The most delicious easy pink pasta sauce recipe! Just two ingredients make this creamy tomato sauce come together FAST (in the time it takes to boil noodles), and you can serve it plain or add anything you'd like to flavor it. Prepare for this to be your new favorite weeknight recipe!
Let's prepare for some pink pasta magic, shall we? Two ingredients, fifteen minutes, DINNER.
This is one of those suuuuuuper kid-friendly dinner recipes that came out of necessity; I wasn't interested in making marinara or another more complicated pasta recipe, and we needed dinner asap. (thank you weeknight sports) Canned tomato sauce + heavy cream saves the day!
Pink Sauce Pasta Recipe
This recipe is THE most simple recipe for pink pasta sauce that I've found, and the fun part about it is that it can be served plain for a yummy, mild, creamy pasta dish OR you can jazz it up however you'd like with meat, veggies, and toppings.
The first time I made this it was positively SCARFED down totally plain by kids and adults alike. Since then, I've added rotisserie chicken, bread crumbs toasted in butter (HELLO), and chopped roasted veggies to the sauce. All versions are delicious, but my favorite way to have this is plain with parmesan cheese on top.
The ingredients for this sauce are SO simple: tomato sauce and heavy cream, full stop.
There are endless variations you can make to this base recipe, but the key is to use tomato sauce instead of pureed tomatoes to keep the recipe extra simple. Tomato sauce (the very cheap cans, nothing fancy) already has onion, garlic, salt, sugar, and spices in it, so we take advantage of those flavors to keep the ingredient list down to two things.
The best canned tomato sauce I've found is the Muir Glen Chunky Tomato Sauce, but I don't often see it in stores. I usually make this with the literal cheapest tomato sauce (store brand or similar) the store carries and it's equally delicious.
You can use this method with marinara as well, but the flavor won't be quite as mild and the sauce will taste like whatever marinara sauce you choose - not a bad thing!
Step By Step Instructions
I like to time this sauce so that the sauce simmers while the pasta is cooking, then I drain the pasta right when the sauce is done. Since the sauce ingredients are already cooked, it comes together super quickly.
- Start the water for the pasta first.
- When the pasta water boils, drop the pasta into the water and preheat a skillet to medium heat for the sauce.
- When the skillet is hot, add the tomato sauce and cream and stir to combine. Turn the heat down if you need to, the pink pasta sauce needs to simmer for just a minute or two while the pasta finishes cooking.
- Scoop out a cup or so of hot pasta water just before draining - I use a coffee mug for this.
- Drain the pasta when it's cooked, and add it immediately to the pink sauce.
- Splash in a little bit of pasta water until you have just enough sauce to coat the pasta without being soupy.
- Add salt, pepper, and any other ingredients you're using. YUM.
A note on flavor: certain canned tomato sauces can be pretty mild or even bland. If you taste your pasta and think "it's fine, but not great," you need more things to flavor your sauce. Salt and pepper, maybe more than you think, are usually the move here.
I LOVE this exactly as it is. Plain, mild, creamy pasta with parmesan cheese on top is just so comforting and yummy. But, adding in extra flavors is fun too! Here are some ideas to get you started:
I add these ingredients to the pink sauce at the same time I add the hot pasta.
- 1-2 cups shredded roasted chicken (leftovers work great for this!)
- 1-2 cups chopped cooked veggies (again, leftovers)
- 3 cups greens such as spinach or kale leaves
- ½ cup chopped cooked bacon
- ⅓ cup toasted pine nuts
- 1-2 tablespoons of capers
- parmesan cheese
- flaky salt, pepper, crushed red pepper flakes
- bread crumbs toasted in butter
- crumbled goat cheese
- anchovies (trust)
- fresh herbs
Again, I've made tons of versions of this, super simple to all decked out with ingredients, and the base of the tomato sauce and heavy cream is just SO good all different ways.
Make-Ahead and Storage
I prefer to serve this freshly made and eat the leftovers throughout the week - freshly cooked pasta is just so yummy.
That said, this is a great meal prep dish since the leftovers reheat in the microwave really well - I reheat in glass containers or shallow bowls for about 30 seconds, then stir, then repeat until the leftover pasta is hot all the way through.
Another "shortcut but still freshly cooked" option is to measure and stir together the cream and tomato sauce without simmering it, then tossing it with hot pasta and hot pasta water right before serving.
I hope you love this sauce! It's SO yummy, and so rewarding to have a true 15-minute dinner that is so delicious. Make it every week and try different versions each time!
2-Ingredient Pink Pasta Sauce
- 1 can 14-15 ounces tomato sauce
- ½ cup heavy cream
- ½ teaspoon salt
- black pepper
- 1 pound short pasta
- toppings see note
- Bring a large pot of water to boil with salt for the pasta. Add the pasta and cook to al dente per the package directions. Right before draining, reserve a cup of the cooking liquid for the sauce.
- In a separate large skillet, combine the cream and tomato sauce with ½ teaspoon salt over medium heat. Let the sauce simmer for just a minute or two while the pasta cooks.
- Taste the sauce and add more salt and pepper to your preference.
- Toss the pink pasta sauce with all of the pasta, adding in splashes of cooking liquid until the sauce coats all of the pasta.
- Top with anything you'd like or enjoy plain. Enjoy!