We all need a go-to pasta sauce in our arsenal, and this one is it for me – super easy creamy tomato sauce made from scratch (aka pink sauce). It's full of flavor with only a few ingredients; shallots, garlic, a little spice from red pepper flakes, tomato paste for a deep tomato flavor, and of course heavy cream. A weekly staple dinner that comes together in no more than 15 minutes.
- Shallot: More mild than an onion, I love adding shallots into sauces for the same flavor profile.
- Garlic: Always load up on garlic. Three cloves is the sweet spot, but you could definitely add more or less if you want based on your taste.
- Tomato paste: Perfect for this sauce because it has that concentrated tomato flavor.
- Red pepper flakes: Adding a sprinkle of red pepper flakes gives this sauce a little kick - you could definitely leave this out though.
- Heavy cream: Of course how the sauce gets its creaminess.
- Pasta: Grab your favorite shape or filled pasta, anything will work here.
Step by step instructions
If you take one thing away from reading this recipe, I want it to be how insanely easy it is to make.
Prep: mince your garlic and shallots really finely.
1. Boil your water. In your stock/pasta pot, bring heavily salted water to a boil. Cook pasta according to directions.
2. Sauté the garlic and shallots. In a sauté pot over medium heat, add 1 tablespoon unsalted butter and 1 tablespoon olive oil. Once that is melted and hot, add the shallots and garlic, and cook for about 3 minutes until very fragrant and the shallots start to become translucent.
3. Add the red pepper flakes and tomato paste. To the garlic and shallots, add the red pepper flakes, tomato paste, salt, and pepper. Mix those together and cook stirring occasionally for 2-3 minutes to caramelize the tomato paste.
4. Add the heavy cream. Reduce heat to medium-low and stir in the heavy cream until smooth. Let it come up to a slight simmer, then add in your pasta (it's ok if pasta water gets in there). Once the pasta and sauce are mixed together, stir in fresh grated parmesan cheese if using. Serve immediately!
Notes and tips
- If you use unsalted tomato paste, make sure you taste the sauce and add more salt if needed.
- Really let the tomato paste caramelize in the pot for a few minutes before adding the heavy cream. This seems like a silly step but it really deepens the flavor and makes the sauce more delicious.
- You really can use whatever your favorite pasta is! I always lean towards something with ridges or swirls to grab the sauce.
- Heavy cream is ideal for this sauce! It produces such a luscious silky sauce. To make this a dairy free sauce you could sub full-fat coconut milk.
- This is a vodka free creamy tomato sauce however if you really want to add vodka, add about ¼ cup after you let the tomato paste caramelize for a few minutes.
- This recipe is similar to the Gigi Hadid pasta recipe, but IMO a little better 🙂
Recipe customizations and add-ins
There are so many things you can do with this sauce if you're looking to take it beyond just pasta.
- Add some ground chicken/turkey/beef - cook this along with the shallots and garlic
- Use Calabrian chilis or Calabrian chili paste instead of red pepper flakes
- Stir in fresh basil or parsley along with the pasta
- Include veggies such as spinach or zucchini
How to serve
- Use in place of marinara for a baked ziti or lasagna
- Spoon over chicken for chicken parmesan (or chicken parmesan heroes)
- Add to cooked spaghetti squash, top with mozzarella cheese, broil until the cheese is browned and bubbly
- Serve it with some zoodles as a pasta alternative
- Serve warm garlic bread and a simple salad along with it
You can store the sauce alone in an air tight jar in the fridge for up to 1 week.
Similar to the sauce, if you've added pasta you can store in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to 1 week.
Yes! Let it come to room temp, then store in a freezer-safe container for up to 6 months. If you can, store in separate serving sizes so it's easier to reheat only what you need (first freeze in an ice cube tray or something similar, then move to a freezer-safe container once it's frozen through).
It's best to reheat on the stove top in sauce pan with a little bit (a few tablespoons) of water. You can also thaw it in your fridge for a few hours and then reheat on the stove top.
More pasta recipes
- Creamy Roasted Garlic Gnocchi with Bacon
- Creamy Tortellini and Pesto Tomato Soup
- One Pot Gnocchi Bake
- Creamy Pumpkin Pasta Sauce with Sage Breadcrumbs
Easy Creamy Tomato Sauce
- 1 lb pasta
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 medium shallot diced
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 6 oz tomato paste
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- 1 ½ cups heavy cream
- 2 tablespoon fresh grated parmesan cheese (optional)
- In your stock/pasta pot, bring heavily salted water to a boil. Cook pasta according to directions.
- In a sauté pot over medium heat, add 1 tablespoon unsalted butter and 1 tablespoon olive oil. Once that is melted and hot, add the shallots and garlic, and cook for about 3 minutes until very fragrant and the shallots start to become translucent.
- To the garlic and shallots, add the red pepper flakes, tomato paste, salt, and pepper. Mix those together and cook stirring occasionally for 2-3 minutes to caramelize the tomato paste.
- Reduce heat to medium-low and stir in the heavy cream until smooth. Let it come up to a slight simmer, then add in your pasta. Once the pasta and sauce are mixed together, stir in fresh grated parmesan cheese if using. Serve immediately!
This was really simple but tasted fancy! Great for the cold weather and a busy week night.
Yay! Glad you liked it! This is one of my faves.
Do you think I could sub the heavy cream for buttermilk?
Hi there - I wouldn't recommend buttermilk because the end flavor would be very different.
This was seriously as easy, and more fun, as heating up a jar of sauce, and way more delicious! You can taste the shallots and garlic, but they are not too strong. I love creamy red sauce, but had never made one. Will definitely make this again!
Thank you!! So happy you loved it.
I never write reviews but I had to for this - wanted something tomato creamy, delicious and easy and this was PERFECT. will definitely be making it into the weekly dinner rotation. Used chickpea pasta and did some dollops of ricotta on top. Perfection! Thanks for sharing.
Yay I'm so glad to hear you loved it! Thanks for trying it and leaving a review 🙂
Delicious. We didn't have shallots, so I added half a white onion. I also added some salt when I added the tomato paste. Just to give it some more depth, I added oregano and basil. My boyfriend is a cook, so I felt like I needed to do something to impress him.
yay glad you liked it! Thanks for making it!
Honestly this is just vodka sauce without the vodka lol. Still tasty!
In a way, yes! Depending on the vodka sauce 🙂
You listed the Sodium at 1587mg.
I want to make a version with lower sodium and plan to omit the 1 tsp salt. But what other ingredients is the sodium so high in? The tomato paste? Did you include the sodium from the optional parmesan cheese in your total? Any info and tips is helpful. Thank you 😊
Hi! Thanks so much for calling this out - I just realized there was an error in the calculation as one of the ingredients wasn't properly reflected. I just fixed it and also removed the optional parm cheese from the calculation as well. If you want it to be pulled down even further I'd recommend looking for no salt added tomato paste. Hope you love it!
Looks sensational- the sub coconut milk didn’t work out though - taste of coconut wasn’t neutral enough. Any other sub suggestions?
Hi Sophie – I haven't tried this, but I researched and a combo of an alt milk (such as soy) and olive oil may work. Otherwise for dairy-free alternatives coconut cream/milk is your best bet for the right consistency.