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Spaghetti pesto

Spaghetti Pesto

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 3 to 4 1x


Here’s the trick to getting the creamiest pesto spaghetti evenly covered in silky sauce! Make it with homemade or purchased basil pesto for a fast dinner.


  • 12 ounces spaghetti or bucatini pasta
  • 1/2 to 2/3 cup basil pesto*
  • 1/2 cup pasta water, plus more as needed
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 large handful fresh basil leaves, to garnish (optional)
  • Parmesan cheese, to garnish (optional)


  1. Start a pot of well salted water to a boil. Boil the pasta until it is just al dente (start tasting a few minutes before the package recommends: you want it to be tender but still a little firm on the inside; usually around 7 to 8 minutes). Just before draining, reserve 1 cup pasta water! Then drain the pasta.
  2. Place the pasta in a bowl (not the pasta pot). Stir together the pasta, pesto, and 1/2 cup pasta water, tossing with tongs until the pesto is well distributed and the pasta water forms a creamy sauce. Add more pasta water if desired. Stir in 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt and taste. If the flavor doesn’t pop, add a few more pinches until it does (the salt content in purchased pesto brands varies, as well as the amount of salt you used in the pasta water). Serve immediately.
  3. Store any leftovers refrigerated: note that pesto can get gummy when reheated, so it’s best to eat leftovers cold or room temp.


*This spaghetti pesto tastes best with homemade pesto! If fresh basil is not available, use your best quality store brand. Brands vary widely especially in salt content, so adjust salt to taste. For vegan, use Vegan Pesto.

  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: Boiled
  • Cuisine: Italian
  • Diet: Vegetarian

Keywords: Pesto spaghetti, spaghetti pesto pasta