This creamy Green spaghetti or espagueti verde recipe, the Mexican version of Alfredo pasta, is a delicious pasta dish everyone will love. The cream cheese based pasta sauce gets its vibrant color from roasted poblano peppers, fresh baby spinach, garlic cloves and fresh cilantro. The luscious and creamy green sauce is super easy to make and ready in a bit over 30 minutes.
Green Spaghetti or Spaghetti Verde
This green spaghetti recipe has become a family favorite. The best part is that the creamy green poblano sauce is incredibly easy to make with ingredients you can find at any grocery store. Whether you are looking for side dishes to serve on special occasions or a main course for a weeknight dinner, this pasta verde recipe always delivers on flavor.
What’s Green Spaghetti?
Green spaghetti or espagueti verde in Spanish, is a vegetarian, gluten-free, easy recipe made with spaghetti noodles tossed in a velvety, non-spicy, cream cheese pasta sauce that gets its green color from roasted poblano chiles and fresh cilantro. I love spinach so I decided to add about a cup of baby spinach leaves to the already flavor-packed sauce. Spinach is a powerhouse of nutrients and the taste of the sauce doesn’t change much so your kids would never know you have hidden veggies in there.
I like to top this tasty pasta dish with crumbly cotija cheese or queso fresco although I’m sure that the buttery, tart flavor and creaminess of goat cheese would match the rich sauce perfectly.
Two different places claim this dish as their own, the state of Puebla in Mexico and Texas.
Why You’ll Love This Recipe?
- Fool-Proof: This is an easy and straight forward recipe that requires no special skills. Anyone can master this recipe.
- Family Friendly: Poblano peppers are mild and not spicy. Even if you use a poblano chile with a little heat, the richness of the cream cheese and milk bring any spiciness down so even kids can enjoy this family meal. Of course, you can make the green spaghetti sauce spicy by adding jalapeño peppers or serrano peppers.
- Versatile: You can make changes to suit your taste. If you are not a cilantro fan, use fresh basil. Swap the cotija cheese for Parmesan cheese. Add some protein by making this dish with shrimp or bite size chicken pieces.
What is Green Spaghetti Made Of?
Be sure to check the printable recipe card below for the complete ingredient’s list and their exact quantities.
- Poblano Peppers: Available year round, poblano chiles are generally mild although once in a while a fiery spicy one infiltrates the pack! If you get a spicy chili, removing the veins and seeds is a must. The veins are actually where the heat resides, not the seeds. The seeds taste spicy because they were hanging from the veins. In this recipe, poblanos are roasted which caramelizes and intensifies their flavor (check “how to roast peppers 4 ways” in the recipe card below).
- Jalapeño: Since poblanos don’t have much heat, a jalapeño is added which adds mostly flavor and very little heat. If you prefer a spicier sauce, serrano peppers can be used. If all you have are chili flakes, I suggest you sprinkle some after the sauce is blended. Be cautious by always wearing disposable gloves while handling chile peppers.
- Garlic Cloves: I use fresh garlic. Garlic paste is a good substitution.
- Fresh Cilantro: I use a small bunch of fresh cilantro. Don’t obsess over the right amount. Add as much or as little as you want. If you don’t like the taste of cilantro, other fresh herbs can be used such as fresh basil.
- Sour Cream or Mexican Crema: Sour cream can be used if you can’t find crema Mexicana aka Mexican sour cream. For a rich and decadent poblano cream sauce, I use full fat sour cream.
- Fresh Baby Spinach: Although the recipe calls for one cup, you can add lots of spinach if you prefer. Although I haven’t tried this recipe with frozen spinach, I am sure it can work out as long as you squeeze all the water from the thawed out spinach.
- Milk or Half and Half: I like using whole milk for a rich, yet light sauce. When making cream pasta sauce, the fat content in the liquid makes for a rich or lighter sauce. Using heavy cream produces a very decadent, thick and rich sauce. Using half and half is a happy medium. For a lighter, less decadent sauce, 2% milk can be used. I don’t recommend using non-fat milk.
- Cream Cheese: I use a brick of full fat cream cheese. Don’t use cheese spreads.
- Onion: To keep the sauce beautifully green, I stay away from red or purple onions. Yellow, brown or white onion are good options.
- Pasta: Regular spaghetti or whole wheat spaghetti are good options. Feel free to use any other noodle. Short noodles such as penne or macaroni can be used.
- Chicken Stock or Broth: I use regular chicken broth but low sodium broth can be used. To make it vegetarian, substitute this ingredient with vegetable stock.
How To Make Green Spaghetti?
For specific instructions and times, please check the printable recipe card below.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook according to package directions, until al dente.
- Just before draining, remove a cup of the pasta water to use in case the pasta dries up. Meanwhile, while the pasta cooks, make the pasta sauce.
- Heat a little olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and the jalapeño pepper (or Serrano) and sauté until the onion becomes translucent. Stir in the garlic and spinach and cook tossing with kitchen tongs until the spinach starts to wilt, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat.
- Transfer the spinach mixture to a blender. Add the roasted poblano peppers, the fresh cilantro, sour cream, chicken bouillon and 2/3 cups of milk and process until smooth and creamy. If the sauce is too thick, add more milk or broth.
- Transfer the poblano pepper mixture to the same pasta pot you used before. Heat the green sauce stirring as needed and then, add the cream cheese and stir until it melts. Simmer for a few minutes and season to taste with salt and black pepper.
- Add the cooked spaghetti and toss to combine. For a super creamy sauce, add some of the reserved pasta water. Serve immediately garnished with chopped cilantro, crumbled cotija cheese and pepitas for a little crunch.
Check the recipe card below for instructions on how to roast poblano peppers on the stovetop on an open flame or a dried pan, in the oven or under the broiler.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Can I Use Instead of Poblano Peppers?
Although I know some people substitute poblanos with green bell peppers to make this green spaghetti recipe, I think a better option is to use Anaheim peppers which better keeps the flavor profile of the traditional recipe.
Can I Make Vegan Green Spaghetti?
Although I have not made this recipe vegan, I think you can use dairy free ingredients to make the green sauce. Swap the milk with oat milk or almond milk, and substitute the cream cheese and sour cream with 1 1/4 cup of soaked raw cashews and 2-3 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice to mimic the tangy taste of sour cream or Mexican crema. Substitute the chicken bouillon with vegetable bouillon or nutritional yeast.
How to Serve Green Spaghetti?
Mexican green spaghetti or espagueti verde is served as a main dish or as a side dish. As a main dish, you can serve this pasta dish with asparagus, Mexican Street Corn Salad or Roasted Brussel Sprouts on the side.
Making Ahead, Storing, Freezing and Reheating
Can I Make Green Spaghetti Ahead of Time?
You can make the smooth and velvety poblano green sauce 1-2 days in advance. Keep the sauce refrigerated in an airtight container until ready to use.
How to Store Leftover Espagueti Verde?
Any leftover pasta should be kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days.
Can you Freeze Green Spaghetti?
Unfortunately, no. I don’t recommend freezing green spaghetti.
How to Reheat Creamy Pasta?
Creamy pastas need to be reheated slowly over very low heat. Most likely, you will need to add additional broth or milk to make the pasta creamy again as the noodles tend to suck up the sauce.
To reheat creamy pasta in the microwave, it’s best to do it in small intervals at 50% power. Gently toss the pasta after each interval to distribute the heat. Add broth or milk, if needed.
If reheating in a skillet on the stovetop, use very low heat and stir often. You may want to add a bit of broth or milk to make the pasta creamy again.
Green Spaghetti Tips for Success
- For best results, you need to roast the each pepper until they have completely blackened skin. This process cooks and caramelizes the pepper making it sweeter and more flavorful
- Roasted peppers with blistered blacken skin are easy to peel. Simply rub the the skin off with a piece of paper towel.
- Cook the noodles until just al dente to prevent mushy pasta.
- For a complete meal, you can add some protein to this pasta recipe. Bite size pieces of chicken breast or chicken thighs, seasoned with salt and pepper can be quickly sautéed before you start cooking the onions. Another good addition is shrimp. Remember that shrimp cooks very fast. Sauté the shrimp until almost cooked / pink. Finish cooking the shrimp in the sauce.
- Don’t forget the toppings! The addition of crumbled cotija cheese, queso fresco or feta cheese add a hint of saltiness and tanginess to this pasta dish (making it over the top fabulous!)
Take A Look At These Other Easy Pasta Recipes
- Creamy Chicken Pesto Pasta
- Easy Garlic Butter Pasta
- Pasta with Asparagus in Lemon Cream Sauce
- Cajun Alfredo Shrimp Pasta
- Penne Alla Vodka
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Creamy Mexican Green Spaghetti (Espagueti Verde)
- 4 poblano peppers roasted (instructions for roasting below)
- 1 pound dry spaghetti
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 small onion chopped (about 1/4 cup)
- 1 jalapeño pepper or serrano pepper stemmed, seeded and chopped
- 4 garlic cloves minced
- 1 cup spinach leaves
- 1 small bunch of cilantro
- 8 ounces sour cream or crema Mexicana
- 1 teaspoon chicken or vegetable bouillon granules or 1 bouillon cube
- 2/3 to 1 cup milk or half and half
- 8 ounces cream cheese softened and cut into small cubes
- Salt and ground black pepper to taste
To Garnish (optional)
- Chopped cilantro, crumbled cotija cheese or queso fresco, pepitas
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook according to package directions, until al dente.
- Just before draining, remove 1 cup of the pasta cooking water. Drain.
- Meanwhile, while the pasta cooks, make the pasta sauce.
- Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and the jalapeño pepper (or Serrano) and sauté until the onion becomes translucent, about 3 minutes.
- Stir in the garlic and baby spinach and cook tossing with kitchen tongs until the spinach starts to wilt, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat.
- Transfer the spinach mixture to a blender. Add the roasted peppers, cilantro, sour cream, chicken bouillon and 2/3 cups of milk or half and half and process until smooth and creamy. Add more milk, if needed.
- Transfer the poblano pepper mixture to the same pot you used to cook the pasta. Heat over medium-low heat for about 2-3 minutes, stirring as needed.
- Add half of the cream cheese and stir until it melts. Repeat with the remaining cream cheese. Lower the heat and simmer for about 4 minutes. Season to taste with salt and black pepper.
- Add the pasta and toss to combine. Add some of the reserved pasta cooking water if needed to make the sauce creamy. Serve garnished with chopped cilantro, crumbled cheese and pepitas, if desired.
To char/roast the peppers:
- In a Dry Skillet: Heat a cast iron skillet over high heat. Place the peppers in the skillet and char on all sides until blackened.. Use kitchen tongs to turn the peppers as needed. Remove from the stove and proceed to peeling and seeding.
- On an Open Flame: Put peppers over an open flame, turning them with kitchen tongs, until they blacken on all sides. Proceed to peeling and seeding
- Under the Broiler: Arrange an oven rack 6 inches from the broiler. Heat the broiler. Place the poblano peppers on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Broil until the tops are blackened and blistered turning the peppers as needed until all sides are blackened. Remove from the oven and proceed to peeling and seeding.
- Oven Roasted: Preheat the oven to 425ºF. Place the poblano peppers on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Roast until the skins are blackened, about 40 minutes, turning the peppers occasionally for even roasting. Remove from the oven and proceed to peeling and seeding.
Peeling and Seeding:
- Place the roasted peppers in a paper bag or a resealable plastic bag and close it to keep the steam inside or place the roasted peppers in a bowl and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Let the peppers steam for about 10 to 12 minutes.
- Remove the roasted peppers from the bag or bowl and with the help of a piece of paper towel, rub off the skin. The skin should come off quite easily. Slice the peppers from top to bottom to open them up. Remove the stem and then with a piece of paper towel, wipe off the seeds.