Easy Brown Butter Pasta Recipe (basil and cheese)

5 from 2 reviews

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Make this Easy Brown Butter Pasta Recipe (basil and cheese) the next time you need dinner on the table in 15 minutes! The smell of the nutty brown butter and sweet basil leaves is reason enough to try this simple and delicious pasta recipe.

Serve with crusty bread and baked cod for a perfect meal!

ingredients for brown butter basil pasta
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Easy Brown Butter Basil Pasta Recipe

Sometimes you need a big bowl of pasta with butter and Parmigiano cheese (parmesan cheese). This is one of those great dinner ideas after a long day when you need a delicious meal without the fuss.

It is so easy to make my 9-year-old daughter can make it!

To make it a little more grown-up than simple butter and cheese pasta, we brown the butter and add a touch of fresh basil.

When the butter starts to turn a toasty brown in the skillet the entire house starts to smell amazing. The rich, nutty flavor adds richness to this pasta dish with only 5 extra minutes. If you’ve never tried brown butter with your pasta, or risotto, now is the time!

Why I love this recipe

I love those Italian recipes that are simple, humble, and filling. Brown Butter Basil Pasta is a quick and easy recipe made with perfectly cooked al dente pasta, fresh basil, and nutty brown butter sauce.

It is perfect for lunch or dinner and ready in just 20 minutes, it’s one of those delicious pasta recipes that the whole family will love.

This will be your new favorite way to enjoy an easy pasta recipe.

More easy pasta recipes to try: BEST Cacio e Pepe Recipe, Authentic Italian Pasta Carbonara (no cream), Authentic Pesto Pasta, and Authentic Italian Amatriciana Sauce.

Simple Ingredients

You only need four good quality ingredients to create this magic and super easy meal. You will want to make this easy pasta recipe over and over when you need a quick and simple meal. Share with love!

  • Spaghetti (or your favorite pasta variety) 
  • Good quality butter
  • Fresh basil leaves 
  • Freshly grated Parmigiano cheese or parmesan cheese (more for topping) 
  • Salt and Pepper to taste 

See the recipe card for quantities.

Why spend an extra penny on pasta? Pasta Quality Matters: Cheap vs. Expensive Pasta. Why you should by parmigiano by the block and not pre grated: Why you Should Grate your Own Cheese

How to make this Easy Brown Butter Pasta Recipe (basil and cheese)

Here is a quick overview of the cooking process, with a few important tips:

  1. Cook the pasta. Bring a stockpot of water to a boil, salt it generously, then add the pasta and cook until it is about 2 minutes shy of al dente. Here is a guide to help you cook pasta perfectly every time.
  2. Brown the butter. Cook the butter in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. The butter will begin to simmer, then foam, and then eventually the solids will separate and begin to turn golden and release a deliciously nutty aroma.
  3. Add the remaining sauce ingredients (basil and Parmigiano cheese). Using a heat-safe measuring cup, scoop out 1 cup of the starchy pasta water from the stockpot and immediately, carefully pour it into the brown butter mixture. Stir and simmer the mixture for a few minutes until it has reduced and thickened a bit. Whisk in the grated Parmesan and basil until combined.
  4. Finish the pasta. Then once the pasta is 2-ish minutes shy of al dente, use a strainer to transfer the hot pasta directly to the brown butter sauce. And toss it for 2 minutes or so, until the pasta is al dente and the sauce is glossy and coats the pasta evenly. (If the sauce seems too dry, just add in some more starchy pasta water to thin it out.)
  5. Serve. Serve immediately, garnished with an extra sprinkle of Parmigiano and cracked black pepper if desired, and enjoy!
brown butter pasta in a bowl

What is Brown Butter?

Brown butter is made by cooking butter long enough to turn the milk solids brown while cooking out any water present in the butter.

This creates a nutty or toasty, it has a deeper, richer, more intense flavor than melted or clarified butter. You can’t go wrong with an excuse to make brown butter!

A Note on Butter Quality…

Since butter is the highlight of the show when you are making browned butter I recommend buying good quality butter with high-fat content.

My favorite brand of butter that I buy in America is actually an Irish butter called Kerrygold.

Any good quality butter will do for this recipe. The higher the fat content the more little brown bits of fragrant nutty flavor the browning process will produce.

final pasta dish

How to make the perfect brown butter

Brown butter is simple to make. It only takes a few minutes to turn a hunk of yellow butter into a beautiful pool of delicious sauce with little brown flecks to give it the most amazing taste. To make the perfect brown butter and not burned butter (it is important to watch the pan carefully)! Follow these tips from All Recipes.

  1. Place it in a pot or pan. Always use a light-colored pot or pan so you can see how dark the butter gets as it cooks.
  2. Turn on the heat to medium and let the butter melt. Tip: Your temperature can vary from high to medium; the butter will go from melted to brown in mere minutes.
  3. High heat will brown the butter very quickly, but if you don’t keep a close eye on it, the milk solids could sink to the bottom of the pan and burn before you know it. Until you get really good at this, it’s safer to use moderate heat to slow things down just a bit so you can keep a careful eye on the process.
  4. Stir or swirl the pan constantly, until the butter becomes a light tan color as the milk solids toast in the hot fat.
  5. At this point, you can take the pan off the burner because the butter will continue cooking even after you remove it from the heat. Notice the dramatic color change: It should be nut-brown and have a toasty aroma.
  6. Once this color is achieved, remove it from heat to keep it from cooking further. If the butter gets overcooked, the milk solids will scorch and turn black, which will taste very bitter.

Source All Recipes.

More brown butter recipes: BEST Lobster Ravioli Sauce with Lemon Brown Butter. Roasted Butternut Squash Risotto Brown Butter, and Best Brown Butter Apple Pie.

brown butter pasta in a bowl


The first time you make this try the original recipe! The next time, try one of these variations:

  • Add a protein: Chicken, shrimp, salmon, or scallops would all be some delicious proteins that you could add to this pasta or serve alongside it.
  • Add veggies: You could also sauté or roast some of your favorite veggies to add in, such as asparagus, broccoli, mushrooms, or fresh tomatoes, or cherry tomatoes.
  • Add herbs: Add more fresh herbs such as: sage leaves fried in the brown butter. Even a little sprinkle of Italian seasoning could work.
  • Add crushed red pepper flakes: Add a small pinch of crushed red pepper flakes to simmer in pasta sauce.
  • Add white wine: This brown butter sauce would also be delicious with a generous swirl of dry white wine to bring extra flavor.
  • Garlic: for all the garlic fans feel free to add fresh garlic cloves while browning the butter.
  • Lemon: Add lemon zest to make it a lemon basil pasta.
  • Whole wheat pasta: boost the fiber and make it with whole wheat pasta variety.
  • Make it gluten-free: And of course, if you would like to make this recipe gluten-free, just use your favorite certified gluten-free pasta.

Top Tips

  • I recommend measuring your long pasta so you have a good ratio of sauce to pasta.
  • Also, be sure that the sauté pan you are using for the brown butter sauce is large enough to fit all of that pasta!

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brown butter pasta in a bowl

Brown Butter Basil Pasta Dinner- Easy

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5 from 2 reviews

Make this Brown Butter Basil Pasta the next time you need dinner on the table in 15 minutes! The smell of the nutty brown butter and sweet basil leaves is reason enough to try this simple and delicious pasta recipe. You only need four good quality ingredients to create this magic meal. Save it,  as you will want to make it over and over when you need an easy satisfying meal. Share with love! 

  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: 46 servings 1x


Units Scale
  • 1 lb. (454 gr.) spaghetti (or your favorite pasta variety)
  • 3 tablespoons good quality butter
  • 68 large basil leaves
  • 3/4 cup freshly grated parmigiano cheese (more for topping)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste


  1.  Bring a large pot of water to boil. About 6 quarts. Add 3 tablespoons of kosher salt. Add pasta and cook until al dente directions.
  2. In the meantime make the brown butter. In a large sauce pan heat butter on medium heat. Stir constantly until the butter separates and little brown specks form and the top begins to froth. Turn heat to low and add basil leaves and parmigiano cheese. Heat for on additional minute. Stir to combine and turn off heat. 
  3. Drain pasta and add to brown butter sauce in pan. Toss well until the pasta is coated in the brown butter sauce. Add more parmigiano before serving and fresh ground black pepper. Serve HOT! 
  • Author: Elena Davis
  • Prep Time: n/a
  • Cook Time: 10-15 min
  • Category: Savory
  • Method: Italian
  • Cuisine: Italian

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About Elena

My dream is to share delicious wholesome recipes that you will share around the table with all your loved ones. The memories surrounded by food are the heart and soul of CucinaByElena.

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