This Trick for Creamy Pasta Will Change Your Opinion on Cottage Cheese

BY Kelli Foster, TIMEJuly 19, 2023 PRINT

Cottage cheese has been having a moment, but if you’re still on the fence about it, this light and impossibly creamy pasta is the best introduction. (And if you already love cottage cheese, this will be right up your alley.) Give the cheese a whirl in the food processor with grated Parmesan, lemon zest and juice, and a couple cloves of garlic. Then toss with short curly pasta, along with a couple of handfuls of baby spinach, arugula, or peas if you like, for a super creamy, quick, and simple dinner that’s big on flavor.

The Best Pasta for Cottage Cheese Pasta

Save the long strands for bucatini or spaghetti for cacio e pepe or meat sauce, and instead grab a package of short-cut pasta for this recipe. I love how this thick, creamy sauce collects in the nooks and corkscrews of shapes like fusilli and cavatappi.

The Most Important Step for the Best Cottage Cheese Pasta

Here, I rely on the food processor to whip the cottage cheese. This helps transform all those chunky curds into an airy, smooth, thick, and creamy sauce. Plus, it helps seamlessly blend in the lemon zest and juice, Parmesan cheese, garlic, salt and pepper.

Another important component that makes the sauce is pasta water. After the pasta is cooked and drained, return it to the empty pot, set it over low heat, and add the whipped cottage cheese and a cup of pasta water. The pasta water thins the cottage cheese mixture, creating a light, creamy sauce that clings to the pasta just right.

Impossibly Creamy Cottage Cheese Pasta

Serves 4 to 6


  • 1 ounce Parmesan cheese (1/2 cup finely grated or 1/3 cup store-bought grated)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 medium lemon
  • 1 pound dried short pasta, such as gemelli, fusilli, or cavatappi
  • 1 1/2 cups full-fat cottage cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for the pasta water
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Chopped fresh basil leaves, for garnish (optional)


1. Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil over medium-high heat. Meanwhile, prepare the following, adding each to the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment as you complete it: Finely grate 1 ounce Parmesan cheese (about 1/2 cup lightly packed) if needed, or measure out 1/3 cup store-bought. Finely grate 2 garlic cloves. Finely grate the zest of 1 medium lemon, then juice the lemon until you have 3 tablespoons.

2. Add 1 pound short dried pasta to the boiling water and cook 1 minute less than the package instructions. Meanwhile, add 1 1/2 cups full-fat cottage cheese, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper to the food processor. Process until smooth, about 1 minute.

3. When the pasta is ready, reserve 1 1/2 cups of the pasta water. Drain the pasta and return to the now-empty pot. Place over medium-low heat and add the cottage cheese mixture and 1 cup of the pasta water, 1/2 cup at a time stirring between each addition until the sauce is well combined and creamy. Let sit to thicken slightly, about 2 minutes.

4. Serve garnished with chopped fresh basil leaves and more Parmesan cheese if desired.

Recipe notes: Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for up to three days. Reheat over low heat and add a splash of water to thin the sauce.

Copyright 2023 Apartment Therapy. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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Kelli Foster is a senior contributing food editor for, a nationally known blog for people who love food and home cooking. Submit any comments or questions to
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