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This rich and creamy Roasted Red Pepper Sauce is loaded with amazing flavors from red peppers, buttery roasted garlic cloves, Parmesan cheese, and fresh basil. It's a deliciously different way of topping your favorite pasta. We especially like it with fettuccine!
Homemade sauces take pasta night to the next level, whether it's a Classic Homemade Marinara Sauce or a labor of love like our Best Bolognese Sauce. But some of our other favorites are Homemade Basil Pesto or a creamy Alfredo Sauce.
This post was originally published in October, 2016 and updated with new content.
Homemade Roasted Red Pepper Pasta Sauce
In Provo, Utah, there is a restaurant just south of BYU campus called Brick Oven. They serve pizzas and pasta and it is an institution for anyone who has ever been to BYU.
In my 8 years in Provo, first an undergrad and then as a law student, I went there on dates, before or after ball games or dances, to celebrate birthdays or graduation, or for no reason at all other than my family was in town to visit and the food at Brick Oven is just goooood. Not fancy or ground-breaking, but definitely delicious.
Especially their roasted red pepper sauce.
My favorite thing about Brick Oven is their pasta bar where you choose two from ten or so different fresh pastas that change from day-to-day (black pepper fettuccine! garlic fettuccine! red pepper fettuccine! I need to learn to make pasta so I can have them all!) and they get dumped into boiling water and cooked for you right there as you watch.
While you wait, you can select either meatballs or Italian sausages and garlic bread pulled straight from an open-flame brick oven to go with your pasta.
Then you get to choose your sauce, which is self-serve so you can do any combination you want. I always chose the roasted red pepper sauce, usually with a little marinara or alfredo sauce on the side for good measure (and because I could!).
Now that I don't live in Provo anymore, if I want amazing roasted red pepper sauce like I remember from Brick Oven, I make it myself.
Like my classic homemade marinara sauce or the sauce from my Bombay House (incidentally, another BYU hotspot) copycat chicken tikka masala, this roasted red pepper sauce takes a little extra time. It's not hard, and it's not like you will be slaving all day, but there are a couple of extra steps, like roasting your peppers and garlic, that are totally worth it because the flavor of the sauce is so wonderful and unique.
The splash of cream and freshly grated Parmesan take this sauce over the top and give it a richness and creaminess that is just so wonderful and helps the sauce cling to whatever pasta you serve it with. It's also wonderful with grilled sausages, Italian meatballs, or Parmesan chicken. Or just have it for a wonderful meatless meal with a little extra fresh Parmesan grated over the top and ribbons of fresh basil.
Ingredients in my Roasted Red Pepper Sauce
- Roasted Red Peppers: You can either buy jars of roasted red peppers or make your own. Either way, they aren't spicy at all, but have a wonderful zippy flavor that works great in this sauce.
- Garlic: It might seem shocking that this recipe calls for two entire heads of garlic, but just trust me. Roasting garlic in the oven mellows out the flavor considerably and it turns buttery and rich and fantastic. If you are short on time and need to skip roasting the garlic, you can just use four cloves instead and simply mince and saute them with the onion.
- Olive Oil & Butter: These add richness to the sauce and are used to saute the veggies.
- Onion: A yellow onion works well to create a deep flavor base for this sauce.
- Broth: A little chicken broth thins out the sauce a bit so it more easily coats your pasta. You could use vegetable broth instead, if you want a vegetarian version. If you prefer a thicker sauce that you could on burgers, sandwiches, or eggs, just leave the broth out.
- Cream: A little heavy cream adds a wonderful silkiness and richness to the roasted red pepper sauce, similar to alfredo sauce but with more pizzazz thanks to the peppers.
- Parmesan Cheese: I only use freshly grated parmesan cheese because it melts into the sauce so much better.
- Crushed Red Pepper Flakes: These are optional, but sometimes I like my red pepper sauce to have a bit of a kick. Just a pinch of red pepper flakes does the trick every time.
- Salt & Pepper: Be sure to taste your sauce and adjust the salt and pepper to your liking. Nobody wants bland sauce!
How to Make Roasted Red Pepper Sauce
- Roast the garlic: This step takes the most time of the whole recipe, but it can be done 2-3 days in advance. For the garlic, just slice off the top ¼ to expose the bulbs, drizzle with a little olive oil so it can seep down in around the cloves, and wrap them up in foil. Then bake at 425 degrees F for around 45 minutes until the garlic cloves are all buttery and soft. I have a whole tutorial here to show you how. If you choose to skip this step, you can replace the roasted garlic with four cloves of minced, fresh garlic instead, but I love the buttery, mild flavor the roasted garlic adds to this dish.
- Roast the red peppers: Roast the peppers, skin side up under a broiler for 7-10 minutes or until skins are blackened all around. Remove them from the oven and immediately place the hot peppers in a glass bowl. Cover it tightly with plastic wrap to trap the heat. Let the charred peppers steam for 30 minutes, then you should be able to slip the skin right off with your fingers. If you are in a rush or don't want the bother of roasting your own red peppers, you can always use a 16-ounce jar of roasted red peppers from the store. Just be sure to drain them well before using.
- Saute the veggies: Drizzle the olive oil in a large pan and sauté the onions until they start to soften, around 5 minutes. If using raw garlic, go ahead and add it during the last 30 seconds of sauteeing. Then add the chopped roasted red peppers and roasted garlic cloves, and cook another 2-3 minutes.
- Blend: Transfer the peppers, onion, and garlic to a blender or food processor and pulse until fairly smooth. Be sure to cover your blender with a towel rather than using the lid or pressure can build up from the heat.
- Finish the sauce: Add the butter to the pan, then add the smooth red pepper mixture back into the pan along with the broth and cream. Taste and season with the salt and pepper, adding the crushed red pepper flakes if you like your sauce to have a bit of spice. Remove from the heat and stir in the freshly grated Parmesan cheese.
- Serve over your favorite pasta: This sauce is excellent with wide noodles like linguine or fettuccine, but you could also use smaller shapes like penne or farfalle. I like to add the pasta straight into the sauce and toss everything to coat it evenly. Sprinkle even more fresh Parmesan and thinly sliced strips of basil over the top just before serving.
- Add a protein: This sauce is fantastic with sauteed or grilled shrimp, grilled chicken, or grilled fish.
- For a thicker sauce: If you want a thicker sauce for topping meat or even pizza instead of coating pasta, try leaving out the chicken broth entirely rather than using a cornstarch slurry.
- Adjusting salt: If you are using jarred roasted red peppers, you might not need any salt at all, especially with the salty Parmesan, so be sure to taste the sauce before salting.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yep! These are sweet red bell peppers that are being roasted, which softens them and mellows their flavor wonderfully. They aren't spicy at all, although be careful if purchasing jarred roasted red peppers to make sure the label doesn't say "Hot".
I guess you don't have to peel the red peppers, but I don't like getting the little bits of skin in the sauce. When charred and steamed, the skins should pretty much just slip right off of the peppers. It's an easy step and worth it for a nicer texture in the finished sauce.
More Italian Recipes You'll Love
- Classic Homemade Marinara Sauce
- Best Bolognese Sauce Recipe
- The Best Spaghetti and Meatballs Recipe
- One Pot Bruschetta Chicken Pasta
- Angel Hair Pasta with Shrimp, Tomatoes and Fresh Basil
- Easy Stromboli Recipe
- Grilled Garlic Bread
Roasted Red Pepper Sauce
- 4-5 red bell peppers quartered with stems and seeds removed*
- 2 whole heads garlic [roasted] or 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- ½ medium onion diced
- 2 Tablespoons butter
- 1 cup chicken broth
- ½ cup heavy cream
- ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2 Tablespoons fresh basil sliced into thin strips
- 16 ounces fresh fettuccine cooked according to package directions.
- Preheat the oven to broil on high. Roast the peppers, skin side up under the broiler for 7-10 minutes or until skins are blackened all around. Remove from the oven and place peppers in a glass bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Let the peppers steam for 30 minutes, then remove the skins with your fingers (they should slip right off) and chop.
- Heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium-high heat, then sauté the onions in the olive oil until soft. Add the roasted peppers and roasted garlic with the cloves removed from the papery skin, and stir to combine and heat through.
- Transfer the peppers, onions, and garlic to a blender or food processor and blend until smooth.
- Melt the butter in the same pan. Pour the red pepper puree back into the pan with the butter and add the broth, cream, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Stir to combine, then taste and adjust seasonings as needed.
- Remove pan from heat and stir in the Parmesan cheese.
- Prepare the fettuccine according to package directions in salted water. Add the cooked pasta to the sauce and gently toss to coat.
- Sprinkle with a little additional Parmesan cheese and basil strips and serve immediately.
- You can use one 16-ounce jar of roasted red peppers from the store instead of roasting your own. Just drain thoroughly, then use in the recipe as written.
- Two whole heads of garlic might seem like a lot, but roasting garlic really mellows the flavor and it won't be overpowering at all in this sauce. If you don't have time to roast the garlic, just mince up 4 garlic cloves and saute them in with the onions instead.
Adapted from The Pioneer Woman.
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