Espagueti Rojo (creamy spaghetti with tomato)

This creamy espagueti rojo is made with fresh homemade tomato sauce, Mexican crema, and cream cheese. The whole delicious recipe comes out in less than 30 minutes!

Espagueti rojo served in a plate and topped with queso fresco.

About the recipe

Espagueti rojo is a versatile side dish that in Mexico is served as part of the menu in fonditas (neighborhood diners) for accompanying main dishes such as meat breaded cutlet, fish, and roasted meats.

But also in holidays to pair with fancier main dishes such as pierna al horno (pork leg roast) or roasted turkey.

The name literally means “red spaghetti” and it refers to the tomato sauce color. Along with Mexican green spaghetti and espagueti blanco (white spaghetti), this recipe is a popular and budget-friendly option to serve with many Mexican dishes.

Espagueti rojo with creamy tomato sauce and queso fresco.

When you think about Mexican side dishes the first thing that comes to mind is red rice (also known as Spanish rice) and beans. But there are lots of other options and this dish is proof of that.

Why you should make it

When it comes to espagueti rojo, it is all about nostalgia for me. My mother will make it always for the holidays and it just brings too many good memories of her cooking.

But let me tell you that there are other reasons why you should try this recipe, and believe me, once you make it once, it will become one of your family’s favorite, including the kids!

  • It is delicious! As simple as can be a creamy tomato-based pasta, this recipe is full of flavors.
  • It is budget-friendly. Perfect to feed a crowd.
  • It is quick to make and comes out in about 30 minutes.
  • It requieres simple ingredients. You don’t need to look for complicated Mexican ingredients. Tomatoes, pasta, and cream can be found in most countries.

How To Make Espagueti Rojo

Make the tomato sauce. Place tomatoes on a pot and cover with water, then turn on the heat to high and bring to a boil. Cook until tomatoes are soft and the skin is falling off (about 10 minutes).

Remove the tomatoes from the hot water and allow them to cool down just until you can handle them. Remove the skin, cut them in half, and remove the seeds too.

Place tomatoes on a blender and add onion, garlic, oregano, and 1 cup of the cooking water. Blend until smooth.

Tomato sauce for espagueti rojo in a blender.

In a large pan heat the oil over medium-low heat. Add butter and allow to melt, then pour in the tomato sauce.

Season with salt and pepper and cook for 5 minutes or until the sauce changes to a darker color and thickens to the point it coats the back of a spoon.

The tomato sauce for espagueti rojo cooked in a pan.

Now add cream cheese and Mexican crema (or whole cream). Stir until everything is nicely combined.

Adjust salt and pepper, and let it simmer for 3 more minutes or until the sauce thickens a little bit. Set aside.

A collage with two photos for creamy tomato sauce preparation.

Cook your spaghetti al dente as instructed in the package. Related: How To Cook Spaghetti – By BBC Good Food.

Return the pan with the creamy tomato sauce to the stove and place it over medium heat. Strain your spaghetti and add it to the pan.

The cooked spaghetti added to the pan.

Stir for 1 minute to coat nicely the spaghetti and finish the cooking. This step is important, because you don’t want to end with a runny sauce but make sure the pasta is nicely coated and creamy as it should be.

Coating spaghetti with the creamy tomato and cream cheese sauce.

Serve immediately along with your favorite main dish or as a meatless meal on its own.

How To Serve

As I said before, espagueti rojo is mostly served as a starchy side for main dishes. For example, mojarra frita (fried fish) or if you prefer a meatless meal, tortitas de papa are perfect.

And, from time to time this dish is also served as a main meal with lots of cheese and pickled jalapeños on top. It is my favorite way of eating this cream cheese and tomato pasta!

Useful Notes

  • Al dente is an Italian term that means the pasta will be cooked through but still be firm on the inside with a chewy texture (al dente=to the tooth).
  • You can use chicken or vegetable bouillon to flavor the tomato sauce.
  • Removing the seeds on tomatoes is optional, if those don’t bother you just leave them and blend as instructed. Add it as it is or strain before cooking.
  • You can blend one or two chipotle chilies with the tomatoes, or a few chile de árbol to add a spicy touch to this spaghetti recipe.
  • If you want to speed up the preparation, cook the pasta while you’re cooking also the sauce.
  • Cream cheese is optional, it surely adds a nice flavor but in Mexico this recipe is made also without it.
  • Besides queso fresco, you can use any type of cheese you prefer over your pasta. Cotija, parmigiano, or other types are also good options.
  • If you can’t find Mexican crema where you live, try finding sour cream instead. But if neither of those are available, just use any regular whole cream you can find locally.
  • You can replace the tomatoes with 1 cup of canned tomato sauce.
Mexican red spaghetti closeup.

Store and Reheat Suggestions

If you got some espagueti rojo leftovers place them in an airtight container and store them in the fridge for up to 4 days. I do not recommend freezing.

You will notice that this creamy pasta become a little dry after it has cooled down, so if you made it ahead or just want to reheat your leftovers, place them in a pan, add a splash of milk or chicken stock, and reheat over medium heat for a couple of minutes.

Mexican espagueti rojo recipe.

Espagueti Rojo

Creamy spaghetti with tomato sauce, cream cheese, and topped with queso fresco. A family favorite that can be made in so little time!
PREP 15 minutes
COOK 15 minutes
TOTAL 30 minutes
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Servings: 4
Author: Maricruz

Ingredients 

  • 8 oz spaghetti
  • 1 lb ripe tomatoes
  • ½ small onion
  • ½ cup Mexican crema (read notes)
  • 4 oz cream cheese (half package)
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 2 tsp oregano
  • pepper
  • salt

For serving

  • queso fresco (or your favorite cheese)

Instructions

  • Place tomatoes on a pot and cover with water, bring to a boil and cook until tomatoes are soft and the skin is falling off (about 10 minutes).
  • Remove from the hot water and allow them to slightly cool down. Remove the skin, cut them in half, and remove the seeds too.
  • Place tomatoes on a blender and add onion, garlic, oregano, and 1 cup of the cooking water. Blend until smooth.
  • In a large pan heat the oil over medium-low heat. Add butter and allow to melt, then pour in the tomato sauce.
  • Season with salt and pepper and cook for 5 minutes or until the sauce thickens to the point it coats the back of a spoon.
  • Add cream cheese and Mexican crema (read notes). Stir until everything is nicely combined.
  • Adjust salt and pepper, and let it simmer for 3 more minutes or until the sauce thickens a little bit. Set aside.
  • Cook your spaghetti al dente as instructed in the package.
  • Return the pan with the creamy tomato sauce to the stove and place it over medium-high heat.
  • Strain your spaghetti and add it to the pan.
  • Stir for 1 minute to coat nicely the spaghetti and finish the cooking.
  • Serve with queso fresco on top.

NOTES

 
  • Removing the seeds on tomatoes is optional, if those don’t bother you just leave them and blend as instructed. Or just strain the sauce.
  • You can blend one or two chipotle chilies with the tomatoes, or a few chile de árbol to add a spicy touch to this spaghetti recipe.
  • If you want to speed up the preparation, cook the pasta while you’re cooking also the sauce.
  • Cream cheese is optional, it surely adds a nice flavor but in Mexico this recipe is made also without it.
  • Besides queso fresco, you can use any type of cheese you prefer over your pasta. Cotija, parmigiano, or other types are also good options.
  • If you can’t find Mexican crema where you live, try finding sour cream instead. But if neither of those is available, just use any regular whole cream you can find locally.
  • You can replace the tomatoes with a can of tomato sauce.
Nutrition
Calories: 469kcal | Carbohydrates: 52g | Protein: 11g | Fat: 25g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 7g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 62mg | Sodium: 854mg | Potassium: 468mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 1653IU | Vitamin C: 16mg | Calcium: 121mg | Iron: 2mg
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One Comment

  1. 5 stars
    Thank you for the recipe, my mom called this sopa de pasta con crema and I loved when I was a kid. Now I make it for my kiddos and they love it too!