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This easy tomato basil pasta features that classic pairing of ripe tomatoes and peppery basil, taken to new heights with tangy balsamic and Parmesan cheese.

Tomato basil pasta
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What’s a better pairing than tomatoes and basil? Even though this combo is super basic, it’s satisfying every single time. Right? Just like a classic vanilla bean ice cream, tomatoes + basil is always an equation for success. Every summer, Alex and I cannot wait for juicy ripe tomatoes and peppery basil from our garden (the excitement never wears off!). Here’s a pasta that highlights them both, with a creamy balsamic sauce and savory Parmesan cheese. It’s pretty darn perfect…and only takes 20 minutes, making it the perfect pasta dinner idea for weeknights or entertaining. Here’s how to make it!

More with tomatoes? Best Fresh Tomato Recipes & Tomato Basil Salad!

Tomato basil pasta

How to make tomato basil pasta

The best recipes? Ones that take simple ingredients and use them in new ways. This tomato basil pasta uses balsamic vinegar in a way you might not have used it before in a pasta. Here, you’ll simply make a balsamic vinaigrette and toss with with the noodles. Wait, really? Turns out, the balsamic vinegar adds the perfect tang to the noodles. Here’s our formula for a sauce for a balsamic pasta with the perfect the perfect zing:

  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Dijon mustard
  • A hint of maple or honey
  • Olive oil

You’ll make the balsamic sauce, throw it on the pasta, and then cook it for a few minutes. Sauteing the cooked pasta with the sauce helps to meld out the flavor and brings just the right nuance. This quick saute also breaks down the cherry tomatoes a bit so they get juicy and glossy. Then you’ll add in the torn fresh basil and Parmesan cheese. It’s simple, but the flavor unique and complex, too.

Tomato basil pasta

Find the best cherry tomatoes

The absolute best tomato basil pasta is made with ripe, in season tomatoes! Bonus points if they’re locally grown — or if you grew them yourself! Buying local tomatoes helps support your local farmers: so if there’s a chance to do so, we heartily recommend it. Please do not even think about using off-season, mealy pink tomatoes. The flavor here is 100% dependent on the quality of your tomato!

If it’s not tomato season, you can sometimes find tomatoes grown in a greenhouse (hydroponic) at the grocery store that have decent flavor. You’ll just want the highest in quality of cherry tomatoes for this recipe to shine!

Finding fresh basil

You’ll also need to find fresh basil for this tomato basil pasta recipe. These days, you can find some great hydroponic basil or basil plants at your local grocery. And if you can grow fresh basil at home yourself, do it! It’s easy to do, much cheaper to grow at home. We have a tutorial for how to do it: How to Grow Basil.

Tomato basil pasta

How to cook pasta to al dente

What does al dente mean? In Italian it means “to the bite” and refers to pasta that is still firm on the inside when cooked. There’s a huge difference between al dente pasta and limp pasta: you’ll find that al dente pasta tastes so much more satisfying. Maybe because it’s a little more work to chew? You may also find yourself eating less if you cook this balsamic tomato basil pasta to al dente, because you have to bite through each piece.

Here’s how to cook pasta to al dente:

  • Boil the pasta in a large pot of boiling water.
  • Start taste testing a few minutes before the package instructions indicate to. The pasta should be tender, but still firm on the inside so that it has a little bite.
Tomato basil pasta

What to serve with tomato basil pasta

Alex and I love how simple this balsamic pasta is: but how it works for both dinner parties or as a weeknight family dinner idea! Here are some recipes we’d accessorize this tomato basil pasta:

This tomato basil pasta recipe is…

Vegetarian. For vegan, plant-based, and dairy-free, omit the Parmesan cheese. Or if you’d like, you could try it with Vegan Parmesan!

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Tomato basil pasta

Tomato Basil Pasta

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5 from 1 review

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


This easy tomato basil pasta features that classic pairing of ripe tomatoes and peppery basil, taken to new heights with tangy balsamic and Parmesan cheese.


  • 8 ounces pasta noodles (bucatini, fettucine, or spaghetti)
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup (or honey)
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups ripe cherry tomatoes
  • ¼ cup fresh basil leaves, loosely packed
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese (for vegan, try Vegan Parmesan Cheese)


  1. Heat a pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente, checking for doneness a few minutes before the package instructions indicate (the pasta should be tender but still slightly firm).
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the balsamic vinegar, Dijon mustard, maple syrup, and salt until fully combined. Gradually whisk in the olive oil, adding 1 tablespoon at a time and whisking until it incorporates and makes a creamy sauce.
  3. Slice the tomatoes in half. Tear the basil leaves.
  4. Drain the pasta. In the pasta pot, combine the drained noodles with the balsamic sauce and tomatoes and cook for 2 minutes, stirring. Remove from heat and add the Parmesan cheese and basil.
  • Category: Pasta
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Italian

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes for memorable kitchen moments! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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  1. Bev Molles says:

    I just made your Tomato Basil Pasta and it was so good!

  2. Lin Olin says:

    Is there a way that I can substitute canola oil for the olive oil?
    I can’t eat it.

    1. Alex Overhiser says:

      Yes! That will work. Butter would taste better if you prefer.

  3. Gerry says:

    We really enjoyed this tasty pasta dish. It was quick and really easy to make. Loved the flavor that the balsamic vinegar and dijon mustard produced. They allow the cherry tomatoes to be the star of the dish. I used the maple syrup and olive oil options. Thank you so much for sharing. BK

    1. Alex Overhiser says:

      So glad you enjoyed!

  4. Lynda Fincher says:

    Made it! Quick, easy and delicious. Served it with a simple salad, and my husband and I had two meals from it this week. Thanks for another great recipe!

    1. Alex Overhiser says:

      So glad you enjoyed the recipe!