Creamy, comforting, and flavorful, this recipe for Italian Roasted Red Pepper Sauce from scratch is a fun option for pasta or date night! This version is made without tomatoes and uses just a handful of simple ingredients.
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I recently posted about how to make Italian Roasted Red Peppers. If you already saw that post, then you’re in a good spot! And if you made some roasted peppers after reading it, then you’re in an even better spot. That’s because this recipe is like the 200-level version of that one. As the name suggests, roasted peppers make up the base of Italian Roasted Red Pepper Sauce.
In addition to roasted reds, this dreamy sauce features onions, garlic, cream, fresh basil, a hint of red wine vinegar, and a pinch of red pepper flakes (if you’re into that sort of thing)! It’s super creamy and has the most delicious sweet and savory taste that only roasted red peppers can provide.
I love that red pepper pasta sauce is loaded with veggies in a fun, kinda secretive way. It makes eating vegetables pretty enjoyable, if I do say so myself. Trust me, I think you’ll like it. Be sure to report back if you try it!
How to Make Italian Roasted Red Pepper Sauce
For the full recipe card with ingredients and instructions, scroll down to the bottom of the post. In the meantime, here’s an overview of the simple steps.
- Roast the peppers. Slice red peppers in half lengthwise and remove the stems and seeds. Put them cut side down on a baking sheet with foil. Roast at 450 degrees Fahrenheit until blackened. Transfer the peppers to a bowl covered tightly with plastic wrap for 15 minutes to let them “steam,” or skip this step if the skin of the peppers comes off easily after roasting. Remove the skin with your fingers and slice the peppers into strips.
- While the peppers are roasting, prepare pasta of choice. Reserve some pasta water for the sauce before draining.
- Cook onions and garlic in olive oil in a skillet. Add a pinch of red pepper flakes if desired for some heat.
- Combine the roasted peppers, onions, and garlic in a high-powered blender. Add the cream, salt, red wine vinegar, and fresh basil. Blend until smooth, adding pasta water as needed to get your desired consistency.
- Heat the sauce. Pour it into the same pot you used to cook the pasta. Heat it over medium-low heat until simmering. Add the pasta and stir until coated.
- Serve. Top with more fresh basil and parmesan cheese if desired, and enjoy!
- Make roasted red peppers in advance or use store-bought ones to save time. If you are using homemade peppers, use about two cups of roasted peppers. Two large or four small peppers yields about two cups roasted. If you use store-bought peppers, use a 16-ounce jar and be sure to drain the liquid before using them so that you don’t water down the sauce.
- Use a high-powered blender for best results. I used my Vitamix for this recipe. If you don’t have a strong blender, a food processor will also yield a creamy sauce.
- Serve Italian Roasted Red Pepper Sauce with farfalle (bowtie), penne, rigatoni, or spaghetti. You can substitute another pasta of your choice, but I have found that these shapes work very well with the sauce.
- Feel free to adjust the seasonings as desired. I developed this recipe to include a fat, acid, salt, and heat in the form of cream, red wine vinegar, salt, and red pepper flakes. Use more or less of any of those ingredients to suit your flavor preferences. You can also add more basil or substitute parsley if desired.
- To make this recipe vegan, use almond or oat milk in place of the heavy cream. Oat milk will probably be the creamiest plant-based milk option to use.
- The recipe yields about three and a half to four cups of sauce. This is a little more than what’s in a standard 24-ounce jar of pasta sauce. When I made the recipe, I cooked 8 ounces of dry pasta and the sauce covered it generously. It could stretch to cover a whole 16 ounces of pasta, but the pasta won’t be as smothered in sauce. I personally like it smothered, so it’s up to you how much pasta you want to make!
- You can make Italian Roasted Red Pepper Sauce in advance and store it for later use. It will last in a tightly sealed jar in the fridge for about five days. Reheat it in a saucepan or skillet over medium heat until simmering before pouring it over pasta.
- This sauce also freezes beautifully, making it a great option for meal prep or when you want to use up a lot of peppers. Let the sauce cool completely before transferring to a freezer-safe container. Store in the freezer for three to four months. Let the sauce thaw in the refrigerator overnight before reheating. You can also reheat it straight from frozen in a saucepan. Just be sure to stir often and watch the heat to prevent scorching.
What to do with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce
This sauce tastes delicious when it’s smothered all over pasta! It also pairs very well with tortellini or ravioli. If you’re feeling really adventurous, consider using it as a base for homemade pizza. For a more complete meal, serve pasta with red pepper sauce with my Healthy Spinach Chicken Meatballs, Vegan Eggplant Meatballs, or Baked Italian Zucchini Balls.
Love this Italian Roasted Red Pepper Sauce? Check out my other recipes using roasted red peppers, like the Roasted Eggplant Red Pepper Dip and Bruschetta with Mushrooms and Roasted Peppers.
I’d love to hear how you like this recipe! Rate/review using the stars on the recipe card or in the comments, and follow the Veg World on YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest. Looking for something totally different? Browse the recipe library.
Italian Roasted Red Pepper Sauce
- 2 cups roasted red peppers - or a 16-ounce jar, liquid completely drained
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 sweet onion - diced
- 4 cloves garlic - minced; more to taste
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes - optional; more to taste
- ½ cup heavy cream
- 8 to 10 leaves fresh basil - or ½ teaspoon dried
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- ½ teaspoon salt - more to taste
- Black pepper - to taste
- 8 ounces farfalle - or other pasta of choice
- If you have not roasted the peppers, do that first. Follow the instructions in my post on making roasted red peppers or just follow along here. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with foil. Slice 2 large or 4 small red peppers in half lengthwise and removed the stems and seeds. Place the pepper halves cut side down on the sheet. Roast for 25-30 minutes, or until the peppers are charred. Remove from oven and transfer to a bowl covered tightly with plastic wrap for at least 10 minutes (optional, this is to make the skin easier to remove). Remove the skin and cut the peppers into strips. To save time and completely skip this step, use a 16-ounce jar of roasted peppers. Drain them completely before adding to the other ingredients.
- While the peppers are roasting, warm the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook the diced onion for 5 to 7 minutes or until tender. Add the minced garlic and red pepper flakes (if using) and cook for a few more minutes until fragrant. Remove from heat.
- If you are making pasta to go with this recipe, boil your pot of water. Cook pasta according to package directions but reduce cooking time by a couple of minutes. Reserve a cup of pasta water before draining.
- Transfer the cooked onion mixture to a high-powered blender. Add the roasted red peppers, heavy cream, basil, red wine vinegar, salt, and pepper. Blend until smooth, about 60 seconds. If needed, add some pasta water while blending to smooth out the sauce. If you are making this sauce in advance and didn't boil pasta, add some dashes of heavy cream if needed.
- Pour the blended sauce into the pot you used to cook the pasta. Heat it over medium heat until it starts simmering. Add the cooked pasta and stir until coated. Remove from heat.
- Serve with extra basil and some parmesan cheese if desired. Enjoy!
- This recipe makes enough sauce to cover about 8 ounces dry pasta if you want the pasta completely smothered. It yields about 3.5 to 4 cups of sauce. You may be able to stretch it to cover 16 ounces of pasta but it won’t be as smothered.
- Store the sauce in the a sealed jar in the fridge for up to 5 to 7 days. You can also freeze it for 3 to 4 months. Reheat in a saucepan until warmed through, stirring frequently to prevent scorching.
This post was originally published in July 2019. It was updated with new photos, ingredient changes, and expert tips in September 2022.
Have a great weekend! – Lizzie
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