Italian Pink Sauce Pasta Recipe (Tomato Cream)

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Italian Pink Sauce Recipe (Tomato Cream)- a crave-worthy 20-minute pasta sauce with a few simple ingredients for a busy weeknight. An easy pasta dish that brings everyone to the table.

This beautiful Italian pink sauce is a simple tomato cream sauce for any pasta. It is also known as Rose or Parma Rosa Sauce. Also, an excellent sauce for lobster ravioli!

Penne in pink sauce on a plate.
Plate of penne and pink sauce
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What is Italian Pink Sauce?

Italian pink sauce is one of the most simple creamy tomato sauces to prepare for seasoning any type of pasta.

This pink tomato cream sauce gets the name “rosa”, or pink, in Italian, from the mix of heavy white whipping cream and red tomato puree. You can make the sauce more or less pink depending on your ratios.

You can prepare it in only 30 minutes, making it a great recipe for a fast yet delectable Italian-style pasta night. 

Recipe Ingredients

With only a few simple ingredients and little time, you can have this restaurant-style recipe ready in no time at all.

Ingredients needed for the pasta and pink sauce recipe
Ingredients for Italian Pink Sauce Pasta Recipe (Tomato Cream)
  • Penne pasta or other pasta of choice
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Fresh Garlic
  • Yellow Onion
  • Tomato puree  
  • Tomato paste 
  • Heavy Cream
  • Fresh Basil
  • Salt (for pasta water)
  • Parmigiano or parmesan cheese
  • Optional (red pepper flakes)

See recipe card for quantities.

How To Make Pink Pasta Sauce

The process for pink pasta sauce is simple and straightforward making this an easy go-to pasta sauce recipe.

Your delicious pasta sauce is just a few simple steps away…

Photos 1-4

  1. Heat olive oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and cook for 5 minutes or until onions are soft and translucent, stirring occasionally. Add garlic and cook for an additional minute. 
  2. Pour in tomato puree and tomato paste. Stir well to combine. 
  3. Add salt and bring to a soft boil, then lower heat to medium-low and simmer for 15 minutes.
Italian Pink Sauce Pasta Recipe (Tomato Cream)- process of sautéing the onions and garlic, adding tomato puree and tomato paste
First steps to making pink sauce

Photos 5-11

  1. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook until al dente texture. Read my detailed guide to make the perfect pasta every time! Make sure you have the right pasta tool for stirring pasta!
  2. Add cream, parmigiano cheese, and fresh basil to the tomato sauce. Stir to combine. Let bubble for a few minutes on low heat. Turn off the heat. Take the pan off the stovetop.
  3. Reserve 1/4 cup of pasta water and drain the pasta. Add the cooked pasta to the skillet with the reserved pasta water. Stir until well combined.
  4. Serve with extra parmigiano cheese, red pepper flakes (if deserved), and a few fresh basil leaves. Mangia! (Eat!)
Italian Pink Sauce Pasta Recipe (Tomato Cream)- process: adding the cream, letting it simmer, adding the parmigiano and basil leaves
Final steps to making pasta sauce

Hint: Don’t forget to taste test your pasta for ‘al dente’ texture and save a little pasta water to create the perfect sauce!

Italian Pink Sauce Pasta Recipe (Tomato Cream)- taste testing pasta and mixing with pink sauce
Combining pasta sauce with perfectly cooked pasta
Finished sauce in pan. A pretty pink sauce with a leaf of basil for decoration.
The perfect pink sauce
Pasta and sauce are tossed in a pan to combine. Photo of finished dish in pan.
Pasta and pink sauce combined in the pan

Make sure to look at the ingredients in your whipping cream. Some brands add stabilizers to make the cream have more ‘body’ instead of ONLY using cream.

This can result in a sauce that isn’t as smooth.

TIP: DON’T boil the sauce on high heat, or it may affect the cream and cause it to split while cooking

Penne in pink sauce on a plate with a fork in it. The pan of the pasta and sauce is in the background.

Substitutions

This sauce encompasses bold and bright flavors with heavy cream tomato sauce. If you are looking to make this dish a little lighter or dairy free- try these substitutions:

  • DAIRY FREE: Use canned Coconut milk in place of heavy cream.
  • LIGHT: Use Half and Half or Whole Milk instead of heavy cream.

These substitutions will slightly change the flavor and texture, but they are equally enjoyable!

Recipe Variations

Turn this delicious and simple recipe up a notch with these variation ideas.

  • Spicy – add chili pepper flakes while cooking the onions to imbue heat into the dish.
  • Deluxe – add bacon, pancetta, and Italian sausage to add protein
  • Boozy – add 1 tablespoon of vodka while cooking the onions to turn this into the American version called- vodka sauce. If you don’t have vodka on hand you can use white wine.
  • Pasta Water: If you need to thicken the sauce more, save and add a little pasta water.
  • Italian Seasoning or herbs– add a sprinkle of herbs to brighten the dish
  • Cheese – add some mozzarella cheese to the top instead of parmigiano

Top tips

  • DO use a good quality tomato sauce
  • Don’t boil the sauce on high heat; it may affect the cream and cause it to split while cooking.

More delicious recipes for you

Penne in pink sauce on a plate with a fork in it. The pan of the pasta and sauce is in the background.

Equipment for recipe

You only need a large skillet to make the sauce and mix the pasta in the hot pan to coat the sauce evenly.

I use my Pasta Server & Spaghetti Portion Utensil to stir the pasta and mix it with the sauce.

Make ahead and storage

Yes, you can make this sauce ahead of time and store it.

  • The sauce can be made a few days ahead and kept in an airtight container in the fridge. When ready to serve, heat on the stove and add freshly cooked pasta. 
  • Leftovers can be warmed and covered, in the microwave. Add 1-2 tablespoons of milk or hot pasta water to loosen up the pasta if needed.
Can I Use Any Kind Of Pasta In This Recipe?

For this recipe, I love a short pasta variety. You can try elbow macaroni, penne, rigatoni, or shells. It works perfectly well with long pasta or even ravioli! To read more about what sauces go well with what sauces, see the chart in this post: Cheap vs. Expensive Pasta (Why Pasta Quality Matters!).

What Kind Of Tomato Puree Is Best For This Recipe?

Using the right tomato puree is key to achieving the best sauce. I recommend using a good quality brand that uses tomatoes picked at the peak of ripeness.
Don’t use a brand that uses a lot of citric acids to preserve freshness- or it can make the sauce acidic. TIP: If you end up with a sauce that is a little acidic, add a teaspoon of sugar. (Brands I recommend: Bianco DiNapoli Organic Whole Peeled Tomatoes, Cento Italian Style, Dellalo San Marzano, or Muir Glen Organic.)
If you use whole tomatoes and instead of the puree make sure to blend the tomato until smooth before using them in this recipe.

Why add tomato paste to tomato sauce?

Adding a little tomato paste to the sauce intensifies the rich tomato flavor. The concentrated, bold tomato flavor makes this sauce extra tasty! The addition of heavy cream can slightly hide the sensational tomato taste and the tomato paste helps bring it back.

Are there other names for pink sauce?

Vodka Sauce– American version
Pink Marinara Sauce– American
Sugo Rosa– Italy
Rosé Sauce (rose sauce)- France
Salsa Rosada– Columbia. 

What To Serve With This Recipe

The pink sauce pasta recipe makes an easy side dish for Best Italian Stuffed Chicken Thighs (Involtini di Pollo) or Best Salmon Piccata Recipe. Serve with a simple salad and homemade bread!

Don’t forget dessert: Simple Italian Apple Cake (one bowl), Classic Italian Tiramisu Recipe (Authentic), or Best Lemon Bars with Shortbread Crust!

Or try serving the sauce over chicken, sausage, shrimp, or even as a sauce for homemade pizza.

Recipe Video

This recipe is super easy to make! Watch the video to see.

Penne in pink sauce on a plate with a fork in it.

💙 MADE THIS RECIPE AND LOVED IT? 💙 Please leave a ⭐️STAR rating and COMMENT below- I love connecting with you! Tag me with your creations on Instagram and find me on Pinterest.

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Penne in pink sauce on a plate with a fork in it.

Pink Sauce Recipe

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5 from 18 reviews

Italian Pink Sauce Pasta Recipe (Tomato Cream)- a crave worthy 20 minute pasta sauce with a few simple ingredients for a busy weeknight. An easy pasta dish that brings everyone to the table.

  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 46 servings 1x

Ingredients

Units Scale
  • 1 lb (454 grams) pasta of choice
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 can (28 oz) tomato puree
  • 1/2 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup parmigiano (more for serving)
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil torn by hands (more for garnish)
  • Optional (red pepper flakes for serving)
  • Salt (for pasta water)

Instructions

  1. Heat olive oil in a large skillet pan over medium heat. Add onions and cook for 5 minutes or until onions are soft and translucent, stirring occasionally. Add garlic and cook for an additional minute. 
  2. Pour in tomato puree and tomato paste. Stir well to combine.  Add salt and bring to a soft boil, then lower heat to medium-low and simmer for 15 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook until al dente texture.
  4. Add cream, parmigiano cheese, and fresh basil to the creamy tomato sauce. Stir to combine. Let bubble for a few minutes on low heat. Turn off the heat. Take the pan off the stovetop.
  5. Reserve 1/4 cup of pasta water and drain the pasta. Add the cooked pasta to the skillet with the reserved pasta water. Stir until well combined.
  6. Serve with extra parmigiano cheese, red pepper flakes (if deserved), and a few fresh basil leaves. Mangia! (Eat!)

Notes

Storage: 

  • The sauce can be made a few days ahead and kept in an airtight container in the fridge. When ready to serve, heat on stove and add freshly cooked pasta. 
  • Leftovers can be warmed, covered, in the microwave. Add 1-2 tablespoons of milk or hot pasta water to loosen up the pasta if needed.
  • Author: Elena
  • Prep Time: 5 min
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Category: Savory
  • Method: Italian
  • Cuisine: Italian

More traditional Italian pasta sauce recipes: Best Arrabbiata Sauce Recipe (Spicy Spaghetti Sauce), Authentic Italian Pasta Puttanesca Sauce, Restaurant Style Italian Cacio e Pepe (Best Tips), Lemon Butter Pasta Sauce (Pasta al Limone), and Authentic Italian Pesto Genovese (Basil Pesto).

If you are looking for traditional tomato sauce or red sauce rather than a creamy tomato sauce try Classic Italian Tomato Sauce (Sugo al Pomodoro). This pink sauce pasta recipe pairs well with this BEST Breaded Chicken Cutlets (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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37 Comments

  1. Just started following you and I made this recipe. Soo so good and EASY. The ingredients are something I always have on hand so that’s a plus. My kids who are picky loved this recipe. I will for sure be making this again.






  2. I loved how easy & delicious this sauce was. I was only working with a single burner but it came together quickly & no fuss. The sauce complimented the fresh pasta my husband brought home from Italy. Saved this recipe for the future.






  3. This recipe came together so easily and it was enjoyed by the whole family. Even though it’s just a handful of ingredients, the sauce packs flavor and depth. I made some sausage crumbles on the side to accompany the dish. We will definitely make this again.






  4. Hi, I made more that I need and so I canned the rest, after that I saw on internet that is not advisable to can sauce made with dairy. I just want to make sure so I ask you, did you ever canned this sauce? I buy pink sauce canned so I figured why not but then they are for sure some added preservatives. Should I keep them in the fridge?