This simple garlic butter pasta recipe is quick, creamy and delicious. It’s a crowd pleaser that makes a great week-night dinner. And the combination of garlic and parmesan is amazing!
This evening, as usual, I had to scramble to find something to make for dinner. I got a late start and wanted something easy since it was just the kids and I. I pulled out some shell shaped pasta and scoured the web for a non-tomato sauce, sauce to go with it.
I stumbled across a recipe that I used as a base and modified it to come up with this quick and easy pasta dish that everyone asked for seconds of (well, my son had thirds).
This is a rich, fat-filled recipe because of the butter and cream, but you can reduce that somewhat by choosing lower fat options. But seriously it’s a creamy pasta dish, I can’t imagine that anyone expects it to be low fat and low calories.
Can you boil garlic with pasta?
For some reason, people want to add garlic to their pasta when they are boiling it. You can, however the pasta really won’t retain too much of the garlic flavor, if any. And because you are draining the pasta, you will lose a lot of the garlic through the colander.
So don’t bother. Add the garlic to the sauce, not to the pasta as it boils.
How do you make a simple cream sauce?
There are a couple of different ways to make a cream sauce. The most popular is probably to melt butter and whisk in flour and heavy cream. But when I made this recipe, I skipped the flour and it worked just fine.
How do you thicken a butter sauce?
Flour is really the magic behind thickening a sauce. You can use traditional multi-purpose flour or arrowroot to make a roux. But cheese also works to thicken a sauce. It just depends on how thin your sauce is, and how must coverage you have on the pasta.
A roux is made with equal parts flour and water. You mix them together (start with 2-3 tablespoons) to create kind of a paste and then you slowly add that to your sauce until it reaches the desired consistency.
If you have a ton of sauce, you may want to thicken it so it doesn’t just run off the pasta. If you only have a small amount, you can mix it well with the pasta (especially with some Parmesan cheese added and/or a noodle shape like a shell that will hold sauce) and much of it will stick to the noodles and you will be fine.
How can I thicken sauce without flour?
As I mentioned above, you can use arrowroot instead of flour to thicken a sauce. And you can do it with this recipe if you want, I just didn’t bother, and I didn’t feel that it absolutely needed it.
If you want to use arrowroot to make a roux to thicken your sauce, use 2-3 tablespoons of arrowroot and an equal amount of water. Mix it together in a small bowl. Once it is completely combined, slowly add it to your sauce until it reaches the thickness you want.
You can use any type of noodle with this recipe, but the shell does provide more nooks and crannies to hold the sauce. But it’s delicious with penne pasta, bowties, whatever!
Garlic Butter Pasta Shells with Parmesan Cheese
This recipe is super easy and my kids continue to ask for it all the time. Even if you choose to thicken the sauce, it doesn’t take much time at all and has a delicious outcome.
My kids are funny about seasonings, but you can add any kind of Italian seasonings to it as well, either in the sauce or sprinkled on top as a garnish.
Simple Garlic Butter Pasta with Parmesan Cheese
- 1 lb pasta shells
- 1/4 cup butter
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 cup Parmesan cheese grated
- 1/4 tsp salt
- dash of pepper
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- Cook shells according to package directions.
- While the pasta is cooking, melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat.
- Add garlic to melted butter and saute until fragrant, about 2 minutes.
- Add Parmesan cheese, salt & pepper and stir until combined.
- Add cream and continue to stir until smooth. Don’t allow to boil and make sure you stir constantly.
- Drain pasta, return to pot and pour the sauce over the pasta. Stir to coat and serve!
Simple Garlic Butter Pasta with Parmesan Cheese recipe originally posted on May 2nd, 2011 and improved with updated images and content on December 9th, 2019.