If you miss the delicious Italian flavors that accompany a pesto pasta recipe on keto, test out this amazing pesto sauce with cream. Even though pouring this creamy sauce over pasta noodles may not be an option, there are plenty of ways to use a creamy pesto sauce.
Whether you need a flavorful dish for busy weeknights, or you’re craving your favorite pasta dish – keep reading to learn how to make this easy recipe, plus ideas of how to add this fresh flavor to many keto-friendly options.
What Is Pesto Sauce?
Traditional pesto sauce is a thick, green sauce usually made up of fresh basil leaves, pine nuts, garlic, olive oil, and a hard cheese like Parmigiano Reggiano, aka parmesan cheese.
A great way to enjoy the fresh flavors of a delicious pesto is to blend the ingredients together in a food processor. This is also a good idea since many store pesto sauces use inflammatory vegetable oils as a replacement for extra virgin olive oil.
Since sometimes you need easy dinners you can get on the table fast, I won’t alert the keto police if you use a store bought pesto sauce for this creamy pesto sauce recipe. Just be sure to scour the ingredients for a brand that uses olive oil, not sunflower oil.
Pesto Cream Sauce Ingredients
While you may prefer a fresh pesto from scratch, not everyone has the time. I like to keep this simple recipe simple by picking up a jar of pesto from the grocery store. That way it only takes a handful of simple ingredients to throw the recipe together.
Shhh – don’t call the keto police on me either, deal?
The other ingredients this healthy recipe calls for are heavy cream, butter, minced garlic, and pasta water.
Yes, I said pasta water. While it may seem strange to use leftover water from your former Italian favorites, the leftover starches in al dente pasta water are a great way to thicken up this pesto cream sauce recipe.
If you’re off the pasta because you’re keto, use the leftover water from your family’s creamy pesto pasta recipe. If they’re also following a low carb diet, then make a batch of pasta you don’t intend to use.
It doesn’t matter which type of pasta noodle you choose – long pasta, short pasta, or even bowtie pasta. Find a cheap brand and use the water.
Many home chefs refer to pasta water as liquid gold since it results in a thicker sauce in recipes like this. In the event you don’t want to waste noodles, you can still make this garlic pesto sauce with cream. I’ve made this recipe with plain water and it still works; it just results in a thinner sauce.
How to Make Creamy Pesto Sauce
Start by heating the water and heavy cream in a small saucepan over medium-high heat until hot, but not boiling. Once the liquid is hot, lower the heat and stir in the butter, minced garlic, and pesto sauce.
Whisk the creamy pesto sauce ingredients together over medium-low heat until the sauce reaches your desired consistency. This should take about 5 minutes. Then pour over your favorite keto-friendly dish.
Store creamy pesto sauce in an airtight container in the fridge. I usually keep my high fat sauces in a mason jar. You can also freeze the recipe in a freezer bag to use at a later date.
Best Ways to Use Creamy Pesto Sauce
Now that you have a creamy pasta sauce, but you’re not supposed to eat pasta on keto – you may be wondering what can I cook with pesto sauce?
Luckily there are plenty of low carb ways to enjoy rich sauce. My favorite way is to ladle the sauce over chicken breasts for a delicious chicken with pesto sauce recipe.
Other ways to use pesto cream sauce include:
- Pair with your favorite meat, including grilled steak, pork chops, beef, chicken, or fish.
- Use as a pesto pizza sauce to top a low carb pizza crust.
- Toss creamy pesto sauce with low carb vegetables, like a side dish of zoodles or roasted cauliflower and broccoli.
- Mix into keto-friendly salad dressings and dips for a different flavor combination. This sauce tastes amazing straight out of the fridge over a big green salad.
Even though this sauce tastes amazing as is, here’s a few tweaks you can make to change up the flavor and consistency of your homemade pesto sauce recipe:
- Add a mix of cream cheese and parmesan cheese to the sauce to make a creamy pesto Alfredo sauce.
- Blend in half of an avocado for a smooth sauce that’s extra creamy.
- For a thinner sauce, add a tablespoon of olive oil into the pesto sauce with cream recipe. Continue to add 1 tablespoon at a time until your desired consistency is reached.
- Sprinkle dried basil into the mixture for a creamy basil pesto sauce.
Recipe Tips & FAQs
As long as you use a healthy oil like extra virgin olive oil, pesto sauce is healthy. Beware of store bought brands that use highly processed vegetable oils, like sunflower oil.
You can buy pesto sauce at online retailers like Amazon or Thrive Market. Most grocery stores also sell pesto sauce in the pasta aisle.
If you’re following a high fat diet like keto, calories aren’t as much of a concern. You can indulge in high fat sauces on keto as long as you keep carb intake low and only eat to satiety. Use your personalized macros to determine how this sauce fits into your keto diet.
Milk isn’t a great substitute since it won’t thicken the same way as heavy cream. Plus skim versions of milk are high in sugar. If you use whole milk, just be prepared for a thinner sauce.
Since pesto contains dairy, store bought versions may expire quicker than you think. Always be mindful of the expiration dates. Plus, a little bit of pesto sauce goes a long way when it comes to flavor.
Creamy Pesto Sauce Recipe Wrap Up
You don’t have to miss out on your favorite Italian flavors just because you’re following a keto diet. In fact, delicious sauces like this pesto sauce with cream can help you get the healthy fats you need to trigger ketosis!
Looking for more great substitutes for your favorite Italian dishes? Check out sweet and spicy spaghetti sauce or this creamy spaghetti sauce. Serve either sauce over buttery zoodles, or just eat them with a spoon like a chili.
Don’t forget to save this delicious sauce to Pinterest. Please share on social media too.
Keep scrolling for the recipe card and nutrition information.
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Pesto Sauce with Cream
More of My Favorite Recipes
Easy Pesto Sauce with Cream Recipe
An easy pesto sauce with cream sauce recipe that you can pair with steak, pork chops, chicken, beef, fish or even toss with low carb vegetables. This creamy pesto sauce only takes a few minutes, and it’s a recipe your whole family will love.
- Prep Time: 2 mins
- Cook Time: 10 mins
- Total Time: 12 mins
- Yield: 5 servings 1x
- Category: Keto / Low Carb Sauces
- Method: Stove Top
- Cuisine: Keto / Low Carb
- Diet: Diabetic
- 1/3 cup pesto
- 1/3 cup reserved pasta water
- 2/3 cup heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic, or two chopped garlic cloves
- Heat the leftover pasta water and heavy cream in small saucepan until hot, but not boiling.
- Once the liquid is hot, stir in the butter, pesto sauce, and minced garlic.
- Whisk all of the creamy pesto sauce ingredients together over medium heat until the sauce reaches your desired consistency. This should take around 5 minutes.
- You can make this recipe with plain water; the sauce just won’t be as thick.
- Make homemade pesto sauce from scratch with a high speed blender or choose a store bought pesto sauce made with high quality ingredients, like olive oil.
- Avoid store bought pesto sauces with inflammatory oils, like sunflower oil.
- Serving Size: Recipe Serves 5
- Calories: 215
- Sugar: 1.1
- Sodium: 205.8
- Fat: 22.8
- Saturated Fat: 11.2
- Unsaturated Fat: 11
- Trans Fat: .6
- Carbohydrates: 1.6
- Fiber: .1
- Protein: 1.9
- Cholesterol: 49.7
Keywords: Pesto Sauce with Cream, Creamy Pesto Sauce, Creamy Pesto Sauce Recipe