This Creamy Red Pesto Pasta recipe combines sundried tomatoes with walnuts and basil to create a flavour-packed pesto. This pasta dish can be made with any type of pasta you love and makes an easy weeknight dinner!

a bowl of red pesto pasta topped with basil leaves

Sun-dried tomato pesto pasta

I think we can all agree that there’s nothing better than a delicious, comforting bowl of pasta for dinner. Especially when you make yourself a bowl with pasta with a homemade sauce to top it off.

Don’t get me wrong, I use jarred sauces when I’m in a hurry and want dinner on the table in 10 minutes. But when I have a little extra time, (we’re talking just 20 minutes) I like to opt for a homemade sauce or pesto.

This recipe for Creamy Red Pesto Pasta is a little different than a traditional green pesto. This pesto is made with sun dried tomatoes which gives the pesto a rich and salty flavour that will have you coming back for seconds.

If you’ve ever felt intimidated by making homemade pesto, I promise it’s seriously easy to make. If you have a food processor, it will basically do all the hard work for you. (Otherwise, you can also use a mortar and pestle to mash all the ingredients together.

Why you’ll love this recipe

  • Ready in 20 minutes. Yup, that’s really all the time you need to make a completely homemade sun dried tomato pesto sauce with your pasta.
  • Vibrant flavours in every bite. “MMMMM!” is probably the first word (or sound?) that will come out of your mouth after you take your first bite.
  • Makes extra pesto to have on hand. You don’t need to use all the red pesto on the pasta. In fact, you will very likely have leftovers (unless you’re making a lot of pasta) to use as a spread on toast, as a dip, in sandwiches or in salads!

Ingredients for Red Pesto

  • Sun dried tomatoes in oil: it’s important to use sun dried tomatoes that are stored in oil, not the ones that come in a package that you can store in your pantry. The oil helps keep the sun dried tomateoes moist and pureé into a nice pesto.
  • Walnuts: you can also use pine nuts if you prefer. Make sure whichever you use that they are unsalted.
  • Basil: fresh basil only! This is a star ingredient for making any pesto.
  • Parmesan cheese: freshly grated parmesan cheeses is best. (Please use the real stuff, not the fake stuff.)
  • Garlic: one fresh garlic clove
  • Lemon juice: just a touch for some acidity
  • Olive oil: a good quality olive oil is best. (Use one that you would use for a salad)

How to make Red Pesto Pasta

Step 1

Start by preparing the red pesto in a food processor. Just add all the ingredients to the food processor and pulse together until it forms a paste as photographed below.

Tip: No food processor? You can also make pesto the traditional way by using a mortar and pestle and smash all the ingredients together into a paste.

Step 2

Cook your pasta to al dente according to package instructions in salted water. Before draining the pasta set aside 1/2 cup of the pasta water. This is the *secret* ingredient to creating a Creamy Red Pesto Pasta. Then once the pasta is drained grab 3 to 4 tablespoons of the red pesto.

Tip: If you want to speed up the cooking process you can start cooking the pasta first. As the pasta cooks, (which takes around 10 minutes) you can make the pesto.

Step 3

Add the red pesto to the pot of pasta and slowly start adding the pasta water, a couple of tablespoons at a time. Mix together until the pasta water is incorporated and then add some more until you’ve used it all. (Mixing is the key here to create creaminess!) Pour into a bowl and serve.

How to store and reheat leftovers

Red pesto: store any leftovers of the red pesto in a mason jar in the fridge for up to a week. You can also freeze the red pesto in an airtight container or by using an icecube tray. Just spoon the pesto into an ice cube tray and freeze. Once the cubes are done remove them from the mould and store the cubes in a freezer bag.

Red pesto pasta: store any leftover red pesto pasta in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. Reheat in a pan on the stovetop or in the microwave.

What to eat with leftover red pesto

After making this Creamy Red Pesto Pasta, you may be left with some leftover pesto to enjoy! Here are some great ways you can use any leftover sun dried tomato pesto you have.

  • Spread on crositinis or in sandwiches
  • Dip with veggies or crackers
  • Dressing on your favourite salad
  • Sauce or garnish
  • Pizza topping

Tips for making this Red Pesto Pasta

  • Make sure to use sun dried tomatoes in oil. The dried packaged ones won’t give you the same result for the final pesto.
  • Use fresh ingredients. A pesto is only as good as the ingredients you use! Make sure to fresh basil, real parmesan cheese, fresh garlic…etc. It’s all about the ingredients that go into it.
  • Salt the pasta water. This will infuse the pasta with flavour and make the overall dish more flavourful. When salting pasta water the water should taste slightly salty, like the ocean.
  • Don’t skip out on using pasta water in the sauce. Pasta water is like a magic ingredient for sauces. The starches in the pasta water will blend into the pesto and result in a really creamy pesto pasta.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is red pesto healthy?

Yes! Red Pesto is made with wholesome and fresh ingredients and is perfectly healthy to eat. Just remember that because it contains ingredients like nuts and oil, it is relatively high in calories, so it’s best to consume in moderation.

How long does red pesto last in the fridge?

Stored in an airtight jar the red pesto should last up to a week in the fridge.

Is red pesto the same as tomato pesto?

There are a few different variations of red pesto. Some are made with just sun dried tomatoes while others are made with sun dried tomatoes and roasted red pepper. Both are delicious. This version is just made with sun dried tomatoes. Sun dried tomato pesto and tomato pesto are generally the same thing.

More delicious Pasta recipes to try

A bowl of red pesto pasta topped with parmesan cheese

If you tried this Red Pesto Pasta or any other recipe on the blog let me know how you liked it by leaving a comment/rating below! Be sure to follow along on PinterestInstagram and Facebook for even more deliciousness!

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a bowl of red pesto pasta topped with basil leaves

Red Pesto Pasta

  • Author: Jessica Hoffman
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 2 servings 1x
  • Category: Main
  • Method: Cook
  • Cuisine: Italian
  • Diet: Vegetarian


This Creamy Red Pesto Pasta recipe combines sundried tomatoes with walnuts and basil to create a flavour-packed pesto!


Units Scale

Red pesto

  • 1 cup sundried tomatoes in oil
  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, packed
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp pepper

Other ingredients

  • 6oz pasta of choice (approx 2 servings)
  • Parmesan cheese to top (optional)


  1. Add all the ingredients for the red pesto to a food processor and pureé until the mixture comes together. You want it to be pretty smooth, but still have some texture to it. 
  2. Cook the pasta according to package directions. Before draining the pasta, remove 1/2 cup of the pasta water and set aside. 
  3. Add 3-4 tablespoons of the red pesto to the pot with the pasta and begin mixing together. Slowly pour in the pasta water a couple tablespoons at a time and continue to mix. The pasta water will mix with the pesto and create a creamy sauce. 
  4. Serve with grated parmesan cheese.


Salt the pasta water before cooking the pasta. This is important to add flavour to the pasta and the pasta water. 

I don’t add salt to the pesto because the sun-dried tomatoes are naturally quite salty. If your sun-dried tomatoes aren’t salty, you can add salt to the pesto. 

Leftover sun dried tomato pesto can be stored in a mason jar in the fridge for a week or in the freezer. 


  • Serving Size: 1/2 recipe
  • Calories: 600
  • Sugar: 5g
  • Fat: 30g
  • Carbohydrates: 55g
  • Fiber: 2.5g
  • Protein: 6g

Keywords: sun dried tomato pasta, red pesto pasta, pasta with sun dried tomato pesto