This brown butter pasta with walnuts is seriously the easiest pasta side dish to make. You'll need only 4 ingredients, pasta, butter, walnuts, and cheese but the cooking techniques will help deliver major flavor!
When I'm thinking about homemade pasta dishes, brown butter pasta with walnuts is at the top of my list when it comes to a combination of simplicity, comfort factor, flavor, and ease.
This simple pasta recipe is perfect for a quick weeknight dinner.
Giving special treatment to two of the four ingredients will elevate your pasta game in such a satisfying way. Browning the butter will bring out a nutty richness and toasting the walnuts will yield a deeper flavor and delightful crunch.
In these photos, I serve them with my panko chicken strips recipe because these two just go together, you know? I've been making these two recipes together for 9 years and let me share this - if you're looking for a plate of comfort food, this duo won't steer you wrong.
Also, I used to make this recipe just with the browned butter, but adding a little bit of cold butter at the end makes the sauce super luscious! I learned this little trick from wishbone kitchen on TikTok.
You can skip that if you want to though.
See the recipe card for exact amounts.
Start by bringing a large pot of salted water to a boil. Carefully place the dry pasta into the boiling water and let it cook to al dente. Let the package directions guide you on timing, but test the pasta by carefully tasting it - it'll obviously be pretty hot!
- While the pasta cooks, toast the walnuts by adding them to a large skillet over medium heat. Heat them for 3-5 minutes, until they are browned and fragrant. Be careful not to burn them. Once they are done, move the toasted walnuts to a bowl to stop them from cooking.
- To make the brown butter, add the butter to the same skillet over medium heat.
- First, the butter melts and then starts to brown. Make sure to stir while the butter browns. This process takes 8-10 minutes and the butter will first melt, and then turn foamy.
- Once this happens the milk solids will separate and fall to the bottom of the pan and look like little brown flecks. This process will give the butter a delicious nutty taste.
Turn the heat to medium-low or low.
- The pasta should be done. Instead of draining, I scoop the cooked pasta out with tongs and carefully place it in the butter. If the butter is still hot, it can sputter and spit as the water hits the pan. Be careful. You can also drain the pasta instead, just make sure to save a half cup or cup of the pasta water.
- Add some hot pasta water if the butter has soaked in a bit and the pan seems a bit dry.
- Add the toasted walnuts.
- Finely grate the cheese on top. Add the final tablespoon of butter and stir as it melts.
To serve, plate a portion of noodles and scoop over the butter sauce and walnuts. Grate some extra cheese on top and add some chopped parsley (optional). Season with salt and pepper and enjoy.
Tips for making brown butter pasta
What to serve with browned butter pasta
To add a main protein to the dish you can add cooked chicken in at any time. Try my panko chicken strips, a crispy chicken burger, crispy chicken thighs, some crispy baked thin chicken breasts, or some easy baked veggie balls.
Store leftovers in a container with a lid in the fridge for 3-4 days. Reheat gently in the microwave or add a touch of butter and reheat in a non-stick skillet for a few minutes.
Yes, you can use your favorite pasta shape such as linguine, spaghetti, or spaghettini to make this dish. You can try a short shape that would hold the sauce well, such as shells, but I prefer capellini.
The butter will turn a golden brown color and give off a nutty aroma. The butter will first melt, then turn foamy, and retains a thin foamy layer on top while the brown bits sink to the bottom. Stir often to prevent burning and to check the color of the butter beneath the foam.
Brown Butter Pasta with Walnuts
- 8 oz capellini (227 grams)
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter (divided)
- ½ cup chopped walnuts
- Parmesan cheese (for serving, finely shredded)
- kosher salt
- ground black pepper
- Boil a large salted pot of water.
- Cook the pasta to al dente, using the package instructions as a guide.
- Meanwhile, toast the walnuts in a skillet over medium heat for 3-5 minutes, until golden brown and aromatic. Move to a bowl to stop the cooking process.
- Add 4 tablespoons of butter to the same skillet and let it melt, reserving 1 tablespoon for later. The butter will melt, turn foamy, and then finally turn amber with golden brown flecks at the bottom. Turn the heat to low.
- Either drain the pasta, or move it with tongs straight to the skillet of browned butter. Do this carefully in case it splatters.
- Add some pasta water if needed. Add the walnuts and cheese and mix well.
- Add the last tablespoon of butter and stir to melt. Add pasta water if needed and then season and serve.
Nutritional information is an estimate. Values vary based on products used.
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