Creamy Leek and Pancetta Pappardelle Pasta
This creamy leek and pancetta pappardelle pasta (for two) is incredibly easy to prepare. Perfect for a weeknight dinner or special occasion!
I feel like curling up in this bowl of creamy Leek and Pancetta Pappardelle and taking a nap. A wonderfully long nap filled with heavy cream, crispy pancetta, caramelized leeks, and a fluffy pile of parmigiano-reggiano cheese.
Here’s the part where I tell you that this recipe is perfect for Valentine’s Day dinner. I’ve even scaled the recipe down to yield two (very) generous servings. pasta is indulgent, rich, and creamy.
If you don’t eat pork or are looking for a vegetarian option, this Creamy Mushroom Pasta is a great choice. And if you’re looking for hearty, cream-free pasta sauces, Marcella Mazan Bolognese or Pasta Amatriciana are fantastic options.
But let’s be real for a second. You may not want to share this pasta with anyone else. Really, it’s that good.
I challenge you to find someone who doesn’t enjoy egg pappardelle pasta, especially when it is tossed with a creamy leek and pancetta sauce. It doesn’t get much better than this.
For maximum ease, you can use store-bought dried egg pappardelle pasta. My favorite brand is DeCecco, which sells a wonderful extra wide egg pappardelle that holds its shape extremely well.
If you’re feeling ambitious, you can also use homemade pappardelle pasta for this recipe.
This pappardelle pasta is elegant and impressive, yet could not be easier to throw together. As is the case with most cream sauces, this dish takes very little time (30 minutes or less) to prepare.
The first step is to sauté the pancetta and sliced leeks in olive oil and butter. Leeks are more delicate and nuanced in flavor than regular yellow onions and while they can be more expensive, they are worth the spurge.
Save the tough green stalks and use them in homemade chicken stock.
The next step is to add the heavy cream, thyme, and a touch of water to help thin everything out. Special occasions call for heavy cream. No guilt allowed.
Meanwhile, cook the pappardelle in salted boiling water until just shy of al dente, add directly to the cream sauce, and finish the dish off with a heavy hand of freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese.
Pat yourself on the back, grab a fork, enjoy the compliments, and dive in!
Creamy Leek and Pancetta Pappardelle Pasta
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon (15 g) unsalted butter
- 2 ounces pancetta finely diced
- 1 large leek, white and light green parts only halved lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise (roughly 5 oz)
- kosher salt
- ½ cup (120 mL) heavy cream
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
- freshly ground black pepper
- 6 ounces dried egg pappardelle pasta
- 1½ ounces finely grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese
- Heat the olive oil in a large (preferably, straight-sided) sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the pancetta and cook until golden brown and crispy, 4 to 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Reduce heat if necessary.
- Add the unsalted butter to the pan and add the sliced leeks. Sauté the leeks for 6 to 8 minutes over medium-high heat until they are lightly caramelized and soft. Add the heavy cream, chopped thyme, and ¼ cup of water to the pan, and stir ingredients together. Bring to a simmer and reduce the cream mixture for 2 to 3 minutes, or until thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
- Cook the pappardelle in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring every few minutes, until al dente. Reserve ½ cup of pasta cooking water. Using tongs, transfer the pasta directly from the pot to the pan with the cream sauce. Don’t worry if you transfer some pasta water along with it, as this will help thin the sauce and help it coat the pasta.
- Turn off the heat. Stir the pasta gently in the sauce until it is evenly coated, add the grated cheese, and add pasta liquid as necessary. Serve immediately and garnish with fresh thyme leaves and grated cheese.
83 Comments on “Creamy Leek and Pancetta Pappardelle Pasta”
My friend made this last eve! Such a delicious delicate & elevated dish. I loved it & plan on making it myself.
Great recipe! Simple and delicious. Had to sub bacon for the pancetta this time but it turned out great. I thought the sauce was gonna be a bit dry but just make sure you save the pasta water and add in as needed to loosen the sauce. I’ll definitely make this again!
This was AMAZING – a party in my mouth for sure – it always amazes me how a few simple, quality ingredients can come together to make something so flavorful and delicious. This recipe is special occasion worthy and won’t take hours to prepare! Besides cleaning and cutting the leek – no other real prep required. My husband and I loved it so much – there was a richness without being overly rich – just perfect – a real keeper – only wish I had made it sooner!
I made this recipe today and it turned out SO delicious! I loved the combination of fragrant thyme and leek with crispy pancetta. I threw in some oyster mushrooms, which added another great texture to the dish without changing the flavor too much. I also added a bit of extra cream when I added the pasta sauce and let it reduce again, a scant 1/4 cup extra, and I added some red pepper flakes on top of the black pepper, too. Will be making this recipe over and over again, thanks so much for sharing!
Sounds so good! Love your addition of oyster mushrooms as well!!
I thought that this sounded fantastic. I was very disappointed. It turned out very greasy and tasteless.
That’s the first time I’ve ever received that feedback. Greasy is an odd way to describe a cream based pasta sauce. It sounds like either it wasn’t a good choice – ingredient wise for what you enjoy – or something went wrong
Can you use this for Chilean Sea Bass or a similar fish? Is the sauce thick enough or would you add a little flour at the end of the leeks and butter cooking to thicken before finishing with other ingredients?
Was going to add artichoke hearts in at the end as well to warm through, and serve it with the fish topped with a peppadew gremolata and blistered Campari tomatoes.
Any help would be appreciated!!
I made this for lunch today. Had some leek in the fridge and wanted to try a new recipe. Then I came upon this gem. WOW! So so yummy. I made a few changes …I roasted a clove of garlic in the olive oil to season the oil before putting in the pancetta cubes. Just an Italian thing we do here and I love garlic. I also substituted for spaghetti pasta since that’s all I had in my pantry thanks to being in quarantine. Such a delicious, hardy and yummy dish. Now it’s time for a little after lunch Italian siesta. Will definitely be making this again very soon.
I’m Italian too, so I always add garlic (or like 5 extra cloves!) to any recipe, so I totally understand that desire, haha! Great addition too. I love when people make things their own and make little tweaks. So glad you enjoyed the recipe and thank you for taking the time to leave a review! It is very much appreciated. Stay safe and well!
AMAZING! This one is a keeper! DO NOT change a thing!!!
Made this tonight; my husband likes to tease me about my cooking but he was gobbling it up before I could even get it on his plate! ❤️???? This recipe is a keeper! (I had to use prosciutto though, my small town grocery store didn’t have pancetta).
So happy to hear that you enjoyed it!
Made this recipe for Valentine’s dinner last night. I added diced onions, halved grape tomatoes and mushroom and served this with broiled lobster. It was perfect! I didn’t know about this pasta but it’s fast becoming my favorite pasta!
Thank you so much for the recipe. I often have issues with pasta dishes being too creamy or too cheesy since I came from a country that doesn’t consume much dairy but this was perfectly balanced! So glad I found a pasta dish that both my husband and I can enjoy.
Will be browsing this site for more wonderful recipes.
So happy to hear that! And I love the sounds of your additions too. Thanks for taking the time to come back and leave your feedback. I hope you’ll stick around!!
This was delicious and very easy to prepare, I will be making this again! Thank you for the comments from those who have made this dish, they are helpful to those of us considering the recipe. Why do we have to get all the comments from those who simply say how good it looks? Why don’t you make it and then comment? I don’t think I am alone in not really caring whether someone thinks it LOOKS good. To me the comment should be about the recipe, what worked, what the results were, was it easy enough, did it taste good etc? Just a waste of time sifting through all the “noise”.
Yay! Thanks for the feedback Lynn. I understand your point, but as someone who puts a lot of time/effort into each post – I really appreciate and enjoy feedback of all varieties (I want this place to feel like a community, not just a recipe site) even if its not just feedback once someone has tried a recipe. So glad you enjoyed the recipe and thanks for leaving your thoughts on it!
Wow! That dish looksso tasty! delicious. Thanks for sharing.
Made it for Valentines Day. It was delicious! Not hard to make or put together.
I made this last night for my boyfriend as an early Valentine’s Day dinner and he loved it!! Great flavor, easy to find ingredients and quick to throw together. I’ll be making this one again for him =) Thanks!
So happy to hear that! Thanks Lynn!
This pasta is AMAZING!! Made it last night! It is restaurant quality!! I will be using this recipe as my secret weapon for years to come!!!
Made this for dinner, let me just say yum. Even my husband who doesn’t like anything with onions loved this and said “You can definitely make this again.”
Yay! Awesome! 🙂
I made this tonight & it was divine! Your blog is new favorite follow, thank you for sharing this creamy goodness.
This is delicious. Made this for dinner and served simple prepared halibut on the side. I had no idea I liked leeks so much.
Thrilled to hear that Ashley! I LOVE leeks – they are one of my favorite vegetables!
This looks SO amazing! Perfect for date night!
Made this last night for the hubs and I, last vacay supper of holiday vacay and it was amazing! And super easy and fast! I love pappardelle, leeks and pancetta but still couldn’t have imagined how epic this would be. I want to eat nothing else. Seriously. I also got a micoplane for Xmas and LOVED how it effortlessly greater the softest parm-regg I’d ever seen. I have to be honest tho, while my cheese loving husband was heavy handed with his bowl, I preferred mine just just a light dusting- it was perfect as it was. So glad I found this blog and will definitely be checking out other recipes!
One question- would love to serve this in course- wondering what salad and dessert combo would best accompany? Have run a few through salads in my head… Cesar perhaps? Or an herbed olive oil vinaigrette? A light panacotta for dessert? Would love your thoughts! Thanks again 😉
Thank ‘s for this pasta recipe. It looks so tasty and this is why I made it some days ago. My son loves it! We’ll make it once again.
I felt that the pasta was lacking a little something….so I added some lemon and wow! What a difference. Great recipe though!
Hey there! Just found you via Pinterest and I was wondering, I don’t usually deglaze a pan with cream it’s just usually a disaster for me BUT, what if you deglazed with stock, or dry white wine, reduced it by half AND THEN added the cream without the water because the other liquid would already be there to thin it out and add another dimension of flavor.
ALSO, I always learned that putting the pasta straight into the sauce thickened the sauce because of all the starch left on the pasta and in the water still clinging to the pasta so, I don’t see how that would THIN the sauce rather than thicken it.
Also, has any thought about a few drop of balsamic for the leeks and stuff while caramelizing OR a squeeze of Lemon to finish the individual plates at the end? It just feels like, a lot of creamy deliciousness on top of more creamy deliciousness which would come across as very one note. A little vinegar could offer a little brightness and bring se flavored forward.
I’m in the hospital and these are my musings I can’t wait to try various thing manat home. My thoughts might be way off but,!until I’m back in my own kitchen playing I won’t kn
What does anyone think?
These are just things I was thinking about and would LOVE some feed back.
Hi Samantha! Sorry for not replying back to your comment sooner. Thanks for your comment! You’re not really deglazing the pan with cream for this recipe, your more reducing the cream in order to get a thicker sauce, does that make sense? Inevitably, it does allow you to scrape up any delicious pancetta bits. You could certainly try it another way–but I can’t attest to whether or not it will work out as well! I think a bit of lemon juice (or zest, actually!) would taste great, but I promise, this recipe has lots of flavor as is! Especially with all of the fresh thyme and pancetta.
Adding the pasta to the sauce (along with any additional starch from pasta water) helps the sauce cling to the pasta, but it also thins the sauce a bit at the same time (a good thing for this recipe, because the cream has reduced and gotten thick). Pasta water will always thin a sauce, even if it does help a sauce cling. Does that make sense?
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i just finished eating this, it was delish. Definitely is a keeper.
Yay! So happy to hear that! It’s one of my favorites.
Laura, the ingredients in this just grabbed me and it looked delicious………I wasn’t wrong, it was! The only change I made was subbing Herbes de Provence [my go to spice] for the Thyme —— hubby and I just don’t care for it. Actually we had it as a side to baked chicken breasts and it went so well. Thanks for a really nice recipe and a great site. I got the original recipe from Gojee. Bon appetite!
When I noticed this recipe on pinterest I needed it asap so I improvised with the ingredients but it still turned out fab. I used prosciutto instead of pancetta, and chives from my garden instead of thyme. Totally hit the spot!
So thrilled that you liked it!
What if I can’t find that perticilar pasta? what else can I use ?
Hi Jamie! That’s ok! Do you mean the particular brand, or the shape? If you can’t find egg pappardelle, I would next recommend an egg fettuccine (basically any dried or fresh egg long pasta will work!). The thicker the noodle the better, but its’ not essential! If you can’t find an dried or fresh egg pasta, you could do a regular fettuccine or linguine even! Let me know how it works out!
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i made this dish last weekend and it was amazing. unfortunately my local store was out of pancetta, and they only had grated parm…so i had to improvise. i found some uncured canadian bacon slices that cubed up nicely, and chopped the grated parm in order to make it melt more easily. and let me tell you – if it was that good using mediocre ingredients, i know it’ll be unbelievable with the good stuff.
So glad you liked it!!! All of your substitutions sound great too! 🙂 Thanks for the feedback Charlotte!
Any chance there’s a non dairy twist to this recipe? Thinking I’ll just use a white wine reduction but wondering if anyone made it dairy free before… thanks!!!
I’ve never tried this before, but I’ve generally heard that a thick cashew milk (homemade is best) can be used as a good cream substitute. Hope this helps at least a bit!
Laura this looks delicious. I just went and picked up some fresh pasta from a local deli for dinner tonight. Thanks for the inspiration and recipe.
I just found your blog by way of Pinterest – This recipe looks amazing. Looking forward to exploring your blog.
I literally have a bunch of leeks sitting beside me that I was trying to think of something to do with. Perfect timing! Looks delicious.
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Cooked this last night. It was delicious!!!
Yay! So glad you liked it! 🙂
Your dish looks so creamylicious!
I’ve been craving a giant bowl of pasta like whoa. This looks perfect and I am sort of partial to pappardelle. It may be my favorite shape of pasta ever!
I second the dream meal comment. Oh. my. goodness.
What a stunner! This is my favorite kind of pasta dish, where flavors that would be delicious on their own team up for a flavor bomb (in the best possible way!). And I agree about the DeCecco pappardelle, it’s well worth the cha-ching price tag. It’s what I always use for Bolognese.
Awesome recipe, Laura! Thank you.
You definitely sold this one! I want it now!!
This is my dream meal.
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As an Italian, I approve this message. I could dive into this pasta right now and never look back. Just keep swimming in the life of cream.
Anyway, new reader here! Found you via The Pig & Quill and then saw you have a Purr Design site. They are starting on mine in a couple of months. So excited!
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You don’t even know. I only eat fat noodles, and these are so wide and fat and flat–they are perfect.
This looks soooooooooooooooooooooooooo good. #drooling
I am such a sucker for thick and wide noodles. Anything wider than fettuccine and I am IN. Preferably tagliatelle or pappardelle. This sauce = heaven. I’m sure of it.
There’s really nothing better than a creamy bowl of pasta. So heavenly! Happy Wednesday 🙂
A beautiful, fresh and delicious looking meal.
Nom city! I feel like I wouldn’t share this and then I would just fall asleep from a food coma after eating both servings.
Pappardelle is my FAVORITE but you knew that. Now I need to make it.
Wow, everything about this pasta looks positively dreamy! I’ll have to keep an eye out for DeCecco papprdelle (and Trader Joe’s leeks!) – I love shopping with specific recommendations like these in mind 🙂 It can make deciding between dozens of similar products a lot less overwhelming, so thanks!
This looks soooo yummy! Right up my alley!!! Great photos as well!
All my favorite flavors – this looks amazing!
I love everything you make! It always looks so pretty and tastes sooo good! Cant wait to try this one out too!
Fancy- shmansy! Haha I love it!
Valentine’s Day is not nearly soon enough for me to get this pasta in my belly. I think a single lady “recipe testing” dinner of this is in order this week. 😉
Papardelle is THE BEST. We’ve made some homemade one time and it was incredible, wish I always had the time to do that. But in a pinch, DeLallo has an egg papardelle that’s pretty awesome.
I agree, I’d like to take a big fat nap nestled in that pasta. There is nothing in this world I love more than creamy pasta, and that dried pappardelle looks like the GOOD stuff, the kind that melts in your mouth…
Looks fantastic! I also want to shove my face into this pasta 🙂
GAH!!! I want to shove my face into this pasta!!!
White sauce pasta is actually the first meal, I had with my very first valentines. Glorious and no danger of red sauce stains!
All I can say is YUM. 🙂
This looks melt-in-your-mouth delicious! I can practically taste all that delicious cream and salt. Of course, I’m a pasta fanatic . . . so I’m easy to please. But even if I weren’t, I don’t know anyone who could turn this down!