I’ve been wanting to experiment with cream cheese sauce with pasta for a while, and I’m so pleased with how it turned out. It’s basically like the short-cut, more adult version of macaroni and cheese.
This creamy, dreamy pasta is pure soul food — the very kind that makes you want to sway to the tune of your own humming as you mmm-mmm-mmm your way through.
Pretty much everything in this pasta is good on its own, so I can hardly take credit here. There’s bacon, corn, chives, and loads of Parmesan, so it’s pretty much taken care of in the flavor department.
Just when I thought this dish couldn’t get any better, it hit me. Smoked paprika. It’s a gift from the spice Gods and it totally transports the ingredients into this smoky, savory dimension.
What is smoked paprika?
If you’ve never experienced smoked paprika, it’s one of those special spices that can transform an already good thing into something extraordinary. It’s available in the spice aisle and includes a dried blend of red peppers that are mild, not spicy. If you like it, you’ll also like this Chicken Fusilli in Smokey Cream Sauce.
Cream Cheese Pasta Sauce Variations:
If you aren’t using bacon as a flavor base in this dish, you will need to start the sauce with some olive oil and maybe a clove of minced garlic instead. You just need to stir the garlic for 30 seconds before proceeding with the cream cheese and pasta water. Here are some ideas:
- cream cheese, smoked salmon, dill, and capers
- cream cheese, shredded barbecue chicken, cheddar, and cherry tomatoes
- cream cheese, broccoli florets, parsley, and Parmesan
*If I’ve missed something that you’ve tried, feel free to leave your favorite combo in the comments below!
Storing and Reheating Pasta
Pasta water is how we achieve the consistency of this sauce, so I like to add a few tablespoons of water to the bowl when reheating the pasta. Once the water is hot, it’s easy to stir and get a similar saucy texture. Leftover pasta can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.
Since everything is already gluten-free, you can just use your favorite gluten-free pasta. Really, I think this would be equally fantastic with rice, too. For rice, I would recommend cooking about 2 cups dry so that you end up with a good amount to go with all the sauce.
More Recipes You Might Like:
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Cream Cheese Pasta with Bacon, Chives, and Corn
- 16 oz pasta uncooked*
- 3 slices bacon
- 1 1/2 tbsp smoked paprika
- 8 oz cream cheese
- 2 ears corn about 1 cup
- 5 oz Parmesan cheese shredded
- 1/2 oz chives sliced finely
- Bring a large pot of water to boil over high heat. Generously salt the pasta water and cook the pasta according to package instructions until al dente (*reserve 1 1/2 cups pasta water). Strain in a colander set in the sink.
- Meanwhile, cook the bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until crispy on both sides, about 3 minutes. Use tongs to pluck the bacon out of the grease and set aside. Reserve the bacon grease and add the smoked paprika and cream cheese. Immediately add the reserved pasta water and simmer until the cream cheese is very soft; lumps are ok at this stage.
- Chop the bacon and add to the cream cheese sauce along with the corn and pasta. Fold to distribute the sauce, then add the Parmesan and fold again. Taste and add more salt or paprika if it needs it. Serve right away with chives for garnish, if desired. If the pasta gets too sticky, you can add more boiling water to reconstitute the sauce.
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