheat Pesto Pasta

Add a splash of vegetable broth to the pasta before reheating it. This helps it maintain it’s creaminess without drying out. Reheat the dish, covered in the microwave, for 2 minutes.

Can Pesto Pasta be eaten cold?

This dish is best served warm. While it can be eaten cold, the creamy texture of the sauce is not the same. I recommend serving the dish hot.

Overhead shot of cheesy basil pesto pasta in white bowl with copper forks on the side

For more cheesy pasta goodness, check out these popular recipes!

Creamy pesto pasta in white bowl with fresh basil on top
5 from 3 votes
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Cheesy Basil Pesto Pasta

Deliciously flavorful basil pesto, ricotta cheese & cream cheese are combined to make a creamy, cheesy sauce for this easy 20 minute pesto pasta recipe!

Course Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine Italian
Prep Time 20 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Servings 4 people
Calories 687 kcal
Author Whitney Bond

Ingredients

  • 12 oz uncooked medium shell pasta
  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • ½ cup ricotta cheese
  • ½ cup basil pesto
  • ½ cup vegetable broth
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • ½ tsp kosher salt

Instructions

  1. Boil a large pot of water on the stove, add the pasta shells and cook until al dente, 8-9 minutes. Drain and set aside.

  2. While the pasta is cooking, prepare the cheesy pesto sauce.

  3. In a large sauce pot, melt the cream cheese, ricotta cheese, basil pesto and vegetable broth together over medium heat.

  4. Add the garlic powder, black pepper and salt.
  5. Reduce heat to low and simmer 5-10 minutes.
  6. Add the cooked pasta shells to the sauce.

  7. Toss together and serve.

Recipe Notes

  • To reheat the pasta, add 1-2 tablespoons of vegetable broth to the dish. Microwave covered for 2 minutes.
  • If you want to add a protein to the dish, I recommend tossing chicken or steak with basil pesto and grilling the meat. Slice the meat then add it on top of the cheesy pesto pasta.