Creamy Tomato and Spinach Pasta

$3.72 recipe / $0.93 serving
by Beth - Budget Bytes
4.85 from 401 votes
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Easy wins again! I’m on day 6 of an 8 day work week, so that means two things: I’m tired and I’m hungry. Quick skillet pasta dishes like this Creamy Tomato and Spinach Pasta are perfect for such an occasion. They require only a few ingredients, cook up super fast, and leave me feeling full and happy! :)

Anyway, tomorrow is Monday (again) and the week will be long, so I hope this recipe helps make dinner time a little faster, easier, and more enjoyable for you this week! Enjoy!

Originally posted 7-28-2013, updated 5-21-2020.

Overhead view of a bowl of creamy tomato and spinach pasta, with a black fork in the side

What to Serve with Creamy Tomato and Spinach Pasta

This Creamy Tomato and Spinach Pasta recipe is kind of a meal on its own, but you may want to add a side dish, like crusty Garlic Bread, No Knead Focaccia Rolls, or a light Simple Side Salad. You can also beef up the recipe by adding some Garlic Herb Baked Chicken Breasts, or browning some Italian sausage in the skillet in the beginning, before the onion and garlic.

Can I Substitute the Cream Cheese?

This version of Creamy Tomato and Spinach Pasta uses just a touch of cream cheese and Parmesan to make a regular tomato sauce ultra-rich and creamy. If you’re not into cream cheese, you could also add a splash (1/4 cup or so) of half and half or heavy cream to achieve a similar effect.

Can I Use a Different Pasta?

I used regular pasta, but whole wheat would actually be pretty good in this and would add some extra fiber and nutrients to make it a more well rounded meal. You can also switch out the shape for another short pasta, like bowtie pasta or rotini.

Can I Use Frozen Spinach?

I was lucky enough to get spinach on sale for $0.99 per bag (score!), but if fresh spinach is just out of your price range, you can add about 8oz. frozen spinach that has been thawed and squeezed of its excess moisture. This would also be really good with sliced mushrooms. Just cook the mushrooms along with the onions and garlic in the beginning. Or, hey, you could always do a plain creamy tomato sauce. Nothin’ wrong with that!

Close up overhead view of creamy tomato spinach pasta in a skillet, a wooden spoon in the side

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Creamy Tomato and Spinach Pasta

4.85 from 401 votes
Easier than a box meal, this creamy tomato and spinach pasta is also more flavorful and delicious. 100% real ingredients. Perfect for busy weeknights! 
Overhead view of a bowl full of creamy tomato and spinach pasta, a black fork in the side
Servings 4
Prep 5 mins
Cook 20 mins
Total 25 mins


  • 1/2 lb. penne pasta ($0.75)
  • 1 yellow onion ($0.28)
  • 2 cloves garlic ($0.16)
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil ($0.16)
  • 1 15oz. can diced tomatoes ($0.59)
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano ($0.05)
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil ($0.05)
  • 1 pinch crushed red pepper (optional) ($0.02)
  • 1/2 tsp salt ($0.02)
  • freshly cracked black pepper to taste ($0.03)
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste ($0.08)
  • 2 oz. cream cheese ($0.20)
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan ($0.31)
  • 4 oz. fresh spinach ($0.65)


  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and continue to boil until tender (7-10 minutes). Drain the pasta in a colander.
  • While the pasta is cooking, prepare the creamy tomato sauce. Dice the onion and mince the garlic. Add the onion, garlic, and olive oil to a large skillet and sauté over medium heat until the onions are soft and translucent (3-5 minutes).
  • Add the diced tomatoes (with juices), oregano, basil, crushed red pepper, salt, and some freshly cracked pepper to the skillet. Stir to combine. Add the tomato paste and a 1/2 cup of water to the skillet and stir until the tomato paste has mixed into the sauce.
  • Turn the heat down to low. Cut the cream cheese into a few pieces and then add them to the skillet with the tomato sauce. Use a whisk to stir the sauce until the cream cheese has fully melted and the sauce is creamy. Add the Parmesan to the skillet and stir until it is melted into the sauce.
  • Add the fresh spinach to the skillet and gently stir it into the sauce until it has wilted (2-3 minutes). Add the pasta and stir until it is well coated in the creamy tomato sauce. Taste and adjust the salt and pepper as needed. Serve warm.

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Serving: 1servingCalories: 309.43kcalCarbohydrates: 54.15gProtein: 11.53gFat: 5.75gSodium: 348.9mgFiber: 5.75g
Read our full nutrition disclaimer here.
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Scroll down for the step by step photos!

Close up side view of a bowl of creamy tomato and spinach pasta

How to Make Creamy Tomato and Spinach Pasta – Step by Step Photos

Cooked pasta in a metal colander

Bring a pot of water to a boil. Once boiling, add 8oz. penne pasta. Boil the pasta until tender, then drain in a colander. You’ll prepare the creamy tomato sauce while the pasta is cooking.

Diced onion and minced garlic in a skillet

Dice one onion and mince two cloves of garlic. Add them to a large skillet with 1 Tbsp olive oil. Sauté over medium heat for 3-5 minutes, or until the onion is soft and translucent.

Diced tomatoes being poured into the skillet, with basil, oregano, and pepper.

Add ½ tsp dried basil, ½ tsp dried oregano, 1/2 tsp salt, a pinch of crushed red pepper, some freshly cracked pepper, and one 15oz. can diced tomatoes (with juices) to the skillet and stir to combine.

Tomato paste and water added to the skillet

Also, add 2 Tbsp tomato paste and ½ cup water to the skillet. This will help make the sauce thicker and with a more tomatoey punch. Continue to stir and cook over medium heat until the tomato paste has been mixed into the sauce.

cream cheese chunks added to the skillet

Turn the heat down to low. Cut 2 oz. cream cheese into chunks and add it to the skillet. Stir or whisk the sauce until the cream cheese has melted into the sauce. It will look a little clumpy at first, but the cream cheese will eventually melt and the sauce will smooth out.

Parmesan cheese being sprinkled into the skillet

Once the cream cheese has melted in, add ¼ cup grated Parmesan. Stir until the Parmesan has melted into the sauce.

Fresh spinach being added to the skillet

Add 4 oz. fresh spinach to the skillet. Stir the skillet until the heat from the sauce wilts the spinach (1-2 minutes).

Cooked and drained pasta added to the skillet

Finally, add the cooked and drained pasta to the skillet and stir to combine.

Finished creamy tomato and spinach pasta in the skillet with a wooden spoon

Serve immediately and enjoy!

Overhead view of the creamy tomato and spinach pasta in the skillet with a wooden spoon.

Shown garnished with another pinch of Parmesan and freshly cracked pepper.

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  1. Hi! So I made this recipe last night for my husband and 10 month old. Everyone loved it and in fact hubby said he couldn’t believe I made it!!
    I did change a couple of things.
    First I used 1/4 teaspoon of onion and garlic powder instead of the actual (didn’t have any).
    Second, I didn’t use chili flakes. Instead I used diced tomatoes with green chiles. Sooooo good!!!
    Third, I followed someone else’s comment here to add the pasta right into the pot dry and cook it right in the sauce. So I upped the water from 1/2 cup- 2.5 ish cups, I kept adding more as needed to keep the noodles covered. Yay for less dishes lol
    Lastly I used raos rigatoni. Also didn’t add all that Parm it called for, I just added a little on mine right before serving.
    And extra spinach.
    Amazing amazing amazing!!! Highly recommend you try this!

  2. Loved this dish! Added frozen vegetarian crumbles for added protein (warmed up alongside onion/garlic while they were being sauteed). So yummy and great meal prep option!

  3. My onion to tomato ratio was way off. Unfortunately, it ended up as more of an onion pasta. It still tasted ok but I would cut back next time. I would venture to say only half an onion is needed.

  4. no option to convert measurements, pretty ignorant considering very few countries use the system listed.

    1. You are more than welcome to covert the rates as we do to the metric system. Sometimes you have to take your own initiative rather than complain.

  5. I’ve been making this recipe for a couple of years for my picky toddler, and I recently discovered a shortcut to this recipe. The shortcut yields the pasta sauce to be creamier, and it adheres better to the pasta noodles itself. Instead of cooking the pasta separately, place the dry noodles in with the canned tomatoes, and ADD an additional 1.5 cups of water. There is already 1/2 cup of water in the recipe listed, so bump it up to two cups of water total. Don’t change anything else. Then go about finishing up the recipe. The texture is even more perfect, along with perfectly-cooked noodles.

    1. Thanks for this tip! Made it tonight using the 1-pot method and it worked great.

  6. This is SO darn good!!! I followed this recipe exactly and wouldn’t change a thing.

  7. So easy and so good! I added sundried tomatoes at the end. Awesome weeknight meal. Will definitely be making again.

  8. I made this for dinner tonight and added leftover shredded chicken to it. It was sooooooo good and the instructions were easy to follow!

    1. One serving is 1 cup of cooked pasta, about 1 1/3 cups, with all of the veggies. XOXO -Monti

      1. I used ricotta and pecorino Romano. The spinach was more forward than I expected. It was excellent and easy.