Our favorite cream cheese pasta dish is made with a handful of ingredients and is ready in about 15 minutes. A quick dinner idea, one of those pasta dishes that everybody loves.
Make this easy cream cheese pasta recipe tonight! It’s comforting, incredibly flavorful, and cheap, and the kind of dish bound to make your whole family happy. A filling and tasty meal made with pantry ingredients, a great choice for a busy weeknight.
You can make the dish your own by adding other simple ingredients. See below for some suggestions, or add anything else you like.
- Pasta: You can use any shape you like, short or long. I often use linguine or spaghetti, but just as often, I cook this dish with farfalle, penne, or fusilli.
- Philadelphia cream cheese or a similar brand. Full fat is best (See Expert Tips).
- Milk: Whole or semi-skimmed milk, enough to thin the sauce slightly (See Expert Tips).
- Fresh garlic: Use to taste; I use at least 2 garlic cloves. Grate one last clove into the heated sauce before adding the noodles for a more pronounced garlicky taste.
- Parmesan: I always recommend freshly grated. However, Parmesan is optional; the dish will still taste great without it.
- Fresh herbs like basil or parsley. Alternatively, add Italian seasoning or other dried herbs to the cheese-milk mixture.
- Other ingredients: Olive oil, fine sea salt or kosher salt, and freshly ground black pepper.
How to make pasta with cream cheese?
- Cook the pasta al dente according to the package instructions in a large pot of generously salted water. Don’t forget to reserve some cooking water before draining.
- In the meantime, grate the garlic, and the Parmesan cheese, chop the herbs, and mix the cheese with the milk, salt, and pepper. Keep all the ingredients separated.
- Sauté the garlic on low heat for about half a minute; it should be golden but not browned or burned (1).
- Add the dairy mixture and stir well until smooth (2). Add herbs and Parmesan and stir again (3,4).
- Add linguine and a little of the starchy pasta water, a splash of water at first, just enough to make the sauce creamy and help it coat the noodles.
- Adjust the taste of the creamy sauce with salt and pepper.
Customize the cream cheese pasta recipe
- Tomatoes: Remove the seeds of 2 medium tomatoes (or some cherry tomatoes) and chop them finely. Sauté the tomatoes with the garlic for about 1-2 minutes before adding the rest of the ingredients. The garlic won’t brown that quickly if cooked with the tomatoes, so you can cook it for 1-2 minutes without burning it.
- Anchovies or tuna: Sauté 3-4 finely chopped anchovies with the garlic until they almost dissolve. If using tuna, drain the can and add the tuna to the dish together with the cheese and milk mixture. Stir well to break the filets and combine.
- Add heat: Sauté a finely chopped chili with the garlic, or add some red chili flakes, red pepper flakes, or a little bit of cayenne pepper to the dairy mixture.
- Vegetables: Add some peas or finely chopped broccoli to the cooking pasta during the last 2 minutes of the cooking time.
- More things you could add: Sun-dried tomatoes, cooked chicken breast or leftover rotisserie chicken, ham, bacon, shrimp or sausage, roasted vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower or peppers, sauteed mushrooms, green beans, or asparagus, chopped spinach, kale or green onion.
- The amount of milk and cooking water you need will depend on the sort of cream cheese you are using. A block of cheese is stiffer and will require a bit more liquid to make it smooth (you should also remove it from the fridge about 30 minutes before cooking). The cheese sold in a tub is creamier and softer.
- Time management: Prepare all the ingredients while the pasta is cooking but only start heating the sauce a few minutes before the noodles are cooked. This way, you will have everything ready simultaneously and combine all the ingredients while they are still hot.
The dish taste best when cooked with full-fat cream cheese. If using a lower-fat version, don’t go lower than about 20%.
The dish is best served immediately, but leftovers can be kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 2-3 days.
Reheat them in a non-stick pan or the microwave. Add a splash of milk and reheat while stirring from time to time.
How to serve cream cheese pasta?
It would be best if you served this cream cheese pasta dish immediately.
Serve with a simple green salad with vinaigrette, tomato or cucumber salad, vegetable sticks, roasted vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, peppers, zucchini, or a roasted veggie mix.
For a more filling meal, offer some garlic bread or breadsticks.
More Quick Creamy Pasta Recipes
Give my quick recipes a try for your next family meal! Feel free to reach out if you need any assistance!
Easy Cream Cheese Pasta
- Large cooking pot
- Large pan or skillet
- 1 lb pasta 450 g, Note 1
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 3 garlic cloves or more to taste
- 1 ⅓ cup cream cheese 10.5 oz/ 300 g, Note 2
- 1 cup milk 230 ml, Note 3
- 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan + more to serve, Note 4
- 2 tablespoons parsley or basil chopped, Note 5
- fine sea salt and ground black pepper
- Cook the pasta: Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add plenty of salt. Cook the pasta according to the package instructions. Reserve about ½ cup of the pasta cooking water. 1 lb (450 g) pasta
In the meantime, prepare the remaining ingredients.
- Grate the garlic cloves and set them aside. 3 garlic cloves
- Whisk the cream cheese, milk, some salt, and pepper in a bowl and set them aside. 1 ⅓ cups (300 g) cream cheese + 1 cup (230 ml) milk + salt and pepper to taste
- Grate Parmesan and set it aside. 2 tablespoon Parmesan
- Chop the herbs finely. 2 tablespoon fresh parsley or basil
- Cream cheese sauce: Only start cooking the sauce a couple of minutes before draining the pasta. Sauté: Heat the oil in a large pan and sauté the garlic on low heat for about 30 seconds; it should get golden but not brown.
- Add the cream cheese-milk mixture and stir well until smooth. Add the chopped herbs and Parmesan and combine.
- Add the drained pasta and a splash of the reserved cooking water. Stir well to combine; the pasta should be creamy and coated with the sauce. If necessary, add a bit more pasta cooking water until the sauce has the right consistency.
- Adjust the taste with salt and pepper and serve immediately with more Parmesan and herbs sprinkled on top.
- Pasta: Linguine, spaghetti, or tagliatelle are great, but any pasta shape (short or long) is excellent.
- Dairy: Using full-fat cream cheese and whole or semi-skimmed milk is preferable.
- The amount of milk and pasta cooking water you need will depend on the sort of cream cheese you are using. Cream cheese sold in a block is stiffer and requires more liquid to make it smooth. Cream cheese sold in a tub is creamier and softer.
- Parmesan: I recommend using freshly grated Parmesan from a wedge of cheese. If using pre-grated Parmesan, start with about 1 tablespoon and add more to taste (freshly grated Parmesan is fluffier and has more volume). You can also cook the dish without Parmesan; it will still be delicious.
- Herbs: Either fresh basil or parsley; I use what I happen to have.