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Creamy Green Pasta Sauce 30 Mins Recipe (Easy & Healthy!)

While the vibrant hue of a classic pesto is always tempting, green pasta sauce opens up a world of flavor combinations.


Green Pasta Sauce

Whether you’re feeding a picky family, craving a cheesy indulgence, or seeking a nutrient-dense twist on dinner, here’s why a green sauce could be your new pasta favorite.

Creamy, Comforting, and Diet-Acceptable?

We love a creamy sauce, but it often comes loaded with guilt. Green sauces present surprising solutions! Spinach adds a velvety texture and rich, earthy flavor, creating a comforting base that also happens to sneak in extra veggies. If you hate heavy cream, consider subbing in Greek yogurt or ricotta for some satisfying tanginess without the excessive fat. Toss in some lean proteins like grilled chicken or turkey sausage as a clever way to stretch that sauce. Suddenly, your pasta dish feels just as indulgent as it is healthy.

Salads in Summer, Pasta When Colder

Pasta sauces take on the flavors of the season. Think about those summery tomato-based dishes, then imagine the potential green sauces offer during the colder months. Wilted greens and herbs like kale or sage create a warm, savory sauce that calls for cozy sweaters and a glass of wine. Imagine it with hearty meatballs or crumbled sausage. A dash of Parmesan for cheesy goodness, and there’s a meal fit to combat any winter blues. Even during warmer months, swap the hot pasta for a base of chilled whole-grain noodles for a green sauce salad packed with nutrients – think of it like pasta salad, but way healthier.

Packed with Hidden Veggies

Let’s be real, getting enough veggies into picky eaters can feel like a neverending battle. This creamy broccoli sauce is a parent’s secret weapon! A whole head of broccoli melts away into a vibrantly green sauce, providing a nutrient-dense boost without being the star of the show. It’s like hiding vegetables in plain sight – they’ll love the cheesy flavor and never suspect they’re getting a healthy dose of nutrients.

Quick, Easy, and Weeknight-Ready

Forget complicated recipes – this sauce couldn’t be simpler. Steam some broccoli, throw everything in a blender, and you have a creamy, delicious meal base in under 30 minutes. It’s a lifesaver on busy weeknights and the perfect way to introduce those healthy hidden veggies without a fuss.


  • Blender or food processor
  • Pot

Nutritional Information

Calories359 kcal
Carbohydrates50 g
Protein13 g
Fat12 g
Fiber6 g
Iron2 mg

Green Pasta Sauce Recipe

Recipe by Whisk and NibbleCourse: MainCuisine: Italian


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A creamy, vibrant green pasta sauce packed with hidden veggies, ready in under 30 minutes with 2 equipments (Blender or food processor and Pot).


  • 1 pound pasta of choice (consider whole-grain options for extra fiber)

  • 1 large head broccoli (approximately 4–5 cups of florets)

  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1/2 cup milk (plant-based or regular, consider low-fat or 2% for a lighter version)

  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

  • 1 cup frozen spinach (thawed and squeezed to remove excess moisture)

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • Juice of 1/2 lemon

  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

  • 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves

  • 1/2 cup cottage cheese (use low-fat or nonfat for a leaner option)

  • Red pepper flakes for optional heat


  • Prep the Pasta: Cook your favorite pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water according to package instructions.
  • Steam the Star: While the pasta cooks, steam a head of broccoli florets until soft enough to be easily pierced with a fork, about 5–7 minutes. Season with a bit of salt for extra flavor.
  • Strain and Reserve: Drain the broccoli and pasta, reserving about a cup of the starchy pasta water to help create a smooth sauce.
  • Blend to Perfection: Combine the steamed broccoli, garlic cloves, milk, Parmesan cheese, spinach, lemon juice, basil, and cottage cheese (or your chosen creamy base) in a powerful blender or food processor. Pulse until you achieve a smooth, creamy consistency.
  • Assemble and Enjoy: Pour the vibrant green sauce over your prepared pasta. Adjust seasonings with salt and pepper if needed, then sprinkle with red pepper flakes for an optional kick, and add an extra dusting of Parmesan cheese. Dig in and enjoy!


  • Use a high-powered blender for the smoothest consistency.
  • Sauce freezes well – portion into smaller containers for easy meals.
  • Great for dietary adaptations – try dairy-free or vegan substitutions (Read after recipe)
  • Don’t be afraid to add your favorite proteins or extra veggies!

How to Serve Green Pasta

This green pasta is delicious on its own, but to round out the meal, consider adding some protein sources like:

  • Tofu: Crumbled and pan-fried for a satisfying meat alternative
  • Chicken: Grilled, poached, or shredded for easy additions
  • Salmon: A flaky, flavorful protein that pairs beautifully with the creamy sauce
  • Beans: Add a hearty dose of protein and fiber (chickpeas go particularly well!)
  • Shrimp: A quick-cooking protein option for busy nights

Extra veggies never hurt either! Here are some ideas:

  • Carrots
  • Broccoli (If you’re using a different green in your sauce)
  • Cauliflower
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Beets
  • Peas
  • Tomatoes

For a well-rounded and colorful meal, don’t be afraid to mix and match!

Tips for Picky Eaters

  • Introduce Variety: Let them try a few bites of the sauce alongside familiar foods.
  • Store Separately: If they love pasta on its own, keep the sauce separate and let them stir it in themselves.
  • Creative Options: For the very picky, try mixing the sauce into oatmeal, lentils, or spreading it on toast or waffles! The possibilities are endless.

Substitutions and Variations

Go Gluten-Free: Easily adapt this to a gluten-free diet by choosing your favorite gluten-free pasta. There are tons of delicious options made from lentils, rice, or quinoa.

Dairy-Free Options: I have personally tested a fully dairy-free version of this recipe, so here are some ideas:

  1. Substitute the cottage cheese with silken tofu or ricotta cheese made from almonds.
  2. Nutritional yeast provides a cheesy flavor to replace Parmesan. Be aware that the results won’t be identical to the original.
  3. For a nut-free alternative, try sunflower seed parmesan for a naturally cheesy flavor.
  4. Fresh vs. Frozen: Short on time or missing an ingredient? Try swapping the frozen spinach for 2 cups of fresh spinach. Be sure to add it directly to the blender with all the other ingredients.
  5. Thaw or Not to Thaw: Cooking straight from frozen broccoli is possible! If time allows, thaw overnight in the fridge or quickly defrost in the microwave. However, even completely frozen florets will cook and soften just fine in the blender, needing only a touch of reserved pasta water to create a smooth sauce instead of plain water.

Looking for a vibrant green pasta sauce that’s also vegan? Here are some easy substitutions: 

Vegan Variations

This green pasta sauce offers a delicious base for a vegan-friendly meal.

  • Cottage Cheese Substitute: Use silken tofu or a store-bought vegan ricotta cheese.
  • Skip the Parmesan: Nutritional yeast provides a delicious cheesy flavor that’s entirely plant-based.
  • Nut-Free Option: Try sunflower seed parmesan for a cheesy flavor without the nuts.

​​Can you freeze and store green pasta sauce?

Yes, you can both refrigerate and freeze this green pasta sauce! Here’s how:

  • Refrigerator: Store leftovers in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
  • Freezer: Portion the sauce into smaller airtight containers or freezer-safe bags for convenient thawing. Allow the frozen sauce to thaw overnight in the fridge and heat it gently in the microwave or on the stovetop before serving.

Freezing Tip: If your sauce contains dairy elements like cheese or cream, the texture might change slightly after freezing and thawing. While still perfectly safe to eat, a slight graininess might occur. A quick stir and a splash of milk or olive oil while reheating can help restore its original creaminess.

For Babies

  • Start Small: Begin with just a small amount of sauce to avoid overwhelming your baby. Offer a spoonful alongside other familiar foods.
  • Follow Baby’s Lead: Watch for cues that your baby is interested in the sauce. If they are, great! If not, don’t force it. Reducing food waste is always a win.
  • Finger-Food Friendly: This sauce can be served with cooked pasta, on steamed or roasted carrot strips, or even alongside mashed white beans for easy dipping!

For Toddlers

The toddler feeding phase can be challenging as they navigate developmental changes. They’re seeking independence, testing boundaries, and even developing a fear of new foods (called food neophobia). It peaks between 18 months and 3 years of age. Don’t worry, it’s not uncommon for toddlers (and even older kids) to reject perfectly healthy foods – including those with a green hue!

Here are some tips to navigate feeding your toddler this green pasta delight:

  • Small Portions: Start with a tiny serving of this sauce, perhaps a teaspoon pictured next to a small portion of plain pasta. Children generally love the autonomy of a dip, so encourage them to try a taste.
  • Don’t Be Discouraged: Even if they refuse to eat it, the exposure is key! Familiarizing them with new foods increases the likelihood of acceptance in the future.

Top Tip

Invest in a Good Blender

I highly recommend using a high-powered blender for this recipe if you have one available. It’s the key to creating the creamiest, most velvety sauce possible. If you’re working with a food processor or weaker blender, here’s a variation:

  • Add a bit more liquid to help the ingredients blend smoothly.
  • It might help to blend the non-liquid components first, then gradually layer in the liquid ingredients.

Health Benefits

Green pasta sauce, especially when made with nutrient-dense ingredients like broccoli and spinach, offers several health benefits. Broccoli is loaded with fiber, promoting healthy digestion, and antioxidants that help fight inflammation. Spinach is a rich source of vitamin K, crucial for bone health, and iron, important for oxygen transport throughout the body. Additionally, incorporating a plant-based sauce like this one into your meals is a delicious way to increase your daily intake of vegetables, providing a boost of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants vital for overall well-being.


This vibrant green pasta sauce is a delicious blank canvas for your culinary creativity. Enjoy it as a classic pasta dish, add your favorite proteins, or try it as a unique pizza topping. Whether you’re seeking a healthy twist, a comforting meal, or simply crave a vibrantly delicious sauce, this recipe offers endless possibilities that are easy to achieve with minimal effort.


Frequently Asked Questions

Does this green pasta sauce have enough veggies for a meal?

While always better to include more vegetables, this sauce is packed with broccoli and spinach! If you’re craving extra greens, it’s easy to add a quick side salad or serve your pasta with some steamed mixed vegetables.

Does this recipe work for meal prep?

Yes! This sauce stores beautifully and can be made up to 5 days in advance, making it great for make-ahead meals. Keep the sauce separate from the pasta until you’re ready to heat and serve the dish.

How can I add protein to pasta?

The cottage cheese in this sauce offers some protein, but here are some other options:

  • Toss in cooked shredded chicken or crumbled sausage
  • Add a side of grilled shrimp or salmon
  • Use a higher protein pasta like chickpea or lentil pasta
  • Include a side of beans or edamame

Do I need a high-speed blender?

While I recommend using a high-speed blender for this recipe, it’s best to achieve the creamiest results. If you’re blending with a regular blender, it might leave small pieces of broccoli for a chunkier texture. This also applies if you choose to incorporate nuts like cashews.

Is this pasta sauce gluten-free?

This sauce itself is completely gluten-free. However, to ensure a gluten-free meal, you’ll need to choose your noodles carefully. Thankfully, there are many delicious gluten-free pasta options – I like the brand Jovial.

Can I use frozen spinach?

Yes! Thaw it completely, then drain and squeeze it dry using a clean kitchen towel to remove excess moisture. If substituting frozen for fresh spinach, add about half the amount the recipe recommends.

What is green pasta sauce made of?

“Green pasta sauce,” sometimes called green noodle sauce, often refers to pesto, which is traditionally made with basil, cheese, garlic, pine nuts, and oil. Our recipe creates a creamy green sauce with a base of broccoli, spinach, and cheese that offers a different flavor profile.

What is creamy pasta sauce called?

The most classic creamy white pasta sauce is called béchamel – it’s made from milk, flour, and butter. Alfredo sauce is a variation of béchamel that mainly relies on heavy cream and cheese. Both create a luscious, creamy texture that coats pasta noodles beautifully, but Alfredo tends to be even richer and thicker.

What are the 4 types of sauces for pasta?

While there are endless possibilities, pasta sauces generally fall into these four main categories:

  • Tomato-based sauces: These are classics! Think spaghetti sauce, marinara, and heavier meat sauces like Bolognese.
  • Cream-based sauces: Alfredo, béchamel, and cheesy variations fit in this category.
  • Wine-based sauces: Some sauces center on reductions of white or red wine
  • Oil-based sauces: Pesto shines here, along with simpler dishes like aglio e olio (garlic and oil).

Which sauce is best for pasta?

There’s no single “best”! Here are some popular choices, but the perfect sauce depends on your preference:

  • Best Marinara Sauce Yet
  • Alfredo Sauce
  • Bolognese Sauce
  • Penne with Spicy Vodka Tomato Cream Sauce
  • Pesto
  • Sugo di Pomodoro (Authentic Italian Tomato Sauce)
  • Arrabbiata Sauce
  • Spaghetti Carbonara

Whisk and Nibble

Whisk & Nibble is a blog devoted to all things related to food - from sharing recipes for meals and drinks to highlighting the latest dessert trends and culinary lifestyle content. Visitors can find ideas and inspiration for all eating occasions while enjoying engaging writing about food culture. Whisk & Nibble aims to bring readers together over the shared joy of cooking and dining.

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