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Creamy Bacon and Tomato Pasta With Chilli Flakes

Looking for an easy pasta recipe for a busy weeknight, that’s ready in under 30 minutes? This Bacon and tomato pasta with its creamy tomato sauce is the perfect easy pasta dinner packed with lots of flavour and simple ingredients.  

An overhead view of a bowl of bacon and tomato pasta with a napkin around the bowl. There are ingredients surrounding the bowl for decoration.

What Makes This Recipe Great!

  • Quick Dinner Recipe – This creamy bacon pasta recipe is ready in under 30 minutes from preparation to serving.
  • Simple Ingredients – With easy-to-obtain ingredients, you can make this creamy bacon sauce easily and combine it with your favourite pasta.
  • Freezer Friendly – You can prepare and create the pasta sauce and freeze before adding the cheese and cream for an easy make-ahead meal.

About This Recipe – In More Detail

If you need a quick dinner recipe that is great for the whole family, then this creamy pasta dish is for you! With ingredients you can find in most supermarkets or the local grocery store, I create a creamy sauce with crispy bacon that you can combine with your favourite type of dried pasta. 

I add in a little heat with some red pepper flakes, herby goodness with fresh basil leaves and plenty of richness with Parmesan cheese. There are no special skills involved in making our tomato bacon pasta and you can even freeze the sauce too! And, you can adjust the spiciness levels to suit your tastes. This pasta recipe is a medium level spiciness and it’s easy to adjust this. You can omit the chilli flakes completely if you prefer and it will still taste great!

Why not serve it up with a delicious homemade Focaccia with Parmesan? Or start the meal with this Bruschetta Burrata? You can even go for a side salad or simple garlic bread. And if you love quick pasta recipes, head over and try this easy Pesto Pasta with Roasted Tomatoes or our Courgette and Pancetta Pasta

An angled front view of the finished pasta dish in a blue-grey bowl. There are ingredients surrounding the dish and a fork next to the bowl.

Equipment Needed

  • Sharp Knife: For slicing the red onion, mincing garlic, and chopping basil leaves.
  • Cutting Board: To provide a surface for chopping and prepping ingredients.
  • Large Frying Pan/Skillet: Used for cooking the sauce and bacon.
  • Wooden Spoon: For stirring and sautéing ingredients in the frying pan.
  • Large Saucepan for Pasta: To cook the dried pasta in boiling salted water.
  • Colander/Strainer: For draining the cooked pasta.
  • Cheese Grater: To grate the Parmesan cheese for the dish.
  • Measuring Spoons: For accurate measurement of ingredients like sugar, chilli flakes, etc.
  • Tongs/Spatula: For tossing and combining the pasta with the sauce.

Ingredients

A labelled photo with all the ingredients needed to make bacon and tomato pasta.
  • Red Onion: Sliced and sautéed as a base for the sauce, providing a sweet and savoury flavour.
  • Garlic: Minced and added for its aromatic essence and flavour to enhance the sauce.
  • Streaky Bacon: Chopped and cooked to add a savoury, smoky taste and texture to the dish.
  • Chilli Flakes: Added for a hint of spiciness and depth of flavour in the sauce.
  • Olive Oil: Used for sautéing the onion, garlic, and bacon, also adding richness to the sauce.
  • Chopped Tomatoes: Forms the base of the sauce, providing acidity and a rich tomato flavour.
  • Sugar: Balances the acidity of the tomatoes, enhancing their natural sweetness.
  • Basil Leaves: Chopped and added for a fresh, herby aroma and taste to the sauce.
  • Sea Salt and Black Pepper: Seasonings to enhance the overall flavour of the dish.
  • Dried Pasta: The main component of the dish, cooked to al dente, serving as the base for the sauce. You can use an egg pasta, durum wheat pasta or gluten-free variety according to your preference.
  • Parmesan: Grated and added to the sauce for a nutty, salty, and cheesy flavour.
  • Double Cream/Heavy Cream: Adds richness and creaminess to the sauce, binding all the flavours together.

Additions and Substitutions

  • Red Onion: Replace with shallots, white onion or yellow onion for a different flavour.
  • Streaky Bacon: Substitute with pancetta, turkey bacon, or smoked tofu for a vegetarian option.
  • Chilli Flakes: Use fresh chopped chilli peppers, paprika, or cayenne pepper for heat variations. This is a medium heat recipe, so you can adjust the spiciness level to suit your tastes.
  • Olive Oil: Substitute with vegetable oil, avocado oil, or melted butter for sautéing.
  • Chopped Tomatoes: Use fresh ripe tomatoes, canned crushed tomatoes, or tomato passata as alternatives.
  • Sugar: Replace with honey, maple syrup, or agave nectar for sweetness.
  • Basil Leaves: Swap with fresh parsley, oregano, or thyme for herb variations.
  • Dried Pasta: Choose your preferred pasta type: spaghetti, penne, rigatoni, or any pasta shape you prefer. Or use a fresh pasta instead.
  • Parmesan: Replace with Pecorino Romano, Grana Padano, or nutritional yeast for a vegan option.
  • Double Cream: Use heavy cream, half-and-half, or a plant-based cream for a dairy-free alternative.

Additions:

  • Vegetables: Add diced bell peppers, spinach, or mushrooms for extra nutrients and flavours.
  • Herbs: Enhance with fresh chopped parsley, thyme, or rosemary for more herbal fragrance.
  • Tomato Paste: Intensify the tomato flavour by adding a spoonful of tomato puree.
  • Balsamic Vinegar: Enhance richness by adding a splash of balsamic vinegar.
  • Crushed Red Pepper: Boost heat with extra crushed red pepper flakes for spice lovers.
  • Pine Nuts: Toasted pine nuts can add a nutty crunch as a topping.
  • Pasta Water: You can adjust the consistency of your pasta sauce with the addition of a little starchy pasta water if you require.

Step-By-Step Guide – How To Make Creamy Bacon and Tomato Pasta

Preparation:

  • Step 1: Preparing Ingredients:
    • Finely slice the red onion and mince the garlic cloves. Set aside.
    • Chop the streaky bacon into small pieces and keep it aside.
    • Chop the basil leaves while the bacon is cooking.
A chopping board with chopped red onion, garlic and a knife.
A chopping board with chopped streaky bacon on it and a knife.

Sauce Making:

  • Step 2: Sautéing Aromatics:
    • In a large frying pan over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the sliced onion and sauté for 2-3 minutes until softened.
    • Incorporate the minced garlic and cook for another minute.
  • Step 3: Cooking Bacon and Sauce:
    • Add the chopped bacon and sprinkle in the chilli flakes. Cook until the bacon is slightly browned and fully cooked.
    • Add the chopped tomatoes, sugar, and chopped basil leaves to the pan. Stir well and season with salt and pepper. Simmer until the sauce thickens slightly.
A hand is adding chopped garlic to a frying pan with semi=cooked onion inside it.
A hand is adding chilli flakes to a frying pan that contains onion, garlic and bacon.
A frying pan with cooked bacon, onion and garlic inside with a hand tipping chopped tomatoes into it.
An overhead view of the tomato pasta sauce cooked, before the cream and parmesan have been added.

Pasta Cooking and Final Steps:

  • Step 4: Cooking Pasta:
    • Cook the dried pasta in boiling salted water until al dente following package instructions.
  • Step 5: Grating Parmesan:
    • Grate the Parmesan cheese while the pasta is cooking.
  • Step 6: Combining Sauce and Pasta:
    • Once the pasta is cooked, drain it in a colander.
    • Add the grated Parmesan cheese to the pan with the sauce and gently heat it, stirring until the cheese melts.
    • Pour in the double cream over low heat, stirring carefully to combine without curdling.
  • Step 7: Assembling and Serving:
    • Add the drained pasta to the sauce, tossing everything together until evenly coated.
    • Serve the dish with an extra sprinkle of Parmesan cheese and basil leaves while hot.
An overhead view of a colander containing cooked pasta.
An overhead view of a frying pan containing pasta sauce with added grated parmesan cheese.
A hand is using a spatula to stir the cream and cheese into the tomato pasta sauce in a frying pan.
An overhead view of the pasta sauce with the pasta having been mixed through it, inside a black frying pan.

FAQ

Can I use pancetta instead of bacon?

Yes, pancetta is a suitable alternative for bacon, offering a slightly different flavour but complimenting the dish well.

Is there a specific pasta type best suited for this recipe?

Any pasta variety works; however, shapes like penne or spaghetti tend to hold the sauce effectively.

Can I skip the cream in this recipe?

Yes, the cream adds richness, but the dish can still be delicious without it if you prefer a lighter version.


Pro Tips and Guidance

  • Fry Bacon Slowly: Cook the bacon on medium heat to render the fat slowly, resulting in crispy bacon bits without burning.
  • Flavour Development: Allow onions to caramelise slightly for added depth of flavour. Cook them until they’re soft and slightly golden before adding the garlic.
  • Tomato Sauce Simmer: Let the tomato sauce simmer gently to allow the flavours to come together, creating a richer taste. Don’t rush this step.
  • Seasoning Balance: Taste as you go. Adjust the seasoning gradually; the bacon already contributes saltiness, so be cautious with additional salt until the end.
  • Pasta Al Dente: Cook the pasta to al dente, a slight firmness in the centre. It will finish cooking in the sauce, absorbing flavours without becoming mushy.
  • Cream Addition: When adding the cream, ensure the heat is low. High heat can cause the cream to curdle. Incorporate it slowly and stir constantly.
  • Finishing Touches: Toss the drained pasta in the sauce over low heat for a minute or two before serving. This helps the sauce cling to the pasta.
  • Rest Before Serving: Allow the dish to rest for a couple of minutes after combining the sauce and pasta. This time allows the flavours to develop.

A front view of a bowl filled with pasta. There is a fork sticking into it and there are ingredients in the background. The bowl is surrounded by a red napkin.

Storage

Storing: Once assembled, this pasta dish is best served fresh, but you can store any leftover pasta in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3-4 days. Ensure it’s cooled to room temperature before storing to prevent condensation and sogginess. You can also store the sauce in the fridge for 3-4 days but it is best to omit the cream if you choose this method.

Reheating: Reheat refrigerated pasta by adding a splash of water or cream to a pan and gently warming it over low heat. Stir occasionally to ensure even heating and prevent sticking.

Freezing The Sauce: It’s best to freeze the sauce separately from the pasta without adding the cream or cheese to prevent curdling. Store the sauce in a freezer-safe container for up to 2-3 months. Don’t freeze the cooked pasta as it can lose it’s texture upon defrosting.

Defrosting Sauce Without Cream: Defrosting the sauce in the fridge overnight before heating gently and adding the cream and cheese ready to use.


Check Out These Pasta Recipes

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This time I create a creamy, thick pasta sauce with absolutely no cream or cheese! Another quick to make pasta dish with a freezer-friendly sauce.

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Ricotta Ravioli

This one takes a little more time, but the results are so rewarding. You can even make your own ricotta from scratch too!

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An overhead view of bacon and tomato pasta in a bowl, with a red checker napkin around it. There are ingredients in the picture and a frying pan to the right of the bowl with more cooked pasta inside.

Creamy Bacon and Tomato Pasta With Chilli Flakes

5 from 5 votes
A delicious spicy pasta that is so easy to make. With added cream, this pasta dish has a richness to the sauce that makes it a comforting meal for the whole family no matter which day of the week you serve it. What's more, if you omit the cream and parmesan, you can freeze the sauce for another day too. Making it great as a meal-prepping option.
Print Recipe Pin Rate Save
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 4
Calories: 851kcal

Ingredients
 
 

  • 1 Small Red Onion
  • 2 Cloves Garlic
  • 150 g Streaky Bacon
  • 1 tsp Chilli Flakes, or to taste
  • 1 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 800 g Chopped Tomatoes
  • 1 tsp Sugar
  • 10 Basil Leaves
  • Sea Salt and Black Pepper , to taste
  • 500 g Dried Pasta
  • 70 g Parmesan
  • 70 ml Double Cream

Instructions

  • Finely slice the red onion and mince the garlic cloves. Set aside.
  • Chop the streaky bacon into small pieces and keep it aside.
  • In a large frying pan over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the sliced onion and sauté for 2-3 minutes until it softens.
  • Incorporate the minced garlic and cook for another minute.
  • Add the chopped streaky bacon and sprinkle in the chilli flakes. Cook until the bacon is slightly browned and fully cooked.
  • While the bacon is cooking, chop the basil leaves.
  • Add the chopped tomatoes to the pan along with the sugar and chopped basil leaves. Stir well and season with salt and pepper to your taste.
  • Let the sauce simmer until it thickens slightly. Turn off the heat and keep the sauce in the pan.
  • In the meantime, cook the pasta in salted, boiling water until al dente as per the package instructions.
  • Grate the Parmesan cheese while the pasta is cooking.
  • Once the pasta is cooked, drain it in a colander.
  • Add the grated Parmesan cheese to the pan with the sauce and gently heat it, stirring until the cheese melts.
  • Keep the heat low, pour in the double cream, and carefully stir to combine without curdling.
  • Add the drained pasta to the sauce, tossing everything together until the pasta is evenly coated.
  • Serve the dish with an extra sprinkle of Parmesan cheese and basil leaves while it's hot.

Recipe Notes

  • Fry Bacon Slowly: Medium heat, avoid burning.
  • Flavour Development: Caramelise onions, golden before garlic.
  • Tomato Sauce Simmer: Gently meld flavours, don’t rush.
  • Seasoning Balance: Taste gradually, caution with extra salt.
  • Pasta Al Dente: Cook slightly firm, and finish in sauce.
  • Cream Addition: Low heat, incorporate slowly to prevent curdling.
  • Finishing Touches: Toss pasta in sauce over low heat.
  • Rest Before Serving: Allow flavours to meld for a couple of minutes.

Nutrition Estimate

Calories: 851kcal | Carbohydrates: 107g | Protein: 38g | Fat: 30g | Saturated Fat: 12g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 12g | Trans Fat: 0.1g | Cholesterol: 69mg | Sodium: 1218mg | Potassium: 934mg | Fiber: 7g | Sugar: 11g | Vitamin A: 845IU | Vitamin C: 21mg | Calcium: 324mg | Iron: 4mg

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