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Pasta With 15-Minute Burst Cherry Tomato Sauce

Platter of spaghetti with quick cherry tomato sauce one of our favorite easy summer pastas.
Photo by Chelsea Kyle, Food Styling by Anna Stockwell
  • Active Time

    15 minutes

  • Total Time

    20 minutes

This cherry tomato pasta recipe is perfect for a weeknight dinner—especially when time is short or it’s too hot to stand over a stove for long. While it highlights summer flavors, this easy pasta dish is actually wonderful all year long. Good cherry and grape tomatoes are available year-round thanks to the fact that they ripen in less time than larger tomatoes and are also easy to grow in hothouses (and in warmer climates) in the winter. This recipe takes full advantage of their juicy sweetness and acidic pop. 

While your pasta is cooking, you’ll heat a little extra virgin olive oil in a large skillet and cook the tomatoes quickly over high heat with nothing more than a pinch of sugar, black pepper, and some garlic (if you’d like a little more heat, a bit of crushed red pepper flakes would also fit in well). By the time the noodles are done, the tomatoes will have softened and split, and their sweet-tart juices will have coalesced into a light pasta sauce. Reserve some of the starchy pasta water and add it to the skillet bit by bit to give the sauce a little more body, if you’d like.

Garnish with fresh basil leaves and Parmesan (ideally grated right over each serving with a convenient Microplane), and dinner is ready. In fact, the most time-consuming part of the entire meal is waiting for the water to boil!

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What you’ll need


4–6 servings

1 lb. pasta
Kosher salt
½ cup olive oil
2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
3 pints cherry tomatoes
½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
Pinch of sugar
1 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil
Freshly grated Parmesan (for serving)

Step 1

Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until al dente; drain pasta and transfer to a large bowl.

Step 2

Meanwhile, heat oil in a 12" skillet or wide heavy saucepan over medium-high. Add garlic, then tomatoes, pepper, sugar, and 1 tsp. salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until tomatoes burst and release their juices to form a sauce, 6–8 minutes.

Step 3

Toss pasta with tomato sauce and basil. Top with Parmesan. 

Editor’s note: This recipe was originally published in September 2015.

How would you rate Pasta With 15-Minute Burst Cherry Tomato Sauce?

Reviews (134)

Back to TopTriangle
  • This pasta was fantastic. I was running really low on ingredients, but had a small pint of cherry tomatoes in the fridge. They were getting a little on the softer side and I worried that would impact how the sauce would turn out - but it ended up being perfect! I never leave reviews on recipes but this one was so great for a quick delicious meal. Thanks so much!

    • Kate

    • Toronto, Ontario

    • 7/8/2022

  • Love this recipe. Easy to prepare and light enough for summer meals. I add some Parmesan to the dish when I add the pasta.

    • Lisa M

    • New Jersey

    • 6/21/2022

  • WTH? Why can’t the recipes be forwarded on as before? Why is my recipe box so d….d convoluted? I despise this new format - NY Times is far superior

    • BB Watson

    • Any town, USA

    • 5/23/2022

  • Very yummy, I made just a few changes. Added 12 oz sliced mushrooms that I sauteed first and saved the water from. Also a small sweet onion finely chopped. The Cup of basil seemed a bit much.... had

    • Judy C

    • PSL, FL

    • 1/1/2022

  • Love adding feta too.

    • Ruthys mom.

    • South , georgia

    • 12/20/2021

  • I will admit that I got this recipe from a food blog. It is one of my very favorite recipes. The tomatoes are like little bursts of bright flavored won- derfulness. I have made it with the tiny grape tomatoes, which I think I prefer. I'm so glad I subscribed. The recipes are fabulous. Thank you!

    • Anonymous

    • Tucson, AZ

    • 12/1/2021

  • Fabulous! The pinch of sugar makes all the difference! Added fresh arugula to wilt and served with fresh basil and parmesan cheese. Don't overcook the tomatoes or garlic!

    • Kuma Lisa

    • Nova Scotia

    • 10/16/2021

  • My new favorite sauce! Thank you Epicurious!💋

    • Sarah

    • Panama City, Panama

    • 9/20/2021

  • Anyone else not able to submit their feedback regarding the changes to the recipe box? I filled out the form and clicked on submit, but nothing happened! So frustrating that they are making these changes. I guess it's time to go to an app that will store recipes. Bad business!

    • Anonymous

    • Tucson, Az

    • 9/19/2021

  • I usually don't leave reviews, but felt the need to say that this sauce was amazing. So fresh, so simple. I had a variety of tomatoes on hand - grape, cherry, Roma, etc. I cut the larger ones in pieces similar in size to the grape, which worked great. I added a little pastas water, couple tablespoons of mascarpone and red pepper flakes - PERFECTION! I will definitely make this again and again!

    • Carrie

    • 60010

    • 9/14/2021

  • I agree with the Anonymous poster of 9/4/21. What IS the point reviewing and saving recipes anymore here. Now I am unable to go to my Recipe Box, put some ingredients into the search bar that is specifically for the recipe box & find recipes I've saved for years. Now I'm presented with my saved recipes all in a list & I assume I'm now expected to scroll through one by one the over 400 recipes I've saved for a dozen or so years now. Horrible. Better to go to NYTimes, Food & Wine etc.

    • Jody

    • Tinton Falls, NJ

    • 9/11/2021

  • What's the point of reading Epicurious articles and saving their recipes? They've destroyed the recipe box function that loyal readers used for years to store treasured recipes.

    • Anonymous

    • 9/4/2021

  • I had to halve this as I did not have enough tomatoes in my garden though I did not halve the garlic cause frankly I love it. I used my Sungold cherry tomatoes and a few regular small red tomatoes that I chopped up. The result was simply amazing and I was hard pressed not to eat it all in one sitting. I did save a couple of spoonfuls of the pasta water and added that to my sauce as well. The sauce was so creamy you would almost think there was butter in it. I will gladly make this again.

    • Janice

    • Bethlehem, PA

    • 9/2/2021

  • So ! I halved the recipe, and that made a nice lunch for two people with a little bit left over. Glass of wine, and we were happy. I didn't change anything, except that I used both cherry and grape tomatoes. I used my fanciest extra-virgin olive oil. Must make it again before the good tomatoes go away!

    • Victoria

    • Los Angeles

    • 9/2/2021

  • We were given garden fresh cherry tomatoes and whirled them into a delicious dinner, thanks to Epicurious!

    • Kelly

    • Toronto ON

    • 9/2/2021

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