This Lighter healthier creamy mushroom pasta recipe is easy to make and incredibly delicious! The rich and velvety sauce is made with fresh mushrooms, heavy cream, and vegetable (or chicken) stock, and seasoned with garlic, thyme, and Parmesan cheese. It's a perfect dinner quick option (30-minutes!) for busy weeknights or special occasions. You can customize it with your favorite pasta, add in extra veggies or protein, or make it vegan with non-dairy cream.
We're big fans of simple pasta recipes and make them often. You can check out this pasta with peas (also in a light cream sauce) or this one-pot corn pasta. Or this very popular roasted red pepper pasta!
The perfect combination of creamy and savory, with a rich and decadent sauce that coats every strand of pasta. The creaminess of the sauce perfectly complements the al dente pasta and tender mushrooms. It's comfort food at its finest, while still being light and healthy. This creamy tomato pasta is another 30-minute pasta recipe winner!
- Top reasons why you'll love this easy mushroom pasta:
- Ingredients overview- what to use & why
- Instructions for making creamy pasta with mushrooms
- Variations and substitutions
- Top 3 tips for making the creamiest healthy mushroom pasta:
- More incredible pasta recipes
- Simple One Pot Lighter Healthier Creamy Mushroom Pasta
Top reasons why you'll love this easy mushroom pasta:
- Creamy and Savory: Creamy mushroom pasta is the perfect combination of creamy and savory flavors. The sauce is rich and velvety, while the mushrooms add an earthy, almost meaty flavor.
- Comforting and Filling: pasta with creamy mushroom sauce is a hearty and filling dish that's perfect for a cozy night in or a comforting meal after a long day. It's also perfect for any season. Or try this mushroom and asparagus risotto.
- Versatile: Creamy mushroom pasta is a versatile dish that can be served as a main course or a side dish. It's a great dish to bring to a potluck or to serve at a dinner party.
- Easy to Make: Mushroom cream sauce is an easy recipe that feels luxurious but is still so simple.
Ingredients overview- what to use & why
All you need to make this easy pasta dinner are a few cheap ingredients and only about 30 minutes.
- Brown (chestnut) mushrooms- these have more flavor than regular white mushrooms and tend to be a little denser in texture.
- Pasta- I've used penne for this recipe but you can easily use tagliatelle of any other pasta with a textured surface that will hold the sauce. *Use fresh pasta for when time is really tight.
- Baby spinach- fresh spinach is really necessary here, and baby spinach usually comes already washed making it a true time saver.
- Aromatics-Garlic and onions- all you need are a few cloves of fresh garlic. When making this recipe in the spring I tend to use shallots because they have a milder flavor, but a regular white onion works just as well.
- Herbs- thyme for simmering the sauce and parsley for sprinkling just before serving.
- Liquids- broth and cream- you can use vegetable broth to keep this recipe vegetarian or use chicken broth if you'd like a stronger flavor. We only need a little bit of heavy cream to swirl into the sauce.
- Lemon- a squeeze of fresh lemon juice in the sauce a the end of cooking really helps to lift the flavor of the sauce and bring out the earthiness of the mushrooms.
See recipe card for quantities.
Instructions for making creamy pasta with mushrooms
Wash and slice the mushrooms. *Slice rather than quarter the mushrooms so that they cook quickly and evenly.
Heat a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat with some olive oil and sauté the mushrooms. Once golden, add in the diced onion/ shallot and garlic. Cook until the onions are soft.
Chef's quick tip: Cook the mushrooms- Use high heat to cook the mushrooms and don't crowd the pan. This ensures that they cook quickly and turn golden brown rather than steam. Spread them out in a single layer so they can cook evenly. Let the mushrooms cook for 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until they release their moisture and start to brown.
Pour in the broth. Season with salt and pepper and bring to a simmer. Stir in the thyme leaves. Continue to simmer for about 5 minutes.
Reduce the heat to medium-low and pour in the cream and add in the spinach. *The spinach will wilt from the heat of the sauce.
Chef's quick tip: for an extra luxurious flavor and texture, add a teaspoon of butter to the olive oil before sautéing the mushrooms.
Variations and substitutions
- Pasta: You can use any type of pasta you like, such as spaghetti, linguine, fettuccine, or penne.
- Mushrooms: Although chestnut mushrooms are the best, You can use other types like cremini, portobello, shiitake, or oyster mushrooms. You can also use a combination of different types of mushrooms for a more complex flavor.
- Cream: Instead of heavy cream, you can use half-and-half, milk, or non-dairy cream such as cashew cream.
- Cheese: Any Italian hard cheese works for topping this pasta. Parmesan, Romano, or Asiago are all great choices. You can also use a combination of different types of cheese for a more complex flavor.
- Vegetables: You can really make this a veggie pasta by adding roasted red peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, or marinated artichokes.
- Protein: Adding cooked chicken, shrimp, or sausage to the pasta will result in a heartier dish and give you an extra boost of protein.
- Pasta water: Instead of using chicken or vegetable stock, you can use the pasta cooking water to create the sauce. This will help thicken the sauce and create a creamier texture.
- Vegan: For a vegan version, use non-dairy cream and omit the cheese, or use a vegan cheese substitute.
- Fridge- mushroom pasta keeps well in the fridge for up to 3 days in an airtight container.
- Reheating- you can reheat this mushroom pasta in the microwave or a pan on the stovetop. Just be sure to add a splash of water to help loosen the sauce.
- Freezer- not suitable for freezing. Pasta will turn mushy once defrosted and the cream sauce will turn grainy and likely split.
Top 3 tips for making the creamiest healthy mushroom pasta:
- Don't skimp on the mushrooms: The mushrooms are the star of this dish, so be sure to use plenty of them. You can use any type of mushroom you like, but make sure they're fresh and well-cleaned. Cut them into bite-sized pieces so they cook evenly.
- Use a combination of cream and stock: To create a rich and velvety sauce, use a combination of heavy cream and chicken or vegetable stock. The stock adds depth of flavor to the sauce without overpowering the mushroom flavor.
- Finish the dish with fresh herbs and grated cheese: Just before serving, sprinkle some fresh chopped herbs, such as parsley or thyme, over the top of the pasta. This adds a pop of freshness and color to the dish. Also, don't forget to grate some Parmesan cheese over the top for extra creaminess and flavor.
You can use either fresh or dried pasta for this dish, depending on your preference. Fresh pasta will cook faster, while dried pasta has a firmer texture.
Yes, you can make the pasta and sauce ahead of time and store them separately in the fridge. When you're ready to serve, reheat the sauce in a saucepan and toss with the cooked pasta.
More incredible pasta recipes
Looking for other recipes like this? Try these:
These other Italian recipes go great with this mushroom pasta :
Simple One Pot Lighter Healthier Creamy Mushroom Pasta
- 4 cups pasta cooked according to the package directions *see notes
For the sauce
- 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 pound chestnut mushrooms washed and sliced
- 2 shallots or 1 onion diced
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 3 sprigs thyme leaves picked
- 1 ½ cups vegetable broth *use chicken if you prefer a richer flavor.
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 2 cups packed spinach
- 1 lemon juice only
- 2 tablespoons parsley chopped
- parmesan cheese
- Cook the pasta according to the package instructions. Be sure to cook the pasta al dente. Wash and slice the mushrooms. *Slice rather than quarter the mushrooms so that they cook quickly and evenly.
- Heat a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat with some olive oil and sauté the mushrooms. Keep them in a single layer over the bottom of the pan, taking care not to crowd them. Once the mushrooms are golden, reduce the heat to medium and add in the diced onion/ shallot and garlic. Cook until the onions are soft, and the garlic is fragrant about 3-5 minutes.
- Pour in the broth. Season with salt and pepper and bring to a simmer. Stir in the thyme leaves. Continue to simmer for about 5-7 minutes until the stock has reduced by about ¼.
- Reduce the heat to medium-low and pour in the cream and add in the spinach. *The spinach will wilt from the heat of the sauce. Taste and adjust the seasoning and add the squeeze of lemon juice to lift and balance the flavor.Stir the cooked pasta into the sauce and toss to ensure that all the noodles are coated. Pour in some of the reserved pasta water if you need to adjust the consistency of the sauce. Top with grated parmesan cheese and chopped parsley if desired.
- Cook the pasta al dente: Overcooked pasta can become mushy and affect the texture of the dish. Check for doneness a minute before the time on the package.
- Reserve pasta water: Before draining the pasta, reserve some of the pasta cooking water. This starchy water can be used to thin the sauce and help it cling to the pasta.
- Adjust seasoning: Taste the sauce before adding the pasta and adjust the seasoning as needed. You may need to add more salt, pepper, or other spices to balance the flavors.