I have all kinds of easy ways to incorporate veggies into pasta dishes for kids, but some days, we just need the classic and comforting option of Buttered Noodles. This is my go-to method for the creamiest, easiest buttered pasta to share with the kids.

buttered noodles in two bowls with sides

Buttered Noodles

It will come as no shock, I am sure, to learn my kids love plain pasta. They, like most kids, often have changing preferences for pasta sauces, and while we do a lot of Extra-Veggie Pasta, Spinach Pesto, Kale Pesto, and Zucchini Pasta Sauce, we also regularly have buttered pasta in the mix, too.

I love this since it’s serious comfort food, and it can be topped with all sorts of additional flavor boosters for adults as we like—so we can all happily share the meal.

You can make this with any type of pasta that kids like, though spaghetti is particularly yummy. It works best with wheat-based pastas since we use some of the pasta cooking water which has starch in it and helps the simple sauce come together. (See the notes for tips on making this with bean-based pastas and gluten-free noodles.)

ingredients for buttered noodles on countertop

Ingredients You Need

To make this pasta recipe, you’ll need the following ingredients.

  • Pasta: I use spaghetti here, but any shape of noodle will work so use what your kids like.
  • Butter: I prefer to cook and bake with unsalted butter so I can control the saltiness. (It will work with salted butter, though, if that’s all you have.)
  • Parmesan cheese: This works best with a block of Parmesan (or Pecorino Romano) cheese. By grating it yourself, the fine pieces of cheese melt into the sauce more completely. (I know this is an extra step, but it’s worth it.) If you prefer or need to use store-bought cheese, choose shredded Parmesan cheese in the dairy aisle, not the shelf-stable kind.
  • Pasta cooking water: Toward the end of the pasta cooking time, you’ll want to ladle out some of the cooking water. This will help to create the sauce, so don’t skip this step.

Step-by-Step Instructions

Below is an overview of how to make this recipe. Scroll to the end of the post for the full information and specifics.

grid of images on how to make buttered noodles
  1. Bring a big pot of salted water to a boil over high heat.
  2. Cook the pasta according to package directions, reserving some of the pasta cooking water. Drain the pasta.
  3. Return to the pot and add the butter and Parmesan. Toss to coat, adding a little of the cooking water at a time to make a smooth, luscious sauce.
  4. Serve warm.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are butter noodles made of?

Buttered noodles are typically made from pasta or noodles, butter, and sometimes Parmesan cheese.

What is good to eat with buttered noodles?

Buttered noodles are great on their own or topped with Parmesan cheese. You can also add a simple side of warmed white beans, chicken tenders, scrambled eggs, fruit, baked tofu, or another favorite option.

What can you add to plain noodles?

You can add butter to flavor plain noodles and/or toss with white beans, peas, shredded or diced chicken, fully cooked shrimp, mozzarella balls, or diced tomatoes.

buttered noodles in kids bowl with cucumbers and cup on side

How to Store

Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. To reheat, portion into a heat-safe bowl and sprinkle with water. (This helps to add a little moisture so the pasta isn’t dry.) Warm in 30 second increments, stirring in between, until warmed through.

buttered noodles in two bowls with sides with pepper on noodles

Best Tips for Success

  • This works best with wheat-based pastas, as the starch from the pasta cooking water helps create the smooth sauce.
  • To make this gluten-free, use your preferred pasta and cook according to the package directions. Drain (and rinse if the package says to). Swap in very hot water for the pasta cooking water, adding just a little at at time. Be gentle when stirring, as this type of pasta can be more likely to break.
  • Top with additional Parmesan cheese or cracked black pepper.
  • Serve with a side of white beans, Chicken Tenders, Boiled Broccoli, Spinach Eggs, or other preferred simple side.
  • Little kids may have an easier time eating spaghetti if you cut it quickly with a pair of kitchen scissors.

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I’d love to hear your feedback on this recipe, so please rate and comment below!

buttered noodles in two bowls with sides

Favorite Buttered Noodles

I have all kinds of easy ways to incorporate veggies into pasta dishes for kids, but some days, we just need the classic and comforting option of Buttered Noodles. This is my go-to method for the creamiest, easiest buttered pasta to share with the kids.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 8 minutes
Total Time 18 minutes
Cuisine American
Course Dinner
Calories 361kcal
Servings 8

Ingredients

  • 1 pound pasta
  • ¼-½ cup pasta cooking water (reserve this from the pot toward the end of the pasta cooking time)
  • ½ cup unsalted butter
  • 1 cup Parmesan cheese (freshly grated from a block)
  • Freshly cracked black pepper (optional)

Instructions

  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Cook the pasta according to package directions, reserving ½ cup of the cooking water toward the end of the cooking. Drain the pasta.
  • Return the pasta to the pot. Add the butter, Parmesan, and a little of the cooking water at a time as you toss the pasta. Continue tossing until the butter and Parmesan are melted, adding a little more cooking water as needed to make a light sauce.
  • Serve warm with pepper and additional Parmesan cheese, if desired.

Notes

  • Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. To reheat, portion into a heat-safe bowl and sprinkle with water. (This helps to add a little moisture so the pasta isn’t dry.) Warm in 30 second increments, stirring in between, until warmed through.
  • This works best with wheat-based pastas as the starch from the pasta cooking water helps create the smooth sauce.
  • To make this gluten-free, use your preferred pasta and cook according to the package directions. Drain (and rinse if the package says to). Swap in very hot water for the pasta cooking water, adding just a little at at time. Be gentle when stirring as this type of pasta can be more likely to break.
  • Top with additional Parmesan cheese or cracked black pepper.
  • Serve with a side of white beans, Chicken Tenders, Boiled Broccoli, Spinach Eggs, or other preferred simple side.
  • Little kids may have an easier time eating spaghetti if you cut it quickly with a pair of kitchen scissors.

Nutrition

Serving: 2ounces, Calories: 361kcal, Carbohydrates: 43g, Protein: 12g, Fat: 16g, Saturated Fat: 9g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 4g, Trans Fat: 0.5g, Cholesterol: 39mg, Sodium: 205mg, Potassium: 141mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 2g, Vitamin A: 452IU, Calcium: 163mg, Iron: 1mg
Tried this recipe?Rate in the comments and tag @yummytoddlerfood on IG!

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