Pink Sauce Pasta Recipe

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Pink sauce pasta is the best easy 20-minute dinner recipe! This creamy tomato sauce (also called rose sauce) is made without heavy cream, and is so delicious!

Pink Sauce Pasta

This pink sauce is so creamy, and it’s just exploding with flavor! You can seriously just eat it by the spoonful.

It’s so easy to whip up, and it would be perfect for a last minute dinner idea that everyone in the family will love. You’ll think you had a creamy pasta dish delivered  from one of your favorite restaurants!

A close up image of penne noodles tossed in creamy tomato sauce.

Why Is It Called Pink Sauce?

It’s called pink sauce because of its gorgeous characteristic pink or orange color. The cream mixed with the tomato sauce produces a pasta sauce in a lovely pink hue.

Is Rosa Sauce The Same As Vodka Sauce?

They are both pink sauces that get a lot of their flavor from combining tomato sauce with a creamy element – like heavy cream or cheese. The main difference is that vodka sauce uses vodka as an ingredient, while pink sauce does not.

What Is Pink Sauce Made Of?

The ingredients for this pink sauce pasta are penne pasta, butter, garlic, onion, tomato sauce, dried oregano, fine sea salt, dried basil, chicken broth, milk, cream cheese, mozzarella, and fresh parsley.

Oregano, salt, and basil labeled on a plate.

How To Make Pink Sauce Pasta

While you have the pasta cooking in a pot of salted water, start the sauce. Saute the onions in butter, then add the garlic. Pour the tomato sauce and chicken broth into the skillet, and sprinkle in the basil, oregano, and salt.

Next, you’ll add in the cream cheese and milk, and stir constantly until the cream cheese is melted. Mix in the mozzarella and let it thicken before tossing the pasta with the sauce, and serve. See the recipe card below for the full instructions with ingredient amounts, cooking times, and helpful tips, etc.

Onions for pink sauce sauteing in a skillet.
A close up image of creamy tomato pasta sauce made without cream.

What Does Pink Sauce Taste Like?

There’s a reason that this is such a popular dish, tomatoes and cream are pretty much a match made in heaven. It has the fresh tomato flavor from the tomato sauce, but it’s mixed with the creamy and cheesy flavors, too. If you like dishes where tomatoes and cheese are mixed, like pizza, or chicken parmesan, I’m sure you’ll also like this pasta!

Tomato basil cream sauce pasta in a skillet.

Can You Add Milk To Tomato Sauce Without Curdling?

It depends on the recipe and the instructions. Tomatoes are very acidic, which is what can cause tomato based foods to curdle when you mix milk in.

In this recipe, we’re using very little milk, and we’re including foods with quite a bit of fat (like butter and cream cheese). The combination of those means you don’t have to worry about that here. It’s still important to only simmer this sauce, do not let it boil.

If you’re still worried about it, you can mix a pinch of baking soda into the tomato sauce before you add the milk and cream cheese. Just a pinch though – a little goes a long way. Baking soda helps neutralize the acid in the tomato sauce, which reduces the risk of curdling, and also makes the creamy tomato sauce taste sweeter.

Can I Use Milk Instead Of Cream In Pasta Sauce?

It depends on the sauce, but generally, yes. This is an easier substitution to make if the sauce doesn’t have acid in it, like an Alfredo sauce. I would still opt for whole milk for the added flavor and creaminess.

If you’re using it in a sauce with acidic ingredients (like tomatoes or lemon juice) using whole milk will work the best. The additional fat in whole milk helps prevent the sauce from curdling.

Milk is also more prone to separating than heavy whipping cream is, so it’s important to only let it simmer when you’re making a pasta sauce, never let it boil.

Rose pasta sauce with penne noodles in a skillet.

What To Serve It With

I love serving tomato basil cream sauce over penne, but there are lots of different noodle options you can choose, and some protein options that would be a delicious addition. Try serving it with garlic bread and a side salad for a classic Italian-inspired meal!

  • Protein: Chicken, shrimp, salmon, roasted vegetables, seafood, sausage, ground beef.
  • Pasta: Fettuccine, spaghetti, gnocchi, cheese tortellini.

If you love spicy pastas, try adding some crushed chili flakes at the same time as the dried herbs.

Keep In Touch

I’d love to hear what you thought of this recipe in the comments or on Instagram! @KeyToMyLime #KeyToMyLime

Click here to pin this recipe for later!

A Pinterest pin image of pink sauce pasta with title text.

Pasta Recipes

If you like this recipe, be sure to check out our entire pasta recipe section! It’s filled with delicious and quick dinner ideas. Some reader favorites are:

Yield: 4 large or 6 small servings

Best Pink Sauce Pasta Recipe

The best creamy pink sauce pasta recipe.

Pink sauce pasta is the best easy 20-minute dinner recipe! This creamy tomato sauce (also called rose sauce) is made without heavy cream, and is so delicious!

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 3 cups dry penne pasta (300 grams)
  • 1 Tablespoon butter
  • 2 medium cloves garlic (minced)
  • 1 large yellow onion (diced)
  • 1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup milk*
  • 4 ounces full fat cream cheese (half a brick)
  • 1 cup freshly shredded pizza mozzarella**
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped parsley (optional, for garnish)

Instructions

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the penne pasta to al dente, according to the package instructions. 
  2. Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium heat, melt the butter and then add in the onions. Cook for about 5 minutes, or until they are translucent. Add the garlic and cook for another 1 - 2 minutes, or until aromatic. (Stir frequently to avoid burning  your garlic and onions.)
  3. Now add the tomato sauce, chicken broth, dried basil, dried oregano, salt and stir. Bring to a simmer for 2 - 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Add in the milk and cream cheese and stir until melted, then mix in the shredded mozzarella cheese and let simmer for 7 - 8 minutes (it’s important to not let the sauce boil, but just simmer instead).
  5. Mix the pasta in with the sauce. Garnish with the chopped parsley and a little extra mozzarella if desired then serve!

Notes

*Whole milk is the best for this recipe, because the sauce will thicken faster. 2% will also work, but it will take a little longer to thicken. The batch in the photos was made with 2%.

**It's so important to use freshly grated cheese. Pre-shredded cheeses are coated in a starch that stops the cheese from melting as well as freshly grated cheese. That means that you won't get those ultra delicious and remarkably cheesy bites if you use pre-shredded cheese.

Nutrition Information:

Serving Size:

1/6

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 362Total Fat: 14.4gCarbohydrates: 44.8gNet Carbohydrates: 42.2gFiber: 2.6gSugar: 5.8gProtein: 13.3g

Nutrition information isn’t always accurate. This recipe makes 4 large or 6 small servings. Nutrition was calculated for portions that make 6 servings made with 2% milk.

DID YOU MAKE THIS RECIPE?

Tag @KeyToMyLime on Instagram so we can see your delicious meal!

If you’re looking for an easy family meal that adults and kids will like, this pink sauce pasta is the recipe for you! It’s super quick to make, and it uses pantry-friendly ingredients.

The best creamy pink sauce pasta recipe.

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