Creamy mushroom pasta with an easy mushroom white sauce, garlic, and no heavy cream. Ready in 30 minutes. Vegetarian.
This easy, creamy mushroom pasta is one of our favorite weeknight recipes.
It’s quick, it’s simple, and it’s easy to adapt for whatever ingredients you have in the fridge! Just throw together your favorite pasta, an easy garlic mushroom pasta sauce, and any other proteins or veggies you have on hand (don’t worry – we’ll walk you through plenty of substitution ideas!)
Plus, y’know, any excuse to say “shrooooooooms!” in a singsongy voice over and over while I make dinner.
Let’s run through the ingredient checklist, shall we? Here’s how to make mushroom pasta:
- Olive Oil.
- THE SHROOMS.
- Lil’ bit of flour.
Riffs & Substitutions
The beauty of this creamy mushroom pasta is that it doesn’t necessarily have to be creamy mushroom pasta – you can substitute anything you have on hand to make it a complete dish!
- Out of parmesan cheese? Use cream cheese, goat cheese, shredded asiago or romano. You can use shredded mozzarella here if you like, but know that mozzarella will typically make this sauce much thicker and string-y-er (more like a mac and cheese).
- What mushrooms should I use? Use any mushrooms you like for this pasta: portobellos, button mushrooms, or cremini mushrooms are all good! (PS – More more info, check out this breakdown of mushroom types, flavors, and characteristics!)
- Add your favorite veggies. Add spinach, broccoli, butternut squash, corn, tomatoes, arugula, bell pepper, or any other seasonal veggies you have on hand. Toss quick-cooking veggies into the sauce right before serving; add heartier veggies in to sauté with the garlic and onion and adjust cook times as necessary.
- Add your favorite protein. Add some roasted or grilled chicken to your creamy mushroom sauce, or top your pasta with grilled or sautéed prawns, shrimp, or steak!
- Easy swaps. Use shallots or green onions instead of yellow onion if you like. You can leave the garlic and/or onion out if you need to, but you’ll lose some flavor: if you do this, we recommend adding some extra mushrooms and a pinch of herbs (thyme, rosemary, or sage) to round it out. And don’t forget to add salt!
- Nix the pasta. This cream sauce is great on spaghetti squash, zucchini noodles, or chicken.
- To make this pasta vegan, (or if you just want it without dairy!) swap our favorite Magic Cauliflower Cream Sauce for the milk and flour here. Use a few tablespoons of nutritional yeast in place of the parmesan (or omit it entirely!)
Adjusting the sauce
- Can I use heavy cream or half and half instead of milk? Yes! Keep in mind that swapping heavy cream for the milk in this recipe will create a much richer, alfredo style sauce. To make this switch, omit the flour (you won’t need it as a thickening agent since heavy cream will thicken quite well on its own when heated) and use just 3/4 as much cream as you would milk to start (so, 1 1/2 cups of cream or half and half for every 2 cups of milk called for – you can always add more later!)
- What about a mix of milk and heavy cream? If you’re short on milk or just want a slightly richer sauce, you can use a mix of milk, heavy cream, and/or half and half. We recommend reducing the amount of flour by half and using a 50-50 split (50% milk, 50% heavy cream) to keep things simple. If you’re using more than 50% heavy cream, omit the flour entirely (you don’t need it to thicken the sauce if you have that much cream!)
- To lighten up this sauce, swap the milk and flour for our favorite (vegan!) Magic Cauliflower Cream Sauce. You can also swap 1/2 cup of the milk for white wine, chicken broth, or reserved pasta water for a lighter sauce option.
VIDEO: HOW TO MAKE CREAMY MUSHROOM PASTA
One quick note: In the written recipe, we ask you to cook your mushrooms first and THEN add the garlic and onion. But in this video, you’ll notice we cooked the garlic and onion first! Both methods work just fine – but since we shot this video, we’ve found we prefer to cook the mushrooms first. Cooking the mushrooms first helps them brown better without having to compete for space with onion and garlic – giving them a slightly nicer texture! We’re in the process of recording a new how-to video for this recipe, so stay tuned!
Easy, creamy mushroom pasta with a tasty parmesan sauce.
- 1/2 pound pasta (we used bowties!)
- 3 Tablespoons olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
- 12 ounces baby portobello mushrooms, sliced (3 heaping cups)
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2 Tablespoons flour
- 2 cups milk (we use 1%)
- 1 1/2 cups shredded parmesan cheese
- Cook the pasta in very salty water until al dente. Drain and set aside.
- Return the pasta pot to the stove. Add olive oil and turn heat to medium.
- Add sliced mushrooms to oil and cook, stirring only once or twice, until they begin to brown, about 5 minutes.
- Add garlic and onion to pan and sauté until onions have softened and are translucent, about 2 minutes.
- Add salt and pepper to taste and stir to combine.
- You should notice a bit of liquid in the skillet with the mushrooms – this is what you want! If your pan looks dry, add another tablespoon of olive oil so you have enough fat to form a roux in the next step.
- Add flour to mushroom mixture and stir to help the flour soak up any liquid. Cook, stirring frequently, for 30 seconds or so.
- Slowly add milk to mushrooms, stirring constantly to break up any chunks of flour. Cook 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until sauce has thickened.
- Remove sauce from heat and stir in shredded parmesan cheese.
- Add cooked pasta to sauce and toss to combine. Serve immediately.
Additions and Substitutions. Use cream cheese, goat cheese, shredded asiago or gruyere instead of parmesan here. You can use mozzarella if you like, but it will create a thicker, string-y-er sauce (more like a mac and cheese). Use portobello, button, or cremini mushrooms. Add spinach, broccoli, or any seasonal veggies you like to the sauce. Add chicken, shrimp, or steak for extra protein. Use shallots or green onion in place of yellow onion. If you’d like to leave out the garlic and onion, add a pinch of sage, rosemary, or thyme to build in more flavor (use 1/4 teaspoon dried herbs or 2 Tablespoons fresh). For more substitution ideas, be sure to read the post above!
Shred the parmesan cheese yourself for best results! Pre-shredded cheese often has preservatives applied that prevent the cheese from melting smoothly.
Strict vegetarians should look for parmesan cheese made without rennet. To make this pasta vegan, use our Magic Cauliflower Cream in place of the milk and flour in this recipe and use a few Tablespoons of nutritional yeast instead of parmesan.
Swap the milk for heavy cream or half and half. If you’d like to use cream or half and half, omit the flour and use just 3/4 as much cream as you would milk (so, 1 1/2 cups of cream for every 2 cups of milk called for – you can always add more later!) Using cream will yield a much richer sauce! You can use a mix of cream and milk if you like – we recommend cutting the amount of flour in half and using a mix of 50% milk and 50% cream. See the post above for additional notes on this!
This recipe makes quite a bit of sauce – if you like a lighter amount of sauce, use 3/4 pound of pasta and add a splash of reserved pasta water to your sauce to thin it out a little.
For a lighter twist, swap our favorite Magic Cauliflower Cream for the flour and milk in this recipe! You can also lighten up this sauce by swapping white wine, chicken stock, or reserved pasta water for 1/2 cup of the milk. Reduce the amount of parmesan cheese by up to half if you like.
This recipe was updated in September 2020 with additional notes and photos.
Keywords: mushroom sauce, mushrooms, cream of mushroom