Tomato Basil Pasta – One Pot!

This Tomato Basil Pasta recipe is made with fresh cherry tomatoes and basil in a creamy garlic Parmesan sauce with sausage, turkey, or ground beef!

Be sure to serve this with a side of my Cheesy Homemade Garlic Bread!

A white bowl filled with tomato basil tortellini pasta in a cream sauce with a fork in the back.

Tomato Basil Pasta

If your garden is exploding with basil and tomatoes right now, I’ve got you. And if you have no basil or tomatoes on hand, but this recipe makes you want to lick your screen anyway, I’ve still got you.

It’s easy to make substitutions in this recipe, everything you need to know is in this post! From using different pastas, skipping over the basil without sacrificing flavor, it’s all here. Let’s do this.

Ingredients

Ingredient quantities and full instructions are included at the bottom of this post.

  • Olive Oil
  • Ground Sausage
  • Butter
  • GarlicMince it yourself for best results
  • Chicken BrothHomemade is always best in sauces and soups.
  • Half and Half– You can also use heavy cream for extra indulgence. I don’t recommend milk as it can curdle when brought to a boil and will result in a much thinner sauce.
  • Parmesan Cheese– High quality, finely grated yourself at home.
  • Cream Cheese– At room temperature to ensure it combines smoothly.
  • Refrigerated Tortellini– Refrigerated Ravioli may also be used. See below for using dry pasta for this recipe.
  • Cherry Tomatoes
  • Fresh Basil- See below for an easy substitution option.
  • Red Pepper FlakesOptional

How to Make it

Brown ground sausage in a skillet with olive oil until cooked through. Remove and set aside. The brown specks left on the bottom of the pan will add great flavor to the sauce.

Melt 3 Tablespoons of butter. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute. Whisk in flour for 1 minute. 

A skillet with ground sausage and then melted butter, garlic, and flour to make a cream sauce.

Slowly pour in the chicken broth and half and half. Whisk to combine. Bring to a boil, then reduce to low.

Gradually sprinkle in the grated Parmesan cheese. Whisk until combined.  Add cream cheese and stir until melted and combined. The sauce will continue to thicken as it simmers longer.

A skillet with chicken broth and half and half with Parmesan cheese being added to make a cream sauce.

Add the tortellini and the tomatoes. Increase heat slightly and bubble gently, uncovered, until the pastas is cooked through. Refer to package for exact time frame, generally 4-7 minutes. 

Add the ground sausage back to the pan and stir to combine.

A skillet showing tortellini, tomatoes, and sausage being added to a cream sauce.

Chiffonade the basil (see below for visual + instructions) and add it to the saucepan, stir to combine. The sauce will thicken even further upon standing. Serve and enjoy!

Adding basil to a skillet of creamy Tomato Basil Pasta.

How to Make Perfect Cream Sauce

  • Refrain from adding cold ingredients into warm sauce when you prepare it. This includes the Parmesan cheese, half and half, and cream cheese. The consistency will be super creamy if you follow this instruction.
  • Purchase a block of high-quality Parmesan cheese. Always shred the cheese yourself, it will taste and melt much better.
  • Let the cheese come to room temperature before adding it to the warm (not hot!) base. 
  • Add the cheese gradually as opposed to all at once.

How to Chiffonade Basil

To “chiffonade” means to shred or finely slice leafy greens like basil, lettuce, or cabbage.

To do it, create a stack of basil leaves. Roll them up so that they’re a tight and compact cylinder.

Rolling up a stack of basil leaves to chiffonade them.

Use a sharp pairing knife to create thin, even slices along the cylinder.

A pairing knife slicing into rolled up basil.

Separate the slices with your fingers and immediately add them to your dish as they will quickly begin to brown if left out too long.

Cutting into a roll of basil to chiffonade it.

More PRO Tips and Substitution Options

  • Rana is my brand of choice for refrigerated tortellini and I highly recommend using that kind of pasta for this meal. I purchase a 20 oz. bag and use 12 oz.  (or 3/4 lb.) for this recipe, then I freeze the remaining 8 oz. (or 1/2 lb.) for another day.
  • Browning the meat in the skillet first adds tremendous flavor to the pan that transfers into the sauce.
  • 1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes may also be used instead of cherry tomatoes.
  • Up to 2 cups of spinach may be used instead of basil. Frozen spinach that’s been thawed and drained works well too.

Using Dry Pasta

The amount of liquid in this sauce is based upon using refrigerated pasta. Dry pasta requires more liquid and cooking time.

To use dry pasta such as Penne or Farfalle:

  • Boil 3/4 pound of pasta separately for 5 minutes less than instructed on package.
  • Drain and transfer to this sauce.
  • Let it gently bubble, uncovered, for the remaining 5 minutes, or until it’s reached your desired texture.

Storage

  • Store in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months.

A wooden spoon scooping up creamy tomato basil tortellini pasta from a skillet.

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Tortellini in a Tomato Basil Cream Sauce in a white bowl.

Tomato Basil Pasta

5 from 3 votes
This Tomato Basil Pasta recipe is made with fresh cherry tomatoes and basil in a creamy garlic Parmesan sauce with sausage, turkey, or ground beef!

Ingredients

  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ lb. ground sausage, hot or sweet
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 cup half and half
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, finely grated and at room temp.
  • 1 heaping Tablespoon cream cheese, at room temp.
  • 3/4 pound refrigerated tortellini, see notes for other pasta options
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/3 cup firmly packed basil leaves, chiffonade
  • 1 pinch red pepper flakes, optional

Instructions

  • Heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium-high heat.
  • Add the sausage, cook and crumble until brown and cooked through. Remove from pan and set aside.
  • Reduce the heat to medium. Melt the butter. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.
  • Whisk in the flour and cook for 1 minute.
  • Add the chicken broth and half and half. Increase heat and bring to a boil, then decrease heat to a simmer.
  • Gradually sprinkle in the Parmesan cheese, whisking well to incorporate.
  • Whisk in the cream cheese until incorporated. It melts smoothly when at room temperature.
  • Add the tortellini and then the tomatoes. Stir gently to combine into the sauce.
  • Let it bubble gently, uncovered, until cooked through. Refer to package for exact time frame, typically 4-7 minutes.
  • Stir in the basil leaves and add the sausage back to the pan. Add red pepper flakes if desired.
  • Turn off the heat. The sauce will continue to thicken upon standing.
  • Serve and enjoy!

Notes

Using Dry Pasta

The amount of liquid in this sauce is based upon using refrigerated pasta. Dry pasta requires more liquid and cooking time.
To use dry pasta such as Penne or Farfalle:
  • Boil 3/4 pound of pasta separately for 5 minutes less than instructed on package.
  • Drain and transfer to this sauce.
  • Let it gently bubble, uncovered, for the remaining 5 minutes, or until it's reached your desired texture.

Other Substitutions Options:

  • Ground turkey or beef may be used instead of sausage.
  • Heavy cream may be used instead of half and half. I don't recommend milk as that can curdle during the cooking process and the sauce will be much thinner.
  • 1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes may also be used instead of cherry tomatoes.
  • Up to 2 cups fresh spinach may be used instead of basil. Frozen spinach that's been thawed and drained works well too.

Nutrition

Calories: 691kcal, Carbohydrates: 44g, Protein: 29g, Fat: 45g, Saturated Fat: 20g, Cholesterol: 127mg, Sodium: 1251mg, Potassium: 359mg, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 4g, Vitamin A: 904IU, Vitamin C: 14mg, Calcium: 353mg, Iron: 3mg