Parmesan Garlic Linguine

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  • This Garlic Parmesan Linguine recipe is on the insanely easy side, so it easily tops my list for dinner ideas. So easy that Nonnas everywhere might give me the stink eye and I’m okay with that.

    overhead of pasta in a cream sauce in a pot with tongs

    Oh, pasta. I love you so. One of things I learned from our time in Italy was that pasta can be super involved, but also insanely easy.

    What is the Difference Between Carbonara, Alfredo, Cacio e Pepe?

    You see, I know how to make a classic carbonara, alfredo and cacio e pepe, but sometimes life calls for time saving (and error reducing) hacks. Let me introduce you to what is commonly called cream cheese spaghetti, but here we used linguine.

    close up of pasta in cream sauce with parsley

    Before we get into the easy recipe, let’s discuss the difference so we are all on the same page.

    Carbonara– The most common pasta dish in Rome is rarely seen here in the states and it is such a shame. Sometimes called spaghetti carbonara, the traditional pasta of choice is actually bucatini, a long, round pasta with a little hole through the center.

    Close up of Authentic Carbonara on a fork
    Authentic Carbonara

    Carbonara is made from egg yolks whisked with hot pasta water and grated cheese. This results in an super rich and creamy sauce that essentially cooks on the hot pasta. Timing and speed is the name of this game.

    Alfredo– Traditionalists will go gaga over debating “real alfredo”. It isn’t even an authentic Italian recipe, it is very much Italian American.

    bowl of alfredo with peas, bacon and pasta
    bolEasy Alfredo Sauce

    The majority of alfredo recipes (including my own) use cream with cheese to make a velvety cheese sauce, but the real alfredo uses grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese and butter. Similar to carbonara, the hot pasta helps to melt and create the silky sauce.

    Cacio e Pepe– Literally translating to cheese and pepper, this dish leaves out the binder of eggs, cream or butter and just uses black pepper and grated Pecorino Romano cheese.

    Also of Roman descent, it is most frequently served with spaghetti, tonnarelli or bucatini. I’m am also realizing I don’t have one on my site and maybe I should get cracking on that!

    Cream Cheese Spaghetti – Ha! Even the name doesn’t sound as sophisticated, which is why I’ve changed mine to Garlic Parmesan Linguine. Creating a sauce with pasta is what sounds intimidating to most home cooks.

    overhead of cream cheese linguine recipe

    Or they just plain need something quick and easy so plopping in a brick of cream cheese was born and even though it is in no way shape or form authentic, it still tastes amazing. Don’t dis it until you try it!


    To many folks pasta is just pasta and the type of for any recipe just depends on personal preference. There are over 300 shapes and types of pasta in the world in nearly every single culture.

    tongs tossing creamy pasta

    Each was developed for a specific reason and to accompany a sauce or topping, as complicated or minimal as it might be. There is this fabulous book called The Geometry of Pasta that will tell you all about it along with great recipes.

    I choose linguine for this Parmesan Garlic Linguine dish because I needed something hearty and strong. Something angle hair or capellini would be too delicate. Something smaller like elbows or ditalini would just get lost.

    tongs tossing a creamy linguine recipe

    Although I choose linguine, there are several shapes of pasta that would be ideal and they include:

    • Spaghetti – by far the most popular world wide, it translates to “length of a cord” and is long and thin. Perfect for delicate and thick sauces and just about any type of protein or vegetable. The most verstile, for sure.
    • Bucatini – Long like spaghetti, but thicker, bucatini has a hollow center to allow it to cook to a perfect al dente without the exterior getting soggy before the interior softens at all. In Italian, the name bucatini translates to “hole” or “pierced”.
    • Linguine – Long and narrow, linguine is liked if a strand of spaghetti was flattened. It is great for substantial, heavy sauces. It translates to “little tongues”.
    • Fettuccine – Also long and narrow, it is thinner than lingue, but not as wide tagliatelle. It translates to “small ribbons”.
    types of pasta: linguine, spaghetti, fettuccine and bucatini

    Parmesan Garlic Linguine

    Now that you have way more information than you bargained for to make parmesan garlic linguine, here is what you’ll need and how you make it.

    • Linguine Pasta – or other type of long pasta strand.
    • Cream cheese– full fat works best, reduced will be okay, I don’t recommend using fat free.
    • Fresh garlic– don’t cut corners with jarred garlic. You need to use fresh to get the signature garlicky flavor.
    • Parmesan cheese – you can also use parmesan reggiano or even pecorino romano. Whatever you do, I highly recommend freshly grated versus the canned stuff which can be dry and grainy.
    • Heavy Cream– you can also use milk or omit this all together. I find the cream cheese melts easier with it.
    • Pasta water- Like carbonara, the pasta water helps to thin the sauce for your Parmesan Garlic Linguine and coat the pasta evenly. Pasta water is a little starchy, so it works best to not thin too much and also have a tiny bit of flavor. It is also, presumably hot. if you forget to ladle this out, use the hottest water from that tap with 1 teaspoon of flour whisked in.
    • Olive Oil
    • Coarse or Flaky Salt
    • Freshly Ground Pepper
    1. Next, cook the linguine to al dente, or softer if you desire.
    2. After straining the pasta, let us sit in the strainer while you lightly brown fresh garlic in olive oil in the still hot pan. Next, add cubed cream cheese, stirring while it melts.
    how to make cream cheese spaghetti
    1. When nearly melted, about 3-4 minutes on medium heat, whisk in heavy cream and pasta water to thin it out a tad.
    2. Lastly, toss with parmesan cheese and hot pasta.
    pasta in a cream sauce
    1. When plated, top with freshly grated pepper and flakey or coarse sea salt.
    2. Serve it with a leafy green salad, cheesy bread sticks, buttery homemade garlic knots and a big glass of wine.
    garlic parmesan linguine in a white serving bowl

    Top With….

    I generally make this pasta as a stand alone dish- it is that good, but you can also use it as a side dish to add protein and veggies.

    fork twirling linguine recipe

    Here are my favorites:

    • Grilled or roast chicken
    • Seared Scallops
    • Shrimp
    • Sun dried tomatoes- top with julienne tomatoes when plating
    • Spinach- toss fresh spinach with the pasta right before serving
    • Mushrooms- Cook raw sliced mushrooms with cream cheese while it melts
    • Crab or Lobster Meat
    • Crushed red pepper or aleppo
    parmesan garlic linguine for pinterest

    More classic pasta recipes:

    Baked Mostaccioli
    overhead of baked mostaccioli
    A delicious one-dish meal with baked pasta, tomato sauce, cheese and sausage. Great for potlucks and as a freezer meal!
    Chicken Cacciatore
    plate of chicken cacciatore and pasta
    Easy Chicken Cacciatore uses tender chicken in a tomato sauce with mushrooms, bell peppers, olives and herbs. Only takes 30 minutes from stove to plate!
    Squid Ink Pasta with White Wine Cream Sauce
    Overhead shot of black pasta in a white bowl with shrimp and scallops
    Squid Ink Pasta with White Wine Cream Sauce Recipe is an elegant dish that is easy to prepare. Wow, your diners with this striking dish.
    One Pot Chicken Bruschetta Pasta
    Chicken Bruschetta Pasta in a Cast Iron Skillet
    One Pot Chicken Bruschetta Pasta is uses only one dish and a handful of ingredients to make dinner for the whole family. Tomatoes, fennel, Italian seasoning and Parmesan cheese make this a winning dish! 
    close up of parmesan garlic linguine

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    skillet of parmesan garlic linguine
    Print Recipe
    4.69 from 51 votes

    Parmesan Garlic Linguine

    Creamy, cheesy & delicious, this EASY Parmesan Garlic Linguine pasta recipe is perfect for a quick weeknight dinner! With simple ingredients!
    Prep Time5 mins
    Cook Time20 mins
    Total Time25 mins
    Course: Main Course, Main Dish
    Cuisine: American, Italian
    Keyword: cream cheese spaghetti, linguine recipe, parmesan garlic linguine
    Servings: 4
    Calories: 756kcal
    Author: Jessica Formicola



    • Cook pasta according to package directions. Cook to al dente, or preferred softness. Drain and then return hot pan to stovetop over medium heat.
    • Add olive oil and garlic. Cook for 3-4 minutes or until garlic starts to brown and becomes fragrant.
    • Add cream cheese, stirring while it heats and melts, approximately 3-4 minutes.
      how to make cream cheese spaghetti
    • When melted, whisk in Parmesan cheese, heavy cream and pasta water until blended.
    • Toss with hot pasta.
      hot pasta in cream sauce
    • Plate and top with freshly grated Parmesan cheese, flakey or coarse sea salt and freshly ground pepper.
    • If you’ve tried this recipe, come back and let us know how it was in the comments or ratings!



    *You can also use milk or omit this all together. I find the cream cheese melts easier with it.
    **Pasta water helps to thin the sauce and coat the pasta evenly. Pasta water is a little starchy, so it works best to not thin too much and also have a tiny bit of flavor. It is also, presumably hot. if you forget to ladle this out, use the hottest water from that tap with 1 teaspoon of flour whisked in.


    Calories: 756kcal | Carbohydrates: 89g | Protein: 23g | Fat: 34g | Saturated Fat: 16g | Cholesterol: 81mg | Sodium: 393mg | Potassium: 355mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 969IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 238mg | Iron: 2mg
    tongs tossing a parmesan garlic linguine
    image of jessica formicola

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