Creamy comfort food ready in just 10 minutes, this Cream Cheese Pasta is perfect for busy weeknights. Keep it simple, or easy to adapt with a few extra ingredients, this creamy cheesy pasta dish has a silky smooth sauce and it is super budget friendly too. Turn plain pasta in to something extra special, with no effort. This might just be the easiest pasta dish ever!
This is so easy, it doesn't really even need a recipe. It was a staple in my student days and it felt far more fancy than it was - kind of like a budget carbonara. If you have cream cheese and spaghetti, a couple of extra ingredients make this really special.
Ready in 10 minutes, this quick cheese pasta is filling, guaranteed the kids will inhale it and easy to add in whatever other ingredients we have in the fridge.
Looking for other ways to use cream cheese? Try our Easy Asparagus Tart, Salmon Gnocchi, Slow Cooker Mac and Cheese, Tuna Stuffed Baked Potatoes, Leftover Chicken Pasta or Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms.
What you will need
- Spaghetti - We used quick cook spaghetti to keep the recipe to just 10 minutes. However, you could use any pasta you like. We love spaghetti because the sauce really clings to it.
- Cream cheese - The star of the dish! You want to use the best quality cream cheese you can (we use Philadelphia) as you will be able to taste the difference. A better quality one will be creamier, but if you wanted to keep it less expensive, than a supermarket brand one will be fine. You can use full fat or reduced fat, but the full fat one will have more flavour.
- Parmesan - You can never have too much cheese, right? This makes it extra cheese and it has such a strong flavour too, so a little goes a long way.
- Butter - An ingredient you probably always have in your fridge. We cook some garlic in butter to start off the sauce, and it adds some extra flavour to help cut through all the cheesiness.
- Garlic - Optional, but totally recommended. Freshly crushed is always best, but you can use ready crushed garlic from a jar if you prefer.
- Salt & Pepper - Season to taste.
- Pasta water - This is our "secret" ingredient in every pasta dish and something that every Italian uses in their cooking. Adding a little bit of the starchy pasta water makes the sauce really silky smooth and cling to the pasta. It also loosens the sauce up a little, helping it go further.
A full ingredients list with measurements is in the recipe card below.
Step by step
One: Put spaghetti in a pan of boiling water, return to boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Melt the butter in a pan and then add the garlic. Cook on a low heat for 4 minutes.
Two: Add the cream cheese, Parmesan and salt and pepper to the garlic butter and cook on a low heat.
Three: Stir until melted - this is the cream cheese pasta sauce.
Four: Drain the cooked pasta, reserving some of the pasta water and add the pasta and water to the cheese sauce and stir well.
Why should you try it?
- Just 10 minutes - This cream cheese pasta just takes as long as it takes for the spaghetti to cook. We used quick cook spaghetti to keep this meal under 10 minutes.
- 6 ingredients - Minimal ingredients, and most of them you probably already have in your kitchen. You could just keep it simple with the cream cheese and spaghetti, but the extra ingredients are really worth it in our opinion.
- Cheap - This is such a budget friendly meal. When it gets to the end of the month and money is a bit tight, this is always our go to. We always have spaghetti and cream cheese in, so that and the "secret ingredient" in this recipe make an easy and cheap meal.
- Adaptable - Use this is a base recipe and then adapt it to suit your own tastes and it's a great recipe to use up leftovers. We have given so ideas below of our favourite ways to adapt it.
Cream cheese pasta sauce
There is no need to spend ages making a creamy pasta sauce, as you can make an incredible one with some cream cheese, Parmesan and starchy pasta water. If you have ever just stirred cream cheese in to cooked pasta before, you will know that it ends up really dry and not very enjoyable, but pasta water totally changes that.
Adding starchy pasta water (just 100ml is enough) to a fat like butter will create an emulsion and this gives a really silky smooth sauce and helps it cling to the pasta. Make sure you scoop out the water just before draining, as this ensures that it is nice and starchy.
As for the cream cheese itself, we like to use full fat Philadelphia, as it has the best flavour and it isn't watery like some of the cheaper ones can be.
- Ham, bacon or chorizo - If you want to add some meat to this cream cheese pasta, then you can add chopped ham or cooked bacon or chorizo. If you like chorizo pasta, why not try our Chorizo Mac and Cheese recipe?
- Leftover chicken - This recipe is a great way to use up leftovers. We like adding shredded chicken leftover from our Whole Slow Cooker Chicken.
- Smoked salmon - A little bit of smoked salmon adds lots of flavour to this pasta and a little goes a long way.
- Tuna - A cupboard staple in our house and flaking in a can of tuna doesn't add any extra time to this dish.
- Mushrooms - When you are cooking the garlic in butter, add some thinly sliced mushrooms too. We love shiitake mushrooms.
- Cherry tomatoes - These not only add colour, but a little pop of flavour when you bite into them too.
- Spinach or rocket - We love finding ways to add more greens to our meals and wilting spinach in to the sauce is an easy way to do that. You could also add rocket lettuce (arugula), which adds a nice peppery flavour.
- Peas and sweetcorn - If you want an easy way to add some extra vegetables to this dish, then add some frozen peas and sweetcorn to the pasta and cook at the same time.
- Asparagus - We finely chop some asparagus and cook it at the same time as the garlic and it adds a nice bit of crunch.
- Goats cheese - If you don't want to use Parmesan, then melting some goats cheese in to the sauce works well and it makes it extra creamy.
- Gnocchi - If you fancy something a little different from pasta, but still keeping it ready in under 10 minutes, then use gnocchi instead
- Sun-dried tomatoes, artichokes or olives - Give this dish a Mediterranean vibe by stirring in some chopped sun-dried tomatoes, olive or artichokes in oil from a jar.
- Fresh herbs - You can lighten the whole dish up by sprinkling over some fresh basil before serving.
What to serve it with
Everyone know that garlic bread and pasta are a match made in heaven. Carby heaven! Either buy some ready made, or make your own easy garlic bread by cutting up some French stick and spreading it with a mix of butter, crushed garlic and dried herbs. Then pop it in the oven for 10 minutes.
You could also keep it simple with a big green salad. The key to an epic green salad is to use a variety of greens, like romaine, spinach, kale and rocket. You want leafy greens, but crunch too. Then you need the perfect dressing. Why not try our Lemon Vinaigrette, Honey and Mustard Dressing or Tomato and Basil Vinaigrette. You could also try our Grilled Little Gem Salad.
Store: If you have leftovers, then you can store it in an air tight container in the fridge until the next day.
Freeze: We wouldn't recommend freezing this cream cheese pasta because it has a strange texture once defrosted.
Reheat: You can reheat this in a frying pan on a low heat. Add a splash of full fat milk to the pan to loosen it up.
Frequently Asked Questions
Pasta dishes can definitely be part of a healthy and balanced diet, but portion control is key. Swap the white pasta for wholegrain spaghetti and add some leafy greens for a nutrient boost. You can also use reduced fat cream cheese, but it will give the sauce a different texture and it won't be as creamy.
Because it's an easy way to make the sauce really silky smooth, with no extra effort.
If you use your favourite gluten free pasta and make sure that there is no cross contamination, then this is a delicious gluten free meal.
• To make this cream cheese pasta even quicker, use some fresh tagliatelle which is ready in a few minutes.
• Don't forget to reserve some of the pasta water. You really don't want to skip this step, as it makes the sauce so silky.
• If you like your food spicy, then add a sprinkle of red chilli flakes on top before serving.
• Add a splash of olive oil to the pan before serving for an extra boost of flavour.
• Serve with extra Parmesan and cracked black pepper if you like.
More pasta recipes
If you’ve tried this cream cheese pasta recipe, or any other recipe on the blog, then let us know how you got on in the comments below, we love hearing from you!
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10 Minute Cream Cheese Pasta
- 140 g spaghetti
- 20 g butter
- 3 garlic cloves - crushed
- 130 g cream cheese
- 25 g Parmesan
- 80 ml pasta water
- 1 pinch sea salt and black pepper
- Put spaghetti in a pan of boiling water, return to boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Melt the butter in a pan and then add the garlic. Cook on a low heat for 4 minutes.140 g spaghetti, 20 g butter, 3 garlic cloves
- Add the cream cheese, Parmesan and salt and pepper to the garlic butter and cook on a low heat.130 g cream cheese, 25 g Parmesan, 1 pinch sea salt and black pepper
- Stir until melted.
- Drain the cooked pasta, reserving some of the pasta water and add the pasta and water to the cheese sauce and stir well.80 ml pasta water
- To make this cream cheese pasta even quickly, use some fresh tagliatelle which is ready in a few minutes.
- Don't forget to reserve some of the pasta water. You really don't want to skip this step, as it makes the sauce so silky.
- If you like your food spicy, then add a sprinkle of red chilli flakes on top before serving.
- Add a splash of olive oil to the pan before serving for an extra boost of flavour.
- Serve with extra parmesan and cracked black pepper if you like.