This easy recipe for Pesto Rigatoni is perfect for busy weeknights. The rigatoni is coated in a creamy sauce made with store-bought pesto, or you can make basil pesto sauce Either way, the creamy pesto sauce is going to cling to the pasta, and when it's topped with fresh Parmesan cheese and chopped fresh basil, your whole family is going to love it! It's great comfort food dinner like my Ravioli Alfredo.
Who doesn't love pasta dishes that come together in 30 minutes or less?! Some days, I just love plain pasta tossed in olive oil and an asiago cheese blend.
This easy recipe is a delicious dinner the whole family will love. It's a great addition to a weekly meal plan.
You can literally use any pasta shape and also add sliced grilled chicken or chopped rotisserie chicken to this recipe.
If you love making easy pasta dinners, our best cheese for pasta resource is handy to have bookmarked!
Why you'll love this recipe
- A large bowl of pasta is the ultimate comfort food.
- It's so easy! This rigatoni is tossed in a basil pesto sauce and despite the simplicity, it's so delicious!
- This great recipe makes a great meal when you have a hungry family to feed and don't know what to make for dinner. Keep a jar of pesto sauce handy in your pantry so that you can always make this recipe in a pinch.
You can find these basic ingredients in your local grocery store. For best results, use quality ingredients. This is an easy weeknight meal with bright basil flavor, so don't skip out on the basil if you can find it!
- rigatoni pasta - or use your own favorite pasta shape. Long noodles work very well in this recipe too. Whole wheat pasta is perfect as well!
- heavy cream - helps to thicken the sauce. I used whipping cream and it was dee-li-cious!
- fresh garlic, minced
- red chili flakes
- store-bought jarred basil pesto sauce or make your own, it's so easy!
- Parmesan cheese - go for the fresh stuff which is best. Asiago cheeses also make great substitutes for Parmesan cheese.
- Sea salt & Black pepper
- Mozzarella cheese
- Fresh basil leaves - or you can substitute fresh parsley.
Step By Step Instructions - How to make Pesto Rigatoni
You can find a full recipe card with instructions at the bottom of this post. I've included a few visual images to help you follow step by step.
Everything for this easy meal is made on the stovetop and ready in 30 minutes or less!
In a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook pasta according to package directions until al dente.
Note: you are going to reserve some of the pasta cooking water, so don't pour it all down the sink!
Meanwhile, in a large skillet, sauté butter and garlic over medium heat for one to two minutes until garlic has softened just a little.
Turn heat to low and gradually stir in heavy cream, reserved pasta water, red pepper flakes and pesto.
Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, just until sauce starts to bubble and thicken a little. Stir in grated Parmesan cheese.
Stir in the hot pasta and stir until pasta noodles are coated in the sauce.
Serve with freshly grated Parmesan cheese and chopped fresh basil and an optional sprinkle of hot pepper flake and optional greated lemon zest.
Can I use skim milk in this recipe?
I recommend using heavy cream for this recipe. Skim milk will result in a thin sauce.
Chicken & Pesto Pasta - cook the noodles in chicken broth and add in chopped cooked or grilled chicken.
Toss 2 cups of grapes of cherry tomatoes into the pasta after adding the Parmesan cheese.
Jarred pesto sauce and heavy cream with garlic and butter are the main ingredients for creamy pesto.
Add a side serving of steamed green beans, broccoli, roasted tomatoes or sliced grilled chicken.
Yes you can, although the flavor will be more mild than traditional pesto. Simply use a food processor for any pesto recipe and replace the basil leaves with fresh spinach leaves and continue with the pine nuts, garlic, olive oil, salt & pepper and Permesan cheese.
No, pesto can be added to the pasta at room temperature.
Storage and Reheating Instructions
Storage: Store leftover pasta in airtight container in the refrigerator for 4 to 5 days. This recipe does not freeze well and I do not recommend it.
Microwave to reheat: On microwave-safe plate, heat individual portions one minute at a time, stirring after each minute until heated through.