This Creamy Penne Pasta Recipe is a super easy and delicious 20-minute recipe made with penne pasta smothered in a garlic butter cream sauce. Perfect served as a comforting main course or simple side dish.
Creamy Penne Pasta
Whenever my body craves some serious comfort food I always make this deliciously creamy garlic penne pasta. On the table in just 20-minutes, it’s made with simple ingredients – many of which you may already have in your pantry or refrigerator!
Enjoyed by my whole family (all of us always go for seconds), this simple creamy penne is similar to fettuccine alfredo but more garlicky and not quite as heavy.
But one of the best parts about this recipe is how easy it is to modify. Sometimes I’ll add some peas or mushrooms and sliced chicken breast to make it feel like a more well-rounded, complete meal. Most of the time, however, I’ll just cozy up with a big bowl of this out-of-this-world creamy garlic penne with nothing more than a generous dusting of freshly grated parmesan cheese and maybe (probably) a glass of wine.
It’s really easy to make this creamy, luscious homemade white sauce. You’ll need a large pan or skillet and the following ingredients (exact measurements are in the recipe card at the bottom of the post):
- all-purpose flour
- fresh garlic
- vegetable broth or chicken broth
- fresh lemon juice
- heavy cream
- freshly grated parmesan cheese
Start by melting the butter in your pan or skillet. Once melted, whisk in the flour, creating a thick roux. Allow the roux to cook for a minute before adding the garlic, followed by the veggie broth or chicken broth (you can even add white wine) and lemon juice. Mix well to combine. Stir in the cream and simmer for a minute or two before adding the parmesan cheese. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
Once the penne is cooked, reserve at least 1 cup of hot salted pasta water before draining. Use the reserved pasta water to thin the sauce if it becomes too thick.
When ready, add the penne to the creamy garlic sauce and toss to coat.
Recipe Notes + Tips
- Although I made this recipe with penne pasta, feel free to use any pasta shape or noodle.
- I highly recommend making this recipe using freshly grated parmesan cheese – not the powdered stuff. The flavor will be better overall and there won’t be any weird clumping.
- I do not recommend making this recipe using half-and-half or any other lower-fat cream alternative. The sauce may curdle or separate due to the lower fat content and it will not taste as rich and delicious.
- If the sauce becomes too thick, simply thin it out with some of the reserved pasta water that was used to cook the penne.
- The sauce will continue to thicken as the pasta cools.
- Season to taste. I did not provide exact amounts of salt or pepper as everyone has their own preference. Expect, however, that you will need to be somewhat generous with the salt as it is the primary seasoning.
- Leftovers are delicious reheated the next day. Since the sauce will have thickened considerably, expect to add a little bit of liquid (cream, chicken broth, etc) before heating. Heat for 30 seconds in the microwave, gently stir, and continue to heat until the desired temperature is reached.
I hope you LOVE this easy penne pasta recipe! It’s:
& so delicious!
Looking for more delicious pasta recipes? Try these reader favorites:
- Creamy Ham and Pea Pasta
- Creamy Buffalo Chicken Pasta Recipe
- Easy Pasta Primavera Recipe
- Penne Arrabbiata Recipe
- One-Pot Homemade Hamburger Helper
- Easy Bacon Broccoli Pasta Recipe
- Ground Turkey Pasta Recipe
Have you tried making this Creamy Penne Pasta Recipe?
Tell me about it in the comments below! I always love to hear your thoughts. And tag me #theforkedspoon on Instagram if you’ve made any of my recipes, I always love to see what you’re cooking in the kitchen.
Creamy Penne Pasta Recipe
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Cook the penne until it is al dente (about 2-3 minutes less than the cooking time listed on package directions).
- As the pasta cooks, melt the butter in a large 12-inch skillet set over medium heat. Sprinkle the melted butter with the flour and use a whisk to combine (it will form a thick paste). Cook the paste (roux) for about 1 minute, stirring often.
- Add the minced garlic followed immediately by the vegetable or chicken broth (you may also use your favorite dry white wine) and lemon juice. Whisk continuously as it comes to a gentle simmer. Allow it to simmer/bubble for about 30 seconds.
- Still whisking, slowly stir in the cream until fully combined with the flour mixture. Bring to a gentle simmer then reduce heat to medium-low. Cook over medium-low heat for about 2 minutes, or until it has thickened slightly.
- Stir in the grated parmesan cheese and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Remove from heat.
- Reserve at least 1 cup of hot pasta water before draining the pasta. Add the drained pasta to the sauce and toss to coat. Add some of the reserved pasta water to the skillet, as needed, if the sauce becomes too thick (the starch from the pasta will help thicken the sauce).
- Season with additional salt and pepper, to taste, and serve garnished with additional grated parmesan cheese and fresh parsley, if desired.
- This recipe can be made with any pasta shape or pasta noodle.
- This recipe is best when it is made with heavy cream. Anything lower in fat will yield different results.
- Don't forget to reserve at least 1 cup of boiling, salted pasta water.
(Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and specific brands of ingredients used.)