Pesto Cavatappi Recipe (Noodles & Company Copycat)

There’s so much to love about springy pasta, creamy pesto sauce, and bright diced tomatoes, so it’s no wonder Pesto Cavatappi is Noodles and Company’s most popular dish. Here’s the perfected copycat recipe that’s faster, less expensive, and maybe even just a little more delicious.

Fun and fast pasta recipes like Cheese Tortellini in Garlic Butter Sauce, One Pot Pizza Pasta Bake, and Pasta with Asparagus, Mushrooms, and Prosciutto hit the spot when you’re short on time but want a great dinner.

Pesto cavatappi on a white platter.
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This is one of my absolute favorite quick dinners to make, whether or not I’m pressed for time. It used to be my standing order at Noodles and Company, but now that I don’t live anywhere near one, I set about figuring out how to crack the cavatappi code and make it myself.

And that’s just what I did! Because when you can’t get to a Noodles, you have to bring the Noodles to you.

Making Pesto Cavatappi for one big happy family dinner? Click and slide the number next to “servings” on the recipe card below to adjust the ingredients to match how many you’re feeding—the recipe does the math for you, it’s that easy.

Pesto Cavatappi ingredients:

Here’s everything you need to make this amazing dish:

  • Cavatappi. Actually, any pasta works, but cavatappi is fun to eat and especially fun to say. Feel free to use rotini, rigatoni, bow-tie, whatever ya got. Small to medium sized pasta works best, especially for little mouths.
  • Tomatoes. whole diced tomatoes, or a handful of cherry tomatoes, cut in half.
  • Mushrooms. Optional, but so, so good.
  • Pesto. Homemade or store-bought. Here is a kale version too.
  • Parmesan cheese. Grated, if you please.
  • Chicken broth.
  • Dry white wine. Feel free to use extra chicken broth in place of wine.
  • Heavy cream. This makes the pasta delightfully creamy and irresistible.
  • Olive oil. Because all good things start with a little olive oil.
  • Salt. For salting the pasta water.

Pesto cavatappi on a white platter.

How to make Pesto Cavatappi:

First you have to cook your pasta, so heat a large pot with at least 4 quarts of generously salted water to boiling.

Why do you salt pasta water? Salting the water increases the boiling point of the water, but it also gently seasons the pasta, which means that you can use less salt overall in the recipe.

Helpful tip: In this recipe, you can use a little bit of the pasta water in place of chicken broth, in case you’re making a vegetarian version, or you don’t have any chicken stock. The starches in the pasta water make the recipe rich and even creamier.

  1. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and sauté the mushrooms and tomatoes until the mushrooms release their liquid and the tomatoes are heated through.

    There’s so much to love about springy pasta, creamy pesto sauce, and bright diced tomatoes, so it’s no wonder Pesto Cavatappi is Noodles and Company’s most popular dish. Here’s the perfected copycat recipe that’s faster, less expensive, and maybe even just a little more delicious.

  2. Next, stir in the broth, wine, and cream and bring everything to a boil. Turn down the heat and reduce the mixture until the sauce has thickened slightly. This should take about two minutes.

    There’s so much to love about springy pasta, creamy pesto sauce, and bright diced tomatoes, so it’s no wonder Pesto Cavatappi is Noodles and Company’s most popular dish. Here’s the perfected copycat recipe that’s faster, less expensive, and maybe even just a little more delicious.

  3. After that, add the pesto and give the sauce a stir. Cook for another couple minutes.

    There’s so much to love about springy pasta, creamy pesto sauce, and bright diced tomatoes, so it’s no wonder Pesto Cavatappi is Noodles and Company’s most popular dish. Here’s the perfected copycat recipe that’s faster, less expensive, and maybe even just a little more delicious.

  4. Once the pasta is cooked, add it to the sauce and gently toss until the sauce finds all the nooks and crannies in the pasta.
  5. Then all you have to do is serve it up in big bowls and garnish with grated Parmesan. Magnifico!

Fun things to add to Pesto Cavatappi:

  • Pesto Cavatappi with chicken: cook chunks of chicken in olive oil before you add the tomatoes and mushrooms. Throw in the mushrooms and tomatoes to cook when the chicken is just barely pink, then proceed with the recipe as directed.
  • Or…add a can of cooked chicken breast to make dinner come even faster.
  • Shrimp and Pesto Cavatappi: absolutely! Shrimp cooks quickly, so add them to the skillet with the mushrooms and tomatoes to cook.
  • Gluten free pasta: brown rice pasta or any other gluten-free pasta is a great way to make this.
  • Zucchini noodles: Super healthy dinner ahead! Get the sauce made and stir in raw zucchini ribbons. Serve when the zucchini is just warm. Don’t overcook it, because zucchini tastes best as pasta when it still has a little crunch.

Pesto cavatappi on a white platter.

Other great add-ins:

  • Black olives
  • Baby spinach
  • The last two strips of bacon leftover from the weekend
  • Chopped sun-dried tomatoes

More Pesto recipes:

4.97 from 29 votes

Pesto Cavatappi Recipe (Noodles and Company Copycat)

There’s so much to love about springy pasta, creamy pesto sauce, and bright diced tomatoes, so it’s no wonder Pesto Cavatappi is Noodles and Company’s most popular dish. Here’s the perfected copycat recipe that’s faster, less expensive, and maybe even just a little more delicious.
Course Main Course
Cuisine American, Italian
Keyword pasta, pesto
Prep Time 3 minutes
Cook Time 12 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Servings 8 (1-cup) servings
Calories 433kcal
  • 1 tablespoon Salt
  • 1 pound cavatappi pasta or other small pasta
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 large tomato cored and diced
  • 4 ounces mushrooms sliced (optional)
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth or vegetable broth
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine (see notes)
  • ¼ cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 cup homemade pesto or store-bought
  • 1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • In a large saucepan or stock pot, bring 4 quarts of water and salt to a boil. Add pasta and cook until al dente, about 10 to 12 minutes. Drain well.
  • Meanwhile, heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add tomatoes and mushrooms (if using) and cook for about 5 minutes, until some of the liquid has been released and the tomatoes are heated through.
  • Stir in the broth, wine, and cream and bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium and cook until the sauce has thickened slightly, about 2 minutes.
  • Add pesto and stir until heated through, about 2 minutes. Add pasta and toss until uniformly coated in the sauce. Transfer to a serving dish or individual plates and garnish with Parmesan cheese.

Recipe Notes

More chicken broth can be used in place of the white wine.

Nutrition

Calories: 433kcal

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  1. PJ

    This dish is perfection! Simple, satisfying flavor. So glad I tried this recipe!5 stars

  2. Nance

    This was a hit with my whole family! Usually my husband doesn’t like anything “fancier” than spaghetti, the silly goose, but he was tickled pink by this meal.5 stars

  3. Glenda

    Appreciation to my father who informed me about this webpage, this webpage is truly amazing.5 stars

  4. Jane Deaux

    as a former noodles employee, the recipe is less complicated than this. pesto cavatappi is a vegetarian dish, unless you add chicken or other protein so chicken broth is not needed. make the pasta, put vegetable oil in a sauté pan and then add the pasta and mushrooms and tomatoes and 2 tbsps of creamy pesto and some cream and toss it around and that’s it. super easy.4 stars

  5. Michael

    Just made it and it was so good! I accidentally added to much pesto, so it was ok but would have been perfect if I used the right amount. Thanks!

  6. Kim

    I’m a complete recipe snob… I typically choose ones with long and drawn out steps. I chose simplicity tonight… and I’m glad that I did. This recipe was spot on and absolutely amazing!! I not only served an amazing supper, I had time to enjoy outside with my mini me! Thank you so much!!5 stars

  7. Kaylie

    This taste just like noodles and company!!! Amazing! I used chickpea noodles and instead of wine I used a shot of vodka. And more chicken broth. SO GOOD!5 stars

    1. meggan

      Kaylie! You go girl! And thanks. -Meggan

  8. Suzie

    Can’t wait to try, but fun fact Noodles and Company actually doesn’t have any nuts in their pesto. This is my daughter’s fav meal there and she is allergic to nuts which is why I know. Thanks

  9. anonymous 👍

    BEST RECIPE EVER! I absolutely love the pesto cavetappi from noodles and company and this tasted the exact same!!! was easy to make and perfect for a family meal! *i did not use any of the wine and it still tasted absolutely delicious!5 stars

  10. Denise

    OMG this recipe was so easy and fast. Tasted better than Noodles & Co. I substituted the chopped tomatoes for slices cherry tomatoes……deliziosa5 stars

  11. Stacy

    Great copycat recipe, tasted just like at Noodles! I opted to make my own Pesto and everything tasted so fresh and delicious!5 stars

    1. Meggan

      Thank you so much Stacy! I truly appreciate it! :) -Meggan

  12. Roy

    Amazing! Luv, luv, luv it. The sauce has great depth of flavors. I added shrimp I’ll try chicken next time.5 stars

    1. meggan

      Thank you Roy! So happy to hear that. Great addition ideas. Thanks again. -Meggan

  13. Christine

    Pesto Cavatappi is my favorite Noodles and Company dish. I think I agree, this recipe is a little bit better. I even made my own pesto. The only thing I will change next time, only because of personal taste, is to add much less pasta. Other than that, perfect! Thank you so much!5 stars

  14. Sandra

    Wonderful!!! As good or better than N&C but be sure to add your grilled chicken breast to make it even better!5 stars

  15. Kimberly Peters

    Any ideas or hints on how they cook their tofu?

  16. Dave

    I have to disagree about using cooking wine of any sort.  Any inexpensive white wine will make the dish taste better than white cooking wine.  Want sweet use a dry Madeira.  Don’t cook with anything you would not drink.5 stars

    1. meggan

      I actually totally agree with you. That’s obviously a typo in the recipe, I would never buy “cooking wine.” Gross. Thanks for pointing that out!! XOXOXO

  17. In my book a pasta dish such as this is a year round fav! Looks so vibrant and stunning.

  18. Lisa

    This recipe is awesome! Tonight was the second time I’ve made it. I think my one-year old ate more than I did. It was a huge hit with my 3 picky kids! Thanks for continuing to make amazing recipes! 5 stars

  19. Jaime

    Made this last week, making it again today because my family loved it so much. Thanks!5 stars

  20. Alexis

    This recipe is amazing!!! It tastes exactly like the real deal, I don’t think I’ll ever go to Noodles again. Great, great recipe, and so easy to make!5 stars

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