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.

Pesto cavatappi on a white platter.

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. 

Recipe ingredients:

Labeled pesto cavatappi ingredients in bowls.

Ingredient notes:

  • Cavatappi: You can substitute rotini, rigatoni, bow-tie, or any small or medium-sized pasta.
  • Mushrooms: Noodles & Company puts them in, but you can leave them out.
  • Dry white wine: Substitute more chicken broth for the wine if you want to.
  • Pesto. Homemade pesto or store-bought.

Step-by-step instructions:

  1. First, cook the pasta in salted boiling water. 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.
    Tomatoes and mushrooms cooking in a silver pan with a wooden spoon.
  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.
    Cream being poured onto cooked mushrooms and tomatoes in a silver pan.
  3. After that, add the pesto and give the sauce a stir. Cook for another couple minutes.
    Pesto being stirred into mushrooms and tomato mixture in a silver pan.
  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. Then all you have to do is serve it up in big bowls and garnish with grated Parmesan.

Recipe tips and variations:

  • Vegetarian: Substitute pasta cooking water for the chicken broth. The starches in the pasta water make the recipe even creamier.
  • 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.
  • Shrimp: Add them to the skillet with the mushrooms and tomatoes to cook (they cook quickly).
  • 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.
  • Other mix-ins: Black olives, fresh spinach, or chopped sun-dried tomatoes.

Pesto cavatappi on a white platter.

More Italian recipes:

Pesto cavatappi on a white platter.

Pesto Cavatappi (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.
4.99 from 70 votes
Prep Time 3 mins
Cook Time 12 mins
Total Time 15 mins
Servings 8 servings
Course Main Course
Cuisine American, Italian
Calories 423

Ingredients 

  • 1 tablespoon Salt
  • 1 pound cavatappi pasta or other small pasta (see note 1)
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 large tomato cored and diced
  • 4 ounces mushrooms sliced (optional, see note 2)
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth or vegetable broth
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine (see note 3)
  • ¼ cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 cup homemade pesto or store-bought (see note 4)
  • 1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

Instructions 

  • 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 Video

Notes

  1. Cavatappi: You can substitute rotini, rigatoni, bow-tie, or any small or medium-sized pasta.
  2. Mushrooms: Noodles & Company puts them in, but you can leave them out.
  3. Dry white wine: Substitute more chicken broth for the wine if you want to.
  4. Pesto. Homemade pesto or store-bought.
  5. Vegetarian: Substitute pasta cooking water for the chicken broth. The starches in the pasta water make the recipe even creamier.
  6. 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.
  7. Shrimp: Add them to the skillet with the mushrooms and tomatoes to cook (they cook quickly).
  8. 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.
  9. Other mix-ins: Black olives, fresh spinach, or chopped sun-dried tomatoes.

Nutrition

Serving: 1cupCalories: 423kcalCarbohydrates: 47gProtein: 14gFat: 19gSaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 21mgSodium: 1397mgPotassium: 254mgFiber: 3gSugar: 4gVitamin A: 1021IUVitamin C: 4mgCalcium: 217mgIron: 1mg
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Comments

  1. My boyfriend said he was craving this dish from Noodles & Co and he couldn’t stop raving about how much it was like the original. I used pasta water instead of broth and a couple splashes of rice wine vinegar in place of the wine, which seemed to work out nicely. Also recommend doubling the mushrooms. I used 8 oz and still could have used more in my opinion. Everything came together so quick and easy, and it’s perfect for me, a vegetarian and my boyfriend, an omnivore to be satisfied – he just adds chick to his portion. Will definitely be making this again.5 stars

  2. THANK YOU!! We all loved this recipe. I did add more of mushrooms, cream, wine and broth then the recipe called for. I also added minced garlic with the mushrooms and tomatoes during cooking. And some salt and pepper. Everyone added extra pesto, which they thought was necessary, but I didn’t . We did add chicken to it, which was yummy. . Totally a keeper recipe. This is a recipe that they went back for seconds! Quick to make too! Thank you for sharing! Definitely one of the favorites!!!5 stars

  3. This is the best copycat recipe ever! I’ve made this dish seven times for friends and family and they love it. 🥰 Of course I added my own twist with prefer spices, but your directions were golden. Thank you so much for sharing! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️

  4. So fast, easy, and DELICIOUS! My second time making it 😊. This doesn’t need chicken or anything else to detract from the yumminess! I had found cavatappi at Smiths but just found it in the bulk section at Winco! Woot!5 stars

    1. Hi Katie, thanks for the question! You could use the saute function for steps 2 and 3, I haven’t tried it myself, but I don’t see why it wouldn’t work. – Meggan

  5. 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

  6. 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

  7. 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!

  8. 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

  9. 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

  10. 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

  11. 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

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

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

  14. 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

  15. 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. 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

  16. 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

  17. 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

  18. I am so excited to try this! I am from Michigan and live in California now and there is not one noodles and company near me! I used to get pesti cavatappi with shrimp! So I am excited to add that to this recipe! Did you ever use store bought pesto sauce? If so did you like it that way to? 5 stars

    1. Hi LaSaundra! I have used store bought pesto sauce, although it’s not nearly as good. It will still do the trick to give you the taste of this copycat dish, but trust me- once you make your own pesto sauce you’ll most likely never go back. :D -Meggan

  19. So i see how many servings this is for, but do you know how much is in each serving size , like how much is one serving size?

    1. Hi Ariana, I just picked up the ingredients so I can make this and measure it out. I’ll report back by the end of the day. Thanks for the question!

    2. Hi Ariana! 8 (1-cup) servings. This will vary slightly depending on the size of your tomato, but you’ll get at least 8 servings out of it (8 generous 1-cup servings, I’d say). Thanks for the question!

    1. Hi Christina, yes I think so! I can’t think of any reason why not. If the sauce consistency seems loose, just simmer it a little longer. You should be fine! Thank you!

  20. I made this tonight for dinner and the family LOVED it. I followed the recipe but used vegetable broth and white cooking wine as that is what I had on hand. Absolutely DELISH! Thank you, Meggan!5 stars

  21. I made this tonight and the family LOVED it. It was DELICIOUS! I followed the recipe but used vegetable broth and white cooking wine as those were the items I had on hand. Absolutely DELISH! Thank you, Meggan!5 stars

  22. For a healthier version, is there an option to replace the heavy cream with something? Or can I just take it out? 

  23. I lived down there for 2 years, I’m originally from the UP and had to move back when my mom got really sick! But I still root for the Badgers and go visit friends as often as I can.. Now my daughter, who was born there, is working hard in high school to go to UW, so she can go back home!! I was never homesick for tbe UP but oh my God was I homesick for Madison when I left, I cried for months! 15 years later and I would still move back in a heartbeat if I could!! Love the recipes and the tips!! Talk to ya soon my fellow Badger friend!!5 stars

  24. I used to live in Madison, WI and Noodles and Co on State St was one of our favourite places to go! I ALWAYS orxerex the pesto cavatappi, always! And now I live in the U.P. of MI and there is no Noodles within 3 1/2hours, so i was really excited to see your recipe today when brainstorming dinner ideas! We all love pesto in our family but I never know what to do with it, and have tried some horrid recipes! But yours was so easy, quick and tasted EXACTLY like my favorite dish from Noidles I had been craving!! Thank you so much and you have a new follower for life, especially if all your stuff is that easy and delicious!!5 stars

    1. Hi Missi! Are you a fellow badger?? I first learned about Noodles & Co. in Madison, too, although now they are more wide spread (but not in the UP, ha ha!). Thank you so much for the lovely comment, and I hope you like anything else you may come across on the site. :) Thanks again and take care!

  25. Ask all the questions you want. :) For me personally, I would rather substitute with more chicken broth. The reason is, the white wine is a very recent addition to the recipe (as of January 2017) because a former Noodles & Co. employee told me they use white wine at the restaurant. Up until that point (and you can see the comment above) I used only chicken broth and I thought it tasted perfect. However, if I get insider info like that, I will always change the recipe to reflect it. So. If you had visited this blog in December of 2016, you would have seen the recipe written with 1/2 cup chicken broth, no white wine in sight. So that’s how I’d make it. I hope that helps!

  26. I promise this is my last question… would you prefer to substitute the white wine with chicken broth or white cooking wine?

    1. I definitely think it would work, Whitney. White cooking wine tends to be a little sweeter/richer in my opinion, but I think a lot of that would cook off in the pan. And pesto is super flavorful – a little white cooking wine could never compete!

    1. YES! I actually never had it in the recipe until recently when a former Noodles & Co. employee informed me that’s what they use. Just use chicken broth in place of the wine. I’ll update the recipe. Thank you for your question!

  27. I just made this last night, It was AMAZING!!! Seriously the best copycat recipe I’ve ever made, good work. I would love to make it again. Just wish I had cavatappi noodles, any recommendations on where to find those? Also, where do you buy your basil in such large quantities for your homemade pesto? Or do you grow it yourself?5 stars

    1. Hi Lauren! So glad you loved this recipe. I’m obsessed with it, especially since there are no Noodles & Co. where I live. I find Cavatappi noodles at my Ralph’s store (a Kroger store and it’s their label, “Private selection”). I agree, sometimes they are hard to find. I checked on Amazon; they have them but they’re pretty pricey. DeCecco is the pasta brand I’m seeing on Amazon, so if you know if your stores carry that brand, you might be able to find it. I checked Walmart.com and they have some deals but you have to buy massive amounts. However, they indicate that Ronzoni brand cavatappi is sold in stores (not at any within 50 miles of me, though). Good luck! I hope you track down that fantastic noodles. Oh, and the pesto. I buy the basil plants at Trader Joe’s, generally, and then in the summer yes I grow it myself in an Earthbox (I don’t have a yard; I start with the TJ’s plant and transfer it to the Earthbox). I tend to make this more in the summer for sure because the plants do so well. Good luck and thanks for your questions. I love feeling useful! Take care.

    2. barilla has cellentani noodles, if you store doesn’t carry, they may be able to request. They may be slightly smaller, but they work!5 stars

  28. As an employee of Noodles & Company I’ll give you a few tips, we use half broth and half white wine, also go easy on the oil as we only use a spray or two. 

    1. Thank you so much, Zoey! Much appreciated. :) I’ll update the recipe with your suggestions. I always wanted to get a job there just to learn how to make all the amazingness.

    1. Hi Josh, I don’t! Next time I’m in Wisconsin I’ll order that so I can try it and replicate it. :) Thanks for the suggestion!

  29. Only missing one thing, mushrooms! I’ve been a fan of Noodles and Co since moving to Wisconsin from NY. Will be trying this recipe this week!5 stars

    1. Dawn, you are really right about the mushrooms. I left them out because no one in my family will eat them but me… but YES! I will have to go review this post and make sure I at least MENTION the mushrooms. Because yes. You are so right!

    1. Hey there! I DO make my own pesto, it’s one of my favorite things to make. My version is made with walnuts thought, not pine nuts, because pine nuts are so expensive. But I think it tastes great. The recipe below is technically a vegan version, but I have a note about adding Parmesan cheese at the bottom of the recipe if cheese is your thing. Cheese is definitely my thing! Thanks and please let me know if you have any questions!
      Recipe here: https://www.culinaryhill.com/basil-walnut-pesto/

  30. Lovely, Meggan. Looks like a quick, easy and tasty meal. Cream definitely makes any pasta dish more delicious! Naughty but nice (but we’re not worrying about that!)5 stars

  31. I’m not familiar with Noodles & Company, but I’m pretty much pesto’s #1 fan, so I am super into this recipe! Thanks for the reminder to bring pesto pasta back into my life. :)5 stars

    1. Happy to help! Anytime I can add heavy cream to someone’s dinner table, I consider it a job well done. Noodles & Company has a lot of fantastic dishes, it’s just hard to pay $7.95 for buttered egg noodles sometimes. :)