TikTok Baked Feta Pasta

My spin on the famous TikTok feta pasta that’s taking the world by storm – it’s sensationally easy, creamy and bursting with big bold flavors!  And my version has pesto and sun-dried tomatoes!

This TikTok feta pasta has become super famous because it combines the best of both worlds- low effort plus high reward – it’s one of the simplest pasta recipes you can make but emerges SO flavorful.  With so many variations and rave reviews about TikTok feta pasta, I’ve created my own spin to create the BEST recipe along with some key tips and tricks for success. The baked feta pasta recipe is made by literally baking a block of feta along with tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, pesto and olive to create an irresistible, cheesy, creamy, tangy, tomato sauce. Stir in some garlic, basil and cooked pasta and you have a super easy, gourmet tasting dinner that took less than 10 minutes of hands-on prep!  This baked TikTok feta pasta is also incredibly versatile – add Parmesan, heavy cream, chicken, artichokes, olives, etc. or additional veggies – because it’s all about the sensation sauce!  

baked feta pasta video

top view of TikTok Baked Feta Pasta with roasted tomatoes and feta in a baking dish

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What is baked feta pasta?

I’m not on TikTok, but this baked feta pasta has become so popular, I’ve seen it on Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest!  On TikTok alone, the #bakedfetapasta hashtag has amassed 52 million views and counting!

Baked feta pasta is going viral all over the world because it’s astonishingly simple to make with just a handful of fresh ingredients – and it actually tastes amazing!  It’s also going crazy because it’s unique – how many pastas have you seen with melted feta as the base of the sauce?  The idea is based off of the Greek appetizer, baked feta, to create the base of a decadent sauce – and it works!

The premise of TikTok feta pasta is simple:  Toss tomatoes with a generous amount of olive oil in a baking dish, add a block of feta to the middle and throw it in the oven until the feta it’s soft and melty and the tomatoes are caramelized and bursting. Add some garlic and basil to cook in the residual heat, then gently mash the feta into an irresistible, creamy, cheesy, rich, tangy sauce and stir it in with the pan full of bursting tomatoes.  Finally, add some al dente pasta, stir it all together, and comforting, creamy, tangy dinner is served! 

What is TikTok feta pasta?  Where did it come from?

Although TikTok feta pasta is just now going global, it has actually been around for a couple of years.  Finnish blogger, Tiiu Piret, posted the first known version of the dish on her blog in February 2018.  Fellow Finnish blogger, Jenni Hayrinen, adapted and simplified the recipe a year later and is credited with making uunifetapasta (Finnish for “oven-baked feta pasta”) which went viral in Finland – so viral that stores in Finland actually ran out of feta cheese! 

The baked feta pasta phenomenon was popularized in the United States when blogger MacKenzie Smith posted a baked feta pasta video to her TikTok at the end of January 2021.  The video has over 3 million views and counting. Since then, countless TikTok feta pasta videos have been posted, because you just can’t beat the winning combo of ease and taste!

What Makes TikTok Pasta So Good?

Arguably, the best thing about baked feta pasta is that it only requires a few minutes of hands-on prep time, and then the oven and simmering pasta water do the rest of the work, so you have more time to enjoy with family.

Here are a few reasons you’ll love TikTok’s baked feta pasta:

  • Easy!  If you can stir and boil water, you can make this recipe.
  • Quick:  Add the tomatoes, feta, oil and seasonings to the dish and bake; stir, then serve!
  • Simple yet flavorful:  The feta, tomatoes, basil, garlic and my additions of sun-dried tomatoes and pesto, pack a punch of intoxicating flavor.  The ingredients are simple, but the flavors are heavenly!
  • Creamy:  You get to reap an indulgent, creamy tomato sauce without making a roux or using heavy creamy!  The hot, melty feta becomes perfectly creamy, combining with the juicy, jammy tomatoes for a decadent pasta you will crave.
  • SO versatile:  Make this baked feta pasta however you want!  Omit the pesto, add more basil, add protein, artichokes, olives, veggies, swap the cheese, etc.  I’ve shared all sorts of variations below – you never have to make this Tiktok pasta the same way more than once!  You can also keep the TikTok pasta gluten free by using gluten free pasta or serving it over zoodles or spaghetti squash.
  • Main or side dish worthy:  Even though this baked feta pasta doesn’t contain protein, it is a hearty, stand-alone dish that’s extremely satisfying.  Alternatively, you can also serve it with some protein like Italian sausage, lemon basil chicken, garlic butter shrimp or lemon butter salmon.
top view of TikTok Feta Pasta in a 9x13 baking dish garnished with basil

My baked feta pasta recipe

TikTok feta pasta has evolved from Hayrinen’s version using a fresh chile pepper to Smith’s version using crushed red pepper flakes, from roasting the garlic in large chunks with the tomatoes, to adding minced garlic and basil once the pan is pulled from the oven.  Today, I’m excited to share my baked feta pasta recipe that still includes all the reasons to love the original TikTok pasta plus some:  

  • In the TikTok baked feta pasta recipe, copious amounts of olive oil is used.  I find this to be a waste – why not use pesto and sun-dried tomatoes which both include oil and boast tons of flavor?  Now, we reap the benefits of moisturizing oil plus the bonus of aromatic basil, garlic, pesto and sultry sun-dried tomatoes. 
  • Next, I seasoned the baked feta pasta recipe with dried oregano, parsley, thyme, salt and pepper.  The robust seasonings are needed to compliment and cut through the creamy baked feta, yet none of the seasonings overwhelm the TikTok pasta.
  • Finally, I reserved one cup pasta water and added it to the sauce to create a creamier, more luxurious sauce that better coats the pasta.

Now, you have the best baked feta tomato pasta recipe! 

How to choose the best feta

Feta is a tangy, salty cheese and the star of this recipe.  One of the reasons TikTok feta pasta is wildly popular is because it transforms feta-what most of us think of as feta crumbles sprinkled on salad- into dreamy, melted, soft and creamy.  Who knew? 

But not all feta is the same- it ranges in milk type, flavor, potency and creaminess.  Unfortunately, many influencers don’t specify what type of feta to use, resulting in a gritty, broken sauce. The key to super creamy baked feta pasta is selecting the correct feta.  For this recipe, look for one 7-8-ounce block of sheep’s milk feta packed in brine, usually located with the specialty cheeses. 

 What to look for in feta:

  • Use feta made from sheep’s milk:  Feta can be made from sheep’s milk, goat’s milk, cow’s milk, or a combination.  Feta made from sheep’s milk is the richest and creamiest. Feta made from goat’s milk is the next creamiest and feta made from cow’s milk is the driest and therefore the crumbliest. So, for the best baked feta pasta, choose a feta that is made from sheep’s milk, or the highest ratio of sheep’s milk to goat’s milk you can find.  To check the type of feta, simply look at the ingredients on the back of the package. 
  • Use feta packed in brine:  The packaging of feta is crucial!  Blocks of feta can be packaged with or without a brine.  Vacuum-packaged feta without a brine isn’t as moist which means it tends to bake up dry or rubbery and doesn’t melt as seamlessly.  Brined feta is feta packaged in salt water (a little or a lot), and doesn’t dry out.  It bakes up smooth and creamy, which translates into a smoother, richer, creamier sauce.   Brined feta is also tangier, as feta should be.  
  • Use French Feta:  French feta made of 100% sheep’s milk packed in brine will yield the creamiest baked feta pasta. It is milder, creamier and less tart than Greek Feta. Israeli Feta would be my second pick. I’ve gone into detail below. 
  • Use young feta:  If you have the choice, look for young feta (aged for two months) vs. aged feta (aged for up to a year).  The flavor of feta intensifies with age, which may make it too intense for this dish when using the entire block.  Aged feta also isn’t as creamy whereas young feta tends to be milder, milky and creamy.

Greek feta vs French Feta

Major producers of feta include Greece, France, Bulgaria and Israel.  While it’s impossible to identify exactly what each feta from a different country tastes like, there are some general production guidelines that set them apart.  

Greek Feta:  When most of us think of feta, we think of Greek Feta. Greek feta tends to have the strongest flavor; sharp, salty, tangy, and lemony, which may be a bit much for people in this recipe. Traditional Greek feta is made with at least 70% sheep’s milk (production standard’s), with goat’s milk usually making up the other 30%. The higher percentage of goat’s milk, the crumblier the feta will be. Due to the fact that Greek feta isn’t made of 100% sheep’s milk, it isn’t as creamy and can lead to a grainier pasta sauce. If you use Greek feta, look for a young feta with the highest percentage of sheep’s milk you can find packed in brine. 

French Feta: Is most often made with 100% sheep’s milk, which means it’s mild, rich, and creamy – perfect for this TikTok’s feta pasta!  You will want to double check the ingredient label, however, because a few French feta varieties also contain goat’s milk which will make it slightly drier and tangier.

Bulgarian feta:  Is another popular type of feta but can be quite salty.  It is similar to French feta in that it tends to be made all with sheep’s milk so it’s smooth and creamy but it is tangier than French feta because it also contains yogurt cultures. The saltiness varies but some brands can be quite salty, so you would want to omit the salt in the recipe and salt to taste after adding the pasta to the sauce.

Israeli Feta: Can be made of sheep or goat’s milk, so check the label, but it’s most often made from sheep’s milk. This means it’s full-flavored, creamy and usually not overly salty.  Trader Joes sells an Israeli feta, made from 100% sheep milk and stored in brine, that’s fairly mild and not too tangy – perfect for this TikTok feta pasta recipe!  

TikTok Feta Pasta in a dish with tomatoes, olive oil, garlic and basil

baked feta pasta recipe ingredients

Now that you know all about feta, let’s talk about the rest of the ingredients in this baked feta pasta recipe.  For my spin on TikTok feta pasta, I’m using the same ingredients as the original but adding sun-dried tomatoes, pesto and seasonings.  If you want to keep with the original, just skip the additions and additional olive oil.  Here’s what you’ll need to make this easy pasta dinner:

PASTA

Almost any pasta works with this creamy tomato feta sauce.  I am partial to medium-shaped pastas such as gemelli (pictured), casarecce, rotini, orecchiette, fusilli elbows, and farfalle, because they provide the best sauce to pasta ratio but larger tube pastas such as penne, rigatoni and cavatappi also cradle the sauce nicely.  You can even use noodles such as linguine, spaghetti and bucatini but you’ll really want to thoroughly toss the pasta for even coverage.  You can also serve this TikTok baked feta pasta with low-carb pasta as well.

CHERRY OR GRAPE TOMATOES

Ripe cherry tomatoes are garden candy and the perfect size to caramelize and burst, providing the liquid for the sauce while the feta softens. Their sweetness mingled with the salty, tangy feta is magic. 

Look for the deepest colored cherry or grape tomatoes you can find because they tend to be the ripest which means they’ll be the sweetest, and the sweeter the better!  If both the cherry and grape tomatoes are ripe, then go for cherry as they tend to be sweeter.  If your store happens to carry Candyland Red cherry tomatoes, snatch them up because they are among the very sweetest! 

If the tomatoes aren’t ripe, you can still take them home and store on the counter because they will produce ethylene (gas produced by fruit that promotes ripening) on their own and continue to ripen.  You can also combine different varieties of small, ripe tomatoes such as cherry tomatoes, grape tomatoes and vine heirloom tomatoes.

OLIVE OIL

Most baked feta recipes call for ½ cup olive, which is a whole lot of oil. Instead, this recipe uses 2 tablespoons olive oil plus pesto and the residual oil from the sun-dried tomatoes to coat the tomatoes; the olive oil is also drizzled over the feta so neither the tomatoes or feta dry out while baking.  The olive oil also adds richness and body to the sauce. Use high quality extra-virgin olive oil for the best flavor.

Pesto

Pesto is made of basil, garlic, pine nuts, Parmesan cheese and olive oil – all in one! This simple ingredient really amps up the flavor of the TikTok pasta instead of just using olive oil to coat the tomatoes.  I used store-bought basil pesto because part of recipe’s charm is its simplicity – just keep a jar of pesto in your refrigerator and you’re good to go!  Of course, you are welcome to make your own pesto if you wish.

Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Feta is a common cheese throughout the Mediterranean and the Balkans, and pairs beautifully with sun-dried tomatoes.  If you are a sun-dried tomato fan, you will love them in this dish, if not, just skip them and add 1 extra tablespoon of olive oil.  When choosing sun-dried tomatoes, select the tomatoes packed in oil in a jar, not water; the oil keeps the tomatoes bold and moist. They are usually located near the olives or pickles at your grocery store. Don’t be tempted to buy the dry shriveled ones that come in a package. Normally, I rinse the oil off of the tomatoes, but this time, just remove the tomatoes, chop and add them straight to the dish; the extra oil will add flavor and mingle with the tomato juices to create the sauce.

Garlic

A couple cloves of minced garlic are mixed into the roasted tomatoes as soon as the TikTok pasta is removed from the oven. The residual heat of the tomatoes will cook the garlic, mellowing the sharpness.  For this reason, make sure to finely mince the garlic or use a garlic press.  Of course, you can add more or less garlic depending on how garlicky you would like the dish.  The pesto contains garlic, so you may not even want to add extra if garlic isn’t your thing.  

Basil

The feta garlic tomato sauce is infused with basil from the basil pesto, but the fresh basil really makes it a star of the dish, rounding out the flavors of the feta.  You will want 2-3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil; measure the basil after it is chopped.  This requires more basil than you think, so don’t be stingy!   You can also garnish your individual serving with additional fresh basil if you wish.

Seasonings

  • Crushed red pepper flakes:  The red pepper flakes awakens the dish.  You can use a pinch up to ½ teaspoon.  I recommend ¼ teaspoon for somewhere right in the middle. 
  • Salt and pepper:  You will need anywhere from ¼ -½ teaspoon pepper and 1/2-¾ teaspoon salt.  I recommend starting with less then adding more to taste once the pasta is tossed in with the sauce.
  • Dried herbs:  Dried oregano, dried parsley and dried thyme combine with the fresh basil to flavor the dish.  You can also add 1 ½ teaspoons dried Italian seasoning if that’s all you have on hand.
top view of Feta tomato Pasta TikTok on a plate garnished with fresh basil

TikTok feta pasta Variations

This TikTok feta pasta is extremely flexible – add protein, veggies, swap cheeses, etc.  Whichever path you choose, the destination will be delicious.

Here are a few ideas:

  • Not a fan of feta cheese?  This pasta can also be made with 8 ounces of cream cheese, goat cheese, ricotta cheese, brie cheese or burrata cheese.
  • Try a mix of cheeses:  You don’t have to use all feta! If feta is too strong for you, try half feta and half cream cheese for a super creamy pasta.
  • Add a protein:  You can add raw chicken fillets (large chicken breasts cut in half) or chopped chicken directly to the 9×13 pan, drizzle with olive oil, then place the tomatoes over top.  The chicken should be done in the same amount of time as the tomatoes, when the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F.  If you have leftover cooked chicken or rotisserie chicken, you can stir it into the sauce before stirring in the pasta.  You can also add some raw shrimp the last 6 minutes of baking.  Alternatively, you can cook up any protein separately – Italian sausage, chicken, shrimp, salmon or scallops – and stir it into the sauce or serve alongside the dish.  Keep in mind, you’ll need to reduce the pasta if adding protein directly to the sauce or else the dish won’t be a saucy.
  • Add veggies:  Add veggies that have similar roasting times to the baked feta pasta alongside the tomatoes such as broccoli, cauliflower, sliced carrots, etc.  You can also stir fresh spinach, cooked veggies (like asparagus, mushrooms, bell peppers) directly into the sauce before adding the pasta.
  • Add roasted red peppers: Add about ½ cup roasted red peppers to the dish before baking or swap the sun-dried tomatoes for the peppers for a less tangy pasta.  Roasted red peppers are usually sold in jars near the pickles and olives. 
  • Add artichokes:  Add chopped artichoke hearts when the dish comes out of the oven along with the garlic and basil to enhance the Mediterranean vibe.
  • Add Kalamata olives:  Meaty, salty fabulous; also amp up the Mediterranean flair.  Stir into the dish with the basil and garlic.
  • Add fresh herbs:  You can swap the dried herbs for fresh parsley, oregano and thyme.  You will need three times the amount.  Stir the fresh herbs into the pasta sauce with the fresh basil so the herbs don’t lose their potency. 
  • Add heavy cream:  Instead of adding reserved pasta water to loosen the sauce, try adding heavy cream.  This will create an even richer sauce and tone down the acidity.
  • Add Parmesan cheese: Add freshly grated Parmesan directly to the sauce or garnish individual servings to infuse the baked feta pasta with nutty, umami to balance the tangy feta.
  • Make it spicier:  As written with ¼ teaspoon pepper and ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes, the baked feta pasta has a little kick, but if you really want a kick, amp up the pepper to ½ teaspoon or add additional crushed red pepper flakes.
  • Make it gluten-free:  The sauce is already gluten free, so to keep the recipe gluten free, serve it over gluten-free pasta (Tinkyada is great brand), sweet potato noodles, zoodles or spaghetti squash. 
  • Make it vegan: Follow the recipe as written but don’t add the vegan feta until the last 5 minutes of baking because it will melt and splatter if over-baked.  If it’s not soft enough after 5 minutes, then continue to bake a few more minutes.
  • Serve over grains:  This baked feta “pasta” doesn’t have to be served with pasta!  The creamy garlic tomato sauce would also be delicious served over rice, risotto, lentils, farrow, or mashed potatoes.  The sauce could also be served over chicken or fish!
  • Make it a dip:  You can skip the pasta and serve your creamy baked feta and tomatoes as a dip or spread with crostini.  If serving as a dip, you’ll want to keep it on the thick side, so don’t add any reserved pasta water.

HOW TO MAKE BAKED FETA PASTA

You are going to fall in love with the ease and taste of TikTok inspired feta pasta!   Just add the ingredients, bake, then add the pasta – here’s how:  

Prep the tomatoes and feta:  Here is where your 5 minutes of “work” comes in.   Simply add the tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, pesto, olive oil, oregano, parsley, salt, pepper, thyme and red pepper flakes to a 9×13 baking dish.  Stir all of the ingredients together until evenly coated.  Make room in the center of the dish and add the feta. Drizzle the top of the feta with olive oil so it doesn’t dry out.

a collage showing how to make tiktok feta pasta by adding tomatoes, oil and seasonings to a baking dish then stirring all of the ingredients together
showing how to make tiktok feta pasta by adding feta to the middle of a baking dish surrounded by tomatoes

Bake the feta:  Pop the dish in the oven and bake for 35 minutes or until the feta is soft and tomatoes are bursting.   

showing how to make tiktok feta pasta by baking feta pasta until the tomatoes are bursting and feta is soft

Boil pasta:  After the tomatoes and feta have been in the oven for about 10 minutes, heat a large stockpot full of water until boiling.   When there is 10 minutes left on your oven timer, add the pasta and cook just until al dente.  Reserve 1 cup of pasta water before draining the pasta.  I also take this time to chop the garlic and basil.

Make the sauce:  Remove the dish from the oven and immediately add the garlic and basil and stir for 30 seconds so the residual heat can cook the garlic. Using a spatula, press down on the feta cheese to break it down and make it creamy; then stir everything together until completely combined. 

a collage showing how to make tiktok feta pasta by adding basil and garlic to roasted tomatoes, then stirring the tomatoes and feta together to create a creamy sauce

Add the pasta:  Stir in your pasta of choice and toss to evenly coat with the sauce.  For a creamier pasta, stir desired amount of reserved pasta water ¼ cup at a time until reaches desired consistency.

a collage showing how to make tiktok feta pasta by adding pasta to the tomato feta sauce and stirring until combined
showing how to make TikTok Baked Feta Pasta by garnishing the dish with basil

Help, my baked feta pasta is too tart!

There are a few factors that influence the tangy/tartness of the TikTok baked feta pasta:

  1. The ripeness of your tomatoes: the riper the tomatoes, the sweeter the pasta. If the tomatoes aren’t ripe, the pasta won’t have any source of caramelizing sugar/sweetness and the pasta is bound to be tart.
  2. The type of feta used:  Greek feta is much tangier than other types of feta; French feta and Israeli feta are milder and les tangy.
  3. Whether or not the feta is packed in brine:  I highly recommend selecting feta packed in brine for better melting ability, but this will make the cheese tangier.

Due to these factors, your finished baked feta pasta may be more or less tangy.  The easiest solution is to add 1-2 teaspoons of sugar to the sauce at the end of baking, just like you do to any marinara, or Bolognese sauce.  You can also add 1-2 tablespoons of honey.  The exact amount will depend on personal preference, or you may not want any at all!   Another option heading into the baking, is to add some finely diced red onions with the tomatoes.  The onions will caramelize while baking and add sweetness to the finished sauce.

More Cooking TIPS for TIkTok Feta pasta SUCCESS

  • Use the right feta: This is the number one cooking tip for success!  Use a feta packed in brine (so that it doesn’t dry out too much in the oven) made of sheep’s milk (the creamiest between sheep, goat and cow’s feta).  This is typically French or Israeli feta.  Brined Greek feta will also work but will tangier and not quite as creamy.
  • Use full fat feta:  Reduced fat feta will work but it won’t be as creamy and your sauce can break.  
  • Use the right tomatoes:  Use ripe cherry or grape tomatoes instead of larger, quartered tomatoes.  Cherry tomatoes boast vibrant sweetness and a meaty texture with less seeds.  The idea is the small tomatoes will be crowded and touching to create a tomato confit of sorts.  And of course, use the ripest tomatoes possible- the sweeter the better!
  • Use a small to medium pasta: Yes, this baked feta pasta will work with nearly any pasta shape, but smaller pasta shapes blend together seamlessly with the hearty sauce.
  • Don’t use too much pasta: Keep the pasta to 8 to 12 ounces depending on the pasta you’re using, otherwise the pasta won’t be as saucy/creamy. 
  • Pasta weight will vary by type:  Some pasta types are denser than others, meaning two pastas can weigh the same amount but vary in volume. For example, I used gemelli pasta which is dense and compact so I used 12 ounces of gemelli pasta in this recipe.  If I used a less dense/compact pasta such cavatappi, for example, I would only want to use 8 ounces.  You may want to cook 12 ounces of pasta and add as needed, realizing you may not use all of it.
  • Save the pasta water:  After pasta is finished boiling, don’t drain all the pasta water!  Make sure to reserve 1 cup of the water, although you’ll probably end up using just ½ cup.  The warm, starchy pasta water can be added a little at a time to create a thicker, creamier consistency while it loosens the sauce.  
  • Don’t be afraid to make this TikTok feta pasta your own! Even though there are hundreds of renditions of virtually the same recipe, don’t be afraid to add protein, veggies, or Mediterranean add-ins to make it your own.  Be sure to refer to my “variations” in the post for all sorts of ideas.  
  • Add sugar to taste:  This tomato feta pasta runs on the tart, acidic side, but can be tamed by adding a couple teaspoons of sugar or a couple tablespoons of honey.  You can also stir in some heavy cream instead of reserved pasta water to tone the acidity down.
a spoon picking up Baked Feta Pasta recipe showing how creamy it is

WHAT GOES WITH BAKED FETA PASTA?

I like to serve this TikTok feta pasta with a simple green salad and breadsticks, but you can also try it with any of these tasty sides:

HOW TO STORE AND REHEAT LEFTOVERS

  • Storage: Let the pasta cool completely, then transfer to an airtight container; store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. 
  • To reheat in the microwave:  This baked feta pasta tends to dry out, so you may want to add a splash of milk before heating.  Microwave small portions for 1 minute, stir, then continue to heat at 30-second intervals until warmed through.
  • Stove: For larger portions, reheat pasta gently on the stove, stirring occasionally. Again, you may need to add a splash of milk or a drizzle of olive oil to make it ultra creamy again. 
a plate of TikTtok feta pasta recipe with fresh basil

Baked Feta Pasta (TikTok Inspired)

This TikTok feta pasta has become super famous because it combines the best of both worlds- low effort plus high reward – it’s one of the simplest pasta recipes you can make but emerges SO flavorful. The baked feta pasta recipe is made by literally baking a block of feta along with tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, pesto and olive to create an irresistible, cheesy, creamy, tangy, tomato sauce. Stir in some garlic, basil and cooked pasta and you have a super easy, gourmet tasting dinner that took less than 10 minutes of hands-on prep!  This baked TikTok feta pasta is also incredibly versatile – add Parmesan, heavy cream, chicken, artichokes, olives, etc. or additional veggies – because it’s all about the sensation sauce!  
Servings: 6 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes

Ingredients

  • 8-12 ounces medium pasta like gemilli, rotini, fusilli (see notes)
  • 2 pints cherry tomatoes (20-25 ounces)
  • ½ cup chopped sun dried tomatoes in oil (optional)
  • ¼ cup basil pesto
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil + more for drizzling
  • ½ tsp EACH dried oregano, dried parsley
  • ¼ tsp EACH dried thyme, red pepper flakes, salt, pepper
  • 1 7-8 oz. block feta in brine, preferably French feta/100% sheep's milk (see notes)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2-3 tablespoons chopped basil

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  • Add the tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, pesto, olive oil, oregano, parsley, salt, pepper, thyme and red pepper flakes. Stir all of the ingredients together until evenly coated.
  • Make room in the center of the dish and add the feta. Drizzle the top of the feta with olive oil.
  • Bake uncovered for 35 minutes or until the until the feta is soft and tomatoes are bursting.
  • Meanwhile, chop the garlic and basil and cook the pasta in salted water according to the package directions (plan on adding the pasta to the boiling water 10 minutes before the feta and tomatoes are done). Before draining the pasta, reserve 1 cup of the pasta cooking water for later.
  • Remove the dish from the oven and immediately add the garlic and basil and stir for 30 seconds so the residual heat can cook the garlic.
  • Using a spatula, press down on the feta cheese to break it down and make it creamy; then stir everything together until completely combined to create the sauce. Add the pasta and toss to evenly coat with the sauce. For a creamier pasta (recommended), stir in desired amount of reserved pasta water ¼ cup at a time until it reaches desired consistency (I use ½ cup).
  • Taste and season with additional salt, pepper and/or red pepper flakes to taste (I like ¼ tsp EACH more salt and pepper). For a less tangy pasta, stir in a couple teaspoons sugar or honey to taste (like you do in any tomatoes-based sauce).

Video

Notes

Tips for Success

  • Use the right feta: This is the number one cooking tip for success!  Use a young feta (vs aged) packed in brine (so that it doesn’t dry out too much in the oven) made of sheep’s milk (the creamiest between sheep, goat and cow’s feta) OR has the highest percentage of sheep’s milk to goat’s milk.  This is typically French or Israeli feta located with the specialty cheeses.  Brined Greek feta will also work (part sheep’s milk, part goat’s milk) but will be tangier and not quite as creamy.
  • Not a fan of feta cheese?  If feta is too strong for you, try half feta and half cream cheese for a super creamy pasta. This pasta can also be made with 8 ounces of cream cheese, goat cheese, ricotta cheese, brie cheese or burrata cheese.
  • Pasta:  Almost any pasta works with this creamy tomato feta sauce.  I am partial to medium-shaped pastas such as gemelli (pictured), casarecce, rotini, orecchiette, fusilli elbows, and farfalle, because they provide the best sauce to pasta ratio but larger tube pastas.
  • Pasta weight will vary by type:  Some pasta types are denser than others, meaning two pastas can weigh the same amount but vary in volume. For example, I used gemelli pasta which is dense and compact so I used 12 ounces of gemelli pasta in this recipe.  If I used a less dense/compact pasta such cavatappi, for example, I would only want to use 8 ounces.  You may want to cook 12 ounces of pasta and add as needed, realizing you may not use all of it.
  • Tomatoes:  The sweeter the better!  Choose the ripest between cherry and grape tomatoes.  If both the cherry and grape tomatoes are ripe, then go for cherry as they tend to be sweeter.
  • Sun-dried tomatoes:  If you are a sun-dried tomato fan, you will love them in this dish, if not, just skip them and add 1 extra tablespoon of olive oil.  Don’t rinse the oil from the tomatoes; just remove the tomatoes, chop and add them straight to the dish.
  • Make it gluten-free:  The sauce is already gluten free, so to keep the recipe gluten free, serve it over gluten-free pasta (Tinkyada is great brand), sweet potato noodles, zoodles or spaghetti squash. The creamy garlic tomato sauce would also be delicious served over rice, risotto, lentils, farrow, or mashed potatoes.  The sauce could also be served over chicken or fish!
  • Don’t be afraid to make it your own!  Don’t be afraid to add protein, veggies, or Mediterranean add-ins to make it your own.  Be sure to refer to my “variations” in the post for all sorts of ideas.  

HOW TO STORE AND REHEAT LEFTOVERS

  • Storage: Let the pasta cool completely, then transfer to an airtight container; store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. 
  • To reheat in the microwave:  This baked feta pasta tends to dry out, so you may want to add a splash of milk before heating.  Microwave small portions for 1 minute, stir, then continue to heat at 30-second intervals until warmed through.
  • Stove: For larger portions, reheat pasta gently on the stove, stirring occasionally. Again, you may need to add a splash of milk or a drizzle of olive oil to make it ultra creamy again. 

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10 Comments

  1. Ramya says

    will be making this soon i never had baked feta pasta before i love pasta soooooooooooo much perfect for my after office meals will dm you if i make this and let you know how it goes Thanks Ramya

    • Jen says

      Thanks Ramya, I’m excited for you to try it!

  2. KikitCT says

    Holy guacamole, this was FANTASTIC! I did half Greek feta and half cream cheese based on your feedback and Added spinach as well since I had it. Absolutely delicious, everyone devoured it! Thank you for another home run!

    • Jen says

      Thanks so much! I love your modifications and I’m thrilled it was a huge hit!

  3. Aimee says

    I made this for dinner tonight, it’s absolutely delicious and really easy to make. This is definitely going in my recipe rotation!

    • Jen says

      Yay! I’m so pleased this recipe will be on repeat. Thanks Aimee!

  4. Annette says

    Do you think a Mozzarella/Cream cheese combination would work?

    • Jen says

      Yes! Just make sure to use fresh mozzarella. I can’t wait to hear how it turns out!

  5. Erik Meyerson says

    Delicious. Just made it with spaghetti squash instead of pasta and it came out great.

    • Jen says

      Thanks Erik, I’m so pleased it was a hit! Sounds delish with spaghetti squash!