This simple pink sauce pasta is a super alternative to red sauce from a jar. It's beautiful pink color is sure to satisfy your pickiest eater. Served with a green veggie, garlic bread or a simple salad, it's the perfect busy weeknight dinner!
What's so great about this recipe?
While you can buy rose pasta sauce in a jar at Trader Joes, this pink sauce recipe is homemade, made from simple ingredients and super easy to put together in just a few minutes. This recipe is one of my kiddos favorite things to eat!
Another bonus of this recipe is that by making the sauce yourself, you are cutting out some of the sugar that can hide in jarred marinara sauce (which normally doesn’t bother me, but it’s nice to do once in a while).
And the best part is that you are making a creamy tomato sauce (that's pink) in minutes at home with just a handful of ingredients!
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- Tomato Paste: You can find it in either a can or a squeeze tube. I highly recommend the tube so you can reseal it easily and use the rest another time.
- Tomato Sauce: You are looking for the regular tomato sauce in a can here, not tomato puree or pizza sauce
- Dairy: Use heavy cream, or lighten things up with 2% milk or even a plant based milk
- Penne Pasta: This is my preferred pasta shape but if you only have rigatoni or mostaccioli on hand, those will work too
- Garlic: I like to use frozen garlic cubes in place of fresh garlic cloves, but you can use either. Just be sure to crush your garlic well before adding to the recipe
Step by Step Directions for Pink Pasta Sauce
Start by boiling water for the pasta in a large pot on the stove. Once it comes to a boil, generously salt the water and then cook the pasta according to the package directions.
While the pasta cooks, you’ll want to make the pink sauce. Start by adding the tomato paste and garlic to a saute pan with a tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Cook the tomato paste with the garlic for a minute or two.
Then add the two cans of tomato sauce. Let that cook for 2-3 minutes while you stir the tomato paste and garlic mixture into it, before adding the heavy cream to the pan.
Bring the mixture to a low boil and then turn off the heat. Stir in the Parmesan cheese until full melted into the sauce, then return the pan to the stove. Add salt to taste. Return the pan to the stove over low heat, add in the butter and let melt, then stir until fully incorporated into a creamy sauce.
Now you can either add the cooked pasta into the sauce and toss it all together or serve the pink sauce and pasta separately for people to serve themselves. If you plan on mixing the sauce and pasta together before serving, be sure to leave your pasta al dente so it doesn't get mushy as it soaks up the sauce.
I have a few one pot pastas that I turn to time and time again and I thought about making this a one pot pasta dish as well. However, I don't suggest it. This sauce is quite versatile and can go on so many different pasta types and they don’t all hold up to the one pot method.
You can make it work thought if you really want by adding more liquid to the sauce so that the pasta has something to absorb. I would add either an additional 15 oz can of tomato sauce or an additional 1 cup of milk.
Check out these posts (here and here) on how I make one pot pasta for other tips and tricks to make it work.
While you can always use whatever pasta shape you have in your pantry (we have no fewer than 7 shapes of pasta in our pantry at all times), I highly suggest a tubular pasta in this recipe. There is something about the inside of the tube being able to hold lots of delicious sauce that just works really well. The following pasta shapes are my favorites for this recipe:
> Penne Rigate
> Elbow Macaroni (large size)
Yes! You can easily substitute the heavy cream in this recipe. In place of heavy cream, try using whole milk, 2% milk or even a plant based milk (coconut milk, almond milk, soy milk, etc).
How to store leftover pink sauce
If you think you are going to have leftover sauce, I would store it in an airtight container, separately from the cooked pasta. You can then refrigerate it for up to 3 days or freeze it and then simply defrost it in a pot on the stove when you are ready to use it.
One more simple tip
Want to add a little something extra to the pink sauce? Try adding fresh spinach, roasted broccoli or frozen peas for a pop of green and some extra nutrients. Looking to make a spicy pasta? Try adding red pepper flakes at the end. You can even garnish this dish with fresh basil to make it extra fancy 🙂
Looking for other simple pasta recipes? Check these out!
Pink Sauce Pasta
- 16 oz dried penne pasta
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon grated garlic or one frozen garlic cube
- 2 15 oz cans tomato sauce
- 1 cup heavy cream (or alternative milk)
- ½ teaspoon sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese (plus more for topping if desired)
- 1 tablespoon butter
- bring a pot of water to boil and cook the pasta as the directions state on the package
- to a large straight sided saute pan, add the tomato paste and garlic and cook for about 2 minutes over medium heat
- add the tomato sauce and stir for another 2-3 minutes
- add the sugar and mix in
- add the heavy cream and stir together, let come just to a boil
- add the salt, then take off the heat and stir in the parmesan cheese
- return to the stove over low heat and add the butter, stirring until melted
- once melted, turn off the heat and serve over the pasta!
Want to make these now? Are you missing some ingredients? Amazon Now can get them to you in a few hours, Instacart can get them to you today. Or add them to your Peapod grocery list and don't be stuck without them again!