Pesto Pasta with Tomatoes

The best recipes are the simplest. Pesto pasta with homemade basil pesto, ripe cherry tomatoes and a splash of cream? Perfection.

Pesto pasta

The best recipes are the simplest, in our minds. Don’t get us wrong, Alex and I love to master things like the best margherita pizza and artisan sourdough bread. But the simplicity of pesto pasta with homemade basil pesto, ripe juicy tomatoes, and a splash of cream can’t be beat. With seasonal ingredients, it will always, always taste beautiful and fresh. And that’s something we can’t get tired of! So excuse us if this recipe is simple. We promise it will blow your mind every time. Ready for some basil pesto pasta? Let’s get cooking.

Pesto sauce pasta

How to make pesto pasta

For the very best pesto pasta you can make at home, you’ve got to start with homemade basil pesto sauce. Of course, you can use your favorite purchased brand of pesto too! But making your own at home takes the flavor to new heights. To make basil pesto, you’ll need a food processor or mortal and pestle. (You also can use a blender, but a smaller and mightier one is best because it makes only 1 cup, so larger blenders can have a hard time).

For the homemade basil pesto, you’ll need a good quantity of fresh basil. It’s best if you’re growing it at home, but if you’ve got to purchase it, that’s ok too! For 8 ounces of pasta, you’ll need 1/2 cup pesto sauce, which requires about 1 cup of basil leaves. (By the way: if you’re looking to grow basil at home, here’s all you need to know about How to Grow Basil. It is well worth your time!) For the recipe, we’ve got several different options for you: Best Basil Pesto, Vegan Cashew Pesto, Cashew Pesto, or Walnut Pesto. Choose whatever fits your preferences and diet!

Here’s how to make basil pesto pasta:

  • Make homemade basil pesto by blending the following in a food processor: fresh basil leaves, nuts (pine nuts or cashews), Parmesan cheese, garlic, fresh lemon juice, salt, and olive oil. Blend until a creamy sauce forms.
  • Start a pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta until al dente (tender but still a bit firm), then drain.
  • Add the pasta back to the pot. Stir in the pesto sauce, a bit of heavy cream, and some sliced cherry tomatoes. Season with kosher salt to taste.
Basil pesto pasta

A vegan variation on pesto pasta

If you eat a mainly plant based diet, you might wonder how to make this recipe vegan. We’ve got your back! Here’s what we’d do to make this into a vegan pesto sauce pasta:

If you’d like, you could use something creamy like a non-dairy milk too: but olive oil would work just as well. Let us know if you have other ideas on variations in the comments below!

Pesto pasta

How to cook pasta to al dente

When Alex and I visited Italy on our honeymoon, we tasted pasta that was truly al dente for the first time. And it was mind blowing! This wasn’t the limp, gooey stuff we were used to tasting in the US. The pasta was firm enough that you had to really bite through each piece: making it infinitely more satisfying. When we returned home, we knew we had to figure out how to do this for ourselves.

Interestingly, we’ve found that many of the package directions on pasta call for cooking it much too long! To cook pasta to al dente, we boil it in a large pot of boiling water, and always start taste testing a few minutes before the package instructions indicate to. The pasta should be tender, but still firm on the inside so that it has a little bite. Some chefs say that you should see a tiny bit of white on the inside of the pasta, others say it should have just disappeared. Whatever the case, stay vigilant: pasta can go from al dente to overcooked in minutes!

Pesto pasta

Looking for more pasta recipes?

This basil pesto pasta is super classico and one of our favorite pasta recipes ever. But, we’ve got lots more that have become fan favorites! Here are some of our best pasta recipes:

Pesto pasta

This pesto pasta recipe is…

Vegetarian. For vegan, plant-based, and dairy-free, follow the notes in the recipe. For gluten-free, use gluten-free pasta.



The best recipes are the simplest. Pesto pasta with homemade basil pesto, ripe cherry tomatoes and a splash of cream? Perfection.


  1. Make the pesto: Best Basil Pesto, Vegan Cashew Pesto, Cashew Pesto, or Walnut Pesto.
  2. Heat a pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente, checking for doneness a few minutes before the package instructions indicate (the pasta should be tender but still slightly firm).
  3. When the pasta is done, drain it and return it to the pot. Add the pesto, heavy cream, sliced cherry tomatoes and 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, and stir. Taste and add additional salt if needed (the exact amount depends on the pesto and your pasta water, so it will vary — salt until the flavor pops!). If you’d like it to be a looser sauce, you could also stir in a splash of reserved pasta water or hot water. Serve immediately.


*This quantity makes 3 to 4 modest servings, so you may need to double based on your eaters hunger level.

  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Italian

Keywords: Pesto pasta, Best pesto pasta, Basil pesto pasta, Pesto sauce pasta