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Garlic Parmesan Pasta

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Garlic Parmesan Pasta is a delicious and easy 20-minute meal made with fresh garlic, heavy cream, and parmesan cheese tossed in tender linguine noodles. Enjoy this creamy dish as a meatless dinner or serve it as a side dish – the perfect hearty and filling meal for the whole family to enjoy!

Cheesy garlic parmesan sauce on linguine.

Creamy pasta sauce with plenty of garlic AND cheese? Count me in!

I’ve been a pasta fanatic since childhood and made it a habit of ordering spaghetti and marinara off most children’s menus regardless of the restaurant.

As an adult, I still love a cozy plate of noodles coated with tasty sauce like our French Onion Pasta and Roasted Red Pepper Pasta.

This Garlic Parmesan Pasta is one of my absolute favorites. Made with a creamy sauce of milk, heavy cream, and parmesan cheese, it’s on the table in less than 20 minutes.

It’s perfect for an elegant dinner for two or making a large batch for a table of hungry kids. Serve with a loaf of Italian bread, French bread, rosemary parmesan bread, or olive bread.

How to Make Garlic Parmesan Pasta:

Before starting this recipe, prep all the ingredients. This dish comes together quickly once everything gets going.

See the recipe card below for the ingredient amounts and full instructions.

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and add the pasta noodles. Cook until al dente then drain away the water making sure to save about 1/2 cup. While the noodles cook, make the sauce.
  2. In a separate pan or large skillet, melt the butter over low-medium heat. Add the salt, pepper, and minced garlic and cook just until the garlic becomes fragrant.
  3. Sprinkle the flour over the melted butter and whisk to combine. Continue cooking for 2 to 3 minutes, just long enough to cook out any raw flour flavor.
  4. Continue whisking and slowly pour in the milk and heavy cream. Whisk well to incorporate the flour with the liquid. Adjust the heat to medium and whisk until steam begins to rise from the pan. Don’t let the milk and cream boil; otherwise, they’ll split and separate into an oily mess.
Flour sprinkled over melted butter in a pan.
Milk and heavy cream poured into a pan of butter and flour.
  1. After the steam begins to rise, add small bits of cheese to the pan and whisk until the cheese melts. Once the cheese melts, add a little more whisking between each addition.
  2. If the sauce is too thick after all the cheese gets added, add a few splashes of the reserved pasta water to thin it out. Stir in the cooked noodles, garnish with more cheese and parsley, and serve!
Cheese sprinkled over a milk and heavy cream mixture.
Noodles added to a pan of garlic parmesan sauce.

Storage:

Refrigerator: Store leftover pasta in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

Reheat: Reheat pasta in a pan over low heat. Add a few splashes of chicken broth or milk to loosen the noodles if needed.

A microwave may also be used to reheat, but it tends to dry out the noodles.

What type of protein tastes good on parmesan pasta?

Chicken, steak, and shrimp are all great protein options. The garlic and parmesan flavors in the pasta complement the flavors of these proteins nicely.

For an even more flavorful dish, try adding some herbs or spices like thyme and basil to bring out the richness of the parmesan and enhance the flavor of your protein.

How can you thin out the pasta sauce?

To thin out the pasta sauce, you can add a splash of chicken broth, milk, or heavy cream. Another option is to stir in some reserved pasta water until it reaches your desired consistency.

Can you use milk in place of heavy cream?

Yes, you can use milk in place of heavy cream, however, the result will be less rich and creamy. Milk has a lower fat content than cream so it won’t have as much flavor or body. You can also try using half and half to mimic the richness of heavy cream.

What does it mean for a cream sauce to split or separate?

When a cream sauce separates or splits, it means the fat has separated from the liquid and becomes an oily texture. This is often caused by over-mixing or heating at too high of a temperature.

This often looks like a buttery ring around the edge of the pan and many times is difficult or impossible to fix. To try and fix it, you can add more liquid such as stock, milk, or cream to help bring it back together.

How many calories in parmesan pasta?

The calories in garlic parmesan pasta depends on the ingredients used and the serving size. Our recipe is written with for a 2 ounce serving size and contains approximately 701 calories per serving.

While this may seem high, keep in mind that this recipe contains heavy cream, milk, butter, and parmesan cheese which are all high calorie foods.

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Close up view of garlic parmesan pasta in a stack of bowls.

Garlic Parmesan Pasta

4.6 from 41 votes
Print Pin
Author: Kim
Prep Time: 8 minutes
Cook Time: 12 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 4 Servings

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces pasta noodles, long noodles work best
  • ½ cup reserved pasta water
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter
  • ½ teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 4 to 5 garlic cloves, or more to taste; finely minced
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 ¼ cups milk
  • ¾ cup heavy cream
  • 1 ½ cups parmesan cheese, freshly grated off the block plus more for serving
  • Freshly chopped parsley, for garnish

Instructions
 

  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and add the pasta noodles. Cook until al dente then drain away the water making sure to save about ½ cup. While the noodles cook, make the sauce.
    8 ounces pasta noodles
    ½ cup reserved pasta water
  • In a separate pan, melt the butter over low-medium heat. Add the salt, pepper, and minced garlic and cook just until the garlic becomes fragrant.
    ¼ cup unsalted butter
    ½ teaspoon salt
    ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
    4 to 5 garlic cloves
  • Sprinkle the flour over the melted butter and whisk to combine. Continue cooking for 2 to 3 minutes.
    ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • Continue whisking and slowly pour in the milk and heavy cream. Whisk well to incorporate the flour with the liquid.
    1 ¼ cups milk
    ¾ cup heavy cream
  • Adjust the heat to medium and whisk until steam begins to rise from the pan. Don't let the milk and cream boil; otherwise, they'll split and separate into an oily mess.
  • After the steam begins to rise, add small bits of cheese to the pan and whisk until the cheese melts. Once the cheese melts, add a little more whisking between each addition until all the cheese has been added.
    1 ½ cups parmesan cheese
  • If the sauce is too thick after all the cheese gets added, add a few splashes of the reserved pasta water to thin it out. Taste and add more salt and pepper if desired. Stir in the noodles, garnish with more cheese and parsley, and serve!
  • Scroll up and see the post for FAQs and storage information.

Suggested Equipment

Notes

*The calories listed are an approximation based on the ingredients in the recipe card and a serving size of 2 ounces of cooked pasta. Actual calories will vary.
*For more information, tips, and answers to frequently asked questions, please refer to the post.
*This recipe makes enough for 2 good sized servings or 4 smaller servings.

Nutrition

Serving: 2ouncesCalories: 701kcalCarbohydrates: 59gProtein: 23gFat: 42gSaturated Fat: 25gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 10gTrans Fat: 0.5gCholesterol: 123mgSodium: 995mgPotassium: 378mgFiber: 2gSugar: 7gVitamin A: 1460IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 478mgIron: 1mg
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4 Comments

  1. Hi, I have a question. How many people can I serve with this? Do I have to double the recipe? I’m making it for 4 people.

    1. Hi Abigail!

      This recipe uses 8 ounces of pasta (half a regular sized box if you’re located in the U.S.). As written, it makes enough for 4 small servings, about 1 cup per serving (4 cups total). Hope that helps! 🙂

  2. First off, love this dish! Has anyone tired to just make the pasta separate and mix in at the end? I’ve ended up with mushy pasta. I also want to double the recipe so finding a pot to do both in the same will be hard.

    1. Good Morning Karen, we’re glad to hear you enjoy the pasta. Hmm, the best way I can think of to create this dish separately would be to make a garlic alfredo sauce on the stove top and cook the pasta per the package instructions (in two different pots). Now, we have a homemade alfredo sauce on our sister site Berly’s Kitchen. I’ve provided the link below. Simply increase the minced garlic to 2 tablespoons., omit the nutmeg, omit the chicken, and omit the Italian seasonings. Other than that, you should have a similar tasting dish created in separate pots. I hope this information helps, have a lovely day 🙂

      https://www.berlyskitchen.com/homemade-chicken-alfredo-recipe/