Made with just 4 ingredients, this Pesto Pasta recipe is quick and easy to prepare, with just 4 ingredients in 20 minutes. Top with parmesan and serve with crusty bread for the perfect weeknight dinner.
Easy Pesto Pasta Recipe
This basil pesto pasta recipe is my favorite way to use my homemade pesto. Not only is it super tasty, it’s also quick and easy to prepare. The only other ingredients other than the pesto sauce you need are pasta, water, and salt – plus parmesan, if desired. That’s it!
I think this is the perfect recipe for busy weeknights but it’s also “fancy” enough that you can get away with serving it to guests. It literally tastes like a dish straight from an Italian restaurant!
Why You’ll Love This Basil Pesto Pasta
Here are a few reasons this is the best pasta recipe and will become a staple in our kitchen.
- Only 4 ingredients. This pasta recipe is made with just 4 basic ingredients, for a dinner you can whip up anytime.
- Quick and easy. It takes just 20 minutes or so to prepare this basil pesto pasta.
- Perfect for any dinner. What I love about this dish is that it makes a satisfying dinner anytime, whether it’s a busy weeknight or I’m entertaining guests.
What You’ll Need
This easy pesto pasta recipe is made with just 4 simple ingredients. See the recipe card below for measurements.
- Pesto – This recipe is perfect with my easy homemade basil pesto recipe, but you can also use store-bought pesto. Pesto is typically made with fresh basil, olive oil, lemon juice, nuts (such as toasted pine nuts or walnuts), parmesan cheese and garlic blended in a food processor.
- Pasta – We used spaghetti but you can use any pasta you’d like including rigatoni, fusilli, etc…
- Pasta cooking water – Be sure to reserve a bit of the starchy pasta water when you drain the pasta.
- Parmesan – Freshly grated parmesan is the perfect topping for this pasta.
How to Make Pesto Pasta
Here’s how to make this easy pasta recipe.
- Cook the pasta. Boil a pot of water and sprinkle it with salt. Add the pasta and cook according to the package instructions. Reserve a cup of pasta water.
- Add the sauce. Add the pesto to the pasta, along with 1/4 cup of pasta water. Toss to coat. Add more water as necessary to reach the desired sauciness.
- Enjoy. Taste test and add more salt and pepper if needed. Garnish with parmesan and serve. m
Tips for Success
Here are a few tips for making the best pesto pasta.
- Reserve pasta water. Be sure to reserve a bit of the pasta cooking water before draining the pasta. It helps to thin the pesto into a thinner sauce and the starch from the pasta helps add a creaminess as well.
- What pasta goes best with pesto? I like to make this recipe with spaghetti noodles but you can use pretty much anything. Penne and ziti are good options as the texture holds the sauce well.
- Salt the pasta. Salting the pasta water helps to add extra flavor to the pasta.
- Possible add-ins. Strips of cooked chicken breast can be added for pesto chicken pasta or you can add some spinach or grape tomatoes.
What Goes Well With Pesto Pasta?
This easy basil pesto pasta makes an easy dinner on its own. You can also add a protein, like chicken or shrimp for a heartier meal. If you don’t want to add protein into the pasta, you can simply add some grilled chicken on the side. Sometimes we like to add in cherry tomatoes or olives.
Otherwise, a slice of crusty bread is all you need.
How to Store & Reheat Leftovers
- Fridge. Store leftover pesto pasta in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
- Reheat. Reheat the pasta in the microwave or on the stovetop. You may need to add a splash of water if it appears dry. Some people also enjoy cold pesto pasta.
More Easy Pasta Recipes
- 1 cup homemade pesto
- 12 oz pasta we used spaghetti
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 cup pasta cooking water
- Parmesan for serving
- Bring a large pot of water to the boil and sprinkle with salt. Add pasta and cook according to the package directions.
- Before draining, spoon out 1 cup of the pasta cooking water. Drain pasta then transfer to a separate bowl.
- Add pesto and 1/4 cup of pasta water. Toss to coat, adding more water as needed to make pasta saucy to your liking.
- Season with more salt and pepper if desired.
- Serve immediately, garnished with fresh parmesan.