This fast and delicious creamy nduja pasta sauce is not only quick but seriously amazing. It is made with a flavour bomb secret weapon nduja, which is a spreadable sausage paste from Italy. With cream, parmesan cheese and lemon juice it becomes a silky sauce that I hope will become a go-to.
Hi! This is becoming a bit of a cult favorite on my blog and this doesn't surprise me at all! Sometimes you need dinner in a flash and this is that recipe! Who knew a jar of spicy sausage paste could create so much flavor in so little time!
The nduja is mixed with cream and a pile of parmesan cheese for the most luscious creamy pasta sauce ever! Freshened up with a squeeze of lemon juice and fresh parsley. This will become a favorite weeknight dinner.
Want some other nduja recipes? Try:
- Tomato and Nduja Pasta Sauce
- 3 Ingredient Nduja Butter Pasta
- Nduja Mac and Cheese
- Nduja and Cheese Pasta Sauce
What is nduja?
Nduja is a spreadable pork sausage paste from the Southern Italian region of Calabria. It is red in colour and either comes in a jar or vacuum packed in a bag. The flavour is hard to describe, you have to trust me on this one. It is super savoury and has a kick of chilli but not overly spicy if used sparingly.
I love to use it in pasta sauces as it adds such a unique and delicious flavour note. It really is an amazing secret weapon to have in your fridge. Pop a spoonful into a tomato sauce, throw some into some stir fried or roasted veges, the possibilities are endless!
Most specialty grocery stores should have nduja, just google it in your area. If you really can't find it you could blend some chorizo. I always think if I can find something here in New Zealand you must be able to find it anywhere!
Nduja - The one I find here is by Callipo and it's really delicious. Try and find one from Italy in a jar if you can.
Cream - I use single or light cream for a creamy sauce as the parmesan thickens it up quite a lot. If you want to use heavy cream you might need to thin it out more with some starchy pasta water.
Fresh lemon Juice - A squeeze of lemon juice really is key to balancing this out. It won't curdle the sauce if you keep your heat low and mix it in quickly. I love using a flat whisk to do this.
Parmesan cheese - It is best to finely grate it yourself with a microplane or the star side of a box grater. Pre grated cheese has additives that are not ideal for melting nicely.
Flat leaf parsley - I love using fresh herbs to finish a dish. This is optional but it does really boost the recipe.
- If you are new to nduja and not sure about the flavour and spice (it has a little kick of chilli) then just add half then you can always stir in more at the end.
- Undercook your pasta! If using dried pasta, undercook it by a minute so it can finish cooking in the sauce and still be al dente. By letting pasta bubble away in the sauce you allow the pasta to take on flavor and it helps thicken the sauce too.
- Always reserve a cup of pasta water. A cream sauce can thicken up quickly so make sure you keep some pasta water on hand to thin as needed.
- Weigh your pasta portions! This is always one of my biggest tips. It ensures the perfect pasta to sauce ratio and literally takes less than a minute. I suggest 100 grams dried per person or 150 grams fresh per person. Don't have the heat too high. The sauce should only ever be at a really gentle simmer, this helps to ensure the cream won't split.
- Heat your bowls! I always have my pasta bowls in the oven on a really low heat while I cook. Pasta can get cold quickly so putting it into warmed bowls is key!
How to make this recipe
The full method and a short tutorial video is in the recipe card below.
ONE: Get your pasta cooking in a large pot of salted water. On a medium heat in a large pan melt the butter and when bubbling add the nduja paste and whisk in really well.
TWO: Add the cream and whisk again, it will look a bit strange at first but it will come together. Lower to a medium low heat (or low) if you need, when the cream is added it should only be a gentle bubble.
THREE: Add the lemon juice and sugar and whisk in really quickly.
FOUR: The sauce should be looking nice and emulsified now. Remember to keep the heat low.
FIVE: Add the finely grated parmesan in a few lots, letting it melt into the sauce between each addition.
SIX: Add a splash of pasta cooking water (depends how thick your sauce is) anything from a few tablespoons to ¼ cup. Whisk again.
SEVEN: Add your cooked pasta straight in to the sauce, give it a good toss. Taste for seasoning, I like to add a lot of black pepper.
EIGHT: Add in the Italian parsley and mix well before serving. I suggest serving with a simple side salad and some crusty bread for all that delicious sauce!
Why pasta water is your best friend!
You'll hear me harp on about the magic that is pasta water in 99% of my recipes. It really is a key ingredient in every sauce I make. The starch left behind in the water acts as a thickening agent and helps sauces cling to the pasta. I couldn't make a sauce without it.
I never EVER drain my pasta in a colander, I always transfer it directly to the sauce using a spider strainer. That way the pasta pot full of water is left there for you to ladle in as you need. If you have seen my reels on instagram you'll notice my sauces are SAUCY.
Pasta soaks up liquid so quickly so I add enough pasta water to make it quite liquidy. By the time I serve into bowls and take to the table it hasn't dried up. You'll get to know what the right consistency is with some practice, you can't go wrong though I promise!
What pasta shape is best for this sauce?
I think the beauty of most of my sauces is that they mostly work with any shape! If you feel like making some pasta from scratch, whip up a batch of my easy homemade pasta dough. Cut it into homemade pappardelle, as pictured below. The other photos you can see I've used a dried rigatoni, just use whatever you like!
Nduja Pasta FAQs
Nduja is a spreadable sausage paste from Italy. It comes in a jar or vacuum packed. It's super savoury and has a slight chilli kick. Use it in pasta sauces, mixed into roast potatoes or spread on toast. It's an amazing secret weapon in the kitchen.
Creams are all called slightly different things in different countries. Here in New Zealand, for cooking I use single cream. In America that is light cream - 18% - 30% fat. Anything heavier will be too thick. You can obviously thin down the consistency with pasta water though.
The most common reason for this is your temperature being too high. You just want a really gentle simmer. Lower heat is best for control. When you add the cream in, give it a really good whisk to emulsify. Add the parmesan in a few lots, letting it gently melt in between each addition.
The sugar is definitely optional but it really balances the dish. The nduja is REALLY savoury, the lemon juice adds zing and I find just a little sugar rounds it all out. It's really not much.
Want some other sauces to try?
I have all sorts of pasta recipes to try! If you fall in love with nduja and want something EVEN easier then check out my 3 ingredient nduja butter pasta. My new balsamic cherry tomato pasta is another 10 minute wonder but if creamy is what you love look no further than my creamy tomato pasta sauce. It is basically the same but with tomato paste.
Made this recipe and loved it?
I would love love LOVE if you could leave me a review down below and let me know what you thought! I love to hear any changes or adaptions you have made too. Also if you put a photo on instagram, please tag me so I can see, it makes my day!Print