Pink Pasta is going to become your new creamy and flavorful tomato-sauce based pasta, because it is pretty simple, uses few dishes and tastes absolutely delicious! This recipe only uses a handful of pantry ingredients you likely have in your kitchen and has a combination of fresh and dried herbs to maximize flavor.
Similar to my Tuna Pesto Pasta and Gluten Free Pasta Salad recipes, this Pink Pasta dish is perfect as an easy weeknight dinner or can even be served at a friends get together. With all my pasta recipes, I try my best to use less dishes so it is an easy cleanup for all the cooks at home during a busy weeknight!
What is Pink Pasta?
Pink Pasta is essentially pasta coated in a smooth tomato and cream based sauce. It is generally not literally pink, more of a red sauce, rather a toned down red color that is lightened because of the cream. In this recipe, I like to use coconut milk instead of heavy cream, to make it dairy-free. At home, feel free to use either ingredient.
For some people Pink Pasta is a dish they grew up with being served in the Middle East, and for others it is a classic Italian Dish. There are minor differences within each version. As of recently, Pink Pasta has also become a trend that has gone viral throughout the United States and continues to grow as a pasta recipe being made in many people’s homes.
There are many variations of this recipe, some using cream cheese, Italian seasoning, mozzarella cheese, etc. My recipe doesn't use these ingredients, although I'm sure they make for a delicious dish!
Why you'll love this recipe
This easy recipe, using only simple ingredients, is such a favorite in my home since it is reminiscent of a pasta bolognese, but without the meat. It’s somewhat hearty from the crushed tomatoes and onions that are blended, yet also very smooth because of the coconut milk (or heavy cream) and butter. The fresh basil and dried oregano add such a perfect touch to this recipe!
- Perfectly balanced in flavor! This saucy pasta dish is savory and packed with flavor. The acidity of the tomatoes is balanced perfectly with just a hint of honey.
- It’s easy; Only 15 minutes of hands-on prep! Aside from cooking the pasta and simmering the sauce, this Pink Pasta has very little prep involved where you’ll need to actually be in the kitchen.
- Uses pantry ingredients! I love when a recipe can be made using ingredients that are already in my pantry – and this recipe is perfect for a day where you’re not sure what to make, and want to whip up something easily without a trip to the grocery store.
- Versatile! This recipe can be made gluten free using gluten-free pasta, and is naturally dairy-free and vegan too.
You’ll need the following ingredients to make this delicious Pink Pasta dish:
Pasta of choice: I always opt for gluten free pasta, such as Jovial brand Penne pasta, since it cooks perfectly and is delicious. Brown rice pasta is also a great source of a healthy carb, instead of eating classic wheat-based pasta.
Crushed tomatoes: Buying crushed tomatoes in a can makes life so much easier since they’re softened and have a perfect texture that makes this sauce come together beautifully. I tend to purchase “Fire Roasted” crushed tomatoes.
Coconut Milk or Heavy Cream: To make this recipe dairy-free and vegan, use coconut milk – my personal favorite! Whether you use coconut milk or heavy cream, it will give you a perfectly creamy tomato sauce. Whole milk can work as well!
Fresh garlic: Lots of garlic is important in nearly all dishes, in my humble opinion. I like to chop 6 cloves of garlic, but you can add more or less!
Parmesan cheese: I choose to use vegan parmesan in this recipe to keep this recipe dairy free., but You can use dairy parmesan too! The saltiness of the parmesan helps round out the dish as the perfect garnish.
Spices, honey, basil, oregano, red chili flakes, kosher salt and black pepper are added to balance out the flavors of the dish too.
How to make Pink Pasta step by step
Here are some quick visual instructions with a brief explanation. Be sure to read through the full instructions with exact ingredient measurements & steps in the recipe card below!
Before making the cream sauce, begin with cooking the pasta: Cook the pasta according to package instructions. Every pasta box has a different cooking time. The key elements to cooking the pasta well is to begin with a large pot of salted water and mix the pasta often to prevent it from sticking to each other. You can choose to cook your pasta until al dente if you prefer. Let drained pasta sit on the counter until ready to use.
Making the perfect sauce:
Step 1: Begin with sauteing onion in olive oil and a bit of salt in a large skillet. We just want them to become translucent, about 5 minutes of cook time.
Step 2: Next, add tomato paste, chopped garlic and red pepper flakes. Mix it all together and cook over medium heat for another 2-3 minutes.
Step 3: Pour in the dry white wine to deglaze the pan and cook for a few more minutes. It should simmer and partially evaporate.
Step 4: Add the crushed tomatoes, coconut milk (or heavy cream), freshly chopped basil, dried oregano, remaining salt, pepper and honey. Mix and then simmer for 25 minutes to help the flavors meld and thicken.
Step 5: Use an immersion blender to blend the sauce until it is mostly smooth. I like when there’s still a bit of textured pieces in the sauce.
Step 6: Add in the butter and mix until melted through. This will help to create a creamy pink sauce.
Step 7: Finally add the pasta on top of the sauce in the pan.
Step 8: Mix everything together until the pasta is super well-coated in the sauce. You can garnish it in the pan or in your bowl with more chopped basil and shredded parmesan.
Recipe tips and tricks
- Salt your pasta water! It’s super important to generously salt the pasta water so that your pasta is flavorful.
- Be sure not to overcook the pasta! We want the pasta to remain in-tact, and sometimes it cooks a bit when it’s sitting in the warm sauce.
- Add some heat to your pasta. If you like spicy foods, add ¼ to ½ teaspoon more red pepper flakes to the dish. It will add a nice kick of spice to the recipe.
- Customize the Pink Pasta sauce to your liking! There are many ingredients you can swap, whether that be using gluten free & dairy free ingredients, or simply swapping the basil for parsley. Be creative with it.
Storage and reheating
- Storage: This saucy pasta stores best in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.
- Reheating: To reheat the pasta, either microwave a single portion for 1-2 minutes or you can place it in a pot on the stovetop with 1-2 tablespoon water, cover the pot and cook for 8-10 minutes on medium-low (mixing occasionally). If the sauce isn’t as creamy after reheating, stir in a tablespoon or two of coconut milk or cream.
- Freezing: I have not tried freezing this pasta dish, and am not sure I would recommend it. If you give it a go, let me know! I believe freezing the sauce on it’s own will work very well, the defrost it overnight in the fridge, reheat and mix with freshly cooked pasta.
Additions and substitutions
Swap the basil: Not a fan of basil or simply don’t have it on hand? This recipe can be made with parsley or even cilantro instead. Feel free to head to your grocery store and see which herbs look best to you.
Use heavy cream or coconut milk: I love making this recipe with coconut milk, and I promise it doesn’t taste like coconut. I tend to use the Whole Foods brand or Trader Joe’s brand of canned coconut milk. Heavy cream will also work perfectly in this recipe.
Add some veggies: Feel free to add peas, carrots, sautéed zucchini or even artichoke hearts to this dish to make it even healthier!
Frequently asked questions
Totally! There are so many pasta shapes as great options for this recipe. I like to use Penne or Fettuccine, but you can use any pasta shape you like. My go-to is a good quality gluten free pasta, but use whatever works best for you!
Pink pasta is carby and saucy, so it’s a great idea to balance it out with a salad, such as Strawberry Spinach Salad, Broccoli Crunch Salad or even a simple salad of lettuce, cucumber, tomato and a lemon dressing. You can even add some protein to the dish by mixing in sliced roasted chicken breast or flaked salmon! It would also be wonderful served with a crisp garlic bread.
It’s sweet and acidic from the tomatoes and also very creamy from the coconut milk or cream. I like to describe it as an elevated tomato sauce that is taken up a few notches.
The Pink Pasta sauce focuses more on the tomato factor and doesn’t contain vodka, making it less creamy and more tomato-based. A vodka sauce happens to be creamier, and contains vodka.
Related recipes you may love
Here are some more easy meal recipes that I think you’ll love
Pink Sauce Pasta Recipe
- 1 large pot
- 1 large skillet with high sides
- 1 immersion blender or regular blender
- 1 sharp knife
- 1 cutting board
- 2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 medium onion chopped small
- 6 garlic cloves minced
- 1 ½ teaspoon kosher salt I use Diamond Crystals
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- ½ cup dry white wine
- 28 oz can crushed tomatoes I like the fire roasted version
- 1 cup canned coconut milk or heavy cream
- 2 teaspoon dried oregano
- ¼ cup chopped fresh basil
- 2 teaspoon honey
- 2 tablespoon plant based unsalted butter (or dairy butter) I use vegan buttery sticks
- 12 oz penne pasta gluten free
- Fill a large pot with water and 1 tablespoon salt. Add pasta to the pot, stir and cook pasta according to package directions until al dente. Strain the rest of the pasta. No need to rinse. Set aside.
- In a large skillet over medium-high heat, add the olive oil, onion and ½ teaspoon salt. Saute for 5 minutes until translucent. Add the garlic, red pepper flakes and tomato paste and cook on medium heat for 1-2 minutes until fragrant.
- Add the white wine and use your mixing spoon to scrape off any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Allow the wine to simmer for 2-3 minutes until partially evaporated.
- Mix in the tomato puree, coconut milk/cream, 1 teaspoon salt, oregano, basil and honey.
- Simmer on low heat for 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sauce has reduced a bit. This will intensify the delicious flavors and cook down the tomatoes.
- Turn the heat off and let cool for 5 minutes before using an immersion blender to blend everything together until smooth.
- Turn the heat to medium and mix in the butter.
- Add the cooked pasta to the pot of sauce and stir together. Turn off the heat.
- Taste and adjust salt as needed.
- Recommended canned coconut milk brands are: Whole Foods, Trader Joes and Goya.
- I love adding the red pepper flakes, but if you don’t like any heat, you can leave them out. This pasta isn’t spicy in my opinion. If you like more spice, add more red pepper flakes!
- Using gluten free pasta: I recommend using Gluten Free Jovial Pasta or Tinkyada pasta!
- Using dairy-free butter: I recommend using Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Sticks.
- Storage & prep: Make it in advance for the week and store in containers to reheat! You may need to stir in a teaspoon of cream per serving to loosen the sauce.
Have you tried this recipe? Consider leaving a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ rating in the recipe card right below and/or a review in the comment section further down the page. Or, consider following me on Facebook or Instagram! Thanks for visiting.