Creamy Tomato Rigatoni Pasta

Creamy Tomato Rigatoni Pasta

Creamy Tomato Rigatoni Pasta

This Creamy Tomato Rigatoni Pasta is the perfect easy weeknight dinner! It’s a 25-minute recipe made with tender rigatoni pasta that are tossed in a rich, creamy, and flavorful tomato sauce and finished off with a sprinkle of parmesan.
My favorite dinner recipes are the ones that take little to no effort but that the whole family absolutely devours. This Creamy Tomato Rigatoni Pasta is one of those recipes!

This pasta dinner is ready in 25 minutes, is made with incredibly simple ingredients, and comes together to create a deliciously rich, creamy, and flavorful meal!

Serve your rigatoni pasta as a simple vegetarian entree with Roasted Green Beans or serve it as a side dish with some Baked Chicken Breast or Air Fryer Pork Tenderloin.

This recipe is quick, easy, versatile, and oh-so-good!

close up image of creamy tomato rigatoni pasta in skillet
Ingredients Needed:
Rigatoni Pasta: or another smaller pasta shape if preferred.
Aromatics: we’re using onion and garlic to create a flavor base for the sauce.
Seasonings: a simple blend of salt, Italian seasoning, crushed red pepper flakes, and black pepper takes the pasta sauce flavor up a notch. Feel free to experiment with your favorite herbs!
All-Purpose Flour: helps thicken the creamy tomato sauce.
Heavy Cream: a lighter cream can be used, but the sauce will be less rich.
Tomato Pasta Sauce: marinara or another type of tomato pasta sauce works great. Just use your favorite!
Parmesan Cheese: a sprinkle of salty parmesan is exactly what you need to finish off this creamy pasta dish.

How to Make Creamy Tomato Rigatoni Pasta
This quick and easy vegetarian pasta dinner comes together in a total of 25 minutes!

Cook the pasta: Bring a pot of salted water to a boil, add the pasta, then cook al dente according to package directions.
Make the sauce: Melt butter in a skillet. Add in the onion and cook until beginning to brown. Stir in the garlic and seasonings, then cook for another minute. Add in the flour, followed by the cream and tomato sauce. Stir until combined, then simmer until slightly thickened.
Combine: Drain the pasta, reserving 1 cup of the pasta water. Add the cooked pasta to the sauce, then stir in just enough pasta water so the pasta and sauce come together
Finish and serve: Sprinkle the assembled pasta with parmesan cheese, then serve and enjoy!
onions sauteed in skillet with wooden spoonSaute onions in a skillet
spices added to onions in skilletAdd seasonings and cook briefly
flour added to onions in skilletStir in flour to make a roux
cream and tomato sauce added to sauteed onions and spices in skilletAdd cream and tomato sauce and let thicken
FAQs for Rigatoni Pasta
What is rigatoni for?
Rigatoni is most often used for pasta bakes or for dishes with heartier, thicker sauces. This is mostly due to the ridges on the outside of rigatoni noodles. These ridges hold thicker sauces better than smoother pasta shapes do, making them perfect for thicker, creamier sauces as demonstrated in this recipe!

What’s the difference between ziti and rigatoni?
The main difference between ziti and rigatoni is the texture. While they are similar in their tube-like shape, rigatoni is ridged on the outside, while ziti is smooth.

How do you cook rigatoni?
You’ll cook the rigatoni the same as you would any other pasta! I recommend cooking it in salted water to give the noodles more flavor. I also recommend cooking the noodles al dente so they hold up better in the creamy sauce.

What can I use instead of rigatoni?
You can really swap the rigatoni for any smaller pasta shape. Try penne, fusilli, rotini, you name it!

How to store:
Leftover creamy tomato rigatoni pasta will last in an airtight container in the fridge for 4-5 days. I don’t recommend freezing it because the texture of the sauce can be affected. To reheat, warm on low on the stove until heated through.

Variations
Make it meaty. Bulk your meal up by mixing in cooked chicken, Italian sausage, ground beef, ground turkey, or even crumbled bacon. You can also cook whatever meat you wish with the onion. Simply brown it in the skillet until it’s cooked through, then assemble the rest of the sauce as instructed.
Add veggies. Take the nutrition up a notch and cook even more veggies right along with the onion. Try peas, asparagus, broccoli, bell peppers, mushrooms, spinach, you name it. This is a great way to use up leftover veggies!
Make it cheesier. You can never go wrong more cheese! If you want to melt more cheese over the pasta, transfer the finished pasta to a baking dish, then layer it with the cheese of your choice (mozzarella would be delicious.) Broil for just a couple of minutes until the cheese is melted, then serve!

Creamy Tomato Rigatoni Pasta

This Creamy Tomato Rigatoni Pasta is the perfect family-friendly weeknight dinner! It’s a 25-minute recipe made with tender rigatoni noodles that are tossed in a rich, creamy, and flavorful tomato sauce and finished off with a sprinkle of parmesan.
overhead image of rigatoni pasta with tomato sauce in skillet with wooden spoon

Ingredients
▢500 grams dry rigatoni pasta (about 1 lb)
▢1/2 small onion (finely diced)
▢1 tablespoon finely minced fresh garlic (3-4 cloves)
▢1 teaspoon salt
▢½ teaspoon Italian seasoning
▢⅛-¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (use ¼ teaspoon for some heat, ⅛ for no heat)
▢1/4 teaspoon black pepper
▢1 tablespoon all purpose flour
▢1½ cups heavy cream (or sub half and half*)
▢1½ cups tomato pasta sauce (marinara or other)
▢3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Instructions
Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil over high heat. Add rigatoni, reduce to medium and cook to al dente according to package directions.
Meanwhile, melt butter in a large skillet. Add onion and cook until softened and beginning to brown.
Stir in garlic, salt, Italian seasoning, crushed red pepper flakes and pepper. Cook 1 minute but do not let the garlic burn.
Stir in flour until now white remains.
Add cream and tomato sauce and stir until combined. Continue simmering over medium heat until slightly thickened.
When pasta is cooked, reserve 1 cup pasta water and drain.
Add cooked pasta to finished sauce in pan, and stir in just enough pasta water so that the sauce comes together (start with ¼ cup and add more as needed).
Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese before serving.
Notes
*A lighter cream can be used but the sauce will be a little thinner and less rich — the choice is yours!
**This recipe feeds 6 as a smaller main course or side dish. It feeds 4 as a large serving main dish.