This white sauce pasta has an amazing basic cream sauce that everyone will love! Eat it it straight up or customize with more veggies or protein.

White sauce pasta

Hello, pasta lovers. You never need to make box mac and cheese again. Enter this basic White Sauce Pasta! This is a staple recipe in our house. The basic cream sauce is so creamy and full of flavor, and get this: it doesn’t even use cream! All you need is a handful of ingredients you probably already have on hand. It takes just 10 minutes: enough time to make the pasta. Eat it straight up, as a pasta side dish, or add more raw or cooked veggies to the sauce. A quick dinner idea made in minutes!

Looking for vegan? Go to Vegan Fettuccine Alfredo.

Ingredients for white sauce pasta

You might already have the ingredients for this white sauce pasta in your pantry and fridge. You’ll be amazed at the big flavor that comes from simple ingredients! Because of that, we think it’s highly superior to boxed mac and cheese. The basic cream sauce uses 2% milk, not heavy cream, and makes the most luscious white sauce you’ll have. Here’s what you need:

  • Pasta of any shape
  • Salted butter
  • Garlic
  • Flour
  • Milk
  • Salt
  • Parmesan cheese

Want a variation? Try this White Wine Sauce, made with white wine and cream!

Easy cream sauce

How to make a cream sauce: some tips!

Making a basic cream sauce is a technique that all home cooks should know. You’ll start by making a roux (pronounced “roo”). A roux is flour and butter cooked together and used to thicken sauces. It’s usually made from equal parts of flour and butter. Here are a few tips for this process, because the cooking happens fast:

  • Measure out all the ingredients first, and don’t leave the stove! The cooking process goes quickly, so you don’t want to have to stop to measure an ingredient. Don’t get distracted, especially in the first few minutes!
  • Saute the garlic only 30 seconds. Be careful not to overcook: you don’t want it to brown!
  • Add flour and whisk constantly. The flour can overcook in an instant, turning a brown color. Only cook it until it’s golden.
  • Whisk in the milk gradually. Add just a little milk, then whisk it in. Continue adding little bits until the sauce is smooth. Then cook about 5 minutes until thickened, and add the Parmesan and salt. Voila!
White sauce pasta

Pasta shapes that work well

You can use any sort of pasta shape for this white sauce pasta! But we have a few recommendations for what we like best. Here are our top choices for pasta:

  • Bucatini: Instead of spaghetti or fettucini, our favorite long noodles are bucatini. They’re like spaghetti noodles that are hollow. They have much more texture than spaghetti and are more fun to eat!
  • Rigatoni: For a short noodle, we love the texture and look of rigatoni. Penne is another natural option.
  • Cavatappi: Cavatappi is a fun corkscrew shape that’s great with white sauce!

Variations: add-in for white sauce pasta!

Here’s the fun part: how to serve white sauce pasta! It’s just carbs and dairy, so you’re going to want to add some colorful veggies or more protein as a side or in the pasta itself. Here are some ideas for add-ins:

  • Tomatoes: Add sliced cherry tomatoes or chopped ripe tomatoes
  • Zucchini: Thinly slice it and add it raw, or saute it (you can add about half the linked recipe)
  • Spinach or Kale: Wilt it down in a pan for a few minutes, then lightly salt it before adding. *Tip: Or, throw baby spinach or baby kale in the colander and drain the pasta water on top of it: it cooks instantly!
  • Broccoli: Chop broccoli and saute it or pan fry it.
  • Bell peppers: Chop and saute bell peppers with onion, then add.
  • Herbs: Add chopped fresh herbs of any kind.
  • Shrimp: Add Garlic Butter Shrimp for an insanely flavorful main dish. Or make Creamy Shrimp Pasta!
White sauce pasta

Fast side dishes to pair

Want to add nutrients to this white sauce pasta in a side dish? Here are a few quick side dishes to add:

This white sauce pasta recipe is…

Vegetarian. For vegan, plant-based, and dairy-free, go to Vegan Fettuccine Alfredo.

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White Sauce Pasta

Creamy White Sauce Pasta

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: 6 to 8 1x


This white sauce pasta has an amazing basic cream sauce that everyone will love! Eat it it straight up or customize with more veggies or protein.


  • 1 pound pasta noodles of any shape: spaghetti, bucatini, penne, riagotni, cavatappi, etc.
  • 2 tablespoons salted butter
  • 2 garlic cloves, grated
  • 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 2 cups 2% milk
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ cup shredded Parmesan cheese


  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). Drain.
  2. Meanwhile, measure out all ingredients in advance; the cooking process happens fast!
  3. Right after you add the pasta to the pot, start the sauce: In a small or medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the grated garlic and cook 30 seconds until fragrant but not browned.
  4. Add the flour and whisk constantly for 1 minute to 90 seconds, until bubbly and golden. Do not overcook it: the flour can turn brown within a few seconds. Keep an eye on it!
  5. Add a splash of milk and whisk it in: the sauce will instantly turn chunky. Constantly whisking, continue to add splashes of milk and whisk them in until the entire quantity is incorporated and the sauce is smooth.
  6. Reduce the heat and whisk until the sauce thickens and no longer tastes like raw flour, about 5 minutes. Add the salt and Parmesan cheese. Taste and add a pinch or two more salt if desired.
  7. Drain the pasta, then add the sauce. Add a splash or two of milk to loosen the sauce and stir until you have the right consistency. Taste and a few more pinches of salt, if necessary. (The sauce is best freshly made, so we don’t recommend making it in advance). Serve with additional Parmesan cheese if desired.
  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Italian
  • Diet: Vegetarian

Keywords: White sauce pasta, Pasta with white sauce

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Love this white sauce pasta? Here a few more easy pasta recipes you might enjoy:

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Meet Sonja and Alex Overhiser: Husband and wife. Expert home cooks. Authors of recipes you'll want to make again and again.

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  1. I made this and it was absolutely delicious, I recommend adding some black pepper as a bonus flavor!

  2. I substituted the regular flour with a mix of almond and sweet rice flour, came out fab!