This cream cheese tomato pasta sauce is a simple yet delicious way to spice up your pasta. With its creamy, rich, and luxurious texture, this sauce makes the perfect comfort food on busy weeknights. Your whole family will love this sauce, which you can easily whip up with a few ingredients.
Not only am I the self-proclaimed queen of easy dishes - such as this garlic spinach stir fry - but I am also the queen of meal prep 😆.
I always have sauces (this pesto without cheese), dips and chutneys (quick red onion chutney, lentil chutney), cooking pastes (garlic ginger paste), spice blends (this curry powder substitute) and condiments (pickled carrot and mooli) in the back of my fridge. They make everyday cooking a breeze!
This sauce combines the two loves of my younger teen - cream cheese and tomato sauce. It takes only about 10 minutes to make, but having this sauce ready in advance means that I can add it to any dish I want.
Scroll down to see the many ways that I use this sauce.
This post contains helpful notes, tips, and tricks to help you make the perfect dish. However, if you are in a rush, please use the "Jump to Recipe" link above or the "Jump to" links below to get to the section you want.
Allergens Free Labels
This easy creamy sauce recipe is:
- Soy Free
About this creamy tomato sauce
You might think this sauce is similar to the viral TikTok cheese sauce recipe from a few years ago. That baked pasta recipe involved baking a block of cream cheese or feta in the center of a casserole dish, surrounded by cherry tomatoes, olive oil and chili flakes. However, this recipe is quite different, as you will see.
Can you use cream cheese to thicken spaghetti sauce? Yes, absolutely! Cream cheese is an effective way of thickening tomato sauce. It also balances the tartness of the tomatoes and makes the sauce rich and creamy.
Which is the best cream cheese for pasta sauce? I love to use Philadelphia cream cheese for this recipe. You can use any other full fat cream cheese of your choice.
Why this will become your favorite recipe
- It is pure comfort food - Sometimes, all you need is a delicious flavour, nothing else, right?!
- A versatile sauce that you can use for pasta, as a sauce for your bake, or as a dip for garlic bread sticks.
- The creamy red sauce offers a savoury flavour that makes it a great base for a meatless meal.
- If you have ready cooked tomato sauce, then this recipe takes just 10 minutes to come together.
Which shape of pasta is best for this sauce?
I usually use spaghetti for this sauce. Any other type, such as, penne pasta or macaroni will work well too.
Whatever the pasta shape, the thing to remember is that the sauce should be of the consistency that it coats the pasta well.
With just six ingredients (plus water), you can whip up a tasty tomato and cream cheese sauce in no time!
As always, quantities are mentioned in the recipe card further below.
Tomato sauce: I use homemade marinara sauce. You can use any homemade or store bought sauce. If you are using store bought tomato sauce, see the notes section further below for adding flavor.
Cream Cheese: I use Philadelphia full fat cream cheese. You can use reduced fat cream cheese instead.
Olive oil: Use extra virgin olive oil for best taste.
Herbs: I use mixed dried Italian herbs which are a mix of oregano, thyme, and parsley. Use any herb mix that you have. Finish the sauce off with some fresh basil leaves, if you have them.
Water: In addition to the ingredients in the picture above, you will need some water to bring the sauce to the right consistency. You can add some pasta water if you are cooking pasta at the same time. The starchy water will make the sauce silky and add more flavor or use stock instead.
Have a question regarding the ingredients? Feel free to ask in the comments section below and I will try my best to answer it for you.
Making this creamy pasta sauce
This sauce comes together in under 15 minutes - so you can whip it up while your pasta is cooking - perfect for a easy weeknight meal!
Begin by measuring all the ingredients. There is hardly any prep work required - just peel and chop the onion finely and slice or chop the garlic.
If you are going to use this sauce for making a pasta dish, then start with step 1. If not, skip to step 2.
Step 1: Boil the pasta.
Place a large pot of water on medium-high heat, add salt and cook pasta as per the instructions on the packet.
Step 2: Make the sauce.
If you are using tomato puree, canned tomatoes, or tomato paste, please see the notes section below.
While the pasta cooks, place a large pan or a large skillet over medium heat. Add oil and chopped garlic and onion. Cook for 2-3 minutes or until the onions become paler.
Add the marinara sauce, cream cheese, dried herbs, and ¼ cup of pasta water.
Stir well until the cream cheese blends with the sauce. Reduce the heat and let the it simmer gently for 2-3 minutes.
Since the sauce that I am using is already cooked, 2-3 minutes of gentle cooking is enough.
That's it! Creamy tomato pasta sauce is ready for you to enjoy!
If you are storing some of the sauce for later, see the notes section below for instructions.
Step 3: Now back to the pasta. Remove the pasta from its water with the help of a pair of tongs and add them directly to the sauce.
Mix well and cook for a minute or two, until the sauce clings to the pasta.
If you like cheesy flavors, finish with some Parmesan cheese (dairy or non dairy).
Do not cook the pasta too soft. Al dente pasta will give this dish the best texture.
This creamy spaghetti, like this pasta al pesto, is ready to serve in minutes!
Notes, Substitutions, and Variations
- Cream Cheese: If you are concerned about the calories, feel free to use reduced fat cream cheese instead.
- Garlic: One clove was enough for me because my sauce already has garlic in it. You might want to add 2 more cloves (3 in total) if your sauce does not have any garlic.
- Oil: Depending on the oil content of your marinara sauce, you may need to adjust the amount of oil you use. I use 2 teaspoons of oil because my sauce has enough oil already. If your sauce has little or no oil, you may need to add 2 to 3 teaspoons more.
- Consistency: You want the sauce to be thick and creamy enough to coat the pasta, just like this curry pasta sauce. Keep in mind that the sauce will thicken more as it cools if you make it ahead of time.
- Want to make it vegan? Use vegan cream cheese and vegan parmesan.
- More flavor?:
- Add a little butter for a even smoother and silky tomato sauce.
- Add some finely chopped sun-dried tomatoes for extra depth of flavour.
- For more savory flavor, in addition to the parmesan, add some freshly grated cheese of your choice.
- Missing vegetables? Add some fresh spinach to the sauce when you add the pasta. You can also make a cream cheese pasta bake with vegetables by mixing this sauce with your favorite cooked veggies. Sprinkle some grated cheese on top and bake until the cheese melts.
Follow these steps to make this sauce with tomato puree (passata), canned tomatoes or tomato paste: Heat olive oil in a pan and add garlic slices or ¼ teaspoon of garlic powder. Next, add the tomato product of your choice, salt to taste, and 1 teaspoon black pepper or red pepper flakes. If you use tomato paste, add 1 cup of water as well. Bring the sauce to a boil and then reduce the heat. Let it simmer for 15 to 20 minutes until the sauce thickens. Lastly, add the cream cheese and a splash of water and cook until the sauce is creamy and smooth.
Storage: This is a great make-ahead as it will keep for 2-3 days. Allow the sauce to cool completely and then store it in a fridge-safe, airtight container.
Reheating: To heat the sauce, bring ¼ cup of water to a boil in a saucepan. Then, lower the heat and stir in the sauce. Keep stirring until the sauce is warm.
Ways to use this tomato cream sauce:
This is such a versatile sauce! Here are some suggestions on how to use it:
- As a base for lasagna
- Paired with veggie (or meat) balls
- In place of regular tomato sauce in shakshuka.
- Added in your chili dish.
- As a sauce for your pizza
- Dipping sauce for garlic bread or nachos
- As a spread for sandwich
Any doubts or questions? Feel free to ask via the comments below. I will try my best to answer them for you.
Tips to make the perfectly creamy sauce every time
- Full fat cream cheese works best to balance the tartness of the tomato sauce.
- Adding starchy pasta water adds a delicious flavor to the sauce.
- Cook the pasta until it is al dente. This way, the pasta will absorb the flavours of the sauce better.
- Cooking the sauce on high heat will cause the cream cheese to split. Cook on gentle heat and stir.
By adding cream to tomato sauce, you can create a creamy, rich and luxurious sauce that is perfect for pasta, baking, casseroles, or dipping. The cream cheese helps to balance the acidity of the tomatoes.
Yes, cream cheese makes the sauce thick. It also balances the tartness of the tomatoes and makes the sauce rich and creamy.
To keep the cream cheese from curdling in the sauce, cook it on low heat and keep stirring. Cooking the sauce on high heat will cause the cream cheese to split.
No this tomato and cream cheese pasta sauce is quite different from pink sauce. Although this is also a rich pasta sauce, pink sauce recipe calls for heavy cream (some people prefer sour cream) whereas this recipe uses cream cheese. Pink sauce, like this sauce is finished off with some Italian seasoning and grated cheese for those who love cheesy flavors.
If you have made this cream cheese tomato pasta sauce, please take a moment to leave a comment and a rating below. This will make me super happy and motivate me to create more good content for you! You can also engage with me on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram xx Padma
Cream Cheese Tomato Pasta Sauce:10 Minute Recipe
- 1 saucepan
- 1 mixing spoon
- 2 teaspoons olive oil, see notes
- 1 fat clove garlic, see notes
- 1 small (~60g) onion
- ½ cup water, see notes
- 1 cup (240g) marinara sauce, or plain tomato sauce (see notes)
- ¼ cup cream cheese, see notes
- ½ teaspoon mixed dried herbs, see notes
Begin with some prep
- Peel and finely chop the onion and garlic.
- Measure the rest of the ingredients.
Make the creamy tomato sauce
- Place the saucepan over medium heat. Add oil and chopped garlic and onion. Cook for 2-3 minutes or until the onions become paler.1 small (~60g) onion, 2 teaspoons olive oil,, 1 fat clove garlic,
- Mix the marinara sauce, cream cheese and water in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir well until the cream cheese blends with the tomato sauce. Reduce the heat and let the sauce simmer gently for a few minutes.½ cup water,, 1 cup (240g) marinara sauce,, ¼ cup cream cheese,
- Finish off with herbs.½ teaspoon mixed dried herbs,
Alternative quantities provided in the recipe card are for 1x only.
Note: The nutrition information is based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.