Ricotta Pasta Sauce

Ricotta Pasta Sauce with Roasted Garlic

With just a few ingredients like roasted garlic, this creamy and flavorful ricotta pasta sauce will completely change your pasta game.

Sometimes recipes are just plain easier than they should be based on how delicious the final result is. This Ricotta Pasta Sauce recipe, with a whole head of roasted garlic, is a perfect example. 

It’s so easy to mix together, and if done correctly you’ll be let with a wonderfully creamy pasta sauce!

Making the Roasted Garlic

I’m trying to think if there’s any kitchen scent I would rank above the smell of roasted garlic. I seriously can’t think of one. Any time I roast a clove of garlic, I want to open my windows, not to let the smell out, but to give the rest of the neighborhood a little taste of the deliciousness.

It makes me hungry just writing about it.

The hard part about roasting garlic is, well, nothing technically. It’s about the easiest thing you can do in a kitchen. The hard part is not eating all the cloves, one at a time on crackers or toast, before you make what you are actually supposed to be making. If you’re me, just roast two bulbs of the stuff and use one for snacking and one for recipe making. Problem solved.

Roasted Garlic wrapped in foil.
A whole bulb.

To roast a clove of garlic, just cut off the point end of the bulb, exposing all the cloves. Drizzle with olive oil and a pinch of salt and wrap tightly in foil. Roast at 350˚F for 30 minutes or so. Once the bulb cools slightly you can squeeze the roasted cloves out with your fingers. 

If you’ve never had roasted garlic, you are missing out. It’s so good. You can literally just eat the cloves by themselves. They are sweet and flavorful and have just a touch of garlic bite.

Roasted Garlic cloves in a bowl.
Smells good.

What kind of ricotta cheese to buy

Depending on the market, you may not have a ton of options when it comes to ricotta, but if you can find a whole milk ricotta that will best for this recipe since it’s rich and creamy. Sometimes you might see ricotta salata in the cheese area, but this is a firmer cheese and won’t work for this recipe. You have to start with fresh, creamy ricotta for this to work. 

Making a Ricotta Pasta Sauce

If done correctly, ricotta cheese can be used to make one of the better pasta sauces I’ve had in a while. If you’re in a pasta rut with marinara or some boring jarred Alfredo sauce, this roasted garlic ricotta pasta sauce is a must-try!

Roasted Garlic Ricotta cheese mixture.
Sauce base!

This sauce is really easy to make once you have your garlic roasted. 

In a large bowl, mash together the garlic cloves with a pinch of salt until they are in a rough paste. Then mix in ricotta, lemon zest, red pepper flakes, and a pinch of black pepper. This is the base of your pasta sauce.

There’s some flexibility at this point with add-ins for the sauce. You could add some fresh or dried herbs like basil leaves or thyme. Just remember that texture is important at this point so if you are going to add something like parmesan cheese, I would add it as a topper to the pasta and not directly into the sauce. 

Finishing the Sauce

At this point you basically just have a ricotta mixture. The secret to making it a smooth sauce, perfect for pasta, is one thing that is important in SO many pasta dishes: hot pasta water.

So, boil your pasta in a large pot until it’s al dente and set your ricotta mixture aside. I like to use fusilli but I guess any pasta works fine. Save about 2 cups of the starchy pasta water.

Al dente pasta fusilli
Get Fusilli.

Then add the ricotta mixture to a pot over low heat in about a 2-1 ratio of ricotta-to-water. So if you’re just making one or two servings, you might add one cup of ricotta mixture with 1/2 cup of hot pasta water.

If you’re making the full batch, you’ll want to add 1 cup of reserved pasta water to the mixture and stir it together over low heat. It’ll turn smooth and creamy in no time.

Roasted Garlic Ricotta Pasta Sauce
A light coating.

At this point you can stir some of the cooked pasta into the sauce in the pan if you want, but I wouldn’t add the ricotta base to ALL the pasta and try to make it work. Make the sauce in a side pot and then add the pasta to the sauce. 

Or, I actually thought it was better to keep the sauce smooth in the pot, divide the noodles between bowls, and pour the hot sauce over each bowl. You can garnish each bowl with some basil, lemon zest, and red pepper flakes.

You would think this is some kind of fancy cream based pasta sauce, but it’s so easy to make and the roasted garlic totally makes it unique.

Who’s a roasted garlic fan?! Raise your hand! ✋

What to serve with this pasta meal?

You could serve a wide range of things with this. Something like this creamy kale slaw would be wonderful on the side. If you are looking for extra protein, you could serve this ricotta sauce on this crispy pan chicken. Or just an easy side like this baguette garlic bread would be good.

Roasted Garlic Ricotta Pasta Sauce: With just a few ingredients, this creamy and flavorful sauce will completely change your pasta game. Similar to an alfredo sauce, but easier to make. Roasted garlic, lemon, and ricotta cheese is all it takes! | macheesmo.com

How to reheat this sauce

I found that this sauce doesn’t reheat very well if it is mixed with pasta. If you keep the base in the fridge and make fresh pasta and hot pasta water, then you can whip up a batch of the pasta anytime you want, but once the sauce and pasta have combined, it is hard to reheat it and get it as creamy and delicious as the original version.

My Ricotta Pasta Sauce recipe with Roasted Garlic

Ricotta Pasta Sauce

Roasted Garlic Ricotta Pasta Sauce

With just a few ingredients, this creamy and flavorful sauce will completely change your pasta game.
3.74 from 149 votes
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Total Time 45 mins
Course Main Dishes, Side Dishes
Cuisine Italian
Servings 4 Servings


  • 1 bulb garlic roasted
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Pinch kosher salt
  • 16 ounces ricotta cheese
  • 1 lemon zest only
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • Fusilli Pasta
  • Reserved pasta water
  • Basil for garnish


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cut the tip off the garlic bulb, just exposing the cloves. Drizzle with olive oil and a pinch of kosher salt. Wrap the bulb in foil and roast for 30 minutes. Let garlic cool and then squeeze out roasted cloves into a bowl.
  • To roasted garlic, add a pinch of salt and mash together with a fork. Stir in ricotta cheese, lemon zest, black pepper, and red pepper flakes. Set aside.
  • Cook 12-16 oz. pasta according to package. Reserve 2 cups of pasta water from the cooking process when you drain the pasta.
  • To finish the sauce, add ricotta base to a pot with pasta sauce in a 2-1 sauce-to-water ratio. You can finish the sauce in batches or all at once in this way. If you add the whole ricotta sauce base to a pot, you’ll want to add at least a cup of reserved pasta water and maybe a bit more. Stir hot pasta water into the ricotta over low heat and continue to stir until it’s smooth and thick.
  • Divide cooked pasta between bowls and top with pasta sauce. Garnish each bowl of pasta with chopped basil, red pepper flakes, and lemon zest.



Serving: 1bowlCalories: 239kcalCarbohydrates: 6gProtein: 13gFat: 18gSaturated Fat: 10gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 58mgSodium: 100mgPotassium: 168mgFiber: 1gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 586IUVitamin C: 15mgCalcium: 245mgIron: 1mg
Keyword Easy Pasta Recipe, Ricotta Pasta Sauce, Ricotta Recipes

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33 Responses to “Ricotta Pasta Sauce with Roasted Garlic” Leave a comment

    1. Hey Matt, I served mine with a simple arugula and tomato salad. It’s a rich, flavorful sauce so I’m not sure it needs something like garlic bread. A light, peppery salad works well. :)

  1. Not too sure where I went wrong at the end. It still hds a griddy texture, it never smoothed out. The taste was great, but I couldn’t handle the texture.

      1. There’s a WORLD of difference between run-of-the-mill supermarket ricotta and the real deal. It is worth the price to use artisan stuff or even make your own in the microwave (it’s easy – google it)! It will be creamier and taste much, much better.

      2. Great point Aly! I’ve noticed drastic differences in this cream sauce depending on the quality of ricotta I use. :)

      3. Just discovered Galbani…game changer! I could eat it by itself it’s SO good and creamy and excellent flavor. Like none other that I’ve tried!

  2. I made this tonight and it didn’t have much taste:( what can I do for the next time to bump up the creaminess and taste? It was real creamy going into pasta then pasta soaked it up; leaving not creamy enough. I did add a tad butter to help pasta…

    1. Heya! I’m surprised about the taste. Usually a whole head of roasted garlic is lots of flavor! You could add other herbs to it if you wanted (rosemary would be nice) or also roast some shallot and puree that with the sauce. Just ideas.
      As far as the creaminess goes, when the consistency of this sauce is dry, you almost always need more pasta water. That’s the trick to thinning out the sauce and making it smooth. The pasta water needs to be seasoned (make sure to salt it before you cook the pasta) and also hot. I gave rough guidelines in the recipe, but if the sauce seems thick like you describe you probably need another 1/2 cup or so of pasta water stirred in. Good luck!

    2. Add one egg in the sauce, beat it up before adding to pasta, don’t wash pasta with cold water before, egg will cook in hot pasta, can add a spoon of oil to the mixture.

  3. Hey Nick! I just tried this for lunch. Had some left over ricotta cheese from a cannoli recipie in the fridge and didnt want to waste it. I also roasted a medium sized butternut squash along with the garlic. Turned out great. The salty pasta water helped keep the sauce creamy. Thank you!

  4. Nick I guess looking for fat and caloric intake isn’t a good idea? I want this bad but am fearful to ask…. Assuming it’s high.

  5. Nick, that was seriously one of the best things I’ve ever made. I didn’t have a lemon but I added some wilted spinach and grilled chicken and it was so tasty, light, and filling. The hot pasta water really transforms the texture of the ricotta so it is so silky. Thanks so much for sharing this!

    1. Awesome Kasey! So glad you liked it! Yea… people skip the pasta water or don’t add enough and then email me that it didn’t work. Ha!

  6. This was soooooo good. It’s a nice alternative to alfredo when I’m in the mood for a creamy sauce, but don’t want so many calories. I added 1 cup of water, and it was a little thin so I think next time I’ll start with a 1/2 cup and see if I need more. Thanks for a great recipe.

  7. i love this idea. i added some sauteed spinach and some parm and whizzed it all with a hand-held blender to get a smooth sauce. delish!

  8. this sauce was so good and very easy to make. For those who said it was not good can’t figure out what they could have done. With 4 simple ingredients you should always use the best. Making my own Ricotta is one very important one. No matter how expensive the store bought nothing can compare to making your own. Mine is so creamy and that is exactly how the sauce turned out. I had a simple salad along with and my husband and I loved it. this is a keeper recipe.

  9. I think that there is a difference between whole milk ricotta and part skim ricotta. Whole milk is creamier, that’s why it’s used in desserts. While, part skim is dryer, and grainy, due to low fat.

  10. Bravo Nick, I just scribbled your recipe into my leather bound recipe book to give to my kids! Thank you from the bottom of our empty pasta bowls!

  11. For those of you who don’t like the texture of ricotta, you can make it smooth and creamy just by putting it in a mixer bowl and whipping it. Totally changes the texture without affecting the flavor.

  12. For an extra flavour in this sauce I have always used dill that I keep in the freezer. It’s delicious and not overpowering. I added smoked salmon yesterday as we had some at home..yummy!

  13. Using this sauce with ground turkey and roasted brussel sprouts. I think the pasta water is a game changer bc I often add butter or olive oil and I think this is soooo much better for the waistline.

    The only problem the dam zester! It always gets me as I try to zest beyond the yellow ribs and go for the white pieces.

    FYI I added additional red pepper flakes and black pepper. I also added ground red cayenne bc my SO ‘hid’ the red pepper flakes…they were in the same spot they always are. It’s the self-quarantine getting to me!

    Sooo glad I found you! ❤️

  14. Made this tonight and it is so good! Didn’t have lemons so I left out the zest, and didn’t have enough ricotta so added some heavy cream to make the sauce go further. Flavors are so developed for it to be such a quick meal to prepare, and I’m officially obsessed with roasted garlic! To the people saying it isn’t good– use whole milk ricotta, it makes a world of difference.

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