Creamy Pasta and Tomato Sauce

Creamy Tomato Pasta

The Spruce

Prep: 5 mins
Cook: 15 mins
Total: 20 mins
Servings: 4 to 6 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
397 Calories
22g Fat
40g Carbs
12g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4 to 6
Amount per serving
Calories 397
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 22g 28%
Saturated Fat 10g 49%
Cholesterol 46mg 15%
Sodium 664mg 29%
Total Carbohydrate 40g 14%
Dietary Fiber 5g 18%
Protein 12g
Calcium 90mg 7%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Creamy tomato pasta is an easy main dish recipe. It's an excellent use for cream cheese, simply combining it with a classic tomato sauce and spaghetti. It may sound a little unusual to add cream cheese to a pasta recipe, but it adds a tangy note and rich creaminess to the sauce.

Ready in under 30 minutes, this creamy spaghetti is pure comfort food and a delicious weeknight dinner. It's also a great choice for a last-minute dinner party when served with toasted garlic bread, a crisp green salad, and rosé or red wine. 


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  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion (chopped)
  • 1 (26-ounce) jar tomato pasta sauce (or homemade)
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes (undrained)
  • 1 (16-ounce) package spaghetti
  • 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese (cubed)

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

    Pot of boiling water
    The Spruce
  3. Meanwhile, heat the butter and olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion. Cook and stir until the onion is tender and just starts to brown around the edges, about 5 to 6 minutes.

    Olive oil, butter, and onion in skillet
     The Spruce
  4. Add the pasta sauce to the onion mixture. Add the water to the empty jar, close and shake to loosen the rest of the pasta sauce, and add to the skillet along with the undrained tomatoes. Bring to a simmer, stirring frequently, so the mixture doesn't burn on the bottom.

    Add pasta sauce to the mixture in skillet
     The Spruce
  5. Meanwhile, cook the spaghetti in the large pot of boiling water according to the package directions until al dente. Test the pasta by biting into it. If the pasta is firm but tender, it's done.

    Cook spaghetti in large pot
     The Spruce
  6. A few minutes before the spaghetti is done, add the cream cheese to the pasta sauce. Cook and stir, using a wire whisk, until the cheese melts and the sauce is creamy. The cream cheese may not dissolve completely in the sauce because the sauce is acidic, but that's OK. It will add the desired creamy texture and flavor.

    Add cream cheese to pasta sauce in skillet
    The Spruce
  7. Drain the pasta and immediately add to the skillet with the sauce.

    Add pasta to the sauce in the skillet
    The Spruce
  8. Toss for a few minutes, then serve. Enjoy,


  • When cooking the pasta, be generous with the salt because it adds flavor to the pasta. As a general rule, use 2 tablespoons of salt per 1 gallon of water.

Recipe Variations

  • Add whatever you like to this recipe. Good choices include minced garlic, Parmesan cheese, sliced mushrooms browned with the onion, grated carrots, black olives, or even some baby spinach leaves.
  • Vary the pasta shape if you like. Fettucini would work well.
  • For more of a casserole-style dish, use rigatoni or ziti and sprinkle a bit of Parmesan cheese on top. Add a few fresh basil leaves for fresh flavor.
  • To make this dish vegan, substitute silken tofu or vegan cream cheese and switch to vegan butter or use extra oil. If you use tofu, you may want to add a bit of lemon juice or apple cider vinegar to give it the tangy sourness of genuine cream cheese. 

Can Pasta Be Cooked in Sauce?

While you can cook pasta in a sauce, it really is best to cook the two elements separately. The time needed for perfectly cooked spaghetti doesn't always coincide with the sauce. By cooking the pasta on its own, you can pull it as soon as it's al dente and have it drained and ready to add to the sauce when it's needed.