Here I’ll show you a secret tip to getting truly creamy Cream Cheese Pasta without the sauce drying up. With just 5 ingredients, this easy pasta dish is a total winner!
This truly is the easiest pasta recipe of all time. Plus it’s freaking delish. If you’ve got a spare 20mins and your belly is rumbling, you’ve come to the right place. Follow me…
Pasta with Cream Cheese
I don’t know about you, but if you’ve ever tried cream cheese pasta before, you’ve probably felt a little lacklustre afterwards. Well, same. I’ve seen so many recipes where it’s simply just pasta and cream cheese mixed in. It’s a nice idea, but in reality it just doesn’t taste that great. I was determined to make cream cheese pasta work, so I did a little experimenting, and here’s the result.
It’s kind of like a cream cheese Alfredo sauce. Better still, you only need 5 ingredients!
Cream Cheese Pasta Sauce Ingredients
- Cream Cheese – I usually go for Philadelphia, but any full fat quality brand works great.
- Butter – Adds a richness to the sauce. I usually go for unsalted butter, just so you can control the amount of salt better.
- Parmesan – Freshly grated, not the sandy stuff!
- Garlic – Where there’s a cheesy sauce there’s gotta be garlic. It’s just the rules 🤷♂️
- Ham – Great because it doesn’t need to be cooked (and it’s usually what I’ve got knocking about in the fridge). Can sub this out (see below).
What Pasta to use?
I usually go for spaghetti because it’s the most economical, so fits in well with this recipe. In all cases though I recommend a long-cut pasta, just to allow the sauce to wrap itself around the pasta!
What else can I add to Cream Cheese Pasta?
If you haven’t got or don’t like ham, you can really add most things in this sauce! Here’s some of my faves:
- Leftover Chicken
- Smoked Sausage
- Roasted Veggies
A pinch of fresh thyme also works nicely, or even a pinch of chilli flakes to add a kick of spice!
Cream Cheese Pasta Sauce
Okay, so we’ve added some more flavour to the classic cream cheese pasta, but there’s also a second problem. By adding cream cheese straight to pasta it just ends up dry and clumpy. Even thinning it out with milk doesn’t particularly help. So, meet your new best friend.
Starchy Pasta Water
By stirring through some pasta water into melted butter you create an emulsion. This will be the base of your sauce and result in a silky, creamy sauce. A lot of traditional Italian pasta sauces actually only use pasta water and butter, purely because that’s all you need to create a creamy sauce base. But hey, I promised you cream cheese pasta, so that’s what we’re getting 😋
How to use Starchy Pasta Water in Cream Cheese Pasta
Two really important factors to consider. First is you want the pasta water to be properly seasoned with salt. This ensures it doesn’t dilute the flavour of the sauce. Second, you’ll want to scoop the pasta water out JUST before draining. This will ensure the water is nice and starchy, which in turn is what ensures the sauce goes nice and creamy.
How to make Cream Cheese Pasta (quick summary, continue for full recipe)
- Fry garlic and ham until lightly browned, then melt in butter.
- Completely melt butter and keep on a medium heat.
- Stir in pasta water to create an emulsion.
- Add cream cheese and parmesan. Season to taste.
- Toss through spaghetti.
- Thin out with pasta water as needed.
Serving Cream Cheese Pasta
Can I make this ahead of time?
This is best made fresh, but with the same token don’t waste any leftovers. Just tightly cover in the fridge then reheat on the stove using a splash of milk or cream to thin out as needed.
If you’re looking for another easy cheesy pasta recipe check out my Four Cheese Pasta!
For more similar recipe check out these beauties too:
Creamy Pasta Recipes
- Creamy Cajun Chicken Pasta
- Creamy Mushroom Pasta
- Creamy Roasted Red Pepper Pasta
- Creamy Salmon Pasta
- Creamy One Pot Pasta
Right, let’s tuck into the full recipe for this cream cheese pasta shall we?
How to make Cream Cheese Pasta (Full Recipe and Video)
Cream Cheese Pasta
- Large Frying Pan & Wooden Spoon
- Large Pot & Colander
- Pasta Tongs
- Fine Cheese Grater
- Sharp Knife & Chopping Board
- Mug or 1 cup Measuring Cup (for scooping pasta water)
Ingredients (check list):
- 7oz / 200g Spaghetti
- 3.5oz / 100g Cream Cheese
- 3.5oz / 100g Ham, chopped (see notes for subs)
- 1/4 cup / 20g freshly grated Parmesan, plus extra to serve
- 2 tbsp Unsalted Butter
- 1 clove of Garlic, finely diced
- Salt & Black Pepper, to taste
- dash of Olive Oil, for frying
- Cook the spaghetti in salted boiling water until al dente. Right before draining, reserve a cup of starchy pasta water.
- Meanwhile, in a large pan add a drizzle of olive oil over a medium heat. Add the garlic and fry for 30 seconds (careful it doesn't burn), then stir in the ham and fry until it just starts to turn golden.
- Melt in 2 tbsp butter, then add about 80ml / 1/3 cup of starchy pasta water. Quickly whisk in a circular motion to create an emulsion and combine the starchy water with the butter. The water should go cloudy and thicken slightly.
- Turn the heat down slightly and stir in cream cheese until it melts, then stir in the parmesan until it blends into the sauce. Season to taste then add the cooked spaghetti. Toss the spaghetti until the sauce thickens around and clings to it. If it dries out at all just toss in more starchy water a splash at a time. If you go overboard just continue tossing the pasta until the sauce re-thickens.
- Serve with extra helpings of parmesan. Enjoy!
Quick 1 min demo!
- Leftover Chicken
- Roasted Veggies
- Smoked Sausage
Your Private Notes:
If you loved this Cream Cheese Pasta recipe then be sure to Pin it for later! Already made it or got a burning question? Give me a shout in the comments below and pick up your free ecookbook along the way!