Creamy Tomato Rigatoni Pasta

Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 6 servings

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This Creamy Tomato Rigatoni Pasta is the perfect easy weeknight dinner! It’s a 25-minute recipe made with tender rigatoni pasta that are tossed in a rich, creamy, and flavorful tomato sauce and finished off with a sprinkle of parmesan.

overhead image of rigatoni pasta with tomato sauce in skillet with wooden spoon

My favorite dinner recipes are the ones that take little to no effort but that the whole family absolutely devours. This Creamy Tomato Rigatoni Pasta is one of those recipes!

This pasta dinner is ready in 25 minutes, is made with incredibly simple ingredients, and comes together to create a deliciously rich, creamy, and flavorful meal!

Serve your rigatoni pasta as a simple vegetarian entree with Roasted Green Beans or serve it as a side dish with some Baked Chicken Breast or Air Fryer Pork Tenderloin.

This recipe is quick, easy, versatile, and oh-so-good!

close up image of creamy tomato rigatoni pasta in skillet

Like this rigatoni recipe? You might enjoy this Sun Dried Tomato Pasta or this Garlic Parmesan Orzo Pasta!

Ingredients Needed:

  • Rigatoni Pasta: or another smaller pasta shape if preferred.
  • Aromatics: we’re using onion and garlic to create a flavor base for the sauce.
  • Seasonings: a simple blend of salt, Italian seasoning, crushed red pepper flakes, and black pepper takes the pasta sauce flavor up a notch. Feel free to experiment with your favorite herbs!
  • All-Purpose Flour: helps thicken the creamy tomato sauce.
  • Heavy Cream: a lighter cream can be used, but the sauce will be less rich.
  • Tomato Pasta Sauce: marinara or another type of tomato pasta sauce works great. Just use your favorite!
  • Parmesan Cheese: a sprinkle of salty parmesan is exactly what you need to finish off this creamy pasta dish.
ingredients needed for creamy tomato rigatoni pasta
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How to Make Creamy Tomato Rigatoni Pasta

This quick and easy vegetarian pasta dinner comes together in a total of 25 minutes!

  1. Cook the pasta: Bring a pot of salted water to a boil, add the pasta, then cook al dente according to package directions.
  2. Make the sauce: Melt butter in a skillet. Add in the onion and cook until beginning to brown. Stir in the garlic and seasonings, then cook for another minute. Add in the flour, followed by the cream and tomato sauce. Stir until combined, then simmer until slightly thickened.
  3. Combine: Drain the pasta, reserving 1 cup of the pasta water. Add the cooked pasta to the sauce, then stir in just enough pasta water so the pasta and sauce come together
  4. Finish and serve: Sprinkle the assembled pasta with parmesan cheese, then serve and enjoy!

FAQs for Rigatoni Pasta

What is rigatoni for?

Rigatoni is most often used for pasta bakes or for dishes with heartier, thicker sauces. This is mostly due to the ridges on the outside of rigatoni noodles. These ridges hold thicker sauces better than smoother pasta shapes do, making them perfect for thicker, creamier sauces as demonstrated in this recipe!

What’s the difference between ziti and rigatoni?

The main difference between ziti and rigatoni is the texture. While they are similar in their tube-like shape, rigatoni is ridged on the outside, while ziti is smooth.

How do you cook rigatoni?

You’ll cook the rigatoni the same as you would any other pasta! I recommend cooking it in salted water to give the noodles more flavor. I also recommend cooking the noodles al dente so they hold up better in the creamy sauce.

What can I use instead of rigatoni?

You can really swap the rigatoni for any smaller pasta shape. Try penne, fusilli, rotini, you name it!

How to store:

Leftover creamy tomato rigatoni pasta will last in an airtight container in the fridge for 4-5 days. I don’t recommend freezing it because the texture of the sauce can be affected. To reheat, warm on low on the stove until heated through.

rigatoni pasta in creamy tomato sauce in grey bowl


  • Make it meaty. Bulk your meal up by mixing in cooked chicken, Italian sausage, ground beef, ground turkey, or even crumbled bacon. You can also cook whatever meat you wish with the onion. Simply brown it in the skillet until it’s cooked through, then assemble the rest of the sauce as instructed.
  • Add veggies. Take the nutrition up a notch and cook even more veggies right along with the onion. Try peas, asparagus, broccoli, bell peppers, mushrooms, spinach, you name it. This is a great way to use up leftover veggies!
  • Make it cheesier. You can never go wrong more cheese! If you want to melt more cheese over the pasta, transfer the finished pasta to a baking dish, then layer it with the cheese of your choice (mozzarella would be delicious.) Broil for just a couple of minutes until the cheese is melted, then serve!

Serving Suggestions

This creamy tomato rigatoni pasta makes a delicious vegetarian entree next to roasted green beans, garlic bread, or breadsticks.

It’s also great paired with a protein like slow cooker chicken breast or baked chicken Caprese!

More Easy Pasta Recipes

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Creamy Tomato Rigatoni Pasta

4.95 from 36 votes
This Creamy Tomato Rigatoni Pasta is the perfect family-friendly weeknight dinner! It's a 25-minute recipe made with tender rigatoni noodles that are tossed in a rich, creamy, and flavorful tomato sauce and finished off with a sprinkle of parmesan.
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Cuisine American
Course Main Course
Servings 6 servings
Calories 553cal


  • 500 grams dry rigatoni pasta (about 1 lb)
  • 2 tablespoons salted butter
  • ½ small onion (finely diced)
  • 1 tablespoon finely minced fresh garlic (3-4 cloves)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • ⅛-¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (use ¼ teaspoon for some heat, ⅛ for no heat)
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon all purpose flour
  • cups heavy cream (or sub half and half*)
  • cups tomato pasta sauce (marinara or other)
  • 3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese


  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil over high heat. Add rigatoni, reduce to medium and cook to al dente according to package directions.
  • Meanwhile, melt butter in a large skillet. Add onion and cook until softened and beginning to brown.
  • Stir in garlic, salt, Italian seasoning, crushed red pepper flakes and pepper. Cook 1 minute but do not let the garlic burn.
  • Stir in flour until now white remains.
  • Add cream and tomato sauce and stir until combined. Continue simmering over medium heat until slightly thickened.
  • When pasta is cooked, reserve 1 cup pasta water and drain.
  • Add cooked pasta to finished sauce in pan, and stir in just enough pasta water so that the sauce comes together (start with ¼ cup and add more as needed).
  • Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese before serving.


*A lighter cream can be used but the sauce will be a little thinner and less rich — the choice is yours!
**This recipe feeds 6 as a smaller main course or side dish. It feeds 4 as a large serving main dish.
Leftover creamy tomato rigatoni pasta will last in an airtight container in the fridge for 4-5 days. I don’t recommend freezing it because the texture of the sauce can be affected. To reheat, warm on low on the stove until heated through.

Nutrition Information

Serving: 288grams | Calories: 553cal | Carbohydrates: 71g | Protein: 14g | Fat: 24g | Saturated Fat: 14g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 7g | Cholesterol: 83mg | Sodium: 681mg | Potassium: 472mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 1175IU | Vitamin C: 6mg | Calcium: 104mg | Iron: 2mg
Keywords rigatoni pasta

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Meet Ashley

My name is Ashley Fehr and I love creating easy meals my family loves. I also like to do things my way, which means improvising and breaking the rules when necessary. Here you will find creative twists on old favorites and some of my favorite family recipes, passed down from generations!

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Reader Interactions


  1. Vania Tovar says

    I made this last night and it came out so amazing. This would definitely work with any kind of pasta. I did not use the chili flakes as directed in the recipe. My kids do not like anything spicy, so I opted to use it as a topping instead per serving. I made grilled chicken and topped it with parsley and chili flakes. So glad I found this recipe. It will definitely be a staple dinner for us.

  2. Tara Hudson says

    I made this for a pasta potluck at work and it was a huge hit. Because I don’t have an oven at work to reheat a pan, I mixed it together in a bowl and reheated in a crockpot at work. It was creamy and delicious and had great flavor. Everyone loved it and I got several requests for the recipe.

  3. Maggie Portz says

    I made this easy and tasty pasta dish. I didn’t use the pepper flakes but I followed the easy recipe. I can’t wait to make this creamy and flavorful meal again. It was a big hit in my family!

  4. Carrie says

    Tried this recipe for Christmas dinner after my nephew requested a fancy red sauce pasta. Boy was it delicious!!! Followed the recipe as is and everyone really liked it. I will include it in our recipe rotation! Super easy to make and very quick too! Absolutely loved it!!!

  5. Lynn says

    Use cream cheese, regular or light or Philadelphia cream cheese in place of heavy cream. Use Cojijo Mexican crumble cheese also or in place of parmasean unless you’re using real real parmasean but chances are the parm you have at home is made in the USA and not Italy. Cojijo is tangier like real parm is. Whatever a recipe says for garlic, double it lol unless you’re using garlic pastes or pre minced they tend to be strong. But I use fresh cloves and always double the garlic look. And if you have fresh oregano and basil go with that but not necessary. BTW I’m making this now and don’t have heavy cream so Philly works best even a little sour cream added. I’ll use Philly even when I have heavy cream sometimes. And it’s amazing for making au gratin potatoes and scalloped.

    • The Recipe Rebel says

      Hope it turns out for you Lynn! I haven’t tested the recipe that way so can’t guarantee the results.

  6. Heather W says

    I made this tonight and it is soooo good! It’s like something you would get at a restaurant. I added sweet Italian sausage and peas but next time I will try chicken! Thank you for the great recipe!

  7. Heather says

    I made this recipe almost exactly as written and it was delicious. The only reason I did not give it 5 stars was because there was no measured amount of butter listed to be used anywhere in the directions. If I were an inexperienced cook I wouldn’t have known for much to use to be enough for the roux after sautéing the onions and spices.

  8. Alexis says

    Fantastic recipe! I doubled the garlic because…well garlic 😉 but it really was a delicious pasta dish. Thanks!

    • Maria says

      WOW is all I can say to this recipe! It is now on my weekly rotation of dinners to’s so easy to make and SO delish!! My 11 y.o always asks for seconds! Thank you for this amazing recipe! 10/10 would recommend

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