Homemade pasta sauces

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  • We've rounded up our best pasta sauce recipes from classics to sauces with a twist. We've got something for everyone including pesto to stir through your penne, Bolognese sauce to spoon on your spaghetti or white sauce to layer with your lasagne sheets.

    We’ve rounded up our best homemade pasta sauce recipes. It make take a little while longer but making your pasta sauces from scratch is so much healthier than buying ready made versions – they also taste better too.

    We’ve rounded up our best pasta sauce recipes from classics to sauces with a twist. We’ve got something for everyone including pesto to stir through your penne, Bolognese sauce to spoon on your spaghetti or white sauce to layer with your lasagne sheets.

    And if that’s not enough we’ve got some pasta sauce recipes with a twist including rocket pesto, chimichurri sauce and piri piri sauce – it’s not just for chicken you know!

    It’s time to bring your pasta to life, give your favourite shapes a new purpose and ditch those readymade jars for the homemade stuff instead!

     

    Easy homemade pasta sauces

    1. Classic: Cheese sauce

    Macaroni cheese

    If you opt for the ready made cheese sauce you can buy in jars then now is the time to try something new. Cheese sauce is a little tricky when you first try, the roux sauce needs a little attention but once you’ve mastered it you won’t look at a ready made sauce the same way again!

    How to serve: Once your sauce has reached a smooth consistency it’s time to add the pasta or pour over your ready cooked pasta in another pan. Stir and then serve. You can also bake your pasta in the oven, topped with more cheese, for a macaroni cheese-style bake.

    How to store
    : Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to two days. Make sure you reheat thoroughly before serving. Cheese sauce can be frozen up to three months.

    Get the recipe: Cheese sauce

     

    2. Classic: Passata

    Passata recipe

    Passata is mostly made from ripe tomatoes and is a smoother sauce than traditional tomato sauce. All you have to do is simmer the ingredients in a saucepan until soft and smooth – this should take up to 15 mins.

    How to serve: You can serve passata both hot or cold. Add to your favourite pasta dish and heat well. Passata is strong in flavour so add a spoonful at a time to your pasta and try as you go. It can also be used to bulk dishes like spaghetti Bolognese or curry.

    How to store:
    Keep in the fridge for 3-4 days in an airtight container or freeze in smaller portions up to two months.

    Get the recipe: Passata

     

    3. Classic: Carbonara sauce

    spaghetti carbonara
    Carbonara is a rich, creamy sauce which is traditionally served with spaghetti. Infused with bacon or ham, this cream and egg based sauce is made in seconds – you simply stir it through the warm pasta to cook the egg slightly.

    How to serve: Once you’ve made your sauce, toss it through your chosen pasta and serve warm. You can also serve cold the next day or reheat on a low heat in the microwave. If you want to give your pasta a twist add some mushrooms or spinach to the carbonara mix. You could even add some meat like chicken or beef to bulk it up even further. This sauce matches with plenty of ingredients.

    How to store: Store the sauce in an airtight container for up to 2 days in the fridge, it cannot be frozen.

    Get the recipe: Spaghetti Carbonara

     

    4. Classic: White sauce

    White sauce recipe

    White sauce is the basis of most lasagne recipes and can be a lighter alternative to a rich cheese sauce. Whip up your white sauce in a large saucepan on a low heat adding in the small amounts of milk – stirring every now and then will make sure your white sauce doesn’t have any lumps.

    How to serve: Layer between sheets of pasta and a veggie-packed tomato sauce to make a lasagne or drizzle over your side serving of pasta and garnish with a sprig of fresh parsley. You can also add mushrooms to the sauce before serving to create a mushroom sauce. White sauce is best served warm but can be reheated the next day if you’re planning on having pasta for lunch.

    How to store: Freeze up to three months in an airtight container. Make sure you defrost it in the fridge though before adding to your meals. Store in the fridge for up to two days (but we think it’s better served fresh!)

    Get the recipe: White sauce

     

    5. Classic: Arrabbiata

    Classic: Arrabbiata

    Arrabbiata sauce is a spicy Italian classic which translates as ‘angry’ because of the sauce being so fiery and hot. A tin of chopped tomatoes, pitted black olives and a spicy green chilli makes up the basis of this sauce which is sure to give a new lease of life to any pasta shape.

    How to serve: Spoon on top of your favourite pasta. You could give your lasagne a kick by swapping the classic tomato sauce for this instead or you could drizzle over a white fillet of fish served on a bed of pasta. This sauce can also be served hot or cold for lunch the next day.

    How to store: Store in the fridge for up to 3 days in an airtight container or freezer for up to 3 months.

    Get the recipe: Penne arrabbiata

     

    6. Classic: Alfredo

    It doesn’t take much to make this sauce. It’s pretty much soft cheese tossed through some warm pasta. Just throw in a hint of garlic and a knob of butter and you can really transform that boring bowl of pasta into a work of art.

    How to serve: Just add heaps of pasta into this sauce once cooked and stir. Try different meats and veggies in the mix too. You could also turn this sauce into a pasta bake, topped with cheese and baked in the oven.

    How to store: This sauce is best made fresh but if you have any leftover, store in the fridge for up to 2 days in an airtight container and reheat thoroughly before serving.

    Get the recipe: Spaghetti alfredo

     

    7. Give it a twist: Red pesto


    Once you’ve mastered classic green pesto you can make red pesto from scratch too! It’s easier than you may think, just whizz up the sun-dried tomatoes, basil leaves, almonds and garlic and then stir in your pasta.

    How to serve: Red pesto can be served hot or cold, the choice is yours. Add a spoonful or two to your bowl of pasta and stir, tasting as you go along. Fresh veggies like peppers, mushrooms or onions can be added to the mix too for texture. Serve pesto with penne or shell shaped pasta so you get a little extra burst of flavour when the sauce hides away in the shapes.

    How to store: Store in the fridge for up to three days – make sure you give it a good stir before serving as the oil tends to sit on top and separate from the rest of the sauce. It can be frozen for up to one month.


    Get the recipe: Red pesto

    8. Give it a twist: Chimichurri sauce

    Chimichurri sauce is a sharp herby sauce traditional served with grilled meats or fish but we think it tastes just as good served with pasta.

    How to serve: Chimichurri sauce is traditionally served cold so it’s perfect for pasta salads or lighter pasta dishes with fresh veggies and meat. Just drizzle a little bit of the sauce onto your pasta at a time and stir, remember that the sauce is sharp so a little can go a long way.

    How to store: Store in an airtight container or bag for up to three days in the fridge. This sauce is best served fresh and only takes five minutes to make.

    Get the recipe: Chimichurri sauce

     

    9. Classic: Homemade pesto

    Homemade pesto

    Grab your pestle and mortar or your food processor and get blitzing! Pesto is pretty easy to whip up at home combining pine nuts, basil leaves and garlic together to make a deliciously flavour-packed sauce. Once you’ve tasted homemade pesto, the jarred version just won’t compare.

    How to serve:
    Stir through your chosen cooked pasta, be it spaghetti, fusilli or penne. You can add some veggies to the mix too like mushrooms, asparagus or spinach. Crumbled up goat’s cheese or mozzarella on top wouldn’t go amiss either!

    How to store: Store in the fridge for up to three days – make sure you give it a good stir before serving as the oil tends to sit on top and separate from the rest of the sauce. Pesto is best frozen in ice cube trays (so you can defrost in serving sizes) or an airtight bag for up to one month.

    Get the recipe: Homemade pesto

     

    10. Classic: Bolognese sauce

    Spaghetti Bolognese recipe

    Nothing beats a homemade Bolognese sauce. A tin of chopped tomatoes, minced beef with a dash of Worcestershire is all you really need to make this classic sauce – why buy it ready made?

    How to serve: Complete this dish by serving a few big spoonfuls of Bolognese sauce on a bed of spaghetti. Want to give it a twist? Stir some penne pasta through the sauce and bake in the oven with some cheese on top – the kids will love it!

    How to store: Store in the fridge for up to two days or freeze for up to one month. Make sure you defrost thoroughly before reheating.

    Get the recipe: Bolognese sauce

     

    11. Classic: Parsley sauce

    Homemade parsley sauce.

    If you’ve never made parsley sauce before you can follow our step-by-step video recipe to make it that little bit easier. Parsley sauce is best made on the hob in a large saucepan.

    How to serve: Parsley sauce is strong in flavour so you might want to add a little at a time to your pasta, stir and then try some – you can add in some veggies too like spinach or mushrooms. Parsley sauce is best served warm.

    How to store: Parsley sauce is best served fresh but can be kept in the fridge for up to two days, just make sure you give it a good stir before reheating and serving. Parsley sauce is not suitable for freezing.

    Get the recipe: Parsley sauce

    12. Classic tomato pasta sauce

    Classic tomato pasta sauce

    Everyone needs a classic – tomato pasta sauce. It really doesn’t take much to make this classic tomato pasta sauce. All you need is a couple of tins of chopped tomatoes, garlic and basil for added flavour and rich tomato puree to stretch it even further. Simple!

    How to serve: Once you’ve whipped up your sauce you can add in your pasta, veggies and meat, stir and serve. You could also use this sauce as a base for ingredients such as chorizo or mince to turn it into a Bolognese. This sauce can be served hot or cold for lunch the next day with more, you guessed it, pasta!

    How to store:Store in the fridge for up to 3 days in an airtight container or freezer for up to 3 months.

    Get the recipe: Classic tomato pasta sauce

     

    13. Classic: Salsa verde

    Salsa verde recipe

    Salsa verde is made with crushed garlic, capers and anchovy fillets so has a strong, tangy flavour. You just need to blend the ingredients together to make this simple sauce.

    How to serve: Salsa verde is best served fresh so once you’ve made your sauce, drizzle or scoop a few spoonfuls onto your chosen pasta dish and stir. Salsa verde goes really well as a sauce for salmon or mozzarella pasta.

    How to store:
    Store in an airtight container for up to two days in the fridge, it’s not suitable for freezing.

    Get the recipe: Salsa verde

     

    14. Classic: Puttanesca

    A tomato-based sauce made with anchovies, tuna, capers and olives, puttanesca sauce is really simple to make and is full of powerful flavours.

    How to serve
    : Add some sauce to your cooked pasta, or add the pasta to the sauce ? whichever way you prefer. You can serve this sauce with all sorts of pasta shapes from penne to spaghetti.

    How to store
    : Store in the fridge for up to 2 days in an airtight container. You can freeze the sauce up to 3 months.

    Get the recipe: Puttanesca

     

    15. Classic: Primavera

    Classic: Primavera

    Primavera sauce is traditionally served with pappardelle pasta. It?s so easy to make combining milk, cream cheese and tomatoes together to make a light and creamy treat which is sure to compliment any pasta based dish.

    How to serve: Add your cooked pasta to the sauce on the hob for best results. If you make sure your pasta is just a little al dente, it’ll absorb some of the sauce to make it even more flavoursome. This sauce would make a great dressing for a pasta salad or pasta side dish too.

    How to store: Store in the fridge for up to 2 days in an airtight container. You can freeze the sauce up to 3 months.

    Get the recipe: Pappardelle primavera

     

    16. Give it a twist: Mushroom and tarragon sauce

    Mushroom and tarragon is a delicious combination. The mushrooms turn the creamy sauce a thick grey shade with a rich flavour while the tarragon peppers it with a herby finish.

    How to serve: If you want the pasta to absorb some of the garlicky flavour, add it to the sauce right at the end. This creamy wonder if best served with chicken so you can cook the chicken in the sauce and then spoon onto your favourite pasta shapes. It’s best served hot or warm but can be served cold the next day too.

    How to store: Store this creamy sauce in the fridge in an airtight container or bag for up to three days. This sauce is best served straight away and is not suitable for freezing.

    Get the recipe: Mushroom and tarragon sauce

     

    17. Give it a twist: Rocket pesto

    Want to take your pesto making skills to the next level? Swap the basil leaves for peppery rocket instead. The rocket gives your pesto an intense flavour which is not to be missed. Just like classic pesto, all you have to do is whizz all of the ingredients in a food blender and you’re ready to go!

    How to serve:
    Stir your homemade pesto through spaghetti, penne or fusili and serve with fish, red meat or a simple herb-infused breast of chicken. The rocket will make it the perfect accompaniment to pasta salads too.

    How to store: Store in the fridge for up to three days. Pesto is best frozen in ice cube trays or airtight bag for up to one month.

    Get the recipe: Rocket pesto

     

    18. Give it a twist: Mayonnaise

    Give it a twist: Mayonnaise

    If you’re a fan of tuna pasta with mayonnaise you should really give this homemade version a try. It’s so simple to make combining egg yolks, mustard powder and lemon juice together to make a thick and creamy sauce. If you make mayonnaise yourself you can add flavours such as garlic and herbs to give your sauce more depth than the shop-bought version.

    How to serve: Mayonnaise is best served fresh so just add a few spoonfuls to your pasta and stir. You can add tuna, sweetcorn, chicken, mushrooms and other delicious ingredients to the mix. You can warm mayonnaise up or serve cold. This sauce is great if you’re having a pasta salad.

    How to store: It’s not suitable for freezing but can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to two days.

    Get the recipe: Mayonnaise

     

    19. Give it a twist: Piri Piri sauce

    Piri Piri sauce is not just for chicken you know, you can spice up your favourite pasta dish with it too. Prepared and cooked in just under an hour, the sauce is a good one to make in bulk and freeze for different dishes.

    How to serve:
    This sauce can be served hot or cold but for the best flavour we’d recommend serving hot. Add a spoonful at a time to your pasta, stir and taste. Remember that this sauce is going to be spicy so control the heat by adding a little at a time. Serve with meat like chicken or beef and top with roasted veg like red onion, courgette and tomatoes.

    How to store: Store in a jar or airtight container in the fridge for up to one month. Do not freeze.

    Get the recipe: Piri Piri sauce

     

    20. Classic: white wine sauce

    White wine sauce recipe

    This white wine sauce recipe will serve around 6 people and will only take 20 minutes to prepare and cook. A great accompaniment to a fish or chicken pasta dish, this light and creamy sauce will dazzle your guests and as an added bonus is only 247 calories a portion!

    How to serve: You can drizzle a small amount over the top of your pasta dish once served for a lighter finish. If you’re after a more indulgent, creamy result – pour a larger amount over the dish and stir until well encourporated, the left over sauce in your bowl can be enjoyed with a nice piece of crusty bread.

    How to store: Put any remaining sauce in an air tight container and leave in the fridge.The sauce can be stored for five days and should be gently reheated when you want to use it again.

    Get the recipe: White wine sauce

     

    21. Give it a twist: Michael Roux’s Hollandaise sauce

    Hollandaise sauce

    Hollandaise sauce doesn’t only have to be enjoyed alongside an indulgent eggs benedict, instead why not enjoy chef Michael Roux’s homemade sauce as a delicious topping for your simple pasta dishes. By using egg yolk’s and butter, this recipe makes the homemade sauce extra thick and creamy which will really elevate your dish.

    How to serve: This sauce can be served hot or cold based on your preference, but for pasta it’s best advised to stir it into your chosen pasta shapes so fully encorporated. Hollandaise goes perfectly with the classic salmon and eggs like with an eggs benedict so why not encorporate that into your pasta dish.

    How to store: Pour the leftover sauce into a plastic or glass storage bowl. Seal the lid tightly and place the bowl in the refrigerator. Store the sauce refrigerated for one to two days. When you want to reuse the sauce you can either use it chilled or reheat it gently in the microwave.

    Get the recipe: Michael Roux’s Hollandaise sauce

     

    22. Give it a twist: Sticky chilli sauce

    This sticky chilli sauce is a tasty, delicious, zingy sauce which matches perfectly with a flaky salmon fillet. Serve over pasta for a healthy, nourishing dinner that’ll leave you perfectly full and satisfied.

    How to serve: for a light flavour, drizzle the sauce over your finished served dish. If it’s a more intense chilli flavour you’re looking for, stir a large amount of the chilli sauce into your pasta shapes and the finish with additional veggies and salmon if you like.

    How to store: Any left over sticky chilli sauce should be stored for best results in an air-tight container in the fridge, however it can also be stored in the freezer. In the fridge the sauce should last for about a week, whereas in the freezer it can last for a good two to three months. Be advised that if stored in the freezer the sauce will conjeal, and should be thoroughly defrosted before using again.

    Get the recipe: Sticky chilli sauce

     

    23. Give it a twist: Spicy salami and tomato pasta sauce

    This spicy salami and tomato pasta sauce is a really cheap and easy way to elevate your dish. It doesn’t matter what type of salami it is so feel free to raid the leftover meat box to give the sauce that lovely rich flavour.

    How to serve: Once your sauce has been well combined with the fried strips of salami, stir in to your chosen pasta shapes for a delicious thick dressing. A light salad and some garlic bread on the side would be a great addition tooto finish off the whole meal.

    How to store: Store in an air-tight container in the fridge for a 2-3 days. For best results reheat the sauce gently in a saucepan before serving again.

    Get the recipe: Spicy salami and tomato pasta sauce

     

    24. Give it a twist: Asparagus carbonara

    Making your own pasta sauce is so much easier than you might think. We’ve taken this rich and creamy pasta dish and greened it up by adding asparagus and cheese. Not only a twist on a classic Italian dish, this Slimming World asparagus carbonara recipe is a bright and beautiful vegetarian dish perfect for Spring and Summer.

    How to serve: Once you have combines all of your ingredients for your creamy asparagus sauce, pour over your cooked pasta shapes and stir for 2-3 minutes on a medium heat to warm through.

    How to store: Allow the carbonara to cool completely and then put it in an air-tight container and place in the fridge. The dish can be stored in the fridge for up to four days, for best results gentyl reheat the dish before serving.

    Get the recipe: Asparagus carbonara

    25. Give it a twist: Chilli, bacon and tomato sauce

    Give it a twist: Chilli, bacon and tomato sauce

    How to make: If you fancy giving your classic tomato sauce a bit of a revamp, this chilli and bacon-infused sauce should do the trick.

    How to serve: Mix through your chosen pasta shapes or serve on top of your pasta with meat and veggies and sprinkle over Parmesan. This sauce can be served hot or cold and can be reheated too the next day – which makes it perfect for lunch and dinner.

    How to store: Store in an airtight container for up to two days. This sauce is best served fresh though because of the bacon pieces. Do not freeze.

    Get the recipe: Chilli, bacon and tomato sauce